Computer Science (BS) vs Computer Information Systems (BS)

Posted on 2013-01-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-09-13
Having a rough time deciding between CS(BS) or  CINS (BS) degree. I've seen many people saying different things so I thought I'd post my situation since other people seem to have different situations.

Things I'm considering and wondering if I should stay CINS are below. I'd really appreciate thoughts and feedback. I assert that I can get a programming job with either degree because I believe the bottom line isn't what degree you get, but knowing how to code.

It is my feeling that as long as your degree is related in some way to software engineering and as long as when you are interviewed and asked to complete some sort of test algorithm/program and you know how, then you should be fine in either case.

Is salary affected or is it about the same?

People have said a CINS degree is not as good as a CS degree because it's a BA vs a BS. This is not true in my school in the CSU system. Either route I choose will earn me a BS.

Some people say with a CINS degree you don't do algorithms, data structures (such as linked lists), or discrete math and boolean algebra. In my case, this too is not true. I have done those. I have done C++ semester 1,2,and 3, just as a CS major in my school would and I still have to do discrete math just like they do.

I think CINS gives me more opportunity to go in directions such as: being a DBA; a security systems analyst; software engineer; business/marketing manager (CINS for me means auto minors in both Business admin and Comp Sci).

By doing a CINS and not a CS, I'd only be missing out on 4 programming class (in a 128 unit degree, at my university)

So my options are to stay a CINS (BS) with a minor in Computer Science and minor in Business Admin. or switch back to Computer Science (BS).

Can anyone grant me some of their wisdom? If you were a hiring manager, would you choose a CINS major as an equal to a CS major as long as they coded the same?
Question by:Mark_Co
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Expert Comment

ID: 38842802
I believe your analysis correct.  I cannot dispute any of your points. I would deem both degrees to be equal and would rely on the interview process and transcript info to determine hiring between candidates.

This is especially true (as you say) if the job being applied for goes beyond mere entry level coding.  A broader exposure to business courses is a more valuable asset than a few extra programming classes!
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by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 38842822
You might be less likely to get a job in the field of game programming, or operating systems programming, or any other low(er)-level type programming with a CINS degree, I think. My understanding is that CS focuses more on the theory of programming and computer systems themselves; whereas CINS focuses more on applying programming concepts to business. Yes, I think you can get a programming job at a firm that develops software for end-users (like web sites, general-function applications, etc.) having either degree, but I question whether or not you would get hired at Microsoft, for example, doing OS design/programming--unless you could demonstrate the proficiency such a job was looking for.

Author Comment

ID: 38842901
I appreciate the feedback from you both
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Author Comment

ID: 38842904
@Kaufmed Oh also, I'm in an operating systems class right now which applies to both CS And CINS majors. Either major, at my school, must take an OS course
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Expert Comment

by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 38842983
Everything you learn in such classes is really more foundational. I am in the middle of a CS degree, and there are many more courses at the graduate level that go into greater depth than what we learn in undergrad. For instance, at the graduate level at my school you write your own optimizing compiler, whereas in undergrad we wrote a simulated machine (a.k.a. emulator). It's good that you're taking an OS course, but that will only, at least at my school, cover the OS at a higher level. You'll learn how a machine and its instructions work, and you'll learn about how memory is laid out and interacted with, but you're probably not going to learn anything to the level of detail that someone at Intel would be required to know. (Of course, I don't know your school or program, so I could be off base. This is really, I suppose, more of a declaration of what I've witnessed at my school.)

You might consider looking in the paper or on job sits like CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com  for jobs that you are interested in. See what kind of degrees and/or skills such jobs are looking for, and then match your education up with that. Education is good for getting your foot in the door when you are starting out. For the average programming job (I'm thinking business programming here), experience seems to be more preferable than a degree these days. At my employer, either degree would get you a job programming. Even not having a degree, but a certain (minimal) level of experience would get you a job.
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by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 38842987
A friend of mine interviewed with Amazon last year. They are apparently a Java shop. Yet when they interviewed him, he was given many question involving optimization of algorithms. They were asking him to create things like an airline reservation system, and to describe the algorithm and how to optimize it. Just be mindful that, as I mentioned, many undergrad courses are more introductory than in-depth. However, if you excel at such courses, then you should be capable of handling yourself in interview such as the one my friend dealt with  = )
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Accepted Solution

tliotta earned 2000 total points
ID: 38853701
What kind of job are you looking for? The kind if work that you want to do would be a significant factor in the type of degree you might pursue.

Many years ago, we would dread the prospect of bringing a CS degree holder into our development group. We were developing major in-house business applications for a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation, one of the 30 Dow-Jones industrial companies. CS graduates effectively never had a practical grasp of real-world business systems and the problems encountered while attempting to automate them.

OTOH, when we needed a decent macro assembler language developed for a departmental processor, a CS degree would be a big plus.

So, what do you want to do? And perhaps, what are you likely to do?


Author Comment

ID: 38853758
Well, I like coding....but it just doesn't sink it. I understand OOP and how it works, but trying to make a project come together is very challenging for me. I don't seem to grasp the overarching view and my situational perspective, regarding coding, is weak.

I feel if I continue in a CS degree, it'll be wasted if by the end of it, i'm still quite awful. At least with a CINS degree, I still have lots of coding classes but as a backup, I will have business classes too. At my school, a CINS degree is like a hybrid of Business admin and Computer Science. I feel this will give me options either as a coder, or as a manager of a tech dept if that's what I chose to do.  Do you think I'm reasonable in my assumptions?

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