Computer Science

Can I Get a Master’s in Information Technology Online?

Can I Get a Master’s in Information Technology Online?
IT professionals are coming out of the woodwork to secure high-paying roles. Those with advanced information technology degrees have a competitive advantage in the hiring process. Image from
Angela Miller profile
Angela Miller January 20, 2023

Obtaining an online master's degree in information technology delivers the same top-level credentials as the brick-and-mortar path. These online programs translate beautifully to e-learning, offering IT professionals opportunities to pursue leadership roles in areas like database management, healthcare, and software development.

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We’re more connected today than ever before. In 2020, Americans had access to an average of more than ten connected devices in their households, according to a Statista study. But with so many gadgets at our fingertips, we’ve become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks due to poor network security. Issues with hardware and software have become prevalent as well.

Businesses require well-educated information technology professionals to address these problems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects overall employment in computer and information technology occupations to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, adding about 682,800 new IT jobs to the workforce.

IT professionals are coming out of the woodwork to secure these high-paying roles. Those with advanced information technology degrees have a competitive advantage in the hiring process.

Information technology encompasses the realms of computer systems, hardware, software, and networks related to the processing and sharing of data. IT technicians design, install, manage, and troubleshoot issues related to computers and networks.

If you’re interested in building a career in this field, you may be asking can I get a master’s in information technology online? This article answers that question and discusses:

  • Online Master of Science in Information Technology
  • Related master’s degrees you can earn online
  • Why you should earn your degree online

Online Master of Science in Information Technology

An online master’s program in information technology helps students expand their IT, leadership, and business skills, preparing them to tackle advanced career goals, including senior-level positions in the tech industry. A master’s degree in information technology can lead to fulfilling roles including:

  • Database administrator: Responsible for the performance, integrity, and security of a database. They are involved in planning and development of the database, as well as in troubleshooting any issues on behalf of the users. Database administrators ensure that data remains consistent across the database, is clearly defined, users access data concurrently, in a form that suits their needs, and there is provision for data security and recovery control.
  • IT project manager: Oversees and coordinates the work of IT professionals and other staff to achieve the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives within specified resources, time frames, and standards of quality. An IT Project Manager plans, executes, and closes projects according to the deadlines, while keeping within budget and aligning with the company’s objectives and compliance standards.
  • Information security manager: Focuses on protecting an organization’s data and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. They are responsible for implementing and maintaining the company’s security policies and procedures, conducting risk assessments, managing security technologies, and responding to security incidents.
  • IT director: Oversees the IT department and ensures that all systems operate smoothly. They manage IT budgets, personnel, and vendors; strategize IT goals and implement technology solutions to meet those goals; and ensure the security and efficiency of IT infrastructure. The IT Director also liaises between the IT department and other departments within the organization.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO): A senior executive responsible for the management, implementation, and usability of information and computer technologies. The CIO determines the strategic direction of the organization’s IT infrastructure and data processing projects, aligning the company’s IT strategy with its business objectives, and making decisions on the allocation of resources.
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Focuses on the technological and scientific issues within an organization. The CTO is primarily concerned with the long-term and visionary aspects of technology, research and development (R&D), and the adaptation of new technologies that could enhance the organization’s product offerings or production processes. The CTO usually works closely with the business to strategize and implement technology solutions to foster growth and competitive advantage.

M.S. in Information Technology curriculum

Master’s programs in information technology can take anywhere from one to two years to complete and typically consist of 30 to 36 credit hours. Program lengths vary based on school requirements and areas of specialization. Like on-campus programs, online degrees combine both hands-on and lecture-driven study. Curricular topics include:

