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Online Master’s Programs in Information Technology

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Updated on: 09/19/2018

With a wide range of positions available in cyber security, data analytics and information security, there are many career possibilities in government, private and public sectors for IT specialists. Find out what you’ll learn in an online master’s in IT program and what specializations are available. Plus, search the best online master’s programs to find the information technology program that fits your needs, schedule and professional goals.

Best Online Master's in Information Technology 2018-2019

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Best Online Master’s in Information Technology 2018-2019

Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors

Data Sources: Eligibility Criteria:
  • Each college must be accredited
  • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
  • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
  • Each college must have at least one online program 1
  • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Ranking Factors:
  • Affordability
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Program

Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.

Notes:
  • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
  • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
2-Year Schools

Selecting the right online master’s in information technology program is easy with this year’s rankings below. The rankings take into consideration the published materials from each university combined with data from the U.S. Department of Education and the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS). Additionally, these schools are accredited so you can be assured they offer a high-quality education.

Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, Kentucky $5,670 100% 71% 36% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Online students at the University of the Cumberlands can earn a Master of Science in Information Systems Security in approximately 2 years. In this program, master's students learn the various ways to predict and prevent cyber threats, use big data to improve healthcare and improve the quality of life through data-driven policy changes. This 30-semester hour program requires 19 core courses and 12 electives. Prospective students must complete an online graduate application and submit their official transcripts. To be competitive, applicatants should have at least a 2.5 GPA. No GRE or GMAT is required for admission. Incoming students may transfer up to 9 semester hours toward their master's degree pending approval by the Program Director and Registrar. UC master's graduates typically pursue positions as Application Development Directors, Systems Analysts, Network Engineers and Computer Scientists. To help with your job hunt, online students can also take advantage of UC's career resources including career fairs for internships and career-track jobs. Counseling services and academic advising are also available.

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2 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, Florida $9,630 100% 70% 43% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Students enrolled at Saint Leo University can earn their Master of Science in Cybersecurity in an online or blended format. This 36-credit program is for those interested in processes and skills involved in protecting computer networks and electronic infrastructures. You will develop the essential knowledge to be a valuable member of the IT workforce in areas like network security, digital forensics, cryptography, biometrics, mobile security and cloud computing security. The hybrid option requires some in-class training which is offered on alternating weekends. Additionally, you will take courses online through a variety of formats including video conferencing. Students must also complete a community service project or an internship. Saint Leo graduates move on to career-track jobs in the cybersecurity and IT security fields as operations managers and project managers. Some graduates work in the public and private sectors as well as federal, state and local governments. Admissions for online students are rolling and the GRE or GMAT is not required. You may begin your coursework at any of the 6 start dates throughout the calendar year.

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3 Towson University Towson, Maryland $6,822 47% 74% 70% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Towson University offers a Master of Science in Applied Information Technology degree for students interested in the study and development of information systems. You will explore a full range of professional IT and business-related areas, including systems development, IT project management and business analysis. Master's students must complete 33 credit hours. Specialization tracks currently offered at Towson are Computer Forensics, Database Management Systems, Health Information Technology, Information Security and Assurance, Information Systems Management, Internet Application Development, Networking Technologies and Software Engineering. Each 15-credit specialized track is coupled with 18 credits of electives. Most Applied Information Technology students choose 1 or 2 electives from an outside major, such as accounting, technical writing or human resource development. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students with a 2.75 GPA may be considered for conditional admission. Towson may accept transfer credits from other accredited schools. You must fill out the online transfer of petition form for graduates for your credits to be evaluated.

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4 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Stillwater, Oklahoma $5,033 75% 75% 64% 1 N/A N/A N/A

In the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, online students can earn a Master of Science in Management Information Systems. You will focus on solutions for commonly encountered challenges in the IT and business information fields. Students choose from a concentration in Data Science or the Corporate Program. Data Science focuses on developing your skills in IT analytics. You will explore descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics as well as the technological platforms needed to support that kind of work. Online students also work with open-source programming using R and Python. In the Corporate Program, you will work on enhancing your current skills and developing new techniques to be used in the IT industry. For this degree, only fall start-dates are available. Applications should include your GRE or GMAT results with scores above the 51st percentile in each section, as well as a statement of purpose, transcripts, resume and contact information for 3 references. Distance learners may take advantage of the school's online support services including library access, virtual labs and technical support.

