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Master’s in information systems degree programs prepare students to develop and implement complex information systems. These systems use hardware, software, and networks to help individuals and businesses solve problems. With a master’s in information systems, it’s possible to work as a network architect, an information systems manager, a computer scientist, or an information systems consultant.

Salaries for these jobs usually exceed $100,000 per year. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for a computer network architect is $126,900. Computer and information systems managers have a median salary of $164,070 per year.

Master’s in information systems degree programs cost an average of $19,749 per year, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.

How to Choose a Master’s in Information Systems Program

Choose your area of study

Most master’s in information systems programs usually include coursework in information security, computer programming, information systems design, and information systems management. However, many schools offer specializations to help students achieve their career goals. Consider specializing in digital transformation, artificial intelligence, data science, project management, or health informatics.

Research schools and programs

Now that you have a specialization in mind, it’s time to start researching schools. Think carefully about your learning style, your personal schedule, and the type of school you want to attend. These factors have a significant impact on your ability to succeed.

For example, some schools have weekend programs for students who work full-time during the week. It’s also possible to find part-time master’s in information systems programs, which tend to be a better fit for students who want to maintain an appropriate work-life balance.

While you’re researching master’s in information systems degree programs, consider the following:

  • Can you take classes part-time instead of full-time?
  • Is the tuition affordable?
  • Do faculty members have real-world experience in designing and implementing information systems?
  • Will you have the opportunity to complete an internship or participate in skills labs?

Prepare for tests and applications

The admission requirements for a master’s degree in information systems vary from one institution to another. You may need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Schools use test scores to determine if you’re likely to succeed in a graduate-level information systems program.

To improve your chances of acceptance, give yourself plenty of time to study. If you don’t do well the first time you take the test, consider registering for a second attempt.

Select your program

By this point, you should have a short list of programs meeting your criteria. It’s fine to apply to multiple schools, but you should keep in mind that you may need to pay an application fee for each one. Some institutions have competitive admissions processes, so applying to more than one school gives you a better chance of starting your master’s in information systems on time.

If you receive offers from multiple schools, choose a program based on these factors:

  • Cost
  • Course availability
  • Faculty expertise
  • Location
  • Financial aid

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Unless you receive a full scholarship from your school of choice, you’ll need to pay for your master’s in information systems degree. If you want federal aid, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form helps determine if you qualify for federal loans or grants. It’s also helpful to apply for need-based and merit-based scholarships. You may even qualify for financial assistance via the Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you have enough cash to pay for your degree, make sure you understand the total cost of attendance. Tuition, fees, and other expenses add up quickly, so you may need more money than you originally estimated.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Information Systems Programs

Best Master’s in Information Systems Programs

University of Texas at Austin

University of Maryland

Brigham Young University

University of Washington Foster School of Business

Arizona State University

Georgia State University

Indiana University

University of Arizona

Texas A&M University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Michigan

University of Illinois

Carnegie Mellon University

New York University

University of Florida

University of Illinois at Chicago

Johns Hopkins University

Florida International University

University of Illinois at Springfield

Boston University

University of Central Missouri

Northeastern University

Pace University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best master’s in information systems degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a reputable organization that assesses business programs for educational excellence.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition, faculty, reputation, and the resources provided for on-campus students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of master’s in information systems degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Information Systems Program?

Master’s in information systems degree programs typically include coursework in information systems development, network architecture, management information systems, and computer programming. If you specialize in cybersecurity, your program may include an in-depth study of security management, network authentication, cryptography, network threats, and online privacy.

Some schools allow students to specialize in data science. If you choose this path, plan to complete coursework in big data, data analysis, and computer programming.

It takes about two years to complete a master’s in information systems if you enroll in a full-time program. Some schools offer accelerated programs, reducing the time required to complete this degree. If you enroll in a part-time program, expect it to take three to four years, depending on the program requirements.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in information systems program

Master’s in information systems degree programs typically include these courses:

  • Networking. Computer networking involves connecting devices to facilitate the exchange of data. Therefore, networking courses typically cover wireless protocols, local area networks, TCP/IP design, network operating systems, and networking topologies.
  • Information systems design. Information systems design courses help students apply theoretical concepts to a wide range of real-world situations. Students typically learn about database management systems, e-commerce technologies, network security, hardware, software, and networking.
  • Data mining. Data mining makes it possible to identify relationships in large sets of data, making it essential for consumer research, health informatics, and other applications. Course requirements vary by program, but students typically learn about data sources, statistical modeling, data cleaning tools, and the use of popular algorithms for identifying patterns.
  • Strategic communications. Information systems professionals need to communicate with managers, colleagues, end users, and other stakeholders. Strategic communications courses typically focus on crafting effective messages, choosing the right communication channels, and ensuring all communications are relevant to company goals.
  • Project management. Information systems professionals have to oversee the development and implementation of new systems. As a result, they need to understand how to manage IT projects successfully. This course focuses on the fundamentals of project management, such as resource allocation, budgeting, and constraints.

Master’s in Information Systems Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in information systems degree program?

Many schools have similar application requirements for their master’s in information systems degree programs. You may have to fill out an application, submit your undergraduate transcripts, and take the GRE/GMAT.

Before you apply, contact an admissions representative to find out if you need to achieve a minimum score on either of these tests. They can also tell you if you need to complete any prerequisites before enrolling in a master’s in information systems program.

How much does a master's in information systems degree cost?

It costs an average of $19,749 per academic year to complete a master’s degree in information systems. Note that your costs will vary based on your enrollment status and the number of credits you take each term. Many schools also charge more for out-of-state students versus in-state students.

How long does it take to earn a master's in information systems degree?

It typically takes two years to complete a master’s in information systems degree program. This timeline is based on full-time attendance. If you enroll in a part-time program, expect it to take about twice as long to finish your degree. To reduce your total cost of attendance, ask your program coordinator if you can test out of certain courses or use your undergraduate coursework to meet some of the most basic program requirements.

The total length of your program depends on how many credits you complete and which specialization you choose. For example, you may need to complete three or four additional courses in data science or management information systems.

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