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Top 5 Online Master’s in Information Technology Programs for 2017

Information technology supports and facilitates the systems we use every day, in every industry. As you consider programs to boost your career, an online master’s in information technology provides an opportunity to develop your technical skills and work at the leading edge of technological advances. According to the Bureau of Labor Services, placement in general computer occupations — along with specialized positions in software development and network administration — are likely to rise 11-19% by 2024. With a master’s in information systems online degree, you enter a robust job market with myriad ways to apply your skills in diverse and inspiring industries.

WHAT IS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?

Information technology studies the way we organize and manipulate digital information. Today, this includes everything from software development to data analytics, cyber security to mobile applications. In other words, information technology explores the technology we use and the science of organizing data. An online master’s information systems degree introduces students to the fundamentals of information technology, while developing specialties in particular platforms or ways of analyzing information. Diverse industries — from online retail to healthcare facilities — continue to pursue the latest technology to increase their effectiveness. Graduates with a master’s degree are well-positioned to work across industries in roles that suit their professional and personal goals.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS?

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Information Technology Program

To select the online master’s in information technology that’s right for you, review the program length, available concentrations, on-campus requirements, accreditation status, and total program cost at each of your target schools. Some schools offer asynchronous classes that allow you to study at your own pace, while other programs require their students to study and network as a cohort. If you are interested in software development, cyber security, or data analytics, ensure your desired school offers classes for you to develop those skills. If you have questions regarding curriculum, costs, or career services available to you, contact the admissions team at your prospective school directly.

Careers for Graduates of Information Technology Master’s Programs

An online master’s in information technology prepares graduates for profitable jobs in healthcare, business, government, and technology. Depending on the unique needs of your company, exact responsibilities will vary, though most roles integrate strong technical skills with leadership and team management. Some of the most common positions available include network administrator, software developer, IT project manager, and information technology manager.

Career Pathways

Job Outlook and Salary

As the world’s reliance on technology grows, so will the demand for your expertise. A master’s in computer information systems online prepares you for careers in information system management across many industries, such as healthcare, security, business, and academic research. Depending on your industry and position, employment rates and salaries will vary. However, you should expect employment projections much higher than the national average. The table below shows a 12% growth in projected employment for computer and information research scientists — a higher than average rate for all occupations.

Employment Growth for Computer and Information Research Scientists

Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
25,600 28,300

Source: BLS

SALARY GROWTH BY EXPERIENCE

Careers in information technology are increasingly profitable the further professionals advance. In particular, graduates who gain experience as IT project managers and software developers receive high entry-level salaries, and dramatic increases mid-to-late career. In other words, the more experience you have in a specific area, the greater your earning potential. The table below illustrates this trend in four popular careers for graduates with a master’s in information systems online degree.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

After completing your information technology master’s degree online, take advantage of the benefits and networking opportunities provided through professional trade organizations. Many offer job posting sites, as well as discounts on technical certifications and continuing education. Often, professional organizations integrate new research with new practices, and are great resources for staying up-to-date on the latest advancements in technology. Some of the most popular information technology organizations to join include:

Association for Information Technology Professionals

The Association for Information Technology Professionals tracks trends in technology, educates professionals, and provides opportunities for career advancement. Members benefit from reports on the latest advancements in technology, business, and media. They also receive mentorship opportunities.

Association for Computing Machinery

The Association for Information Technology Professionals tracks trends in technology, educates professionals, and provides opportunities for career advancement. Members benefit from reports on the latest advancements in technology, business, and media. They also receive mentorship opportunities.

Women in Technology International

Founded in 1989, Women in Technology International empowers women to enter and succeed in business and technology careers. They provide career advancement services, networking events, and online education for professionals working in technology services.


To determine the best online master’s in information technology programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 5 best master’s in information technology programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.