Skip to content
Explaining the differences in Information Systems degrees

Master’s in Information Systems degrees: What are the Differences?

Information Management is a big bucket that holds a number of associated degrees. For example, one of them, Information Systems, is the study of complementary networks that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create, and distribute data.

An MS in Information Systems is distinct from related degrees in Information Management, Information Technology and Computer Science, but all four degrees are a good fit for early-career and mid-career professionals who are looking to bolster their IT skills.

Maybe you’re a consultant, a business analyst, a product developer, an implementation manager, a software solutions expert or an IT manager. If you think knowing how to better use information to make informed business decisions would help you advance in your career, any of the following degrees could help you get there – but there are slight differences.


MS in Information Management

Focus/objective

A master’s in Information Management helps those interested in bridging the gap between business and technology achieve that connection. Students learn the effective use of information for the business purpose it serves, and about how to facilitate the secure sharing of information inside and outside of an organization. The Syracuse University School of Information Studies offers this degree on-campus and online.

Core skills

  • Technical
  • Analytical
  • Managerial
  • Deploy emerging technologies
  • Manage high-value resources

Key Courses

  • Information systems analysis
  • Data science
  • Information security
  • Technological infrastructure
  • Management principles

MS in Information Technology

Focus/objective

Working with hardware, software, databases, and networks — the technology involved in the information systems. Students learn the functioning of IT components and how they provide the base to store, network, process, manipulate, and disseminate information.

Core skills

  • Mathematics
  • Database design
  • Computer science and forensics
  • Programming languages

Key Courses

  • Object-oriented programming
  • Software engineering
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Information security

MS in Computer Science

Focus/objective

The MS in Computer Science curriculum focuses on software and the planning, design, implementation, testing, and management of computer systems and applications. Students will learn algorithm investigation, design efficiency, and implementation and application of computer systems.

Core skills

  • Security and assurance
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer architecture
  • Advanced programming

Key Courses

  • Structured programming and formal methods
  • Computer architecture
  • Principles of operating systems
  • Design and analysis of algorithms

MS in Information Systems

Focus/objective

Just as an MS in Information Management helps build a business-and-technology bridge, a master’s in Information Systems bridges business and computer science. Students focus on information and learning about the equipment, processes and people involved in the dissemination of that information within an organization.

Core skills

  • Actuarial sciences
  • Analytics and programming
  • Communications
  • Computer security and auditing

Key Courses

  • Information theory
  • Foundations of management
  • Social science
  • Information technology

Career Track

The 2017 tech hiring report from Robert Half Technology found there’s still a shortage of skilled tech talent in North America. “Network security and big data initiatives” are driving demand for information systems professionals, according to the report, and while employers are making generous offers, they’re also being selective.

More than 6 in 10 (61 percent) chief information officers told Robert Half that it’s challenging to find skilled technology professionals, while 37 percent said staying up to date on industry trends is the greatest source of pressure on technology professionals. Asked which areas today’s technology professionals could most use improvement, the most frequently-selected answer by CIOs (at 28 percent) was “communication skills, including written, interpersonal and face-to-face communication.”

Some of our degrees offer specific job tracks within a range of industries and a range of employers, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deloitte Consulting, EY (Ernst & Young), JP Morgan Chase & Co., KPMG, LPA Software Solutions, Microsoft, PwC, Securonix Inc., and the U.S. Government.

MS in Information Management

  • Senior data consultant
  • User experience designer
  • Data visualization specialist
  • Database developer

MS in Information Technology

  • IT project manager
  • Information security analyst
  • Network architect
  • Database administrator
  • Systems analyst

MS in Computer Science

  • Vice president, engineering
  • Enterprise architect, IT
  • Business intelligence director
  • Software engineering director
  • Director of information technology services
  • Applications development manager, computer software

MS in Information Systems

  • Chief information services officer
  • Vice president of information systems
  • Director of systems development
  • Product manager

If you believe new Information Management skills will help put you in front of employers hungry for tech leaders within their companies, it could be the right time to explore one of these degrees to help you advance in your career.

Editor’s note: this article first appeared on the iSchool@Syracuse blog in May 2017.

Katie Rook

Katie Rook

Co-Editor of InfoSpace, Digital Content Manager for the Syracuse University iSchool, and staff advisor for BLISTS: Black and Latino Information Science and Technology Support.

More Posts - LinkedIn