5 Best Master’s Degrees in Information Technology
| ComputerScience.org Staff
Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?
A master's degree in information technology helps learners develop their IT, leadership, and business skills, positioning them for high-paying careers in the tech industry.
IT programs combine training in business, communications, and technology. IT master's programs can build on students' existing IT knowledge and hone their skills in software processes, business intelligence, data science, project management, and advanced data mining.
IT professionals can expect a positive strong job outlook and strong earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% growth in computer and information technology jobs from 2020-2030.
This guide closely examines what to expect from IT master's programs, including courses, concentrations, and admission requirements. It also covers career paths and earning potential for IT master's degree-holders.
Why Get an Information Technology Master's Degree?
IT refers to the creation, management, and practical application of software, computer systems, and computer networks. IT helps businesses and organizations communicate and exchange information on a daily basis.
Since the first electronic computers appeared in the 1960s, IT professionals' jobs and responsibilities have changed alongside rapidly improving technologies. As technology and programming languages advanced, computer technologies by the late '60s and early '70s became substantially useful in business.
By the 1970s, information technology jobs emerged, focusing on the development of software and hardware that serve business operations across industries.
The BLS projects 13% growth for IT roles from 2020-2030, equaling an added 667,600 jobs.
Information technology plays a major role across the transportation, financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. These sectors require significant numbers of trained IT professionals for daily operations. The BLS projects 13% growth for IT roles from 2020-2030, equaling an added 667,600 jobs.
A master's in IT costs substantially more than a coding bootcamp. However, graduate programs offer intensive, well-rounded training, allowing students to develop expertise in a particular area of the field.
A master's in IT better positions graduates for high-paying advanced roles compared to bootcamp programs and undergraduate degrees. Paying for a master's degree can be challenging for many students, but graduates can expect a much higher return on their educational investment.
- Higher Pay
- According to the BLS, professionals with master's degrees typically make higher salaries. Compared to professionals with bachelor's degrees, master's degree-holders earn about $12,000 more per year.
- Candidates with a master's in IT may stand out in the competitive job market.
- Both undergraduate and graduate degree-holders possess valuable skills for work in the tech field. Employers might prefer candidates with graduate degrees for higher-paying senior and management positions.
Top Online Programs
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
What To Expect From Master's in Information Technology Programs
IT master's programs teach the essential frameworks and methodologies to solve complex computer and network issues. Foundational curricula also cover core aspects of data management, computer security, and software engineering. Required courses may include principles of cybersecurity, information technology research methods, and enterprise security and forensics.
Master's IT programs allow students to hone their skills in a particular area of IT. Depending on the program, students can choose a concentration or elective courses, tailoring their degree to their career goals. Concentrations vary among IT programs but may include healthcare informatics, information security, or web design.
Full-time students can expect to complete about 30 credits in 18-24 months. The total cost of IT master's degrees varies, but public schools typically cost less than private schools. The National Center for Education Statistics reported in-state public universities charged an average tuition of $9,349 for the 2019-20 academic year, compared to $32,769 for private institutions.
Admission requirements vary among schools. Most colleges and universities prefer applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a technology-related field with a competitive GPA. Many programs require prospective IT master's students to demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants may also need prior work experience in an IT field.
Depending on the program, you may need to submit GRE scores or supplemental materials. Programs may ask for letters of recommendation and a personal statement that details your interests in IT. Some institutions may also ask you to participate in an in-person or online admissions interview.
Degree and Specialization Options
One exciting aspect of pursuing a master's degree in IT is choosing a concentration or specialization. Each concentration focuses on an area of IT that students can apply to their future careers.
Popular master's IT concentrations include health informatics, network security, and network administration. These specializations can prepare students for jobs like data manager, digital security analyst, and network administrator.
Popular master's IT concentrations include health informatics, network security, and network administration.
Learners may encounter master's programs offering a research track and a professional track. The research option serves learners interested in developing research and analytical skills used in the field. The professional pathway helps students acquire applied knowledge of IT professional practices, business ethics, and strategies.
Popular Information Technology Courses
Master's IT students must typically complete required and elective courses and a final capstone or research project to graduate. Course offerings vary among schools and specializations. Many schools offer similar IT foundational courses, but elective offerings and degree requirements vary.
- Network Defense and Hacking Ethics: This course helps students develop ethical hacking techniques. These skills allow IT professionals to detect network vulnerabilities and defend systems against malicious attackers. Learners explore topics such as footprinting, scanning and enumeration, and wireless network hacking.
- Analysis and Design: This course covers methodologies for technology design and system analysis. Students learn new techniques to create more efficient computer systems and increase productivity. Instructors focus on topics like functional design, system requirements, and displays.
- Forensics and Computer Investigations: In this class, students develop essential problem-solving skills using forensic analysis techniques. Learners typically use case studies and hands-on projects to understand the best techniques for investigating technology security breaches.
How Much Will a Master's in Information Technology Cost?
The cost of IT master's degrees varies among schools. In most cases, private schools feature higher tuition rates than public institutions. Out-of-state students at public schools typically spend more per credit than in-state learners.
Online students can sometimes earn their degrees for less. Some schools may offer lower tuition rates for distance students. Additionally, remote students also save money by avoiding costly commutes to and from campus, including bus passes, gas, and parking fees.
Several financial aid options can help you offset the cost of your information technology master's degree. Scholarships, fellowships, and grants provide funding that does not require repayment. Borrowers must pay back private and public loans with interest.
Jobs for Master's in Information Technology Graduates
IT master's degree-holders can pursue several high-paying jobs, including network architect and database administrator. Some professionals take advantage of continuing education opportunities such as a certification program.
The BLS reports the median annual salary for IT workers was $91,250 as of May 2020, more than double the median annual wage for all U.S. occupations.
Depending on their interests, students can also earn credentials like certified ethical hacker, certified information security manager, and certified information systems security professional. The BLS reports the median annual salary for IT workers was $91,250 as of May 2020, more than double the median annual wage for all U.S. occupations.
Web developers create and maintain websites. Their duties include writing code, monitoring website traffic and performance, and integrating audio/visual content. They often work alongside a team of IT professionals and designers in publishing industries and consulting services. A large number of web designers are self-employed.
- Required Education: High school diploma
- Job Outlook (2020-30): +13%
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $77,200
Individuals with an IT master's can pursue high-level roles as software engineers. These professionals work in computer systems design and create software applications. Software engineers evaluate software performance, develop and recommend upgrades, and test applications' efficiency. They may also oversee software developers, testers, and quality assurance personnel.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree
- Job Outlook (2020-30): +22%
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $110,140
Database administrators work in a variety of industries, including computer systems design, education, insurance, and enterprise management services. They design and build database systems that safeguard an organization's sensitive information, such as financial information and business records. They may specialize in managing the technical aspects of databases or in specific software and programs that work with databases.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree
- Job Outlook (2020-30): +8%
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $98,860
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts often work in finance, insurance, or computer systems design and related services. They monitor businesses' and organizations' networks for security breaches. Analysts often install software and updates to protect sensitive information, develop security standards and practices for their employers, and conduct regular security testing.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree
- Job Outlook (2020-30): +33%
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $103,590
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer and information research scientists develop models and theories to solve complex computing issues. They typically work as part of an IT team, designing and conducting experiments to test software, using machine learning and data science tools. Professionals need at least a master's degree to pursue entry-level positions.
- Required Education: Master's degree
- Job Outlook (2020-30): 22%
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $126,830
Choosing the Right Information Technology Graduate Program
Rankings of the top IT master's programs make a good starting point for prospective students researching their options. However, learners should consider many factors when choosing a school, many of which are not included in rankings. Consider this list of important considerations when looking for the right school for your educational and personal needs.
- Accreditation: Students should only consider regionally accredited IT schools. The top IT programs also hold programmatic accreditation from ABET.
- Student Support: Learn what resources your prospective program offers to master's students. Many schools offer valuable programs and support for STEM-focused students, including networking opportunities and career workshops.
- Alumni Success: Determine where IT graduates from your prospective schools have secured employment. Examining where recent alumni work to better envision your future career options.
Should You Get Your Degree Online?
Many students can take advantage of the flexibility and convenience of distance learning. Online learning formats also suit computer-based IT master's curricula.
What are the pros and cons of distance learning? Self-starters with good time management skills often thrive in distance-learning environments. However, if you prefer face-to-face interaction or learn best in structured classrooms, a remote IT master's might not be the best choice for you.
Other Educational Paths
A master's degree in IT sets candidates apart in the competitive job market. This degree positions graduates to earn higher salaries than professionals with only a bachelor's. BLS data indicates that graduates with bachelor's degrees earn a median annual salary of $1,305 per week, while graduates with master's degrees earn $1,543 per week. This translates to roughly $67,860 annually for bachelor's degree-holders and $80,236 for master's degree-holders.
Researchers found similar trends in related fields. Data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that salaries for computer science graduates in 2019 were approximately $14,000 higher for master's degree-holders than bachelor's degree-holders.
The Top Online Master's in Information Technology Schools
This ranking of the five best master's in information technology (IT) programs should serve as a guide for aspiring IT professionals. Each program on our ranking holds national or regional accreditation. Some also hold subject-specific accreditation. Academic accreditation verifies that a university meets minimum educational requirements set forth by third-party agencies. Accreditors relevant to this ranking include:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
According to U.S. World & News Report, the University of South Florida is rising quickly in rankings of public universities. This leading research university enrolls nearly 50,000 students and employs over 16,000 faculty members.
As part of the Department of Computer Science, USF's master of science in information technology gives students a wide-scale understanding of technological, strategic, and operational applications for businesses and organizations. Featured courses include cloud computing for IT, practical cybersecurity, and data mining.
This master's in IT gives students flexibility in course selection. Upon completion, graduates have the advanced IT and managerial skills needed to reach their career goals.
Applying to USF
Aspiring USF students must hold a bachelor's degree in information technology or computer science with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last two years of undergraduate study. Applicants should also demonstrate minimum GRE scores of 161 quantitative and 150 verbal, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: SACSCOC, ABET | Tuition: $7,840/year (in state); $15,864/year (out of state) | Required Credits: 30 credits | Delivery Format: Hybrid
Recently ranked the No. 4 public school by U.S. News & World Report, Cal State Fullerton provides an innovative and impactful educational environment for over 41,000 students.
The College of Business and Economics at CSUF offers a master of science in information technology for professionals who want to increase their knowledge of IT management and data science. This master's in information technology focuses on effective communication through online channels.
The curriculum features courses such as statistics for data services, principles of business intelligence, and data warehousing and foundations for business intelligence. Upon graduation, students can manage and optimize new and existing technologies, align organizational strategies with technical strategies, and improve business decision-making.
Applying to CSUF
Potential graduate students with two years of practical business experience must provide evidence of a 530 GMAT or GRE score. They should also submit a personal essay describing why they would make a good fit for this program. Applicants must pass an in-person or phone interview, as well, to determine their level of technical knowledge and skill for online learning.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: WSCUC | Tuition: $3,588/semester | Required Credits: 30 credits | Delivery Format: Online (synchronous and asynchronous)
Forbes ranks the New Jersey Institute of Technology first in the nation for student economic upward mobility. Along with being an R1 research university with over 11,400 students, NJIT is home to Venturelink, New Jersey's biggest high-growth startup incubator.
NJIT's master of science in information technology administration and security provides students with the technical and managerial training for leadership roles in businesses and organizations. The curriculum supports this master's in information technology through courses in knowledge management, business research methods, and database administration.
Applying to NJIT
Prospective NJIT students must provide proof of an accredited four-year degree, GRE scores, an official transcript showing exceptional academic achievement in this discipline, and a letter of recommendation.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: MSCHE | Tuition: $20,624/2 semesters (in state); $30,540/2 semesters (out of state) | Required Credits: 30 credits | Delivery Format: On campus
A leading research university with global influence, the University of Kansas provides a transformative educational experience for 28,500 students. Along with its main Lawrence campus, UK features four other campuses in Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina.
KU's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers a master of science in information technology. This degree gives students an expert understanding of advanced electrical engineering, computer science, and computer engineering, equipping graduates to develop technical innovations for organizations.
This master's in IT program requires students to choose from three focus areas: cybersecurity, IT product management, and software engineering. With the help of a faculty advisor, each student must create a plan of study including at least one semester of electrical engineering, a computer science colloquium, and a seminar on professional issues.
Applying to KU
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in computer science, information technology, computer information systems, computer engineering, or any other major. Prospective students should also have completed at least two years of professional work experience in IT.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: HLC | Tuition: $10,188/year (in state); $24,430/session (out of state) | Required Credits: 31 credits | Delivery Format: On campus
Educating about 40,000 students, Temple University is Philadelphia's largest university. Its active research activities earn the university an R1 Carnegie Classification, distinguishing it as one of the most active research institutions in the United States.
The master of science in information science and technology at Temple features advanced instruction in database technologies, cutting-edge software systems, and simulated real-world data structures. The curriculum covers subjects such as robotics, bioinformatics, wireless sensor networks, and high-performance computing.
As an added benefit, this master's in information technology encourages interdisciplinary study. The degree allows students to take up to three related graduate courses from other departments.
Applying to Temple
Temple's College of Science and Technology applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in computer science, mathematics, or natural sciences. They should also submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of goals.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: MSCHE | Tuition: $1,159/credit (in state); $1,514/credit (out of state) | Required Credits: 30 credits | Program Length: 5 years or less | Delivery Format: On campus and online
What Else Should I Know About a Master's in Information Technology?
After completing a bachelor's degree in computer science or IT, job-seekers pursuing IT architect roles can benefit from a master's in cybersecurity, data science, or software development.
Yes. Colleges and universities offer fully online IT master's programs. Many remote programs have no on-campus obligations, allowing students to complete their degrees from virtually any location.
Professionals with master's degrees in information technology often pursue advanced roles in the field. Popular IT careers include computer and information research scientist, software developer, information security analyst, computer network architect, and computer systems analyst.
Most learners wanting to pursue high-level IT careers can earn a master's in the field. Other related graduate programs include master of information systems, master of management information systems, and master of science in information and communication technologies.
Explore Other Information Technology Education Paths
Featured Image: MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Take the next step toward your future.
Discover programs you’re interested in and take charge of your education.