CS vs CIS vs IT - Which Technology Degree Is for You?

cs vs cis vs itComputer Information Science (CIS) is a quickly-growing field which covers a wide range of topics, including those traditionally covered in Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science (CS). If you enjoy working with computers, designing programs and applications, or working with evolving technologies such as digital forensics, IT security, cybercrime, or multimedia design, then a career in Computer Information Science may be right for you! In this article, we will discuss the differences between computer information systems, computer science and information technology and how you can become a CIS major to begin your professional journey into this field.

What is Computer Information Systems?
What is Computer Science?
What is Information Technology?

What is Computer Information Systems?

Computer information systems is the application of technology in managing the needs of businesses, so you’ll get to put your technical skills to work in a business setting. Students in the computer information Systems major learn how to work with companies’ IT systems to solve operations issues.

A Computer Information Systems degree is similar to a degree in Information Technology, but covers a broader spectrum of topics, including business. You’ll have the flexibility to work for businesses in any industry or geographical region. That's good news if you’re trying to decide between a degree in business and a cis degree, since you may be able to choose both. A CIS degree teaches students how to apply their technology knowledge to tasks they may face in the business world.

Careers in Computer Information Systems

  • Software Developer: A software developer is responsible for designing, creating and updating computer applications. They analyze their clients needs and create software based on the tasks that need improvement.
  • Systems Administrator: A systems administrator maintains a computer system or network by ensuring that they are updated, functioning well and being used effectively.
  • Programmer Analyst: A programmmer analyst writes program code in order to develop and customize computer applications for their clients.
  • Web Developer: A web developer's essential tasks are to design, code and implement functional websites for their clients.

Check out the table below to see some common jobs and salary information for those who hold a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Science, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale.

Career Median Annual Salary
Software Developer $127,260
Systems Administrator $90,520
Programmer Analyst $71,563
Web Developer $80,730

Key Skills for a Career in Computer Information Systems

In order to be successful in a computer information systems career, there are some skills that you should possess. While being proficient in basic computer knowledge is a great starting point, there are some other skills that will prove just as useful in your career. Listed below are some additional skills for those who wish to complete a computer science degree:

  • Strong Background in Computer Coding
  • Written/Oral Communication Skills
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Problem Solving Abilities
  • Organizational Skills

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is the study of programming and computing. A computer science degree will give you the foundational skills you’ll need to pursue a career in coding or computer programming. You’ll have a good understanding of the theory behind the processes involved in creating computer programs and applications.

You may find yourself comparing computer information systems vs computer science. While the two degrees do overlap, computer science programs generally give students a more thorough and complex knowledge of the design of computers and computational processes. A computer science major can expect to have a more in-depth of the technical and functional aspects of the technology that makes up computers and other devices.

A degree in computer science will likely require a lot of math, as you’ll dive into the algorithms that make code work. You’ll also need to be analytical, as you’ll spend time modeling and analyzing problems, as well as handling and manipulating information. You’ll likely work independently, applying complex algorithms and writing code that makes computer processes more efficient.

Careers in Computer Science

  • Software Engineer: A software engineer is responsible for developing new software and updating older software that is used on computers and other devices.
  • Information Security Analyst: An information security analyst protects and detects cyber threats towards data and private information for organizations.
  • Database Administrator: A database administrator is in charge of overseeing a company's databse, protecting it from threats, performing necessary updates and overall, maintaining the database so the company runs smoothly.
  • Computer Hardware Engineer: A computer hardware engineer researches, designs, repairs and update the physical hardware needed for computers and devices to operate.

Below are some common career paths and salary ranges for students who employees who hold a degree in Computer Science, according to Payscale:

Career Salary
Software Engineer $93,131
Information Security Analyst $77,864
Database Administrator $78,514
Computer Hardware Engineer $91,865


Key Skills for a Career in Computer Information Systems

No matter what specialty you choose to pursue in the computer information systems field, there are some skills that are essential to succeed in any career you choose.

  • Analytical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Problem-Solving Abiltiies
  • Programming Language Knowledge

What is Information Technology?

Information Technology is the practical application of technology. Most businesses have a team of IT professionals who are responsible for managing the company’s IT infrastructure and assets. The difference between Computer Science and Information Technology is that computer scientists design and develop the software programs that IT professionals use and maintain.

IT specialists take what they’ve learned about computers and apply that knowledge in businesses across all industries.  The IT team in any business is usually comprised of specialists in fields such as software development, desktop support, and network security.

In Information Technology degree programs, you likely won’t get an in-depth understanding of programming, but you’ll learn basic programming and can choose to specialize in areas such as database management, networking, or security. A career in IT will give you the opportunity to interact with co-workers daily, helping to solve their technical problems in the workplace.

If you plan to study IT, you should be people-oriented and patient. Good customer service skills will help foster positive working relationships with your coworkers. This is important because they’ll depend on you to keep the organization’s technology running smoothly.

Careers in Information Technology

  • Technical Support Specialist: A technical support specialist is typically an entry-level position within information technology field and they are responsible for having a basic knowledge of technology in order to help customers with software/hardware issues and to educate them on recent technological trends.
  • IT Project Manager: An IT project manager is responsible for developing and executing a company's technological goals.
  • Network Engineer: A network engineeer oversees a company's computer and network infrastructure to ensure online productivity.
  • IT Consultant: An IT consultant works for a consulting firm or independently, and provide clients with technical advice to fit and improve their work environments.

Below are some common careers and salary information for students who major in Information Technology, according to Payscale.

Career Salary
Technical Support Specialist $56,726
IT Project Manager $93,245
Network Engineer $81,128
IT Consultant $85,235

Key Skills for a Career in Information Technology

In order to be successful in an information technology career, there are some skills that you should possess. While being proficient in basic computer knowledge is a great starting point, there are some other skills that will prove just as useful in your career. Listed below are some additional skills for those who wish to complete an information technology degree:

  • Project Management
  • Software Knowledge
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Problem Solving Abilities
  • Technical Skills

Your GMercyU Path to Success

Gwynedd Mercy University offers a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Science that evolves along with technology, ensuring you’ll have the most current skills and knowledge to land a job in your desired field. Whether you’re interested In Computer Information Systems, Information Technology or Computer Science, you’ll find classes and projects that suit your career aspirations.

GMercyU offers students the option to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Science with a concentration in a specialty such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity and computer forensices, or web design and multimedia. Because the field of computing is constantly evolving and changing, it is vital to find a program that stays on top of the latest technologies as ours does. In our program, you’ll find opportunities to earn valuable industry certifications and participate in hands-on projects that help you gain the skills necessary to meet your future career goals – in whichever specialty you choose!