Choosing Management Information Systems as a Major: Understanding the smiFactors for MIS

Thomas W. Ferratt, University of Dayton
Stephen R. Hall, University of Dayton
Jayesh Prasad, University of Dayton
Donald E. Wynn, University of Dayton

Permission documentation is on file.


Given declining management information systems (MIS) enrollments at our university, we seek to understand our students’ selection of a major. Prior studies have found that students choose a major based on a number of factors, with subject matter interest consistently being most important. We contribute to the literature by developing a deeper understanding of what is meant by subject matter interest, which we refer to as smiFactors, for MIS as a major and career. Based on a qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions completed by undergraduate business students, we confirm a number of smiFactors for MIS gleaned from recent studies and identify three new ones. We also relate our findings to broad categories of vocational interests. Of the newly identified smiFactors, one—linking business and technology—is unique to MIS, whereas the other two—practical application of course work and daily variety—apply to MIS as well as other majors and careers.

Our findings provide a more complete foundation for helping students make an informed choice of MIS as a major. We use our findings and an extension of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to identify four types of intervention for increasing MIS enrollments.