Online Degrees In Information Systems

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the increasing use of cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security is driving the need for knowledgeable professionals in the field of information technology. An online information systems degree program can help you get the knowledge you need to enter this very in-demand field. The program itself lends well to online learning and can be a great fit for those who lead busy lives.

The College Board is forthright about what kind of people may enjoy working in this field, “It helps to be … a technology nut!” The field of computers and information systems is evolving rapidly and being passionate about this field can help you keep up-to-date with the latest tech.

As to what types of jobs you can get with a computer information systems degree, the options are plenty. We discuss different online information systems degrees and associated occupations in more detail in the sections below.

When it comes to talent in the tech sector, one thing is certain: the “shelf life” of skills is getting shorter and shorter.

Information systems professionals may perform server maintenance, create and manage large databases, analyze a company’s technology needs, or supervise entire information technology teams.

Some occupations related to the field and their associated duties are:

Information security analysts:

  • Monitoring computer networks for security breaches and investigating any such incidences
  • Developing security standards, recommending security enhancements and testing systems for vulnerabilities

The job growth rate of 28 percent (much faster than average) from 2016 to 2026 can show just how much Information systems security analysts are in demand.

Computer and information systems managers:

  • Analyzing organizational computing needs, recommending upgrades and directing their installation
  • Planning and directing the work of other IT professionals in the company

As businesses become increasingly reliant on computer technology to function, demand for trained individuals who can work with this technology may also rise, according to the BLS. Earning a postsecondary degree can be a great place to start for those looking for a tech job, whether they’re interested in providing IT support to employees, preventing hackers from stealing valuable customer information, or performing another function.

The table below lists the occupations related to the field along with mean annual wages, projected job growth and employment outlook using data from the BLS.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Information Security Analysts125,570$104,21031.6%
Computer and Information Research Scientists30,780$127,46016.5%
Computer and Information Systems Managers433,960$156,39011.3%
Database Administrators and Architects125,460$96,1109%
Network and Computer Systems Administrators354,450$88,4104.7%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

The United States is the largest tech market in the world, representing 31% of the total, or approximately $1.6 trillion for 2019

You may be able to choose from postsecondary non-degree certificate programs to doctoral degree programs in information systems online depending on your previous education and work experience.

Certificates can act as an introduction to the field of information systems in general.

Holders of associate degrees may qualify for entry-level information technology positions.

The BLS reports that a majority of information systems and IT occupations require at least a bachelor’s degree. The College Board recommends minoring in math, business or other such areas related to the field in order to enhance career options.

Graduates of master’s degree programs in information systems may qualify to teach related subjects at community or career colleges as well as hold supervisory positions in organizations.

Doctoral degree programs in information systems can assist professionals in preparing for research and teaching careers or put graduates on the path to advanced consulting work, book authorship, speaking engagements, or entrepreneurship.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

An online certificate program can give students an overview of the field introducing its fundamental concepts and the various tools and technologies used for computer applications and hardware.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Curricula may include topics like:

  • Introduction to computer information systems
  • Introduction to information security
  • Management information systems
  • Introduction to networks

Possible electives: Computer organization; data center management; operating systems

What can I do after earning a certificate in computer information systems?

A certificate in computer information systems may allow you to qualify for entry-level roles requiring basic skills in the field. You may also be able to transfer the credits you have earned toward an online associate or bachelor’s degree in information systems.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Online associate programs in information systems can include a variety of technology and business related courses so that students can learn how to design, operate and maintain the hardware and software used to distribute data and understand the business aspects of the field.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics are designed to help you understand both the large scale and individual user needs associated with electronically creating, storing, retrieving and transmitting information along with combination of general education credits and technology-oriented courses specific to the major. Some courses you may take include:

  • Business computer skills
  • Database design
  • Electronic commerce
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Perl/python scripting

Possible electives: Introduction to visual basic; programming in java; object-oriented program w/ C++.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in computer information systems?

