Is a Master’s in Information Technology Worth it?

The field of information technology has a diverse range of careers. Many people are satisfied with getting a bachelor's degree, which allows them to get entry-level positions that provide great opportunities and wages. But for other people, they want to further diversify their career options and get management-level positions in the information technology field that can lead to greater opportunities and wages.

If you are one of the people who is wondering if a master’s in information technology is worth it, then keep on reading.

What is a master’s in information technology degree?

A master's in information technology is a degree program that will enable you to expand your knowledge of concepts and techniques used in the information technology industry. It teaches you how to actually use the latest technologies to solve problems in a number of areas, such as business, health, education, government and even entertainment. Not only does it teach you how to make use of the latest information technologies, it also teaches you the skills to become a leader and innovator in a number of information technology-specific specializations.

Skills you will receive upon graduation

You will learn a variety of skills when you enroll in this program that you can use throughout your entire career, even as new and better technologies emerge. When you complete the master’s program, you will be endowed with a combination of the following skills, which, as you will see, will allow you to take your passion for the field to a whole new level and make you more attractive to potential employers:

  • Expertise in the area you specialized in while studying
  • Project management
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Writing skills
  • Research skills
  • Communication and verbal skills
  • Customer service
  • Computational skills
  • Ethical skills

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the skills you will gain, but they should give you an idea of the professional you will become once you enroll.

Master's program curriculum

The curriculum of the master's program usually depends on the university you attend and what you choose to specialize in. The topics offered in each area provide you with an in-depth look at the topic itself and its applications in the field. Some topics even prepare you to take a managerial position in an organization’s IT department. Here are some of the core subjects you can expect to learn in a master's in information technology program:

  • Computer Programming and Software Development
  • Data Science
  • Software Design
  • Internet Technologies
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Computer and Network Security
  • Computer Systems
  • Telecommunications
  • Networking
  • Project Management
  • Database Systems
  • Program structure

As for the program structure, a master’s in information technology usually takes 1-2 years to complete, depending on what you specialize in. You have to pass all four of the core subjects each semester plus some electives to the get the qualification. Depending on the specialization, you might need to pass 12-16 subjects in total. If you choose core subjects from the cyber security specialization, you will graduate with a Master’s of Information Technology in cyber security. You can even graduate with more than one specialization. But if your four core subjects come from different specializations, then you will graduate with just a master’s in information technology and no specialization.

Specializations When asking yourself, “Is a master’s in information technology worth it?”, you need to consider what you can specialize in. Many students have different passions, even in the information technology field. What they choose to concentrate on sends them on a career path that will have them doing what they love and earning a living from it. Here are some of the specializations you can look forward to when studying your master’s degree:

  • Computer Science
  • Network Security
  • Computer Networking
  • Cyber Security
  • Business Analysis
  • System Analysis
  • Software Design and Development
  • Systems Management
  • Computer Applications
  • Mobile Programming
  • IT Management

Who typically gets a master’s in information technology Degree?

People who usually ask themselves if a master’s in information technology is worth it are people with a bachelor’s degree or graduate diploma or certificate. These people choose to earn a masters degree for various reasons, one of them being that their chosen career path requires them to have a masters degree. Some seek a master's when they want to bypass starting with an entry position and want to go straight into managerial roles. Others who typically study a master’s degree are people who have been working in the field for 1-2 years and want to be promoted to a higher position and better salary grade.

Getting a master’s in information technology is not limited to people with the necessary academic qualifications. Some universities accept people for the program when they have had 3-5 years of experience in a relevant field and wish to solidify their expertise with a master’s degree.

Which programs are offering an information technology degree?

In this section, we will look at the 10 best colleges that offer a master’s in information technology. These colleges have been ranked according to their excellence in teaching students the necessary skills to succeed in the specialization they choose to pursue and the opportunities the degree offers the student upon completion.

Claremont Graduate University Center The Masters of Science in Information Systems offered at the Claremont Graduate University’s Center for Information Systems and Technology will teach you how to develop software and systems that are meant to increase an organization's productivity. This degree is fully available online and perfect for people who are already working in the industry but want to advance their career and take on a leadership role. According to the website, the degree will teach you "experiential methodology," allowing you to blend your knowledge of IT concepts and apply them to the real world.

George Washington University Offered by the George Washington University School of Business, the Online Master’s of Science in Information Systems Technology (OMSIST) is what you should study if you wish to stay current with the latest information systems. It also introduces you to advanced management skills that make you an effective communicator and decision maker. The MSIST program at George Washington University has been running since 1980, making it the longest-running Information Systems program in America that has a reputation for producing exceptional graduates.

University of California Berkeley If you want to be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed as an Information Systems professional, then the Master’s of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) degree is for you. It is offered at the University of California Berkeley’s School of information, and it teaches you how to use information technology to collect and analyze data for the government, private corporations and educational institutions. The program combines technical expertise with a hands-on approach to dealing with all things information-related in an organization.

Boston University The Online Master’s of Science in Computer Information Systems Degree was established in 2004 to help students become innovators and drive change in any organization using information systems. This program will teach you how to apply your knowledge of information systems for the benefit of the organization, helping upper management make better, informed decisions. By looking at the overview of this program, you can see why such skills would be in high demand at any organization.

The University of Texas at Dallas The Master’s of Science in Information Technology and Management will teach you the necessary skills to solve management issues with information technology. Due to the program being available online and most classes taking place in the evening, one of its biggest advantages in helping students succeed in graduating is its flexibility. According to the website, 87% of graduates in this degree are able to find full-time employment within 90 days, meaning that the skills gained from this course are in high demand.

California State University, Los Angeles You should study the Master’s of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) if you want to learn technical, leadership and management skills. It is meant to bridge the gap between Information Systems and Information Technology and allows you to apply your expertise and knowledge to other fields, such as big data, cyber security, ERP and even cloud computing.

Johns Hopkins University The Master’s of Science in Engineering in Systems Engineering degree offered by Johns Hopkins University equips you with the technical knowledge and skills in all things related to systems engineering. This means as a graduate, you will be able to design, develop, implement, operate, and maintain modern systems for private corporations and the government. The biggest benefit of this program is that you will learn from actual system engineers who solve real-world problems in their career every day.

University of Arizona The online Master's in Management Information Systems (MS MIS) from the University of Arizona is a great opportunity to learn from a faculty that has been ranked in the top five faculties in America and is one of the best in the world. This is a program for people who want to advance their career in Informations Systems and learn managerial skills, sharpen their analytical skills and deepen their technical skills and knowledge when it comes to Information systems while they are still working in the field.

Colorado State University The Online Master’s in Computer Information Systems is meant to imbue you with the knowledge of creating efficient information systems that can aid an organization in cutting down costs and increasing productivity and profits. It is a degree that allows you to assume a leadership role, looking after an organization’s information operations, from databases to websites. According to the university's website, nearly all of the students who graduate are able to find a job.

University of Maryland University College The Information Technology Master's Degree from the University of Maryland University College will give you the necessary technical skills to manage the information technology of an organization. This program is guaranteed to advance your career since the university designed it based on the feedback they got from the biggest employers in the industry. You can specialize in a number of fields with this program, such as Database Systems Technology, Homeland Security Management, Informatics, Information Assurance, Project Management, Software Engineering, Systems Engineering and Telecommunications Management.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Offered by the Collat School of Business at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Online Master’s of Science Management Information Systems program seeks to take the foundational knowledge you gained during your bachelors degree and deepen it in order to advance your career. The program is designed to turn you into a leader by teaching you the necessary communication and management skills as well.

What can I do with an information technology master's?

In the following section, we will look at some of the jobs you can expect to get when you graduate, the number of job openings available at the time of this writing and the cities that are hiring the most graduates for the jobs. By looking at this data, you should be able to tell if a master's in information technology is worth it and that your skills will be in demand.

Analytics & Business Intelligence

Analytics and business intelligence jobs usually involve developing and implementing intelligence strategies and applications to help an organization gather and analyze data. This helps the organization make decisions that can cut costs, improve efficiency and increase revenue.

Business Intelligence Analyst Job openings available: 13,522 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (618) - Washington, DC (499 - Chicago, IL (352) - San Francisco, CA (330) - Seattle, WA (262)

Business Intelligence Manager Job openings available: 7,572 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (458) - Seattle, WA (278) - San Francisco, CA (240) - Chicago, IL (237) - Atlanta, GA (195)

Director of Business Intelligence Job openings available: 7,820 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (684) - Chicago, IL (277) - San Francisco, CA (275) - Boston, MA (226) - Washington, DC (192)

Learn more about becoming a business intelligence analyst by reviewing our in-depth article.

Big Data

Big data jobs usually involve collecting and analyzing data using the latest information technologies and techniques and then presenting it in plain English for upper management to make decisions that benefit the organization.

Big Data Analyst Job openings available: 6,973 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (580) - San Francisco, CA (347) - Seattle, WA (244) - Chicago, IL (241) - Atlanta, GA (159)

Geographic Information Systems As a manager of GIS, your job will revolve around overseeing the teams that use these systems. These systems are used to collect and analyze geographical and spatial data for use in various industries, such as business, health, marketing and education.

Geographic Information Systems Manager Job openings available: 3,212 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (87) - Atlanta, GA (65) - Chicago, IL (63) - Phoenix, AZ (61) - Houston, TX (59)

Considering if a GIS degree is worth it? Review our in-depth article exploring the program offering.

Cyber Security

When working in cyber security, your job will revolve around keeping the organization’s systems, networks and data safe from cybercriminals. This will mean fending off their attacks and putting a plug on any leaks that leave the organization vulnerable to further cyber attacks or prevent them altogether.

Cyber Security Manager Job openings available: 10,363 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - Washington, DC (511) - New York, NY (387) - Arlington, VA (280) - San Francisco, CA (207) - Chicago, IL (192)

Senior Cyber Security Manager Job openings available: 2,684 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - Washington, DC (157) - New York, NY (110) - Arlington, VA (104) - McLean, VA (72) - Reston, VA (53)

Networking

As a networking professional, your job is making sure that the organization’s networks are functioning at all times and are also secure. This job usually requires a lot of troubleshooting, hardware and communications skills.

Senior Networking Manager Job openings available: 8,334 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (451) - Seattle, WA (309) - San Francisco, CA (248) - Chicago, IL (223) - Atlanta, GA (177)

Considering if a GIS degree is worth it? Review our in-depth article exploring the program offering.

Software Engineer

The main job of software engineers is to develop and debug software in an organization using the knowledge of computer programming. They also customize third-party software that the organization has acquired so that it can be used to achieve organizational goals.

Software Engineer Job openings: 219,993 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (8665) - Seattle, WA (6977) - San Francisco, CA (6577) - Chicago, IL (4431) - Boston, MA (3548)

Senior Software Engineer Job openings: 71,410 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (3158) - Seattle, WA (2847) - San Francisco, CA (2632) - Chicago, IL (1648) - Boston, MA (1291)

Director of Software Engineering Job openings: 9,414 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (463) - San Francisco, CA (461) - Seattle, WA (222) - Boston, MA (211) - Chicago, IL (204)

Information Systems Engineer

Businesses use a variety of systems to collect, store and analyze data. Your job as an information systems engineer is to look after these systems. Many organizations find information systems engineers very useful, from government agencies to private corporations.

Information Systems Engineer Job openings available: 80,240 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (1714) - Seattle, WA (1666) - Redmond, WA (1611) - Washington, DC (1529) - San Francisco, CA (1452)

Senior Information Systems Engineer Job openings available: 25,625 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - Seattle, WA (694) - Redmond, WA (635) - Washington, DC (607) - New York, NY (601) - San Francisco, CA (565)

Director of Information Systems Engineering Job openings: 9,256 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (338) - San Francisco, CA (195) - Atlanta, GA (177) - Washington, DC (177) - Chicago, IL (154)

IT Project Management

The job of an IT project manager is to oversee all projects, making sure that they are within budget and are completed on time. Their job is to plan, development and implement projects, as well as hire that teams that they will work on them.

IT Project Manager Job openings: 123,904 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: New York, NY (5561) San Francisco, CA (3019) Chicago, IL (2786) Washington, DC (2237) Seattle, WA (2211)

Senior IT Project Manager Job openings: 37,114 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: New York, NY (2338) San Francisco, CA (1189) Chicago, IL (1170) Seattle, WA (935) Washington, DC (929)

Health Informatics

Health institutions need systems that will help them keep track of and manage the number of people who are using their health services. A job in health informatics involves designing, developing and implementing the systems that will aid health institutions in accomplishing this task.

Health Informatics Manager Job openings: 1,061 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - Washington, DC (48) - New York, NY (40) - Boston, MA (39) - Philadelphia, PA (29) - Chicago, IL (21)

Information & Technology Officer

A chief officer in information technology is someone who oversees everything involving information technology in an organization. A chief officer's job is to plan, develop and implement strategies that allow organizations to improve productivity using information technologies. They attend business meetings where they inform the chief executive officer of the current strategies and the impact they have had on the organization. The chief officer also makes sure that the organization's information technology is up to date.

Chief Information Officer Job openings: 17,359 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (970) - Dallas, TX (667) - Washington, DC (604) - Chicago, IL (415) - San Francisco, CA (330)

Chief Technology Officer Job openings: 10,132 Top 5 cities with the most job openings: - New York, NY (774) - San Francisco, CA (398) - Washington, DC (310) - Chicago, IL (302) - McLean, VA (266)

How much will I earn with a master’s in information technology degree?

Another important thing to consider is the starting salary you will receive when you enter your respective field. With such skills being in high demand, many companies will be willing to compensate you very well for being a highly-skilled professional. We have gathered information on the average starting salaries you can expect to earn a year in each of the jobs outlined in the previous section.

  • Business Intelligence Analyst – $84,303
  • Business Intelligence Manager – $109,636
  • Director of Business Intelligence – $84,303
  • Big Data Analyst – $70,081
  • Geographic Information Systems Manager – $85,764
  • Cyber Security Manager – $113,191
  • Senior Cyber Security Manager – $113,191
  • Director of Cyber Security – $113,191
  • Senior Networking Manager – $81,021
  • Software Engineer – $98,448
  • Senior Software Engineer – $116,385
  • Director of Software Engineering – $98,448
  • Information Systems Engineer – $91,179
  • Senior Information Systems Engineer – $91,179
  • Director of Information Systems Engineering – $42,224
  • IT Project Manager – $90,577
  • Senior IT Project Manager – $90,577
  • Health Informatics Manager – $94,060
  • Chief Information Officer – $121,560
  • Chief Technology Officer – $147,044

All the information provided in this article will put your mind at ease if you are wondering if studying a master’s in information technology is worth it. As you can see, the program is a great opportunity to expand your already existing knowledge of the information technology field and advance your career with better, more meaningful job roles and salary grades.

So, is a master’s in information technology worth it? The answer is yes. But since every person is different and it depends on what their academic and career goals are. The information provided above can only serve as a guide.

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Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.