  • Cybersecurity, Protection, and Prevention: Focuses on strategies, tools, and technologies used to protect digital assets and infrastructure from cyber threats and attacks. This includes the study of encryption, network security protocols, intrusion detection systems, and the development of comprehensive security policies and practices to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber risks.
  • Big Data and Data Analytics: Covers the principles and practices of collecting, processing, and analyzing large datasets (big data) to extract insights and make informed decisions. Topics include data mining, machine learning algorithms, statistical analysis, data visualization, and the use of analytics tools and platforms to handle structured and unstructured data.
  • Enterprise Solution and Database Design: Focuses on the design and implementation of database systems and enterprise solutions to meet organizational needs. This includes relational database design, normalization, SQL programming, and the integration of database technologies with enterprise applications to support business processes and decision-making.
  • Project Management Techniques and Theories: Explores the methodologies, frameworks, and best practices in project management, including planning, execution, monitoring, and closure of projects. Topics cover the project lifecycle, risk management, stakeholder communication, and the use of project management software and tools to achieve project objectives on time and within budget.
  • Software Development: Provides an in-depth look at the software development lifecycle, including requirements analysis, design, coding, testing, deployment, and maintenance. This topic covers various programming languages, development methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum), and the principles of software engineering practices to build efficient, reliable, and maintainable software systems.
  • Database Management Fundamentals: Introduces the basic concepts of database management systems, including data models, database architectures, data manipulation, and administration. Students learn about data storage, retrieval, security, and backup procedures, as well as how to design and implement databases that effectively support business operations.
  • IT Integration and Business Support: Examines the integration of information technology solutions into business processes to enhance operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage. Topics include IT strategy development, technology assessment, system implementation, change management, and the role of IT in supporting and transforming business models.
  • Enterprise Digital Transformation: Focuses on the strategies and practices involved in digitally transforming enterprise operations, products, and services. This includes the adoption of digital technologies (e.g., cloud computing, IoT, AI) to innovate business models, improve customer experiences, and streamline processes. Students learn about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation, including organizational change, technology management, and digital culture development.

In addition to the abovementioned coursework, you’ll typically complete a research project that combines your theoretical and practical knowledge.

M.S. in Information Technology program objectives

A master’s program in information technology provides you with many vital proficiencies. You’ll learn how to apply successful data management techniques, implementing methodologies to design, develop, and maintain computer systems. You’ll also learn how to analyze information systems to enhance business operations and communicate effectively to lead an IT department.

Best online master’s degrees in information technology

Many factors should influence your program choice, including accreditation status, tuition rate, online versus on-campus, and school ranking. You can pursue an excellent online master’s degree in IT at:

  • Columbia University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Tech

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Related master’s degrees you can earn online

You don’t need an M.S. in IT to have an IT-related master’s degree. Information technology is a broad discipline with many applications. So, what are some related online master’s degree programs?

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity master’s programs prepare students to evaluate and analyze an organization’s cybersecurity needs. They take around two years to complete and comprise 30 to 36 credit hours. They typically include courses and electives in:

  • Digital Forensics: Focuses on the techniques and tools used to investigate and analyze digital crimes and cyber attacks. This course covers the process of collecting, preserving, analyzing, and presenting digital evidence from computers, networks, and storage devices in a manner that is legally admissible.
  • Cryptography: Examines the principles and practices of secure communication through the study of algorithms, protocols, and systems used to encrypt and decrypt data. Students learn about symmetric and asymmetric encryption, hash functions, digital signatures, and the mathematical foundations of cryptographic security.
  • Ethical Hacking: Teaches the skills and techniques used by ethical hackers to test and ensure the security of information systems. This course covers vulnerability assessment, exploitation techniques, and the tools used for penetration testing, with a focus on identifying and mitigating security weaknesses from the perspective of an attacker.
  • Network Security: Focuses on protecting data during transmission over networks. Topics include firewall configuration, intrusion detection systems, virtual private networks (VPNs), and security protocols that safeguard data integrity, confidentiality, and availability across wired and wireless networks.
  • Cybersecurity Management: Explores the strategic and operational aspects of managing cybersecurity within organizations. This course covers risk assessment, security policies, incident response planning, and the governance structures needed to align cybersecurity practices with business objectives.
  • Security Architecture: Examines the design principles and components of secure information systems architectures. Students learn about layered security models, the role of hardware and software in security, secure network design, and the implementation of security controls to protect systems and data.
  • Application Security: Focuses on securing software applications against vulnerabilities and attacks. Topics include secure coding practices, application vulnerability testing, software dependency management, and strategies for developing, deploying, and maintaining secure applications.
  • Cybersecurity Law and Policy: Provides an overview of the legal and regulatory framework governing cybersecurity and privacy. This course covers national and international laws, regulations, standards, and ethics related to cyber operations, data protection, intellectual property rights, and the legal implications of cyber incidents.
  • Blockchain and Fintech Security: Explores the security challenges and solutions in blockchain technologies and financial technology (fintech) applications. Students learn about the principles of blockchain, smart contracts, cryptocurrency security, and the specific cybersecurity considerations in the fintech sector.
  • Penetration Testing: Teaches the methodology of conducting authorized, simulated cyber attacks on computer systems, networks, and applications to evaluate the security of these elements. This course covers planning, reconnaissance, exploitation, post-exploitation, and reporting phases of penetration testing, with an emphasis on ethical considerations and legal constraints.

