Graduate Programs in Information Technology

A graduate-level IT degree program is often designed for business and IT professionals who want to boost their managerial and technical skills to pursue leadership. Most curriculums reflect this with coursework in computer science and administration. Some IT graduate programs include courses in topics such as organizational strategy to prepare students to develop and lead teams and projects. Other, more technical IT degree courses delve into information theory, innovation and computer science.

Through information technology graduate programs, students might develop the ability to assure the quality and value of information. They may also discover ways to tap into technology to solve internet-based problems. Trademark issues, electronic privacy and hacking are some examples.

IT Graduate Programs | Career Growth

Information Technology vs. Computer Science

An IT graduate program usually differs from a computer science program in that it explores management and information theory. One of the main skills associated with information technology is the ability to use hardware and software to drive performance results for businesses. This often takes a solid grasp of computer programs and languages. Also, it takes a firm base in the behind-the-scenes issues that face a business. This includes things such as budget, resource allocation, risk and legalities. IT managers use their know-how in all these areas to help their enterprises reach management goals.i


Many organizations require their computer and information systems managers to have a graduate degree.ii

By contrast, a computer science (CS) degree program zeros in on the language of code, mathematical algorithms and the theory of computational applications. Through these tools, computer scientists often invent new ways to manipulate and transfer information. Their concern is with software, operating systems and function.


Most computer and information research scientists need a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field.ii

The variety of IT degree programs leaves students with options. Either route may appeal to different personal and professional goals. Certainly, computers, cloud-computing, big data and the ‘app economy’ continue to drive change. As a result, a village of IT professionals is required to meet the demands.iii

What Is an IT Degree?

A graduate information technology (IT) degree program is a course of study offered at the graduate certificate, master and PhD level. IT degrees often focus on the branch of engineering that pertains to the use of computers to collect, store, and share and protect information. Masters in Information Technology degrees may require two years of full-time study and expose students to advanced field study. The PhD in IT is the highest degree level offered, and is often focused on computer science research. Some PhD programs require about four to five years of full-time study post-bachelors.

What is a Major in Information Technology?

A major in information techonolgy may take advanced IT courses in advanced algorithms and program language. Also, coursework may tackle theory and application. For instance, the principles and practices that underlie the analysis, design, use and management of information technology systems. Other possible key topics may draw from the general list below.

  • Information system development methodologies
  • Systems planning
  • Requirements analysis
  • Systems implementation
  • Software engineering
  • Project management and leadership
  • Interface, database and process design

IT graduate programs vary, therefore it's important to contact individual schools for a full course list.

Types of IT Graduate Programs

Below are a few different options within Information Technology Graduate Programs. Some are more focused on computer science, others on business. The overlap in what is offered within an individual information technology degree may mean that you find a program that leverages current strengths and fill in the gaps to boost other areas.  

Masters in Information Technology

The Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program may provide a firm technical base in some of today’s key technologies and managerial skills. Applicants typically have a B.S. in computer science, information technology or a related field. Or, they bring to the table some extent of professional experience in IT.

In addition to coursework, students who pursue a Masters in Information Technology degree may be required to write a maste'rs thesis and take part in a workplace practicum. One of the hallmarks of a masters degree in information technology program is that it blends computer and business courses. On the technical side, students may learn to design and adapt scalable secure networks and applications that support enterprise needs. Data Warehousing, analytics and cloud computing are some example courses. On the managerial side, students may develop the ability to manage complex IT projects, navigate legal issues and make sound financial and accounting decisions.

IT Majors: Explore IT Concentration Areas

In many universities, it is possible to earn an graduate IT degree with a focus on one topic. This is something an IT major might think about, as it may help to carve out a career niche.

Information Systems: Typically offered as a MS in Information Systems (MSIS) program, most MSIS degrees meld coursework in management, computer science, and software engineering. Some of the electives in management information systems could include cryptography, data mining, and cloud computing.

Data Analytics: Data analytics focuses on the assembly, analysis and organization of statistics and big data. Coursework might cover topics such telecommunications, networking and database design.

Database Design: Database design stresses topics such as client-server systems and object-oriented design. Coursework might cover data management, data security and computer architecture.

Healthcare Informatics: Healthcare informatics explores technology such as electronic medical record (EMR), laboratory and radiology systems and more. Coursework might explore some of the social and organizational issues in the healthcare industry, along with IT management.

Information Security: A focus in information security may reinforce IT principles and cyber security skills. At the same time, coursework could explore some of the human behaviors that present threats, along with assessment and prevention methods.

IT Management: IT Management explores some of the more administrative angles involved with information technology. Some programs might explore cyber law, ethics, and how to manage complex IT projects.

Software Application Development: A focus on software application development may help students to apply object- oriented concepts to solve software problems and implement solutions. Along with software design, modeling and database design, courses might explore the how-to’s of mobile app development.

Web Design: As an area of emphasis, web design is likely to cover both site construction and optimization strategy. Coursework might cover topics such as interface design, app development and systems.

Compare IT Graduate Programs: Master of Science in Computer Science Programs

The Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program explores graduate-level computer science courses. To apply into most programs, students either need a Bachelors in Computer Science or a related degree. If not, applicants may have to make up some courses. For instance, discrete mathematics, programming and algorithms. Other material that may be needed are a minimum 3.0 GPA, resume, essay and letters of recommendation. 

To complete their MSCS degree, students may need to earn about 32 credits, or more if they need to take any foundation courses. These are likely to be divided into core courses and electives along with a masters thesis. Core topics themselves may be divvied up into programming (e.g. digital forensics), systems (e.g. cloud computing) and theory (e.g. artificial intelligence). Also, a MSCS degree tends to provide the opportunity to conduct research at the graduate level. Students sometimes work with faculty to implement the latest technologies and apply them to problems in computer science. In terms of electives, these could provide a distinct area of emphasis or just supplement the core courses. Concentration areas largely depend on the school, and may be tied into faculty research projects or a chosen career trajectory.

Cyber security: A focus on cyber security usually draws students into the world of cyber-attacks, intrusion detection, response and data recovery. Coursework is likely to cover topics such as encryption and authentication. Also, students may develop the skills to reverse-engineer malware and figure out how to defeat, resist or prevent cyber-attacks.

Intelligent systems: Students who focus on intelligent systems usually explore topics such as design, computer graphics and machine learning. Also, courses might stress theory, robotics and data mining.

Software development: A focus in software development may prepare students to innovate software for a wide variety of platforms and systems? Software engineering might help students to design, implement, document, and present a computer system for a specific application. Courses might cover today’s computer languages and the frameworks used to create mobile, web and desktop applications.

Information Technology Graduate Certificates

A Graduate Certificate in Information Technology may be designed for students who want to boost their grasp of IT and business informatics. Also, for those who need extra credit are on track for industry credentials or may want to pursue their masters degree later. Applicants typically need a bachelors degree and may need to show some level of previous study in the content area. Or, take a few graduate courses to come up to speed. While it may vary, other material could include transcripts of previous academic work, letters of recommendation, personal essay and résumé.

As shorter-term information technology graduate programs, a certificate might entail the completion of about four thematic courses. Coursework typically blends theory with technical skills in enterprise IT and systems analysis. For instance, a program might highlight advanced database management, web development, IT project management, and enterprise information security. Through this type of program, several key abilities may be enhanced. For one, how to effectively manage information systems projects. Also, the know-how to analyze the requirements, design, architecture, and function of computer applications systems.

PhD in Information Technology Programs

The PhD in Information Technology is a research-based terminal IT degree which may prepare students to pursue a career in academia, research or consultation.iii Applicants to some doctoral programs need to have earned a masters degree in a related field. Some schools might expect a minimum 3.0 GPA and may ask for GRE scores.                   

Students in Information Technology PhD programs may be expected to complete about 90 credits. Sometimes, a PhD candidate selects a topic for independent research right away. In this case, the course of study might begin with research methodology so that students can start to prepare their dissertation. In addition to this, students take advanced courses. Some of these are likely to cover management theory creation and strategy. Others might explore multivariate modeling, IT policy and IT consultation. After their courses are completed, most programs entail a comprehensive exam to test students’ knowledge. After this, they must complete their dissertation which they may have to defend publicly. 

Why Consider a Graduate IT Degree?

The wide variety of IT degrees may prepare graduates to pursue any number of possible career paths. Some of these may be in IT management. Per the BLS, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was $135,800. ii The Bureau of Labor Statistics also forecast that employment of IT managers is set to grow by 15 percent to 2024.ii This group consists of many independent roles.

  • Chief Information Officers (CIOs) help set technology goals and the overall strategy of an organization
  • Chief Technology Officers (CTOs)evaluate new technology, decide how it might be beneficial to business and report to the Chief Operating Officer
  • IT Directors include management information systems (MIS) directors who supervise others and take charge of IT systems, budget, and policy
  • IT Security Managers who oversee network and data security

Find Accredited IT Graduate Programs & IT Grad Schools

Many Information Technology graduate programs are offered at regionally-accredited universities. Accreditation can be an important feature as it could assure both student and public that an institution meets or exceeds standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, student services, and financial stability. Also, some independent graduate programs may be recognized by the Professional Science Master's (PSM) national office as a Professional Science Masters program.

Are Online IT Degrees Available?

There are often three distinct formats for earning graduate degrees in information technology. Campus programs are generally interactive, and students could feasibly take advantage of computer labs, university research centers and libraries. If this sounds right, you might seek a school that is walkable from work or locates you in a new city, state or country. For working students who want to apply what they learn or just study at their own pace, an online IT degree might be a great way to do that. Finally, some IT graduate programs may be available in a blended format. These mix on site and online courses, and thus are low residency and flexible.

Search for Information Technology Graduate Programs

It isn’t just about your career. It is about your passion to learn, research and keep up with the latest computer languages, protocols and theory. You have a desire to lead and possibly leverage your skills and talents towards advancement. Sound right? The right IT degree for your needs may be close at hand. To find it, sort through paid programs easily. Refine your search by degree level and program format. Click to view the description then fill out the on-page form. Do this for all the IT grad schools on your list. Take the next step now!

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