Masters in Management Information System (MIS)
We are going to make a few guesses about you, our reader.
You probably completed an undergraduate degree in engineering, and perhaps have a few years of work-ex. Quite likely, the higher-education bug has bitten you (well, why else would you be reading this 🙂 )
Whether it be to kickstart your career with more ammo, enhance your career prospects, or switch tracks, you’ve decided to pursue a master’s degree.
And if you’re like most students we’ve known – you probably have a good understanding of how an MS or an MBA will educate you. But you’re not on firm footing when it comes to the Management Information System program. You’ve heard many different descriptions, but they all boil down to this oversimplified sentence – An MIS is in-between an MS and an MBA.
Now, what on earth does that mean?
We’ve written this blog to clear the mystery surrounding the MIS program and help you decide if this is the degree that will meet your needs!
Before we get into details, let us give you a quick-and-dirty thumb rule for whether this is the right program for you. Simply put, this degree is for you if:
1. You enjoy working with technology, but you cannot see yourself writing code for the rest of your life.
2. You have a gut-level passion for technology, but you ALSO have an inclination for high-impact business – and you find it difficult to choose between your two interests.
Is this something you can relate to?
Well, read on! In this blog, we cover all aspects of the Management Information System program – such as what the curriculum comprises, what career paths open to you as an MIS graduate, how you can get into a good program and how you can finance your studies!
What is the MS in Management Information System?
Remember the layman definition ‘something between an MS and MBA’ that we discussed in the introduction?
Well, a more accurate description of the MIS program would be that it is geared to teach you skills that relate to the intersection of IT and business.
Management Information Systems is the application of computer related technology to managerial programs. With a Master of Science in Management Information System, you will acquire foundational business knowledge with Information Systems focused courses.
And thereby, upon graduation, you will be ready for jobs that require you to identify problems and leverage technology to develop solutions for your business problems.
Because of the enormous impact of information technology on businesses, management of IT systems is considered a business function, and is therefore offered by the Business Schools in various universities (though in some cases it is also offered by specific schools of Information Studies).
In other words, it is a core business program with engineering electives. Most of the programs can be completed in 18-24 months and require 33 credit hours of coursework. Some universities may require you to complete a thesis during the course of the degree.
Like the Master’s in MIS, there are other integrative courses that combine technology and business.
• MEM (MS in Engineering Management)
• MIM (MS in Information Management)
• MSIS (MS in Information Systems)
• MSTM (MS in Technology Management)
• MSEM (MS in Engineering Management)
Don’t let this list worry you! All these courses have similar curriculums and are variations of each other offered through different names in different schools.
What does the MIS Curriculum comprise?
The curriculum may vary from one university to another, but the following courses are common to most universities:
• System Analysis and Design
• Database Management
• Enterprise architecture
• Information Security and Compliance
• E-Commerce and Internet based Applications
• Data Warehousing
• Business Process Design
• Business Intelligence Applications
• Information Systems Strategy and Governance
• Project Management
Also, within the Management Information System world, you will have certain programs that are more suitable for students with a strong background in information technology who want to advance to a management position. There will also be other programs which better suit business professionals who want to utilize information technology in their management practices.
So, when you begin to consider various schools, look through their course curriculum to see whether they have a heavier component of information technology or business!
What kind of people will you come across in an MIS Program?
In an MIS class, you will find students from a variety of backgrounds. You will find students who just finished their undergraduate degree and decided to pursue a post-graduate program right after.
You will find students who are pursuing the degree in order to advance beyond the pure technical role they were in.
Others are students who do not have a strong background in information technology and are looking to switch careers entirely.
Though professional experience is not compulsory for this program, some universities may suggest that you have some amount of experience before applying. So you will find that the majority of your MIS classmates will be between 22 and 26 years of age.
So, what do you do after an MIS?
MIS professionals are the “communication bridge” between business needs and technology. As you may have already guessed, they are in very high demand in today’s world! An MIS degree from a top school can be your speedy ticket to the rewarding job you’ve been dreaming of – rewarding both in terms of job satisfaction and monetary benefits.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the median annual income of computer and information systems managers was $127,640, with the middle 50% earning between $99,320 and $161,520.
