Leadership roles in information technology offer highly competitive salaries and exceptional job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median computer and information systems manager earned $139,220 in 2017, nearly four times the average salary for all other occupations. In addition, the BLS projects the need for more than 44,000 new computer and information systems managers by 2026. An online Ph.D. in information technology can prepare you to take advantage of these new opportunities. It can also open up a career path in academia.
Choosing a Program
Many schools offer online doctoral programs in information technology, so try to find a program with coursework that matches your professional goals.
When you first begin an online Ph.D. program in information technology, you can expect to take foundational classes in subjects like principles of programming, enterprise database design, and advanced software development. As you advance in a program, you can specialize your studies through electives such as 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, students take courses in research design and advanced academic writing. They also work closely with a faculty adviser to choose a topic, collect data, and interpret the results of their study. Once you finish writing your dissertation, you must defend your work before a faculty committee.
Rather than requiring a dissertation, some online Ph.D. in information technology programs feature a doctoral capstone project. Students in these programs apply research to a practical problems in information technology, but they typically do not need to generate this research themselves.
For career information, skip down:
- What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Information Technology Program?
- Online Doctorate in Information Technology Careers
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Information Technology Program?
You can customize your course of study while pursuing your doctorate in information technology online. While students across programs take many of the same foundational courses, you also get the chance to specialize in a particular area, either by choosing a formal concentration or selecting electives that align with your interests.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Information Technology
Network Administration and Security: In this concentration, students learn to protect their organization's computer networks and systems. They may study the use of firewalls and encryption programs to secure sensitive information or explore potential vulnerabilities associated with cloud computing. They also examine the latest in security standards and best practices to stay at the forefront of their field.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Senior information security analyst, director of cyber security
Data Management: Data plays an increasingly critical role in the success of businesses in every industry. As a result, information technology professionals with expertise in data warehousing, data mining, and information retrieval often have strong job prospects. Concentrating in this area can help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to serve your organization's data needs.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Data engineer, director of data management
Healthcare Information Systems: Students who pursue a career in the healthcare field can benefit enormously from an understanding of how to use information systems to support medical treatment and research. In this concentration, you take coursework in healthcare informatics, data analysis, and the policies and ethics associated with working with patient data.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Director of clinical informatics, chief information officer
Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Information Technology
- Fundamentals of Information Systems: Students pursuing their online doctorate in information technology explore the principles of computer hardware, software, and networks. They learn how to create algorithms, express data, and express designs using basic programming languages.
- Computer Networking and Operating Systems: In this course, students examine topics like file systems, configurations, administration, security, multitasking, interfacing, and performance analysis. They often apply their theoretical learning by creating an element of information or communication infrastructure.
- Systems Analysis and Design: This class helps prepare students to develop large-scale software systems. To do so, students first learn to use structured and object-oriented approaches to better understand a given system's functional requirements.
- Principles of Programming: Programming plays an indispensable role in information technology. Students in this course gain practical experience with languages such as C++, Python, and Java. They also practice algorithmic thinking, precise coding, and logical design.
- Applied Research Methods: As preparation for a research-based dissertation, this course introduces students to the fundamental elements of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data. Students with prior graduate-level education may immediately move on to more advanced statistical analysis courses.
Online Doctorate in Information Technology Careers
After earning your doctorate in information technology online, you can take on a wide variety of careers in the field. You may choose to work in cybersecurity, safeguarding your company's computer networks and intellectual property. You could also pursue a career in the healthcare industry, applying your expertise in database architecture to help treat patients and unlock cures to 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 System Manager: Computer and information systems managers direct the various computer-related activities at their organization, including setting strategic goals for their department, hiring and training IT staff, and working with senior leadership to ensure that a company possesses the technology needed to perform its work effectively. Many computer and information systems managers hold a graduate degree.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
Computer or Information Research Scientist: Computer and information research scientists invent new technologies and discover new uses for existing technologies. For example, they may design the software and hardware for robots that play critical roles 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 Computer Science Teacher: 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 academic dean or chair of the computer science department. Most of these jobs require that you hold a doctorate in your field.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%