Why Earn a Master’s in Information Technology Systems?
A master’s degree in information technology is increasingly in demand for today's employers. Business is already intimately tied to computing, but that technology is advancing more and more all the time. There are also increasing threats from cyber thieves and other sorts of hackers. Big data is demanding higher levels of understanding of systems and how to make sense of all the available information. Thus, you need to have as much knowledge as possible to stay on top of this rapidly growing field.
Computer Science Degrees & Career Paths
A Master’s Degree in Information Technology is loaded with advantages for the degree holder. If you decide to work toward a graduate degree in IT, you will reap great rewards in terms of heightened salary, more and better job opportunities, and professional status that is rewarding in itself. A graduate degree will also help you focus your career on a specific specialty.
If you are working in a specialized area of your work, a graduate degree will focus on that for approximately two years so that you truly master the subject. For example, you might choose an MS in Cybersecurity, Network Architecture, or Software Engineering. When you graduate, employers will see both your experience and academic credentials and then reward you with a top salary.
IT positions are often tied to certifications, which are not necessarily academic in nature. However, even industry certifications can demand that you have a graduate degree before you sit for their examinations. You can also count on job advances that can perhaps take you into the C-suites. For instance, and MBA with an IT focus might help you become a Chief Information Officer of a large corporation.
It may seem like achieving a graduate degree in IT is a no-brainer, a flawless decision. However, there can be downsides. For one thing, you will need to make time for your studies. Where many certification programs allow you to take as much time as you need prior to taking their examination, academic instructors enforce deadlines with penalties that impact your GPA. You'll then need to make ample time for schoolwork for up to two years, if you attend classes full-time.
Once you graduate, there's no guarantee that your salary will increase or that you'll get a promotion right away. Unless your employer offers tuition reimbursement, you'll likely have student loans to pay, as well. You'll need to account for these risks prior to applying to graduate school, but also consider the considerable upside should everything to according to plan.
Overview of a Master's in ITS
What Information Technology Master’s Degrees are Available?
- Master of Science in Information Technology:
This degree may sound like general IT degree but at the graduate level you are sure to find more opportunities to specialize your work. As an MS degree, your work will dive deep into the analytical side of the profession. Other aspects, such as management or communications may not be as prevalent. However, each program is individual.
- Master of Arts in Information Technology:
This degree type will propel you deep into your IT specialization, but you'll likely find softer courses as well. That is, the program might offer choices that are less quantitative, such as technical writing, business communications, or management. An MA might be a good choice if you intend on pursuing a leadership role.
- Master of Business Administration - Information Technology:
IT and business courses are increasingly tied together, and MBA programs have responded. If you've been working in IT for a while and would like to integrate your love of technology with a leadership role, this is the field for you. An MBA will steep you in graduate level business coursework prior to helping you hone your IT skills.
- Master of Information Systems:
An MIS degree isn't so different from an MS in IT. However, an MIS degree will focus more clearly on computer systems and technology. Each program will define them a bit differently, so investigate their curriculum to determine if they provide the sort of courses you need to reach your goals.
To enter a Master of Information Technology program, you will have to prove that you are capable of handling the coursework and that you are driven to succeed with the degree after graduation. Thus, you'll need to provide undergraduate transcripts that show that you meet the minimum GPA requirements. You should also provide GRE scores, a work history, letters of recommendation, and perhaps an admissions essay that details your experience and intentions with the degree.
Keep in mind that not only should your transcripts show a healthy GPA, but your alma mater should have been fully accredited. A national accreditation is often preferred, but if you have a strong work history, including a few professional certifications, your admissions counselor should weigh these items appropriately.
How long does it take to earn an Information Technology Master’s?
A graduate degree in Information Technology can take up to two full academic years to complete if you attend courses full-time and take a summer break. However, you can potentially finish earlier if your program offers appropriate courses over the summer. That said, students tend to take more time with their studies.
For that reason, consider the time you have to dedicate to your studies. Try to prioritize your school work, as it will pay off down the road. Many graduate students even save up prior to entering school so that they can work part-time or not at all while they advance their credentials.
Potential Careers in Information Technology with a Master’s
- Software Developer:
You will need strong programming skills and the ability to work with end-user designers and clients to ensure that the applications meet their expectations. To succeed, you should know one or more computer coding languages such as C++, Java, Python, PHP, and Unix shell scripting, among others. Some developers specialize in only one or two languages at a time, however.
Your expertise and experience will be well rewarded, as the average salary for this position is $69,900.
- Cybersecurity Analyst:
Hackers and other cybercriminals are running rampant these days. They are hacking financial, medical, and business databases and holding them for ransom. Now that we are recognizing the breadth of this problem, cybersecurity is becoming more of a priority both in the private and public sectors.
Thus, average pay for cybersecurity analysts is currently $76,100.
