What is the Difference Between a Computer Science Degree and a Computer Information Systems (CIS) Degree?

What is the Difference Between a Computer Science Degree and a Computer Information Systems (CIS) Degree

Separate from the study of computer information systems covered later in this article, computer science itself focuses on technical and theoretical programs. A degree in computer science provides students with knowledge of computer operating systems, coding, computer networking, computer architecture, and database design. Computer science has roots in math, physics, and electrical engineering. Some students feel overwhelmed with the amount of math this degree requires, but those who are comfortable with mathematics or have previous experience with it have few problems with it. Read on to find out more about computer information systems degrees and computer science degrees.

What is a Computer Information Systems Degree?

With a computer information systems degree, students focus on how to apply technology to business. The field of computer information systems takes technology and places it in a commercial setting. In addition to learning how technology works, students learn how to use technology to benefit a company.

The reviews for this degree are mixed. Some people enjoy that many topics are covered, while others become frustrated by the lack of focus on one particular subject. A computer information systems course includes business courses and managerial communications, as well as coding and other technology skills. This degree goes well with most business-related majors and degrees in arts, graphics design, and communication.

Salary Information for Both Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Degrees

Around the United States, computer science graduates can make upwards of $37 an hour, which translates to roughly $76,000 annually. That rate comes from the state of New York and is the highest in the country. Some states pay far less than that. North Carolina is a prime example of that, and the hourly rate is about 25 percent less than that of New York. Still, $56,000 or so for an entry-level position is better than the salaries of many other industries. A few states have different overtime rules than others, so they will offer graduates a little more or less depending on their rules.

Students with degrees in computer information systems make more than their computer science counterparts. The mean entry-level salary is equivalent to the highest computer science salary. Senior analysts make more than $100,000 annually. In any case, both of these job fields provide graduates with many more opportunities than other fields.

Best Schools for Computer Science

Although the World University Rankings lists Oxford University in England as the No. 1 computer science school in the world, two of the top five are in the United States: Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The computer science program at Stanford University works together with the robotics department to give students training in two of the fastest-growing fields in the country. The Stanford University curricula are broad-based, including application, theory, and design. The university focuses on practical implementation as well as work in the classroom. Ethics also play a large role in all of the university’s computer instruction.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all computer science students also study electrical engineering. In fact, fully a third of all students at MIT strive for this degree. The combination of instruction in both fields gives students a unique perspective. They learn how to build computers as well as tell them what to do. Students learn to understand how the physical limitations of the components affect how computers operate. Part of the instruction focuses on developing new materials that will improve computer performance. These skills make the graduate very marketable.

Best Schools for Computer Information Systems

Unsurprisingly, both Stanford University and MIT make the top 10 list of best schools for computer information systems, according to US News and World Report. Unlike computer science, which focuses on the machines themselves and how they are built, computer information systems focuses on the interaction between user and machine.

MIT is No. 1 on this list, which makes it the top computer school in the country. Stanford is No. 6. Other schools in the top 10 include The University of California, New York University, and the University of Minnesota. Another benefit is that all of these schools offer their programs online, too, which is useful in today’s society.

What Jobs Are Available with Each Degree?

Luckily, with both degrees, there are a wide variety of jobs available. These jobs are listed separately, but the job duties often cross over.

Computer Science Degree Jobs

Database Designer or Administrator

Database administrators act as managers over often complex and very large computer databases of information. Designers separately create these databases for a wide range of functions. In some cases, the same professional may play the role of both the designer and administrator.

Modeling and Simulations

Modeling and simulation jobs are those focused on using modeling such as that offered via simulation software for the creation of whole new worlds or the representation of things already found in our own world.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Work in the artificial intelligence sector involves the creation and maintenance of systems that utilize computerized logic and reasoning systems. One specific example of a job found in this industry is that of the machine learning programming analyst.

The top AI use cases today are in the areas of quality control, customer care, and cybersecurity. Around six out of 10 manufacturers and pharma companies are using AI to improve product quality. Nearly half of consumer goods and retail firms (47%) are using it in customer care. Over half (51%) of energy firms are leveraging AI for monitoring and diagnostics, 58% of financial services providers for fraud detection, and 52% of tech firms to strengthen cybersecurity.

MIT Technology Review (March 2020)

Programming (Scientific, System, Design, Interface, and Computer Control)

Programming work today sets at the core of much of the world’s new software and even hardware creation. In this vocation, programmers use computer language to give computers exact instruction sets to follow.

