Ok, I need straight talk and honest opinions. I am over 35 and entered college for the first time two years ago, working toward a degree in CIS. Basics are out of the way and I am now getting to the MEAT of my degree plan. My question is this: Whis is better a degree in computer science or computer information systems? I love working with computers and people and relish the chance to blend the two, but I need to be able to earn the best wage possible after graduation. Unfortunately, due to the fact I have been out of school for so long my math skills are only average. Also, I never took calculus, physics or even trig in high school. The CIS does not require as much math as the CS degree does. I can be do it, if need be but it will be HUGE struggle. If you were me, would you buckle down and struggle through the math for CS degree or is there really a big salary difference between the two? Any opinions would be greatly appreaciated it's time to register for fall courses and if necessary change degree plans. Thanks!

7 Years
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Last Post by mmanceli2010

You should first ask yourself what you want to do after the studies. Are you better to see the big picture or do you like to play around with data structures? Are you more business oriented than a nerd? What sort of "supporting" subjects do you take in the college?

There are two things to keep in mind at your position. First, the age doesn't matter (not that much at least). Second, your salary depends on your experience and most of all, it depends on your skills and motivation to your job.

If you have excellent social skills, you can see the "big picture" and the relationship between business processes and have a more practically oriented way of thinking, go for CIS. If you like math, solving theoretical problems and you're keen on programming, go for CS.

I took a degree in CS a long time ago, but nowadays I'm more oriented to CIS and business in general. The degree in CS gave a good theoretical background, so I don't regret the decision I made at that time.


What Teme64 said, except I see very little need for math in a large fraction of what programmers do; and in fact among the programmers that I personally know and respect, only maybe half or so even "like", much less "do" math. (I happen to be in the "like" camp myself).

There's another angle to look at, too:

CIS folk tend to do more service oriented work (that's the people skills mentioned above), and quite a lot of it is crisis driven (approaching all of it, in some organizations) which means you need to be able to get your mind quickly around the issue while panicking/angry people are looking over your shoulder. You often end up using a bandage patch instead of actually solving the underlying problem. You need to take satisfaction from "it is working", and only occasionally get to think "it was done right". CIS folk are sprinters.

CS folk tend to do more project oriented work, dealing with specifications, scheduled meetings, and largish blocks of time to do the job. You are likely to end up working very long hours near deadline time, but otherwise a little less pressure than CIS work. In the best of all worlds, you get to take satisfaction from "it is right", but usually have to accept "it is as good as possible given the constraints". For sure (after rewriting the spec if necessary), "it works" is the minimum. CS folks are marathoners.


Thanks so much for the opinions guys. It's very much appreciated.


In general, a CS degree is probably better than a degree in CIS. However, the quality of the school is even more important. A degree in CIS from a highly regarded school will do more for you than a degree in CS from a third tier school.

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