Information systems are a cornerstone of 21st century management and administration. An information system is designed as any set of tools used to collect, interpret, record and organize any type of data. Most of today's information systems are computer-based models with hardware, software and network components. Information systems and technology is an academic field that explores the relationship between the methods and algorithms used in information management and the technology platforms that drive these systems.
Online information systems and technology master's programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education.
Students seeking a master's in information systems and technology will gain a broad understanding of this field. The curriculum incorporates key subjects like data analysis, network administration, information security and data management, as well as software development, computer science and other STEM areas. These master's programs often culminate in a capstone course, allowing students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained with a comprehensive research project. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their online master's in information systems and technology online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities for successful graduates. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online master's in information systems and technology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
- IS A MASTER'S DEGREE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WORTH IT?
The Bureau of Labor statistics projects this field to grow between 2014 and 2024. The unemployment rate for many information systems and technology jobs is low. So graduates will be entering a strong job market. Read more here..
- WHAT IS A MASTER'S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?
An informations systems and technology program will explore the relationship between the methods and algorithms used in information management. Key subjects include data analysis, network administration, and information security and data management. Read more here..
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A MASTER'S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?
Professionals with a master's in information technology are prepared for many careers, including computer programmer, software developer, network architect, and network administrator. Read more here..
- WHO SHOULD GET A MASTER'S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?
This program is designed for students with an information technology background. Many applicants have an undergraduate degree in a related field. Read more here..
- HOW LONG DOES AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEGREE TAKE ONLINE?
Most information technology programs consist of 32 to 48 credits, which can be completed in about a year and a half by full-time students. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Most online master's in information systems and technology degree programs take a multidisciplinary approach. Some courses cover the algorithmic and technological processes that guide information systems, while others deal with the role of information management and technology within modern society. Many master's programs allow students to narrow the focus of their studies with a degree specialization in information security, database administration and other niche areas of information systems and technology.
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online information systems and technology master's programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. Current technology also enables them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY?
Those who graduate with an online master's in information systems and technology will be prepared for a wide range of professional roles. Tech-savvy students often find work as computer programmers, web developers or IT analysts. Other popular career paths include database and network administrators, network architects, information analysts and cybersecurity specialists.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in information systems and technology programs in the United States. If you are considering an online master's in information systems and technology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Information Technology and Systems Program?
While the specifics of any online master's in information technology program will vary according to the school and specialization chosen, programs in this field generally offer either a technical degree (for example, an MS in Information Technology) or a business degree with a technical focus (e.g., an MBA in Information Systems Management). Both types of degrees require completing foundational classes in computing and core classes in business systems and theory. The degrees are best suited for people with some background in computer programming or who have completed undergraduate degrees in computer science or engineering.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SYSTEMS
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Data Analytics||This concentration trains students in probability theory, data mining, data visualization, and other techniques that will allow them to find solutions to business and societal problems by analyzing massive amounts of digital data.||Data scientists, analysts, and architects in a range of fields, including biotech and telecommunications.|
|Information Security||A cybersecurity focus prepares students to handle emerging digital security threats. In addition to database and network security concepts, this specialization generally provides advanced knowledge in biometric systems, cryptography, and risk management.||IT manager, information systems research scientist, and information security analyst.|
|IT Project Management||The project management concentration covers best practices for managing IT functions and business relationships, including resource planning, cost estimation, risk management, integration models, and agile software development practices.||IT project manager|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY
Program requirements for earning an information technology master's degree online will be different depending on the specialization and school. However, many programs share similar core classes; below is a sample curriculum:
- Financial Management of IT: This course introduces students to the basic technology, concepts, and tools used by financial managers to determine return on investment and make financial decisions, particularly regarding IT assets. Topics covered generally include budgeting, financial reporting, and proper use of accounting data. The skills learned in this course can be applied to careers as a IT financial manager, IT director, and chief information officer.
- Enterprise Data Management: The focus of this course is how to use data as a resource. Topics usually covered include emerging technology issues and development of database and repository administration skills. Some knowledge of database languages, such as Oracle or PL/SQL is often required. The skills developed through this course are used by data analysts and database managers in a wide range of fields, from large corporations and government agencies to small start-up technology businesses.
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Computing: This class explores the ethical responsibilities of programmers and the social and privacy concerns of citizens. Regulations affecting network operators are examined, as well as internal issues facing many technology companies, such as intellectual property and electronic marketing. The knowledge gained in this course is important for software engineers, software programmers, and IT leadership positions.
- Software and Security: This is typically a foundational course that reviews the concepts for overcoming insecure and vulnerable software. Coding techniques and programming languages are evaluated for effectiveness and deficiencies, providing a backbone of critical knowledge for all students interested in careers in corporate and small business IT departments.
- Capstone Project: Almost all master's programs require students to complete a written capstone project, which is similar in weight to a thesis. Capstone projects generally require research on a topic of the student's choosing and application of core concepts to a proposed solution to a problem. In some cases, a mandatory hands-on internship will take the place of a capstone project.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY?
The time it takes to complete master's in information systems online degree will depend on whether you choose to enter a program as a full-time or a part-time student. Most programs require anywhere from 32 to 48 credit hours. A full-time student can complete the required credits in a year and half, while some programs allow part-time students to take up to five years to earn their degree. The average completion time for most programs is between two and three years. Courses often allow learning at an individual pace, meaning you can log into classes on your own schedule. In some programs, cohort learning is a popular option. Cohort programs group students with similar career tracks together and put them on the same schedule of classes so they learn together.
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY PREPARES FOR
Depending on the concentration, many programs offering a master's in computer information systems online also prepare students for exams to earn professional credentials that can increase earnings. Two common certifications include the following:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Recognized by the Department of Defense and the U.S. National Security Agency, CISSP certification is often needed for positions such as security analyst, IT director, or chief information officer. In addition to passing an exam, earning a CISSP credential requires five years of work experience in a CISSP domain area, such as asset security or identity access and management. A master's degree in information systems and technology will reduce the required work experience by one year.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): Issued by ISACA, an international professional association focused on information technology governance, CISA is a globally recognized designation for information systems audit professionals. In addition to passing the CISA exam, certification requires five years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security. An advanced degree in information systems can qualify as one to two years of the required work experience.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Information Technology and Systems Degrees
When choosing the best online master's in information systems, it is important to consider the school's accreditation status. Accreditation shows that the institution and the online master's in information technology have met rigorous standards set by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Both the DOE and CHEA are agencies that establish and implement educational policies and standards so that schools all across the country meet the same criteria for excellence. Each of these agencies hold educational institutions accountable and advocate for quality education, ensuring that your degree is worth the time and money you've invested.
Schools can be either regionally or nationally accredited. Programs with national accreditation are often considerably less expensive and will accept transfer units from a wider selection of schools. The majority of U.S. colleges are regionally accredited, and regional accreditation tends to have stricter qualifying standards, making it the accreditation type preferred by many licensing boards and employers. The best online master's in IT programs will have accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. For MBA programs in information technology, look for accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Institutional accreditation should be from an agency recognized by the DOE or CHEA. A list of all accredited schools can be found on both the DOE and CHEA websites.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Information Systems and Technology
Job Placement: Master's in Information Systems and Technology
As technology continues to play a vital role in modern business and organizational management, the 10-year job outlook for information systems and technology professionals is exceptionally strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the computer and information technology sector as a whole is projected to grow 12% between 2014 and 2024; this figure represents nearly 500,000 new jobs.
Unemployment rates for tech professionals are also quite favorable. The table below looks at the unemployment rates for nine of the most popular IT occupations. Each entry on the list was included in the 'Best Technology Jobs' ranking published by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Information Security Analyst||1.4%|
|Information Technology Manager||1.8%|
|Computer Systems Administrator||2.0%|
|Computer Systems Analyst||2.6%|
|Computer Support Specialist||3.3%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Of the nine jobs listed, the average unemployment rate is 2.4%. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for all industries currently sits at 4.6%.
Earning a Living
In addition to a strong job outlook and low unemployment rates, those with a master's in information systems and technology also enjoy relatively high earning potential. However, individual salary expectations slightly vary by one's specific master's degree pathway. The following table explores salary projections at two career benchmarks for students who earn master's degrees in different information systems and technology fields.
|Master's Degree Field||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) with a Master's||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) with a Master's|
|Computer Information Systems||$70,700||$110,000|
|Information Technology Management||$71,100||$110,000|
|Management Information Systems||$70,200||$108,000|
|Information Security and Assurance||$71,300||$98,300|
All seven degree subjects reported salary growth of at least 37.9% between the entry-level and mid-career stages. However, in addition to master's degree field of study, the salary growth for information systems and technology professionals will also depend on his/her specific job title. The next table examines expected salary growth and earnings for five of the most common careers in information systems and technology.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Information Systems (IS) Manager||$61,379||$70,545||$83,945||$89,078|
Of the five occupations listed, computer programmers reported the highest career salary growth: a 49.7% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Information systems managers placed second with 45.1% growth after 20 years on the job, followed by software developers with 44.3% growth.
Students who graduate with a master's in information systems and technology will be qualified for dozens of top-level positions, although individual eligibility will depend on additional factors like company size and city/state of employment. Four of the most common career pathways in healthcare management are detailed below.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators: These administrators oversee the daily operations of their organization's different networks and systems. They are often responsible for creating, installing and modifying networks, as well as monitoring activity and maximizing security.
Information Security Analysts: IS analysts develop and implement different tools designed to boost information security. Their programs target different types of security threats, from hackers and computer viruses to power outages, equipment failures and other technical issues.
Database Administrators: Database administrators collect, evaluate and organize different types of organizational data, such as financial statements, employee records and customer shipping receipts. They also implement programs to ensure sensitive data is secure from outside users and not susceptible to technical issues.
Computer and Information Systems (IS) Managers: Also known as IT managers or IT project managers, these professionals oversee the different computer-based programs and activities at a given company or organization. They regularly meet with organizational leaders to discuss technology goals, and then help implement tools and systems to ensure these objectives are reached.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth (2014-24)|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$77,810||8% (+30,200 jobs)|
|Information Security Analysts||$90,120||14% (+14,800 jobs)|
|Database Administrators||$81,710||11% (+13,400 jobs)|
|Computer and Information Systems (IS) Managers||$131,600||15% (+53,700 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to information systems and technology is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for information systems and technology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals: Founded in 1951, the AITP is considered one of the largest global organizations for IT managers and personnel. The association hosts 55 U.S. chapters across nine regions of the country, and also sponsors college chapters at postsecondary institutions in 36 different states.
- Association of Software Professionals: The ASP is a trade organization dedicated to software developers and engineers who design programs, apps and networks. The website features an extensive calendar of upcoming conferences and events, as well as full issues of the ASPects monthly newsletter.
- Network Professional Association: The NPA supports computer networking personnel through advocacy, professional development and networking events. The association's website features information about the CNP certification credential, as well as an online career center, an electronic journal and an events calendar.
Financing Your Online Master's in Information Systems and Technology Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
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