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
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.
There 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.
Sound judgement, the ability to think critically and to solve complex problems are three skills needed by Chief Technology Officers (CTOs).i
In 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.
Many 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.
At 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.
There 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.
The 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.
An 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 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:
Concentrations: Some Masters programs may allow students to choose an area of emphasis for their online IT degree. Since concentrations vary among online IT schools, it makes a good point to consider as you evaluate where to earn your degree. Some example focus areas are listed as follows.
Some 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.
An 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.
Both 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).
Per 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