The 6 Best Online Doctorate in Information Technology Programs

| TBS Staff

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An online Ph.D. in information technology prepares you for leadership roles in information technology with highly competitive salaries and exceptional job prospects. It can also open up an academic career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median computer and information systems manager earned $139,220 in 2017; this is nearly four times the average salary for all other occupations. The BLS projects that over 44,000 new computer and information systems managers jobs will be created by 2026.

The Best Online Doctorate in Information Technology Programs

Online Doctorate in Information Technology Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings and reputation.

The motto of is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

The Best Online Doctorate in Information Technology Programs

Indiana State University View School Profile Terre Haute, IN Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Indiana State University, a public university established in 1865, enrolls over 13,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. Among its offerings is an online Ph.D. in Technology Management, which is designed to prepare students for leadership positions in both public and private sectors.

The online Ph.D. program consists of 66 credit hours, and it requires students to complete one of five specialization tracks:

  • Construction management
  • Digital communication systems
  • Human resources development and industrial training
  • Manufacturing systems
  • Quality systems

The online courses cover key topics such as:

  • Technological innovation and application
  • Systems management and evaluation
  • Technology in the global community
  • Research
  • Ethical issues

Students must also complete a dissertation and two weekend on-campus seminars at Indiana State University.

University of the Cumberlands View School Profile Williamsburg, KY University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The federal government has named UC a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

Located in southeastern Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands was initially named the Williamsburg Institute, and it was founded in 1888 by a group of Baptist ministers. The school became University of the Cumberlands (UC) in 2005 and currently educates approximately 11,500 students. Graduate students make up roughly two-thirds of the student population.

Students can take every course in UC’s 60-credit doctor of philosophy in information technology program online at their own pace. The online doctorate in information systems security includes:

  • 18 hours of core courses
  • 18 hours of professional research, which includes a dissertation
  • 24 hours of content specialty courses in one of these areas:
    • Information technology
    • Systems security (cybersecurity)
    • Digital forensics
    • Other areas pending approval by the program director

Students must have completed a master’s degree and earned a GPA of 3.0 or above before applying for an information systems security degree online.

Colorado State University View School Profile Fort Collins, CO Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Colorado State University, a public research university established in 1870, enrolls over 33,000 students. It offers a full array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. These include an online Ph.D. in systems engineering. This degree is for people already in the technology field who seek to advance their positions.

The online Ph.D. program requires 72 total credit hours for completion. The program does not require a master’s degree for admission. However, a relevant master’s degree will count as 30 credit hours, which reduces the required course credits from 72 to 42. Students develop the advanced IT and systems engineering skills that are key to leadership positions in the field. The courses cover topics such as:

  • Information technology and project management
  • Systems engineering processes
  • Risk analysis
  • Systems engineering architecture
  • Simulation modeling
  • Cybersecurity awareness

In addition to coursework, students must complete research and a dissertation, and they may need to complete a campus visit.

Capella University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Capella University is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity.

Capella University is an online, for-profit university that was established in 1993. Capella offers a range of fully-online degrees, which include an online doctor of information technology (DIT) and an online Ph.D. in information technology.

Both programs have curricula that provide advanced information technology knowledge. Specialization options include:

  • Information assurance and cybersecurity
  • Information technology education
  • Project management
  • A general information technology track

The online Ph.D. program requires 90 quarter-credits and emphasizes theory and research, while the online DIT requires 82 quarter-credits and emphasizes practice and application. Both programs include a blend of core and specialization courses, dissertation work and brief residencies. Key topics include:

  • Information technology leadership
  • Strategy in complex global environments
  • Information technology consulting
Colorado Technical University View School Profile Colorado Springs, CO Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Colorado Technical University, a for-profit university established in 1965, offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. These degrees focus on career-readiness and professional success. For students seeking information technology leadership positions, Colorado Technical University offers an online doctor of management with a specialization in technology management.

The online doctorate program consists of 100 quarter-credit hours, which include core online courses in areas such as:

  • Management theory
  • Ethics
  • Research and applications
  • IT leadership models
  • Current topics in the field

Students may choose to specialize in one of three areas: research and writing, leadership and change management, or a customized concentration. The program blends theory and practice in its coursework and dissertation requirements. Students must complete a residential symposium.

Walden University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Walden University, an online for-profit university established in 1970, offers a variety of entirely online degree programs at all levels. This includes an online doctor of information technology. The program offers two tracks of study designed for both seasoned professionals and students fresh out of their undergraduate studies.

The online doctoral program’s Track I requires 64 credit hours for completion; this includes 21 hours of core coursework and 15 hours of doctoral study. Applicants must hold a relevant master’s degree. Track II requires 76 credit hours for completion; this includes 33 hours of core coursework and 15 hours of doctoral study. Both tracks culminate with a dissertation/doctoral study project, and require two four-day academic residencies. Core courses cover topics such as:

  • Fundamentals of information systems
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Principles of programming
  • Enterprise database design
  • Enterprise systems architecture

Featured Online IT Systems Doctorate Programs

Choosing an Online Doctorate in Information Technology Program

Many schools offer online doctoral programs in information technology, so try to find a program with coursework that matches your professional goals.

An online Ph.D. program in information technology begins with foundational classes in subjects like principles of programming, enterprise database design and advanced software development. As you advance, you can specialize with electives like cloud computing, technology for mobile devices and project management. Some programs even offer formal specializations in areas like healthcare information technology and computer security.

To earn a Ph.D. in information technology online, you often must complete a research-based dissertation. To prepare for this graduation requirement, you would take courses in research design and advanced academic writing. You would also work closely with a faculty advisor who helps you choose a topic, collect data and interpret the results of your study. Once you finish writing your dissertation, you must defend your work before a faculty committee.

Some online Ph.D. in information technology programs feature a doctoral capstone project instead of a dissertation. Students in these programs apply research to practical problems in information technology, but they typically do not need to create this research themselves.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Information Technology Program?

You can customize your online doctorate in information technology degree. While many programs offer similar foundational courses, you can specialize in a particular area by either choosing a formal concentration or selecting electives that align with your interests.

Online Doctoral Degree in Information Technology Concentrations

You would learn to protect your organization’s computer networks and systems. You may study how to use firewalls and encryption programs to secure sensitive information or explore cloud computing’s vulnerabilities. You would also examine the latest security standards and best practices in order to stay at the forefront of your field.

Concentration Careers: senior information security analyst, director of cyber security

Data plays an increasingly critical role in every business’s success. As a result, information technology professionals with expertise in data warehousing, data mining and information retrieval often have strong job prospects. If you concentrate in this area, then you can develop the necessary skills and knowledge for serving your organization’s data needs.

Concentration Careers: data engineer, director of data management

If you pursue a career in the healthcare field, then you can benefit from understanding how information systems support medical treatment and research. In this concentration, you would take courses in healthcare informatics, data analysis and the ethics of patient data policies.

Concentration Careers: director of clinical informatics, chief information officer

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Information Technology

  • Fundamentals of Information Systems:
    If you pursue your online doctorate in information technology, then you explore the principles of computer hardware, software and networks. You learn how to create algorithms, express data and use basic programming languages to realize designs.
  • Computer Networking and Operating Systems:
    In this course, you would examine topics like file systems, configurations, administration, security, multitasking, interfacing and performance analysis. You would apply your theoretical learning by creating elements of information or communication infrastructure.
  • Systems Analysis and Design:
    This class helps prepares you to develop large-scale software systems. First, you would learn to use structured and object-oriented approaches; this would help you better understand a given system’s functional requirements.
  • Principles of Programming:
    Programming plays an indispensable role in information technology. In this course, you would gain practical experience with languages such as C++, Python and Java. You would also practice algorithmic thinking, precise coding and logical design.
  • Applied Research Methods:
    This course prepares you for a research-based dissertation by introducing you to the fundamental elements of collecting, analyzing and interpreting both quantitative and qualitative data. Students with prior graduate-level education may immediately move on to more advanced statistical analysis courses.

Careers with a Doctorate in Information Technology Careers

After earning your doctorate in information technology online, you are qualified for a wide variety of careers. You may choose to work in cybersecurity where you would safeguard your company’s computer networks and intellectual property. You could pursue a career in the healthcare industry where you would apply your expertise in database architecture to help treat patients and unlock cures for chronic diseases. Or, you may want to pass along your knowledge to the next generation by serving as a college or university professor.

Computer or information systems managers direct their organization’s various computer-related activities. These activities include setting strategic departmental goals, hiring and training IT staff, and working with senior leadership to ensure that their company possesses the needed technology for effective performance. Many computer and information systems managers hold a graduate degree.
  • Median Annual Salary: $139,220
  • Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Computer and information research scientists both invent new technologies and discover new uses for existing technologies. For example, the software and hardware that they design for robots may play a critical role in manufacturing, surgery or space exploration. Earning your doctor of information technology online can qualify you for many of these roles.
  • Median Annual Salary: $114,520
  • Projected Growth Rate: 19%

Postsecondary teachers instruct students and conduct research at colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education. They may also serve in administrative roles, such as an academic dean or the chair of a computer science department. Most of these jobs require a relevant doctoral degree.
  • Median Annual Salary: $76,000
  • Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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