Dear Mentor:

As a technical person, should I get an MBA or an MIS?

I am a student of 2nd year Computer Engineering. I want to pursue higher studies in USA. I am a student of multiple interests and hence want to do an MS in Computer Engineering, with management inclination. I have heard that a computer-related student either opts for MBA or MIS. Can you tell me which one is better for a technical person and why? What are the admission requirements? Any information on other educational courses related to my educational background are also whole-heartedly welcomed.

MBA vs MIS, Mumbai, India

Dear MBA vs MIS:

Let us deal with abbreviations first. The abbreviation MIS can be either for Master of Information Systems or for Management Information Systems. Since your inquiry is applicable to studies in management, computers, and systems, we are not quite sure what you mean by MIS. It is always advisable to spell out the abbreviations when you are writing to others, since abbreviations mean different within the regions of any one country, let alone across countries.

As you may know, an MBA offers a structured and comprehensive education in business management. You learn the fundamentals of all aspects of a business, ranging from accounting, to marketing, to finance, to operation, to strategy, and so on. Most MBA programs offer courses in management information systems (MIS), and one has the choice of specializing in MIS within an MBA program. In other words, you can have a business degree with emphasis on management information systems. You may wish to note that management information systems are strictly related to managing information for business decision-making. There are many kinds of systems, but not all are management information systems.

A Master's in Information Systems focuses on the fundamentals of systems design and development. These systems can be for any purpose, such as for banking, engineering design, weather forecasting, manufacturing, and business management. This is a systems degree which can have an emphasis on management systems.

In an earlier column, we discussed computer engineering, computer science, and software engineering: How is software engineering different from computer science?

With an MBA, you would be on track to be a business executive and, with a systems degree, you would be on a technical track for system design, development, implementation, and maintenance. The choice is yours. You have to outline your ambitions, interests, and goals and then decide which program is the most suitable for you.

iMahal has published an authoritative guide on Studying in America and Canada. You will find this guide extremely valuable as you pursue your interests in further studies in the US.

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