西北大学在U.S. News排名第10，位于伊利诺伊州埃文斯顿，学生总数不到23,000人(约14,500人是研究生)。西北大学提供IS硕士学位(MSIS学位)，需要修11个学分。四门核心课程(电信与计算机网络;Python或面向对象编程;数据库系统的设计与实现，计算机IS项目或顶点研究)以及领导力课程。其他课程因专业而异:人工智能、数据科学、数据库和互联网技术、IS管理、项目管理、IS安全、健康信息学或IS(作为独立的专业)。2022-2023年学费预计为53,251 – 54,626美元;这一费用不包括书籍，其他教学材料，技术或考试费用。
While seemingly similar, information systems and information technology are nuanced in what students learn and then follow as a career path. Top ranked Northwestern University offers masters degree options in both of these fields, allowing me to explore how the curriculums diverge along with their following career path possibilities.
What is the difference between IS and IT?
As our need and dependency for technology continues to increase, so too does the field in response to areas of specialization and learning. While I likely would have thought about information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) as being interchangeable, IT is a component of IS. IS includes the equipment, processes and people involved in the sharing of information with, for example, a company. This is the computer networking components that process information and share it with others in the company. IS supports marketing, management, allows for cloud computing and access. IT, on the other hand, is focused upon the actual computer hardware and software. In short: IS uses IT to ‘make things happen’.
IS and IT Career Paths
As our reliance on computing increases, those who study IS are in one of the fastest growing employment categories as the need for experts who can manage, support and protect large amounts of information is always changing. Careers including programmer and analyst positions where the work is with programming languages (e.g., Java, C++), operating systems and databases but also within computer networks and security, which can also have a more management component as network administrators, network managers, systems administrators, or network security analysts. Careers can be found everywhere–from private businesses to government agencies to nonprofit organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this sector expects a growth rate of 16% (average is 5%), and the 2021 median pay is $159,010 per year. In 2021, there were over half a million jobs in the United States IS field.
IT career paths do overlap with those in IS as well. Positions for those in IT include computer programmer, mobile application developer, web developer, software engineer, data scientist, DevOps engineer, and IT help desk technician. The median annual wage for this group was $97,430 in May 2021. Overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations; this increase is expected to result in about 682,800 new jobs over the decade. In addition to new jobs from growth, opportunities arise from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations permanently. About 418,500 openings each year, on average, are projected to come from growth and replacement needs. Like IS positions, IT career paths can be found everywhere–from private businesses to government agencies to nonprofit organizations.
IS and IT Masters Programs at Northwestern University
Ranked #10 by U.S. News and World Report, Northwestern University is located in Evanston Illinois and has a total enrollment just shy of 23,000 (about 14,500 are graduate students). Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies offers a masters degree in IS (MSIS degree) which requires 11 units of graduate credit. Four core courses (Telecommunications and Computer Networks; Python or Object Oriented Programming; Database Systems Design and Implementation; Computer IS project or Capstone Research) are required along with a leadership course. Additional courses vary by area of specialization: Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Database and Internet Technology, IS Management, Project Management, IS Security, Health Informatics, or IS (as a stand-alone specialization. The 2022-2023 estimated program cost is $53,251 – 54,626; This estimated cost for the entire program does not include books, other instructional materials, technology or proctoring fees.
Northwestern’s School of Engineering offers the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT), with options for both full and part time studies. The MSIT program is housed within the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. Nationally, the engineering school is ranked 19th, the Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering graduate programs are ranked 32nd and 23rd, respectively. The MSIT curriculum blends technical (70%) and business management (30%) coursework, while focusing on three fundamental areas: Communication systems and networks, Computing systems engineering, and Business and management principles. Their technical courses focus on emerging technologies, and this program is also more suited for the business-minded student as the curriculum includes courses in finance, marketing and management, allowing students to find business solutions through the use of technology.
The part-time, Saturday-only option is offered for working professionals. The program is completed within two years, from September to June each year. A full-time option is completed in either 10 months (fall, winter, and spring quarters), or in 12 months (fall, winter, and spring quarters plus the following fall quarter—which allows for a summer internship). Full-time students take half their course load on weekdays and half on Saturdays. The total tuition cost for 2022-2023’s part time option is $40,866 per year ($6,811 per course or $13,622 per quarter, two courses per quarter), with an anticipated 5% increase in the following year. The total tuition cost for 2022-2023’s full time option is $57,465, with an anticipated 5% increase in the following year.
With various options to complete a graduate degree in IS or IT at Northwestern University, students should look closely into each curriculum to see which better suits their skill set and interests given the various different career paths available to those with the two different degrees. As an ever growing field, technology careers are highly competitive when it comes to both employability and compensation, well-suited for students with interests in computing and management.