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Anh Hoang's picture

Best business major in Carlson School of Management

If you ask me what is the best business-related major in my opinion, I would say, without a doubt, is MIS (Management Information Systems). Due to the incresing demand of data mining and data analysis, there is a growing need for MIS graduates, thus making this field one of the hottest, most well-paid careers. 

Recently, I have conducted an interview with one of my close friends, who is now a senior majoring in MIS. Fortunately enough, he was willing to share his perspective regarding this highly desired major. Have a look:

"In my opinion, from a high level, MIS is sort of like a blend between Supply Chain and Information Technology. You will get to learn about business processes and how to improve it from an IT standpoint. MIS doesn't necessary require you to be technical, although it will certainly help a lot if you have background about IT and IS (information system). Unlike IT where you can deal with hardware and software (programming, developing, coding, etc.), MIS (or IS) deals more with the "information" side. This means different type of data and numbers. You don't necessary do coding/programming in MIS, but rather you figure out the business requirements that will help with the coding process. You will learn about software/applications that works with data. Anything from excel to SAS (data analytics tool) counts. 


Regarding career paths, there are several options within the MIS field. I will list a few of them so that you have a general idea about what are some typical careers in MIS. 

-First, there is Business Analyst (BA). The works that a BA does involves analyzing information systems and business processes, gathering requirements (use cases, what the system need to operate properly), collaborate with developers/programmers to help develop the applications (software, app, etc.). BA's work is often project-based. BAs need to have skills in diagraming tools (Visio, PowerPoint, etc)

-Second, there is project manager (PM). PM's skills focus more on managing the projects. PMs can work with BAs and developers on projects. PMs can manage one or several projects at once. Basically they manage a portfolio of projects, making sure everything progresses timely.

-Third, there is System Analyst (SA). Compared to BA and PM, SA is often more technical, meaning they need to have more expertise in IT and IS. They will need to know things about the "infrastructure" side of IS (what tools, databases, application the company should use …) From what I know, most SAs have a background in computer science and IT.

-There are also other roles that combine between the three roles I mentioned above. Basically, BA PM and SA are the most common in MIS. 

-IT auditing is also a field that recruits a lot of MIS majors. From what I know, the Advisory division of all the Big 4 tend to seek for MIS major at our school. IT auditor tend to be the mix between BA and SA, although the technical skills can be learned years later into the career.

-Big 4 also hire MIS for data analytic position. This role tends to work with data analytic tools such as Excel, SAS, SQL language programs, etc.


If you want to look for more detail about each of the career path above, just do a google search and I'm sure it will give you tons of information.


Regarding classes, it really depends on which path you like to explore first and the amount of workload you want to take on. For me, when I took 3202, I didn't feel it was too bad because I enjoy the technical aspect of the class. This is not the same feeling for everyone though. Some didn't enjoy it very much due to the material being a little dry. You will learn a lot about diagraming and business process analysis skills. You will also have to work in team to put together a system proposal. This project can be time-consuming. I was lucky enough to have a very good group, so the project went pretty well for me. Therefore, if you want to take this class, I suggest you consider those things. Another thing, MIS is full with ambiguity. What I mean by this is that unlike Finance and Accounting in which you have black and white numbers as answers, in MIS it is extremely hard to reach a clear answer. You will be graded on creative solutions and ability to deal with ambiguity. These are the two things that most MIS students have struggled with. In general, 3202 is a very good introduction to MIS major. It teaches a lot about what a BA does. 3101 and 3102 (programming & intermediate programming) teach you how to read code and develop simple programs. This skills is essential for BAs and SAs, and IT auditors to have. 3013 (Database) talks about database management, database diagram tools, and SQL (database language). 3104 is a class about Enterprise system, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). In 3104, you learn about information software that are used in big organizations. This class is extremely helpful for IT, BA, SA and even IT auditing."

Now I hope you have had an overview of what MIS is and the all the perks it might offers you. So good luck, and be smart when choosing your own major!