What is Computer Information Systems (CIS)?

Have you been curious about getting into the information technology or computer science field but want to also be on a business track? A computer information systems career may be a great fit for you.

Computer information systems applies technology to manage data and allow it to be transferred between computers connected to the same network. While studying the field, students learn how to support businesses in handling how data is gathered, stored and used.

Data management is an extremely important area for businesses in today’s world, and that includes protecting it. Data compliance is just one of the many business operations that someone with computer information systems knowledge could help with.

In this article, you will learn about the opportunities within this growing field as we explore the following questions:

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How is Computer Information Systems (CIS) Different from Computer Science (CS)?

The field of computer information systems can be thought of as a subcategory of computer science. Where computer science deals with developing applications for a variety of purposes, computer information systems focuses on using technology to solve business problems and improve an organization’s processes.

A comparison of the coursework required for each field further illustrates the difference between computer information systems and computer science. Students in computer information systems programs often take courses in network and systems administration, along with business analysis classes.

An education in computer science has a larger focus on mathematical theory and how it relates to programming languages. Students in this field of study typically learn about the fundamentals of computer systems and algorithms, as well as programming, programming languages, testing and user experience.

The table below shows how the fields of computer science and computer information systems differ by their scope of study.

Field of Study Scope of Study

Computer science (CS)

  • Theoretical computer science
  • Theoretical mathematics
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Algorithm analysis
  • Programming
  • Testing
  • User experience
Computer Information Systems (CIS)
  • Solving business problems using CIS
  • Improving business processes using CIS
  • Developing solution-based CIS applications

While the field of computer information systems focuses on the strategic use of technology in business, computer science as a whole focuses on building quality software. If you are considering pursuing a career in one of these related fields and need to choose between them, ask yourself: “What am I more interested in: the application of technology in business or the development of applications in general?” Your answer should clarify which specialty would be the most interesting and the best fit for you.

How is Computer Information Systems (CIS) Different from Information Technology (IT)?

Another overlapping field with computer information systems is information technology (IT).

Just as computer information systems is a subcategory of computer science, computer science is a subcategory of information technology. So information technology is the broadest category, and CIS can be thought of as a specialization within it.

The computer information systems field differs from information technology specifically in that IT professionals focus more on how technologies work, such as hardware, software and computer network systems. Computer information systems professionals focus more on the strategic use of computing technology applications.

In the following table, you can contrast the types of topics studied within each of these fields.

Field of Study Scope of Study

Information technology (IT)

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Computer network systems
Computer Information Systems (CIS)
  • Solving business problems using CIS
  • Improving business processes using CIS
  • Developing solution-based CIS applications

What Jobs are Available in Computer Information Systems (CIS)?

The job market for computer information systems is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in the computer and information technology field as a whole is to grow by 13% on a national level between 2020 and 20301. A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University can help prepare students to pursue an education in computer information systems if they’re interested in pursuing a career in this field.

Graduates of our Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems program may consider careers such as:

  • Applications Programmer Analyst: Applications programmer analysts are responsible for testing applications to ensure that they meet the needs of the end user. They also serve as quality assurance and provide analysis of ways the application could be improved.

  • Computer Programmer: Computer programmers use their knowledge of programming language and computer information systems to build software for computers.

  • Computer Security Specialist: Computer security specialists work to build networks and systems that protect data from intruders. They specialize in the hardware and computer programming focused elements of cyber security.

  • Computer Support Specialist: Computer support specialists assist non-IT users with tech issues that are interrupting their productivity. They may provide this support remotely or in-person.

  • Cyber Security Specialist: Cyber security specialists work to develop networks that are secure from outside intrusions. They also establish best practices and protocols regarding the transmission of data and permissions.

  • Data Analyst: Data analysts identify and review important data in order to perform analysis. Once they have analyzed the data they create a report that is presented to higher-ups in the company to enable them to make informed business decisions.

  • Data Scientist: Data scientists combine elements of computer information systems, mathematics and statistics to model data and make inferences based on the results of their models.

  • Database Administrator: Database administrators control the construction of databases within a company. They dole our permissions and research the latest database technologies to ensure the database is secure and effective.

  • Information Systems Manager: Information systems managers are responsible for managing the systems that transmit information within a company. They plan, budget and manage the installation and implementation of new hardware within a company.

  • Penetration Tester (Ethical Hacker): Penetration testers use hacking capabilities to breach a company's defenses and identify areas that could be made more secure.

How Can I Take the First Step Towards a Career in Computer Information Systems?

A great way to get started in any career is to seek experience and education. The computer information systems field is no different. There is no substitute for a thorough and accredited degree program to ensure that you have the technical know-how and ability to do the tasks required today and adapt to changing technology in the future.

Here are just a few ways you can get started on a CIS career:

  1. College education – While an individual company or position may not require a bachelor’s degree if a candidate has the desired skills or experience, this type of educational credential is required by many employers in the computer information systems field. Furthermore, courses that include hands-on learning can be useful for preparing you to know what to expect your first days on the job.
  2. Certifications – Generally, companies often look for candidates to hold industry certifications related to computer information systems as a reflection of their experience, depth of knowledge and commitment to continuing education.
  3. On-the-job experience – The majority of graduates of computer information systems programs gain field experience while pursuing their degree. This is often accomplished through entry-level positions in database administration or software development.

Wanting to Pursue a Career in Computer Information Systems?

Let DeVry help you get started on your career path in computer information systems! Explore our Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems, or contact us to learn more about how DeVry can help you begin to develop the skills to prepare to move toward a career in this growing industry.


1https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.html Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary.