Master’s in Database Management Program Guide

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Published on May 18, 2020 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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As more companies begin to use databases for growth, database management professionals are becoming more in demand. These professionals build and manage information systems that businesses need to thrive in today's technological society. With a database management master's degree, a graduate can hold management-level positions in this exciting field.

Many database management careers are growing faster than the national average. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase in database administration jobs by 2026. In addition to an expanding job market, a master's in database management also benefits graduates financially. According to the BLS, computer and information systems managers enjoy a median annual salary of nearly $140,000.

Should I Get a Master's in Database Management?

A master's in database management is ideal for learners seeking to advance an information technology career. Although not all institutions require candidates to have undergraduates degrees in the same field, applicants should have some experience with information systems. Learners take courses in database administration and design, as well as mining and storing data.

Online learners enjoy the flexibility and convenience of distance learning, but some students may find that on-campus programs better fit their needs. On-campus students gain access to university technology, including state-of-the-art computers and software. These degree candidates also benefit from learning and networking with peers through class discussions and student organizations. The opportunity to network extends to the professors on campus as well, many of whom are practicing professionals. Graduate students often form close working relationships with advisers who can write letters of recommendation and help students find jobs after graduation.

As graduation nears, learners can access university resources, like internship placements, the library, resume workshops, and job listings. After earning a master's in database management, graduates are competitive in the job market. Many employers take database management seriously and want to hire applicants with graduate degrees. For jobs that do not require a master's degree, these credentials can set a candidate's resume apart.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Database Management?

Graduates with a master's degree in database management can become administrators, managers, and researchers. Database management and administration professionals should possess the skills necessary to see the big picture and how data can improve a business. Researchers are on the cutting edge of data systems and discover new ways to advance the profession.

Database Administrators

These professionals use software to securely store data for companies. Depending on the industry, professionals may deal with sensitive and personal data. As such, it's essential for database administrators to possess adequate education, training, and certifications. Candidates with master's degrees are competitive for these positions.

Median Annual Salary: $87,020*

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Also called IT managers, these professionals manage teams of information and computer experts. The managers may set the goals for the team, determine a company's technology needs, and create department budgets. Because managers oversee many qualified individuals, those with master's degrees do well in the job market.

Median Annual Salary: $139,220*

Computer Systems Analysts

These professionals, who are sometimes called systems architects, analyze a company's information management systems and make recommendations for improvements. Many of these consultants work for outside firms or as contractors. A master's degree helps computer systems analysts market themselves as experts.

Median Annual Salary: $88,270*

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Most medium-to-large businesses need network and computer systems administrators. These professionals oversee day-to-day technology operations within an organization. They must have a solid understanding of complicated technological issues. A master's degree shows employers that a candidate is knowledgeable and dedicated to the field.

Median Annual Salary: $81,100*

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Research is an excellent fit for database experts who are not satisfied with current methods and technologies. These professionals, who can work for technology companies or in academia, push the boundaries of data science and devise tomorrow's standards of computing. Organizations often reserve research positions for professionals with graduate degrees.

Median Annual Salary: $114,520*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose a Master's Program in Database Management

Before choosing a master's program in database management, learners should carefully evaluate their options to save time and money. First, candidates should decide whether an on-campus or online database management program is a better fit for their circumstances. Students with work and family obligations may prefer the accessibility and flexibility of an online program. Learners seeking a more traditional school experience may prefer an on-campus program. On-campus students enjoy benefits such as networking opportunities and campus resources.

Students should also compare costs between universities. Since private colleges and out-of-state institutions often cost considerably more than public, in-state options, learners concerned about their budget should consider state schools. On-campus applicants should consider the location of each university.

Degree candidates should also consider the curriculum of each program because curricula vary. For example, students seeking work in the Java programming language should ensure that the university offers courses in it. Similarly, applicants may find that some schools on their lists offer specializations that interest them.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Database Management

Accreditation is among the most important considerations when choosing a master's program in database management. Institutional accreditation indicates that a school meets quality academic standards as well as expands employment and financial aid opportunities.

