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Computer Information Systems vs. Computer Science

Anthony Watson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 25, 2003
Posts: 327
Has anybody else found themselves torn between getting a degree in Computer Science vs Computer Information Systems or whether you made the right choice between the two?

I have a bachelor's in CIS and am now thinking of returning to school to get a Master's degree. My university of choice offers a CS degree and CIS degree.

I think of computer science as more low level technical classes combined with math. I think of information systems as higher level technical classes combined with business. What are your perceptions?

I'm wondering what the best choice is in the long run. Don't a lot of techies turn to management eventually? If so, isn't it better to get the business training along with a technical education? I've been a programmer for 2-3 years and I've never needed to know how to work with the complex mathematical equations you need to understand while earning a CS degree.

CS degrees seem much more common in software development than cis. I've heard some cs grads look down on cis.

What do you all think?
Fletcher Estes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 01, 2004
Posts: 108
I think the difference is academic, and all but irrelevant in industry. You can be become a professional software developer with a huge range of degrees (the tech lead where I work now has a Law degree). The only thing that matters is your aptitude and performance.

To answer your question, just pick the course that interests you most - neither will offer you an advantage. The quality of the applicant far out-weighs the content of the course they've completed.
Jeremy Brandon
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 02, 2004
Posts: 13
The difference between CIS and CS is this.....CIS spends more time learning any/all the languages so that the student will be familiar with them. CS spends little time in any one language, but spends a lot of time studying concepts like OO programming and efficient algorithm usage. A CS student does have the ability to pick up on any language with relative ease because they have a good understanding of concepts that make up the language. A CIS student will have an advantage coming out of school with understanding buisness needs and buisness concepts, great if you want to go into management.

I think the reason that you see most job postings asking for a CS candidate and not a CIS one is because of what I have stated above.....since a CIS student has not studied OO programming, how can an employer realistically hire a CIS student for a Java position, considering JAVA is OO.

Jeremy


SCJP 1.4<br />CCNA
Mike Hogeboom
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 31, 2001
Posts: 19
I think most job offerings say CS because they aren't aware of CIS, or will accept CIS as equivalent (unless it's real hardcode low level programming or design required, and you can't list all acronyms). CIS does give you a broader understanding of technology and how it can be leveraged by an organization (but still requires study of OO and algorithms). If you want to move into management it may be your choice. I don't think anyone looks down on it, except for those with insecurities of their own degree (or lack of degree). I am currently finishing my MSc. in CIS. I plan on coupling it with an MBA, eventually. CIS is still definitely academic, otherwise it wouldn't require writing a thesis and would be more of a "learned" degree, like an MBA (which requires no thesis).

Mike
Joe King
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
My experience in the UK is that it doesn't really make much difference if you do CS or CIS. Most universities tend to name their degrees whatever they feel like it, and this name may not necessarily reflect what the degree is! A CS degree from one university may have a lot more or less programming involved than a CS degree with the same name from another university.

It can also vary within the same degree. I did a CIS degree, but each year I could choose from several modules to take. This allowed me to do a fair amount of programming. Other people took other modules that meant that they got the same degree as me but having done very little programming.

On the one hand this is a bit frustrating because it means that my degree doesn't really describe my skills, but on the other hand my experience would count for far more in a job interview then my degree. Most interviewers would want to know that I did a computing related degree but then look to my interview answers and experience to determine what I do (and more likely do not ) know.
Art Carey
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 17, 2004
Posts: 1
"how can an employer realistically hire a CIS student for a Java position, considering JAVA is OO."

Most CIS or IST programs are based around object orientation because, OO is the focus of most high level languages like Java or C#. I think that these individuals have an OO edge over CS students who study lower level concepts ,such as Assembly and Procedural Programming, which form basis on which these higher level languages are built.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1297
Does it really matter anymore after having 5 years of professional Experience?


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
mark marron
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 1
I've found that different companies value one degree over another (CS vs CIS) but it varies so much with each company that I've never found one to be the standard degree to obtain. I have a CIS degree and have been working at company X for just over 5 years. I love working for them and have had some great opportunities for advancement. Best of luck for whichever degree you decide to pursue.

Anthony Watson wrote:Has anybody else found themselves torn between getting a degree in Computer Science vs Computer Information Systems or whether you made the right choice between the two?

I have a bachelor's in CIS and am now thinking of returning to school to get a Master's degree. My university of choice offers a CS degree and CIS degree.

I think of computer science as more low level technical classes combined with math. I think of information systems as higher level technical classes combined with business. What are your perceptions?

I'm wondering what the best choice is in the long run. Don't a lot of techies turn to management eventually? If so, isn't it better to get the business training along with a technical education? I've been a programmer for 2-3 years and I've never needed to know how to work with the complex mathematical equations you need to understand while earning a CS degree.

CS degrees seem much more common in software development than cis. I've heard some cs grads look down on cis.

What do you all think?
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 37884
    
  22
Welcome to the Ranch

Please note we prohibit discussion of specific companies, so I have removed the company name from your posting.
Lee Kian Giap
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 23, 2008
Posts: 213
The best is to take both, so you don't need to compare, so you don't need to worry what a company is looking for.


My experience is as follows:

I have 3 years of Java/J2EE software development experience, which is more on receiving requirements from SA, carry out analysis and design on technical area (include database design, basic architecture layering, code design to cater for changes), develop and deliver the final product.

I want to move to carry out duty on Analysis and Design, join a company which mentioned that I need to stay in development for few years to understand their business before I get transfer to that duty. However, when I join the company, a fresh graduate from Information System get the role on Analysis and Design. 3 years of experience in IT can't even compete with fresh graduate.

What you think from this scenario ?


SCJP 6, SCWCD 5, SCBCD 5
Lee Kian Giap
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 23, 2008
Posts: 213
I am also considering to take part-time Master program. For me, I will choose a course which include Information System and Management.

The reason for this decision is that, I don't want to focus totally on technical, I clearly know that I am not addicted on technical side after 3 years of working in software development. If I continue to focus on technical side, I need to update myself and go deep into other technical area, e.g. Unix scripting, Application Server, Database and etc.

I will be more interested on understanding the business process, using excel and other tools to carry out analysis, and outcome a solution for the improvement which is most probably related to IT to replace or enhance the process.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
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