Careers in information technology are growing fast, which means trained IT professionals are extremely valuable. These jobs entail high salaries because they are so specialized and in demand, and the proliferation of new technology also ensures they will remain stable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that IT jobs will grow an astounding 28% by 2026, which far outstrips the national average of 7%. Professionals seeking to further their education can pursue a variety of certification programs or expand their career opportunities by enrolling in IT master’s programs.
Should I Get a Master's in Information Technology?
Students should consider pursuing a master’s in information technology if they have a foundation in the field and an interest in furthering their education. While pursuing information technology degrees, students take intensive classes in areas such as web design, information security, and software development. Networking opportunities with fellow students, instructors, and industry leaders are plentiful, often developing into lasting business connections that may lead to internships or post-graduation employment.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Information Technology?
The information technology field offers many career opportunities. This fluidity allows professionals to use their skills in a variety of settings, and many graduates of master’s information technology programs can work independently as contractors, or as in-house employees with companies. Many IT master’s degrees feature concentrations that prepare students for specialized career opportunities.
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
Responsible for designing new approaches to computing, computer and information research scientists find innovative ways to use existing technology. They solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields.
Median Annual Salary: $114,520
Projected Growth Rate: 19%
- Software Developers
Software developers develop applications for computers and mobile devices. They also develop underlying systems to control networks or manage devices.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560
Projected Growth Rate: 24%
- Information Security Analysts
Demand for information security analysts continues to grow as cyberattacks become more common. These professionals are tasked with implementing security measures to protect a company’s computer systems and networks.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510
Projected Growth Rate: 28%
- Computer Network Architects
Computer network architects build data communication networks, wide area networks, intranets, and local area networks. They work with small connections and next-generation networks with cloud infrastructure capabilities.
Median Annual Salary: $104,650
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Computer Systems Analysts
Job responsibilities of computer systems analysts include reviewing computer systems and procedures and designing solutions to help companies operate more efficiently. They connect business and information technology together by understanding the limitations and needs of both.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
How to Choose a Master's in Information Technology Program
Pay attention to program length and instructional methods since many institutions offer on-campus and online versions of their degrees. On-campus graduate programs work well for students who need more structured learning environments. For those who have found full-time employment after their bachelor’s program, online classes may present a more flexible solution. Online programs usually allow students to take courses part time, which usually lengthens the time required to complete the degree compared to those who study full time.
Consider tuition costs and availability of financial aid as you make your decision. Research specific coursework at each institution to determine if class offerings align with your professional interests.
Accreditation for Master’s in Information Technology Programs
Students should pay attention to accreditation when selecting a program. There are two primary forms of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national and is applied to four-year public and private nonprofit universities. National accreditation typically applies to for-profit and vocational schools. Regionally accredited programs usually allow credits to be transferred between them, but not between nationally and regionally accredited schools. Accreditation ensures that a school’s course offerings meet high standards of academic quality.
Master's in Information Technology Program Admissions
Students should be aware that admissions requirements differ between on-campus and online programs, as on-campus admissions are often less in-depth than online admissions, which can require multiple meetings with admissions counselors before applying.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Students must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field before applying to a graduate program.
- Professional Experience: Some programs require students to have prior professional experience before applying, which means that applications may require a resume.
- Minimum GPA: Most master’s degree in information technology programs require students to meet a minimum GPA requirement to be considered, usually around 3.0.
- Application: Applications require students to provide identification information and upload documents like resumes and personal statements.
- Transcripts: Students will need to submit their transcripts when they apply. Graduate programs require transcripts from previous undergraduate or graduate institutions. These requests typically require a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Graduate programs typically ask students to submit three or more letters of recommendation. Students should ask former professors or work supervisors who can attest to their work ethic. Make sure to request letters several weeks in advance.
- Test Scores: Though some programs do not require students to submit test scores, others may require applicants to take the GRE.
- Application Fee: Most master’s programs charge an application fee, usually around $60. Some students may be eligible to have their fee waived depending on financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Information Technology Program?
For students interested in tailoring their degree to their career goals, many master’s in information technology programs offer concentrations. Concentrations are geared toward specialized careers within the information technology field. Each institution’s tracks vary, so confirm with specific departments before applying that coursework fits your needs.
