Computer Information Systems Degree and Certificate Programs

Instructor: Corey Stott
Students pursuing an education in Computer Information Systems (CIS) may obtain an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or a post-baccalaureate certificate. These programs explore topics such as programming, database design and web development.

Essential Information

An associate's degree in CIS provides students with a solid background in programming, database design, Web development and data modeling. Graduates are prepared to enter the workforce or to transfer credit to a bachelor's degree program. Earning an associate degree usually takes two years. Schools require applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED and recommend entry-level computer proficiency.

Bachelor's degree programs in CIS involve in-depth coverage of several topics found in an associate degree program. Students learn the basics in computer modeling, programming languages and networking before taking additional general CIS topics or focusing on a particular area of concentration. This degree will qualify students for entry- and mid-level careers or advancement to management. Generally, only a high school diploma or GED is required for the major.

A post-baccalaureate certificate usually take less than a year to earn. In this program, students gain skills in programming, systems and database design and working with IT systems. Lectures and hands-on training are often combined. Upon completion of the program, graduates are prepared for careers in areas like administration, programming, analysis and management. An appropriate bachelor's degree is required for entry into the program.


Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems

In a CIS associate's degree program, students study programming, database design, Web development and data modeling. Courses will relate to technology and data management and include classroom work and practical training. Upon completion of a program, students are prepared for roles in the information technology (IT) field, such as Web designer or software developer.

Associate degree CIS curricula include didactic coursework along with practical laboratory training. Courses introduce a variety of topics related to technology and data management. Specific class topics might include:

  • Computer architecture
  • Computational mathematics
  • Database development
  • Computer networking
  • Information systems design
  • Website development

Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems

A bachelor's degree in CIS incorporates training in computer programming, Web and database design and software development with general courses in the humanities and sciences. Some programs offer specializations, such as math, accounting, engineering, project management or computer forensics. A few schools offer fully or partially online programs, and students can find schools that include independent study options or internship programs within the CIS curriculum.

Some common course options include:

  • Data structures
  • Operating systems
  • Object-oriented design
  • Information security
  • Internet applications
  • Database concepts

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Computer Information Systems

Students enrolled in post-baccalaureate certificate programs in computer information systems are taught programming skills, systems and database design issues and how to work with various IT systems. Many schools offer the certificate program to non-IT majors and professionals. Program length and format vary depending on the educational institution, but typically take 6-12 months to complete. Some schools also offer convenient online learning for remote or working students.

Post-baccalaureate certificate classroom learning blends lecture instruction with hands-on training in computer labs. Online courses provide tools, simulations and direction for students to perform assignments and practice lessons at their own pace. Some course topics include:

  • Business application development
  • Visual and interactive programming
  • Server management and security
  • Data center management
  • Systems analysis and design
  • IT project management fundamentals

Popular Career Options

Graduates of associate degree programs qualify for a variety of roles in the information technology (IT) field. Students may seek in the following positions:

  • Web designer
  • Software developer
  • Help desk technician
  • Database designer
  • Data modeler

Graduates of a computer information science bachelor's degree program could qualify for entry- and mid-level careers or advance an existing career into a management role. Some professional options include:

  • IT manager
  • Systems analyst
  • Computer programmer
  • Consultant
  • Database administrator

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Computer information systems careers include a variety of disciplines, such as administration, programming, analysis and management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated technical professions would experience good growth potential for the years 2014 through 2024, including a 17% growth for software developers, 15% for computer/information systems managers and 8% for network/computer systems administrators (www.bls.gov).

The main driving factor in the industry-wide growth centered on Internet access and security for private corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The BLS reported that median salaries varied as widely as potential professions. Network/computer systems administrators earned a median annual salary of $77,810 in 2015. In the same year, computer/information systems managers earned $131,600 as a yearly median wage.

Continuing Education Information

Due to the constant development of new technologies, CIS professionals need to stay updated with current technologies to remain competitive. Numerous vendors and industry organizations provide opportunities to demonstrate software and programming techniques through professional certification. Professionals can choose to earn general industry credentials, such as those offered by CompTIA or the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals, as well as certifications for specific technologies for vendors, such as Microsoft, Cisco or Novell.

Computer information systems (CIS) programs are popular with students who wish to pursue a career in programming, database design, or web development. There are associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and post-baccalaureate certificate programs available.

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