Masters Degree (MS) in Management Information Systems (MIS) has become a rapidly sought-after specialization in the past few decades. But the roots of this specialization are definitely not that new. Let’s say, even Chitragupta, the god of scribes, was practicing MIS while keeping track of the deeds of humans, you know, for purposes of creating a database for good and bad karma.
So, as you might have guessed already, MIS has to do with managing information. Without good practices of record-keeping and utilizing that record, Chitragupta’s ledger could have missed out on meting out fairly deserved karma kickbacks.
What has changed, since the mythological age to the Information age, is the way information can be shared and manipulated. Since early 1900s, business owners were using ledgers and punch cards to keep track of sales, data, finances, etc until they were replaced by computers, using less cumbersome, more efficient database systems.
With the internet, sweeping us off our feet, in the 90s, information realized a bigger, much easier, platform for getting shared. Lately cloud sharing has made information immensely more mobile and accessible.
Parallel to the growth, of the playing field of information, the need for trained professionals, to manage the information, grew. Now, top Universities in the US, offer some of the most well-structured, well established departments for training future business managers [read this article on the best MBA programs in Technology].
MIS is an interdisciplinary field. However, historically most student bodies have been found to be comprised of Computer Science and Business majors (like about 47% computer science majors at Carnegie Mellon University, according to Careers360).
There are so many among us who like technology and the way it has impacted our daily lives. Just like the way one can sit at home, pay bills online and get “Thank you for your payment” on five different media portals. Or how a thumb (henceforth called the wonder thumb) has the superpower of getting a list of the best tandoori places within 5kms.
And phones are getting smarter daily, while politicians are getting dumber. In other words, you enjoy technology and how it has impacted people’s lives. The field of MIS is made for individuals who want to bridge the gap between technology and the end users.
Not quite completely technical, MIS students don’t have to be adept in technology, yet not completely unaware of technological advances either. Their end goal is to learn how to improve a business organization using technology.
Simplistically put, MIS’ers understand the needs of a business, what are the problems, what needs to be solved, does information exist or need to be acquired, what needs to get integrated by the nerd, behind the computer, aka the programmer, and finally how to implement the development.
In essence, they are the tool-designers who can tell what to do to improve business processes in the long run. Hence, quite understandably, this specialization is not just for programmers, but for individuals who are creatively enterprising.
They are dynamic and can communicate very well, in both code and manager speak. One can choose multiple disciplines, under MIS, such as Business Information Management, IT Strategy, Telecom Management etc – all of which ultimately serve the goal of meaningful use of information for better business organization development.
A few management schools, [Eller (Arizona), NDSU, University of Dayton], have summarized the various job roles to be expected of an MIS graduate. All of them boil down to being the gal or guy who knows the business and technical side of things and brings them together on a common platform.
They are-Business Analyst, Business Application Developer, IT Consultant, Systems Analyst, IT Development Project Leader, Database Administrator, Business Intelligence Analyst, Systems Developer, Database Analyst, Web Developer, Network Administrator, Technical Support Specialist, Information Systems Manager, IT User Liaison and perhaps Chitragupta’s second in command. And average salaries, for good candidates can be as high as plus $100k, in the US .
The salaries of the various job roles are competitive in the business. The median salaries can be in the $60k-$80k range, while higher end salaries can be well beyond the $100k mark.
Read Job Opportunities and average salaries after MIS degrees
The consensus for the four best ranked schools are, however, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and University of Arizona – Eller College of Management [US News].
Most schools, that offer an MIS degree, accept both GRE and GMAT, for admission processing. If there is a specific need for another test score, such as a subject score for Mathematics, they usually ask for it separately.
The wonder-thumb rule is that an applicant needs to have a pretty decent quantitative background. And going by the standards of current GRE quant section, one needs to be not afraid of high school math. [Read these related posts on GRE exam pattern & syllabus & GRE preparation].
There is, as with other graduate programs, no strict cut-off for GRE or GMAT specified by the individual schools. However here’s a snippet of the GRE scores and cost of education at the top four above-mentioned MIS schools, based on known standards of students and their GRE scores.
|School||Average GRE Score||Tuition Fees|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||GRE Verbal- 160, Quant-170||$70k [more details]
(MIT should have a discount for students who can spell Massachusetts in a single attempt.)
|Carnegie Mellon University||Verbal: 151-158; Quant: 160-167||~$75k annual possibility of a merit based scholarships.[More details]
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Median GRE ~319
Although the Admissions Director at Carlson Management School doesn’t seem to provide a generally accepted cut-off.
|~$49k for non-residential students with the possibility of merit based scholarships. [more details]|
|University of Arizona||Though the University page doesn’t claim a cut-off, a combined score of above 300 is a good goal.||~$60k with the possibility of teaching/research assistantships.|
[Edit: Table data updated in May 2018. Check the official site for more recent statistics.]
MIS demand is not likely to die soon, at least not until the next human evolution happens. In fact, it is predicted to grow by over 12%, in the next decade [Source].
So clearly, you won’t be sitting around, if you were a hot candidate for a business interested in making money-aka every possible business. If you consider yourself to be a quick thinking, smart, dynamic, technologically aware, creative and social individual, you may need a humility course but you are definitely an MIS candidate worthy of becoming the Senior Organizational Manager of a company.