|Bioengineering||The bioengineering concentration teaches students about the applications of computer science mathematics and engineering to develop methods for solving clinical problems in surgery and medicine. Students focus on computing, biomedical engineering, human physiology, medical information systems, and medical image processing.||Students who pursue this concentration will be able to pursue IT positions within the medical field and can find work as a biomedical engineer.|
|E-Commerce||In the e-commerce concentration, students study telecommunication and online industry. These classes give students the opportunity to work with industry partners for e-commerce career experience, where they will learn to contribute to the growth of online industry.||Students who pursue this concentration can work in marketing, graphic design, multimedia, and search engine optimization.|
|Network Security||Students interested in networking and computer should consider a concentration in network security. They will learn about the networking interfaces, technologies, and digital communication tools that protect against threats to computer security. They will focus on authentication, cryptography, firewalls, and computer forensics.||Students specializing in network security can find employment as digital security analysts or security auditors.|
|Software Development Management||In the software development management concentration, students study the tools necessary to work in software development management. Students will leave the program prepared to develop a small development team and work as a first-line manager of a company.||Students who pursue a concentration in software development management can work as software developers, IT managers, and other related professions.|
|Multimedia||Students interested in building upon the fundamental principles of computer-aided graphic design, A/V production, and web-based commerce can pursue a multimedia concentration. They will study topics like entertainment, streaming media, and e-commerce.||Careers for multimedia students include graphic designers, video producers, and e-commerce professionals.|
Courses in a Master’s in Information Technology Program
Master’s in information systems degree programs cover topics like website design and information literacy. Each program has their own coursework, which students should review before choosing a school.
- Emerging Information Technology
Students will study current and emerging information systems in the emerging information technology course. They will learn about the storage, retrieval, and transmission of information.
- Computers in Education
Computers in education courses approach the use of classroom technology from two angles: hands-on skill development with software and hardware and an ethical, philosophical analysis of technology use.
- Information Literacy
In an information literacy course, students will learn about the strategies to teach information literacy and digital citizenship. They will study information presentation, record-keeping, and practices for thriving in information-rich environments.
- Advanced Website Design
Advanced website design builds upon students’ basic web design knowledge, teaching skills in programs like Java, Flash, and CSS. They will also learn about the World Wide Web Consortium accessibility guidelines and how to address the guidelines in web design.
- Designing Information
In designing information courses, students learn to organize ideas in multiple media. They explore information encoding in graphics, text, and audio media, taking care to select appropriate media to communicate ideas.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Information Technology?
The length of individual master of information technology programs varies, but most programs consist of 45 credits. For full-time students, programs typically take 18 months (five terms) to complete. Students enrolled part time will take longer to complete the program. Most programs offer multiple enrollment periods, including summers, and students who take courses over the summer are usually able to finish their degrees more quickly.
How Much Is a Master’s in Information Technology?
Different institutions charge different tuition rates: Students who are residents of a school’s state are eligible for in-state tuition, while others may be charged out-of-state tuition, which is more costly. Public schools are usually more affordable than private schools. Some programs offer separate rates for online and part-time students.
Beyond tuition, students should consider cost of living in the area near their chosen institution, including housing and transportation costs. Students should also research availability of assistantships and financial aid at any institutions they consider.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Information Technology Prepares For
- Certified Information Security Manager
Earned by more than 38,000 people since its creation in 2002, the CISM certification is highly sought-after for professionals in the digital security strategies industry. Individuals must have at least five years of relevant career experience, including three years as a security manager, and must pass an exam.
- Certified Ethical Hacker
Created by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, ethical hacker certification is designed for auditors, site administrators, and security officers responsible for data and network security. Interested individuals must take an exam to demonstrate their ability to find vulnerabilities in corporate network defenses.
- Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft offers a host of certifications in several fields, including data management and analytics, cloud platform and infrastructure, and app-building. One of the top-paying information technology certifications, Microsoft’s program validates an IT professional’s credentials by asking them to pass a lengthy exam.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor
This credential, offered by ISACA, is for professionals who monitor, audit, and control IT systems. The certification is designed to improve individuals’ abilities to manage vulnerabilities within a system and propose updates to company technology processes.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
This certification is offered from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. There are over 122,000 CISSP worldwide. To earn certification, individuals must pass an exam and have a minimum of five years of experience in information security. Continuing education is a requirement of maintaining certification.
Resources for Information Technology Graduate Students
Students can access CNET, a website with articles about and reviews of new technology. The site also features a downloadable software library and a selection of relevant podcasts.
InformationWeek features articles on topics like devops, digital infrastructure, and industry-specific examinations of IT. The depth of its resources makes it a valuable website for students and professionals alike.
Search Engine Land provides news and information about search engine optimization and marketing for search engines like Google and Bing, including guides specific to mobile and computer optimization.
Professional Organizations in Information Technology
Students pursuing their master’s in information technology should consider joining professional organizations, which offer students and professionals the chance to connect with others in the field. Building professional networks can lead to job opportunities. Professional organizations also furnish access to educational tools and development opportunities like seminars.
AITP serves as the top resource for individuals interested in advancing their technology career. They are the leading association for technology students, educators, and professionals. The organization also keeps members up to date on technology and business trends, strengthening their technical knowledge and skills.
A nonprofit organization, ACE promotes computing standards in the IT industry. It couples with the Association of Computer Engineers and Technicians to serve more than 14,000 members.
An international professional trade association, ASP offers its members discounts on software and development programs run through affiliated companies.
An organization created for companies in the information technology, internet, computer, and telecommunications industries, CCIA is a nonprofit professional organization that protects and promotes corporate interests.
The mission of AIIP is to train their members to achieve business success. The organization has more than 400 members in 20 different countries, and joining provides access to active discussions, a mentorship program, and an annual conference.