Information technology is an engineering discipline focused on the maintenance and use of computer systems, software, networks, and other telecommunications equipment that distribute data. Organizations of all types and sizes employ the help of information technology professionals to diagnose and solve various computer problems. Most people who work in IT have at least some postsecondary education and training. Those who want to hold a management position and make valuable contributions to their field can do so by earning an online master’s degree in information technology.

Why a Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is one of the highest and most prestigious degrees in information technology. Graduate degree holders have an advanced understanding of their subject and possess higher-order skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis. Many students begin their IT journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology. After graduating or working in the field for several years, students often return to school to pursue a graduate degree in IT in hopes of a higher position or salary.

Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program

The decision to go to graduate school is a big one that takes careful thought and preparation. If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree in IT, you need to first make sure you meet the minimum educational requirements below:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the GMAT or GRE
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Completion of prerequisite course work

Inside an Information Technology Master’s Degree Program

Like most graduate programs, the online information technology masters usually takes about two years to complete. Students will enroll in a variety of courses, including enterprise data management, networking and telecommunications, project management processes in organizations, computer systems security, strategic management in dynamic organizations, and enterprise systems architecture. Many grad programs also require students to take elective courses to determine a professional focus.

In addition to taking core courses and electives, grad students will also complete a thesis/dissertation or capstone course toward the end of the program. During this time, students will complete a project or essay based on their original research and findings. Comprehensive examinations are often given to evaluate students’ comprehension and eligibility to continue onto the PhD program.

What’s Next for Information Technology Master’s Degree Holders?

Graduates of the master’s degree program have the advanced knowledge and skills needed to do various IT jobs. Some popular career choices include computer and information systems managers and network and computer systems administrators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information systems managers and network and computer systems administrators is expected to grow significantly by 2020. Computer and information systems managers are expected to see an 18% increase in employment, and network and computer systems administrators could experience a 28% increase in employment. In addition to having excellent job projections, both occupations also have favorable salaries. In 2012, computer and information systems managers made an average annual salary of $129,130, and network and computer systems administrators made $76,320.

Master’s degree holders who want to continue their education in information technology and make significant contributions to the field should consider returning to school. The next education option for these students is to earn a doctorate degree in information technology. The PhD is the pinnacle of academic achievement in information technology, and completing this rigorous program can open the doors for many exciting career opportunities.