Information Technology Online Graduate Programs
Online IT degrees may provide career-relevant skills in areas such as technology management, business technologies, systems analysis, and design. Some information technology graduate programs focus more on project leadership and e-business strategy. Students in this type of program may develop the ability to use technology to solve business problems. Other programs take a more technical route. These usually cover advanced computer science and technology. This type of online IT degree program may provide tools for professionals in IT, software engineering, cyber security, and app development.
written by Rana Waxman
Why an Online IT Degree?If you don’t want to put your life on hold, an online IT degree may be a great way to bring grad school to you. Today, information technology drives many aspects of an organization. How well people interact with clientele, how secure data is and whether an organization meets its goals. Most information technology graduate programs are designed with these issues in mind. Through them, current professionals might develop a firm grasp of concepts that can be applied directly to a workplace. Technical skills such as systems planning, cloud computing and web analytics are some examples. Whether you manage people, technology, products or services, earning your information technology degree online might be a great way to jump start your career. Or, make a transition as you build new skills to fortify the talents you already have.
Flexible ScheduleThere is no hard and fast rule about how an online IT degree is formatted. This is up to each Information Technology School. That said, students typically log into an online learning management system to access the next and archived course lectures. Log in times may be up to the student and entirely self-paced. Or, there may live online classes. Either way, the element of convenience and flexibility replaces the commute. So, for working students, the ability to juggle work and study may come more easily.
FUN FACT Sound judgement, the ability to think critically and to solve complex problems are three skills needed by Chief Technology Officers (CTOs).i
Connect to Your NetworkIn terms of course assignments, these might rely on case studies and online research, and may give students a chance to experiment with the latest e-tools. The online tech school’s digital platform also serves as virtual classroom, source of assignments, and portal to other students and faculty. And, it connects to the university resources (think – online library and tech support). There are various web-based tools that may be used to foster group effort, participation and networking.
Online and In-PersonMany online IT schools offer 100% online IT degree programs. But, there are others where students may be required to take part in brief residencies. These may be useful ways to network, meet your faculty or research mentor, and take part in team exercises.
Types of Online IT DegreesAt the graduate level an online IT degree may lead to a Master of Science, MBA, PhD or Graduate Certificate. Some information technology online degrees are designed for students who have a bachelors degree in IT, computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Others may be appropriate for students with no academic background in IT or computer science. However, in these programs, students may need to take extra courses to familiarize themselves with the basic concepts of information systems and information assurance.
Online Masters in Information TechnologyThere are several options for online Masters in Information Technology degrees. Three that may appeal to different skill sets are the Master of Science in Computer Science, the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Science in information technology (MIT or MSIT) program. Most programs entail coursework and may require a capstone project or thesis. Each type of degree has unique courses that support its objectives. Usually, these revolve around a core of required courses and electives. Some online IT degree programs may also offer specific tracks so students can customize their studies to mirror personal and professional interests.
For the Tech-Savvy: Online MS Computer ScienceThe Online Master of Science in Computer Science often provides tech-savvy students with an advanced grasp of the main concepts that underlie the science of computing. Students who complete this this type of program may develop their ability to design secure software systems, enhance security of information systems and conduct research in the field.
For the Business-Minded: Online MBAAn Online MBA in Information Technology typically provides students with a solid base of business skills. Moreover, students may take courses that further their ability to lead and manage people and IT functions. In fact, the MBA may take a close look at things like leadership styles and enterprise goals. Students may take away a sense of how to choose a leadership technique most appropriate for management of IT projects, personnel and business performance.
