Ph.D. in Information Technology Online

Degree Options & Potential Careers

Well-suited for working professionals interested in conducting academic research or refining their knowledge base, an online doctorate in information technology develops expert-level skills in the field. As a terminal degree, this credential qualifies learners for lucrative job opportunities at the highest levels of the information technology industry.

Due to widespread technological expansion and the proliferation of STEM-related occupations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for information technology workers will increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026. Doctoral candidates stand to benefit strongly from this trend, since their specialized qualifications set them apart from the competition.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Information Technology?

A doctorate in information technology is the highest academic credential in the field. Prospective learners typically earn this degree for personal and professional reasons. Students may aspire to attain expert-level status with all of the intellectual and academic benefits it entails. Other students already familiar with scholarship in IT may want to offer new insights by conducting research and tests that could further advance the field.

Professionally speaking, many learners choose to pursue this degree because of its career benefits. According to data provided by the Census Bureau and the BLS, a strong correlation exists between educational attainment and gainful employment. Advanced degrees often lead to higher wages and lower unemployment rates. Learners typically choose to pursue this credential because it broadens their career options and increases their earning potential.

Degree-seekers should consider these benefits and weigh their options carefully. An online doctorate in information technology may be especially appealing to working professionals who are familiar with the industry.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Information Technology?

Obtaining a doctorate in information technology online qualifies graduates for various positions in the field. Typical career settings for individuals with this degree include large corporations and private businesses, governmental agencies, nonprofits and startups, and academic institutions.

In the private sector, many professionals go on to assume management positions as senior-level executives in charge of all the technology and information-related aspects of enterprise and commerce. They oversee technology operations, develop long-term business strategies, and make recommendations to other executives based on their findings and expertise.

Governmental entities, like the Office of Science and Technology Policy, also rely upon information technology professionals with advanced training and education. In this area, professionals work closely with lawmakers to develop policies that foster technological innovation and advance the field. They provide advice, offer consulting services, and deliver complex technical information to broad audiences.

Other professionals who earn a doctorate in information technology online enter positions in higher education. These individuals may work at the administrative level, ensuring the smooth flow of IT operations and generating strategies and practices to encourage the effective use of new and emerging technologies.

Doctoral degree-holders often opt to work in postsecondary education, both at the collegiate and graduate levels. They teach students the fundamentals of information technology and instill a set of core skills indicative of the field. They may also conduct research to offer original contributions to the discipline, publishing or presenting their findings in books, scholarly journals, and academic conferences.

The career paths listed below represent a sampling of possible opportunities for learners pursuing a doctorate in information technology online.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

These professionals invent new approaches related to computing technology and design innovative applications for already existing technologies. They may examine and solve complex, high-level computing problems in science, business, medicine, and other related fields. These workers also analyze the results of their experiments and publish their findings in academic journals.

Chief Technology Officer

CTOs work alongside CEOs and other high-level executives to oversee an organization's technological development. They decide which technologies to implement or upgrade and keep their colleagues apprised of any new developments or innovations in the field. They may also outline and enforce technology strategies and best practice guidelines, monitor the management of all IT-related tools and platforms, and set global performance goals.

Chief Information Officer

CIOs manage all of the operational aspects of a corporation's information technology framework. Working closely with CTOs, they plan, establish, and evaluate IT strategies for their organization's chief products and services. They may also oversee the management of key personnel in IT, communicate with other senior executives, and provide expertise and industry knowledge to support sales and marketing efforts.

Senior Data Scientist

Advanced data scientists combine their skills in information analysis with business acumen. They gather, analyze, and aggregate data from multiple sources to discover insights and address pressing problems their organization faces. These workers also synthesize complex information and prepare presentations to effectively communicate their findings to peers and coworkers, some of whom may be unfamiliar with technical vocabulary.

Postsecondary Teacher

Many learners who earn a doctorate in information technology online go on to assume positions as professors in higher education institutions. They provide expert instruction in the field to graduate and undergraduate students. They may also conduct research and offer original contributions to the discipline. These professionals often publish their work in journals and present papers at academic conferences.

Information Technology Doctoral Program Overview

This section discusses what prospective students can expect from an online doctorate in information technology program. The following information describes different degrees in the field, looks at application processes and admission criteria, and outlines common curricula. This section concludes with accreditation resources and lists some major learning objectives students can expect to encounter.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Information Technology

Doctoral degrees in information technology typically come in two forms with two different areas of focus. Prospective learners can choose between the research-oriented doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in information technology and the application-oriented doctor of information technology (DIT). While both degrees entail rigorous academic study, each course of study offers a distinct approach to the subject, which ultimately correlates with different professional pathways.

Students who earn a Ph.D. in information technology online explore the conceptual and theoretical aspects of the field. Degree-seekers who obtain this degree typically plan to work in academia as scholars, professors, or researchers. Coursework focuses on industry research and thought leadership with the aim of improving and expanding the boundaries of knowledge in the field.

The DIT investigates best practices, common business problems, and practical applications. Learners who pursue this degree usually work in the corporate sector as senior executives and management officials. These programs focus on applying theory and conceptual knowledge to solve problems in everyday business situations.

Despite these differences, program trajectories for these two degrees remain more or less the same. Both programs involve coursework that covers all aspects of the field and a dissertation project that offers original contributions to the information technology sector. Ph.D. and DIT graduates often work in areas of significant overlap, including teaching, consulting, and publishing scholarship. Nevertheless, prospective learners should consider these differences when looking at potential programs.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Candidates pursuing a doctorate in information technology online must hold a master's in a related field from an accredited institution. They must provide copies of academic transcripts indicating a minimum cumulative GPA that meets the program requirements (typically between 3.0 and 3.5). They may also need to submit recent GRE scores, a resume, a brief statement of intent, and 1-3 letters of recommendation. Programs may require applicants to complete essay questions.

Programs sometimes request interviews from applicants. These interviews may take place on campus, but many programs offer videoconferencing options that remove the need for travel. Potential interviewees should come prepared to discuss their application materials, as well as their potential fit within the program.

Curriculum

The typical curriculum for an online doctorate in information technology comprises 60-70 credits. Most programs split these credits into clusters that cover core requirements, a chosen area of specialization, and free electives. Learners generally complete all coursework requirements in 12-24 months.

After completing coursework, degree-seekers usually take a written or oral comprehensive examination, although this requirement varies by school and program. Exams evaluate a learner's competencies and determine their readiness to proceed to their dissertation project.

After successfully completing their comprehensive exams, learners move to the final capstone stage of the program. This involves completing an approved dissertation project. This project should offer original scholarly contributions to the discipline. Students must first create a proposal for their project and, in many cases, defend it before a committee. Once approved, learners move on to conduct research and writing.

Prospective learners can expect to enroll in courses similar to those listed below.

Analytics and Business Intelligence
This course looks at the principles and techniques that guide analytics applications in large-scale, organizational problem-solving. Learners apply decision theory and management science to common case studies in the field.
Human-computer Interaction
Learners in this course gain an understanding of human-computer interaction with a focus on improved user experience. Topics may include design, usability evaluation, and privacy concerns.
Database Systems
This course provides learners with an overview of current database theory and management strategies. Students develop data models for traditional and nontraditional systems and subject their models to peer testing and critique.
Research Methods
Learners in this course survey common research methodologies specific to information technology and computer science. Instruction includes consideration of historical, correlational, descriptive, and experimental studies.
Information Assurance
This course develops the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure the security of information and data assets in the business sector. Coursework focuses on current tools and methods of assurance, teaching learners best practices and applicable frameworks.
Information Systems Management Architecture
Designed for future managers and information officers, this course explores the use and administration of information technology and database systems in enterprise organizations. Learners explore popular architecture and infrastructure models, along with common implementation procedures.
Economics for Information Sectors
This course helps students develop competitive strategies for information and data management in the global marketplace. Students explore the economic impact of information technology and tools for cost-benefit analyses.
New and Emerging Technologies
Students examine the corporate implications of innovative technologies in the industry. Potential topics include artificial intelligence, social media, open-source technologies, and security issues.

Program Outcomes

While curriculum offerings vary by school and program, doctoral coursework typically develops the technical knowledge and core skills necessary to work in the highest levels of the information technology industry. Individuals who earn a doctorate in information technology online are proven experts in IT and can help shape the direction of the field through their research and technical contributions.

As such, these professionals possess desirable skills and often find lucrative positions in the field. Acquired skills include advanced knowledge of information systems; the ability to effectively communicate complex, technical data to nonexperts; the capacity to identify, analyze, and synthesize pertinent literature; and the ability to generate new knowledge in the field through research, scholarship, and experimentation.

Accreditation for Online Information Technology Doctoral Programs

Bodies like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) typically administer programmatic accreditation for information technology programs that confer bachelor's and master's degrees. While ABET provides useful standards and guidelines for the industry, it does not grant programmatic credentials to doctoral programs. Currently, there is no programmatic accrediting body for this type of doctoral program.

Prospective learners should make sure their selected schools possess proper institutional accreditation before pursuing a doctorate in information technology online. These credentials come from independent bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.