Programs, Timelines and Careers for Students of Information Technology
With ongoing advancements in technology, information technology jobs are often in high demand. Though some jobs are available to those who hold an associate or bachelor's degree, those who earn an online master's degree in information technology (IT) typically have more career options available to them. Find master's for information technology programs, see what a timeline for a master's in IT looks like and learn more about possible career paths below.
- Best Online Master's in Information Technology
- Find Online Master's in IT Programs
- Timeline of a Master's in IT
- Potential Careers in Information Technology
- Core Skills Learned
- Additional Resources
Top-Ranking Online Master's in IT Programs
|#1||Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA|
|#2||Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL|
|#3||Rochester Institute of Technology-RIT Online Rochester, NY|
|#4||Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI|
|#5||La Salle University Philadelphia, PA|
|#6||North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC|
|#7||University of Michigan-Dearborn Dearborn, MI|
|#8||Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI|
|#9||Endicott College Beverly, MA|
|#10||East Carolina University Greenville, NC|
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Top Online Programs
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Top-Ranking Online Master's in IT Programs
To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
- Accredited at the institutional level
- Private nonprofit or public school
- Minimum of 1 online bachelor's degree in subject area
Schools were then scored on factors such as:
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Number and variety of online program offerings
- Student-teacher ratios
- Graduation rates
- Placement and support services offered
- Academic/Career counseling services
- Employment services
- Loan default rates
These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.
Students interested in receiving an master's degree in information technology (IT) but are have other time commitments that prevent them from being able to attend on-campus courses may benefit from enrolling in an online graduate program. However, with more schools offering distance learning programs, it can be overwhelming to know which school is best. To help with this process, we have ranked schools all over the country based on factors such as net price, graduation rates and availability of student resources. Explore the top-ranking schools that offer online master's in IT programs below.
Find Online Master's in Information Technology Programs
In addition to a top-ranking list, a prospective student may need to consider other elements when searching for an online master's in IT program. The search tool covers the criteria that often matter most to potential students like school type, acceptance rates and student population.
Timeline to an Online Information Technology Master's Degree
Aspiring students often choose to pursue a master's degree because it may open doors to jobs with more responsibility, pave the way for a promotion or raise, or allow those with some information technology knowledge to change career paths. Find out what students need to know about getting through the application process as well as what they can expect to learn during those important years of master's degree study below.
Although the application process for an online master's degree in information technology may vary from program to program, a list of common requirements in given below.
- Bachelor's Degree
Before entering an online master's in IT program, a bachelor's degree will typically be required. While this does not usually have to be in information technology or a related field, having an IT-related bachelor's degree may help the chances of admission. Schools will often require an official transcript, either as hard copy or an electronic copy, and will often request it to be sent directly from the awarding institution.
- Standardized Tests
Some information technology programs require a student to complete the GRE and submit their scores in order to be reviewed for admission. Some might require the GMAT in addition to, or in place of, the GRE. The test usually needs to be taken within five years of the date of admission, and in some cases, schools might require a more recent test.
- Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation should generally come from those who know the applicant best in terms of the IT field, including colleagues, former professors or supervisors. Though the student is often required to collect these letters, some schools will require students to simply provide contact information for those individuals, and the school will contact them to obtain the letters of recommendation.
A résumé detailing work in the field is often a requirement. Some schools may want to see a significant amount of work in information technology before a student can be admitted. Others may simply want to know that the student is attempting to build up a strong background of experience.
- Personal Statement
The personal statement can give students an opportunity to state why they want to enter an online master's program in information technology and what they intend to do with their degree.
Some schools will require an interview with the admissions committee. This interview might be conducted in person or might be handled through online video chat programs.
YEAR ONE MILESTONES
Most online information technology master's programs can be completed in two years. However, those who choose to attend part-time could take three or more years, and those who take accelerated courses could graduate in less than two years. See what to expect during the first year of study in a standard two-year timeline below.
- Core Courses
The core courses in a master's program often set a firm foundation for the future concentration courses. These core courses typically cover many points necessary for IT professionals like programming languages.
- Concentration Options
Students will typically begin looking at concentrations and choosing which one will suit their educational and professional goals. Concentrations can include a huge variety of options, including business intelligence and analytics, cyber security management, IT consulting and services management, and healthcare systems.
- Thesis or Capstone Project
The thesis or capstone project is a major part of an online master's in information technology program. This will usually require in-depth research and writing on a particular subject in information technology, preferably one that focuses on a student's ultimate career goals. Students often consult closely with advisors to determine which thesis or capstone subject might be best.
YEAR TWO MILESTONES
In their second year, information technology master's students typically pursue the concentration that was chosen during the first year. The classes during the second year will likely be more targeted and detailed than the core courses of the first year and will typically prepare students to move into the information technology world with practical skills as well as the potential to become leaders in the field. See an example of what a student can expect in the second year below.
Concentration is typically the main focus during the second year of study. Students can choose from options like e-commerce, IT teacher education and telecommunications. Some more specialized concentrations delve into very specific areas, such as bioinformatics or those under the umbrella of bioengineering. The majority of courses in this year are usually directly related to a student's concentration.
- Research and Writing
Students will likely be completing the capstone project or thesis, which means a great deal of time will be spent finishing up the research and writing necessary for the final report. Courses designed to help a student along the way will typically be offered during both years and will focus on research methods and advanced writing techniques.
Often times, additional certifications may be required in order to apply for certain job in the IT field. From Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) to certifications in various programming languages, the proper certification to obtain usually depends on the concentration and eventual career the student will pursue.
In addition to completing the required courses set forth by the program, students will typically have to meet other requirements in order to be eligible for a degree. Below are some of the most common requirements for those in an online master's in information technology program.
- Thesis or Capstone Project
The thesis or capstone project is typically required for graduation as it sums up the skills and knowledge a student learned during the program and demonstrates a strong grasp of key concepts. The thesis or capstone project is usually completed during the second year, but some students choose to expand their education into a third year in order to accommodate the need for in-depth research.
In most concentration courses, an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required, but it might be higher depending on the school.
- Comprehensive Examination
Some programs not only require the completion of a thesis or capstone project, but may also require the passing of an examination. Comprehensive exams will typically cover the basic information students should have learned during the program like programming languages and leadership development.
Many schools will require a student to have hands-on training before graduation, which is usually obtained through internships. Students in the online program can often complete these internships through a variety of companies that have partnered with their online school to provide the experience for promising young IT professionals. Internships are often completed between the first and second year.
Post-Grad Paths With a Master's in Information Technology
Those who graduate with an online master's degree in IT can typically look forward to new careers in their chosen field. Though their work will likely depend on the concentration and experience they already have, the following list can provide aspiring students with an outlook on possible career options:
BROWSE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CAREERS
Information Technology Manager
These managers typically work to plan, coordinate and direct the computer-related activities for an organization or business. Duties can include determining what a company needs, planning and directing the implementation of new technologies, creating cost assessments, working to enhance security, directing other IT professionals who work for the business and working with executives to plan growth of technologies over time.
Mean Annual Wage$131,600
Chief Technology Officer
These individuals usually have a high level of technology expertise they use to evaluate new technologies and figure out how they might benefit an organization. They often design and implement proper solutions for various departments, determine an overall strategy for IT and oversee research and development activities.
Mean Annual Wage$131,600
Computer Systems Analyst
These professionals often analyze the role of IT in an organization, research emerging technologies, create cost assessments for clients, work with older computer systems to make them more powerful as well as plan, design, install, test, and maintain new computer systems that provide the client with the computing power they need to help their business grow.
Mean Annual Wage$85,800
Core Principles and Skills Learned in an Online Information Technology Program
Master's in Information Technology
- Leveraging Information Technology to Create Value An online master's degree in IT can bring an intimate understanding of the industry into the workplace. From the development of new technologies to how to make old technologies work in different ways, students will typically learn how to best use their IT knowledge to create value for their clients.
- Managing Individuals and Teams in IT Departments Those who took several management classes during their master's in information technology program can typically apply those skills in a leadership role in their company or organization or form their own small business.
- Strong Knowledge of Programming Languages and Technologies No matter the job, an online master's degree in IT will typically give students a strong overview of the various technologies available to IT professionals and how to use them. Graduates typically gain specialized knowledge, including advanced programming languages, in-depth security measures and complex data mining work.
Association for Women in Computing
Women who choose to enter this field, which has traditionally been dominated by men, can find numerous resources through this association.
Association of Information Technology Professionals
This association works to enhance and advance the IT profession through support of IT education, national policies on IT and professional development of its members.
Computing Technology Industry Association
This non-profit trade association focuses on supporting businesses, from the largest vendors to the smallest start-ups, in the hopes of advancing industry growth and innovation.
Information Technology Industry Council
Considered the global voice of the tech sector, ITI advocates for strong tech policies that enhance the opportunities for technology professionals around the world.
Software Development Forum
Those who choose to focus on software development can find a great deal of support through SDF. This forum offers a place to ask questions that only a fellow software developer can answer.