If you have a fascination for and some prior success in the computer sciences, then this may be the time to consider an online masters in information technology.
While having a bachelor’s degree can help you find work in a more specialized job role, such as helping manage a computer network, most master’s degree programs, on the other hand, are designed to qualify you for senior roles in the IT field, roles that put you at the helm for higher-level leadership and direction setting.
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Finally, this kind of advanced degree may help you get your foot in the door of the big corporations or government agencies hungry for talented professionals who can build, manage, and oversee larger, more complex workplace information networks.
Online Masters in Information Technology Programs
An online IT master’s degree can help prepare you to apply computer network, information security, and database integration and management skills for designing, analyzing, and managing large-system information networks at the macro level.
Because you’ll likely be engaged in big-picture planning and analysis, you can expect these responsibilities will be reflected in both your work place challenges and your earnings potential.
To prepare for these higher-level jobs, your courses may teach you all about advanced IT oversight: operating systems, how to manage and safeguard stored information, technology-focused project management skills, research methods you can apply to IT design and purchasing decisions, and advanced IT systems architecture.
In essence, pursuing a master’s degree means you’ll be preparing to work alongside high ranking business managers in medium, large, and multinational enterprises or in complex government agencies.
You may lead the work of evaluating, redesigning, or upgrading critical IT infrastructure. You may be in charge of deploying large portfolios of integrated software tools and systems, including any number of telecom and collaboration tools, databases, cloud-based networks, and big-data software tools.
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After getting your degree and applying for jobs, you may see job descriptions for candidates who can apply best practices in technology management to oversight of a large organizational IT infrastructure.
You may be expected to support sophisticated IT-related risk-management strategies, understand senior-level project-management methods, and have the leadership skills to oversee teams of lower-level project managers, analysts, and computer hardware and software support technicians in your department.
You may be expected to use what you learned in your degree program to explore and identify solutions to complex IT design, integration, and management challenges.
The job titles you’ll be qualified to consider may include IT Project Manager, IT Director, and Information Security Officer. This means you may find yourself in or near a six-figure salary range, with opportunities for performance-based raises or bonuses as well. This also applies to those who have an online doctorate in technology information.
In the end, you might find yourself stepping into the highest ranked IT job out there, Chief Information Officer (CIO)!
Masters in IT Careers & Salaries
In general, many of the jobs a masters in IT degree online can help prepare for will involve a combination of skillsets. In addition to lots of computer technology knowledge (both broad and specialized), you may be applying people skills and business administration skills as well.
That said, the growing prominence of information technology solutions, systems, applications, and cyber threats, means the profession, even at these senior levels, still needs people with more concentrated expertise as well. Some degree and career pathways may reflect this different technology and leadership concentrations.
For example, configuring and trouble-shooting large network architectures is one area of expertise distinct from more global IT project management and planning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs and salaries in the IT Management field include:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$151,150|
|Computer Information Research Scientist||$126,830|
|Computer Network Architect||$116,780|
|Information Security Analyst||$103,590|
|Network & Computer Systems Administrator||$84,810|
Likewise, data security and risk-assessment responsibilities require senior level leadership too, as these present a critical priority in large companies or public agencies handling sensitive data.
Other areas of concentrated expertise might include telecommunication networks, relational databases, or tools and data systems for artificial intelligence applications.
In short, some concentrations will focus more on organizational management, some on systems management, and others on more high-level technical analysis, research, and application needs.
You’ll want to consider how your own aptitudes and interests intersect with these kinds of pathways and keep them in mind as you consider alternative information technology graduate programs.
Choosing an Online Masters in Information Technology Degree
When choosing an online information technology graduate program, keep in mind it may be the highest degree you obtain.
Getting too focused on minor differences in application requirements or costs may not be beneficial. Instead, thinking about which courses of study and which program philosophies most speak to your individual career interests and passions may be more beneficial.
For example, one program’s courses might emphasize real-world and concrete technical understanding and training. Another program might design its courses to give students more vision- and planning-focused organizational leadership preparation.
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These subtle or not so subtle differences may mean the students in the program also have different traits, interests, passions, and aptitudes. Here’s a short list of more specific considerations to keep in mind based on your personal circumstances and goals:
- How much flexibility does the online program offer? (Is there 24/7 access to classes or more rigid scheduling?)
- Is there open, year-round enrollment?
- How much does the program cost compared to similar offerings?
- Does the school offer waivers or test-out options for core classes based on an applicant’s prior IT industry experience, certifications, or licensing?
As you compare programs, see what options you find and which ones spark the most interest!
IT Master’s Curriculum & Courses
Here is a list of the kinds of courses and topics you’re likely to encounter in an online information technology masters program:
- IT Systems Architecture: This class can help you develop a broad understanding of more complex, hybrid information systems and cloud structures and learn about the technologies used to integrate complex and agile IT networks at the large-enterprise scale.
- Network and Communications Management: This course can help you build on your knowledge in managing, connecting, and safeguarding office communication networks and sensitive information. At the graduate level you’re likely to learn about how to plan network initiatives based on models for forecasting company growth and in light of emerging technologies.
- Information Systems Security: This course can help you learn how to recognize and assess different kinds of cyber threats and develop emergency response plans and training initiatives. At the masters level, you’ll also likely learn how senior managers in the field research and keep up-to-date on emerging threats and safety strategies, and how they perform large-scale threat assessment and reporting.
- Database Design and Management: This class discusses database technologies, relational database design features, and beneficial enterprise applications of database technologies and controls.
- IT Project Management: This course covers senior-level methods for managing large and complex IT systems and IT support teams, including advanced project management methods and challenges, cost analysis, research, and forecasting.
- Communications Networks: This kind of course focuses on the systems and software applications, including mobile, remote, and other software-integrated telecommunication platforms that facilitate rapid and seamless team member communication and collaboration.
- Cyberlaw and Information Law: This class is an introduction to the legal frameworks and statutes governing data storage and security, data collection and use, IT-related privacy laws, and industry and regulatory standards related to safeguarding various classifications of sensitive data.
- Research Methods in Information Technology: This course introduces students to research methods they need in order to gather cutting-edge technology information in addition to other relevant regulatory or business data for evaluating technology design and purchasing options and for evidence-based IT planning.
- Big Data and Machine Learning: This class can give you the opportunity to learn about emerging artificial intelligence solutions being used for businesses and government applications, including understanding core technical features of large data analysis processes, data mining technologies, and how these tools integrate with other software applications within a complex IT network.
- Advanced IT Design, Analysis, and Strategy: This class discusses qualitative and quantitative aspects of leading the decision-making and innovation process as an IT director. It can also help you learn methods and best practices to support strategy design and implementation work, enabling you to direct and lead comprehensive IT development initiatives in your work setting.
By allowing you to take to courses like these, getting your online master’s degree in information technology can help open doors to dynamic opportunities in technology leadership and decision making, while likely providing opportunities to boost your earnings potential for years to come.
For most information technology masters programs, you’ll find similar admissions requirements. At some schools, you can apply only once or twice a year. Other schools offer year-round application and admissions windows.
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Here’s a list of common admissions requirements:
- Official transcripts for all undergraduate coursework and degrees
- Program applications forms
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE or GMAT scores, if required for your selected program
- A satisfactory undergraduate GPA, usually a 3.0 minimum
Among those schools still requiring a GRE or GMAT test, some offer waiver options for applicants with a certain number of years of industry work experience or who hold recognized industry certificates or licenses.
Earning your master’s degree from a fully accredited school can help you attract employers at high-level jobs.
For help verifying if a school and program are properly accredited, you can check the CHEA website.
Also, as CHEA (the Council for Higher Education Accreditation) points out, attending a school that is not accredited may impact your eligibility for government loans and other tuition assistance programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Once you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, you may find that financial aid is harder to come by. However, many graduate programs structure their programs to accommodate working students. Keep this in mind as you compare programs.
Also, if you’re currently employed, your employer may be interested in offering you some form of tuition assistance as an investment in your professional development. If you’re not working, remember that graduate degrees in growing fields are generally great investments despite the short-term debt you take on.
Also, master’s programs in technical fields may have a total cost comparable to or less than a four-year degree since they can often be completed within two years, sometimes less. If you do decide to apply for federal aid or subsidized student loans, filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is always a good place to start.
What Can You Do With a Masters in Information Technology?
The costs of getting a degree does not have to keep you from pursuing a graduate degree online in a growing field like information technology. Once you’ve completed your degree program, you may be qualified to apply for jobs paying between $84,000 and $151,000, on average (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
In fact, you may find yourself in demand as employers in both government and large corporations seek talent to help with rapid innovations in advanced IT operating systems and networks, in managing data safety with knowledge of cyberlaw frameworks and statues, in helping to research cutting-edge IT tools that your company needs to remain competitive.
How Much Does an Online Masters in IT Cost?
