Online Master's Programs in Information Technology

Hero Image - Online Master's Programs in Information Technology

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Find a Master's Program
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Earning a master's degree in information technology online prepares students for leadership roles in diverse industries such as computer networking, cybersecurity, IT management, software design and development, and system analysis.

Professionals who earn an information technology master's degree online can pursue lucrative, in-demand careers. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for computer and information systems managers will grow 11% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earn a median salary of $142,530 per year.

What Is a Master's in Information Technology Degree?

A master’s in information technology degree provides students with the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to pursue high–level careers in the IT field. Students also prepare to act as leaders in the field, overseeing other IT personnel.

Master’s in information technology degrees typically explore a variety of IT issues, including database management, IT project management, programming, software and hardware engineering, information systems design and architecture, and IT security. In addition, the degree combines theories of management and business administration.

With numerous specializations available among many different programs, students may focus their studies on areas like web design, network security, IT project management, IT governance, and more.

Online Master’s in Information Technology Programs

Online programs offer students flexibility and accessibility. Students arrange their coursework around work or family obligations, with many programs designing their degree for working IT professionals. Depending on the program, students may take classes synchronously or asynchronously.

Online IT programs incorporate lectures, homework, and tests through online learning technologies.

Synchronous classes meet at a set time, often in the evening to accommodate working students, and offer the benefits of a live classroom experience. Asynchronous classes let students complete lectures, projects, and tutorials on their own time. Online IT programs incorporate lectures, homework, and tests through online learning technologies. Graduate students also connect with members of their cohort through discussion boards and group projects.

Many students prefer the accessible nature of an online program. Established professionals can attend the top programs in the country without relocating or leaving their jobs. Online students complete their graduate coursework, choose a concentration area, and work with a faculty advisor to earn their degrees. Many continue working while enrolled in a graduate program. For some students, an online program provides a convenient path to career advancement. However, prospective online students must be self–motivated and driven. Admissions advisors can help prospective students decide whether an online program best fits their needs.

Earning a master’s degree in information technology helps professionals advance their careers and qualify for job titles like computer and information research scientist.

Earning a master’s degree in information technology helps professionals advance their careers and qualify for job titles like computer and information research scientist. With a master’s degree, IT professionals pursue opportunities as IT managers, senior computer systems analysts, and systems architects. A graduate degree also meets the qualifications for management–level positions within an IT department. After earning a bachelor’s degree, professionals qualify for entry–level positions in IT, but a graduate degree leads to advanced career opportunities.

Graduate degrees let IT professionals increase their salary potential. While professionals with a bachelor’s degree in IT earn $70,000 a year on average, a master’s degree allows them to seek high–paying, supervisory roles. According to Payscale, professionals with a master’s degree make $14,000 more a year than those with a bachelor’s degree. Many master’s–level IT jobs offer even higher salaries, with computer and research scientists earning nearly $115,000 in median annual salary.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Information Technology

Earning a master’s degree in information technology helps professionals advance their careers and qualify for job titles like computer and information research scientist. With a master’s degree, IT professionals pursue opportunities as IT managers, senior computer systems analysts, and systems architects. A graduate degree also meets the qualifications for management–level positions within an IT department. After earning a bachelor’s degree, professionals qualify for entry–level positions in IT, but a graduate degree leads to advanced career opportunities.

Graduate degrees let IT professionals increase their salary potential. While professionals with a bachelor’s degree in IT earn $70,000 a year on average, a master’s degree allows them to seek high–paying, supervisory roles. According to Payscale, professionals with a master’s degree make $14,000 more a year than those with a bachelor’s degree. Many master’s–level IT jobs offer even higher salaries, with computer and research scientists earning nearly $115,000 in median annual salary.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Information Technology

Bachelor's Degree

$70,000
Information Technology

Master's Degree

$84,000

Source: Payscale

Choosing an Online IT Graduate Degree Program

A growing number of colleges and universities offer online master’s in information technology programs. Prospective students may feel overwhelmed by the number of choices. Choosing the right IT graduate program can shape your career prospects for decades, so make sure to research each program before submitting an application. Key considerations, including the program cost, the length of the degree, and on–campus requirements, can help certain programs stand out. Prospective students often choose in–state programs, for example, as the most affordable option. However, some public universities offer in–state tuition to all online students. By researching the options, students can find the best fit for their interests and career goals.

  • Program Cost: The cost of a master’s degree varies widely. In general, public, in–state universities charge the lowest tuition rates, while private schools charge the highest rates. In addition to tuition, prospective students should research technology fees, the cost of books, and other expenses.
  • Transfer Policies: Students with some graduate credits need to research transfer policies at their potential programs. Some graduate programs let students transfer in credits toward their degree, while others require students to complete their coursework at the degree–granting institution. A generous transfer policy can save money and help you earn a degree faster.
  • School Size and Type: Some students prefer a large university with an expansive cohort of other information technology graduate students. Bigger institutions may also feature wider alumni networks. Other students prefer a smaller class size with more focused attention from their professors. Students can research class size, school size, and the type of institution — public versus private — to find a school that fits their needs.
  • Program Length: While most master’s programs in IT require 30–36 credits of coursework, program length can vary from 1–3 years. Programs may also require an internship or practicum, which can add to the program’s length. Prospective students should research program length, including part–time or accelerated options.
  • On–Campus Requirements: Many online master’s in IT programs offer the degree fully online with no on–campus requirements. Some programs, however, require mandatory on–campus experiences, including weekend residency requirements or an orientation. Students considering programs in other states may prefer a program with no on–campus requirements, while online students at local universities may prefer on–campus opportunities.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: The program requirements for a master’s degree in information technology vary. Programs may include a master’s thesis or project at the end of the degree, while others include an internship or other work requirement to gain hands–on experience.

Accreditation for Online Information Technology Master’s Degrees

Prospective information technology graduate students should always choose an accredited college or university. Accreditation recognizes institutions that follow the best practices in education. Independent accrediting agencies grant accreditation after an extensive evaluation, which considers the school’s student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. Accreditation also benefits graduate students. Students at accredited institutions qualify for federal financial aid and typically meet the requirements for professional certifications. Some employers only hire candidates with an accredited degree, meaning accreditation status affects job prospects after graduation.

Some employers only hire candidates with an accredited degree, meaning accreditation status affects job prospects after graduation.

At the institutional level, colleges and universities can hold regional or national accreditation. Generally, regional accreditation evaluates liberal arts and research institutions, while national accreditation reviews technical and vocational schools. Overall, regional accreditation remains the highest standard. Programs can also hold programmatic accreditation from specialized agencies. For example, business schools, teacher preparation programs, and social work programs typically hold programmatic accreditation. In information technology, graduate programs earn accreditation through the institution rather than a programmatic accrediting agency.

Prospective students should look for a regionally accredited institution. Both the Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) validate accrediting agencies and maintain lists of regionally accredited institutions. Students can check the ED website or CHEA website to see whether a college or university holds regional accreditation.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Information Technology?

Earning a master’s degree in information technology usually takes two years for full–time students. Most IT master’s programs require 30–36 credits of coursework to complete the degree, which includes advanced courses in the student’s concentration area. Programs may offer a part–time option, which often takes three years, or an accelerated pathway to the degree, which can take as little as 15–18 months. These enrollment options can affect the cost of a master’s degree, depending on whether the university charges a per–credit rate or a flat fee per term.

Each program sets its own graduation requirements, potentially affecting the length of the degree, and includes an internship or a practicum to gain hands–on experience. Graduate students may need to complete a master’s thesis or final project at the end of their programs.

Courses in an Online Master’s in Information Technology Program

Advanced Information Technology

Many graduate programs begin with a course providing advanced knowledge and skills in IT. The class may cover databases, web and software development, hardware management, and telecommunications. The course introduces graduate students to specialties within IT, preparing students for advanced work within their IT concentration.

Systems Analysis

Classes on systems analysis train students to design efficient systems and evaluate systems for their effectiveness. Graduate students gain familiarity with system design, functional design, and system requirements while learning common software programs for systems analysis. Most systems analysis courses incorporate projects to measure student learning.

Database Design

Database design courses prepare students for careers in database management or database architecture. Graduate students learn database design through diagramming tools, data modeling, and functional dependencies. The course also trains graduate students with database management skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles in the field.

Network Security

Courses on network security teach graduate students to protect networks and computer systems. Students learn about cybersecurity methods, malicious software, and security systems like firewalls. The class may also cover encryption methods and file security. Graduates pursue careers in network security or information assurance.

Data Analytics

A growing field, data analytics courses prepare students to work as data scientists or in any field of analytics. Students learn about data identification, analyzing data sets, and software for data analysis. Graduate students may also apply programming language skills to solve data analytics problems by designing their own programs.

Master's Degree in Information Technology Salary Information

A master’s degree in information technology prepares graduates for many in–demand career paths. With a master’s, IT professionals work as IT managers, computer network architects, and database administrators. Some careers, such as computer and information research scientist, require a master’s degree, while others like IT manager prefer candidates with a graduate degree. IT professionals work in several industries, including tech, healthcare, government, and business. These career opportunities provide above–average salaries with growth potential.

IT Manager

IT managers, also known as computer and information systems managers, oversee IT departments. They plan and direct an organization’s information technology strategy and needs, implementing plans to reach the organization’s goals.

Median Annual Salary

$142,530

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and information research scientists study complex problems in computing. They also invent and design solutions to computing challenges, including innovating uses for current technology.

Median Annual Salary

$142,530

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design networks for organizations, including enterprise–level networks. They can specialize in cloud infrastructure or other emerging technologies. Network architects analyze an organization’s goals to create a network that advances its business plan

Median Annual Salary

$109,020

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Database Administrator

Database administrators manage an organization’s data and files, including medical records, financial information, or customer records. They maintain the security of the database and prevent unauthorized access

Median Annual Salary

$90,070

Projected Growth Rate

9%

What is an IT Manager?

An IT Manager oversees a team or department of IT personnel with the purpose of ensuring the group operates efficiently and meets company goals. Working with network security professionals, web designers, and software engineers, IT managers organize and direct their teams through a combination of IT and administrative expertise.

Information Technology Manager Certifications

Information technology professionals can choose from numerous certifications to help advance their career, including:

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert

Cisco offers the CCIE credential with several concentrations, including security, wireless, data center, and service provider. Candidates must take a written exam and a hands–on lab exam to earn the credential.

Certified Associate in Project Management

An entry–level certification, CAPM recognizes candidates with at least 23 credits in project management education. Candidates do not need professional experience in project management to take the exam.

Certified Information Security Manager

Information security specialists qualify for the exam with a master’s in IT and three years of information security work experience. Candidates must pass the CISM examination, and scores remain valid for five years.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional

A credential for professionals in information system security, candidates must pass an examination to earn the CISSP designation, which remains valid for three years.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control

Specialists in risk management qualify for the CRISC credential with at least three years of work experience in two of the four CRISC domains. Candidates must also pass the certification exam.

Certified IT Architect Professional

IT architects qualify for the CITA credential depending on their education and experience. At the professional level, candidates demonstrate industry leadership in the skills taxonomy, a primary specialization, and a subspecialization.

CompTIA Project+ Certification

A CompTIA credential for professionals with project management skills, the certification tests project management knowledge, management abilities, and project documentation abilities through a 90–minute exam.

ITIL Expert Certification

At the expert level, candidates demonstrate advanced skills in information technology infrastructure library management. Candidates complete ITIL modules and demonstrate their knowledge through an examination.

Microsoft Certified Solution Developer

Microsoft offers multiple MCSD specializations, including in cloud, mobility, core infrastructure, and data. Credentialled MCSD professionals maintain their certifications by taking the recertification exam every two years.

Oracle Certified DBA Professional

Database administrators can earn the OCP certification by passing an SQL exam and database administration exam. Oracle offers multiple levels for its OCP credentials.

Project Management Professional

The Project Management Institute offers this certification for candidates with experience as project managers. Candidates pass an examination on project management concepts and must complete continuing education requirements every three years to maintain the credential.

Six Sigma Green Belt or Black Belt Certification

Six Sigma recognizes professionals with quality improvement, analytical, and problem–solving skills. Green belts must hold three years of work experience, while black belts must hold three years of experience plus complete a Six Sigma project.

Information Technology Membership Associations

IT students and professionals benefit from the resources offered by professional organizations. These organizations host conferences and events with networking opportunities, offer scholarship opportunities and in–demand certifications, and connect job seekers with opportunities through their career centers. Professionals also stay up to date in their field with the publications and technical resources provided by professional organizations.

Association of Information Technology Professionals

AITP represents IT professionals and provides research on IT salaries, in–demand professional skills, and technical research. Members rely on AITP for training videos, networking opportunities, IT awards, and local chapters. The association also runs technology events and offers career resources for members.

Association for Computing Machinery

ACM connects computing professionals with educators and researchers. Members attend conferences with networking opportunities, join special interest groups, and benefit from the association’s research publications. Students can join student chapters, use the association’s resources to advance their careers, and win awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

CompTIA

In addition to granting IT certifications, CompTIA also offers membership opportunities and resources for IT professionals. Members receive resources on the IT industry and attend events to network with other IT professionals. CompTIA also offers trainings, webinars, and podcasts so that IT professionals can stay current in their field.

Network Professional Association

An association for IT professionals, NPA publishes articles and interviews about the field. The association’s regional chapters host events that offer networking opportunities, and NPA delivers the certified network professional credential. NPA also runs a job board and provides career strategies for job seekers.

Association of Software Professionals

IT professionals and students who work in software development or any software–related tech field benefit from the ASP blog, newsletter, and developers’ tools. Professionals can submit articles for publication in the newsletter. The association also sells software and hosts discussion groups to solve software problems.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk