Milestone Map for Information Systems Grads
Getting an online MBA in information systems is a big step for anyone looking to take their career to the next level. Here’s a look at one MBA grad’s personal and professional path, highlighted by major life milestones.
Hosts private server to play video games with friends on weekends
Gets work-study job in computer lab, graduates as an IT major
Works as network admin for small company but wants a job with
Completes online MBA in information systems
Database manager for defense contractor, helps facilitate network overhaul
Promoted to information systems director
Why Get an Information Systems MBA Online?
Online learning has gained so much popularity because it tends to be more affordable, convenient and flexible than traditional higher education. Online study differs from a traditional college setting because course hours may be less rigid and instructors have additional teaching methodologies at their disposal. Though flexible, online learning is best for students who are self-motivated and focused because it is up to learners to keep up on coursework, learn the material independently, and checking the course page frequently.
Students interested in enrolling in online education should have access to a personal computer, feel comfortable using the Internet and other computing technology, and have a quiet area where they may focus on coursework. This is where the advantage of an online MBA in information systems in particular comes in: Because of the online, computer-based access to the program, students in the program become accustomed to working with software and hardware as part of their learning, meaning that the transition to a computer-centric job should come naturally.
Ways to Earn an Online MBA in Information Systems
There are a variety of program options to choose from when pursuing an online MBA in information systems. Some online colleges even offer accelerated programs that allow students to complete their degree more quickly. The most common types of online MBA programs are part-time, full-time and executive.
- Part-time (3-4 years)
- Full-time (2 years)
- Executive (1-2 years)
Part-time students can expect to enroll in 10 to 12 credits a semester over four years. This type of program is ideal for students with a full-time job or other obligations that would limit the amount of time they can dedicate to coursework.
Full-time students enroll in 15 to 18 credits each semester for two years. Because of the full course load, this program is not recommended for students who have full-time jobs or other commitments.
Executive programs are designed for business professionals who already have managerial experience. Completed in one or two years, these fast-paced and rigorous program employ high-level discussions, case studies and challenging assignments.
MBA Courses for Information Systems Majors
In addition to the core courses required in an MBA curriculum, students must also take classes in the information systems concentration. Listed below are some of the most common courses offered.
Data Management and Design
Details concepts, principles, issues and techniques for managing corporate data. Students also learn how to manage the design and development of large database systems through logical data models, concurrent processing, data distribution, database administration and data mining.
Data Communications and Networking
Focuses on telecommunications fundamentals, including data, voice, image and video. This course also covers the implementation and management of wireless networks, protocols and digital networks. Other topics covered are transmission and switching efficiency, regulatory and technical environments, security and authentication, network operating systems, e-commerce and associated websites, and middleware for wireless systems.
Policy and Strategy
Deals with top management’s strategic perspective for aligning competitive strategy, core competencies, and information systems. Instructors also discuss the development and implementation of organizational policies and define the systems that support organizations’ operational, administrative and strategic needs.
Looks at how institutional financial risks can be quantified and managed using information technology.
Business Modeling with Spreadsheets
Teaches students how to construct and use powerful spreadsheets to solve financial and other business problems.
Analysis, Modeling and Design
Covers systems development life cycles, analysis and design techniques, information systems planning, project identification and selection, requirements collection and structuring, process modeling, data modeling, interface design, data management, system implementation and operation, system maintenance, and change management implications.
Advice for Choosing an Online MBA School
There are plenty of online business schools to choose from, so how does one decide? The best way for prospective students to narrow their search is to both make sure the schools they are considering offer what they’re looking for and that they meet the requirements to enroll in the program. This checklist provides a general idea of the factors one might consider when selecting an online MBA in information systems.
- Ask for job placement figures. You can see not only how many students gain employment after the program, but also what careers they typically end up in.
- Eliminate schools from your list that don’t fit your schedule and budget.
- Check that you meet the GPA and GMAT score requirements to apply.
- Verify that the online business school you are interested in is programmatically accredited.
- Physically visit the school and see what types of hardware and software they’re working with. Solid on-ground facilities can translate to good online resources.
