Today’s entertainment industry is full of story lines and twisting plots that are highly entertaining and influential, but things people see in television shows and movies can sometimes be confusing or even misleading.  One such misperception is that professionals who work with advanced technology or computers can be referred to as computer science or computer information systems experts.

These two professional terms have been frequently incorporated into movies and shows in a way that suggests that they are one and the same career.  However, to refer to these terms as the same can lead to confusion for someone who may be interested in pursuing a career in one of these exciting and growing careers.  It’s important for aspiring students to distinguish between these two distinct professions in order to determine the most fitting career path for you.

Computer Information Systems Professionals

The study of Computer Information Systems (CIS) focuses on the practical applications of computer technology through the study of a broad range of subjects.  Professionals in this field may have knowledge and expertise in topics such as software design, communications or business. They are the experts to turn to when it comes to applying technology to business applications.

A typical course of study leading to a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems could include coursework in programming, international technology, project management and economics. Earning a CIS degree can open opportunities to some of today’s fastest growing career tracks.  Available jobs for a CIS professional can include:

Computer Science Professionals

A computer science degree program places an emphasis on the theoretical and mathematical foundations of computing.  A computer science career is for those interested in programming, from databases to business applications coding.  Computer scientists typically have backgrounds in algorithms, software architecture, writing code, design patterns and data structures. 

Individuals pursuing a computer science degree can expect to take courses such as: Logic and Computation; Computer Architecture; Linear Algebra; Calculus; Probability and Statistics; Operating Systems; Computer Networking; Artificial Intelligence; Multimedia; Computer Graphics and Game Design.

Possible career opportunities for a Computer Science professional might include:

The Bottom Line

There are certainly similarities between a CIS and CS career path, but the focus and goals of each of these courses of study differ in many ways.  Computer science focuses on the design and development of all kinds of software, particularly the kind that allows different devices to operate.  Computer science majors typically write programs and work with operating systems and computer architectures.  CIS, on the other hand, is more about examining the relationship between organizations and their information systems and making them as seamless and effective as possible. 

When deciding on one of these computer-related career paths, it’s critical to be clear and detailed about exactly what it is you’re looking for in a career.  By researching potential professions carefully, you’ll be able to discern the differences and similarities between several possible programs of study.  Gathering data about your prospective field and evaluating it carefully will allow you to make an informed choice about the best career path for you.

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