Deciding Between an MBA in Information Systems and an MS

In this day and age, the effective deployment of information technology is critical to a business’s success. Consequently, there is a growing need for specialists and managers in information systems. If you are thinking about pursuing a degree in information systems, you might be wondering what the difference is between an MBA in information systems and a Master of Science in information systems.

Comparing the Master of Science in Information Systems and the MBA


  1. Both the MBA and MS in information systems are master’s-level programs.
  2. Both degrees are intended to prepare students to become IT leaders.
  3. With both the MS and MBA in information systems, students undergo training in the core areas of business, as well as information systems.


  1. The primary focus of MBA programs is business, whereas the primary focus of MS programs is information systems.
  2. The MBA in information systems is typically around 60 credit hours and will require from two to three years of study to complete, while the MS degree typically requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in one to two years.

Curriculum for the MBA in Information Systems

MBA programs are designed to develop students’ management skills, and MBA students complete a limited number of information systems courses. An MBA program requires study of:

  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Management
  • Systems design
  • Networking
  • Systems security
  • Database management

Curriculum for the MS in Information Systems

An MS in information systems focuses on providing students with a strong background in information systems so that they can apply their knowledge in a business environment. Students take mostly courses in information systems and only complete general business courses. The curriculum may cover:

  • Systems analysis & design
  • Database management
  • Managing IT resources
  • Information systems strategy
  • Process & project management
  • Statistics & data analysis
  • Financial accounting & reporting

Which Information Systems Master’s Degree is Right for You?

Both the MBA in information systems and the Master of Science in information systems can culminate in careers as a computer information systems manager. Job titles may include IT director, security manager, and chief technology officer, among others. However, depending on your background and goals, one type of degree may be better suited to your needs than the other.

Benefits of the MS

  1. An MS in information systems is a good choice for someone who is more interested in the technical aspects of information systems than the business side.
  2. Those who already have a business school background are also good candidates for MS programs, since they already possess business knowledge and likely need to strengthen their technical skills. In some MS programs, students can waive business courses if they have prior work experience or have completed relevant undergraduate courses.

Benefits of the MBA

  1. An MBA program is ideal for those who want to acquire the business skills needed to pursue management positions in the IT field.
  2. Students who do not have a business background and are interested in receiving a broad business education would also benefit from pursuing an MBA.

Enroll in an MBA or MS Program Today

The main difference between an MBA in information systems and the Master of Science in information systems is the core offering: MBA programs have a core of all business courses, while MS programs have a core of all information systems courses. Despite their differences, both degrees equip you with the skills and knowledge required to find advanced positions in the information systems industry. Determine which type of degree program is right for your needs by evaluating your background, skills, and career goals.