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5 Davenport University Grand Rapids, Michigan $12,942 93% 78% 41% 2 N/A N/A N/A

Online students can pursue a Master of Science in Computer Science online or in a hybrid format at Davenport University. Students choose between 2 concentrations: Computer Science or Security. Davenport will prepare you for the job market by focusing on high-demand areas like computer vision, artificial intelligence, pattern recognition and secure programming. Of the total 30 credits required for graduation, 18 credits are from the computer science core curriculum. You will focus on 4 main core, 7-week classes: Operating Systems, Data Communications and Networking, Theory of Computation and Design and Analysis of Algorithms. Each of the 2 concentrations entails an additional 12 credits, from Secure Software and Computer Vision to Legal and Ethical Security Topics. Online students must also complete a master's project or master's thesis. Incoming students may receive credit for previously earned credit and prior learning opportunities. Applications should include your resume, official transcripts, 2 signed letters of recommendation and a 500-word personal statement. The GRE and GMAT are not required, but you should have at least a 2.75 GPA.

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6 Dakota State University Madison, South Dakota $5,483 61% 83% 43% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The Master of Science in Information Systems can be earned entirely online at Dakota State University. In this program, you will focus on developing your leadership and business skills and work toward 1 or more specialization. You can choose from Data Management, Application Development, Network Administration and Security, Health Care Information Systems or a combination thereof. With this knowledge, you will enter the workforce with efficient management techniques and effective IT systems skills. At DSU, online learners use the top software technologies including CASE (Computer-Aided Software Engineering), DSS (Decision Support Systems), e-commerce and network-operating environments. To apply, you will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 2.7 GPA or higher. DSU applicants must also submit their GRE scores if their GPA is below 3.25. While enrolled in the program, you will complete 30 total credits for graduation with a GPA of at least 3.0. Students with more than 6 credit hours with a C or lower must retake those credits to remain in good standing. Full-time students at DSU typically finish their degrees in 4 or 5 semesters. Online learners also have access to individualized student coaching, supplemental instruction and tutoring in writing, reading and reasoning skills.

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7 National University La Jolla, California $11,232 4% - 50% 2 N/A N/A N/A

Distance learners can earn their Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree at National University entirely online. NU students focus on managerial practices, business ethics, and global implications in decision-making processes. By completing courses such as Information Management for Leaders, Database Design and Implementation and Network Services and Protocols, you will acquire foundational technical and business skills for today's competitive IT job market. You may begin courses during any month of the year, depending on course offerings. NU subscribes to a rolling application policy and reviews applications all year round. Incoming students should have an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher. Those with a GPA under 2.5 may still apply but must also submit their results from the GMAT, GRE or Miller Analogies Test. Transfer credits may be accepted toward this degree but are considered on a case-by-case basis. Military personnel receive a tuition discount and access to veteran services such as counseling, tutoring and college transition coaching.

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8 Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska $9,810 62% - 32% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Bellevue University offers a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems that will prepare you for careers in the increasingly technical world. Students choose from concentrations in Databases, Software Development or Security. Bellevue students focus on systems development, management, project management, software development, design and information systems security. Graduates typically go on to careers as Database Administrators, Systems Administrators, Software Developers and Network and Computer Systems Administrators. Incoming students should have already taken courses in Applied Statistics and Introduction to Programming Using Java or Introduction to Programming Using C#. Of the 36 required credits, 27 are major core classes including Cloud Computing and Storage Systems. Your chosen concentration consists of 9 credits. No matter which concentration you choose, you must complete a capstone project that showcases the knowledge you acquired while at Bellevue. Master's degree applicants should have a 2.5 GPA or higher. Submitting both letters of recommendation and GRE scores is optional.

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9 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, Utah $6,500 1% - 19% 3 N/A N/A N/A

As an affiliate of Western Governors University, WGU Tennessee is a private, nonprofit institution that offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology Management. In this program, you will train for IT executive-level leadership positions by completing practical and relevant coursework. Your studies will focus on areas such as leadership skills, project management, finance, emerging technologies and solutions development. The majority of master's students in this program complete the program in less than 24 months. This degree is flexible, with asynchronous courses starting on the first of every month. You will take a total of 10 courses, including major-specific classes like Sourcing and Development in a Global Economy; Power, Influence and Leadership; and Financial Management for IT Professionals. A capstone project that represents the culmination of your work at WGU is required for graduation. All applicants must submit official transcripts verifying receipt of your bachelor's degree and participate in an interview with an Enrollment Counselor.

