Those considering earning an MBA in information technology will enjoy substantial sector growth in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects nearly every career in the field to grow by above average rates over the next decade. In particular, the BLS projects the number of information security analyst positions to grow by 28% through 2026. Furthermore, most median salaries in the field approach six figures.
The following guide explains how you can make the most of this IT boom by earning an information technology MBA degree. It discusses different programs and provides guidance in choosing the program that fits you best. It also discusses different postgraduate options, typical MBA coursework, the application process, and the benefits of professional organizations.
Should I Get an MBA in Information Technology?
Those with a gift for the STEM fields or with an interest in computers may want to consider earning an MBA in information technology. As discussed above, the BLS projects that IT professionals will enjoy some of the highest earning potential and some of the most expansive career opportunities over the coming decade.
If you do choose to pursue a master's in information technology, you can take it either online or on campus. Each option appeals to a different type of student. For example, an online MBA program often appeals to working professionals looking to advance their careers. Oftentimes, these professionals want to continue to work and earn a salary while going back to school. These motivations also apply to individuals who want to change careers to a business-related profession.
On-campus programs appeal to students who want to follow a more direct trajectory from their undergraduate program to a graduate program. On-campus programs also appeal to students who prefer the support of a face-to-face cohort of peers.
Either way, an information technology MBA provides students with far more than advanced computer and business knowledge. Graduates often gain access to a school's networking opportunities, job placement services, and local employment connections. As such, earning this particular degree offers numerous benefits.
What Can I Do With an MBA in Information Technology?
Graduates who hold an MBA in information technology can enter a wide range of careers. Potential options include network architect, systems analyst, security analyst, database administrator, and research scientist. Below, we explore these five careers.
The habits and demands of each position includes some common ground. For example, each position requires an individual who can focus in a screen-based, desk environment for significant chunks of time. Each position also requires individuals who can work more than forty hours a week. In exchange for these demands, each career offers excellent starting salaries and advancement opportunities.
- Computer Network Architect
These professionals conceive of and create networks such as intranets, LANs, and WANs. They most often work in house, building and maintaining proprietary networks for companies; however, some professionals also freelance. Network architects generally only need a bachelor's degree, but master's degrees can lead to higher salaries and more opportunities.
Median Annual Salary: $104,650
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
Most open computer and information research scientist positions require applicants to hold a master's degree, although federal government jobs often only require a bachelor's degree. These professionals create new uses for computer technology already in existence and create new technologies to solve new computer-related problems.
Median Annual Salary: $114,520
Projected Growth Rate: 19%
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts must optimize an organization's information technology processes, ensuring maximum efficiency and performance. An MBA in information technology prepares graduates particularly well for this position, as it sits at the intersection of business and technology. Though most firms do not require a master's degree for this position, an advanced degree helps with credibility and advancement opportunities.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Database Administrator
These professionals create and administer systems that store, organize, and provide easy access to an organization's data. Data can include financial records or customer information. As such, the ideal database administrator can demonstrate knowledge in both business and information technology, and an MBA in information technology provides a boost to any applicant.
Median Annual Salary: $87,020
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Information Security Analyst
Sometimes referred to as "white hats," information security analysts identify threats to an organization's computer network and take steps to fix and protect those holes. These professionals can work both freelance and in house. The cybersecurity field continues to grow in response to modern cyberterrorism; an information technology MBA can help position you to make the most of that growth.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510
Projected Growth Rate: 28%
How to Choose an MBA in Information Technology Program
As MBA programs in information technology award degrees in one of the workforce's most sought-after fields, prospective students can feel intimidated when needing to make a choice among so many options. However, certain factors can help you distinguish between programs and determine which one fits you best.
Students should never enroll in a program that they cannot afford. Students pay tuition on either a per-credit or a semester basis. Students who can work faster than normal should consider semester-based tuition, as they can take as many courses as they like for the same price. Part-time students; however, need to pay on a per-credit basis.
In many cases, IT programs list many postgraduate employment connections and internship or practicum connections with businesses in their immediate vicinity. As such, when applying to a school, on-campus students should make sure they feel comfortable working in that school's surrounding area after graduating.
