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MIS vs MEM vs MIM vs MBA - Which is Best?

Sumeet Jain

As technology spreads to every tiny aspect of our lives, role of engineering management is becoming more relevant in every domain and industry. Be it pharmaceutical company or an agricultural one, everyone is dealing with engineering challenges at some level – chemical, mechanical, civil, hardware electronics engineering dealing with tangible products while software and computer engineering dealing with the abstract information.

Understandably, there has been a steady increase in the demand for managers who understand technology and engineering aspects alike which gave rise to programs such as MEM (MS in Engineering Management), MIS (Management Information Systems), MIM (MS in Information Management), MSIS (MS in Information Systems) and so forth. With few differences, these programs aim at combining technical depth with business breadth so that the students can understand both management and engineering language. One theme that underlines all these programs is that they are core business programs with engineering electives. The focus is still on management courses such as statistics, analytics, supply chain etc and one can pick electives in database, programming, networks etc.

Remember that these programs, being core management programs, are likely to be biased towards applicants with some work experience.

Some of these course names might be confusing, so lets take a look one by one-

What is MEM?

Core management programs with courses in Marketing, Finance, Management, Operations, Modeling and available engineering electives (not just software but industrial engineering, nanotechnology etc). Typically, prepare candidates for consulting, business analysis in any engineering related work function. Duke’s MEM program is leading in this category. Look at their electives to get a sense of the course offering. The incoming student profile at Duke's MEM is widely spread among various engineering majors.

What is MIS?

MS in Management Information Systems degree programs provide more focus in the field of technology management. more like MEM for IT, so focusing on IT electives such as data mining, AI, networking etc. One might think of it as a less competitive version of MBA specializing in IS (but then, less reputed than an MBA too). Expect roles such as system analysts, data analysts, systems engineer, database admin after this.

Here are top 10 schools offering MIS courses:

  1. CMU
  2. MIT
  3. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  4. University of Arizona
  5. University of Texas, Austin
  6. University of Maryland, College Park
  7. University of Pennsylvania
  8. Georgia State University
  9. University of Georgia
  10. Indiana University– Bloomington


MIS or MBA in the USA offers you a prestigious middle level to high-level management position, the difference between these two courses is the kind of management required. While MBA aims at more holistic management and administrative picture, MIS is more of a technical perspective. 


The MEM degree is Master of Engineering Management, mainly suited for students with graduation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degree. It is good for those wishing to take a higher career in Technology. It offers management and leadership skills with a higher focus on technical disciplines. Some universities require you to have work experience while others don’t.

Whereas an MBA is a great option for graduates from any background, who wish to take their career forward in Management and Business Administration. For applying to top MBA programs in the US, you are required to have 2-3 years of work experience. 


These are other variations of MEM and MIS programs. You will find some more such as MSTM, MSEM offered with various names in different schools. Before you decide which one to apply to, take a good look at the curriculum to ensure it suits your background and goals.


Common Questions that Students Have About These Programs

Should I go for MIS only if my profile is not good enough for MS in Computer Science (and other branches respectively for MEM)?

If I want to do MBA later on, then should I still go for MIS/MEM?

Are the job prospects after MIS/MEM worse that MS or MBA?

How can I make my MIS/MEM application stronger?

So, should I apply for MIS or not?

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