Online Master's Programs in Database Management

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Updated on: 10/24/2018

A master's in database management can help prepare you to take on some of the most lucrative positions in the field of information technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average database administrator earned $87,020 in 2017, more than twice the median salary for all other occupations. The BLS estimates that the median salary for computer and information system managers exceeded $139,000 in that same year. With a graduate degree, you can potentially earn even more.

This page can help you understand what to expect from a master's program in database management. You can find information about accreditation, common courses, and unique electives. This page also offers guidance on how to pay for your degree and which career paths you can take after you graduate.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Database Management Program?

Through an online master's program in database management, students learn how to design, build, and maintain databases. Learners also discuss how to help organizations use information more efficiently and effectively. Students explore technical topics such as dimensional modeling architecture, as well as general business subjects such as project and team management.

Generally speaking, these master's programs consist of 35-40 credits. Most full-time students can graduate in 18-24 months, while part-time students may require up to four years. Online and on-campus programs tend to look quite similar, featuring the same faculty, assignments, and graduation requirements.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in database management program?

The exact courses you take while earning your master's in database management will vary depending on the program you select. The majority of programs require a set of foundational core courses, then allow learners to customize their learning experience through electives. The list below describes five of the most common courses in database management programs.

Database Application Development

In this course, students analyze database and application functions in order to appropriately respond to run-time errors. Learners may also use normalization techniques and database optimization queries to improve performance. This course may also offer an introduction to commercial multi-user database applications.

Data Warehouse Concepts and Design

This class provides an overview of design, development, and implementation strategies for a data warehouse database management system. In most versions of the course, students primarily learn principles based on dimensional modeling architecture. Learners also explore the theory and practical application of data mining, specifically as it relates to an organization's analytical decision-making process.

Object Oriented Application Development

Object-oriented programming focuses on using data rather than logic as an approach to software development. Students in this course learn about object-oriented principles and practices, then apply these concepts to application development and software problems. This course usually lays the groundwork for more advanced material introduced throughout database management graduate programs.

Operating Systems

This course offers an introduction to the fundamentals of computer architecture and operating systems. Through hands-on exploration of widely-used operating systems like Windows, DOS, UNIX, and iOS, students learn about the operational methods of hardware. Learners also assess the storage and processing of data in operating systems and the interactions between networked computers.

Innovations in Information Technology

Rather than focusing on technical skill development, this course helps students examine issues such as leadership theory and ethics within the context of a technology enterprise. Students read and discuss real-world business cases, focusing specifically on how technological solutions can help organizations navigate change or develop new approaches to existing problems.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Online master's programs in database management often emphasize the practical application of skills. As such, many programs require students to complete a capstone project rather than a thesis or research-based dissertation.

In your capstone project, you can expect to apply your learning towards a real-world issue in information technology. For example, you may partner with a local nonprofit organization struggling to keep track of the clients it serves. In close consultation with a faculty adviser, you may design a database for the organization. Alternately, you may create a set of recommendations on how to help non-technical members of the organization's staff better use the existing database.

What elective courses are available in a master’s in database management program?

After completing foundational coursework in database management, you may have the opportunity to choose elective classes that align with your personal and professional interests. For example, you may choose to take a course in mobile application development so that you can bring a phone or tablet game to life. The availability of electives can play an important role in which program you choose.

Health Informatics

This course prepares learners for roles in healthcare database and information management. Students learn the basics of biomedical technologies such as ultrasound imaging, computed tomography scanning, nuclear medicine, and digital radiography. Students also learn about data security as it relates to the protection of healthcare information. The class outlines laws that govern the storage and use of electronic health records.

Digital Forensics and Investigations

This class helps students interested in criminal justice or civil investigation. The course covers subjects such as digital evidence controls, computer forensic analysis, email investigations, and image file recovery. Students also learn how to share their findings in a court of law as an expert witness.

Information Technology Project Management

Students who hope to oversee other information technology professionals should consider an elective course in project management. Students develop skills in risk management, communication, delegation, and change management. They also learn how to create and monitor budgets, make personnel decisions, and translate their work for non-technical audiences.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Database Management Degree?

Earning a master's in database management online can unlock several career paths. You may choose to focus exclusively on maintaining information and helping your colleagues access data. Instead, you may design data communication networks and build a database from the ground up. Alternatively, you may decide to step away from a purely technical role in order to manage teams or an entire department.

An advanced degree can help prepare you for these roles, though it does not guarantee employment. Additional work experience and professional certifications can also help improve your job prospects.

Database Administrator

Database administrators use software to store, organize, and access data. They ensure that data remains secure and create databases to meet the unique needs of their organization. Many database administrators complete ongoing maintenance functions such as ensuring that new employees hold appropriate permission levels. Some administrators may also provide personalized guidance to staff on how to use their company's database. While a bachelor's degree can qualify you for many of these roles, some larger companies may prefer to hire individuals with a master's degree in database management.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design and create data communication networks such as local area networks and intranets. Depending on the size and need of their organization, architects may build connections for a handful of computers or a cloud-based infrastructure that can serve users around the globe. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who hold an advanced degree in business administration or information technology.

