What's the Difference Between Computer Science and Information Systems?

While related, the fields of computer science and information systems are not the same. It can be confusing, but the differences really aren't hard to understand. Keep reading to find out more about these fields and how they differ. Schools offering Business Information Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Notable Differences

While information systems use aspects and theories from computer science, it is considered to be a separate and unique field; it focuses on collecting and examining digital information in order to create business strategies. Computer science has its place in business, but its uses aren't limited to specifically developing business models. There are theoretical computer scientists who seek to push the limits of computing technology and computer scientists who work in software development, some of whom even work on creating the latest computer and video games.

To put it simply, if you're interested in being part of the overall picture of what computer technology is capable of, then you should learn more about the field of computer science. If you're more interested in applying existing theories and technologies to challenging problems in specific industries, you should consider finding out more about information systems or other related fields.

Important Facts About Computer Science and Information Systems

Computer Scientists Computer Information Systems Managers
Median Salary (2014) $108,360 $127,640
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11% growth 15% growth
Work Environment Federal government; computer systems design and related services; research and development Computer systems design and related services; finance and insurance; management of companies and enterprises
Similar Occupations Computer hardware engineers; computer programmers; database administrators Computer network architects; computer systems analysts; information security analysts

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Science Defined

Computer science focuses on using and understanding the algorithmic and mathematical processes that can be applied to computer systems. It is a broad field with both theoretical and applied subfields. You may discover subfields that focus on topics like artificial intelligence, software engineering, programming language theory, computer engineering, computer security and computer graphics.

One common misconception is that computer science refers to any professional use of computer technology. Instead, everyday computer use is covered under the field of information technology. While information technology focuses on the use of computers, computer science emphasizes the theories and principles that make everyday computing and information technology possible.

Information Systems Defined

The field of information systems combines aspects of business theory and computer science. It is considered to be both a professional and academic discipline. Above all, information systems is a pragmatic field that is concerned with developing computing and technology-based solutions to the challenges faced by businesses in a variety of industries.

If you're interested in working as an information systems professional, you'll use specialized hardware and software to collect and analyze data and information related to your industry and employer. With this compiled information, you'll also be able to examine and improve productivity, efficiency and profitability. You'll apply the theories of computer science to develop sound and successful business models.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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