The differences between Computer Information Systems and Computer Science

Learn about the differences between computer information systems and computer science. Find out which field is a better match for your personality.

  • Although similar, computer information systems and computer science are distinct fields.
  • Depending on your interests and professional goals, CIS or CS careers might be a better fit.
  • CS tend to be more technical, whereas CIS focuses more on practical applications.
  • CIS can be thought of as a very specialized application domain of CS.

What Is Computer Information Systems?

CIS training focuses on the business and solutions-based applications of various computer systems. “You can think of CIS as a very specialized application domain of CS,” Shah says. Students often take courses in networks, systems, and database administration, along with some business analysis and support training classes.

Most programs teach learners how technology can improve organizational processes and decisions. Since these professionals interact with different business levels and personnel, they usually need strong business, communication, and organizational skills, as well as leadership, decision-making, and analytical capabilities.

The practical nature of this program means that internships often play a large role. Students should consider this potential work experience when evaluating programs.

What Is Computer Science?

CS emphasizes the theoretical side of computer hardware and software, providing a comprehensive study of “computational systems from their conceptualization to implementation,” according to Shah. Learners study various programming languages and algorithm analysis techniques, preparing to design and develop effective, reliable, and secure software. Many programs begin with systems fundamentals and then move on to programming, data structures, testing, and user experience.

In general, computer science programs teach students about computation and information analysis methods and technologies. Professionals rely on their ingenuity and logic, and they need strong communication, mathematics, and critical thinking skills.

The broad nature of computer science allows learners to choose from many specializations and career paths, including those related to mobile computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and cloud computing.

What are the main differences between these two subject areas?

CIS is application-driven. While CS provides a comprehensive education ranging from very theoretical topics to those that are application-oriented, CIS is very much situated in applications in different businesses.

Studies in CIS tend to be more hands on, large-scale, and in situ (think about case studies). In CS, one can learn about designing a new algorithm, whereas in CIS one can learn about how a system that uses such an algorithm can fulfill specific purposes in a real-life situation. Some examples of CIS include office automation, payment systems, and health technology systems.

Which universities offer Computer Science in South Africa?

The following universities offer Computer Science:

Which universities offer Computer Information Systems in South Africa?

The following universities offer Computer Science:

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