Both master's and doctoral programs in computer information systems focus on research, though some traditional coursework in advanced business management and information technology topics is included. Master's programs lead to a thesis project, while doctoral students are required to complete dissertations. Admission to either program usually entails a bachelor's degree with undergraduate coursework in computer science and information technology, though some doctoral programs only admit students with master's degrees. These programs prepare individuals to take technical or managerial positions in the field once they graduate.
Combined master's programs in business administration and information systems are available as well; similarly, some doctoral students in this field earn a master's degree as part of the doctoral curriculum.
Master of Science in Computer Information Systems
A master's degree program in computer information systems combines a technology education with studies of the principles of business organization and management. The program will prepare students not only to design and understand computer systems and networks, but also to manage teams of technical employees.
Many schools also offer a graduate certificate in areas relating to information technology. It's a shortened but intensive program that can eventually lead to a master's degree. Some colleges offer a combined master's degree in both business administration and computer information systems.
Degree program classes are designed to deliver knowledge on fine details of a computer system and the larger issues surrounding networks and project management. Some course titles might include:
- Hardware and software selection and implementation
- Legal and ethical issues in technology
- Database systems
- Network management
- Telecommunications design
Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems
Completing a doctorate degree program is a good way for those who are already professionals in the field to get a deeper understanding of systems, while learning research and teaching methods. Many schools also offer students the opportunity to earn a master's degree while studying for a doctoral degree.
Graduate-level coursework is a major prerequisite for most Ph.D. programs. If an applicant does not have a specialized master's degree, he or she can complete the master's courses or perhaps use work experience to get a waiver.
Students in the doctorate program focus much of their energy on research and writing either a dissertation or thesis. Core courses within this program may include:
- Human and computer interaction
- Designing and analyzing system security
- Advanced database systems
- Foundations of machine learning
- Algorithms for communication networks
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employers prefer candidates who hold a master's degree, particularly when it has a business administration component, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicts a job growth of 11% from 2018 to 2028 for computer and information systems managerial jobs. The BLS reported that information systems and computer managers made a median annual salary of $142,530 in 2018.
A Ph.D. is a great benefit for anyone who wants to pursue a career as a high-level computer scientist. The BLS predicts that a job growth of 16% for computer and information research scientists between 2018 and 2028. The BLS reported in May 2018 that these workers made a median annual salary of $118,370.
Students wanting advanced careers in either computer information systems management or computer information systems research need to earn a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems or a Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems, respectively.