- Examine the support services offered to online students. For example, does the school offer networking events for alumni?
- Apply for any financial aid that you are eligible to receive, and make sure the projected tuition fits your budget.
Why Business School Accreditation Is Key
Accredited online schools and programs have demonstrated that their faculty and curricula are of a high quality and that student outcomes are at an adequate level. Typically, for business programs (including online information systems MBAs) to be eligible for recognition from a programmatic accreditor like the esteemed Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), they must first be accredited by a regional accrediting body.
Learn more about accreditation for MBA programs as well as general college accreditation.
Preparing to Enroll in an Information Systems MBA
Making (and following) a basic timeline is an essential step in the MBA application process. Below is a sample pre-enrollment schedule for admission into an online MBA in information systems:
||Time Before Program Start Date
Obtain bachelor’s degree in business or information systems
|2 years, 3 years
Get work experience in a tech-related field
Take GMAT standardized test
|1 year, 1 month (or at least two months before applications are due)
Apply to desired online MBA programs
11 months for Round One admissions
8 months for Round Two admissions
Apply for and secure financial aid — grants, loans, FAFSA® and scholarships
School admissions are competitive, with students usually applying to multiple programs hoping to get in. Acquiring the necessary credentials is the first step to admission, but there are other things applicants can do to be a step above the competition:
- Join the American Management Association as an individual or student member, and start taking advantage of their online trainings.
- Take a standalone class to demonstrate your interest in the subject. If you’re curious about database management, check out courses like Modifying Data with SQL from Treehouse. If you want to brush up on networking, try Udacity’s Security and Software Defined Networking course.
- Intern for a small business or volunteer your services at an organization without an IT budget, even if that just means setting up printers and routers.
Common Careers for Information Systems Grads
Acquiring an MBA in information systems can open the door to better paying and more advanced careers. Here are some common career options for graduates:
Computer and Information Systems Manager (IT Manager)
IT managers plan and coordinate computer-related activities in an organization. They also help set information technology goals and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals. Computer and information systems managers work full time, with one-third of employees working more than 40 hours a week.
Computer Hardware Engineer
Engineers research, design, develop and test computer systems and components to spur technological advances. Computer hardware engineers usually work in research laboratories (many in high-tech manufacturing firms) that build and test computer models.
Computer Network Architect
Network architects design and build data communications networks, including local area networks, wide area networks and intranets. Computer network architects work full time, with about a quarter of employees working more than 40 hours a week.
Information Security Analyst
Analysts implement security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. Most information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms or financial companies.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Information Systems MBA Certifications
There are a variety of professional certifications available for MBA graduates that can improve pay and job prospects. Graduates may want to consider one of the following certifications to give them an extra edge while job hunting:
Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Designed for IT professionals, project managers and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks through information systems controls, CRISC certification requires applicants to both pass an exam and have three years of experience in at least three of the five areas that the certification covers.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
IT managers do a lot of project management, and this professional certification administered by the Project Management Institute is the most recognized project management certification available. The PMP certification tests five areas relating to the life cycle of a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. To become certified, individuals must have 35 hours of PMP-related training and 7,500 hours of project management experience.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
CISA certification requires applicants to pass an exam and demonstrate at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control or security. CISA certification is designed to test the candidate’s ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with standards, and propose controls, processes and updates to a company’s policies to ensure compliance with accepted IT standards.
You can access information on additional certifications here.
Similar Online MBA Program Tracks
If an MBA in information systems is in the ballpark but not quite what you are looking for, check out these similar online MBA programs:
This concentration takes students through the process of solving problems and creating new ideas for organizations with the use of technology. Many programs emphasize group work and collaboration, but all focus on implementing information technology to raise productivity and profitability.
Students who want less computer-based work from a program can take this specialization, which explores managing projects through the organization and implementation of creative ideas. Project management is also narrower in focus, as it is completely centered on individual project success, rather than on the organization as a whole.
Supply Chain Management
Students interested in more literal networks — those connecting roads and supply routes — should take a look at the MBA in supply chain management.
In addition to all of the information above, below are some sites that have helpful information about acquiring an MBA in information systems or about going into the field professionally.