Online Master’s In Information Technology Degree Guide

The field of information technology continues to grow as businesses and organizations worldwide operate and communicate on digital platforms. An online master’s degree in information technology (IT) prepares graduates to enter the workforce with marketable skills that help businesses manage networks, internet security, and web-based communications. 

Professionals with an online master’s in information technology provide ongoing support to companies and perform a variety of roles to maintain computer-based systems, databases, and local area networks. As more industries adopt digital technology, the demand for educated professionals with secondary degrees in the field of information technology could quickly increase. 

What Is Information Technology?

As an information technology professional, your job is to: 

  • Observe, listen to, and communicate with clients
  • Understand various computer-related issues
  • Offer strategies to ensure functionality
  • Improve performance of web-based systems

Depending on the industry or client, information technology professionals may work in-house or be contracted externally by multiple companies that require similar levels of service. 

What Can I Do With An Online Masters In Information Technology?

Today there are many viable career options for professionals with an online master’s degree in information technology. Within corporations, organizations, and institutions of higher education, IT professionals:

  • Manage their internet capabilities
  • Maintain their servers
  • Perform remote query assistance
  • Update systems
  • Maintain data security
  • Solve day-to-day operational issues

Job candidates with online master’s degrees in information technology provide essential services that only increase in demand as companies adopt web-based platforms for marketing and operational use. 

Master of Information Technology Salaries and Career Outlook

Graduates with a master degree in information technology often pursue careers as:

  • Systems Managers
  • Computer Research Scientists
  • Network Architects
  • IT Specialists

Job growth in IT careers may vary depending on the position, and graduates should note that these statistics are reflections of the current job market that can fluctuate over time. 

Information Technology Master’s Degree Career Paths 

CareerSalaryProjected Job Growth (2019-2029)About the Position
Computer and Information Systems Managers151,15010%Computer and Information Systems managers maintain the computers and web-based systems within a given organization on a full-time basis
Computer and Information Research Scientists126,83015%These professionals design computer hardware and software to address needs in their specific field of research (i.e. medical, science, business)
Computer Systems Analyst93.7307%A Computer Systems Analyst works within an organization to ensure the efficiency and operation of their computer systems
Computer Network Architects47,66025%Computer network architects manage internet access and network connectivity for businesses. 
Source: BLS

Earning A Master’s Degree In Information Technology

An online master’s degree in information technology typically takes between 1-2 years to complete. It’s always helpful to consider in-person and online offerings to find the right program that fits your schedule. 

Future applicants should also consider admissions requirements, costs, and areas of specialization to be sure that the program they choose fits their career goals and schedule. 

Pros And Cons Of Master’s Degree In Information Technology

Time, cost, and job placement are all key factors to consider when applying for a master’s program. Compared to a bachelor’s degree in computer science, a Master of Science in Information Technology allows students to qualify for higher-level administrative positions and higher pay. Given the flexibility offered with an online master’s program, professionals have the opportunity to complete their degree without taking time from their day job.

Coursework In Information Technology Master’s Programs

Many of the courses offered in information technology programs align with industry standards. Classes like Database Design, Network Security, and Systems Analysis prepare students to help understand a variety of roles in the industry. Courses often include topics like cybersecurity, big data, data analytics, and software development. 

As a prerequisite to many of these classes, general knowledge of computer science and hardware can help students prepare for masters-level coursework. 

CourseAbout the Course
Database DesignThis class explores the hardware and software needed to assemble and maintain a database for business or personal use. 
Network SecurityIn this course, students study risk factors associated with computer network security, and how to best protect networks from security breaches or hacking. 
Systems AnalysisSystems analysis classes teach the functionality of the computer and IT systems to help students understand how to assess and troubleshoot issues. 
Foundations of Web DesignThis course serves as an intro to web development and code to help students learn how to create landing pages and websites. 

Skills Learned In A Master’s in Information Technology 

With a master’s degree in information technology, graduates are prepared to hold a variety of roles in the industry. Programs build skills such as:

  • Communication
  • Data analytics
  • Observation
  • Troubleshooting
  • Diagnostics
  • Assemblies

How Long Does It Take To Get A Master’s Degree In Information Technology?

Some IT graduate programs take one year to complete, while others take up to two years. Most programs usually require 30 credit hours, including electives and the capstone project.

Factors that impact the length of a degree program include:

  • Prior education (Bachelor’s in Computer Science preferred)
  • Accelerated course availability
  • Synchronous vs asynchronous learning
  • Part-time vs. full-time course loads

Choosing The Best Master’s Degree In Information Technology

There are many ways to earn a master’s in information technology. For example, you can choose to study online, in-person, or through a hybrid of both options. You may also want to earn additional certifications and licenses, depending on your specialization or field of interest. This section explored the different options available for future information technology students. 

