Online Database Management Degrees

Written by Liz Simmons


What Is a Database Management Degree?

Database management programs focus on information technology (IT), information security, organization of data, and metadata management. Students learn to use relational databases and software management systems and perform data analysis. Online database management degree programs may go by different names, like database administration, network administration, or management information systems.

Depending on the degree level, graduates with an online database management degree can pursue roles like database administrator, computer and information systems manager, and data scientist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that database administrators earn a median salary of $93,750 annually and projects a 9% job growth rate for the profession between 2018-2028..

A subdiscipline of computer science, database management focuses more on metadata, data organization, and information security than a general computer science degree. Many schools offer database management degree programs online. This guide explains what to expect from a database management program and career and salary expectations for graduates.

Why Get a Degree in Database Management?

Earning a degree in database management helps learners develop the knowledge and skills they need to qualify for many well-paying career opportunities. According to the BLS, computer and IT occupations pay a median of $88,240 a year, more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations. The following list outlines several other benefits of earning a database management degree.

  • In-Demand Skills: Organizations need skilled database management professionals to help them handle their vast quantities of information. Database management graduates use relational databases and software management systems to track and make sense of large amounts of information.
  • Versatile Degree: Earning an online database management degree prepares students for a variety of general computing and IT jobs. A database management specialization opens the door to more specialized and lucrative positions such as database administrator.
  • Salary Potential: Graduates of database management programs make an excellent living. For example, database administrators earn a median salary of $93,750 per year, much higher than the national median for all occupations.
  • Job Growth: Earning a degree in database management qualifies graduates for fast-growing careers. The BLS reports a 9% projected job growth rate (faster than average) for database administrators between 2018-2028.
  • Personal Growth: The personal satisfaction of gaining specialized knowledge and skills is another benefit of earning a degree in database management.

When Is a Database Management Focus Better Than a General Computer Science Degree?

General computer science program graduates can expect excellent and varied career opportunities in computers and IT. Those who earn a database management degree qualify for many of the same types of jobs, but they can also find more specialized opportunities that focus on organizing, planning for, protecting, and managing data. Graduates can pursue roles as database administrators, data scientists, and other roles that focus heavily on managing information.

When Might a General Computer Science Degree Be Better Than Database Management?

General computer science degree programs typically cover more computer science concepts than database management degree programs, potentially leading to a wider range of job opportunities. Database management degree programs are ideal for students seeking to specialize their skills and pursue data-centric careers.

What About Other Computer Science Specializations?

A very large and diverse field, computer science boasts many specializations in addition to database management, such as computer engineering, computer forensics, computer programming, and data science. Computer science majors can also specialize in areas like network administration, web development, IT, and software engineering. Learn more about select concentrations through the links below.

Types of Database Management Degrees

Students can earn an online database management degree at four different levels: associate, bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. Generally, the higher the degree, the better the career and salary opportunities. Some schools also offer certificates and continuing education classes in database management. Keep reading to learn what it takes to earn an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and Ph.D. in database management.

Associate Degree in Database Management

Earning an associate degree in database management usually takes two full-time years and 60 semester credits to complete. A typical associate degree combines general education and database management courses.

Graduates with an associate in database management may find entry-level opportunities in computing and IT. Because most database management and other IT positions require a four-year degree, many who earn an associate degree in this field transfer to a bachelor's program. There are different names for this type of degree. We explore different database management associate degrees and their potential career paths in the table below.

Comparing Different Database Management Associate Degrees

Degree Type Description Potential Career Path
AS in Database Management and Administration An AS in database management and administration covers programming fundamentals, project planning and documentation, and database usage. Students take general education and database management and administration classes. Graduates qualify for entry-level IT and computing positions. An AS also prepares learners to transfer to a four-year program. Database program designer, network administrator
AAS in Database Management and Administration An AAS in database management and administration covers the same type of information as an AS in database management and administration but focuses more on preparing students for careers immediately after graduation. An AAS may require fewer general education courses and develop more technical skills. Database program designer, network administrator
AAS in Information Technology - Network Administration An AAS in information technology -- network administration prepares students for entry-level IT positions with an emphasis on network administration. The degree explores topics like computer and network systems, helpdesk operations, and server maintenance. Network administrator, IT support specialist, systems administrator

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for a typical associate degree in database management program includes a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some schools may also require ACT, SAT, or placement test scores and/or a minimum GPA. Prospective students usually need to submit transcripts and a small application fee.

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Bachelor's Degree in Database Management

A bachelor's degree in database management usually takes four years and requires 120 credit hours to complete. Graduates qualify for jobs like database administrator, computer and information systems manager, data scientist, and IT architect. Schools assign different names to this type of degree. In the table below, we compare different types of database management bachelor's degrees.

Comparing Different Database Management Bachelor's Degrees

Degree Type Description Potential Career Path
BS in Data Management and Data Analytics A BS in data management and data analytics includes a focus on managing and analyzing data. Students learn about data visualizations, applications, analysis, and database systems. Key subject areas include scripting and programming, spreadsheets, and web development foundations. Data scientist, database administrator, computer and information systems manager
BS in Information Technology - Network Administration A BS in information technology -- network administration teaches students to secure and manage IT networks. This program typically does not focus as much on databases or data analysis. Network administrator, software developer, network analyst
BS in Management Information Systems A BS in management information systems covers IT and business concepts. This type of degree does not focus as much on data analysis. Instead, it emphasizes information systems design, programming, cloud computing, big data, and database management. Students may qualify for general administrative IT jobs. Computer and information systems manager, computer systems administrator, database administrator

Pairing Internships With Your Bachelor's

Many students pursuing a bachelor's degree in database management find it beneficial to complete an internship, and some programs require it as part of the curriculum. An internship gives learners real-world experience and lets them apply classroom knowledge in a professional setting. Many students land jobs after graduation at organizations where they intern.

Learners typically complete internships for academic credit. Internships can be paid or unpaid. It is often easier to find paid internships in the tech field than in many other disciplines and industries.

Admission Requirements

Most database management bachelor's programs accept students who receive general admission to the university. Typical admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED certificate and SAT/ACT scores.

Some schools also require a minimum GPA, letters of recommendation, and an application essay. Prospective database management majors may need to complete prerequisite courses. Some schools do not let students declare a database management major before completing the first two years of coursework toward the bachelor's. Applicants can apply to many colleges at once by filling out one application through Common App.

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Master's Degree in Database Management

It typically takes two full-time years to complete a 30-credit master's degree in database management. Individuals pursuing a master's include those coming straight from a bachelor's program, working tech professionals who want to increase their career and salary potential, and adults in other industries who intend to make a career change.

Schools offer this degree under different names. We explain similarities and differences between different database management master's degrees in the table below.

Comparing Different Database Management Master's Degrees

Degree Type Description Potential Career Path
MS in Database Design and Administration An MS in database design and administration focuses on efficiently and effectively creating and managing databases. Students gain skills in data modeling, design, warehousing, and architecture. The curriculum typically incorporates some business classes. Graduates qualify for jobs related to designing and managing databases. Database administrator, database manager, database developer
MS in Management Information Systems An MS in management information systems focuses on the management of large information systems. The curriculum explores software design, project management, business strategy, and databases. This degree may open the door to a variety of career options. Data analyst, IT director, software engineer
MS in Computer Science - Database Engineering An MS in computer science -- database engineering includes a mix of computer science core courses and specialized database engineering courses. Graduates may qualify for a variety of computer science careers, such as software developer and computer and information research scientist. Database administrator, computer and information research scientist, software developer
MS in Information Technology - Database Management An MS in information technology -- database management degree provides advanced knowledge of database management and administration and a foundation in general IT concepts and practices. Students gain technical skills and business knowledge. Graduates qualify for database administration and analysis jobs and other more general IT jobs. Database administrator, data analyst

The Master's Practicum and Thesis

Database management master's programs often include a practicum or thesis in the graduation requirements. Students typically complete a thesis or practicum as a culminating experience at the end of their studies. A thesis requires learners to research a problem in the discipline, write a major paper, and present their findings orally. Most programs ask students to begin their thesis research in the first semester of their second year.

A practicum experience gives master's in database management learners an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in a practical, real-world setting or manner. Practicum students may work directly with a professional organization on an issue related to database management. They may also work on their own on a project designed to replicate a real-world scenario.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for master's degree in database management programs vary by school. Most require a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, GRE scores, and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional application requirements may include letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Some programs accept applicants with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, but students may need to complete prerequisite or foundational computer science courses.
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Ph.D. in Database Management

A Ph.D. in database management usually takes 3-5 years to complete and requires 30-36 semester credits. Ph.D. candidates invest significant energy and time into researching, writing, and defending a dissertation that explores a problem in database management. While in school, they frequently work for their university as teaching or research assistants.

Students pursuing this level of education typically hold significant experience and knowledge in the field. They usually need a bachelor's in computer science, IT, or a related field. Prospective doctoral candidates may need to complete prerequisite coursework. Some programs require a master's degree. Graduates of Ph.D. in database management programs qualify for high-level research and teaching jobs.

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Popular Database Management Classes

Database management classes vary by program and degree level, but most programs include core, elective, and practicum/capstone/thesis courses. Popular classes include foundations of data management, data management applications, and database server administration. Students may also take classes like data analytics, data visualization, and data structures and algorithms. Many schools offer a variety of database management classes online. Below, we describe some typical database management classes and the skills gained from them.

  • Foundations of Data Management

    This class provides an introduction to the field of data management, including commonly used terminology and concepts. Learners explore topics like data definition language, structured query language (SQL), and data manipulation language. They learn to retrieve, define, and manipulate data and to understand the difference between structured, unstructured, and quasi-structured data.

  • Data Management Applications

    Students receive an introduction to MySQL, learn to create SELECT queries using joins and subqueries, and use SQL to delete and update data. The course also covers creating and modifying databases, views, tables, and foreign and primary keys. Class attendees learn to create simple and complex queries.

  • Database Server Administration

    This course looks at the configuration, administration, and installation of database servers. Topics explored include tools and strategies of space management and access, restoration, backup, and upgrade techniques. Students also learn about the physical and logical aspects of database servers and how to set up a server.

  • Business of IT - Project Management

    Learners receive a foundational understanding of project management techniques, concepts, and processes. They learn about a project's lifecycle, including how to plan, monitor, execute, and close a project. The class covers best practices like resource allocation, project scheduling, risk management, and project reporting. Students finish the course ready to take the CompTIA Project+ certification exam.

  • Introduction to Data Science

    This class provides an introduction to the data analysis process. Students learn about data wrangling, data analysis code, and statistical techniques for data analysis. They also learn how to communicate their findings professionally.

  • Data Visualization

    Data visualization explores the use of design principles, color theory, effective storytelling, and human perception to present data. Students learn about advanced data visualization tools and how to present data effectively to different audiences.

  • Data Analytics

    Students explore the techniques, tools, and procedures most commonly used in data analytics. They explore different disciplines that contribute to data analytics and how they relate to each other.

  • Data Structures and Algorithms

    Data structures and algorithms explore lists, stacks, hash tables, bags, and associated algorithms. Students use Python software to explore abstract data types and object-oriented design. They gain skills in implementing applications, designing efficient software applications, and problem-solving.

Career and Salary Outlook for Database Management Graduates

Graduates of database management degree programs qualify for a variety of well-paid computer and IT careers. No degree guarantees a job, but potential careers include database administrator, computer and information systems manager, and computer programmer. Other possibilities include data scientist and IT architect.

Median salaries for these lucrative careers start at $86,550 a year for computer programmers and go as high as $146,360 annually for computer and information systems managers. Those seeking management, administration, and high-level research roles may expand their career opportunities and salary potential by pursuing higher degrees or additional certifications.

Database Administrator

Database administrators develop and manage databases to meet their organizations' needs. They organize and maintain the security of datasets, troubleshoot problems, and implement new technologies. Database administrators need to be skilled in using SQL, Oracle, Linux, and HTML. They also need to understand the basics of data analysis and hold strong skills in communication and problem-solving.

Annual Median Salary: $93,750

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Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers oversee all computer-related activities for their organizations. They help determine IT goals and implement computer systems that meet those goals. Computer and information systems managers need skills in network management, IT support, project management, and IT management.

Annual Median Salary: $146,360

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Computer Programmer

Computer programmers develop code that lets computer software programs and applications run efficiently and effectively. They need to understand a variety of computer programming languages such as Java and C++. Other duties include testing programs for errors, using code libraries, and working with software developers.

Annual Median Salary: $86,550

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Data Scientist

Data scientists analyze data and use the knowledge gained from that analysis to address problems. They use programming languages and other software tools to find patterns, visualize data, and generate algorithms. Helpful technical skills include experience using Java, machine learning concepts, Hadoop, and Python.

Annual Median Salary: $95,973

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IT Architect

IT architects coordinate the technological aspects of an organization. They possess skills in systems architecture, IT management, IT security, and cloud computing. They also need communication, organizational, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Daily tasks may include creating IT plans, implementing security measures, and overseeing new technologies.