While many positions in computer-related fields, including information systems, require a bachelor’s degree, employers may hire associate degree holders depending on their skills and experience. Potential occupations include:

  • Computer support specialist
  • Help desk administrator
  • Support analyst
  • Junior program analyst
  • SQL developer

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

An online bachelor’s degree program in information systems can help students develop a combination of business management skills and technical knowledge so that they can learn to address both organizational and user needs.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Curriculum usually contains a combination of business, technology and data networking courses, providing the foundational skills necessary to implement and oversee information systems that support specific organizational needs. Examples of course topics include:

  • Computer applications and information technology
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Internet computing
  • Database management systems
  • IT project management

You may have to complete a capstone project as a part of your degree requirements.

Possible electives: Operating systems; system development methodology; client server and net-centric computing

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in computer information systems?

Graduates of online bachelor’s degree programs in information systems may find employment in computer and software design firm, information technology departments, financial and accounting organizations, business and corporate settings, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions, to name a few. Potential occupations include:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Corporate web developer
  • Information security analyst
  • Software developer

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online master’s degree program in information systems can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed for leadership roles in a wide range of organizational settings, from corporate enterprises to public agencies. Students can learn to conduct research and solve the type of complex problems often faced by information systems managers.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in information systems or a related field

Typical coursework: Master’s degree programs are generally more focused on research than bachelor’s degree programs. Students can build upon what they’ve learned as an undergraduate through advanced instruction, research and writing. The curriculum may vary according to the program, but examples of graduate level course topics in information systems include:

  • Business Architecture and Process
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Information Security Governance
  • Information Systems Management
  • Web Systems and Architecture

You may need to complete a capstone project or a master’s thesis based on original research.

Possible electives: Information forensics; information retrieval systems; data mining

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in computer information systems?

Graduates of online master’s degree programs in information systems may pursue a variety of leadership positions directing technical teams, supervising programmers or in strategic planning. Potential job titles include:

  • Computer and information systems manager
  • Database manager
  • Enterprise and operations quality engineer
  • Information security analyst
  • IT project manager

What can I expect to learn in an online Graduate degree program?

An online graduate certificate in computer information systems may suit individuals who are looking for some graduate education but do not have the time or resources to complete an entire online master’s degree in information systems program. Students can learn about how to assess the technical needs of a business and how to manage their information technology projects.

Typical duration: Up to one year of full-time study

General prerequisites: A bachelor’s degree — it may or may not be a related field depending on the program

Typical coursework: Curricula include topics that help students develop an understanding of how businesses can use technology to reach their goals. Some courses you may take include:

  • Database systems
  • Enterprise database design
  • Formal foundations of information systems
  • Information systems law
  • Information technology in the organization

Possible electives: Strategic uses of IT; quality in systems development; programming for business decision making

Cybersecurity continues to rise in importance as business and daily life are increasingly digitized.

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Doctoral programs expand on research and analytical skills gained in previous studies, exploring theoretical applications in information science and information technology. Students can learn to explore topics of their interest in detail.

Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree in information systems or a related field

Typical coursework: While coursework may vary, programs typically cover computational methods, Java programming, computer architecture, network protocols and standards, database management, user experience design (UXD), information security and fraud detection. Potential courses in online doctoral programs in information systems include the following:

  • Enterprise modeling and data management
  • Information technology strategy and policy
  • IT infrastructure, technology and network management
  • Structural equations modeling
  • System analysis and design using case tools

Dissertation: The final stage of a doctoral program often involves defending a thesis based on original research before an academic committee.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in computer information systems?

Online doctoral degrees in information systems are designed to prepare professionals for advanced careers in areas such as information management, information technology and software development. Individuals with doctorates in information systems may also be eligible for research and teaching positions at four-year colleges and universities. Potential job titles include:

  • Professor
  • Researcher
  • Information systems director

Accreditation

According to CompTIA research, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. tech firms report having job openings and are actively recruiting candidates for technical positions

Accreditation is a voluntary process that colleges and universities go through to ensure their educational programs meet the quality standards of the profession for which the programs aim to teach students. Attending an accredited online information systems degree can also be a prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid, applying for professional certifications and for transferring educational credits from one educational institution to another.

