Attitudes and Influences Toward Choosing a Business Major: The Case of Information Systems

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School of Business


Declining enrollment in MIS Departments in Colleges of Business has been the norm for many if not most universities since the dot.com bust of 2000. This has serious repercussions for the departments involved, students, and the companies that hire MIS graduates. In order to reverse this trend, an understanding of the important factors which influence students to choose a major is critical. Of crucial importance for MIS Departments is understanding the competition: the majors students choose instead of MIS. This study examines the influences of what is probably an MIS Department’s greatest competitor: other majors within the College of Business. What factors and influences propel students to major in a business discipline other than MIS? Using the Theory of Reasoned Action as a framework, this study examines the similarities and differences between two groups of business majors: MIS majors and non-MIS majors. Using a survey of 413 undergraduate business majors, this study examines the influences which shape attitudes toward choice of major and a student’s intention to work in his or her major field. Using structured equation modeling, the findings suggest some common influences across all majors (interest in the field, job availability, and job security), and many differences between the two groups (aptitude, social and personal image, workload of major, and influence of family, friends, other students, and professors). These similarities and differences suggest several ways to approach undecided students with the hope of gaining additional MIS majors. This also applies to students who may consider switching majors. The results of the study provide faculty with the information needed to better counsel and advise students, enhancing a fit between student and career, while simultaneously increasing technology majors.

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