What is the Difference Between a Master’s in Computer Science and a MIS Degree?

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If you are considering a career working with computers, you may wonder what is the difference between a Master's in Computer Science and an MIS degree. Both are technology-based, but are there significant differences? The answer to that question is yes. There is a difference in which university school or college houses the degree, the focus of the program and the careers that find their foundation in the degrees.

Master of Science in Computer Science

The major difference in the two disciplines is found in their names. The Master of Science in Computer Science focuses on the science or technology behind computing. Computer sciences degrees ask why the technology works. It delves heavily into computer architecture and programming. The discipline is based in a marriage between mathematics and engineering, so students must have an extensive background in calculus, algorithms and discrete mathematics. The Master of Science in Computer Science degree is usually housed in the engineering department or college of most universities. It focuses on the study of the computing machine, and its use as a tool. Computer science majors are not just concerned with writing a code for a computer process, but with why the code works in the computer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Critical reasoning skills are vital for people in computer science-based careers, because part of the scope of careers based in computer science is solving operating efficiency issues within computing systems. Core courses you might take in this program are research methodology; programming; algorithms, databases and systems and artificial intelligence. Electives might include courses such as big data, analytics and development of applications for mobile devices among others.

The Master of Science in Computer Science usually contains around thirty credits and takes two years to complete. Many universities offer the degree online as well as in traditional or blended formats. With a degree in computer science, you can pursue a position as a software designer, a researcher, a consultant who plans and implements telecommunications systems, or a systems auditor who examines computer systems to improve efficiency and security.

The Master in Management Information Systems Degree

The Management Information Systems degree focuses on the management of computer-based data. It is found in the business departments of most universities. Information management focuses on practical applications of the principles unearthed in computer science. Most businesses collect and store information about products, consumers and logistics digitally. That means they need professionals who can use the systems to retrieve the data and manage the way it is applied. Although professionals with careers in this discipline are not primarily concerned with programming and developing software, they do program and they do analyze systems. Still, there is not as much math in the degree curriculum. Some of the core courses overlap. In general, though, MIS degree students will not spend a lot of time in programming, coding and algorithms, but may have courses in finance, project management and other business classes. Examples of careers for people with this degree are: auditors, managers for projects that involve corporation system automation or install security components; consultants making a data-retrieval system more efficient for a business or other commercial applications of computing.

Job Outlook For Careers in Both Degrees

With the focus on cloud storage and computing as well as government input on things like EHRs and other data systems, careers in computing are expected to balloon. The average pay for a research computer scientist is $110,620. Network administrators and some other positions have median salaries that range from the high $70,000s to more than $100,000.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Masters in Computer Science Degrees

You may choose one degree over the other because of the career to which it leads. Some professions are accessed by either program. Still the difference between a Master's in Computer Science and an MIS degree is that one focuses on the science itself, while the other is concerned with the science application.