There are two types of institutional accreditation: national and regional. National accreditation typically applies to for-profit programs. Credits from these schools rarely transfer, but the professional world still recognizes these degrees. While national accreditation is acceptable, the regional counterpart is preferable because students can transfer these credits to other accredited institutions. Regional accrediting organizations also typically have higher academic standards.

Master's in Database Management Program Admissions

Applying to a master's program in database management takes time and planning. Applicants should rank their favorite programs and review each program's website to find the application fee. With their rankings and fees in hand, learners can decide how many schools to which they can afford to apply.

When it's time to send applications, learners should gather relevant documentation, such as transcripts, resumes, letters of recommendation, and test scores. It can take several hours to complete applications, so candidates should allot adequate time. Although schools may have unique admissions requirements, the following are some common application elements.


Most master's programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some universities only accept candidates with related undergraduate degrees, but others accept professional experience when the bachelor's degree is in an unrelated field. Some students go straight into graduate school after earning a bachelor's degree in database management or a related field. However, some programs require one or more years of professional experience for admission. Applicants to a master's in database management program are often required to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or higher. Some schools waive these requirements in favor of high test scores or relevant professional experience.

Admission Materials

Applications include identifying information and statements of purpose. Some universities require essays. Master's programs require candidates to submit official copies of their undergraduate transcripts. Students can request the transcript from their university, usually for a fee. Students may need two to three letters of recommendation that speak to their academic rigor, work ethic, and character. Professors, managers, and colleagues can write these letters; family members cannot. Many database management programs do not require test scores from the GRE or GMAT. However, students who have not taken specific undergraduate courses may need to pass challenge exams to gain admissions. Application fees vary, but typically fall around $50. Some schools waive this fee for students with demonstrable financial need.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Database Management?

Each school that offers a master's in database management provides students with unique opportunities and course requirements. For example, some schools require internships, while others use thesis projects. However, there are some commonalities between many of these programs. The following section outlines common occupations, cost, and program length.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Database Management
Concentration Description Careers
Population Health As data becomes an integral part of healthcare systems, providers need specialists to manage it. With a concentration in health informatics, students become experts in this growing component of database management. Students study topics like health records management and biomedical sciences. Healthcare database manager, healthcare systems administrator
Finance Financial managers rely on databases and technology to make smart trades and predict outcomes. In this concentration, learners understand the programs that help these professionals and find ways to improve them. Degree candidates may study financial markets, statistics, and behavioral decision theory. Financial data analyst, financial systems administrator
Survey Methods Statistical analysis helps professionals understand big data. In this concentration, students learn how to frame questions, extract data, and make inferences using technology. Students study advanced quantitative research methods, casual inferences, and missing data analysis. Political data analyst
Biomedical Informatics As biomedical information technology continues to give doctors and researchers large amounts of data, these health professionals need data and biometrics experts to analyze it. This concentration gives students the tools to create programs and advance the future of medicine. Courses include functional MRIs, quantitative approaches to neurobiology, and modeling gene circuits. Health information systems administrators
Social Networks Social networking websites are shaping the ways people consume and disseminate information. With this concentration, learners study how these networks operate, various algorithms, and the future of the medium. Classes include digital humanities, computational social science, and introduction to social networks. Social database administrators

Courses in a Master's in Database Management Program

Master's in database management curricula vary. However, there are several core subjects that most graduate-level database management students study. Below are some typical courses in these programs. However, learners should review each program's curriculum for more detailed course information.

Database Design and Implementation for Business

In these classes, students learn about relevant tools for data management in business. Degree candidates often get hands-on experience with Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. Learners also gain an understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL) theories and practices.

IT Strategy and Management

Students study current and emerging information technologies, learning how to analyze, choose, and manage these systems. Degree candidates also learn to apply strategy and management theories to businesses to help meet a company's goals. Students with bachelor's degrees in unrelated subjects may need to take prerequisites for these classes.

Design and Analysis of Algorithms

Algorithms power many of the systems and programs that people use in their daily lives. In these courses, students learn to create algorithms and analyze the data that comes from them. This class prepares degree candidates to better understand the information that they will manage throughout their careers.

Information Structures with Java

Because Java is so pervasive in the information technology world, it's essential for students to learn how to apply this programming language to their business pursuits. Learners study fundamental data types and learn how to use Java to turn that information into safe, effective, and scalable programs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Database Management?

It can take a student 18 months to three years to earn a master's in database management. Several factors affect a program's timeline, including the number of required hours, how long each class takes, and whether a student studies full time or part time.

Most database management master's programs require learners to complete approximately 40 credit hours of work. Since most graduate courses are four hours each, degree candidates must successfully finish about ten courses to graduate. Unlike undergraduate programs, students pursuing master's degrees must only take two or three classes to earn full-time classification. Students with work or family obligations can enroll part time and take just one class per semester, which lengthens the time to completion. Some programs offer accelerated courses, which allow degree candidates to graduate faster.

How Much Is a Master's in Database Management?

According to the most recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate students pay an average of $17,868 per year for tuition and fees. However, tuition varies widely by university. For public universities, the average tuition is $10,750 per year. Private, nonprofit institutions charge graduate students an average of $25,817 annually. Beyond tuition, learners should consider additional expenses as well.

Degree candidates in metropolitan areas can expect to pay more in living expenses than those in rural areas. Learners should also consider the costs of food and transportation. Large cities may provide public transit that is significantly less expensive than owning and driving a car.

Graduate students can submit the FAFSA to apply for financial aid. These learners can also access scholarships, grants, and teacher assistant positions on campus.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Database Management Prepares For

MySQL Database Developer Certification

Among the most coveted certifications in database management, this credential from Oracle can accelerate the career of a database developer. Oracle offers several levels of this certification. Candidates may have to take exams, complete continuing education courses, or complete assignments, depending on the level they seek.


IBM offers database administrators five certifications. Professionals can prove their knowledge of Linux, Unix, and Windows systems through IBM's exams. After certification, the company gives candidates the tools to promote their qualifications and secure employment.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

Microsoft offers two paths for the MCSE credential: data platform and business intelligence. Each certification is cloud-focused and respected throughout the community. Candidates must take an exam that verifies their knowledge. Microsoft reports that the credential results in a 20% increase in pay for 23% of those with the certificate.

Resources for Graduate Database Management Students

The Database Journal

This online journal provides students and professionals with the most up-to-date research on database management. The site also has a forum where students can ask questions and access tutorials on popular programs.


This online publication provides insight into several technological topics, including database management. Articles cover topics like data lakes, emerging software reviews, cloud migration, and smart technology.

Computer Weekly

This popular technology website has a section just for database management. Students can visit this page for up-to-date information on trends and major news stories, as well as opinion pieces from respected professionals.

Database Trends and Applications

This site offers database management news in addition to white papers on trending topics, cutting-edge research, videos, and webinars.

Professional Organizations in Database Management

With networking opportunities, like local chapter meetings and annual conferences, professional organizations help database management graduates advance their careers and secure employment. Members also benefit from resources like continuing education opportunities, certifications, and job boards. Some of these associations also lobby in legislative bodies to pass legislation that benefits their members. Typically, the membership fees are around $100 per year, but some organizations offer discounts to students.

This international organization connects data management professionals throughout the healthcare sector. Members can take online courses, earn certification, attend events worldwide, and access exclusive publications. This international organization welcomes data management professionals from all sectors. It offers members continuing education opportunities, certifications, a forum, and a job board. This organization allows women in computing careers to connect with one another through local chapter meetings, workshops, and mentorship programs. This association from CompTIA offers members exclusive benefits, like on-demand training, networking events at local chapters, mentorship programs, and industry discounts. Business owners and managers can give their whole enterprises access to this organization. The EDM Council provides best practices training, a video library of speeches on relevant topics, breaking research, and certification opportunities.
Learn about the benefits of earning a bachelor's degree in database management, including the various job prospects in the field. We answer your questions about earning a master's in higher education degree -- career outlook, admissions, cost, and program information. We answer your questions about earning a master's in organizational management degree -- career outlook, admissions, cost, and program information. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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