2020 Best Online Master's in Information Technology (IT) Degrees
The 9 online colleges on this list are the best value options for online master's programs in information technology, based on their tuition and alumni-reported salaries. A degree from New Jersey Institute of Technology has an impressive return on investment, with an annual tuition of $19,605 and alumni reporting a mid-career salary of $147,700. The University of Maryland Global Campus offers distance learners a Master of Science in Information Technology for $11,862 per year. Alumni reported a mid-career salary of $121,900.
2020 Online Colleges Offering Information Technology Degrees - Ranking Details
Overview of an Online Master's Degree in Information Technology
The online IT master’s program curriculum discusses the strategic use of information systems in the business world. Core technical classes look at telecommunications management, e-business technologies, database management, software engineering and computer programming. Management courses discuss project management and leading in a technology setting. Many information technology master’s programs require students to choose a particular module or specialization in an IT area. Possible focuses include software development, information security, health information technology, information systems management, and telecommunications systems. Along with the courses in the specialization area, many IT master’s programs require an on-site practicum or internship experience in an IT business setting.
The information technology master’s opens up a wide variety of leadership roles in information systems, including IT manager, project manager, information security specialist, systems analyst, network architect, and software developer. Other possible roles include network administrator, database administrator, and computer programmer. The career direction that graduates choose will likely depend on their degree specialization and previous professional experience; for example, it is useful for IT managers in a hospital to have previous experience in a healthcare setting.
Jobs and Salaries for IT Degrees
Receiving a master’s in information technology is a major step in launching or enhancing an IT career and sets students up for a high earning potential. The IT master’s degree provides students with professionally focused skills in information technology that incorporate perspectives from business and management. The programs allow students to further their understanding of how to manage and be a part of a comprehensive IT support systems within a thriving business through classroom and hands-on learning. Most programs take 2 years to complete and require around 30 credit hours to receive your degree. Students can take graduate-level courses in cyber-law and ethics, telecommunications management, e-business technologies, database management, software engineering and computer programming. Management courses discuss project management and leading in a technology setting.
As more and more businesses are relying on the internet and computers to facilitate their day-to-day operations, IT professionals have become in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the IT field is expected to increase 13% by 2026. The BLS claims that within that timeframe there will be more than half a million jobs added in this field, promising plenty of opportunities for an information technologist with a master’s degree. Information support systems are integral to making sure a company’s information infrastructure run smoothly and safely and information technicians are the first line of defense, making them invaluable to employers.
A master's degree in information technology can open a wide variety of leadership roles in information systems, including IT manager, project manager, senior database administrator, information security specialist, systems analyst, network architect, and software developer. These managerial-focused careers allow for higher-level positions and a higher earning potential. Master’s in IT programs will prepare you for these opportunities by offering a variety of high-quality, informative courses that focus on how students can apply the knowledge they received in the classroom to the business world.
These are the most common jobs for IT master's degree graduates:
- IT managers run the IT team of any business, institute, or organization. They are knowledgeable about every aspect of information technology and oversee all of the company's electronic systems and networks. They work with upper-management to effectively communicate the business' needs to other IT technicians. In 2016, IT managers had an average annual income of $135,800.
- The chief technology officer (CTO) of a business oversees all of the company's technological departments. This is an executive-level position and involves managing a team of IT specialists. The average salary for a CTO is $153,860 per year.
- A chief information officer (CIO) is the executive who oversees all of the IT strategies for a business. They often work directly with the CEO in order to organize and implement IT networks in the best possible way. The average annual salary for a CIO is $169,000.
- IT project managers organize and monitor projects related to information technology. This requires leadership and managerial skills as project managers often have to oversee teams of IT specialists. The average salary for an IT project manager is currently $85,779 per year.
- Senior database administrators arrange and store important information for an organization. They are responsible for keeping the information safe and accessible. The average annual salary for a senior database administrator in 2017 was $87,020.
- Information security specialists are responsible for monitoring and maintaining a network's security system. In 2017, their average annual salary was $95,510
- Systems analysts look at an organization's computer system and provide design assistance that aims to make the network run better and more efficiently for the organization. In 2017, the average annual income for a systems analyst was $88,270.
- A network architect designs an organization's communication and information networks. These networks could be designed for small or large business and could be intranets, wide area networks (WAN), and local area networks (LAN). The average salary for a network architect was $104,650 in 2017.
While an information technology specialist with a bachelor’s degree generally earns around $80,000 a year, the average salary for a mid-career IT manager with a master’s degree was $105,000 per year in 2017. This master's degree wage premium is much higher than the average wage premium for earning a master's.
- Career Trend. Accessed August 20, 2018. https://careertrend.com/average-yearly-salary-architect-just-out-school-masters-degree-38988.html.
- Forbes. Accessed August 22, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkauflin/2017/09/22/the-masters-degrees-with-the-highest-salary-potential-2017/#7180194d560b.
- Labor & Stats. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm.
- Labor & Stats. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm.
- Labor & Stats. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm.
- Labor & Stats. Accessed August 20, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.
- Labor & Stats. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm.
- Payscale. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/highest-paying-cio-skills.
- Payscale. Accessed August 22, 2018. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master%27s_Degree/Salary.
- Payscale. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Chief_Technology_Officer_(CTO)/Salary.
- Payscale. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Project_Manager%2C_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary.
- US News. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/it-manager/salary.