MBA in Information Systems: Top 5 Programs, Course Details and Career Options for MBAs in IT

MBA in ITGone are the days when only tech or internet companies had their business success directly linked to their technical prowess. Today, every company has a stake in managing information flow - to and from customers, suppliers and employees. This calls for highly skilled graduates who understand both technical as well as business side, to allow companies to seamlessly combine technical building blocks into a successful business model. Moreover, the person best equipped to do this task is none other than an MBA with a strong grounding in Information Systems.

An MBA in Information Systems teaches how to effectively store, manage, protect, share and distribute information. But more importantly, it deals with realizing the real value of information, and how to efficiently utilize the information to offer newer and better services, thereby delivering higher profits. The difference an MBA education makes is that while other programs focus on the data, here the focus is on the customer, and on how to deliver the technology for them, wherever they may be. The key role is to identify any strategic opportunities that can be drawn from the company's information or technology systems.

Worldwide, there is an immense requirement for business graduates with a deep understanding of the strategic importance of information, and the technology systems that drive them. An MBA in information systems can lead to careers in strategy & technology consulting, predictive modeling & business analytics, business process auditing & compliance, international supply chain management, e-procurement, distribution chain management, IT governance, ERP consulting, project management, search & computational advertising and social media strategists.

MBAs in Information Systems are likely to start their careers as an information systems manager, senior business analyst, or even as a manager implementing IT projects. Ultimately, they could rise to become the CIO - Chief Information Officer, reporting directly to the CEO. Examples of CIOs who then rose to become CEOs include Philip Clarke, CEO, Tesco and John Glaser, Siemens Health Services.

Here are our picks for the top 5 MBA Programs in Information Systems

1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)

MIT's reputation of being among the world's best tech hubs is strengthened by the wide range of cutting edge research centers - Center for Computational Research in Economics and Management Science, Center for Information Systems Research, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, MIT Center for Digital Business, Productivity from Information Technology and Virtual Customer Initiative. To have as many as 6 centers related to Information Systems make MIT's Sloan School of Management the undisputed #1 in spite of the fact that it offers no concentration as such in the MBA program.

The Center for Computational Research in Economics and Management Science brings together experts and researchers from computer science, econometrics, operations research and statistics. The focus is on algorithmic research and software development that help develop the world's best hi-tech modeling techniques. These are applied to management as well as a host of other fields. The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence combines computer science, management and brain sciences to understand how computers can connect people to make them act collectively in extremely effective ways. The success of Wikipedia and Google are examples of this. The Productivity From Information Technology (PROFIT) center uncovers how information technology can improve productivity in private as well as public sectors.

The Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) develops field-based research on the use of information technology and management, to empower executives overcome IT challenges of dynamic, international and large information-driven organizations. More than 70 global organizations are active as patrons and sponsors of the center. CISR’s traditional research topics include enterprise architecture, IT risk, IT portfolio management, IT and governance. Contemporary issues dealt with include cloud computing, innovation, reuse and Web 2.0. Recent projects include Case Studies in Social Media Innovations and Digital Innovation: Designing Customer-Centric Products & Services

The MIT Center for Digital Business is a collaborative research effort with the industry to master internet empowered businesses, with one aim - to transform the way digital businesses are run. The emphasis is on three core areas - Digital Marketing, Digital Productivity and Digital Services and the Cloud. An example of the center's effectiveness is a project for Intel's Internet ready cameras site, which helped improve the success rate of, downloads from 65% to 85%, and saved an estimated $18 million. Current projects include Application Marketing to Gen Y, The Competitive Impact of IT and Morphing Web Sites and Mobile App Marketing. Sponsors of the center include Capgemini Consulting, Cisco, Cognizant, SAP, Thomson Reuters and Google.

While MIT Sloan does not have a concentration in Information Systems, there are 14 electives under Information Technologies, 4 under system dynamics and 21 under Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. By making an informed choice, MBA students can take his or her education in any chosen direction in the field of Information Systems.

2) Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business boasts of an Information Systems concentration, as well as 2 research centers that students can leverage from. The Center for Organizational Learning, Innovation and Knowledge brings together experts from computer science, information systems, economics, psychology, organizational behavior, engineering and sociology, from different university schools. The areas of focus are Behavioral Foundations of Group & Organizational Learning & Innovation, Social Networks, Learning, Innovation & Knowledge Transfer and Technology, Organizational Learning & Knowledge Transfer. Learning across Product, Work Group and Geographic Boundaries is a current project at the center.