Annual Median Salary: $117,185

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Database Management Careers: Average Annual Salaries by Experience, 2020
Entry Level (0-12 Months) Early Career (1-4 Years) Midcareer (5-9 Years) Experienced (10-19 Years)
Database Administrator $55,132 $63,726 $78,952 $91,223
Computer and Information Systems Manager $55,553 $67,267 $78,725 $92,434
Computer Programmer $53,493 $57,774 $69,872 $77,891
Data Scientist $85,721 $94,434 $108,650 $120,630
IT Architect $71,835 $90,932 $106,369 $119,897
Source: PayScale

Selecting Your Database Management Program

Prospective learners should weigh a variety of factors to find the right database management program for their needs. Key factors to consider include:

  • Does the school stand out for its expertise in database management? Make sure to research your prospective program to find out if it boasts any awards or ranks highly on any "best of" lists.
  • Online or in person? Some students are open to either option, while others only offer one delivery format.
  • Make sure any university under consideration holds regional accreditation. Accreditation can impact students' ability to receive financial aid, transfer credit, and pursue graduate degrees and certifications.
  • Most learners need to consider program cost and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.
  • How stringent are the admission requirements? Does the school require minimum standardized test scores? Make sure that you qualify for admission before investing the time and money to apply.
  • How long does it take to complete the database management degree? Program length options vary by school, which can impact the cost of your education.

Should You Get Your Database Management Degree Online?

Online education is increasingly common and seen as a respectable way to earn a degree at any level. Earning an online database management degree offers benefits like flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Students who work full time, have family responsibilities, or maintain other personal commitments often prefer to study online.

A database management degree suits the online learning experience especially well. Database management majors who earn their degree online can expedite their grasp of advanced technical skills and increase their comfort level with the digital environment required to succeed in this field. However, some learners seeking a database management degree prefer the traditional structure of an in-person program.

Accreditation for Database Management Schools and Programs

Accreditation indicates that a school meets educational standards set by an independent accrediting agency. A school can hold regional or national accreditation. Regionally accredited universities typically hold stronger reputations than nationally accredited colleges.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. Students can look for database management programs with accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional certifications require an accredited degree.

Students can find school accreditation information using the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's searchable database.

Ranking Database Management Programs

All of the factors described above can affect a student's personal rankings of database management programs. The selection process includes in-depth research, questions, and campus visits. Our online rankings are a great place to start the decision-making process.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to complete a database management degree?
Program length varies by school and degree level. An associate degree in database management usually takes two years to complete. Full-time students can earn a bachelor's degree in database management in four years. A typical master's degree in database management takes two years to complete, and a Ph.D. in database management requires 3-5 years.
How much will I make with a degree in database management?
Salary expectations vary by position, industry, education, and experience. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in database management may qualify to work as computer and information systems managers who earn a median annual salary of $146,360.
What kind of jobs can you get with a database management degree?
Students who earn a database management degree may qualify for a variety of jobs in IT and computing. Potential jobs include database administrator, computer and information systems manager, and computer programmer. Other possibilities include data scientist and IT architect.
What degree do I need to be a database administrator?
Most database administrator jobs require a bachelor's degree at minimum in a discipline like database administration, computer science, or a related field. Organizations with large and complex databases may prefer individuals with a master's degree.

Professional Organizations for Database Management

Professional organizations allow database management students and professionals to network with other professionals, stay up to date with the field, and gain access to information and resources. Membership benefits also often include conference discounts, invitations to volunteer, and access to continuing education classes. Below, we describe some of the top database management organizations.

  • Association for Information Science & Technology ASIS&T brings together professionals in fields like information science, computer science, data science, and management. Members receive access to job postings, a member directory, local chapters, and professional resources.
  • CompTIA CompTIA welcomes tech professionals and students. Members gain access to scholarship opportunities, career advice, local chapters, and discounts on CompTIA products. The organization also offers professional certifications, trainings, and events.
  • Enterprise Data Management Council A global association to further best practices and education in data management, the EDM Council offers virtual training, professional resources, and scholarship opportunities for members. The organization also provides access to best practices groups, a document library, and comprehensive eLearning.
  • Data Management International A nonprofit association of professionals in information and data management, DAMA provides a variety of essential professional resources. Members gain access to an exclusive area of DAMA's website, a job board, a data management professional discussion forum, and discounts on educational materials.

Paying for Your Database Management Degree

Students can receive help paying for an online database management degree through financial aid opportunities, such as loans, grants, and scholarships. Learn more about financial aid opportunities on the linked page below.

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