Master’s in Information Technology Degree Specializations

When exploring specializations for the field of information technology, first get familiar with the options. Depending on the type of workplace that you’re interested in operating in, you might select a common specialization such as:

  • Systems Management
  • Data Security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Web Development and Design
  • Healthcare
  • Network Configuration

Information Technology Vs Computer Science

There are distinct differences between computer science and information technology master’s programs that have lasting financial and employment implications. A graduate with a master’s in IT learns the business applications of computer and network management

Alternatively, individuals with a master’s in computer science are employed to develop code and write software. Over the last decade, jobs in computer science have expanded rapidly as web-based platforms and apps proliferate. In comparison, the job outlook for information technology is projected to increase even more as businesses expand their online operations. 

Online vs In-Person Graduate Degrees

Future information technology master’s students have multiple degree options depending on their schedules and goals. Applicants should note that there are many online options to choose from given the web-based nature of many computer-based activities in the field. 

Online learning offers added flexibility, while on-campus learning provides networking opportunities that can benefit post-graduate job placement. 

On-campus, students develop interpersonal skills that benefit them in office environments and with future clients. 

If students choose to study online, this can be an excellent way to balance a full-time job while pursuing their degree. 

How Long Does It Take To Complete An Online Course? 

Depending on the type of online course, student experiences can vary. If courses are taught synchronously, then students must attend online lectures and labs at set times. Hybrid courses offer a combination of online lectures and in-person lab time, which can be helpful for students looking to acquire skills needed to work post-graduation. 

If a course is taught asynchronously, students have the ability to watch lectures and study with flexibility. Alternatively, certificate programs offer accelerated online courses that condense the subject matter into 3-6 week increments. 

Accreditation 

Accreditation is an important part of job placement, so choosing a school that aligns with career goals is a key part of the application process. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the verifying body that assesses computing, engineering, and technology schools to verify that curriculums meet industry standards. 

Students that pursue master’s degrees from an accredited institution have an advantage when applying to jobs post-graduation, and employers may avoid applicants with degrees from unaccredited programs. 

Admissions Requirements 

The first step to applying to any program is to check the admissions requirements to confirm the prerequisite experience needed to qualify. Most information technology programs require:

  • Proof of completion of a 4-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA requirements – These vary depending on the program but start at 3.0+
  • Official Transcript
  • GRE test score 
  • Application fee
  • Letter of Intent
  • Two letters of recommendation 

It is always smart to submit applications to schools with varying rates of acceptance. You should also diversify your application list and include schools with high and low rates of admission.  

Paying For A Master’s Program In information technology

The cost of an online master’s degree in information technology varies depending on a variety of factors. In-state tuition tends to be much less than out-of-state, so be sure to apply to programs locally if cost is a determining factor. 

Colleges, universities, and organizations offer scholarships that are merit or need-based that can help minimize the financial impact of going to school. Online programs can be more cost-effective and accessible than in-person programs, providing applicants with options depending on their prior obligations. Some online programs also extend in-state tuition rates to all students regardless of where they live.

Scholarships

There are many scholarship options for students in the field of information technology. Here are a few: 

Kevin Jetton Service Scholarship 

AICPA – Robert Half Student Scholarship Award

Richard B Fisher Scholarship Program

Information Technology Career Resources

ABET

ABET is an ISO 9001 certified organization that accredits higher education institutions with programs in engineering, computer science, and technology. ABET provides continuing education, networking opportunities, and monthly publications that recognize members’ achievements. 

AITP

This membership-based organization provides students and professionals in the information technology sector with educational and networking opportunities. They offer credentialing services, training, and scholarships to members to further their careers in the field. 

ISSA

The Information Systems Security Association is a nonprofit organization that offers career coaching, networking, and continuing education for professionals in the information security field. This group also works to influence legislation to improve the security of the digital world. 

QuestionAnswer
Do online master’s degrees look bad?Due to the web-based nature of the IT sector, pursuing an online degree is a competitive alternative to in-person education, and typically does not limit students that pursue this format. 
Is an online master’s degree worth it?Professionals with a master’s degree in information technology can expect their industry, future job opportunities, and salaries to grow rapidly in the coming years. 
What can I do with a master’s degree in IT?With a master’s in information technology, graduates can hold a variety of roles including systems analysts, in-house IT specialists, and database administrators. 
What is the best master’s degree in IT? There is not a “best” or “worst” career track in the IT field – graduates can expect a range of job opportunities and competitive salaries regardless of their specialization.   

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