You can enroll in online cybersecurity master’s programs at:

  • University of California – Berkeley
  • Yeshiva University (Katz)
  • Indiana University – Bloomington
  • Johns Hopkins University

The University of Tulsa offers an online cybersecurity master’s degree designed with the working professional in mind. This program can be completed in just 20 months and provides online students with a comprehensive knowledge of cybersecurity concepts. It includes live discussions and real-world practice using the latest technologies in practice today.

Master of Science in Information Management

Those interested in pursuing leadership positions in IT may consider the M.S. in Information Management. This graduate program equips students with the knowledge to solve organizational problems. It can take anywhere from one to two years to complete; courses may cover the following:

  • Policy and Ethics in Information Management: Explores the ethical considerations and policy frameworks that guide the management of information within organizations. This course covers topics such as data privacy, intellectual property rights, information governance, and ethical decision-making in the handling and use of information.
  • Data Science: Focuses on the principles and techniques of extracting insights and knowledge from data. Students learn about data processing, statistical analysis, machine learning algorithms, and data visualization tools. The course emphasizes the application of data science methods to solve real-world problems and make data-driven decisions.
  • Business Intelligence Systems: Examines the technologies and methodologies used to collect, integrate, analyze, and present business information. The course covers data warehousing, online analytical processing (OLAP), dashboards, and reporting tools. Students learn how to leverage business intelligence systems to support decision-making processes in organizations.
  • Program Management and Consulting: Provides students with the skills and knowledge to manage large-scale programs and offer consulting services. Topics include program planning, execution, and closure, as well as the roles and responsibilities of consultants in providing expert advice and solutions to organizational challenges.
  • Product and Project Management: Teaches the principles and practices of managing projects and products within an IT context. This includes project planning, execution, monitoring, and closure, as well as product lifecycle management, from ideation and development to launch and evaluation.
  • Strategic and Managerial Business Intelligence: Focuses on the strategic use of business intelligence to enhance managerial decision-making. Students learn to analyze complex business data to identify trends, develop business strategies, and evaluate the impact of decisions on organizational performance.
  • Foundations of Cybersecurity: Introduces the fundamental concepts of cybersecurity, including threat landscapes, security architectures, risk management, and the protection of information assets. The course emphasizes the development of a cybersecurity mindset and the implementation of effective security measures.
  • Systems Thinking and Problem-Solving: Teaches a holistic approach to analyzing complex systems and solving problems. Students learn to understand systems’ interrelated components, identify patterns and behaviors, and apply systems thinking principles to address organizational challenges and opportunities.

The University of Washington iSchool offers an online Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) encompassing a holistic knowledge of systems thinking, data-driven strategic planning, ethics, and social responsibility. It includes specialization courses and culminates with a capstone project in the form of faculty-sponsored research or an organization-sponsored applied project.

Master of Science in Network Engineering

Interested in building new computer networks and integrating new technology into existing networks? A master’s degree in network engineering may be the path for you. Each college and university approaches this degree uniquely. Topics include:

