Computer Science Vs Management Information Systems

Hi everyone!

I am a rising senior and starting on my college applications. I know I want to major in something to do with computer programming, and I have an interest in cybersecurity. I have heard that computer science is super math-heavy. I am okay at math, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to other people. Can I major in MIS and still get a job that has both computer programming and cybersecurity? Many of the schools that I am looking at do not offer cybersecurity as a major or a minor, and I have been told that it does not offer as many opportunities as a more general major.

Thank you

MIS is for more business-type things generally and is arguably just as specific/limiting as cybersecurity is, in different ways. While academic CS includes math, I think people tend to overexaggerate how math-heavy CS is. You may have to power through 1-2 more math courses than you prefer, but if you want to program or work in cybersecurity, CS is probably your best bet.

If you truly wanted to not do CS, you could do Software Engineering, which tends to be programming sans most CS theory work. With that said, I would go with CS here. The math component is not something that should intimidate you, speaking as someone who is not a lover of math but still very much enjoyed CS.

MIS and other-named variations is often a business-based less-technical major aimed at managing computers and their software, not designing and developing them. Some programs do have more technical content than others, although they tend to be less technical than computer science or software engineering majors.

Software engineering majors where they exist tend to be mostly similar to computer science majors, except with a greater emphasis on software engineering methodology among upper level courses, which displace some computer science topics. However, the math level should be fairly similar (typically need discrete math), though some computer science majors choose more upper level topics courses that are math heavy (such as theory and cryptography).

Yes, in computer security, you may want to learn more about cryptography, which is math (algebra and number theory) heavy.

Tons of opportunity in cybersecurity and growing every day. For example, at my job a new hire straight out of college with a cybersecurity degree became a manager in 3 years and is working at a higher job level than the majority of CS people here who have worked much longer at programmer/analyst jobs. If you want to work in cybersecurity, specialize in it. The downside is that the job is not for everyone and it’s not like programming. Try to get an idea of what people in the field are actually doing day to day and what you think your career path might look like and ask yourself if you are comfortable with this before making a commitment.

Thank you all for your advice. I have not been able to job shadow someone yet in cybersecurity, and I believe that experience will also help me make a decision on my major. I am relieved that the math isn’t as intense as I originally thought.

I have heard that there is high demand for people in cybersecurity. Would a major in information systems and a minor in computer science as well as cybersecurity certifications be enough to land a good job? I just want to see all of my different options :slight_smile:

I would really not recommend IS/MIS given your interests if that’s the path you choose. While you may be able to manage to land a job with that route, it’s going to be a lot easier with a CS major or a cybersecurity major where possible.

As mentioned, cybersecurity will be a lot more math-heavy, so beware there!

Cybersecurity is a broad category. Just like any job category, there’re different levels of jobs (or jobs with different responsibilities) in that category. Don’t confuse an IS degree with a CS degree. Each targets different career path and thus has different requirement.