Companies that hire MIS grads include:
• The Big 4 (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, EY)
• Banks such as Citi, JP Morgan, and Bank of America
• Technology companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Facebook
Read on for specific job roles you are likely to bag!
Information Systems Manager
Information systems managers are responsible for the computer systems within a company. Information systems managers are high-level executives in charge of computer- and technology-related research, development, and productivity of organizations.
In today’s complex business environment, organizations need to be adaptable to constant change – traditional methods may not always lead to reaching objectives. This is where business analysts come in. They help businesses implement technology solutions in a cost-effective way by determining the requirements of a project or program, and communicating them to stakeholders, facilitators, and partners.
Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst improves the efficiency of the computer systems within an organization. They analyze user requirements, procedures, and problems to automate or improve existing systems and review computer system capabilities, workflow, and scheduling limitations.
To do this, they introduce new and improved methods that further optimize the resources of existing systems, or they develop entirely new computer systems using different hardware or programs.
Data analysts collect, process, and perform statistical analyses of data. Their aim is to discover how data can be used to answer questions and solve problems. With Big Data Analytics coming to the fore, data analysts have never had it so good!
A systems analyst is a person who uses analysis and design techniques to solve business problems using information technology. Systems analysts may serve as change agents who identify the organizational improvements needed, design systems to implement those changes, and train and motivate others to use the systems.
Business Application Developer
Applications developers translate business software requirements into workable programming code and maintain and develop programs for use in business. Job titles and specific duties may vary between organizations but the role usually involves writing specifications and designing, building, testing, implementing, and sometimes supporting applications using programming languages and development tools.
An IT consultant works in partnership with clients, advising them how to use information technology in order to meet their business objectives or overcome problems. They work to improve the structure and efficiency of IT systems in various organizations.
IT Development Project Leader/ Project Manager
As Development Leader/Manager you have a number of responsibilities, but the primary one is to get a product out the door. Your goal is to deliver results to the customer or market, and to do everything necessary to achieve this. To do this you need to make sure the development team is able to work as efficiently as possible and this means making sure they have clear goals, both short term and long term, and that nothing prevents them from doing their work.
Business Intelligence Analyst
A business intelligence (BI) analyst is a professional role where the individual is responsible for analyzing data that is used by a business or organization. Data used in BI generally supports decision-making. The BI analyst works with this kind of data to maximize its utility.
TOP 10 US SCHOOLS FOR MIS
There are many universities in the US that offer this program. MIS is offered through B-schools as well as through schools of information studies. Here is a list of the ten best Masters in MIS programs in the US:
• Carnegie Mellon University (Heinz College)
• University of Arizona (Eller College of Business)
• Texas A & M University (Mays Business School)
• Indiana University (Kelley School of Business)
• Oklahoma State University (Spears School of Business)
• University at Buffalo – SUNY (School of Management)
• New York University (Stern)
• University of California, Berkeley
• Syracuse University
• University of Maryland
Carnegie Mellon University
A private, global research university, Carnegie Mellon stands among the world’s most renowned educational institutions, and sets its own course. Carnegie Mellon consistently ranks in the top 25 in the national U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is home to the world’s first degree-granting Robotics and Drama programs, as well as one of the first Computer Science departments.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a public research university located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. UA is a place without limits—where teaching, research, service, and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. Recognized as a global leader, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $606 million in research investment each year, and ranking 20th among all public universities.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Located in College Station, Texas, A&M’s main campus is home to over 59,000 students, with more than 436,000 former students worldwide. With more than 130 undergraduate degree programs, 170 master’s degree programs, 93 doctoral degree programs and 5 first professional degrees as options for study, Texas A&M is full of possibilities.
Founded in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of IU’s eight campuses statewide. Their diverse academic programs are among the best, with several ranking #1 and in the top 10 nationally. They’re also known for innovation and firsts such as establishing the nation’s first informatics school.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University is a public research university located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States. Oklahoma State University is listed by the Princeton Review as one of 120 “Best Western Colleges” for 2011. In 2013, Oklahoma State was ranked number 23 on the Forbes list of “Best Value Colleges.”
University at Buffalo, SUNY
UB is a premier, research-intensive public university dedicated to academic excellence. Founded in 1846, it is a flagship institution in the State University of New York system, UB is the largest and most comprehensive campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. It is a member of the Association of American Universities. Nearly 11 percent of UB students study abroad and it has exchange programs with more than 75 universities around the world.
New York University
Founded in 1831, New York University is one of only 60 member institutions of the distinguished Association of American Universities. From a student body of 158 during NYU’s very first semester, enrollment has grown to more than 50,000 students at three degree-granting campuses in New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, and at study away sites in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.
University of California
The University of California is a public research university located in Berkeley, California. It is considered by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings as one of six university brands that lead in world reputation rankings in 2015. The university is also well known for producing a high number of entrepreneurs. UC Berkeley offers approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Syracuse University is a private research university in Syracuse, New York. The campus is in the University Hill neighborhood of Syracuse. SU is organized into 13 schools and colleges, with nationally recognized programs in information studies and library science, architecture, communications, business administration etc. SU is also a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is a public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Founded in 1856, the university is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland. With a fall 2010 enrollment of more than 37,000 students, over 100 undergraduate majors, and 120 graduate programs, Maryland is the largest university in the state.
8 STEPS TO AN MIS PROGRAM
1. Figure out if you are eligible
Since MIS is an integrative field, the eligibility net might be a wider one than for other purely technical or business courses.
Some schools may require you to have a degree in Information Technology at an undergraduate level. However, in certain other schools, if you do not have a background in IT, that is considered acceptable. You will be provided the option to take certain extra courses after joining.
Also, a year of work experience will give you industry exposure, and some schools may consider that this will help you contribute better to the class.
So, whether required or not, a little bit of industry experience can increase your chances of getting an admit.
2. Take the GRE or the GMAT
To get into a top school for an MIS program, you will need a GRE or a GMAT score.
Look up the school’s website for particulars as to which test is accepted and what is the average score accepted.
When it comes to preparing for the exam, you will find that there are plenty of online resources to help you!
Make sure that you check out forums such as BeattheGmat, GmatClub, MSinUS,Thegradcafe and of course, Quora!
3. Take a standardized language test
Most schools require you to take a language course like TOEFL or IELTS.
For the U.K., TOEFL test scores are accepted for Tier 4 student visas under certain conditions. IELTS is recognised by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.
The perfect score for the TOEFL iBT is 120, with 30 points per each of the four sections. The perfect score for the IELTS is a 9.
Both test the four main language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. They are both standardised tests which- in theory- means that the scoring is consistent throughout the world.
Do not worry too much about your preparation for the TOEFL and IELTS. Your preparation for the GMAT or the GRE should mostly suffice. Just devote about one additional week to your TOEFL/IELTS and you should be good to go!
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the TOEFL.
4. Find out whether your undergrad GPA meets the school requirements
International B-schools measure your academic performance through your Grade Point Average (GPA).
Find out the standard requirement of your school before you apply. However, do not, we repeat, do not try to convert your score into a 4. GPA. The college will take care of that.
Also, graduate-level entry into international B-schools requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an internationally recognized institution.
When in doubt about your academic suitability for a program, we recommend that you directly reach out to the college AdCom rather than relying on opinions of your friends or acquaintances. You definitely do not want to go all the way with your application process, only to find out that you do not meet the academic criteria.
5. Write a great SOP
Your statement of purpose is very important when it comes to your admissions.
When writing it, make sure that it brings out your experience, abilities, and qualifications in the field.
Highlight your career goals, and your reasons for choosing to do an MIS program.
Make your SOP heartfelt and authentic – try as hard as possible not to make it a cookie-cutter SOP that anybody could have written.
Your SOP must convince the adcoms why you are a great fit for their program. Here are some great tips to write a great SOP.
If you are not sure if your SOP ticks all the right boxes, get it reviewed by a professional consultant.
6. Craft a sharp resume
Your resume provides the admissions committee with more data-centric information than what is included in your SOP.
A good resume will talk about your educational qualification, extracurricular activities, and your professional experience, if any, in a concise and presentable format.
Crispness and specific detail are at the core of a great resume. Remember that each word in your resume has to carry value.
Also, remember that each bullet point in your resume has to convey impact – therefore, do not just focus on what you did, but what impact was achieved as a result of what you did.
7. Get Recommendations from the right people
Contact a professor or a boss whom you have worked closely with and who knows you well enough to write a detailed, authentic recommendation for you.
A recommendation letter does not just furnish details about your job or academics, but it also provides insight into your personality and character. It is a testament to the skills that will matter in the academic course you are pursuing.
One crucial thing to remember, that many aspirants get wrong – Approach your recommenders well in advance! Give them time to construct their thoughts and put it on paper, and give yourself the leeway to review it .
If you force your recommender to write something two days before the deadline, they’re not likely to feel very cordial towards you as they are writing your recommendation. You wouldn’t want that, would you? 🙂
8. Ace your interview
Hone your interview skills.
Almost all schools will require an interview round once your application has been shortlisted. However, do not wait until then to prepare for the interview.
Do some research in advance on the kinds of questions asked and the kinds of responses expected.
Get help from experts to prepare for your interview.
Now that you know what schools you want to apply to, and what you need to do to apply, let’s tackle the all-important hurdle on the way – Financing your MIS!
FUNDING YOUR MIS
The average fee for MIS programs is close to $45,000 for a 2-year program, that is, approximately INR 30 lakhs. The cost of living, for two years, would come up to $24,000, that is, approximately INR 16 lakhs.
With airfare costs, your GRE and TOEFL fee, and application fee, all in all, the average cost would be around $70,000. In Indian rupees, the total average would cost close to 48 lakh rupees.
Did these numbers just make you wonder if your MIS dream is achievable? There are ways you can manage your finances and make your dreams come true.
1. Financial Aid from the college
There are several schools in the US that provide generous aid to international students. Most schools offer scholarships and grants to qualified and deserving applicants. Apply for the aid when applying to the college. If you’re lucky, you could be granted full tuition fee – though this is rare to find.
2. International Student Loan
International student loans cover the costs of tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. The good thing about these loans is that typically, no collateral is required.
On the flipside, it is mandatory that you have a cosigner—who is a US citizen or a US permanent resident—in order to get your loan approved.
You can check here to see if your choice of school is eligible for international student loan. If you cannot find a cosigner who is a US citizen or US permanent resident, there’s an alternative.
Global Student Loan Corporation provides loans for non-US students to study in the US. Your cosigner doesn’t have to be from the US, and no collateral is required.
Credila Financial Services is another organization that provides loans , provided you have a cosigner from India.
The Human Resource Development Ministry lists national and external scholarships offered to Indian students aspiring to study abroad. You can check to see if there are any that match your needs.
You can also check out International Scholarships – a forum where institutions post awards and scholarships they offer to international students. You can browse through the site and find merit-based awards, scholarships, or fellowships.
There are several platforms that will provide you financial aid. Here’s a tool that will help you find scholarships based on your desired program.
Also, don’t forget to check out and apply for scholarships at the school you are applying to.
4. Part Time Jobs at the University
You can get an on-campus job that allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week while you are a student.
The usual pay ranges from 6–12 $/hr. This job will cover your living expenses during your study.
However, this can be taxing- especially if choose something physically demanding like working in the cafeteria.
Keep in mind that every hour of your education is valuable, and try to pick a job that will aid a certain degree of skill development.
5. Assistantship at the college
You can get financial aid from the college by doing an assistantship. An assistantship is a kind of part-time on-campus job. Most American universities that offer assistantships provide $ 5,000 to $ 20,000 annually.
These are the two types of assistantships you can get:
Teaching assistantship (TA) involves assisting a professor in teaching sections of a course, grading papers of undergraduate students, or running laboratory sessions. To get a teaching assistantship, you should have taken the same/similar class before with a good grade, or you must have had prior work or research experience in the subject.
Research Assistantship (RA) requires you to assist a professor with his or her research. If you plan to pursue an academic career in research and enjoy tasks like data collection and analysis, writing literature reviews, and preparation of reports and articles, a research assistantship would be great for you. Again, you may be required to have an undergraduate degree in that subject.
6. Trust Loans
There is another source of funding on domestic shores, one that is not as well known as the other sources.
There are quite a few trusts in India that offer education grants to Indian students aspiring to pursue their higher education abroad.
These trusts offer loan scholarships to deserving candidates. Some of them are –
The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust
K C Mahindra Trust,
Mariwala Loan Scholarships
Now that you know what a Master’s in MIS program is all about and what career options open up to you after completing an MIS, we hope you’re closer to making up your mind about the MIS!
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