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10 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, Florida $8,350 69% 47% 71% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The University of Florida offers a Master of Science in Intelligence Studies online that can be completed in about 2 years. Students choose from concentrations in Strategic Intelligence or Cyber Intelligence. Focusing on analytic competencies grounded in Information Science and Informatics, this STEM-based program helps you acquire the analytic and technical skills to work in both the public and private sectors. The Strategic Intelligence track focuses on the formulation of policy and plans at the agency, corporate, national and international levels. The Cyber Intelligence concentration teaches you data acquisition techniques, information analysis skills and methods for predicting and stopping cyber threats. You must complete 10 required courses that are 3 credits each. Students must also complete an experiential learning internship, a capstone project or integrated portfolio of competencies. In addition to having a bachelor's degree, applicants should have a 3.0 GPA or higher and a GRE Verbal score of at least 153. Online students in the program have access to resources and supplemental training opportunities at the Florida Center for Cybersecurity.

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11 University of Maine Orono, Maine $7,524 87% 90% 61% 1 N/A N/A N/A

At the University of Maine, you can earn your Master of Science in Information Systems degree entirely online. This curriculum focuses on the technical, managerial and policy issues commonly encountered by information systems specialists. You will learn to create and maintain information systems for private and public entities and acquire skills in information system design, human-computer interaction, database design, computer networks and information law and ethics. Of the 30 required credits, 15 are elective courses that you may choose to fit your needs and interests. Common elective courses in this program include Knowledge Management and System Support Systems, Electronic Commerce and Digital Preservation. Some UM students take advantage of the school's vast course offerings in Spatial Information Science and Engineering and supplement their information systems degree with training in Geosensor Networks, Engineering Principles and other related specialty courses. Applicants must submit their GRE scores and have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. All prospective students should have completed a university-level course in algebra as a minimum math prerequisite before applying.

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12 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, New York $15,156 83% 78% 32% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Mercy College offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity online or in a hybrid format. In this program, you will train to provide cyber protection for various companies, governments and law enforcement agencies. Many MC graduates move on to work in cybersecurity positions at private companies, hospitals, health care organizations and IT departments, as well. There are 30 major credits required for this degree, including classes like Cryptography, Foundations of Cybersecurity, and Topics in Information Security. Online students in this program also choose several electives which help fashion your degree to fit your career aspirations. A capstone project or master's thesis is required for graduation. All students enrolled in the program must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing and to be eligible for degree conferral. Applicants must submit official transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation, and a 2-page written personal statement. Prospective students entering from other fields should have completed courses in Local Area Networks, Database Management Systems, Cryptography, and Statistics before applying.

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13 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, Indiana $9,208 43% 56% 75% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University offers 2 information technology master's degrees that can be earned 100% online: Master of Science in IT Business Analysis and Master of Science in IT Project Management. Both degree programs require 34 credit hours of coursework. Courses are presented in an 8-week format, and students may take anywhere from 1 to 5 years to complete the program. Criteria for admission into either degree program include a bachelor's degree earned with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. A bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or other computer-related field is recommended. Applicants must also have at least 2 years of IT-related experience. Other requirements include submittal of a resume, statement of purpose essay and 3 letters of recommendation. Additionally, international students whose first language is not English must submit proof of English proficiency in the form of acceptable TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test scores. Purdue provides a wide range of support services to online students, including the Academic Success Center, Center for Career Opportunities, Disability Resource Center, Online Writing Lab and the Purdue Libraries System, which offers electronic access to nearly half of its volumes.

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14 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, Maryland $8,244 11% - 10% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The University of Maryland-University College's online Master of Science in Information Technology degree provides specialized skills in both technology and business to individuals currently in the IT field and those interested in joining. The degree is offered with 8 specializations, including Database Systems Technology, Informatics, Systems Engineering and Telecommunications Management. This 36-credit hour program is typically completed in 4 years, although completion time may be shortened with the transfer of up to 6 credits from other postsecondary institutions. All coursework can be completed fully online. Admission into the degree program requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. However, degrees from other institutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. There is no specific GPA requirement and GRE or GMAT scores need not be submitted. The program is open to bachelor degree holders in any field, but some specializations require specialized work experience or a background in mathematics or computer studies for admission. Reduced tuition rates for federal employees and military personnel are available. Support services for distance learning students include tutoring and writing help, as well as access to online journals, articles, databases, ebooks, and other resources through the UMUC Library.

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15 Central Washington University Ellensburg, Washington $8,586 67% 80% 56% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Central Washington University's fully online Master of Science in Information Technology & Administrative Management (MS-ITAM) degree is designed to fill the gap between the fields of administrative management and information technology. Students choose from among 4 specializations: Administrative Management, Cybersecurity Management, Information Technology and Structures of Data Analytics for IT Managers. The regular study format for the degree is designed for most students to complete in 1 year. However, the MS-ITAM degree also features 2 additional study options through its FlexIT Pro Performance-Based Learning program. The part-time option is geared for students with professional and/or family commitments and provides them more time to complete their degrees. The Accelerated option allows highly motivated self-starting students to finish their studies in less time by increasing the number of credit hours attempted during each 3-month term. Admission requirements for the MS-ITAM program include a minimum overall 3.0 GPA on the last 90 quarter or 60 semester credits of college-level work, 3 letters of recommendation, and submittal of a statement of educational and professional objectives. Applicants must also participate in a telephone interview. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement for admission. International students must additionally demonstrate proficiency in English by providing a passing score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test and submit a confidential financial statement.

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16 University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona $11,372 74% 79% 63% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The University of Arizona's online Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree program is designed for working professionals interested in boosting their career potential by adding to their technical, analytical and management skills. This 30 credit hour (10 course) program is designed to be completed in 10 months. Topics covered in the curriculum include information security and risk management, business intelligence data mining, enterprise data management and IT business foundations. Courses are presented in an asynchronous format and all coursework is completed 100% online. Admission requirements include possession of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university (or comparable degree from a non-U.S. institution) earned with an overall 3.0 GPA, and 2 years of relevant work experience (exclusive of internships). Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 may begin their studies as "non-degree seeking" students taking 2 or 4 classes, and changing their status to "degree seeking" once completing these initial classes with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit a resume, purpose of graduate study statement, and 3 letters of recommendation. International applicants must additionally provide TOEFL scores. By completing the MS degree, students can additionally obtain UA Certificates in Business Intelligence and Enterprise Security.

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17 North Carolina A & T State University Greensboro, North Carolina $4,545 66% 54% 51% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Emphasizing sound theoretical concepts and hands-on experience, the fully online Master of Science in Information Technology degree offered by North Carolina A&T State University prepares students for both technology and management professional positions throughout all sectors of the economy. The degree program is offered in 2 formats: thesis and coursework. Both formats require a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework, allowing students to complete the entire program in 2 years or less. Transfer credits applicable to the degree subject may be accepted, decreasing program completion time. In addition, students can choose from among 5 specializations. Most courses are offered in an asynchronous format. However, some courses may contain online group work scheduled at a specific time. Unconditional admission into the MSIT program requires possession of a bachelor's degree in information technology or related field earned with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 may be admitted on a conditional basis, but will be subject to additional requirements that may include passing exams and/or taking additional courses to demonstrate knowledge in specified relevant subjects. International students must additionally provide proof of English proficiency for admission.

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18 Murray State University Murray, Kentucky $10,968 71% 85% 53% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Murray State University's fully online Master of Science in Information Systems degree program requires successful completion of 30 credit hours of coursework and is designed to be completed in 15 months. Students can choose between 2 concentrations: Business Analytics and Information Security. Courses are presented in an asynchronous format, meaning that students can log in and complete their coursework at anytime. Admission into this degree program is open to applicants with a bachelor's degree in any major earned with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and no more than 3 failing grades in their undergraduate coursework. Applicants must also submit test scores for the GRE (288 or higher combined Verbal and Quantitative score on the Revised General Test, or combined score of 980 or higher on the old GRE) or GMAT (490 or better). International students whose native language is not English must additionally submit proof of English proficiency. Non-Kentucky online students pay lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts, and residents of a few nearby Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana counties pay the same tuition rates as in-state students.

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19 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts $14,304 59% 61% 58% 1 N/A N/A N/A

The University of Massachusetts Lowell's Master of Science in Information Technology degree program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for designing, deploying and managing networked computer systems with an emphasis on Apple, Windows and Linux/Unix platforms. This fully online, 10-course program is designed to be completed in 2 years. Admission into the program requires a bachelor's degree in information technology from an accredited college or university. Applicants must also have completed (or demonstrate an equivalent experience for) at least 1 semester each of precalculus, discrete mathematics and statistics, as well as a demonstrated proficiency in C Programming (minimum of 1 semester each of C Programming and Data Structures, or equivalency). Additional requirements include submission of a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and official transcripts for all prior college-level coursework. Tuition costs for this degree are the same for both Massachusetts and out-of-state students. Online students benefit from a range of support services, including access to program coordinators and academic advisers and 24/7 online technical support.

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20 Coastal Carolina University Conway, South Carolina $13,320 36% 61% 47% 1 N/A N/A N/A

Coastal Carolina University's fully online Master of Science in Information Systems Technology with Concentration in Security and Analytics prepares students to be leaders in the IT field by teaching them the skills needed to create and implement secure technology systems and infrastructure. This 33-credit-hour program is designed to be completed in approximately 2 years. The curriculum consists of core and elective coursework culminating in a capstone project (research thesis, special topics electives or research project). Admission into this MS degree program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or international equivalent earned with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must also submit a copy of their resume or CV, 2 letters of recommendation, and a written statement of career and education goals. Applicants with a non-IT or closely related bachelor's degree may be admitted into the program on a probationary basis and must complete 4 major-related courses to obtain regular status. International students whose native language is not English must submit acceptable test scores from either the TOEFL or IELTS.

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21 Virginia International University Fairfax, Virginia $9,144 - 25% - 1 N/A N/A N/A

Virginia International University provides online education programs that are equivalent to their on-campus degree offerings. The Master of Science in Information Technology is relevant for students interested in pursuing a career in a variety of tech fields. The program provides coursework in a wide array of topics including computer networking, IT, software development, database technologies, web development and information assurance. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework, 21 of which are core courses such as Computer Networks, Web Applications Development and Computer Architecture and Implementation. Elective courses allow students to pursue different interests such as Operating Systems, Mobile Applications Design and Development and Software Engineering. All incoming students must complete the following prerequisite courses (or equivalent): Programming II, Operating Systems, Essentials of Networking and Database Concepts. Students who take a full course load of 3 courses per semester could complete the program in as few as 4 semesters.

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What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Information Technology Program?

An online masters in IT degree program allows students to earn a combination of leadership skills and advanced knowledge of technology, all necessary to successfully tackle a management role or become a consultant. Many programs also provide courses to earn industry certifications such as Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or CompTIA Project+. By graduation, students will have developed:

  • project management skills to oversee teams
  • communication skills to work with organization stakeholders
  • ability to assess business goals and offer technology solutions
  • understanding of current trends

What’s the difference between a master’s in IT and an MBA in IT?

Both an MBA in information technology and a master’s program in information technology will provide students with skills they need to take a career in information technology to the next level. The primary difference between the two degree paths are how the degrees are used in a career. Individuals who wish to manage and oversee IT departments and organizations in a business should explore the MBA degree path. Individuals who want to become an expert in a specific area of IT should explore the master’s in information technology path.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in information technology program?

While course titles vary according to the college or university, here are some examples of IT masters-level classes:

Database Design and Development

Provides a foundation for conceptual understanding and building of database management systems. Teaches students to assess design applications to solve business problems and develop abstract ideas into concrete models.

Fundamentals of Computer and Network Security

Learn about attacks on computer systems, networks and the internet including how attacks work, how to prevent attacks and how to detect them. Topics also include security principles, software vulnerabilities, security mechanisms, crypto-analysis, malicious code, network threats and security management requirements.

Software Development

Explore fundamental concepts of the software development process including the software development lifecycle. Practice designing, implementing, testing and debugging large software programs. Topics include programming best practices, database programming, development tools and basic techniques of requirements elicitation and modeling.

Project Management for IT Professionals

Develop skills needed to plan and control projects as an IT project manager while understanding interpersonal issues that drive successful outcomes. Topics include project management life cycle, project management tools, management challenges risk assessment methods and the Waterfall Model as applied to information technology.

Programming Concepts for IT

Fundamental concepts in programming languages and the major tools to implement them. Provide skills to give students understanding of elements of style and aesthetics of programming and controlling complexity in programming.

Foundations of Enterprise Architecture

Introduction to the fundamentals of enterprise architecture and frameworks. Explores the role of EA in business and IT alignment as well as the planning, design, assessment and management of enterprise architectures.

What exams or projects should I expect?

A capstone IT project is typically part of the master’s degree curriculum. Students must review and combine the knowledge and skills they’ve earned throughout the program to complete a project which is then used to assess their growth. Usually, IT capstone projects find solutions to issues companies face in the real world. For example, one project may develop a security strategy for a medium-sized company while another may create an intranet for a charitable startup organization.

What specializations are available in a master’s in information technology program?

Within the vast field of information technology, there are plenty of specializations to choose from when earning an online master’s degree in IT. The section below identifies just a few popular specializations offered at colleges and universities.

Web Development

This specialization focuses on the use of programming languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP). Students learn how to create websites and web applications as well as methods for driving traffic to websites and collect statistics on usage. In addition, students look at demographic data and how it can be used to improve site functionality and popularity.

Data Analytics

The focus of data analytics is to provide exposure to data processing, analysis and visualization techniques using real-world data sets. Students investigate concepts and techniques for data mining, text mining and web mining. Data analytics also examines the background and theory of practice of information technology as well as statistical analysis methods and tools.

Project Management (IT)

IT project management applies to those engaged in the administration of large technical projects. The curriculum for this specialization covers project management process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, closing) and agile software development practices. Students learn virtual project management to manage geographically distributed software development.

Information Security

Privacy and information security are a serious concern for companies and organizations with modern computer systems. With 24-7 accessibility from virtually anywhere, it’s important to safeguard all systems from domestic and national threats. The information security specialization curriculum trains students in information security areas such as database organization, cryptography and computer and network security.

Software Engineering

This specialization focuses on advanced software methodology, design and coding techniques to prepare students to lead a successful software development team properly. Instructors teach how to design software using UML models, develop and test software, manage complex projects and create and modify effective control mechanisms.

What Can I do with a Master’s in Information Technology Degree?

Graduates with an advanced IT degree can follow a variety of career pathways. Job opportunities are available in the public and private sectors with just about any company you can think of as long as they have technology. The following careers may be open to master’s in IT degree holders:

Senior Systems Analyst

The role of a senior systems analyst is to analyze computer systems and procedures to keep them operating smoothly. Responsibilities include planning, development, testing and deployment as well as writing reports tracking their progress. Not only do computer analysts need to understand a large number of programming languages, but they also must be strong project managers. A specialization in data analytics may be necessary for this position.

Enterprise Architect IT

Maintaining an organization’s networks and services and coordinating the design and integration of a proposed system’s architecture are the primary responsibility of an enterprise architect in Information Technology. In addition, enterprise architects identify business needs to develop solutions, manage developer teams, and prioritize technical needs (hardware and software).

Software Engineering Manager

Any organization that works with software, either generating its own or personalizing third-party software needs a software engineering manager. As a manager, this individual oversees a team of software engineers as they write, edit and test programs, making sure they work successfully. While a software engineering manager may have some hands-on role with software, it is primarily a supervisory position. Responsibilities include oversight, making sure standards are met and software is fully functional.

Information Security Analyst

By protecting assets against cyber-attacks, an information security analyst has an essential role in any organization with computer networks and systems. Primarily, an information security analyst must provide security solutions, including the development of a disaster recovery plan so that the IT department can continue to function in case of an emergency. Other responsibilities include conducting penetration testing, developing security standards and preparing reports documenting security breaches.

Operations Research Analyst

An operations research analyst relies on strong technical skills and a deep understanding of their customers as they extract and translate raw data into information necessary to increase business efficiencies. An analytics manager measures performance, assesses financial risk and motivates a team of specialists within an organization. Other duties include communicating analytics via user reports and presenting findings to senior management.