  • Network Design: Focuses on the principles and methodologies for designing robust, scalable, and efficient computer networks. This includes understanding network requirements, selecting appropriate devices and technologies, architecting network topologies, and planning for capacity, security, and resilience.
  • Information Systems Analysis and Design: Teaches the processes involved in creating, maintaining, and improving information systems to meet organizational objectives. Topics cover systems thinking, requirements gathering, process modeling, data modeling, and the lifecycle of system development, including both traditional and agile methodologies.
  • Digital Communications Technology: Explores the theory and application of digital communication systems. This course covers signal processing, modulation and demodulation techniques, error detection and correction, and the performance of digital communication channels.
  • Network Management: Focuses on the strategies and tools used for managing, monitoring, and maintaining computer networks. Topics include network configuration, performance monitoring, fault diagnosis, troubleshooting, and the use of network management software and protocols.
  • Network Protocols: Provides an in-depth study of the protocols used in network communication, including their architecture, functions, and operations. It covers both foundational protocols, such as TCP/IP, and application layer protocols, such as HTTP, SMTP, and FTP.
  • Web Technologies: Teaches the principles and technologies behind the development of web-based applications and services. This includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, web servers, client-server architecture, and web application development frameworks.
  • Information Security: Focuses on the principles and practices of protecting information assets from threats and vulnerabilities. Topics include cryptography, access control, security policies, risk assessment, and the mitigation of security risks in networked environments.
  • TCP/IP Network Administration: Covers the administration of networks based on the TCP/IP protocol suite. This includes IP addressing and subnetting, routing protocols, network configuration, and the management of TCP/IP services and applications.

The Southern Methodist University Lyle School of Engineering offers a hands-on online master’s degree in network engineering. Students in this program engage in extensive lab projects using the latest software and strategies in the business. Faculty members design their courses around issues they’ve faced as working professionals. Students get to work with organizations like the Department of Defense and Microsoft.

Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an excellent option for managing an IT team. An MBA can expand your pool of IT job opportunities while enhancing your marketability. Full-time MBAs typically take one to two years to complete. Courses cover topics such as:

  • Leadership principles: Explores the fundamental concepts of leadership and its impact on organizational success. This course covers leadership theories, styles, and practices, focusing on developing skills such as strategic decision-making, effective communication, team building, and ethical leadership.
  • Managerial accounting: Focuses on the use of accounting information for internal planning, decision making, and control. Topics include budgeting, cost analysis, financial forecasting, and performance evaluation, providing managers with the tools to make informed business decisions.
  • Legal and ethical operations of business: Examines the legal and ethical issues faced by businesses in various environments. This course covers topics such as corporate governance, compliance, intellectual property rights, contracts, and the ethical responsibilities of businesses to stakeholders.
  • Financial management: Provides an overview of corporate finance, including financial analysis, planning, and strategy. Topics include capital budgeting, risk management, capital structure, and investment decisions, emphasizing maximizing shareholder value.
  • Marketing management and research: Focuses on the principles of marketing strategy and research methods. This course covers market analysis, consumer behavior, brand management, product development, pricing strategies, and promotional techniques, with a focus on creating value for customers.
  • Operations and supply chain: Examines the processes involved in the production and delivery of goods and services. Topics include operations strategy, process design, quality management, inventory management, and the integration of supply chain components to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • Economics for global business: Explores economic principles and their application in a global business context. This course covers macroeconomic and microeconomic concepts, international trade theories, exchange rates, and the impact of global economic conditions on business strategies.
  • Statistical and business analytics: Teaches the techniques for analyzing data to inform business decisions. Topics include statistical methods, data modeling, predictive analytics, and the use of software tools for analyzing business data, focusing on extracting insights and identifying trends to support strategic planning.

There’s no shortage of online MBA programs. For example, Howard University’s School of Business offers an online MBA with international immersion opportunities, access to their robust alumni network, and an emphasis on strategic thinking and corporate citizenship.

Butler University’s online MBA offers a flexible, student-focused learning environment. It comprises 38 credit hours and includes the application of real-world business challenges and a capstone project.

The Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business online MBA program comprises 24 months and 52 credit hours. It includes live online sessions and two four-day global and domestic immersion experiences.

Why you should earn your degree online

Online degrees are great for working professionals and students looking to upskill with convenience and flexibility. They can be completed from anywhere and provide students with opportunities outside their direct geographic location.

Due to technological advances, students have access to the same quality of curriculum and education in an online program as they would on campus. They also have opportunities to participate in live discussions and immersion opportunities to enhance their understanding of concepts.

Online programs can also be a more affordable option, as they eliminate the need for student amenity fees, on-campus parking passes, and other resources traditional students may require. Some colleges even offer in-state tuition rates for online students, even if you log in from out of state. And, of course, being able to choose from among many online programs broadens your options to include some that might be less expensive than local on-campus programs.

Years ago, there was only one way to earn a master’s in information technology degree—on campus. Now, the possibilities are practically endless if you have a WiFi connection and the right motivation.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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