Software Development

Software development work involves the research, design, and eventual implementation of all kinds of new software products.

Software Publishing

Software publishing is complicated. Many jurisdictions might have laws that influence the publishing of new software. Copyrights and patents both can be positively Byzantine, and state, federal, and local laws may apply, particularly if the company publishing the software has offices all over the country. In cases where the company has a presence in more than one country, international law may affect or even supersede American law. Software publishers must be aware of these things and work in concert with other professionals in the company to ensure a smooth process.

Software Engineering

Software engineers are specialized professionals who develop new kinds of software.  Software engineers are similar to the above-mentioned software developers, but in this particular role, engineering concepts are specifically applied to the software creation process.

Quality Assurance Engineering

Quality assurance engineering work involves extensive product testing to find and resolve problems before the customer finds them in the end product. Some in this line of work also participate in actual product development and change processes subsequent to such testing.

Telecommunications Planning

Telecommunications planners are the professionals concerned with designing and building new telecommunications systems and networks.

Computer Information Systems Degree Jobs

Human-Computer Interaction Specialist

Human-computer interaction specialists work closely with and often in the AI industry to create new ways for humans and robotics/computers to effectively interface and interact with one another.

Data Warehousing and Mining

Data mining, warehousing, and modeling work often go hand-in-hand and focus exclusively on the deriving of data from various hidden sources and then manipulating and storing it as needed.

Help Desk

Help desk personnel are front-line technical support specialists who assist customers with their issues. The ERP administrator oversees help desk operations, streamlining procedures and upgrading the help desk’s troubleshooting capabilities. Help desk personnel must be able to solve problems and to craft solutions, which must many times be done on-the fly. These workers use their critical thinking skills to improve customer experience, and they rely on the ERP administrator to give them the correct tools.

Internet Services

There are many roles to be had in internet services work, and systems managers, engineers, tech support workers, and many others are all needed here.

Chief Information Officer

This job sometimes also carries the title of Chief Technology Officer. CIO is an executive-level position, and people in that position are responsible for administering an entire company’s IT systems from individual terminals to servers and security.

IS or IT Management

The demand for managers in information technology and information systems is great. As a result, these workers who handle a company’s IT or IS and then report to the chief information officer mentioned above hold a key place in the wider computer-related workforce today.

Database Management or Administrating

These folks create new databases and work with existing databases. They must maintain the data. They must also protect the data from prying eyes and must be well-versed in security protocols. Database managers must also be great communicators because it is their job to keep upper management in the loop regarding the company’s data and its security.

Management Consultant

Consultation work sees an expert in some field providing their expert advice to paying clientele in need of it. In management consultation work relative to computer info systems, the professional is paid for dispensing CIS management advice specifically to paying clients.

Management, Systems, or Operating Research Analyst

CIS analysts research and analyze methods to make computerized systems work in new and better ways. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites operating research analysts as seeing a massive increase in job demand over the coming years.

Business Application Developer

Application developers create software that allows customers to interact with businesses at all levels. These applications must function smoothly with as little downtime as possible, so it’s crucial not only for the developer to create engaging, well-designed software but also for that person to be able to troubleshoot and maintain the programs.

ERP Administrator

ERP administrators focus on enterprise resource planning. Enterprise resources integrate business applications that are designed to automate vast sections of a company’s computer networks. It is the ERP administrator’s job to ensure these systems run continuously, which frees up resources to be used elsewhere.

These administrators also work together with a company’s training staff to prepare all employees for using the company’s systems and also perform simple troubleshooting for low-level issues.

Business Decision Support Specialist

A business decision support analyst specializes in evaluating and sometimes making decisions with regard to business software systems and other, related business functions.

Internet or Intranet Manager

Internet managers are professionals who oversee the effective continuity of certain internet services. Similarly, intranet management involves overseeing the continuity of an intranet or closed or localized computer network.

All degrees come with pros and cons. Students who enjoy programming and learning almost all aspects of technology may enjoy a computer science degree but can find the amount of math and coding required overwhelming. Students who enjoy marketing and learning about business will most likely enjoy a computer information systems degree. It covers a broad range of topics which some people enjoy. The nice thing about both degrees is that they can be combined with a wide variety of degrees and each of them guarantees a large number of jobs available after graduation. Having the flexibility with one degree to work in many different areas is beneficial in the case of burnout or someone who wants to try something new. It is important to consider personal strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and what kind of job is desired after graduation before choosing your degree, but either way, a good future is promising when it starts with a degree in computer information systems or computer science.

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