Senior IT Project Manager

As the head of IT projects within an organization, a senior IT project manager must effectively plan, organize, lead and control all essential aspects. In addition to being proficient with a wide range of technologies, a senior IT project manager must be capable of supervising many employees while ensuring all technological functions stay on track. Other responsibilities include conducting meetings with stakeholders, measuring performance, creating a project plan and recording customer requirements in the process of establishing project deliverables.

Professional IT organizations provide valuable support and networking opportunities. Members receive discounts, are invited to annual conferences and have access to job boards. Review the following list of professional IT organizations to find useful resources:

Association for Women in Computing

Professional networking opportunities, mentoring and continuing education for women in computing professionals, established in 1978.

Association of Software Professionals

Professional trade association for software authors and developers offering articles and book reviews as well as member software discounts.

CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals

Members can earn CompTIA certifications and attend a CompTIA Plus annual conference for IT professionals. In addition to a job board, IT career advice and IT skills training, CompTIA AITP has local chapters for professionals. The Student Program connects students to mentors and provides career advice and resources to build a strong foundation as an IT professional.

National Association of Programmers

Founded in 1995, NAP offers certification for IT professionals and publishing opportunities for its members.

Network Professional Association

A certified network professional credential is available from NPA for IT employees. NPA also publishes a Network Professional Journal for the benefit of members.

Women in Technology

Resources for women in technology-related careers including programs such as the Mentor-Protégé program, events like the annual job fair and other support.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Information Technology?

Since information technology is a large field, there are a wide variety of jobs that someone with a master’s degree in IT could be eligible for. Here are few possible careers with their salary potential, but job seekers should keep in mind that these careers may require certain undergrad degrees, additional certification or experience.

Career Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Computer Systems Analyst Less than $53,750 $88,270 More than $139,850 +9%
Computer Network Architect Less than $58,160 $104,650 More than $162,390 +6%
Software Developer Less than $59,870 $101,790 More than $160,100 +24%
Information Security Analyst Less than $55,560 $95,510 More than $153,090 +28%
Operations Research Analyst Less than $45,270 $81,390 More than $134,470 +27%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

The rapidly growing field of Information Technology means there are plenty of advanced-level careers for those with a master’s degree. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for software engineering managers, information security analysts and analytics managers are expected to grow 27% – 31% because of demands for software and privacy issues due to threats on computer systems. In fact, the BLS finds job growth is expected to be as high as 56% for employment of information security analysts in positions related to computer systems design through 2026.

For those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, the question may be whether earning an online master’s degree in IT is necessary. The answer is that it depends on the position they want to work in. For example, high-level careers in management often require the management skills earned in a graduate degree program. For example, a project manager with a graduate specialization in data analysis or software engineering may find more prospects in the field.

When it comes to salary, education also makes a difference. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, the median salary for a computer and information systems professional with a bachelor’s degree is $69,000 a year compared to $85,000 with a master’s degree.

Online Master’s in Information Technology Program Accreditation

Accreditation is an important criterion when selecting a graduate school degree in IT program. There are three types of accrediting bodies: institutional, regional/national and specialized. Institutional accreditation is bestowed to the actual college or university while regional and national accrediting boards award accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education. Specialized accreditation is based on a particular program or department of an accredited institution. For instance, Information Technology programs can be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which is a globally recognized and covers applied and natural science, computing, and engineering and engineering technology.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Information Technology Degree

With tuition costs as high as $40,000 a year, according to Peterson’s, many students need as much financial assistance as possible. Fortunately, there are several ways to take the sting out of the yearly cost of tuition for a master’s degree in IT student.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    The first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online, for access to Federal Aid including loans, grants and institutional assistance.

  • IT Research Assistantships

    By working as a research assistant in an IT master’s degree program, students can receive discounted tuition or travel stipends to attend industry events and conferences. For instance, students in the master’s degree IT program at Penn State University can apply for research assistant positions on an annual basis.

  • Scholarships for IT Students

    Many schools offer scholarships to graduate students from the IT department. Check with each school individually to determine eligibility and requirements for school-funded scholarships. Many organization also offer regional and national scholarships, such as the Exede Internet Scholarship or the Educational Advancement Foundation scholarships for graduate students.

  • Credit for Life/Work Experience

    Online degree programs, like the IT degree program at Walden University, offer credits to qualified students who have relevant work experience. This reduces the number of credits a student must take to graduate, reducing the cost of earning a degree.