A school may be accredited regionally or nationally as well as by a professional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) is the main accrediting body for computer and technology related programs.

Specialization in Computer Information Systems

Students of online information systems degree programs may be able to select an area of concentration reflecting professional interests and goals. Potential specializations include:

  • Computer networks
  • Data analytics
  • Database management and business intelligence
  • Health informatics
  • IT project management
  • Security
  • Web application development

Certifications in Computer Information Systems

Professional certifications may not be mandatory but can demonstrate your area of expertise in the field. Employers may also require their employees to hold certifications in software that they use. Professional certifications can also help you stay up-to-date with your skills as they often require renewal through continuing education or re-examinations. Some certifications are:

The high demand for qualified computer information systems professionals means that there are plenty of incentives out there for eligible individuals wanting to study the subject. You may be able to find financial aid in the form of federal grants, loans, private scholarships and fellowships offered by diverse institutions and foundations. Some scholarships to help you get started on your search include:

Professional Organizations and Resources

Sources:

  • 2019 Technology Industry Outlook, Deloitte, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/technology-industry-outlook/, accessed June 2019
  • AS in Computer Information Systems, Florida Tech Online, https://www.floridatechonline.com/information-technology/as-computer-information-systems/, accessed June 2019
  • Associates in Computer Information Systems, Davenport University, https://www.davenport.edu/academics/areas/technology/associates-computer-information-systems, accessed June 2019
  • BSBA in Computer Information Systems, Thomas Edison State University, https://www.tesu.edu/business/bsba/computer-information-systems, accessed June 2019
  • Career: Computer and Information Systems Managers, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/management-computer-information-systems-managers, accessed June 2019
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm, June 2019
  • Computer and Information Technology Occupations, Computer and Information Technology, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm, April 2019
  • Computer Information Systems, M.S., Florida Tech, https://www.fit.edu/programs/computer-information-systems-ms/, accessed June 2019
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems, Dakota State University, https://dsu.edu/graduate-students/phdis, accessed July 2019
  • General Program: BS in Computer Information Systems, Walden University, https://www.waldenu.edu/online-bachelors-programs/bs-in-computer-information-systems/curriculum/general-program, accessed June 2019
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Systems, UMaine Online, The University of Maine, https://online.umaine.edu/graduate-certificates/information-systems/, accessed July 2019
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Systems, Walden University, https://www.waldenu.edu/online-certificates-programs/information-systems, accessed July 2019
  • Information Security Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm, June 2019
  • Information Systems Certificate, Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago, https://www.luc.edu/quinlan/certificates/information-systems/, accessed July 2019
  • Information Systems, Ph.D., Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, https://www.isenberg.umass.edu/programs/doctoral/concentrations/information-systems#academics, accessed July 2019
  • Information Technology Certificate (online), College of Advancing and Professional Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, https://www.umb.edu/academics/caps/certificates/infotech/course#courses, accessed June 2019
  • IT Industry Outlook 2019, CompTIA, 2019, https://www.comptia.org/resources/it-industry-trends-analysis
  • Major: Computer Systems Analysis, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-systems-analysis, accessed June 2019
  • Master of Information Systems Management (MISM), Walden University, https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/master-of-information-systems-management, accessed June 2019
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, Arizona State University, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/computer-information-systems-bs/, accessed June 2019
  • Online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems Degree, Boston University, https://www.bu.edu/online/programs/graduate-programs/computer-information-systems-masters-degree/#careers, accessed July 2019
  • Online MS in Information Systems, Drexel University Online, https://online.drexel.edu/online-degrees/information-sciences-degrees/ms-is/index.aspx, accessed June 2019
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Computer Information Systems, Thomas Edison State University, https://www.tesu.edu/business/computer-information-systems, accessed June 2019
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