This is probably the most confusing dichotomy that high school students face when they are deciding what career path to take. When in fact, the difference between Management Information Systems (MIS) and Computer Information Systems (CIS) is quite simple.
What really differentiates the two? Are they really different, since most people argue otherwise? Probably the first road to understanding these two majors is realizing that CIS and MIS exist as two different majors essentially due to the substantial difference in not just the study content but the career paths of the two as well.
In a nutshell, CIS major will teach you in depth about all the technical aspects of a computer and how its systems run. MIS is a step ahead, and teaches you brief technical systems aspects, along with how you can make the best use of these systems in a business environment according to the various departmental uses. In other words, MIS swings more towards management and decision making. CIS swings more towards detailed technical aspects and programming.
Of course, MIS students can take the career path of being programmers too. And CIS graduates can take the career path of being managers. However, this usually requires the former taking extra programming courses or the latter taking extra management courses. But essentially, CIS professionals focus on the technical side. MIS professionals, as shown below, speak both the technical as well as the business language.
So, it really depends on what you want to go into. If you are interested in management as well as programming, MIS is for you. But if you have a logical mindset and enjoy technical problem solving and uncovering the language of computers in detail, then CIS is for you. Either way, both fields are challenging and fun. The table below summarizes the main differences: