Several hours technically isn’t that long, but in technology . . . ? That’s a lifetime! Online orders delayed, two-day shipping compromised, emails lost, tweets not tweeted, data compromised. What to do?
Enter the experts in information technology, who specialize in a growing variety of specialties and subspecialties in the computer science and information technology fields. As our lives increasingly depend on not only computers but the information they store, transmit, and communicate, so does our need for professionals who can manage, interpret, troubleshoot, and protect these resources.
The outlook for those interested in this profession is not just positive but excellent! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, information technology professions are poised to grow at a rate of 12 percent by 2024, much faster than average. And median earnings for these professions can exceed six figures.
But you’re going to need to put in the work to get there. We strongly recommend a graduate degree beyond the baccalaureate level in order to compete with the growing competition for these positions. Lucky for you, that’s where we come in.
What Are the Best Online Master’s Degrees in Information Technology?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 35 online master’s degrees in the field with your needs in mind. The first thing we want to know, like you, is the bottom line: how much is this going to set me back? So we’ve included the annual tuition for each school right up front for you. We’ve also included our College Choice Score, which is computed based on each school’s reputation in the field and its return on investment. The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals. You can’t go wrong with any of them, of course, but these schools are leading the way.
The rankings you’re about to read are based on a few important sources. The first source is actual college freshman polled during a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. These students rated academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost of school, and the survey also took into account graduate success rates on the post-college job market. These factors were weighed equally alongside data from other publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.
College Choice Score: 100.00
Average Tuition: $900
Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Information Technology, which is offered as a joint program by both the Pamplin College of Business and the College of Engineering. Virginia Tech’s program is designed specifically for the working professional—the flexibility of the online format allows students to maintain their current responsibilities and pursue further education simultaneously. After the program’s foundation courses, students select up to three of eight specialization modules, allowing students to customize their program. The eight areas of specialization include networking, security, software development, big data, business information systems, health information technology, analytics and business intelligence, and decision support systems.
In addition to the Master of Information Technology, Virginia Tech also offers a dual MBA-MIT program for students who are business minded. Existing MIT students can earn this designation by planning to include five of the following courses in their program: Information Systems Design & Database Concepts, Advanced Data Management Systems, Systems Development, HealthCare Data Management, Computer-Based Decision Support Systems, Decision Support Systems; Design & Implementation, Introduction to Business Intelligence & Business Analytics; Applied Business Intelligence & Business Analytics; HealthCare Information Technology; Web-based Applications and E-commerce, and Leadership in Technology-Based Organizations. The program requires a total of 33 credit hours.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 99.82
Average Tuition: $1,845
The University of Southern California, a private institution, offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science. The program provides intensive preparation in the concepts and techniques related to the design, programming, and application of computing systems. Students in the program can expect to develop deep understanding of both fundamental concepts in computer science as well as expertise in the most current challenges in both computing science as well as computer engineering. Graduates of the program will be well prepared to either pursue a doctoral or other advanced degree or enter the workforce.
Students in the program will be exposed to a wide variety of foundational courses but also have the opportunity to specialize in an area of particular interest. Graduates of the program have pursued careers in areas such as aerospace and defense, computer programming, software design, bioinformatics, computer simulation, information technology, architecture, communications, as well as consulting. Students interested in USC’s program will need to hold an undergraduate degree in engineering, math, or hard science from a regionally-accredited university. Students who do not meet this requirement will need to have at minimum a substantial background in computing. USC’s program is delivered through the university’s innovative [email protected] platform, which administers over forty graduate programs in addition to professional (non-credit) courses.
New York University
College Choice Score: 98.94
Average Tuition: $1,646
New York University, located in one of the world’s great centers of technology and commerce, offers an online Master of Science in Management and Systems designed to prepare students for careers at the intersection of business and technology. It is designed for students who want to be leaders in the business world but also require advanced knowledge of the latest innovations in technology and information systems. Students in the program will be prepared to navigate these junctures and be able to develop and execute detailed strategies for commerce, and they can expect their skills to be in high demand. Students will also develop business leadership skills so that they can enter the workplace with confidence.
The information technology component of the program is designed to be both comprehensive and geared specifically toward how to apply IT principles to the financial success of commercial enterprises. Market strategies are increasingly data driven, and students in NYU’s program will be equipped with both the theoretical knowledge of these complex systems and the ability to interpret them and develop strategies for success. While the program can be completed fully online, students in the New York area can also choose to complete the program on campus. They can also complete some courses on campus and complete the others online. Professors in the program possess extensive knowledge and experience in the field, and students can select from the following areas of concentration: database technologies, enterprise risk management, strategy and leadership, and systems management.
College Choice Score: 98.85
Average Tuition: $830
Boston University offers an online Masters in Computer Information Systems. It was established in 2004, making it one of the older and more established programs on our list. Boston’s program is designed to prepare working professionals for positions of leadership in information technology in a wide variety of areas. Students can expect thorough preparation not just in computer science and information systems but also in management and leadership skills. Areas of concentration include computer networks, data analytics, database management & business intelligence, health informatics, it project management, security, and web application development.
The faculty at Boston boasts a wide range of expertise, including experience ranging from building networks and developing applications to fighting cybercrime for the world’s top companies, and they have high expectations for their students. Graduates of the program are expected to demonstrate the following traits upon graduation: advanced knowledge in the analysis and documentation of requirements for architecture, design, and implementation of computer applications systems; proficiency in software and computing skills as they pertain to the design and implementation of database systems, data communications, systems analysis, and design; competence sufficient to identify current and emerging information technologies that may have strategic value for enterprise, assess where those technologies have value, and manage the implementation of those technologies in their applied settings.
College Choice Score: 98.42
Average Tuition: $854
No list of best online programs would be complete without Penn State, which is one of the original pioneers of online education. Penn State offers a Master of Professional Studies in Information Science, which offers particular training in cybersecurity and information assurance. The MPS in IS offers preparation in information analysis, cybersecurity, and information science training. Penn State has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The program will appeal primarily to students interested in exploring in depth the nature of information and networks and recognizing the multiple internal and external threats posed to cyberspace.
The program is intentionally multidisciplinary and accepts students from a wide variety of backgrounds, but it will be particularly well suited for students with bachelor’s degrees in a technical or scientific discipline, such as applied mathematics, computer information systems, computer science, information sciences, engineering, statistics, or a related field. Equivalent work experience, such as careers in networks, web services, and database development, is also eligible to meet entry requirements. Students can also apply to receive a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Information Systems Cybersecurity en route to earning their Master’s degree. examples of coursework include web fundamentals, network management and security, web security and privacy, network security, computer and cyber forensics, information security management, and crisis, disaster, and risk management.
Texas Tech University
College Choice Score: 98.21
Average Tuition: $325
Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock, Texas, offers an online Master of Science in Software Engineering. The program is unique in providing students with both training in complex software systems and also traditional engineering processes. Unlike some residential programs, the online MSE is a non-thesis program. Students are required to take the following foundational courses: Software Project Management, Software Modeling and Architecture, and Software Verification and Validation.
Students will have a wide variety of electives to choose from, and the program requires five electives in the area of software engineering and four electives in the area of computer science. Examples of elective topics include Special Topics in Software Engineering, Real Time and Time Sharing Systems, Distributed Systems, Parallel Processors and Processing, Fault-Tolerant Computer Systems, Systems Theory. Distance students are required to pass a written comprehensive examination to complete their degree.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
College Choice Score: 98.09
Average Tuition: $1,230
Missouri S&T is no stranger to education in STEM fields. It offers two degrees for students interested in graduate education in information technology: a graduate certificate and an online Master of Information Science and Technology. Both programs are designed to train graduates to implement and maintain information systems on local and global scales. Students will become proficient in the design, development, and successful application of information systems in modern corporate organizations. The program requires four foundational courses, and the remainder of the program is open to each student’s area of specialization. Students interested in the graduate certificate can opt to specialize in human-computer interaction, enterprise resource planning (with SAP Certificate), psychology of leadership, and project management. Other areas of specialization include computer networks, communication systems and e-commerce.
Students interested in the master’s program will have several other areas of concentration available to them, such as business analytics and data science, business intelligence, digital media, digital supply chain management, electronic and social commerce, enterprise resource planning, human-computer interaction, management and leadership, mobile business and technology, and project management (information systems). The master’s degree requires a total of 30 credit hours. Students in the graduate certificate program who complete their program with a grade of B or better in all their courses can be accepted into the master’s program without taking the GRE, and their coursework can apply toward the 30-credit hour total required for the master’s program.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 98.07
Average Tuition: $1,293
Johns Hopkins, a national leader in graduate education, has increased its online profile in recent years to meet rising demand. Hopkins offers three options for students interested in online graduate education information technology: a Master of Science in Information Systems Engineering, a Graduate Certificate, and a Post-Master’s Certificate. Each program is designed for working professionals in technology and business who require additional training in technology. Students can expect to encounter a wide range of related coursework in the field, from distributed systems and information security to project management and systems analysis.
Available focus areas include cybersecurity, data engineering, enterprise and web computing, human-computer interaction, information management, network engineering, software engineering, and systems engineering. Students are required to choose one track and take at least three courses in that area. The professors who lead the courses teach both at the residential campus and online, so online students can expect to receive the same high-quality education as traditional students. The goal of the program is for students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the development processes and components of large-scale information systems.
North Carolina State University
College Choice Score: 97.52
Average Tuition: $1,277
North Carolina State University offers an online Master of Computer Science through its distance education program for students interested in online graduate education in information technology. It is a terminal degree designed for working professionals living in the United States and for military personnel serving overseas. Like other programs on our list, the distance education program at NCSU does not offer a thesis completion option; students must complete the program through coursework only. Courses are delivered via video, and proctored exams are taken at the student’s location. Most courses are recorded versions of on-campus courses, so online students can expect to receive the same education as on-campus students.
If students are near NCSU, they may opt to take courses on campus as well. The degree requires 31 credit hours to complete, or ten graduate courses. At least 22 of those hours must be computer science courses. Three courses must come from the theory and systems categories, one from one category and two from the other category. The remaining courses in the program may consist of any graduate level engineering, computer science, mathematics, or statistics courses offered through engineering online or on campus. The program is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in computer science or at least sufficient undergraduate coursework in computer science. The degree must be completed in six years from the time of first enrolling.
West Virginia University
College Choice Score: 95.88
Average Tuition: $569
West Virginia University offers an online Master’s in Software Engineering designed for working professionals in the information technology and computer industries. The program is offered by the WVU Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The program is offered exclusively online with no on-campus classroom attendance required. WVU also offers a part-time online option, which caters specifically to the working software engineering professional and offers evening courses each week in a hybrid format with live discussions with the instructor and other students via the internet. Online students have access to the same faculty and resources that traditional students do.
The program admits students either as regular graduate students or provisional graduate students. Regular graduate students must have recently completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, and little or no experience in the software engineering industry is required. Furthermore, they must have a minimum 3.0 GPA with at least a 3.0 GPA in the major and possess a satisfactory score in the quantitative component of the GRE. Provisional graduate students may possess a bachelor’s degree in any field with a minimum 2.75 GPA, and they must have at least one year of software engineering industry experience outlined in a resume. Examples of courses in the program include Software Project Management, Software Analysis and Design, Validation and Verification, Software Evolution, Introduction to Object-Oriented Design, and Experiential Learning.
College Choice Score: 95.33
Average Tuition: $1,192
Drexel University is well known in the IT world, and its online Master of Science in Information Systems is no exception. The program trains systems specialists in the latest developments and techniques in order support and transform information technology in the workplace. The curriculum emphasizes new technology and how it relates to the most pressing computer and information systems problems. Graduates of the program enjoy high demand for their expertise, and many assume senior roles in areas such as information systems analysis and design, requirements engineering, software programming, interface design, and information resources management. The program is structured according to four 10-week quarters rather than a semester system, so students can expect to complete the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time.
Students are required to take the following foundational courses: Software Development, Perspectives on Information Systems, Introduction to Database Management, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Systems Analysis and Design, Requirements Engineering and Management, Software Project Management, Information Systems Management, and Web Systems & Architecture. Students must select four electives as well from a wide variety of courses, such as Advanced Programming Techniques, Principles of Cybersecurity, Advanced Database Management, Applied Database Technologies, Design of Interactive Systems, XML and Databases, Cognition and Information Retrieval, Concepts in Artificial Intelligence, Information Visualization, Data Mining, Healthcare Informatics, Information Architecture, Information Systems Auditing, Managing Health Informatics Projects, Electronic Records Management and Issues in Informatics.
Sam Houston State University
College Choice Score: 95.30
Average Tuition: $286
Sam Houston State University offers an online Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security, which prepares students primarily for careers in industrial and governmental information assurance. This includes protecting corporate information resources, securing network systems, preventing network damage, performing risk assessment, and planning for disaster recovery. Students interested in this specialized program should hold an undergraduate degree in computer science or management information systems.
Students in Sam Houston’s MSIAS benefit from learning alongside other students who also have backgrounds in computer sciences, management information systems, or another quantitative area. They will also be eligible for higher rates of compensation upon graduating. Foundational coursework in the program includes Operating System Security, Database Security, Organizational System Security, Business Continuity Management, Principle and Policy in Information Assurance, and a Directed Management and Development Project. Students with degrees in related fields who also possess strong professional experience will be considered for admission also. Applicants who do not possess the appropriate academic, technical, or experiential backgrounds may be required to take STEM-work courses, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 94.86
Average Tuition: $1,332
Students interested in online graduate education in information technology at the University of Arizona should consider their online Master’s in Management Information Systems (MS MIS), which is designed to increase students’ management, technical, and analytical skills. The department regularly appears among rankings of the best in the field, and its faculty and curriculum receive regular attention. The program consists of ten three-hour courses in both technology and business fields, and course topics include areas such as enterprise data management, business intelligence data mining, information security and risk management, information systems analysis and design, IT business foundations, systems security management, and software design.
The program is designed with working professionals in mind, specifically those who possess experience in information technology. It is also designed for those who have experience and interest in business and management and can serve as liaisons between information technology specialists and business professionals. Common tasks include analyzing, designing, implementing, and managing information technology strategies to help solve business problems. Graduates of the program often procure employment in areas such as website design and development, consulting, security risk assessment, internet marketing, audit control, business analysis, customer relationship management consulting, e-commerce, legal forensics, medical records automation, enterprise resource planning, and supply chain management. The program is offered entirely online, and each course can be completed in as little as 7.5 weeks. Students will also earn two graduate certificates en route to their master’s degree: the Enterprise Security Certificate and the Business Intelligence and Analytics Certificate.
Florida State University
College Choice Score: 94.67
Average Tuition: $1,175
Florida State University offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology, which requires 32 credit hours of coursework. Students are required to take four core courses in the areas of management of information organizations, user needs assessment, information systems management, and usability analysis. Beyond the core requirements, students opt for an area of specialization in order to tailor their program to their particular interests and objectives. Current areas of specialization include technology and networking, large-scale data management, user-centered design, web design, and leadership and management. Custom areas of specialization are available occasionally based on availability of coursework in a given semester.
The first of the four core courses, Assessing Information Needs, is designed to provide students with an overview of the user’s perspective in the analysis of information needs and preferences. It emphasizes the importance of unifying structures in understanding human information seeking behaviors. The second course, Usability Analysis, focuses on the design, execution, and reporting of tests for the usability of information products and services. It also covers cost justifying assessments and concepts of human cognition relevant to information processing. The third course, Management of Information Organizations, enables students to develop a conceptual framework for integrating fundamental management concepts, principles, theories, and practices into an effective, personal management process that relates to information organizations of the 21st century. Finally, Information Systems Management serves as an introduction to the role of information systems in organizations and how they relate to organizational objectives and structures.
Stevens Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 93.49
Average Tuition: $1,501
Stevens Institute of Technology, located in New York, offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science that offers considerable breadth and depth in areas such as security, programming languages, graphics and vision, software engineering, and computer networks. Its faculty are industry leaders and renowned scholars who publish in top journals, receive funding from the most competitive agencies, and collaborate regularly with colleagues throughout the greater New York City area. Stevens also boasts numerous partnerships with companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, Bell Labs, and AT&T Labs.
The program is suitable both for those who intend to enter or continue professional careers and those who desire to pursue further graduate training. It requires at least 30 credits of 500-level courses or above as well as a minimum grade of C in each course and a minimum GPA of 3.00. At least 21 credits must be from computer science courses, and students can select electives in areas such as cloud computing, databases, gaming and simulation, mobile systems, modeling, simulation, and visualization, network and systems administration, secure systems, software development, visual computing and information extraction, and web application development. Stevens graduates enjoy high demand for their expertise as well as excellent networking opportunities through the school’s strategic partnerships.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 92.69
Average Tuition: $1,600
George Washington University offers an online Master of Science in Information Systems Technology (OMSIST) program that provides training in both technology and management. The online programs traditional counterpart, the residential Master of Science in Information Systems Technology, was established in 1980 and remains one of the longest-running programs in Information Systems in the country. Since then it has produced graduates with a combination of expertise in information systems and management, communication, and decision-making skills. The online program was introduced in 2013. Even through the online delivery format, courses are still highly dynamic, hands-on, and lab-based, and students are able to integrate information systems technology expertise and management skills.
Online students receive the same training as traditional residential students; the difference is in delivery only. The coursework is identical, and the majority of the coursework in the online program has been offered and available to students online for over a decade. Students can also choose to complete any of their courses on campus as well depending on their preference, ability, and schedule. Thus GWU has established a strong history of providing working professionals the ability to choose the right mix of on-campus and online coursework for their schedules. An on-campus orientation is available for those interested but is not required, but all students are required to attend the capstone residency at the end of the program. Students can also choose to complete their program on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students are expected to complete their program in 18-24 months, while part-time students typically complete their program in 24-30 months.
College Choice Score: 91.86
Average Tuition: $1,443
Syracuse University, located in upstate New York, offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science program through its College of Engineering and Computer Science. It is designed to prepare students to meet the challenges of the world’s most complex technological challenges, and its faculty are actively engaged in doing just that through developing real-world solutions to technological problems. The programs curriculum has been intentionally crafted to place an emphasis on mathematical evaluation, and it is designed to prepare students to incorporate emerging technologies into new system designs; develop expertise in areas such as security and assurance, artificial intelligence, computer architecture, and advanced programming; and build the analytical, critical-thinking, and mathematical skills necessary to take on advanced challenges.
The program is also designed to meet the increasing need for professionals who are fluent in both technology and organizational needs. The online format is designed to cater to the needs of working professionals, who not only require a flexible program structure but also already have specific areas of expertise. Thus students can tailor their curriculum to their personal career goals, whether that be in health care, finance, or the military. The program requires 30 credit hours to complete, and students typically complete the program in 15 months. Examples of coursework includes Structured Programming and Formal Methods, Advanced Computer Architecture, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, and Principles of Operating Systems.
Robert Morris University
College Choice Score: 91.43
Average Tuition: $870
Students interested in online graduate study in information technology with an emphasis on project management would do well to consider Robert Morris University, which offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology Project Management. This program recognizes one of the common denominators in virtually every industry, from health care to construction: project-based management and the use of computer hardware, software, networks and interdisciplinary and global work teams to achieve objectives. RMU’s program is the first of its kind to focus specifically on IT project management, thus filling a crucial need in the industry landscape.
The program is designed for existing IT professionals and project managers who need to further their expertise and credentials in order to achieve their career goals. Students will learn to apply knowledge and provide leadership in the IT project management environment; demonstrate an advanced level of intellectual achievement in the context of IT project management; synthesize theory and practice of appropriate project management concepts in the design and development of IT projects; and utilize project management software to help plan, control, and document the use of the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge. RMU’s program also includes an applied research and/or internship component, which enables students to gain experience applying their learning to real-world problems.
University of Maryland Baltimore
College Choice Score: 91.30
Average Tuition: $860
The University of Maryland system has made great strides in online education in recent years, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County adds to this with its online Master of Science in Information Systems. UMBC’s online program is based on its popular on-campus program but delivered completely online for those in the middle of professional careers. Semesters begin not only in the fall and spring but also the summer, so it is possible for students to earn their degree in two years with 24 hour access to coursework, lecture examples, and study materials. The online faculty consists of both traditional on-campus faculty members as well as reputable industry experts. Online students have access to professors and their advisors in the same way on-campus students do.
The program’s curriculum is based on close experience with actual industry needs. Courses reflect and address today’s IT industry topics, establishing a forward thinking process for tomorrow’s industry challenges. Research is a crucial component of UMBC’s program, and students are encouraged to participate in research as well. Graduates of UMBC’s program work in IT for some of the top firms in the industry, such as T. Rowe Price, Legg Mason, Verizon, Black & Decker, Northrop Grumman, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and many municipal, state and Federal government agencies. Regardless of who they work for, graduates of UMBC’s program are skilled at optimizing a given organization’s use of technology and information, and many are able to implement their knowledge in their existing occupations.
University of Alabama Birmingham
College Choice Score: 90.83
Average Tuition: $1,088
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, one of the all-stars of the University of Alabama system, offers an online Master of Science in Management Information Systems through its Collat School of Business. The program’s location in the business school is strategic—it is another program that blends the needs of the tech and business sectors, thus preparing students with both technical knowledge and communication, business, and leadership skills. The curriculum is intentionally rigorous, and it has been designed by an advisory council of IT professionals. The program is offered entirely online, can be completed in less than two years, and even offers scholarships for qualified students, an uncommon offering for online programs.
UAB’s program is based on the belief that the relationship between business and technology is symbiotic. That relationship is becoming increasingly important, and business leaders need tech skills, and tech leaders need business savvy. UAB’s program is designed for IT workers who need to improve their existing skills and also acquire new ones for the business world. Students will be prepared to oversee anything from global technologies to small-scale apps and everything between. They will also learn to manage big data and information security for large-scale operations and work with management to identify, set, and achieve organizational goals. Graduates of the program have moved on to successful careers in project management, social media, IT governance, business intelligence, and data security.
Florida Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 90.70
Average Tuition: $777
Florida Institute of Technology, otherwise known as Florida Tech, offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology. Like several other programs on our list, Florida Tech’s program trains students at the intersection of technology and business in order to meet the growing need for industry professionals who are capable in both areas. One of the focuses of the program is on information security, which is likewise a growing need for the industry. Students can expect to acquire both the technical and management knowledge needed to implement security strategies that protect a given organization’s information and technology assets.
Tech’s MSIT program is offered entirely online. Students will also develop skills in project management, and they will learn how to lead complex projects using cutting-edge technological tools and management strategies. The program’s integration with business education will also prepare students to implement technology in the service of organizational goals. The technological landscape is constantly shifting, and students will be prepared with the fundamental knowledge necessary to adapt to whatever is next. Recent graduates have pursued careers as directors of information technology, IT architects and systems managers, data processing managers, systems software managers, and chief information officers.
Georgia Southern University
College Choice Score: 90.31
Average Tuition: $410
Georgia Southern University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science, a 30-hour degree that prepares students in the area of knowledge-based data systems. The program is offered entirely online, and beginning fall 2017, it will also offer a hybrid option for students who happen to be local and want to include traditional on-campus classes in their program. One of the distinct features of GSU’s program is that it offers a concentration in Data Mining and Data Warehousing, one of the few of its kind and the only one in the state of Georgia. Data science graduate programs and data analysis degrees are in high demand, and GSU’s program offers a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area.
The program prepares students in both the technical aspects of data mining and the management skills necessary for success in the business world. It is a 30-hour program that begins with a strong foundation in databases, artificial intelligence, and Web systems followed by specializations in data mining, data warehousing and distributed database systems. These foundational courses provide the framework for more technical and industry-specific training, such as software engineering and wireless and mobile systems.
College Choice Score: 90.18
Average Tuition: $1,075
Marquette University offers only a few online programs, but its online Master of Science in Computer Science has developed an excellent reputation in the field and has been recognized by U.S. News in its rankings of online IT programs. The program offers a wide range of courses, flexible structure, personalized attention, and a choice among specializations. The program is designed for working professionals who are balancing multiple responsibilities and do not reside in Milwaukee. It is also a suitable program for those who are looking for a career change and do not hold a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. For these students, it offers an Integrated Practicum program that enables students to simultaneously attend graduate school while starting a career and receiving financial assistance.
The program offers two areas of specialization: Information Assurance and Cyber Defense, and Big Data and Data Analytics. The information assurance concentration is designed to meet the growing need for professionals who are equipped to protect an organization’s information and technology assets against cyberattacks. Students will take courses in databases, networks, and systems that have been designed to with security concerns in mind. Students will conclude this concentration with a practicum. The concentration in big data and data analytics emphasizes the role that data can play in guiding business decisions. Students in this concentration will learn strategies for accessing, integrating, and managing large amounts of data encoded in different ways in order to meet the needs of organizations.
College Choice Score: 90.01
Average Tuition: $1,195
Pace University’s online graduate offering in information technology is a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems, another degree that offers strategic integration of two highly sought after areas of expertise. Students will benefit from courses offered through both the Lubin and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Students will be prepared to lead any organization through strategic decisions regarding information systems, telecommunications, database administration, Internet technologies, systems analysis and design, and how they support the needs of the business. Students will also acquire thorough grounding in critical business factors and specialized database and IT network knowledge, and also benefit from internship opportunities and the faculty’s wealth of experience.
The Lubin School of Business and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems is one of the first comprehensive computing schools in the country, and students will benefit greatly from the school’s accumulated wisdom in both business and information technology, particularly in the areas of business telecommunications, information system principles, and project management. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of topics through their coursework, such as financial data for decisions; organizational development; project management; data models and structures; storage and sharing; and security, integrity, and consistency. They will also receive preparation in defining systems requirements; logical and physical design; information system policy; and information security.
University of Louisville
College Choice Score: 88.14
Average Tuition: $714
The University of Louisville, located in Louisville, Kentucky, offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science. It is consistently recognized as one of the top programs in the country and for its innovative curriculum and award-winning faculty. The degree is offered through the J. B. Speed School of Engineering, which has been educating technical professionals since 1924 and now features state-of-the-art computer and networking laboratories. The program is designed for working professionals who have some background in technology but not necessarily a baccalaureate degree in engineering or computer science.
The program can be completed in as little as two years and focuses on areas that include foundations, software, analytics, electives, and a project option. While the program is offered entirely online, students can also opt to take classes on campus. In addition to the Master of Science degree, Louisville also offers graduate certificates in Data Mining as well as Network and Information Security. Both certificates are offered entirely online. Regardless of which program students choose, they will be prepared for challenges posed by everything from desktops at home and work to large systems supporting government and industry to supercomputers and grids of networked processors expanding the frontiers of science and technology.
University of Massachusetts Lowell
College Choice Score: 87.65
Average Tuition: $570
The Computer Science Department at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell offers a Master of Science Degree in Information Technology (MSIT) through its Division of Online and Continuing Education. This degree emphasizes the specifically technical aspects of information technology and is geared toward those in the workforce. The degree is offered completely online, and it is designed for those who have completed a Bachelor’s in Information Technology degree or for working professionals who have accumulated equivalent experience. The degree entails 10 courses and exposes students to designing, managing and deploying networked systems of computers. The program places emphasis on practical skills based on Linux/Unix, Windows, and Apple platforms but also teaches general principles along with their technical and ethical foundations.
The department also offers two graduate certificates in information technology, one in Systems Models and Management, and the other in Network Security. Coursework from both certificates can count toward the Master’s Degree in Information Technology. Courses in the program include topics such as general system administration, virtualization technologies, core networking, cloud computing, routing, large scale application deployment, mobile computing, security analysis and regulatory compliance. Graduates of the program already working in career roles will find they are better prepared to fill senior level IT management and consulting positions as well as information security and IT strategic planning functions.
University of Arkansas Little Rock
College Choice Score: 87.42
Average Tuition: $740
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers a specialized program through its online Master of Science in information quality (MSIQ). It is a career-oriented program focusing on practice, skills, and theory. The program requires 33 credit hours, which can be completed in 18 months. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in industry and government as well as advanced graduate studies. The curriculum is based on the Model Curriculum and Guidelines for Graduate Degree Programs in Information Systems endorsed by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Association for Information Systems (AIS) and balances information quality theory with industry best practices using state-of-the-art tools and technology.
Additional input for the program was provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Information Quality Program, based at the MIT Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development as well as leading practitioners and researchers within the information quality community. Unlike some programs, online students are able to complete a thesis for their final project, but students can also opt to complete a final project instead. All courses for the program utilize a live webcast for their delivery, and they are all taught by highly experienced professionals in the field. Examples of coursework topics include Principles of Information Quality, Information Quality Theory, Information Quality Tools and Industry Landscape, Information Quality Policy and Strategy, Information Visualization, Information Systems Analysis, and Database Systems.
University of North Carolina Greensboro
College Choice Score: 86.38
Average Tuition: $1,310
UNC Greensboro offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology and Management for students either aspiring to careers in information technology or for current members of the workforce who want to advance their career and assume a management position. This program uniquely blends the technology and managerial components required to solve an organization’s overall problems. The degree is offered completely online and offers opportunities for practical learning, particularly through its faculty, which boasts extensive consulting experience. Students can opt to concentrate in Business Analytics.
Students who are local to the Greenboro area can also opt to attend courses on campus, and both online and on-campus students can pursue the degree on a full- or part-time basis. Students do not necessarily need to have an undergraduate degree in information technology to be considered for the program. Full-time students are ordinarily required to complete the degree in two years, and part-time students are allowed up to five years to complete their program. Greensboro also offers four online graduate certificates in information technology and management with concentrations in Business Analytics, Information Assurance, Security and Privacy, and Information Technology. UNCG is consistently recognized as one of the best online colleges, and its business school is among the top 10 percent nationwide. Its program in IT is no exception.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 85.96
Average Tuition: $913
The University of South Florida offers a Master of Science in Information Technology through its Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The program emphasizes information technology skills as well as the problem solving skills needed for the deployment of technology solutions in pursuit of business and organizational goals. The degree is available entirely online, and it is designed to provide students with a broad and integrative understanding of both technology and operational and strategic business and organizational applications. Students enjoy considerable flexibility in selecting courses for their program.
Applicants are expected to have a background in undergraduate information technology studies. Transcripts should demonstrate completion of courses such as Object-Oriented Programming, Programming Concepts, IT Program Design, IT Software Engineering, IT Database Systems, and IT Data Structures & Algorithms. Students who have not completed these courses can complete them online. Work experience is not typically permitted as a substitute for formal coursework. The program offers a variety of electives, including Multimedia & E-Commerce for IT, RFID and NFC Technologies for IT, Information Security Architecture for IT, Data Mining, Statistical Data Mining, Seminar on Software Testing, Enterprise Information Systems Management, Software Architecture, IT Robotics Applications, and IT & Systems for E-Business.
Colorado State University
College Choice Score: 85.61
Average Tuition: $793
Colorado State University has made great strides in online education in recent years, and its online Master of Computer Information Systems is no exception. This program utilizes a cutting-edge curriculum in information technology, project management, and business systems to provide students with the skills they will need in a field that is constantly changing. The program is offered through the College of Business Department of Computer Information Systems. It is designed to prepare students in the methods needed to keep information flowing through organizations, thereby improving efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability. It trains students to keep business operations running smoothly by managing databases, networks, and websites.
Graduates of the program enjoy excellent job placement—nearly 100 percent of students are successfully placed upon graduation, and CIS graduates have some of the highest starting salaries among majors at Colorado State University. Students can complete their degree either on a full- or part-time basis, and they can complete the program in as little as three semesters or with the flexibility to take up to 5 years. Core courses in the program include Information Technology and Project Management, Enterprise Computing and Systems Integration, Business Visual Application Development, Application Software Infrastructure, Software Development Methodology, Object-Oriented Systems, IT Communications Infrastructure, Business Database Systems, and E-Business Application Technologies.
College Choice Score: 85.38
Average Tuition: $850
Auburn University, one of the leading universities in the South, offers an online Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS). This program is intended for working IT professionals who wish to move into leadership positions in their organizations as well as working professionals in other career fields who are seeking to enter the high demand field of information technology. The program is also offered on campus for those who reside in the area. Students are able to tailor their degree according to their particular career needs and interests. Each student works with an advisory committee, which determines the best course of study depending on each student’s needs and interests.
The program requires 31 credit hours to complete. Some of the courses students can expect to encounter include databases, systems analysis and design, and a final project course that is designed to help students apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the program to a particular problem. Online students typically complete their studies in a three years or less depending on the number of hours taken per semester. On-campus students typically complete the program in three or four semesters (including summer). Graduates of the program enjoy an excellent placement rate in a wide variety of occupations in the information technology field.
University of Cincinnati
College Choice Score: 84.87
Average Tuition: $545
The University of Cincinnati offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT), which emphasizes problem solving in the information technology profession. The program encourages strong interpersonal and communication skills, which enables students to communicate project details with team members, project managers, clients, and end users. Students are also trained in research methods and can expect to develop strong reasoning, problem-solving, and systems-analysis skills. Students can choose from four areas of concentration for their degree: IT Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Game Development, and Mobile/Social Applications.
The program is not limited to students with strong backgrounds in information technology, computer science, or a related discipline, although a previous degree in a computing discipline and/or related work experience will allow students to be admitted directly into the program. Students without sufficient prior training will be required to complete one to four IT prerequisites before being admitted as a full student. Online students have an option of either writing a thesis or developing a capstone project to complete their program. Thesis students are expected to create a solution to an information technology problem in consultation with faculty and also prepare a paper for publication. Capstone project students will work with faculty in the student’s own area of interest to create an IT solution to a problem.
University of Oklahoma
College Choice Score: 84.73
Average Tuition: $791
The University of Oklahoma, one of the country’s leading public higher education institutions, offers an online Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics through its Gallogly College of Engineering. Students will be prepared to offer numerous practical skills in a wide variety of settings, such as determining profitable lines of business, characterizing customers, evaluating and predicting risks, improving operational efficiencies, predicting system performance, and performing complex simulations. The program emphasizes training in analytical models and methods to extract new knowledge from vast, complex data. Students in the program learn algorithm development from a systems perspective, and the interdisciplinary curriculum equips students with knowledge and expertise of the computational methods required to develop, interpret, and transform data into knowledge.
The program’s curriculum merges both computer science and industrial and systems engineering. Students will develop a strong foundation in the theory and application of data science that will give them the skills to work with big data efficiently and productively. Students benefit from a flexible curriculum, and the program is available on both a full- and part-time basis depending on each student’s needs. Students in the area can also complete coursework on campus. Online students are encouraged to begin their program in the summer in order to complete the program in a timely manner. Students have the option of completing the program either with a thesis or coursework only, and all students complete a for-credit professional practicum as part of their program.
College Choice Score: 84.66
Average Tuition: $1,450
Northeastern University, located in Boston, Massachusetts—one of the epicenters of higher education—offers an online Master’s in Information Assurance and Cyber Security. Like a few other programs on our list, Northeastern’s program places an emphasis on the growing need for keeping data and information secure from cyberattacks and data breaches. The program at Northeastern further emphasizes physical security in addition to information security, however, which involves preparation in not only computers, networks, and security technology but also essential principles of psychology, criminology, law, and business. Northeastern’s program is thus interdisciplinary in character.
Students can expect to encounter a number of unique features in Northeastern’s program, such as an emphasis on information technology as well as relevant knowledge from the social sciences, law, criminology, and management; and practical, detailed instruction on how to assess and manage information security risks, and how to present recommendations to management. Students are able to customize their program according to their professional needs and career goals. Additional areas of expertise students can expect to be prepared for include information security issues, including identity theft and other forms of electronic fraud, computer viruses, hacking attacks, and even cyber warfare. Each student is required to complete a capstone project at the conclusion of their degree.
George Mason University
College Choice Score: 82.43
Average Tuition: $1,350
Students interested in information technology at George Mason University will find a home in its online Master of Science in Applied Information Technology (AIT), which trains students in the design, justification, development, management, and sustainment of large data systems in a wide variety of sectors. It is designed to train future senior leaders in the field, and it caters particularly to those who have careers in the federal government. The standards of entry for GMU’s program are higher than some on our list. While a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field is not necessarily required, ideal applicants will possess five to twelve years of professional experience in addition to their BS degree. Applicants must demonstrate a strong working knowledge of information technology and a capacity for leadership.
The program is in high demand, and its graduates enjoy high demand from potential employers. Placement rates are therefore among the highest in the field. The program’s strong ties to the needs of the federal government grow in part from the program’s commitment to the information technology needs of the region, which are both political and commercial, both public and private. Leading area employers provide guidance in curriculum development and continue to engage with the program as reviewers of students’ capstone projects. The program is available entirely online and can be completed on a part-time basis for working professionals.