Which is better course? Which has better salaries? You’re going to the US for Masters.

Ram Pulipati
5 min readAug 8, 2020

One of the major questions that (primarily Indian) students going to US for MS face is — should I choose MS CS or MIS/ITM/IS/ISM or Analytics or Data Science or so on.

CS vs MIS? I have no idea !

Let’s get into the topic.

Key topics

  1. Who should choose CS vs MIS?
  2. Which has higher fees?
  3. Which has higher salaries?

I. Who should choose CS vs MIS?

CS — Computer science

If you love coding you should choose CS — mistake.

Computer Science is more than just coding. CS is about problem solving, in the most optimized way. These days a kid can write code. So why are you required as a MS CS candidate? — to build systems in the most optimized way=at a minimal runtime.

But not every student needs to write optimal runtime code to choose CS as their major. Be prepared to solve assignments of high tech complexity, as a CS Major in the US.

MIS or IS or ITM or ISM etc

You love helping business with your analytical and communication skills.

You have difficult business case studies to solve, where there is no right answer, but you have to make a detailed strategic analysis of pros and cons before proposing a solution. There will be some deep SQL and data mining courses too depending on your curriculum. You will have to make multiple client presentations in front of your whole class, professors and clients. Are you pumped?

If you love building tech solutions that your customers love by collaborating with multiple stakeholders or if you want to build reports and present to your organization about where and how to improve — then MIS related courses are for you.

MIS requires your interest in analytical and communication skills.

What if you made a mistake?

You chose CS and you realized its a wrong decision, or vice-versa. It’s okay. Life gives you chances !

I know a lot of engineers who switched into being a TPM or related roles later in their careers. But, remember, making a switch from TPM to a Data scientist or a SDE is difficult. But i have seen my friends do it.

II. Which has higher fees?

MIS is usually taught in Business schools. Business schools usually have higher fees compared to tech schools. CS is taught in Tech school.

So in a given university, MIS will have a higher fee compared to CS. But CS in a university in Bay area might cost higher than MIS course in some college in the Midwest region of the US.

But a rule of thumb would be — MIS costs higher than CS.

Checklist before choosing MIS university

  • STEM course or not — Be careful about your MIS course in the university.
  • Duration of course — If the course is finished within 1 year, you will not have a chance to do an internship.

Spicy topic , get ready !

III. Which has better salaries?

a. Things to remember about the salaries in US:

  • State taxes: 7 states do not have state taxes (Washington is one , Seattle is in WA state. Microsoft, Expedia and Amazon are headquartered in Seattle). So your salary of $100000 in these 7 states has more value, than the other areas.
  • Cost of living: varies a lot in US cities. For example: cities like Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix are cheaper. Seattle has higher cost of living. Bay area(SFO in particular) and NYC have very high costs of living. So your salary of $100k has different value in each of these metropolis.

b. MIS or CS — better salary?

MIS vs CS? Doesn’t matter. Believe me. What matters is, the nature of the job or value that you provide to the organization.

5 broad job categories in the US IT industry, they are:

  • 1. Product related roles: Product Manager, Tech Product Manager, Program Manager, Technical program manager etc. You need not be good with coding here. [I am not including Scrum Master here.]

Eligibility: The above ones are MIS/MBA related roles.

  • 2. Semi-tech roles: Data analysts, Business analysts, BI engineers, BI analysts, Data mining related roles etc.

Eligibility: The above ones are MIS/Analytics/MBA related roles.

  • 3. Engineering roles: Software Developer, Data scientists, Data Engineers, System Engineers etc. You be good with coding here, or be ready to be replaced.

Eligibility: The above ones are CS or tech related roles.

  • 4. Tech (non-engineering) roles: System admin, DB admin, Ops analysts, Tech ops related roles.

Eligibility: The above ones are CS or tech related roles. But you can get some certification done and get into these jobs too.

  • 5. Consulting roles: Companies like KPMG, Deloitte and other Big 4 have these roles.

Eligibility: The above ones are MIS/MBA related roles.

c. NOW, Salary rankings

1st and 3rd categories have the highest salaries. 2nd category comes next. 4th and 5th category comes next.

Product/Engineering > Semi-tech > Tech non-engineering/Consulting

I feel, consulting roles are less paid initially, but they can grow into bigger roles later.

d. Exceptions or edge cases

Again, in Engineering roles, Software developer or Data scientist is the highest paid as compared to the other roles.

In product related roles, Product manager or a TPM may be the highest paid.

In comparison to any role in IT industry,

Software developer is anyday the highest paid and highest valued.

But in the long run, a SDE might not become a CTO, whereas a Product manager or a TPM can become a CTO. What i mean to say — all of these comparisons does not matter in the long run. All of these matter only for a fresher or a entry-level candidate.

As your experience grows, you are paid for the value you bring to the company irrespective of the role you have begun with.


Choose CS or MIS — it’s up to you. I can say one thing — if you don’t enjoy coding, do not choose CS. There are lot of roles outside of pure tech that are well paid too. So do not think that CS is the only way to get good salaries.

If you’re a non-CS candidate, try and aim to get into 1st, 2nd and 5th groups of roles. And you will do fine.

Read more … For Master’s students

How to get a Job in US? 8 methods that work

Please don’t forget to CLAP if you like it ! :)



Ram Pulipati

10yrs exp as a PM, Dev and Co-founder. Studied, lived & worked in US, Canada & India. Want a FREE PM resume consultation? ->