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts, also known as systems architects, use their understanding of an organization's current computer and information systems to design solutions and recommend changes that can help that organization operate more effectively. For example, they may analyze a system's utilization of memory and power in order to purchase new equipment or alter workflows. Because analysts must possess both technical and business expertise, a master's degree in database management with electives in project management can give you a competitive edge in the job market.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts create and implement plans to protect an organization's information. They may actively monitor computer systems to identify and combat security breaches. They may also conduct "penetration testing" that proactively looks for potential vulnerabilities. These analysts often create security policies and educate staff about best practices. Aspiring security analysts need at least a bachelor's degree, though some employers prefer applicants with an advanced degree in information systems.

Computer or Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers oversee all technology-related activities at a given organization. At smaller firms, they may continue to provide direct service Managers at larger companies often delegate these tasks so that they can focus on setting strategic goals, shaping budgets, hiring and developing personnel, and collaborating with other senior leaders. While some managers rise the ranks with just a bachelor's degree and significant work experience, many hold an advanced degree in information technology.

After earning your master's in database management, you may consider joining a professional organization. These groups offer a wealth of resources to their members, including national and local networking events, online and in-person training programs, and career centers. Through membership, you can learn about new job opportunities and get advice from established professionals.

Data Management Association International

DAMA International members can attend the group's annual symposium in order to meet others working in data management and learn about the latest research. The association website also hosts learning resources for topics such as business analytics and data protection.

Enterprise Data Management Council

The EDM Council works to advance the practice of data management. The council serves more than 200 member organizations and 7,000 data professionals. Individuals can e-learning modules, formal certification programs, and networking events around the world.

CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals

CompTIA AITP serves as the primary resource for individuals looking to start or advance a career in information technology. The association connects students to mentors, hosts research-sharing events, and presents awards that recognize exemplary service in the field.

Association for Information Science and Technology

ASIS&T represents both information science practitioners and researchers. The association provides career development and leadership opportunities, convenes special interest group meetings, and facilitates online networking through its community forum.

Association for Women in Computing

Since 1978, AWC has promoted the role of women in computing professions. Members can access scholarships, mentorship matching, online and in-person professional development programs, and a job board.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Database Management?

The chart below includes salary information and job growth data for the five careers mentioned above. Many of these positions come with extremely lucrative salaries, and most are projected to experience strong growth in the coming years. The BLS projects that information security analysts, in particular, will experience great demand through 2026.

An online master's degree in database management can set you on any of these career paths. However, you may need significant work experience before you can earn the highest possible salaries.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Database Administrator Less than $48,480 $87,020 More than $132,420 11%
Computer Network Architect Less than $58,160 $104,650 More than $162,390 6%
Computer Systems Analyst Less than $53,750 $88,270 More than $139,850 9%
Information Security Analyst Less than $55,560 $95,510 More than $153,090 28%
Computer or Information System Manager Less than $83,860 $139,220 More than $208,000 12%

Source: BLS 2018

The BLS projects that employment for all computer and information technology occupations will grow 13% through 2026, almost twice the rate of growth for all other jobs in the country. Demand stems largely from the increasing need to collect, use, and protect data, meaning that individuals with a master's degree in database management should enjoy particularly strong job prospects.

An advanced degree also directly correlates with higher salaries. According to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, individuals with a bachelor's degree in information sciences earned a median salary of $73,000 in 2015. Individuals with a graduate degree in that same field earned a median salary of $88,000 during the same year. For many professionals, pursuing a master's in database management online can be a worthwhile investment.

Online Master’s in Database Management Program Accreditation

Attending an accredited database management program is extremely important. By completing the accreditation process, a school demonstrates that it meets certain academic standards and equips graduates with the skills necessary to succeed in their careers. If your program has not received accreditation, you may miss out on financial aid opportunities and future employers may not recognize your degree.

Your institution may hold three kinds of accreditation: regional, national, or programmatic. Both regional and national accreditation apply to every program and department within a college or university. Typically, nonprofit colleges and universities hold regional accreditation. For-profit institutions tend to receive national accreditation. Many employers, financial aid agencies, and licensing boards prefer degrees with regional accreditation.

Programmatic accreditors generally evaluate programs within a single discipline. For example, if you plan to pursue a career in healthcare database management, you may seek out programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Before enrolling in a program, check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's online directory to see if the school has received regional, national, or programmatic accreditation.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Database Management Degree

The first step in paying for your master's degree is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA allows you to apply for several different sources of aid from the federal government. Several school scholarships and private scholarships also ask for FAFSA data in order to determine student financial need. Afterwards, you should also seek out support from your school, your state government, private scholarship organizations, and your current employer.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Completing the FAFSA can help connect you with federal grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans. To receive support from the federal government, you must demonstrate financial need. Fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 in order to qualify for the most aid possible.

  • Scholarships

    Many private companies and organizations offer scholarships for students preparing for careers in information technology. For example, the Generation Google Scholarship provides up to $10,000 per year for undergraduate and graduate students of color. Recipients must pursue a degree in computer science or a related field.

  • Graduate Assistantships

    Graduate schools often hire students to assist professors with teaching classes, leading discussions, conducting research, and grading assignments. These assistantships can help you finance your education and grow your professional network. Boston University's Department of Computer Science offers graduate assistantships to students studying computer information systems.

  • Tuition Discounts

    Some schools provide substantial tuition discounts to certain groups. For example, Southern New Hampshire University offers a 25% discount to military service members, as well as the spouses of service members on active duty. Other schools may discount tuition for Native American students, students with financial need, or students who previously earned a degree at the institution.