Information Technology

Where to Get Your Master’s in Information Technology in California

Where to Get Your Master’s in Information Technology in California
From San Diego beaches to northern vineyards and dozens of excellent schools, California is one of the best places to live, work, and study information technology in the country—if not the world. Not only does California have exemplary information technology degree programs, but it's the tech capital, meaning better opportunities. Image from Unsplash
Lucien Formichella profile
Lucien Formichella November 23, 2020

IT is the backbone of modern business—software developers, network architects, and security analysts help companies run smoothly and efficiently—and IT jobs in the Golden State are among the best in the nation.

I.T. Degree Programs You Should Consider

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Information technlology (IT) is big business. How big? IT spending worldwide is more than the GDP of most countries, including international powers like Japan and Germany.

In a digital world, IT professionals facilitate nearly every important interaction and transaction. IT is about more than contacting support staff to dust your computer with compressed air. These professionals address serious issues, such as cyber security and database management.

California is one of the best places in the country to earn an information technology degree. The state has excellent private universities and a top public education system. California public universities consistently rank among US News & World Report lists for best schools and programs; they offer residents high-quality education at an affordable price.

California information technology degree students (both graduate and undergraduate) also enjoy increased access to dream internship and networking opportunities. That’s because California is home to many of the nation’s tech giants and hot new startups.

Learn why earning an information technology degree in California is one of the best moves you can make. This article covers:

  • Are there different kinds of information technology degrees?
  • Who should earn an information technology degree?
  • Why should you earn an information technology degree in California?
  • Are California degrees more expensive?
  • Which California schools offer an information technology degree?

Are there different kinds of information technology degrees?

Information technology has many facets, which means that degree titles can vary widely based on school, subject, and type. Though this article mainly focuses on master’s degrees, IT bachelor degrees (BS or BA in information technology) can also lead to long and fruitful careers.

What you learn depends not only on the school but also the degree title itself. For instance,
Master of Science in Information Technology, Master of Information Systems, and MBA in Information Technology are all considered information technology degrees, even though they each have a different focus.

The Master of Science is a technical degree that teaches students how to be senior IT professionals and leaders. The MBA is a business management program that teaches students how to manage IT professionals. Information systems degrees train students to fix technological issues using computer programming, analytics, and interpersonal skills.

Information technology degree programs also frequently offer opportunities to concentrate in a specific area of the field, such as computer science, network security, or cyber security. Your curriculum can change drastically depending on the concentration you choose.

Some of these degrees also overlap with a master’s in computer science. The main difference is that a computer science master’s focuses on creating applications. In contrast, information technology programs teach about fixing existing ones.

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Who should earn an information technology degree?

It sounds snarky to answer this question by saying, “someone good with computers,” but that’s the truth. Though programs exist for those looking to transition careers, most master’s in information technology programs target those with a few years of experience in IT or a related career like software engineering. For example, California State University – San Bernardino does not require work experience but notes that “at least two years of professional work experience will make an application more competitive.”

Most schools also look for students with a relevant bachelor’s degree. Some examples include:

  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Electrical engineering
  • Engineering
  • Informatics
  • Information technology

It’s possible to complete an IT master’s degree without having a relevant educational or professional background. However, graduate degree coursework is challenging and may overwhelm someone inexperienced.

Why should you earn an information technology degree in California?

From San Diego beaches to northern vineyards and dozens of excellent schools, California is one of the best places to live, work, and study in the country—if not the world. Not only does California have exemplary information technology degree programs, but it’s the tech capital, meaning better opportunities.

Information technology is a broad field with diverse positions for qualified individuals, usually requiring a bachelor’s degree or above. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, information technology careers include:

California ranks in the top five for job opportunity and pay for each of these jobs. California software developers earn almost $30,000 more in median pay than the national average for the position.

The state also retains a high number of graduates. Generally, the better the education students have, the more likely they are to move to a large city (associate degree-holders from community college stay closest to home). But California, with cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, is one of the best places to start a tech career and earn a degree.

Are California degrees more expensive?

All states have a public university system, but California’s is especially good. All nine of the University of California schools made the US News & World Report 2021 Best Colleges list.

Public universities offer discounts to in-state graduate and undergraduate students. For example, one year of graduate education at University of California – Irvine costs California residents $11,442.00.

Prices do vary. University of California – Los Angeles is more expensive, charging $17,486 per year, while San Jose State University costs only $7,176 for full-time students. In comparison, UCLA costs $32,588 annually for out-of-state students, similar to a respectable private institution.

California also has highly regarded private universities where tuition is comparable to others around the country. Stanford University has an asking price of around $50,000 for full-time students.

Which California schools offer an information technology degree?

California Baptist University

Dr. Robert K. Jabs School of Business

Riverside, CA

California Baptist’s Master of Science in Information Technology Management is ranked 35th on US News & World Report‘s list of top online programs for IT. The 30-unit degree takes one year to complete, and students are able to choose a business analytics or information systems structure concentration.

The university also offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Technology that covers many of the same topics as the master’s degree, including:

  • Law and ethics
  • Project management
  • Security
  • Web application development

The main difference between these two degrees, aside from difficulty level, is that the graduate degree prepares students for leadership and management roles.

California State University – Fullerton

College of Business and Economics

Fullerton, CA

Fullerton offers an Online Master of Science in Information Technology. This part-time program organizes students in cohorts to complete the lockstep program over 20 months. Students take two courses per semester to learn every facet of IT, completing online courses in:

  • Accounting
  • Business intelligence
  • Cyber insurance
  • Cyber security
  • Data communications
  • Management techniques

Students can choose from two concentrations, IT management and data science. Though the program is online, it involves completing an end-of-the-year program assessment and optional on-campus events. Though not a hard requirement, students should have experience in IT.

Stanford University

Stanford School of Engineering

Stanford, CA

Stanford essentially is Silicon Valley, and students who attend this prestigious university have access to otherworldly networking events and opportunities. Stanford offers an Information Systems and Science degree, an exclusively online program, through its electrical engineering department. It ranks sixth among US News & World Report‘s best information systems programs.

The school offers several degrees (including bachelor’s, master’s, and PhDs). While the degree titles and courseloads may be unique, all can lead to information technology careers. Students in the electrical engineering bachelor’s degree program can complete an Information Systems and Science focus. The operations and analytics master’s degree path gives students the skills to work in:

  • Operations management
  • Information technology
  • Data analytics

Stanford is expensive but offers funding opportunities for those who don’t want to borrow heavily to attend. Master’s students may receive teaching assistant jobs (though most are reserved for PhD students), and the school offers 100 students full scholarships through its Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

University of California – Berkeley

School of Information

Berkeley, CA

Another world-renowned school, UC Berkeley’s Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) “produces leaders who work at the intersection of technology, information, and people.” The two-year, full-time interdisciplinary program includes coursework on information structures, policy, and data. It is also heavily project-based.

Because MIMS is interdisciplinary, it can lead to numerous careers, including ones in:

  • Cyber security
  • Information privacy
  • Information technology for development
  • Software development

Students are encouraged to develop personalized specializations by mixing different courses—the first semester of year two is all electives.

Graduates have secured jobs at behemoths like:

  • Facebook
  • Apple
  • Google
  • US Coast Guard
  • Library of Congress

University of Southern California

Viterbi school of engineering

Los Angeles, CA

Viterbi’s Information Technology Program (ITP) offers undergraduate 14 minors and specializations, including ones in applied analytics and enterprise information systems. The program helps every student establish a programming base, offering 75 courses designed to hone skillsets and strengthen portfolios.

For graduate students, USC offers a Master of Science in Computer Science. Though this degree focuses on computer science and engineering specifically, it can lead to an IT career. Students complete a minimum of 28 units and can choose either a thesis or non-thesis degree path. You might also be able to take some high-level ITP courses to further specialize in the field.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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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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I.T. Degree Programs You Should Consider

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