The Center for Marketing Technology and Information focuses on the latest marketing practices that explore communications means from TV and print to web and mobile systems. Two current projects are Privacy and Virtual Store.

The Information Systems concentration draws from the Software Engineering Institute, the Heinz School of Public Policy and the School of Computer Science to teach students how to tackle global issues with the help of the latest trends and emerging technologies. It mixes technical and managerial courses, along with an applied project. There are around 25 electives to choose from , including Business Networks, Business Networks, Data Mining, Digital Marketing & Social Media Strategy, Information Resources Management, Innovation Ecosystems Project, Management of Software Development for Technology Executives, Mining Data for Decision Making, Mobile and Pervasive Computing Services, Strategic IT, and Systems Architecture for Managers.

3) University of Texas - Austin (McCombs)

The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business has a top class Information, Risk, & Operations Management department. It runs the Center for Business, Technology & Law, the Center for Research in Electronic Commerce and the Supply Chain Management Center. The McCombs School Center for Research in Electronic Commerce (CREC) has developed radical new research combining business and computer science. The center is rated among the top research institutions for Information Systems. The Center for Business, Technology & Law is built on the tenets of information technology, law & regulatory policy and business strategy. Areas of focus include E-Business Models, Knowledge Management in Cyberspace, Integrated Strategy and Nonmarket Environments. The Supply Chain Management Center empowers value creation and execution of strategy using an innovative, cross-disciplinary approach.    

The school offers an Information Management Concentration that nurtures business leaders to leverage IT and create value by understanding the strategic and economic implications of all IT projects. The concentration includes extracurricular case competition as well as projects done at local companies that enable MBAs to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Subjects offered include Analysis of Markets, Business Analytics and Decision Modeling, Strategies for Networked Economy, Data Mining for Business Intelligence, Social Media Analytics, Information and Knowledge Management, Strategic Sourcing, Supply Chain Management and Marketing Decision Making in the Information Age.

4) New York University (Stern)

The Department of Information, Operations & Management Sciences (IOMS) combines Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics. It leads research in the areas of mining social media content & social networks, online advertising, outsourcing & offshoring, revenue management & pricing, categorical data analysis, stochastic processing systems, long memory time series and e-commerce dilemmas.

The department offers an MBA in Information Systems that answers the basic question of why some companies get full value from their IT spends while others do not. It helps understand how information systems are changing both markets and businesses. The curriculum follows a three-pronged approach, examining how changes in market structure due to new technologies alter business models, how IT increases efficiency and business intelligence, and how effectively managing internal or external information tools for the company can be beneficial for the bottom line. The electives include Information and Internet Technologies, Digital Strategies, Search and the New Economy, Global Outsourcing, Design and Development of Web and Mobile Apps, Electronic Communities, Data Mining for Business Intelligence, Financial Information Systems, Global Sourcing & Open Innovation and Emerging Technology and Business Innovation.

5) Georgia State University (Robinson)

Georgia State University's J Mack Robinson College of Business has an extensive Department of Computer Information Systems. It offers a unprecedented choice of five concentrations - Information Systems Management, Information Systems Development and Project Management, Health Informatics and the soon to be taught - The Wireless Organization and Information Systems Business Process Innovation. These concentrations offer electives that can be classified under 2 courses- Managerially Oriented and Technically Oriented courses. Students with a technical background can pick from the Managerial section, while students with a management background can pick from the technically oriented courses. 

The Managerially Oriented courses include Information Technology Project Management, Business Process Innovation, Security and Privacy of Information and Information, Management of Information Systems, Information Systems Strategy, Global Systems Sourcing, Advanced Topics in Management of Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP). The Technically Oriented courses include Systems Integration, Software Requirements Management, Database Management Systems, Business Telecommunications and Networks, Enterprise Architecture, Knowledge Management, Systems Development, Mobile Application Development, Wireless Networks and Web Development.

Students can also pick from the electives to follow one of the four career paths - Accounting Information Systems Design & Assurance, Information Systems Consulting, Information Technology Risk Management and International Business & Information Technology.

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