MIS vs. Computer Science

When I was back in college, we used to make fun of MIS students. We, being the Computer Science students. We were better than them. For those of you, who can’t tell the difference, MIS (Management of Information Systems) is a business-oriented major, which barely touches computers and technology. Computer Science, on the other hand, is all about hardcore. There are business courses too, but they aren’t the “important” ones. This is how we used to have it back then – I don’t know if it’s still so.

Anyway, working busy over the last few years I completely forgot about that clear distinction. Today though, I got a reminder. I was browsing through one of those job directories, looking for someone to fill the web designer vacancy at our company, when I saw the profile of this guy… Take a look at the small part of his profile on the screenshot below.

MIS gratuate

Now, the “gratuate” I can understand. They use it only for about a year during their “gratuate programs” and stuff like that. But “compiouters”? That’s not a mere typo. That one is intentional. That… hold on… I think I understand it now…

Yes! Probably the only thing that guy knows about computers is that they do input/ouput (I/O, IO). So, he maybe thinks that they are called “compIOuters”…

If there is one thing we, Computer Science students are better at, that is have to be “computer” spelling. We’ve been doing it for years. Time after time. After time. Rarely we are allowed to use CS abbreviation instead. Because, you know, it can mean so many things.

Read 16 comments


  1. Haha..Ok, Opera somehow screwed up RSS feeds so it didnt pick up any of your new posts..Oh well, I need to defend MIS :-) Oh and make no mistake I’m not defending this guy’s cv…I hate Typos especially on a CV!!

    I’ve work as a tech for maybe 7 years now and every once in a while someone I know while ask me what degree I have and will be shocked to know that I don’t have a Computer Science background. I have an MIS Background…more precisely a more Business background. So, it must be said that a degree alone does not make your career. Although, I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to Programming because frankly I just dont have a head for it. But mind you I have programmed tiny programs and worked with scripts.

    So, what I’m saying is…..that MIS may not be the best major out there…but it seems to have worked for me in this industry.

    Michael Jordan incidently was a Geography major if I am not mistaken. There’s a super Tech God (YODA) I know who has an economics degree!


  2. Oh come on! MIS has nothing to do with this guy’s CV. I can tell you 99%, that the guy is a Cypriot, who doesn’t speak English that well. “Compiouters” is a typical Cypriot pronunciation of the word. I bet his CV in Greek is much better :)

    Anyway I’ve got an MIS degree myself and it’s not because I found Computer Science too hard, on the contrary. I’ve completed ALL of the programming courses Intercollege had to offer in 1 year, along with some other Computer Science courses, but I found them very boring, because most of the class needed the basics repeated over and over many times, before we could proceed to the new stuff. And only one of out 4 lecturers made the lectures interesting.
    So since I was learning most of the stuff at my own pace at home anyway, I decided to switch major and I have no regrets.


  3. Something else I forgot to mention: MIS folks have no sense of humor. :) j/k.

    All programming courses in one year… Hmm.. either Nicosia campus follows a different academic path, or I find it hard to believe. If I remember correctly, Pascal I was a requirement for Pascal II (you couldn’t take both of them in one semester), Pascal II was a requirement for Assembler, and Assembler was a requirement for C. But with Visual Basic and Cobol also taken, I might have confused a few things here and there.

    By the way, programming languages are INDEED boring subjects. Learning a new syntax and a couple of new tricks isn’t worth a whole semester’s time. Bachelor courses for CS are much more fun though -- Data Structures, Algorithms, Compiler Design, Object Oriented Programming (missed this one, but people were telling lots about it), Artificial Intelligence, etc. Boring? Not boring at all. Computing at its best. :)


  4. I personally think MIS is a much more interesting course for those who already dig computers. Half of the course is computers, quarter business and quarter electives. It makes you more open-minded so to speak…

    I’ve taken all programming courses except assembler, which I find obsolete for my needs and I didn’t want to waste 350 pounds and the time. Cobol wasn’t offered… Pascal 2(Data structures) was my favorite, the most interesting assignments and lectures. Object oriented programming I’ve learned on my own and algorithms is something I’ve loved since I was a little kid :) (My dad is a nuclear physicist and still reads lectures on advanced math, must be in the genes or something). Neural networks and AI is indeed interesting, but it’s not something you can learn during one semester I believe, it takes years to get a general understanding.

    So maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think the money I’ve paid for 80% of the courses was worth it…

    proof :)


  5. Now that you brought my memories back, I forgot to mention that I followed two academic paths, not one. They were changing from the old path to the new one right when I was failing courses left and right. :)

    So, I had to take Pascal I and Pascal II (Data Structures is a separate course), Cobol, and C language programming -- from the old path. Then Visual Basic, ASM (I found it useful, though not very practical), and the rest of them -- from the new path.

    Good old times…

    Back to your comment -- I am a bit confused by it, to be honest. On one hand, you say that

    I personally think MIS is a much more interesting course for those who already dig computers. Half of the course is computers, quarter business and quarter electives.

    Which sound to me like you actually enjoyed it. But then you say:

    So maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think the money I’ve paid for 80% of the courses was worth it…

    I probably misunderstand something…

    Regarding the selection of courses, I think that specialization is a good thing. That is, I was glad that Computer Science was mostly about Computer Science. We too had to take math, business courses, and so on, but I always felt we could do better without those. Learning a little bit of everything is good for high school, IMHO, where one could get introduced into different areas of sciences. Colleges and universities, on the other hand, are all about deeper understanding of the selected area. Or so I think. :)


  6. Wow. You poke fun at the grammar mistakes in the photo. But you the almighty CS grade made a fatal error yourself…
    Do you know the difference between “Then” and “Than” ? Jesus Christ, go back to Comp I and learn something!
    (hint: check your 2nd sentence)


  7. Lynn,

    “then” and “than” is a very subtle difference for most of the non-native English speakers. “computer” however is THE word for any computer-related major. Or maybe that’s just me.

    BTW, thanks for pointing out the mistake -- it’s fixed now.


  8. Making fun of MIS students eh? I love the elitist attitudes of CS majors, that’s why they are so hard to manage. They act like spoiled little movie stars (aka major drama queens) because they have some belief they are “better” (as mentioned above) or they have more skills.

    They WHINE like little children and even throw temper tantrums like them!

    I have a news flash for you CS majors, your degree is a dime a dozen now. Same with CIS and MIS, you are replaceable no matter how many languages you know.

    Let me break down the degree status for everyone:

    CIS -- Nerd (but may actually have a social life, may be able to interact with management)

    CS -- Super Nerd (The one all nerds look up to and aspire to be, however social skills are lacking as well as the constant need for their ego to be stroked. Most of the time they cannot interact with management in a professional way and often tout how great the open source movement is and how insecure Microsoft is.)

    CS/MBA -- Rare Nerd, (is a combo of the Super Nerd and the General of nerds, still lacks some social skills but may not need ego stroked as much as the CS nerds).

    MIS -- General of the nerds (and super nerds) that tells all the other nerds what to do. Receives orders from the King of nerds. (The MIS may be on a power trip from telling all the other nerds what to do, often blames them for something that goes wrong. He/She gets to interact with Management frequently, tells his underlings what to do and tries to keep all of them happy).

    MIS with MBA -- King of all the nerds, gets to tell all of them what to do and how to do it. Often becomes a CIO and interacts with Management all day long, puts together budgets, decides what technology to use to solve company problems and often makes more than super nerds and nerds combined. Usually doesn’t have to worry about his job going overseas once he/she has reached the CIO level.


  9. So maybe you all could offer a helpful opinion (I’m sure Rob will :) …

    As a guy trying to figure out what to do with his life -- what is your opinion on this situation?

    I have an Industrial Engineering degree, consulted for 9 years. I grew into an pseudo MIS position. I’ve managed several software implementations, configured AS/400’s, worked on client/server apps, always from the business side -- I know SQL, learning Python for fun, and I can get into real trouble real fast with my “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” attitude. ;)

    Basically, I’m looking for a new job where I don’t have to travel 5 days a week. When I managed a team of 25, plus 10 in India -- we developed a performance management software package (visual basic, .net, Oracle). I had a lot of guys working for me -- I lucked into the position -- long story. But I could not do 1 of their jobs. They were all very technical, specialized and I was jealous because they were making close to what I was, but were not traveling at all. Plus, they seemed to be in high demand -- as every year, contract negotiations were intensely competitive. Basically, I think I was doing MIS work.

    I’d like to know what all of you think is the best option for a fellow like me? If you were a business minded person, but want to know what your talking about on the technical side… and you want job security now and in the future… with a good salary ($80k to $??? $150k +)… what would you do?

    Thanks folks.


  10. I have an MIS degree. Started out as a test engineer and made my way into development thanks to some exposure to oop that I had during my MIS coursework. It was not exactly easy and I spent a lot of time extra time learning more about oop and practicing. I first became a full time developer and now Im working on a master of science css. Had to take a few classes to fill in the gaps from not having an undergraduate cs degree. A lot of work actually. I’ve seen horrible work by developers without a cs degree (I was one of them) Ive seen horrible developers with a cs degree. In fact, a cs degree does not make a great developer or even someone who has a great handle on algorithms, data structures, etc. It all depends on the person. If you have a passion for coding and a degree in psyc go for it! You will find a path. If youre horrible at math and have a passion for development go for it! You will learn math.


  11. I think MIS offers a good blend of technical and management skills. You do have the option of taking electives be it programming or management related subjects. So its not fair to generalize an MIS program, its totally based on how you customize your curriculum. I think any company besides the product based ones like amazon, google, msoft would prefer a graduate to have both technical, the needed soft skills and if you have the appropriate domain knowledge like finance, marketing or accounting..you are all set for a lucrative career. This is where a CS program lacks. CS programs should focus in bringing more business courses coz corporates don’t care about how you program, or how efficient you program in. And algorithms?..no one cares a damn..memory is cheap. So MIS is one of the best degrees out there to get a break in IT/Management service oriented companies utilizing technologies which support the enterprise. For eg, ERP, CRM, Analytics,BI..which pay more as well with experience. A CS grad with the apt business accumen is still hard to find in this market. I feel MIS guys ( from a good program obviously) have a edge here. . Go for CS if you want to target Product based companies, go for MIS if you want to target IT service oriented companies.

    Vinny

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