Mulling over the idea of a graduate degree in IT or IT management? Wondering if an online qualification is really worth the investment? We’ve got your back. Our list of the top 22 online master’s degree programs in information technology has all the data you need to make a decision.
Under each profile, you’ll find clear & concise info on the program’s reputation, faculty, and coursework, as well as notes on job opportunities, class profiles, admissions criteria, tuition, scholarships, and more. Need a little targeted advice? We’ve also included a section on how to choose the right MSIT program, as well as a breakdown of the methodology used for our rankings.
Best Master’s in Information Technology Colleges and Programs
Carnegie Mellon University
Are you a mid-career IT professional or an aspiring C-level executive? CMU’s online MSIT, with its judicious blend of management studies and technical training, will be right up your alley! Run by the School of Information Systems & Management in the Heinz College and taught by experienced faculty, it’s a program with great credentials.
- Heinz is usually lurking in the top three of U.S. News & World Report rankings for IT Management and Information Systems Programs.
- Thanks to the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute and the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute, CMU also has a superb reputation in cyber security. It’s a long-standing NSA CAE school.
- Info systems faculty are hugely experienced and involved in some fascinating interdisciplinary labs.
According to the class profile, students come from a wide range of countries. Alumni can be found in top-flight organizations such as Accenture, BNY Mellon, Boeing, Deloitte, General Motors, the U.S. Departments of Defense & Justice, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and more.
CMU’s online MSIT is a 144-unit program designed for working professionals. Part-time students can complete the program in 2-3 years. 4 concentrations or “tracks” are available. Each concentration has a different set of core courses. However, the core will always include at least one mid-level management subject.
- Information Technology Management (MSIT-ITM) Track: The 7-course core focuses on elementals (e.g. telecommunications, e-business, and database management), combined with courses in object-oriented programming and IT project management. But electives are wide-ranging (e.g. financial accounting, global IT management, business process modeling; etc.) and relevant for IT professionals who have to operate in large corporations.
- Business Intelligence & Data Analytics (MSIT-BIDA) Track: The 9-course core covers all aspects of BI and big data, including training in data science, data mining, data visualization, privacy, statistics for IT managers, and more. Electives can include everything from cloud computing to software & security.
- Information Security & Assurance (MSIT-ISA) Track: The 7-course core favors the management & assurance side of security. Yes, there are technical courses, but a number of subjects deal with larger issues (e.g. information security risk management, policy and governance; etc.). You can get stuck into higher level cyber security concerns in the electives (e.g. cryptography, ethical pen testing, applied threat analysis, etc.).
- Software Design & Management (MSIT-SDM) Track: For the 6-course core, you’ll tackle standard subjects such as database management, software systems architecture, and managing software development (just to name a few). And you’ll have free rein on electives—you can choose relevant technical options (e.g. software & security) or hone your leadership skills (e.g. decision-making under uncertainty).
Note: Do you live in the Pittsburgh area? You can work on the MSIT program in a hybrid format, combining online and on-campus courses.
CMU wants to see candidates with at least 3 years of relevant professional experience; many students have 8+ years on their résumé. A bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent) and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher are expected. GRE or GMAT scores are required, unless you’ve earned a graduate degree in a related field within the last 10 years. A maximum of 24 transfer credits (i.e. units) are accepted.
- Applicants to the MSIT ITM & SDM programs must have completed a college-level, object-oriented programming course; SDM students will also need at least 2 years of prior programming experience or equivalent coursework in data structures and a modern programming language.
- It’s recommended (but not required) that applicants to the MSIT ISA & BIDA programs have tackled a college-level, object-oriented programming course in Java or Python (or R for the BIDA program).
We also recommend you take a look at Heinz’s section on MSIT scholarships, which includes links to Veterans Benefits and financial aid guidance. There’s a generous military tuition scholarship (up to 25%) for eligible veterans.
Syracuse UniversitySyracuse’s online MSIM is an interdisciplinary leadership program that draws on faculty expertise from the School of Information Studies (iSchool). The aim of the game is to train managers & executives who know how to wrangle complex information resources.
- The iSchool has its own Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS), as well as some fascinating crossover labs (e.g. metadata, human behavior, etc.).
- The MSIM is usually responsible for Syracuse’s strong spot (i.e. top 15) in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs. It’s worth taking a look at the useful stats on admissions, faculty experience, and the student body.
- Job placement rates for the program are high (92% in 2017, often in Fortune 500 companies). The online MSIM class profile shows that students tend to be mid-career professionals in their 30s with plenty of work experience under their belt. A solid portion of those students are women, minorities, and military.
Although you may already be firmly ensconced in a company when you apply, you’ll emerge with a marketable set of skills. Graduates often find work as information architects, IT directors & consultants, IA analysts, business technology advisors, data engineers, startup founders, and more.
Your choice of MSIM will depend on your level of expertise—the executive track is only open to applicants with 6+ years of experience. Keep in mind the word “management.” Along with training in the IT core of a corporation, you’ll be exposed to concepts of organizational psychology, information economics, policy, and more.
This is a standard, 42-credit master’s program that can be completed in 21 months. It combines 3 primary core courses (9 credits) in information management fundamentals (e.g. strategies, implementation, policy concerns, etc.) with 5 secondary core courses (15 credits) in relevant subject areas (e.g. cyber security, data science, managing info systems projects, etc.). You’re allowed to choose 9-12 elective credits, but you must also complete a:
- Internship (waivers are available)
- On-campus immersion—includes workshops, networking, and guest speakers
You’ll also have the option to earn a career-focused Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) during your studies:
This streamlined 30-credit program is open to seasoned professionals. It can be finished in as little as 15 months. The degree consists of 3 primary core courses (9 credits), 3 secondary core courses (9 credits), 3 electives (9 credits), the capstone (3 credits), and the mandatory immersion experience. The curriculum is much like the standard MSIM, but a few of the core courses deal with more advanced business topics (e.g. enterprise risk management (ERP), data warehouses & BI, etc.).
Note: The LeMoyne Partnership, which give MSIM students the chance to take health information systems and enterprise systems courses from the Business School, is only available through the on-campus program.
- Standard Online MSIM: Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree—Syracuse considers applicants with a wide range of majors. GRE scores are required, but a number of waivers are available.
- Executive Online MSIM: Candidates must have 6+ years of full-time, professional experience in the field of information management. Applicants from all industries are welcome. GRE scores are recommended, but not required.
The iSchool has a rich and detailed approach to the online learning experience and excellent career services, but quality comes with a price. To offset tuition costs, we recommend you take a look at the MSIM Employer Sponsorship Guide, browse through the Financial Aid FAQs, and consider outside scholarships. Merit-based awards for iSchool graduate students are almost always limited to on-campus programs.
Missouri University of Science and TechnologyMissouri S&T’s online MS in IST is a “build your own” degree that’s run by the Department of Business and Information Technology (BIT) in the College of Arts, Sciences & Business (CASB). It covers the major tenets of information systems (i.e. design, development & application) in a corporate setting, but it also allows for a huge degree of customization.
It’s a solid choice if you’re interested in a tech degree with real business smarts:
- Missouri S&T’s Center for Enterprise Resource Planning (CERP) gives the BIT particular strengths in ERP, business intelligence, and digital supply chain management.
- The career-focused Business School is AACSB-accredited.
- The university is often in the top 20 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs, a ranking which includes the online MS in IST, as well as computer science programs.
The online MS in IST is a short & sweet 30-credit program. It has only 4 required courses (12 credits):
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Foundations of Internet Computing
- Advanced Information Systems Project Management
- Technological Innovation Management and Leadership
In the remaining 6 courses (18 credits), you’ll be able to focus on various areas of specialization, including:
- AI, Machine Learning and Automation in Business
- Business Analytics & Data Science
- Cybersecurity & Information Assurance Management
- Electronic and Social Commerce
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) (with an SAP Certificate)
- Financial Technology
- Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience
- Information Systems Project Management
- And much more!
Note: Not sure if you’re ready for a master’s degree? Missouri S&T encourages distance learners to earn an online graduate certificate first. If you pass those 4 courses with a grade of B or better, you’ll be in a prime position to enter the online MS in IST without taking the GRE.
MS in IST candidates are expected to have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or at least 12 graduate hours in IST courses. As we mentioned, GRE scores are required for students applying to a master’s program directly, but not for folks who have already earned one of the BIT’s online graduate certificates.
Residents and non-residents of Missouri pay the same tuition rate. However, Missouri S&T offers a significant military discount to eligible service members, as well as their spouses and dependents, for online graduate programs. If your company is willing to reimburse at least 50% of your tuition, you’ll also be eligible for Missouri S&T’s Deferred Tuition Program.
Oklahoma State University-Main CampusExperienced engineers and info scientists take note—OSU’s online MSETM is designed to prepare you for roles in higher management. It’s a challenging degree that bypasses lower-level IT subjects and goes straight to the heart of technical leadership concerns. All of its students are savvy professionals who are taking courses on a part-time basis.
Although the program pulls on expertise from the Colleges of Business Administration and Arts and Sciences, it is run by the well-regarded College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology (CEAT) and administered by CEAT Online. You can get a snapshot of CEAT’s offerings (including the MSETM) in its online engineering program profile. You’ll see that the average age of students is high (i.e. mid-30s), class sizes are small, and debt rates are low.
The 32-credit online MSETM takes around 3 years for part-time students to complete. It includes 4 required courses (8 credits), 3 short electives (1 credit each), and 7 standard electives (3 credits each).
- Required Courses: As well as foundation credits (e.g. strategic decision analysis), the core includes capstone preparation and the capstone itself.
- Short Electives: These courses tend to focus on specific business objectives (e.g. technical project planning, engineering economic analyses, contract law, enterprise strategies, etc.).
- Standard Electives: The remaining electives cover a wide array of management topics (e.g. strategic planning, supply chains, performance measurement systems, Lean Sigma implementation, etc.).
The capstone forms the main part of the required courses and it’s deliberately focused on business problems. That means you can customize your MSETM with a huge amount of electives, then get stuck into a challenge that applies to your current work situation.
Note: Thinking of easing into graduate studies? Take a quick look at OSU’s Online Certificate in ETM. This is a 12-credit-hour qualification that can be granted at any time during your MSETM program or pursued as a stand-alone certificate.
OSU wants to see candidates who have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 higher and a bachelor’s degree in engineering, technology, or math. Since this is a program for working professionals, the university is also interested in relevant career experience and your professional goals. GRE and GMAT scores are not required. Some transfer credits are accepted.
Oklahoma residents pay lower tuition rates than non-resident graduate students. In addition, all active duty personnel pay in-state tuition. Overall, costs are reasonable, but we recommend you talk to your employer about reimbursement, since CEAT doesn’t offer scholarships to online graduate students.
New York UniversityNYU’s online MSMT comes to you courtesy of the Tandon School of Engineering. It’s an MBA-like program for mid-level IT professionals who aspire to lead their department (e.g. HR, sales, operations, cyber security, etc.) or manage tech-centered enterprises.
And it’s a good one. Thanks to its emphasis on quality teaching and distance learner support, Tandon is often in the top 15 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs. The Department of Technology Management and Innovation is led by faculty with unusual interdisciplinary backgrounds. Plus, Tandon has a cosy relationship with various corporate partners. Graduates of the program often end up in companies such as Google, IBM, Amazon, ESPN, Citi, Apple, etc.
The online MSMT is a 36-credit program that’s split into 8-9 core courses (24-27 credits), 2-3 courses in a concentration (6-9 credits), and a mandatory 3-credit capstone.
Most of the core coursework is very similar to an MBA (e.g. marketing, accounting & finance, economics, etc.), but it does include credits that will be relevant in a tech setting (e.g. business analytics, project management fundamentals, communication for tech managers, etc.).
You can then focus on one of the following concentrations:
- Cybersecurity Concentration
- Human Capital Engineering & Analytics Concentration
- Human Resource Information Systems Concentration
- Project Management Concentration
For the capstone, you’ll have a choice between a Management of Technology (MOT) project, a project in strategy & innovation management, or selected topics in management.
Note: For folks who live in or near the Brooklyn area, the MSMT is also available in a blended (hybrid) format.
Online MSMT candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, but NYU accepts students with a range of undergraduate majors (e.g. management, engineering, IT, etc.). There are no specific prerequisites, but the program’s academic advisor does have the authority to prescribe specific courses after you’ve been admitted. Part-time students are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores; full-time students are.
NYU doesn’t offer reduced tuition rates to in-state residents, but it does have discounts!
- If you’re employed by one of Tandon’s corporate member organizations, you’re eligible for a 20% tuition scholarship. Current members include Northrop Grumman, AT&T, Pfizer, IBM, and more.
- If you’re a member of a relevant professional society (e.g. ACM, IEEE, AITP, etc.), you can receive a 15% tuition benefit on each online course through the Society Co-Sponsor Scholarship Program.
NYU’s program is on the pricier side, so we recommend you look into employer reimbursement. Online alumni debt rates at Tandon tend to be low (e.g. ~15% graduate with debt), but the average indebtedness of that group is high (i.e. $58,000+).
Arizona State University-Tempe
Online Master of Science in Information Technology | Online Master of Science in Information ManagementASU is a long-time leader in distance learning—it has a huge presence in U.S. News & World Report annual rankings for online graduate programs (of every variety). What’s more, support for online students is strong and programs focus on results. The university likes to boast that 87% of ASU graduates get job offers within 90 days.
ASU’s online graduate offerings come in 2 flavors:
- Online MSIT: Developed by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the online MSIT is a tech-heavy program that focuses on advanced areas of networking, information systems, and cyber security. Stuck in a dull job and eyeing a future as a network engineer, database architect, big data specialist, cyber security expert, or the like? This is the degree for you.
- Online MSIM: ASU’s online MSIM is the work of the highly ranked and AACSB-accredited W.P. Carey School of Business and the Department of Information Systems—check out the department’s industry advisors! It’s a technical leadership degree that’s deliberately intended to prepare you for IT business roles, managerial titles, and C-level positions. The class profile suggests that students are experienced, mid-career professionals from all over the world.
The online MSIT is a streamlined 30-credit program (classes are 15 weeks long). To start, you’ll be required to take 4 courses (12 credits) in foundational IT subjects (e.g. software development for IT, advanced info systems security, etc.). But you’ll also be able to choose 5-6 electives (15-18 credits) in two relevant focus areas:
- Computer Architecture and Information Security: Courses cover areas such as security analysis, security policy, and managing intelligent devices.
- Information Systems Management and Systems Development: Think of topics such as cloud management, big data, application web frameworks, and the like.
At the end, you’ll be expected to present a portfolio (0 credits) or an applied project that you can complete in partnership with an industry or research mentor (3 credits).
The online MSIM is a STEM-designated, 30-credit program that consists of 10 mandatory courses (5 weeks long)—the degree takes around 16 months to complete. Almost all credits can be earned online, but one on-campus orientation visit is required. The case-based courses are divided into 3 major cluster areas:
- Data Analytics: This cluster includes subjects such as business intelligence, AI, information management, and info-enabled modeling.
- Business Transformation: Enterprise systems, project management, business processes, and workflow management are all explored.
- IT Governance: This cluster encompasses areas such as cyber security and the strategic value of IT.
You also have the option to complete an internship and 4 industry-focused workshops (e.g. SAP, Python, Advanced SQL, and data visualization). The entire program culminates in a mandatory applied project/capstone course. You’ll be able to work with fellow classmates on a real-world industry project that tackles an emerging technology issue in your field.
- Online MSIT: ASU is looking for applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in IT, computer science, applied computing, engineering or a closely related field. The university also wants to see a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of your first bachelor’s degree program or an applicable master’s program. GRE scores are required, but you can request a GRE waiver if you have 5+ years of professional IT experience.
- Online MSIM: Applicants to the online MSIM should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree (according to the class profile, engineering, business & science/math are popular undergraduate majors) and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Most candidates have 2+ years of work experience. GMAT or GRE test scores are required and entry to the program is competitive (e.g. 65% acceptance rate).
In-state and out-of-state residents pay the same tuition rate for ASU’s online graduate degrees. However, tuition rates for the online MSIM are significantly more expensive than the online MSIT. (You can view per credit costs for each using ASU’s tuition calculator.)
Be sure to take a look at the ASU Scholarship Search. The database includes ASU scholarships for working adults, students with disabilities, and specific online awards such as the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Program. Online MSIM students should also apply for any relevant W. P. Carey scholarships (one-time scholarships range from $3,000-$15,000) and check out the business school’s career services and alumni networks.
Columbia University in the City of New YorkAs the degree title would imply, Columbia’s hybrid Executive MSTM is aimed at senior technology professionals. If you’re ready to apply for a C-level position (e.g. CIO, CTO, CEO, CSO, etc.), become a highly paid consultant, take the CISA certification exam, or assume command of an entrepreneurial venture, then you’re in the right place.
It’s not a 100% online choice. Although many of the courses have a substantial online component, the program includes 4 multi-day intensives in various locations (including New York City, Paris, and San Francisco). During these intensives, you’ll network with other professionals in your cohort; conduct oral defenses; and take part in courses, seminars, and activities (e.g. company site visits). From the second term onward, you’ll also receive one-on-one mentoring from a seasoned technology executive.
Overall, the mentorship and intensive components make this an excellent option for folks who can afford the tuition. Although the School of Professional Studies is young, Columbia has an excellent reputation in the business world. Faculty are excellent. Alumni often comment on the applicability of the coursework and the usefulness of class discussions. And it gets results. In a recent survey, 93% of graduates achieved promotions or higher-profile positions at new firms; 30% reached a C-level (or equivalent position); and 48% launched new business ventures.
The hybrid Executive MSTM is a 36-point program composed of 6 core courses (18 points), 2 electives in an area of focus (6 points), and 3 executive seminars (12 points). Instruction for the core courses & seminars often takes place during the multi-day intensives. The entire program lasts 16 months.
For the core courses, you’ll be schooled in all aspects of technology management, including useful tools (e.g. analytics), executive strategies, and the intersection of IT with accounting & finance, law, operations management, and the business environment.
During the summer term, you’ll take 2 electives in one of the following designated areas of focus:
- C-Level Management
- Data Management & Analytics
- New Business Ventures
- Digital & Business Transformation
The 3 executive seminars are primarily focused on business concerns that will relate to your master’s project and include explorations of:
- Product or Service Realization
- Strategic Planning and Marketing
- Operations Management
The entire program culminates in a master’s project. Under the guidance of your exec mentor, you’ll develop a specific technology solution (often a product or service) that addresses your area of focus.
Note: For students with fewer than 10 years of professional experience, Columbia also offers an on-campus Master of Science in Technology Management that includes a limited number of online courses.
Executive MSTM candidates are expected to have a bachelor’s degree and 10+ years of professional experience in roles that have used technology to further business goals (the university sometimes considers candidates with 7-9 years). Although a lot of students come from IT and technology backgrounds, the program does not require technical expertise. Columbia is also going to be looking at your career achievements and leadership potential. GRE and GMAT scores are optional.
Because this program has so many in-depth components, per point tuition and associated fees are pricey! As Columbia notes in its financial resources section, a lot of students have to create a mixture of savings, scholarships, loans, outside grants, and/or employer tuition benefits to pay for the program.
Purdue University-Polytechnic InstituteDo you adore business strategy, processes, and policy? Do you want (or already hold) PMP certification? Then Purdue’s online MS in ITPM from the Department of Computer and Information Technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute has got your name on it!
Targeted at mid-level professionals, the degree has a solid core of project management, overlaid with training in relevant IT issues (e.g. managing contractors and subcontractors, understanding cyber security options, privacy laws; etc.). Online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach the on-campus version. And the entire program is backed by the Purdue name and a strong job placement rate.
Graduates often proceed to careers in project management, financial & systems analysis, software & systems engineering, technical leadership, and management consultancy.
For most students, the online MS in ITPM is a 34-credit program that takes 1-5 years to finish. (Students who already hold PMP certification only have to complete 30 credits.) Courses are 8 weeks long.
All credits are mandatory—there are no electives. You’ll begin with a course in project management essentials, before tackling topics in:
- IT Concerns: Think of subjects such as IT quality management, IT policy & law, IT economics and procurement management, IT security management, etc.
- Corporate Concerns: These types of courses include program & portfolio management, requirements management, risk management, change management, leadership skills, and the like.
We also appreciate the fact that Purdue includes a 1-credit PMP certification prep course as part of the curriculum.
Note: Purdue offers a 4-course Online Graduate Certificate in Managing Information Technology Projects that can be credited toward the Online MS in ITPM. While you’re exploring your options, you may also wish to consider the less technically focused Online MS in IT Business Analysis.
Online MS in ITPM students should have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, computer engineering, or a similar field and/or a minimum of 2 years industry experience in an IT position. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better is expected, but GRE and GMAT scores are not required. You can transfer up to 12 graduate-level credit hours (grade of B or better).
Overall, tuition at Purdue Polytechnic is fairly affordable. Indiana residents pay slightly less in tuition compared to out-of-state students and installment plans are available. However, the Department of Computer and Information Technology does not offer any scholarships for online MS students.
Florida State UniversityFSU’s online MSIT is a bit of a maverick! Offered by the School of Information (iSchool), this is an interdisciplinary program that prioritizes info management over high-level technical subjects. You can tailor electives toward IT & networking, but the program is also interested in relationships between people and technology. Graduates often end up working in social media management, systems analysis & security, and web development & administration.
And it’s got fantastic street credentials. It’s often in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs and it’s remarkably affordable for Florida residents. If you examine the program data, you’ll see that classes are small (e.g. average size of 13), full of professionals (e.g. average age of 33), and taught by experienced faculty. The iSchool is also doing some interesting research work focused on info users.
The online MSIT is a 32-credit program with 4 required courses (12 credits) and a raft of electives (20 credits). Most students finish in 2 years.
The required courses establish the foundations of info management (i.e. usability analysis, management of information organizations, etc.). After that, you can customize your degree in any which way you’d like. FSU groups many of its electives into programs of study for planning purposes:
- Large-Scale Data Management
- Leadership & Management
- Technology & Networking
- User-Centered Design
- Web Design
Overall, your elective options will include some traditional IT subjects (e.g. info security, network administration, data mining, etc.) and a lot of courses in leadership, design, and administration (e.g. grants, digital libraries, HR management). Health information/informatics is a strength and internships are encouraged.
In terms of admissions, FSU considers your undergraduate degree (GPA and major) as well as prior IT-related coursework or work experience. GRE scores are required, but waivers are available if you have a graduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher; 2+ years of relevant professional experience and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher; or an undergraduate degree from FSU (with an even stronger GPA). A limited number of transfer credits are accepted.
We’ll say it again—this online MSIT is a great choice for Florida residents. Compared to out-of-state students, in-state students pay less than half of the per credit hour tuition rate. iSchool scholarships are primarily reserved for library science students, but there are a few that may suit your career goals (e.g. investigating the needs, access, and use of information resources and services by underserved populations). The iSchool also has a useful section devoted to financial advice.
George Mason UniversityGMU’s online MSAIT is a first-rate option for aspiring IT leaders and young guns who want to get stuck into pure tech subjects. Run by the Department of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) in the Volgenau School of Engineering, it’s a program that prioritizes technical and analytical skill sets.
- Both the IST and Volgenau are powerhouses of advanced IT research, so you’ll be in good hands. GMU is the state’s largest public research university.
- Keep in mind, too, that Volgenau is strategically located in Fairfax, Virginia. That means government & defense concerns (e.g. cyber security, machine learning, big data, etc.) are often top priorities. GMU states that the MSAIT curriculum was created with the federal sector in mind.
It’s important to note that the online MSAIT with a concentration in cyber security is the only option that is 100% online. However, other concentrations are available in a hybrid format (a combo of online and face-to-face courses).
Because the MSAIT is solely responsible for GMU’s top 25 ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs, you can get an excellent snapshot of the degree in the university profile. Students tend to be fresh-faced (e.g. average age of 22 years), but around 60% are already employed. Minorities and international students are also well-represented.
The 100% online MSAIT with a concentration in cyber security is a 30-credit program composed of 4 core IT courses (12 credits), 4 mandatory courses in cyber security foundations (12 credits), and 2 electives (6 credits).
- Core Courses: Classes deal with advanced fundamentals (e.g. algorithms & data structures, database management systems, info processing & visualization, etc.).
- Cyber Security Foundation Courses: Classes cover the main pillars of cyber security, including secure software development, network & systems security, pen testing, incident handling, and the like.
- Electives: You’ll be able to choose from a limited range of advanced subjects (e.g. cloud security, emerging threats, etc.). A master’s thesis and research project are offered as electives.
If you’re able to visit the campus, you could also consider the MSAIT’s hybrid concentrations:
- Cyber-Human Systems (CBHS)
- Data Analytics and Intelligence Methods (DAIN)
- IT Management in Federal Sector (IMFS)
Note: Looking at jobs in data science & engineering? GMU also offers an Online MS in Data Engineering.
Applicants to the online MSAIT should have a BS, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and knowledge of the fundamentals of IT and quantitative methods. GMU also likes to see evidence of relevant work experience, strong job performance, and leadership responsibilities. GRE scores are not required.
Like FSU, this is a great choice if you’re lucky enough to live in-state. The cost per credit hour for Virginia residents is less than half of what other students must pay. Offset those costs with employer sponsorship, and you’re looking at minimal to zero debt on graduation.
We recommend you talk to the program coordinator about scholarship opportunities. GMU has established general Mason Scholarships, the George Mason University Alumni Association has a few modest awards for current graduate students, and Volgenau has a couple of scholarships open to graduate students in IT & data analytics, but it’s unclear whether online candidates qualify.
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusUC’s online MSIT is a streamlined program with a nice blend of technical practice & research and a healthy number of career-focused electives. Administered by the School of Information Technology in the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH), it’s flexible enough to accommodate students with little to no IT background. According to program stats, many students are in their 30s and already employed when they enroll.
In this program, you’ll be able to specialize in anything from game development to IT infrastructure, but take a close look at the cyber security options. UC holds NSA CAE designations in cyber defense & cyber ops, and faculty at the Center for Cyber Security teach the MSIT security courses. You can get a full rundown of your job options upon graduation in UC’s helpful list of MSIT alumni career choices.
The online MSIT is a 30-credit program that can be polished off in as little as one year, although most folks take around 1.5 years to graduate. All students complete 3 core courses (9 credits), 5 electives (15 credits), and a thesis or a capstone + extra graduate course (6 credits).
The core courses focus on professional development, research methods, and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). The majority of your electives will fall into one of the following 4 groups, which you can supplement with relevant technical courses:
- Cyber Security Electives: Courses address principles of cyber security, software application security, and enterprise security & forensics.
- IT Infrastructure Electives: Courses tackle areas such as advanced storage capabilities, advanced systems administration, and infrastructure sustainability.
- Mobile & Social App Development Electives: This category includes technologies for social networking & mobile applications, as well as usability concerns.
- Game Development Electives: Advanced multi-player games, games for learning & simulation, and advanced game technologies are all covered.
The final hurdle is the capstone or thesis. For the capstone, you’ll be encouraged to find a solution to a real-world IT issue. For the thesis, you’ll be expected to work with a faculty member on a thorny IT problem and present your findings in a published paper. As UC points out, either of these projects will serve your career goals (e.g. starting a business or earning a promotion).
At baseline, you’ll be expected to have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Folks with lower GPAs are considered, but they may be required to earn good grades on bridge courses first (see below). GRE scores are waived for qualified applicants.
- If you have a solid background in a computing discipline, hold IT certificates, and/or have relevant work experience, you can be admitted directly into the program.
- If you need some baseline IT training, you can take up to 4 bridge courses in IT fundamentals (e.g. info security) to prepare for the program. You’ll need to earn a 3.0 GPA on these courses to advance.
When it comes to per credit hour tuition rates, Ohio residents pay a good deal less than out-of-state residents. Be sure to check the most up-to-date stats—the online MSIT falls under the category of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services.
University of South Florida-Main CampusShort, rigorous, and highly customizable—USF’s online MSIT has a whole lot going for it. Administered by the Department of Computer Science & Engineering in the College of Engineering, this is a program for mid-tier IT professionals who want in-depth technical training and the flexibility of electives.
It’s the kind of degree that will set you up for careers in specialist IT positions (e.g. data scientist, network specialist, cyber security expert, etc.) and IT management jobs throughout the world. According to student body data provided by USF, many online MSIT students are international, young (e.g. average age of 24), and debt-free upon graduation.
We especially like the fact that it has excellent teachers. Department faculty have a wide spread of research interests and a hand in all kinds of intriguing IT labs (especially in the realm of AI and human & machine interactions). USF’s program profile notes that all part-time and full-time faculty hold PhD or terminal degrees and many have 5+ years of experience teaching online.
USF’s online MSIT is a 30-credit program with only 3 core courses (9 credits) and 7 electives (21 credits). On average, graduate students take 1.5 years to complete the degree.
- Core Courses: In the core courses, you’ll study higher-level fundamentals in IT (i.e. pen testing, advanced database administration, and advances in object-oriented programming).
- Electives: After that, you can go to town on technical subjects. Electives cover all the major topics (e.g. big data, data mining, networks, software, cyber security, etc.) as well as niche areas (e.g. IT robotics applications).
You can customize your degree even further by pursuing independent study, an internship, practicums, or credits from other departments (e.g. business, math, and engineering). The curriculum doesn’t include a thesis, but it does have a mandatory comprehensive exam. You must pass the exam before you’ll be allowed to graduate.
USF wants to see candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, or a closely related subject; an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher; and a baseline knowledge of IT fundamentals (e.g. programming, software engineering, database systems, etc.). If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field (e.g. business), you can complete undergraduate prerequisite courses in these subjects beforehand.
GRE scores are required. However, USF will waive the requirement for candidates who have an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited university or 3+ years of recent full-time professional IT experience in the U.S.
Because USF is a public university, tuition rates are considerably reduced for Florida residents. Active duty military who live outside of Florida and veterans & dependents who live inside Florida at the time of study are also eligible for out-of-state tuition waivers. The Office of Veteran Success has more info on military benefits & career assistance.
University of Massachusetts-LowellWant a degree that will prepare you for IT management & consulting positions? Competing for higher-level jobs in cyber security, network administration, or your own field of interest (e.g. cloud computing, data science, etc.)? UMass Lowell’s online MSIT is worth considering. Created by the Department of Computer Science and administered by the Division of Online and Continuing Education, this is a “get it done” program from a well-respected public university.
One of the main selling points for UMass Lowell is price. It charges the same low tuition for in-state and out-of-state students. We also respect its security bona fides. The university holds an NSA CAE designation in cyber defense research and the MSIT includes a lot of courses in relevant workplace topics (e.g. intrusion detection systems).
Keep in mind that this is a degree for working professionals. Class sizes can be large and no capstone or thesis is required. According to its program profile, the average age of students is high (e.g. 36 years) and many of them are veterans or active military (e.g. ~20%).
The online MSIT is a practical 30-credit program that’s split into 6 courses (18 credits) in 3 mandatory subject areas and 4 electives (12 credits). UMass Lowell likes to boast that its curriculum is focused on case studies, applications, and training in real-world skill sets.
You’ll have a choice of courses in the mandatory subject areas, which cover:
- Systems Infrastructures: In addition to network & systems administration and operating systems foundations, you can choose to investigate virtual systems and systems security.
- Network Infrastructure: This is where you’ll find most of the cyber security courses (e.g. digital forensics, secure mobile networks, etc.) as well as areas such as cloud computing.
- Software Management: Courses address topics such as big data, large scale application deployment, and project management.
Once you reach the electives, you’ll be able to dive deeper into your interests. Subjects include advanced cloud computing, intrusion detection systems, designing & building cyber security systems, data mining, and more.
Note: Want to test the waters? Start with UMass Lowell’s Online Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity or Online Graduate Certificate in Systems Models and Management. Each certificate is 4 courses (12 credits) and course credits can be applied to the Online MSIT.
To apply, you’ll need to hold a BS or BA that included at least one semester of undergraduate IT courses (e.g. math, stats, C programming, and data structures). If you don’t have these credits, you will have to take them before admission. GRE scores are not required.
As we mentioned, per credit tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state student are the same (and extremely affordable)! Online scholarships are typically limited to undergraduates, so we recommend talking to your employer about reimbursement possibilities.
The University of Texas at Dallas
UT Dallas’s online MS in ITM is a rigorous STEM program that’s particularly popular with international applicants—in 2017, the vast majority of students (i.e. ~75%) were from India. The degree is the brainchild of the highly active Naveen Jindal School of Management and it’s deeply committed to IT management training.
We particularly like the fact that Jindal is focused on real-world results:
- The Center for Information Technology & Management (CITM) works closely with Dallas-Fort Worth companies and multinationals in the area to sponsor graduate student projects & fund internships.
- In addition, Jindal monitors and posts annual employment rates and average salary numbers for MS in ITM graduates, as well as the names of typical employers (e.g. PwC, Deloitte, Epsilon, etc.).
- Coursework in a number of the MS in ITM credits can be applied to professional certifications (e.g. CISA, CISSP, CISM, etc.) and relevant qualifications (e.g. SAP TERP10).
Upon graduation, you’ll be in a good place to apply for jobs in business analysis, IT project management, IT consultancy, higher-level administration or qualify for a promotion. According to the class profile, students tend to be mid-tier, full-time professionals in their 20s.
The MS in ITM is a 36-credit program that takes around 18-24 months to complete. You can earn the entire degree online, but we should point out that online course options are more limited than the traditional, on-campus program.
Overall, the degree is divided into 6 core courses (18 credits) and 6 electives (18 credits). The core courses are evenly split between IT foundations & business; the electives are weighted toward IT courses.
- IT Foundation Courses: You’ll receive training in object-oriented programming, data management, and systems analysis.
- Basic Business Courses: You’ll be able to select 3 courses from a list of relevant business & management subjects (e.g. accounting, economics, marketing management, etc.).
- IT Electives: These are primarily focused on specific IT management concerns (e.g. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), business analytics, IT security, data warehousing, supply chain software, etc.).
- Free Electives: You can choose any 2 online master’s-level courses offered within JSOM (with a couple of exceptions).
The on-campus curriculum includes the option to specialize in various targeted tracks, but some of these course options aren’t offered online.
Note: Some of the MS in ITM courses are intended to prepare you for professional certification exams as well as UT Dallas certificates in specialized areas of information systems (e.g. SAS Data Mining & Enterprise Systems). Please contact the program coordinator to discuss your options as an online graduate student.
Online MS in ITM applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree, but all majors are considered. Having said that, it’s a competitive program—the average GPA of admitted students is 3.3 out of 4.0. Up to 9 hours of transfer credits are accepted.
UT Dallas prefers to see GMAT scores, but it also recognizes the GRE. GMAT/GRE waivers are available for candidates with a doctoral degree or an undergraduate degree from a university with an AACSB-accredited business school (regardless of the major) and an upper level GPA of 3.6 or above. Jindal also provides on-campus GMAT & GRE prep courses.
In-state residents pay considerably less in tuition than out-of-state & international students. However, non-Texas residents (including international students) who succeed in earning a competitive JSOM graduate scholarship of $1,000 or more may be eligible for in-state tuition rates in two consecutive semesters. You’ll need to apply for JSOM scholarships after you’ve been admitted.
Illinois Institute of TechnologyIIT’s online MITM is offered, naturally, by the Department of Information Technology and Management (ITM), which is part of the School of Applied Technology. It’s a flexible program that allows you to opt for a generalist track or choose one of nine specializations. Regardless of the focus, you’ll be trained in the fundamentals of IT management. But you’ll also acquire hardcore technical skills to thrive in your specific field of expertise. Graduates of the ITM department go on to work for companies such as Google, eBay, IBM, AT&T, KPMG, Chase, and the like.
IIT is a particularly attractive choice for information security specialists. It’s an NSA CAE school with its own Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education. In addition to collaborating with a number of high-powered organizations (e.g. Cisco, FBI, IEEE, etc.), the Center hosts the annual ForenSecure: IT Forensics and Security Conference and Expo. The ITM department is also actively involved in a number of training initiatives.
The 30-credit online MITM is split into two different paths. If you go down the generalist path, you’ll choose 7 courses (21 credits) from a set of standard subject areas (e.g. programming, application development, IT architectures, design, management, etc.) and 3 electives (9 credits). If you go down the specialization path, you’ll be required to take 8 courses in core and specialization subjects (24 credits) and 2 electives (6 credits).
The following specializations are available:
- Computer and Information Security
- Data Management
- Digital Systems Technology
- Information Technology Infrastructure
- IT Management and Entrepreneurship
- Management Information Systems
- Software Development
- Systems Analysis
- Web Design and Application Development
No thesis or capstone project is required.
The program is looking for enrollees with a bachelor’s degree related to computer science. GRE scores are required, but a waiver is available for applicants to professional master’s degree programs who have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The Office of Digital Learning has answers to many questions about the online experience, as well as info on student services. We also want to point out that IIT offers a generous Tech Edge Scholarship, which is based on merit and specifically reserved for MITM students. It awards up to $10,000 in support toward graduate tuition.
George Washington UniversityThe well-rounded online MSIST at GWU falls under the Department of Information Systems & Technology Management in the GW School of Business. Built for part- or full-time learners, the MSIST takes students from a variety of industries and turns them into qualified IT managers. You’ll be schooled in the critical skills needed for information systems and the necessary skills for leadership—communications, ethics, analytical thinking, and team management. Graduates have become security analysts, designers, project managers, and IT service architects.
One of the GW School of Business’s main strengths is internationalism—it has a number of research centers & institutes devoted to global issues and the MSIST program attracts a lot of international graduate students (72% in 2018). In the realm of technology, Online MSIST faculty are both a) experienced and b) actively involved in real-world research projects (e.g. online behavior, BI, big data, etc.).
The 33-credit online MSIST is comprised of 7 core courses (21 credits) and 4 electives (12 credits). If you haven’t taken undergraduate IT coursework, GWU promises to quickly get you up to speed in your first year with 2 foundation courses (6 credits). Part-time students usually finish in 24-30 months; full-time students take 18-24 months.
Program requirements are laid out as follows:
- Foundation Courses: Enrollees who don’t already know Python and/or database design will need to knock these out first, as they are necessary for the advanced technical courses later. All others can waive them.
- Core Courses: The core courses are a mix of management and IT courses, but they lean more toward IT. Subjects include relational databases, internet computing, and information systems security. The IT project management course and the integrated capstone both require skills application outside these areas.
- Electives: Students can choose any combo of electives, which are divided into technical courses such as Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and data warehousing and managerial electives such as enterprise architecture and information resource management.
All students must complete the on-campus capstone residency at the end of the program.
Note: A dual degree in MSIST and Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a possibility for those looking to take their degree one step further. The coursework to pursue both shortens your time at university considerably, as up to 24 credits can be “double-counted.”
GWU is looking for a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. There are no requirements for GRE/GMAT test scores, GPA, or work experience, but GWU will be considering academic merit, professional maturity, and management & leadership potential. Successful applicants have an average GPA of 3.2.
Interested in traveling while receiving credits for your degree? The GW School of Business offers a number of opportunities for graduate students to see the world and learn. Covering six continents, there are long-term and short-term exchange programs, as well as faculty-led programs.
GWU is a private research university, so tuition is pricier than public options. However, employees of five big firms (Booz Allen Hamilton, LEIDOS, Lockheed Martin, OAS, and SAIC) get tuition discounts for attending the School of Business. Some companies will help fund the MSIST; all will help fund the MBA.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
The Pamplin College of Business and the College of Engineering have teamed up to offer Virginia Tech’s online MIT. It’s a highly customizable, interdisciplinary program that can be modified to suit all kinds of individual career paths.
Virginia Tech is a public university with a great reputation:
- The MIT is often in the top 3 U.S. News & World Report rankings for Online Graduate Computer IT Programs.
- The university holds NSA CAE designations in research & cyber operations, and the College of Engineering runs the hyper-active Hume Center for National Security and Technology.
- MIT faculty are super-experienced (many are tenured, PhD holders) and familiar with distance learning (average of 12 years teaching online courses).
The 33-credit online MIT allows students to choose 4 out of 6 core courses (12 credits) and 7 electives (21 credits). You’ll want to plot your choices carefully, as the core courses serve as different prerequisites for 11 modules. The core courses are:
- Fundamentals of Computer Systems: You’ll need to feel confident with Java to explore this introductory core course. Students going for Networking and Cybersecurity specializations must take it.
- Information Systems Design & Database Concepts: This core course is the first step for Business Information Systems and Health Information Technology students.
- Leadership in Technology-Based Organizations: A freestanding management course, this course is a must for business-minded students who want to tack an Information Technology Management certificate onto their degree.
- Object-Oriented Programming with Java: Students must take this course before embarking on the Big Data, Software Engineering, or Software Development tracks.
- Software Engineering: The Software Engineering course, which is obviously for students pursuing a Software Engineering specialization, has Object-Oriented Programming as a prerequisite.
- Web-Based Applications & E-Commerce: Students interested in the Analytics & Business Intelligence and Health Information Technology specializations must take this core course.
And the 11 modules are:
- Analytics & Business Intelligence
- Big Data
- Business Information Systems
- Cybersecurity Management
- Cybersecurity Policy
- Decision Support Systems
- Health Information Technology
- Software Development
- Software Engineering
You’ll be allowed to complete two or three modules. The average completion time for the entire degree is 2 ½ years.
Note: Plan your schedule right and you can earn a Virginia Tech graduate certificate en route to the degree. There are six that roughly correspond to the modules. MIT students in the DC area can also dual enroll in an evening MBA program and shave five courses off their total.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, Virginia Tech expects applicants to have basic statistics or probability mathematics coursework under their belt, as well as Java programming expertise. Still, the course of study is designed to accommodate those with an out-of-field baccalaureate—if you don’t have these prerequisites, you can take foundation courses prior to starting your first class. GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Transfer credits are not accepted.
Tuition rates are the same for in-state and out-state residents. Although Virginia Tech doesn’t offer specific MIT scholarships, per credit rates are reasonable for such a strong program. According to the program profile, almost all MIT students are working when they enroll and over half receive employer sponsorship of some kind.
Finally, Virginia Tech believes veterans will love this program as much as U.S. News does—it was the top Online Graduate IT Program for Vets in 2018. It’s GI Bill-certified, a Yellow Ribbon Program member, and it’s willing to accept as many as nine credits from the National Defense University. The Office of Veterans Services has more info on benefits.
Kennesaw State UniversityThe practical online MSIT from KSU’s College of Computing and Software Engineering and its Department of Information Technology aims to create senior IT professionals who can thrive in leadership roles while having a broad understanding of data management, information security, networking, servers, and software development.
It’s a super-affordable “build your own” degree. Once accepted, you create your own custom program with a thesis or capstone. Graduates find themselves working as systems or security analysts, database administrators, or network architects, depending on their choice of electives. According to the program profile, 99% of MSIT students find jobs at the time of graduation.
The online MSIT consists of 30 credit hours. You’ll take 4 core courses (12 credits) in:
- Information Security Concepts & Administration: This is one step above an introductory security class, crucial for anyone charged with maintaining a network and/or database.
- IT Design Studio: Students learn by doing, tackling a project that incorporates networks, UI, apps, and the whole nine yards.
- IT Service Delivery: This class emphasizes ITIL, a set of procedures that can be applied to run IT in any organization.
- IT System Acquisition & Integration: Students get analytical in this course, which asks them to weigh the needs of an organization and acquire the proper physical and human resources to help it run smoothly.
And you’ll follow 1 of 2 tracks:
- Capstone Track: A 3-credit IT capstone and 5 electives (15 credits).
- Thesis Track: a 3-credit IT research seminar, a 6-credit thesis, and 3 electives (9 credits).
Electives are intriguing and wide-ranging. As well as the expected tech courses (e.g. forensics, wireless security, data visualization, etc.), you can select subjects that apply to your workplace (e.g. BI systems, management of IT, EHR systems, etc.). Healthcare and info security are two elective strengths.
Note: All classes are offered both online or on campus.
KSU wants to see applicants with a bachelor’s degree and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. Unlike some programs, you can apply for admission whether you come from a computing background or not. However, KSU expects candidates to have undergraduate or graduate credits in foundation courses (e.g. software design and development, networks and system administration, etc.). Don’t have ’em? You can take the relevant courses at KSU.
All online courses at KSU have a per credit hour e-tuition. E-tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. And it’s very, very reasonable.
If you live in Georgia, you can combine your online courses with some on-campus classes, and take advantage of the resources at KSU’s Center for Machine Vision and Security Research and the Center for Applied Gaming and Media Arts.
University of DenverNeed a little flexibility in your life? DU’s online MSICT from the University College boasts nine concentrations and supports a range of career options. No matter which concentration you choose, you can advance your ICT skills by learning how to employ technology in global markets and communicate with everyone from colleagues to clients.
University College describes itself as having a “career-driven focus”—90% of its students have full-time jobs and many are veterans. Faculty bios are listed on the UC website and their real-world experience is outlined in the program profile. According to that same profile, 82% of graduate alumni reported being employed in a full-time position 6 months after graduation.
Moreover, if you’re local to Denver, you can participate in evening classes while you keep your day job. Or you can adopt a HyFlex arrangement, where you come to campus as you wish but log on from home when you need to.
All online MSICT tracks require 48 credit hours or 12 courses. That’s 4 core courses, 4 electives, and 4 courses in your concentration. For added flexibility, the program has four start dates throughout the year and the entire program can be completed in as little as 18 months.
The program’s nine concentrations align with potential careers:
- Database Design and Administration: Play around with Oracle, Microsoft SQL, and other software as you pick up skills that can slot you comfortably into a network administrator position—or into a specialized role as a database manager.
- Geographic Information Systems: GIS students could find themselves working in the telecoms industry planning mobile coverage, or they could become modern-day mapmakers.
- Information Systems Security: Learn to protect networks and physical hardware for any office with this concentration.
- Mobile Application Development: Whether for iOS or Android, mobile developers are in demand. This concentration gets you up to speed with the relevant languages and techniques.
- Project Management: This hands-on concentration, which runs the spectrum from envisioning a project to seeing it through, involves introductions to software and leads to certification.
- Software Design and Programming: Client- and cloud-based software is covered here, with grads able to code in multiple languages and implementations.
- Technology Management: There’s a fair bit of crossover with the Project Management concentration, but students in this track can also set their eyes on C-level positions in IT.
- Telecommunications Technology: Think network administrator, but on a much bigger scale. This concentration goes deep into the skills needed to manage wireless and mobile networks.
And with over 60 electives to choose from, you can hone in on what makes you tick.
Note: Students aiming at a particular niche can enroll in a dual degree program and grab two master’s in one go.
MSICT applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5. If you already have a master’s degree, the minimum GPA is a cumulative 3.0 for all graduate coursework. GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Up to 12 transfer credits are accepted.
DU may be a private research university, but tuition rates are fairly affordable. Having said that, debt rates can be high, so we recommend you talk to your employer about sponsorship options. University College offers a special Graduate Impact Scholarship to adult learners. It’s based on academic merit and financial need and students in all UC master’s programs are eligible. UC also has a full outline of veterans services.
Want to take a test drive? You can enroll in a single course before you officially apply if you’re a domestic resident.
California State University-FullertonThe online MSIT from the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at Cal State Fullerton is ranked in the top 10 of Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding the MBA) by US News & World Report. The part-time degree is cohort-based—you’ll be immersed in group work and case studies while you strengthen your collaborative skills and business acumen. Want to build a network of IT entrepreneurs and experts? You’ll have one ready-made.
It’s a business-focused program with a true corporate pedigree. Mihaylo College has a dedicated Center for Information Technology and Business Analytics, strong graduate internships, and recruiting relationships with companies entrenched in Southern California and beyond (e.g. IBM, Verizon, and Experian). According to the program profile, 85% of recent MSIT graduates successfully advanced their position in IT and secured substantial financial gain.
The online MSIT consists of 30 units and can be completed over 20 months. You’ll taking 2 courses with your cohort per semester (year-round). There’s also a mandatory one-day, on-campus orientation (Boot-Up Camp) for new students and an end-of-year seminar.
Everyone must take 5 core courses (15 units), 4 electives, and a 3-unit capstone experience. The core courses cover fundamental IT subjects needed in business (e.g. IT project management, business databases, data warehousing, BI, and statistics or programming).
When you’re choosing electives, you may wish to opt to specialize in a concentration:
- Data Science: Electives for this concentration include Applied Business Regression Analysis, Forecasting for Analytical Decision Making, Business Data Transformation, and Data Mining for Business Applications.
- IT Management: Electives for this concentration include Privacy and Security; Telecommunications and Business Networks; Systems Analysis, Design, and Development; and Electronic Commerce: Analysis and Evaluation.
Other standard electives include advanced software development, e-commerce, revenue management modeling, and accounting information systems.
Students bring together all they have learned in a capstone experience. During the last semester, you’ll develop and complete an information systems project with a combination of individual and team effort.
Online MSIT applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree, but there are no required prerequisite courses. Cal State Fullerton also wants to see at least 2 years of practical experience in a functional area of business, evidence of leadership skills, and GRE or GMAT scores. Work experience in the IT field is recommended.
Cal State Fullerton is a public university, so tuition rates are reduced for in-state students. Veterans also pay in-state tuition. Better yet, the Michael A. Reagan Scholarship can cut the cost for new enrollees by $8,000.
Florida International UniversityThe online MSIT from FIU’s School of Computing & Information Sciences (SCIS) is a sensible, “nuts and bolts” program for folks who want in-depth technical training in their realm of expertise.
- Software track students learn by developing their own systems – and can snag jobs on projects from today’s foremost software corporations.
- System administration track enrollees will be qualified to configure customized systems for clients.
- And those in the security track will learn defensive techniques to minimize the risk to any office.
The SCIS is active in a number of research realms and its faculty members are diverse across the board. What’s more, FIU Online has created a special certification process, Quality Matters, for its distance education courses to ensure instructors are on top of the format.
The 30-credit MSIT consists of 3 required courses (9 credits), 12 electives, and 3 courses (9 credits) in a specific track. The required courses tackle software & data modeling, fundamentals of computer security, and computer systems fundamentals.
For electives, you’re free to enroll in any course offered by SCIS, which also houses programs in Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Telecommunications & Networking. You can also get advisor approval to take up to six non-SCIS credits.
When it comes to the tracks, you’ll be required to choose one of the following categories:
- Software: This track includes coursework in software engineering, design, verification, and testing.
- Security: Courses cover systems security, network security, info security, and telecommunications transactions.
- System Administration: Think of subjects such as storage systems, operating systems, mobile and wireless networks, network management, and the like.
The online MSIT is aimed at students with baccalaureates in the field (e.g. IT computer science, computer engineering, etc.) and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0, although an unrelated degree and three years of work experience can suffice. That experience should be in software, system administration, or info security.
FIU is a public school, so Florida residents get a good deal on tuition rates (even for online programs). FIU also offers a FIU Online Academic Merit Scholarship to students in select online graduate programs who have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25.
Florida Institute of TechnologyRun by Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business, this online MSIT examines IT through a business lens. If you have your eyes on a managerial role in an IT department, you’re looking at a useful option. The program focuses on training students in early technology adaptation and creating a competitive advantage using information systems.
Florida Tech is a bit of a dark horse! The university’s IT and cyber security programs are strong enough to merit a top 35 place in U.S. News & World Report rankings of Online Graduate Computer IT Programs. According to the profile of these programs, within 6 months of graduation, 93% of alumni are employed. The tech programs have a large pool of online minority students and veterans. 100% of full-time faculty and 83% of part-time faculty hold a PhD or terminal degree. And the total cost is surprisingly affordable.
For the online MSIT at Florida Tech, you’ll need to complete 33 credits to graduate – 7 core courses (21 credits) and 4 electives (12 credits). With a total of 11 courses and eight weeks per course, this degree takes two years to finish. Core courses include:
- Database Systems Management: Learn everything you need to know about modern database applications.
- Organizational Behavior: Understand why groups and individuals do what they do, and learn how it applies to management theory.
- Secure Networks and Communication: Understand the methods, tools, and best practices of security in networked environments.
- Security in the Enterprise: Learn all about the legal and regulatory obligations involved with managing an organization’s security.
- Strategic Management of Technology & Innovations: Explore a variety of concepts, from emerging global technologies to product invention.
When it comes to electives, you can either pick 4 upper-level business or management courses or lock in your electives with a Cybersecurity or Database Administration specialization. Those who opt for the specialization have to add Computer Systems Administration as a core course, leaving only 3 electives.
Not all courses are offered online every term, so please check the program website before registering.
Note: Florida Tech has also developed an Online MBA in Information Technology Management and an Online MBA in Project Management in Information Technology.
Online MSIT candidates should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, but the degree does not need to be in business administration. Graduates of other fields, especially mathematics, science, and engineering, are encouraged to apply. GRE/GMAT scores are not required.
Florida Tech is private, so students pay the same tuition regardless of whether they’re down the road or across three time zones. There is one group that does pay less: Florida Tech is considered a Military Friendly School, so active-duty, selected Reservists, National Guard members, and veterans (as well as spouses and dependents) receive a 10% discount on graduate degree tuition. This offer also extends to law enforcement and public safety professionals.
In addition, Florida Tech offers an $1,000 Alumni Scholarship to any student who has earned their undergraduate degree from the university.
Master’s in Information Technology Program: What to Know
What is a Master’s in Information Technology Degree?
MSIT is an ambiguous term. You’d expect a master’s degree to be a continuum of the BSIT, with a lot of advanced technical training, but that’s not always the case. Because master’s students are often looking to move up the corporate career ladder, many MSIT programs include a large number of courses in business & IT management concerns. When you’re putting together your shortlist, we recommend you:
- Title & Curriculum: Check the title of the degree and the coursework. Our list includes online master’s programs in IT (e.g. MSIT), information management (e.g. MSIM), technology management (MSTM), and more. But you’ll discover that some MSIT options may be just as management-focused as MSIM & MSTM programs. In the curriculum section, we’ve outlined the courses you can expect.
- Department Strengths: Follow our links to determine who developed the program (e.g. Department of Computer Science vs. College of Business vs. School of Engineering). This will tell you about the direction of the degree. For example, if the department has strengths in cyber security (e.g. labs, centers, faculty projects, etc.), you’ll often see a lot of required courses & elective options in that arena.
- Class Profile: Class profiles provide a great snapshot of students—age, nationality, background, current jobs, industries, etc. You’ll find that some online MSIT programs appeal to recent graduates who want advanced training in a particular field (e.g. data science). Other programs attract mid-tier professionals who have plenty of technical skills, but need to be able to handle a team or division. We’ve included links to profiles whenever possible.
Master’s in Information Technology Curriculum
As we mentioned, there’s no “standard template” for an online master’s in IT or information management. Universities tend to split the program into required courses and concentrations/electives, but you’ll also find a few online MSIT degrees that have no electives whatsoever. Many programs will include a capstone project, thesis, or the equivalent; some will give you the option to pursue an internship for credit.
Take a good hard look at the curriculum section in our rankings. This will give you the chance to:
- Required Courses: Decide whether the IT foundation courses suit your level of expertise—you don’t want to be stuck going over elementary principles. Ask to monitor an online course. Talk to the program coordinator about your skill sets. And don’t be afraid to contact alumni about their course experience.
- Electives & Concentrations: Choose a concentration and/or electives that closely match your career goals. Cyber security is always a popular category in online MSIT programs, but there are plenty of other concentrations & tracks in our list (e.g. game development, business intelligence, project management, software design, IT infrastructures, etc.).
- Interdisciplinary Options: Find out if any courses are taught by faculty from other departments or adjunct faculty with real-world jobs. A strong interdisciplinary program can provide you with all kinds of marketable skills (e.g. psychological understanding of user experience) and helpful business contacts.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in Information Technology?
It will depend on your time commitment and the program itself. Our rankings include some 30-credit online MSIT programs that can be finished in 12 months (if you’re pushing it). But a lot of degrees fall into the 1.5-3 year range. Longer programs (e.g. 36 credits) with traditional classes (e.g. 15 weeks) will obviously take more time than online degrees with short courses and fewer credits.
We’ve highlighted average completion times in each curriculum section. You can also ask the program coordinator for this statistic (universities almost always monitor it). Keep in mind that some master’s programs have part-time study limits (e.g. you must complete the degree in 5 years or less).
How Much Does a Master’s in Information Technology Cost?
A number of factors go into tuition rates for online MSIT and online IT management programs:
- Total Credits: Universities usually charge students a per credit tuition rate. That means a 30-credit MSIT is going to be cheaper than a 36-credit MSIM from the same school. But if you find a 36-credit MSIT with a great tuition rate, you still won’t be paying that much.
- Public vs. Private University: Generally speaking, private universities charge more than public universities. On the other hand, private universities may also have superb scholarships and corporate sponsorship deals that bring your costs way down. Start a budget spreadsheet!
- In-State vs. Out-of-State: At some public universities, in-state residents pay considerably less than out-of-state residents (e.g. 1/2 the tuition rate). Other public universities charge a flat tuition rate for online graduate degrees, regardless of residency.
- Additional Fees: Watch out for these. On top of tuition, universities like to tack on various fees (e.g. distance learning fee, materials fee, etc.) for online programs. Be sure to follow the tuition links in our profile. You want to know the complete cost, not just the estimated tuition rate.
How Can I Offset the Cost of an Online MSIT?
You can offset your tuition costs by doing a little research ahead of time:
- Debt Rates: Ask the program coordinator for firm statistics on how many MSIT students graduate with debt and their average debt rates. High rates should be a red flag.
- Employer Assistance: Talk to your employer about sponsorship or tuition reimbursement. You’re going to be pursuing a degree that will provide you with in-demand skills. Draw up a presentation justifying the investment.
- Graduate Certificates: Consider earning an online graduate certificate, achieving a promotion, and then applying your credits to an online MSIT or MSIM when you have more money in your pocket. Some of the universities in our list have set up a path for this.
- Scholarships & Discounts: Because IT is a field that demands high salaries, a lot of universities don’t offer online scholarships to MSIT students. But you may have better luck with general scholarships (e.g. military) and outside awards. At public universities, active military & veterans often qualify for in-state tuition rates.
- Hybrid Opportunities: If you live near a good school, think about your hybrid options (e.g. classes on weekends or evenings). It involves more travel, but you’ll be able to forge business contacts with your fellow students and take advantage of on-campus career services.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Information Technology?
Master’s in Information Technology Jobs
The MSIT (and the MSIM, MS in ITM, etc.) are highly regarded qualifications in the market. They’re practical, skills-based, and business-focused. In most cases, students pursue them in order to qualify for specialist IT positions (e.g. cyber security expert, database architect, data scientist, software engineer, etc.) and managerial roles (e.g. IT director, IT manager, department head, consultant, etc.).
Having said that, there are master’s programs where graduates fly very high (e.g. CIO) and programs that are simply aimed at helping graduates get a foothold in the industry. We’ve noted common job titles & career paths for graduates under each profile, but you can also check the LinkedIn profiles of alumni to see where they’ve ended up. Some universities are smart enough to track and publicize alumni job placements.
Information Technology Certifications
Professional certification is a given in the IT world, especially if you’re hoping to qualify for a promotion or apply to a management-level position. The good news is that a number of online MSIT programs in our list will help prepare you for certification exams, including:
- Security & Auditing Certifications: CISM, CISA, CISSP, and Security+ are popular options.
- Business-Related Certifications: Qualifications that deal with enterprise software (e.g. SAP), and project management (e.g. PMP) are usually favored.
We’ve listed certification opportunities in the curriculum section, but it never hurts to ask the program coordinator about your options. Sometimes MSIT coursework is deliberately matched to certification exam topics.
We also want to point out that some programs have built their own certificates into the curriculum. This certificate often means that you’ve successfully completed a set of courses in a specific concentration (e.g. data science, BI & data mining, etc.) and the university wants to acknowledge your expertise in that area. It’s nice to have on your résumé, but it’s not the same as a certification from a professional body.
Earn a PhD in Information Technology
Just like an MBA, most of the MSIT and MSIM programs in our rankings are intended for working professionals who want to advance their careers—they’re not stepping stones to a doctoral degree. In the United States, you won’t find many corporate CIOs, CITOs, and CISOs with a PhD.
So think carefully before you commit to a doctoral program. It’s almost always going to be lengthy, expensive, and heavily focused on research (e.g. the economic & business implications of digital technologies).
- Most folks pursue a PhD in order to work in high-level research positions or qualify for a job as a university professor in the field of information systems.
- If you want to work in a super-specialized field (e.g. cryptography) or you live in a country that values the doctorate, you may wish to consider a PhD program in your specific area of interest.
If you do decide on a doctorate, be sure the program is from a credible university (e.g. MIT) and that it matches your goals. For example, the curriculum for a PhD in IT will be very different to a PhD in Cyber Security.
For our annual list of the 22 Best Online Master’s in Information Technology degree programs, we examine a number of pertinent factors. Then we combine them to create an overall ranking of each institution. These factors include:
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data on master’s degree completions for:
- Information Technology Programs
- Computer & Information Sciences & Support Services Programs
- U.S. News & World Report rankings of:
- Best Online Master’s in Computer IT Programs
- Best Online Master’s in Management Information Systems Programs
- Best Online Master’s in Computer Engineering Programs
- Best Graduate Schools for Information and Technology Management
- Best Graduate Schools for Computer Systems
- Best Graduate Schools for Computer Engineering
As always, we encourage you to take these rankings with a grain of salt. If you have a specific career path in mind, a program that ranks #15 may be much more relevant than the program at #1.
Reach out to the program coordinator to discuss your options. Get in touch with faculty members to talk about potential capstone projects. Contact alumni and ask them point-blank about the quality of the program. We want you to graduate with a fantastic qualification and next-to-no debt.