Students with a specific need to enroll either part time or full time should make sure that their chosen program offers the option they need. Many program websites also list average completion times, giving students a good idea of when they can enter the workforce.
Many programs offer practicum or internship experiences at placement sites either in a student's community or in the school's vicinity. Direct experience can offer a leg up when you apply for IT jobs after graduating. Most programs conclude with a seminar, a project, or a thesis. You should identify which capstone experience suits your learning style the best.
Programmatic Accreditation for MBA in Information Technology Programs
Six geographical organizations overseen by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education offer regional accreditation. These organizations visit schools and evaluate their effectiveness against a set of standards. Most employers do not recognize degrees from nonaccredited schools.
Several organizations also oversee program-specific accreditation for MBA degrees. These include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (the main accrediting organization in the field), the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Students should make sure that they enroll in programs accredited by one of these programs. Degrees earned from institutions without at least national or regional accreditation are often considered illegitimate by employers.
MBA in Information Technology Program Admissions
Graduate admissions take more time and cost more money than undergraduate admissions, mainly because they do not use The Common Application, and because they charge higher application fees. In most cases, prospective students must fill out an individual application for each school and submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal essays, and the required fee. Some schools also require standardized test scores or an interview with a professor, admissions counselor, or alumnus.
The admissions process for online admissions often differs from on-campus admissions in that it requires more involvement from both parties. Online applicants may need to pass a brief "online education readiness" evaluation to prove that they can thrive in distance learning. Whether they apply to on-campus or online programs, all applicants should apply to at least three or four graduate programs -- including at least one safety school -- to ensure acceptance.
- Bachelor's Degree: MBA programs in information technology always require a bachelor's degree. In many cases, they also require prerequisite, foundational undergraduate coursework in information technology and business.
- Professional Experience: Online programs require professional experience more often than on-campus programs, as they cater more to working professionals. In many cases, online applicants need at least two years of professional experience.
- Minimum GPA: Most graduate programs require strong undergraduate performance in the form of a 3.0 minimum GPA. In some cases, students can earn conditional admission with strength in other areas, such as strong GRE scores and letters of recommendation.
- Application: Applicants should plan on spending an hour per school to fill out personal information sections. Students should also plan on spending five to 15 hours writing, editing, and perfecting their essays.
- Transcripts: All programs require students to submit their undergraduate transcripts. Students can write to their undergraduate school's registrar to request an official transcript. Some schools charge a small fee for this procedure, while others do not.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most programs require students to submit at least two letters of recommendation. You should request these from former professors or employers. You should also give your recommenders at least two months to write and submit their letters.
- Test Scores: Most programs require either GRE or GMAT scores. Minimum scores vary from program to program.
- Application Fee: Most application fees range from $20 to $100. Students who demonstrate need can sometimes obtain a waiver for this cost.
What Else Can I Expect From an MBA in Information Technology Program?
As many different schools offer MBA programs in information technology, details can vary from program to program. Nevertheless, thanks to accrediting organizations and industry standards, all programs must cover the same core competencies and must conform to some degree of standardization. Below, we discuss common program coursework, common program lengths, and common program costs.
Courses in an MBA in Information Technology Program
Unique courses within a program's curriculum can help students differentiate between programs, but most MBA in information technology curricula cover the same topics in order to prepare graduates for the workforce. Below, we spotlight five common courses in these programs.
- Information Technology for Management
This survey course provides an overview of the role of both information technology and management in the modern business landscape. Possible topics include telecommunications, decision making, cloud computing, information systems, and the strategy of information. Students often take this introductory course before taking any other classes in the field.
- Managing Digital Strategy
With more and more businesses digitizing, this course examines strategic management challenges and opportunities in information technology. The course covers foundational business topics -- such as creating a business plan -- in the context of the digital business world.
- Data Management
Future database managers and administrators should take this course, which discusses how to build, manage, and maintain a database. Students learn about structured query learning, data modeling, and how to design databases. This course often involves hands-on learning and projects.
- Enterprise Architecture
In this upper-level course, students focus on creating models, blueprints, and road maps for digital technologies and businesses. The course also focuses on aligning all of these tools and skills with a business' goals.
- Data Visualization
Students learn how to create effective visual models of data, a skill that extends far beyond the information technology field. The course involves algorithms, emerging technologies, and best practices in data visualization. Possible tools include Excel, D3, Tableau, and Lumira.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA in Information Technology?
An MBA in information technology typically takes one to two years of full-time study -- or two to three years of part-time study -- to complete. Part-time students should make sure that their program charges per-credit and not per-semester tuition to ensure that they do not overpay. The typical MBA in IT curriculum consists of 36 to 54 credits.
Several factors apart from full-time and part-time study can also alter the typical MBA timeline. For example, in online programs, whether or not a program delivers coursework asynchronously or synchronously can affect completion times. Synchronous programs -- with more defined schedules and peer groups -- can offer more concrete completion times. Additionally, some programs offer accelerated options, which allow students to double up on or increase credits each semester in order to graduate more quickly.
How Much Is an MBA in Information Technology?
The price of a typical MBA in information technology will be between $20,000 and $50,000. While prices vary from school to school, this range encompasses most MBA in IT offerings. Several factors can alter this typical price range:
Per-Semester or Per-Credit: As discussed above, some programs charge tuition per credit and others charge tuition per semester. It often makes sense for full-time students to pay per semester and part-time students to pay per credit. Some schools -- such as Western Governors University -- allow students to complete entirely self-paced programs, a policy that allows fast-learning students or students with previous experience to pay less money by graduating more quickly.
On-Campus Fees: On-campus students must consider housing, technology, and activity fees. Some colleges also require students to purchase a meal plan during their first year of studies.
Online Discounts: Online students receive discounted tuition at many schools. In addition, some schools allow online students to pay in-state tuition no matter where they live. In general, online students only need to pay tuition and an occasional online course fee.
MBA in Information Technology Certifications and Licenses
- Certified Information Technology Professional
The wide-ranging, industry-standard CITP certification prepares information technology professionals for any career in the field. In order to earn the certification, applicants must pass a comprehensive exam.
- CompTIA Network+ Certification
CompTIA offers several certifications across the information technology discipline. The Network+ Certification prepares students for careers as network and database administrators, network field technicians, network support specialists, or network analysts. Certificate hopefuls must pass a course through CompTIA and pass a comprehensive exam.
- CompTIA Security+ Certification
Another one of CompTIA's offerings, the Security+ Certification requires professionals to pass a course and a comprehensive exam. The certificate offers broad, baseline knowledge in information security, preparing graduates for careers as security architects, security engineers, security specialists, and security consultants.
Resources for Information Technology Graduate Students
This subreddit page offers links, resources, and conversation that can help MBA graduates grow as professionals and find leads on jobs.
This international business honor society offers programs, events, member conferences, and other networking opportunities in addition to access to its alumni network.
A service offered by the Association of MBAs, MBA World aims to bring together MBA professionals from all over the world, providing a blog, forums, and other opportunities to connect and grow.
Online MBA Page provides comprehensive information about different MBA programs, both online and on campus. It also includes information about different scholarships and concentrations.
Professional Organizations in Information Technology
Though information technology focuses primarily on an applicant's technical skills, business requires more people skills than perhaps any other field. As such, membership in a professional organization can offer numerous benefits to MBA in IT students, including networking opportunities, conferences, professional development, access to publications, and continuing education. Below, we provide overviews of five of the field's best and most important professional organizations. These organizations help IT professionals both meet peers and develop their abilities.
AITP serves as a resource for, "individuals seeking to start, grow, and advance a career in technology." The organization accomplishes that goal primarily through local chapter events.
AMBA focuses on connecting MBA graduates with peers and employers. The organization meets this goal through research, classes, and networking events.
IEEE is the largest professional organization in the tech space, providing services such as conferences, local chapters, access to publications, professional development, and continuing education.
ASIS&T focuses on the intersection of practice and research, providing IT professionals with access to publications and information about best practices in the field.
NBMBAA aims to empower black MBA graduates by helping them advance their careers through trainings, conferences, a jobs board, and access to publications.