Although costs vary significantly, tuition tends to range from $4,000 to $10,000 a year, for low and mid-range priced schools. Most schools calculate your tuition based on credit hours. Online IT master’s degree programs typically require about 36 credit hours, with costs in an average range from $450 to $1,00 per credit hour.
Be aware that it is common for credit-hour tuition costs in a masters program to exceed those charged for a baccalaureate degree, even at the same school.
State schools may offer state residents opportunities for discounted tuition rates, with non-resident tuition costing you much more. If you’re applying to a state college or university, be sure to check residency requirements.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Masters in Information Technology Online?
If you’re studying full-time, an IT master’s degree program usually takes about two years. If you‘re studying on a more intensive year-round schedule, you might complete your online master’s degree more quickly.
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Keep in mind that working while studying may indeed be possible given the flexibility that many online programs offer. However, doing so usually means extending the number of years you’re enrolled. These are trade-offs worth thinking about based on your individual circumstances and career goals.
Are There Any Affordable IT Master’s Programs Online?
Yes, there are many schools with affordable online master degree programs. Many vocational institutes—and also public universities if you qualify for resident tuition—will offer competitive tuition costs. There are many fully accredited schools that offer affordable degree options.
Check out both the kinds of course content different online programs offer, taking note of any subject-area concentrations, and then compare tuition costs as well.
Comparing course offerings, concentrations, and tuition costs can help you be on your way to finding the right match—an online masters in IT program that excites you, fits your interests and aptitudes, and aligns with your budget!
Some school websites also offer helpful worksheets and calculators to help you quickly estimate tuition costs and your total costs—including materials and fees (and living expenses, should those apply in your situation).
Is a Masters in Information Technology Worth it?
Yes, a masters in information technology is worth it for many professionals. Jobs in computer and information technology field are projected to grow at a rate of 11% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), much faster than the average for all occupations.
Common Information Technology careers in this field include Network and Computer Systems Administrator, IT Director, IT Systems Project Manager, Information Security Analyst, and Database Administrator.
Since these jobs involve higher-level management, problem-solving, analysis, and management skills and responsibilities, they open doors to the most senior level IT positions with the world’s best employers.
You might be able to access some of these jobs with your bachelor’s degree and enough industry experience, but holding a master’s degree can help you increase your options and, equally important, become more confident that you won’t be overlooked for promotions when the time comes.
Universities Offering Online Master’s in Information Technology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona states online master’s of science in information technology offers two specialization paths to help students obtain the insight and knowledge needed to become competitive in the world of technology. One track includes computer architecture and information security.
The other area of specialization is information systems management and systems development.
Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Carnegie Mellon University is ranked as a top school to earn an online master’s degree in information technology (U.S. News & World Report). CMU’s works to teach students how to analyze data to develop new methods to overcome challenges in this high demand industry.
Students studying at CMU can participate in interdisciplinary studies that can help them learn relevant information for today’s economy.
Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Teaching students how to navigate innovative technology and advance software applications, Colorado Technical University strives to meet all learners’ needs through practical curriculums and course specializations.
Its virtual Master of Science in information technology degree teaches students essential concepts in leadership, program design, and networking solutions in this growing area.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Inspiring students to achieve success in the area of information technology, the Florida Institute of Technology offers a dynamic master’s degree program that can be accomplished completely online.
As a STEM learning leader, FIT helps students learn critical aspects of managing technological applications, security, and other tools needed to gain a competitive edge in the computer science industry.
Florida Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Developing the skills needed to excel in innovation and technology, Florida State University gives distance learning a new meaning.
Learning to maneuver the world of technology and innovations, students participating in the FSU’s Master of Science in information technology help students gain experience in design, technical writing, and organizational skills needed to be effective in this trade.
Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
George Mason University’s master’s degree in Applied Information Technology helps prepare students to participate in multidisciplinary curricula to learn the ins and outs of computer programming and software design. It is designed to prepare individuals of competence and character who can lead teams in the design, cybersecurity, and much more.
George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Illinois Institute of Technology’s master’s in information technology, and management has nine specializations for students to choose from. Each of the specializations incorporates the basic knowledge needed to become an expert in the field of computer science and prepare students to work with experts in their area.
Data analysis, networking, and information security are all crucial aspects of each specialization.
Illinois Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Kennesaw State University began offering a Master of Science in information technology in 2009, and since then, its program has reached national recognition for excellence in academic and postgraduation success.
Not only does KSU offer online, quality education, but it also requires internships with industry leaders to allow students to gain hands-on experience.
Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lawrence Technological University understands the importance of technology in today’s society and shows this in its Master of Science in information technology. Teaching students how to be a part of a team and take the lead when needed, LTU helps students gain experience in problem-solving and critical thinking in the world of technology.
Lawrence Technological University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Thirty credit hours is all it takes to meet the requirements to earn an MSIST at Missouri University of Science and Technology. This program works to ensure its students have the necessary tools to compete for top positions that relate to the areas of technology management and other positions that require human-computer interaction.
Missouri University of Science and Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students who are ready to take the next step in their education may look towards North Carolina A&T State University’s highly ranked Master of Science in information technology program (U.S. News & World Report).
This program blends academic concepts with practical experiences to give students the curricula to gain employment in the areas of computer networking, security, digital media, and more.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Providing specialized academic studies in the areas of software development, data analytics, and cybersecurity, Nova Southeastern University works to provide a strong curriculum based on research and discovery for students enrolled in its Master of Science information technology program.
This program requires thirty credit hours and can be completed through virtual learning.
NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Gaining an MS in information technology from Pace University gives students the credentials needed to pursue a career in the computer field. Pace University merges cybersecurity with areas such as programming, biometrics, and data mining to give students the skills they need to feel confident in today’s changing technological field.
Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Purdue University’s MS in information technology Office three concentrations to allow students to adapt their curriculum towards their career goals. These concentrations include business intelligence and analytics, information security, and project management.
These specialized areas are designed to teach students how to analyze data, secure information, and utilize advanced tools of this trade.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Teaching students the importance of working in a global community, Regis University provides an enriched program curriculum that leads to a Master of Science in information technology.
This program was developed to assist students who aspire to become leaders, engineers, and other innovators in the field of technology to meet the needs of top companies in the area.
Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Robert Morris University gives students an opportunity to advance in their personal and professional goals with its MS in information technology project management. This program allows students flexibility in the program pace and is offered completely online and on-campus.
The program’s core concepts include leadership skills, quality issues, and strategic planning.
Robert Morris University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Offering seven areas of specializations in its Master of Science in information technology sets Southern New Hampshire University apart from the rest.
Students who complete an MSIT from SNHU are expected to have the ability to communicate with and lead teams, develop solutions to real-world problems through computer applications, and maintain program securities.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.
A Master of Professional Studies in information management is a program offered through Tulane University that strives to help students gain the skills needed to move up in the technology industry. Tulane has course labs, online learning, and an array of partnerships to give students looking to get ahead in the industry a competitive edge.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Most every industry in the world now has some type of technology needs that can only be filled by highly qualified professionals.
This is why the University of Cincinnati has designed a Master of Science in information technology program that can help fill these positions with individuals trained in data security, web design, programming, and artificial intelligence.
The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maryland Global Campus’s all-inclusive, MS in information technology program is designed to help students gain the knowledge needed to move forward in the computer field.
This online program allows for flexibility and freedom as student navigate their way through the program required thirty-six credit hours to gain progressive technology skills.
University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Gaining a graduate degree in information technology from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell helps students meet the requirements to become information specialists in many different areas.
This program shows students how to manage and protect online systems, use various operating systems, and excel in network and organizational skills.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of North Carolina -Greensboro’s MS in information technology and management can be completed entirely online and only requires thirty credit hours. This program blends practical learning and real-world experiences to help students prepare for a career in the technological industry.
Students enrolled in this program can add a specialization in Business Analytics.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Texas- Dallas ranks high among research and academics throughout the world (U.S. News & World Report). Its master’s degree in information technology and management is a highly respected program that can be completed at a flexible pace.
Classes for this program can be completed virtually or on-campus and will prepare students for the ever-changing world of computer science.
The University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Commenced in 1872 as a public school in Blacksburg, VA, Virginia Tech is a well-respected research university that is well known for its technological advances and innovative discoveries. Its master’s degree in information technology can be completed entirely online and is one of the nation’s highest-ranking computer science programs (U.S. News & World Report).
Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Western governors University teaches leadership, organization, and problem for students looking to earn a Master of Science in information technology and management. Students who join this program have access to all-inclusive distance learning platforms, small classes, and an array of program specializations.
Students completing this program will earn a CAPM at no additional cost.
Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your Master’s in Information Technology Online
An online master’s degree in information technology can help you grow your qualifications in an expanding, high-demand, and lucrative profession.
Better than that, it can help you open doors to the most rewarding and important roles in the IT field and find work alongside some of tomorrow’s most influential technology decision makers.
If you have a fascination for computer technology but also want to build your qualifications for higher level management and leadership roles, finding an accredited IT masters program may help you reach your goals.