- Information Technology Manager:
When you complete your graduate degree in Information Technology, you will likely move up into management. If this is your goal, you might consider an MBA with an IT focus. Regardless, once you are in this position, you'll find that your value has risen significantly.
The average salary for IT management is $86,000.
- Network Architect:
In this position, you will design, build, and maintain computer networks either on a local basis (LAN) or over a wider area (WAN) – perhaps both. You will need to have management and leadership skills as you assemble a team and create a budget for both labor and any necessary hardware.
The average salary for a network architect is $118,200.
- Database Administrator:
To excel in this job you will probably need to know the Linux operating system, as that is increasingly the standard for server applications. You should also be well versed in cloud computing and SQL, among other technologies. Some database administrators work on an on-call basis, since any database problem must be addressed and contained immediately.
The average salary for database administrators is $71,900.
Options to Advance
If you would like to advance your career in information technology, you should consider not only a master's degree in IT, but also adding certifications to your resume. When you have upgraded your credentials from a bachelor's degree, your resume will look all the more enticing, not only to your managers but also to other employers and recruiters. In fact, once you add new credentials to your LinkedIn profile you are sure to hear from recruiters on a regular basis. If you achieve a professional certificate, make sure you keep it current with continuing education courses, if those are required. Regardless, any IT professional should strive to be a lifelong learner.
In fact, while any education is valuable, strive to take courses that will lead to a credential of some sort. Even a graduate certificate will be helpful, and then can be applied to a degree later. Employers will be more impressed with some indication of completion over and above a string of unrelated courses.
Best Master’s in Information Technology (MSIT) Programs
A graduate degree from this storied university is bound to make your resume stand out. Georgetown's Master's in Technology Management can set your career up for success with only 30 graduate credits. You can enter the program during any semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer term) and you can take up to five years to complete the program.
- Master in Technology Management
- Master's in Cybersecurity Risk Management
- Master's in Systems Engineering Management
Northwestern University – McCormick School of Engineering
You can complete a Master of Science in Information Technology in as little as 13 months at Northwestern. Since the campus is practically next door to Chicago, you could be snapped up for work at one of the hot firms in the Loop, or perhaps join a startup somewhere on the Silicon Prairie. The program covers both technology and business concepts, so you will graduate with a well-rounded education.
- Master of Science in Information Technology
- Master of Science in Computer Science
- Master of Science in Information Systems
University of Washington – Information School
You can complete the UW's Information Management program in as little as a single year. This entails 40 credits and a single specialization in four back-to-back terms. If you need more time for work or family, there is a two-year option that includes 65 credits and two areas of specialization. There are also two 36-hour options. Choose how many specialties and how much time and then apply!
- Master of Science in Information Management
University of Illinois at Chicago
This urban campus will put you in a prime position to succeed. The campus is within view of Chicago's Loop, where you will find ample opportunities upon your graduation. In fact, your degree will be accredited by AACSB-International, which business leaders recognize as a gold standard. Your graduate degree in Management Information Systems can even be part of an MBA program, if you so choose.
- Master of Science in Management Information Systems
- Master of Business Administration - Management Information Systems
Western Oregon University
This degree will help you take your love and knowledge of information technology into the classroom. In fact, any sort of educator or instructor can utilize this degree to advance their ability to reach an audience of learners. The school offers this degree either online, in the classroom, or some mixture of the two.
- Master of Science in Education: Information Technology
- Master of Science in Management Information Systems
Traditional Schools Offering a MS in Information Technology
Virginia Tech is a top-notch institution with an international reputation for excellence. Since their campus is somewhat removed from most major business centers, the ability to take courses online is a benefit to all students. In fact, their Master of Information Technology program is ranked #2 among all graduate IT programs.
- Master of Information Technology
Florida Tech Online
Florida Tech offers a Master of IT in a 100% online format to help facilitate your professional growth. The program blends technology and business management courses to help you become the well-rounded professional you want to be.
- Master of Information Technology Management
- Master of Business Administration in Cybersecurity
Ashford is one of the premier online universities. Their short, asynchronous courses will keep you active and engaged with your graduate IT degree. The program is IACBE-accredited so that it is sure to be nationally recognized by employers and other schools, should you decide you need another degree.
- Master of Information Systems Management
Online and Washington, DC
Georgetown is one of the nation's oldest and most highly esteemed institutions. Now you don't need to move to DC to attain a Master's in Technology Management. The faculty is dominated by seasoned professionals who have the knowledge and insight to inform your education with relevant, contemporary information about management and technology.
- Master's in Technology Management
Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU's graduate programs are designed to keep you learning and engaged through graduation. Then, your degree will propel your career to the next level. Their MS in Information Technology is accredited by ACBSP, along with many, many other business degrees from SNHU.
- Master of Science in Information Technology
- Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics