What Is an IT Major?
A student with an information techonolgy major 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.
DID YOU KNOW?
Most computer and information research scientists need a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field.ii
- 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.
Information Technology Majors: Explore IT Concentration Areas
In many universities, it is possible to earn an 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.
Types of IT Graduate Programs
Information technology graduate programs are typically offered at three levels, each with specific requirements and goals. Within each category, you may also find programs with different areas of focus and concentrations. The key is to find one that matches your background, educational needs and interests.
Below is an overview of the various type of IT graduate programs to get you started.
Masters in Information Technology Programs
The Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program may provide a firm technical base in some of today’s key technologies and help students develop 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.
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 study how to manage complex IT projects, navigate legal issues and make sound financial and accounting decisions.
In addition to coursework, students who pursue a Masters in Information Technology degree may be required to write a masters thesis and take part in a workplace practicum. Masters in IT programs vary, so contact schools directly for details on admissions, course lists and requirements.
Alternative IT Programs: Master of Science in Computer Science Programs
The Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program is designed for those more interested in the computer science aspects of technology. 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. 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.
Core topics themselves may be divvied up into programming (e.g. digital forensics), systems (e.g. cloud computing) and theory (e.g. artificial intelligence). 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. They may also be great for those who need extra credits for industry credentials or who wish 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 IT 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, students could learn to effectively manage information systems projects. Also, they may develop the the know-how to analyze the requirements, design, architecture, and function of computer applications systems.
Programs vary, contact schools for details.
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 also 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. Then PhD students complete their dissertation which they may have to defend publicly. Contact individual PhD IT programs to learn about these requiremnts.
Why Consider a Graduate Information Technology 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. Below are just a few examples
- 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 oversee network and data security.
Entry level educational requirements vary.
Find Accredited Information Technology Schools
Many Information Technology graduate programs are offered at regionally-accredited universities. Accreditation can be an important feature as it could assure both the 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 Information Technology Degrees Available?
There are often three distinct formats for earning graduate information technology degrees. 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 information technology schools that are close to work or locate 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. Coursework could be available anywhere with an internet connection, allowing for additional flexiblity and convenience.
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.
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.
SOURCES: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm |[iii] bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/careers-in-growing-field-of-information-technology-services.htm