The Business of IT: Online MIT DegreeThe Online Master of Information Technology (MIT) degree may help students to develop technical, leadership and business skills. As a focused Masters program, students may gain a strong technological foundation in cybersecurity, the cloud, data warehousing and analytics. In addition, students may acquire IT management best practices in finance, law and project delivery. This type of focused Masters may prepare students to pursue leadership roles. In some online tech schools, the MIT degree consists of two components – core classes and a concentration. The blend may help prepare students to learn advanced IT concepts and practices to align various IT strategies and solutions to enterprise goals. Core Courses: In some cases, students take core courses that cover topics in IT, computer science, management and project management. These required courses vary between online IT schools, but may share the same objective – to help students firm up professional and functional managerial skills. Some example topics include:
- Computer Systems Security
- Object-Oriented Application Development
- Leadership (ethics and business strategy)
- Technical Communication (oral and written skills, white papers, project plans)
- Enterprise Systems Architecture
- Telecommunications and Networking (protocols, standards, analysis and design)
- Principles of database design
- Computer simulation and modeling
- Object-oriented programming with Java
- Software Engineering: A focus on Software Engineering may help students learn to develop software for a wide variety of platforms and systems. Some courses might explore ways to design data storage systems that meet the requirements of a given problem. For instance, which hardware and software to prescribe. Other topics might cover the current computer languages and frameworks to create mobile, web, and desktop applications
- Cyber Security: Extra courses in Cyber Security might help students identify the risks an organization faces due to cyber threats. Coursework may present theory and steps to take to combat, prevent or deter those risks. More technical courses might explore how to create data encryption tools, authenticate users, and verify the integrity of data. Also, students may learn how to Design software and networks and reverse-engineer malware to figure out how to defeat it
- Intelligent Systems: Students who choose the Intelligent Systems track often explore machine learning techniques and network security. Coursework may address the ways software and hardware can be integrated to create artificial intelligence
- Health Care Informatics: Health Care Informatics explores the use of information technology in healthcare. Coursework is likely to focus on electronic medical record (EMR), laboratory and radiology systems and trends such as telemedicine
- Business Intelligence Systems: The Business Intelligence track usually provides a detailed overview of the systems, models, and development of decision support systems. Coursework might cover topics such as knowledge acquisition and representation, knowledge management, intelligent systems over the Internet, and advanced intelligent systems
- Software Development: As an area of study, Software Development might cover both the design, development and supervisory processes. Along with IT courses, a course of study might cover software design and modeling, mobile application development and distributed application development
- IT Management: As a focus area, IT Management might cover enterprise resource allocation, cyber law and ethics. Students may be exposed to best practices, and strategies
Online Information Technology Graduate CertificateSome online IT Schools offer online graduate certificates in information technology. These are sometimes used as stand-alone diplomas for the post-Bachelors student. Others may award transferable credits towards a Masters degree. As a short-term program, an online IT certificate may target about four to six courses. Because of its compactness, certificates are either general or thematic. Theme-based certificates explore one topic in depth. E-learning, business analytics and wireless communication are some examples. General graduate certificates in IT tend to provide ‘the basics’ or an overview of information technology. Advanced database management, web development, IT project management, and enterprise information security are some example courses.
Online Doctor of Information TechnologyAn online Doctor of Information Technology is a terminal, scholar-practitioner degree. Typically, the focus of a DIT degree is on the application of research skills to create innovative solutions to IT problems. Through rigorous courses, students may enhance their ability to think critically, and align IT strategy with tactical business decisions. Beyond that, students often tailor their degree to mirror interests. This goes hand in hand with their independent research topic and dissertation. Also, it is one way students might build expertise and leadership in each area which may be a great way to prepare for a career in academia, research, consultation or upper-level management. Some examples of possible course topics follows.
- Life Cycle Management
- Strategic Planning and IT Policy
- Risk Management
- Network Security
- Assurance and Compliance
- How to Teach Adults
Find Accredited Online IT Graduate ProgramsBoth traditional and online universities offer online IT degree programs. These schools are usually regionally-accredited. Accreditation can be an important thing to look for in a school. It is a stamp of approval that may speak to quality standards for faculty, curricula, student services and fiscal stability. There may be individual programs that bear a second tier of approval by a professional agency such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools Programs (ACBSP).
Make Your MovePer the BLS, demand is on-the-rise for computer and information systems managers as firms expand their digital platforms.ii In the insurance carriers industry alone, employment of IT managers is expected to grow by 26 percent. With the fast pace of innovation in IT, an online IT degree may provide both theory and methods to use and manage the latest technology. Why not earn your information technology degree online! Start your search. Select the degree level – Masters, Certificate, or PhD. Then scroll through paid programs and connect with schools with the on-page form. Right here on GradSchools.com!
[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9041.01 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
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