The modern world is utterly dependent on the effective and interruption free availability of computer technology. From company payroll systems to social media, the importance of having well trained information technology support personnel is greater than ever. For this reason, computer science and computer information systems (CIS) degrees are both important in today’s world, although they play very different roles in the world of information technology.

Computer Science Degrees

A computer science degree is focused on the development of software for a variety of applications, requiring an in depth knowledge of software engineering and the issues that it is being applied to. Because of this, a computer science degree focuses on both the theory and practice of software engineering.

Resource: Top 10 Best Online Schools for Computer Science Degrees

Individuals who hold a computer science degree often work alone or as part of a small team, developing software from scratch or modifying already existing code. Because a great deal of this work will involve understanding complex algorithms, a computer science degree holder must be proficient at visualizing and understanding complex mathematical equations.

Most careers requiring a computer science degree will involve the creation or modification of software. Whether called a software engineer or computer programmer, these individuals are expected to be able to work alone and independently, meeting their employer’s deadlines for the completion of software design tasks. In many cases, they may work in cooperation with other software engineers, with each individual writing a small part of the total program.

Computer Information Systems Degree

A computer information systems degree involves many of the same requirements as a computer science degree, but its orientation is on the pragmatic application of information technology to modern needs.  A CIS degree allows the holder to use his knowledge to ensure that a company’s software and hardware information technology can adequately fulfill its needs.

For example, many CIS degree holders work as computer or information system managers, maintaining their networks functionality so that their coworkers can carry out their business duties without interruption. This is especially important in today’s world where even a few minutes of computer downtime can damage a company’s profitability and business reputation alike.

Finally, unlike most computer science professionals, CIS degree holders usually work in close cooperation with a wide range of coworkers and customers. Whether it is in training coworkers in how to best use the company’s IT infrastructure or rectifying errors in the system, a CIS professional will be continually interacting with his or her fellow employees.

The Difference Between the Two Fields

Essentially, a computer science degree focuses on the process of creating a program, while CIS professionals are focused on making use of the program to best address the needs of their business. While both degrees require a high level of knowledge, the CIS professional will be focused on maintaining already existing programs, rather than developing entirely new applications.

Finally, these two fields often interact with each other. Software engineers and CIS professionals such as network administrators often work together to ensure that new software will operate correctly. This can be especially important for in house software creation where the program developers must take into account the company’s unique needs by consulting with a CIS degree holder who works as a network analyst or administrator.

Ultimately, while their orientation is different, these fields are equally vital to the continued development of the world’s information technology infrastructure. When considering a choice of degree, the student should consider his or her strengths and interests. However, it is important to remember that both degrees can be a gateway to a well-respected and compensated profession.