Ph.D. in Information Technology

Written by ComputerScience.org Staff Writer


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for computer and information technology occupations to grow by 12% from 2018-2028. A Ph.D. in information technology creates opportunities for high-paying jobs that require extensive research.

Graduates can further the information technology field through research discoveries enhancing computer and network security. If this Ph.D. seems like a good fit for you, read on to learn about what it takes to earn a Ph.D. in IT, plus common courses and potential jobs and salaries for graduates.

Information Technology Ph.D. Programs

How long it takes to earn a Ph.D. in information technology depends on various factors, like how many credit hours the program requires and whether learners must work full-time jobs during their studies. Full-time learners typically take four years to complete a doctorate in this subject, with required credit hours ranging from 90-120. Pursuing an online degree allows for added flexibility compared to an on-campus degree.

Potential earnings upon graduation vary by factors like previous work experience, role, and geographical location. For example, employers in larger cities tend to pay more than those in rural areas due to the higher costs of living in big cities.

Ph.D. Degree in Information Technology Courses

  • Research Processes, Theory, and Practice in Information Technology: In this course, students learn about information technology theories and how to apply these principles to their everyday practice. This course also covers the methods researchers employ when making discoveries in addition to quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
  • Ph.D. Dissertation Research Seminar: Most programs require multiple dissertation courses. During this course, students engage with their peers and provide feedback on dissertations during class discussions. Learners also apply the feedback they receive to enhance their own dissertations. Students learn best practices for research methods to hone their research and writing practices.
  • Literature Review: In a literature review course, learners discover tools for reading, evaluating, and applying knowledge found in research papers. These tools allow learners to build upon their dissertation plans and select quality research for their projects. Students also define which gaps in current scholarly research they want to fill with their own dissertations.
  • Information Technology Strategic Planning in Global Environments: This class covers various information governance models across the globe. Learners discover the common decision models information technology professionals employ when collaborating with leaders in different countries. Students also evaluate performance measurements and assess social responsibility issues.
  • Doctoral Comprehensive Examination: This final course provides students with a review of the comprehensive examination process. Students examine evaluation criteria and the test's instructions. After completing this examination and submitting their dissertations, students earn their doctoral degree.

Common Admission Requirements

Most Ph.D. in information technology programs feature competitive requirements. For example, certain colleges and universities require applicants to hold graduate degrees in information technology and a minimum 3.5 GPA.

When applying for programs, learners should gather recommendation letters and official college transcripts from each previously attended university. Most programs also require an in-person or phone interview and an essay.

Ph.D. in Information Technology Career Outlook

Ph.D. in information technology students can choose from a variety of specializations to tailor the degree to their interests and goals. For example, those who want to work as economists after graduation might focus their dissertations on researching how the economy affects computer information technology.

The BLS projects demand for professionals in this field to rise by 12% from 2018-2028. The exact percentage varies based on each particular job. Common information technology careers requiring doctorates include survey researcher, postsecondary teacher, and economist.

What Jobs Can You Get With an Information Technology Ph.D.?

An undergraduate or master's in IT degree can help learners acquire entry- and mid-level jobs in this field, but doctoral degrees open up even more opportunities. For example, jobs requiring extensive research often require a Ph.D. in IT degree. Below, we outline several common careers and potential salaries for graduates with a Ph.D. in information technology.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and information research scientists develop new technologies and build on older technologies to discover new ways to use them. Many of these professionals work for the federal government, while others find employment at software development firms or in schools.

Median Annual Salary: $118,370

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 16%

Economist

Economists must remain life-long learners, as data and trends constantly change. These professionals collect and analyze data to predict trends other individuals use to guide business decisions. They also form opinions on economic outlook. Most economists work independently, but some collaborate with other professionals to complete their work.

Median Annual Salary: $104,340

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 8%

Mathematician or Statistician

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and use mathematical techniques to solve problems. They may work for the federal government, engineering research companies, and colleges and universities. These professionals typically collaborate in teams of scientists and engineers.

Median Annual Salary: $88,190

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 30%

Survey Researcher

Researching and collecting data allows businesses to make wise decisions and stay ahead of trends. Survey researchers collect this data through polls and surveys, analyzing it for useful information. These professionals often work for research firms and polling organizations, but they may also work for schools or government entities.

Median Annual Salary: $57,700

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 1%

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct courses in public and private universities, community colleges, and professional schools. They develop curricula, lead lectures, and assess student learning. They also often conduct research and publish their findings in publications.

Median Annual Salary: $78,470

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 11%

Educational Paths

Undergraduate and graduate information technology degrees represent worthwhile ways to achieve a high-paying, satisfying career. However, many companies limit how much money professionals can earn without a doctorate. A Ph.D. in information technology keeps professionals' options open.

Most individuals choose to gather on-the-job experience before earning their doctorate. In fact, many positions requiring doctoral degrees also mandate professional experience. For this reason, individuals often choose to work full time before and/or during their Ph.D. in IT program.

Explore Computer Science Career Paths by Degree Level


Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do with a Ph.D. In Information Technology?

Ph.D. graduates who enjoy explaining ideas to others and who want to inspire the next generation of professionals might become information technology college professors. Those who enjoy the research aspect of a Ph.D. program can continue researching and making new discoveries within the field as computer and information research scientists. Most information technology professionals work in an office, though some work from home.

Why Should I Earn a Ph.D. In Information Technology?

If you enjoy researching and want to emerge as a leader in the information technology field, then this doctorate can prove beneficial. Rather than reporting to a superior, doctorate-holders typically work as leaders, delegating tasks to others. Ph.D. programs best suit those who enjoy responsibility and motivating others.

What Are Common Research Interests for Students Pursuing a Ph.D. In Information Technology?

Common research topics in this field include network architecture, ethical hacking, cybercrime prevention, and multimedia information systems. Ph.D. learners can also combine information technology topics with other subjects of interest. For example, those who enjoy politics can focus their research on e-government.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Ph.D. In Information Technology?

The time it takes to earn a Ph.D. in IT varies based on factors such as enrollment status and credit hour requirements. For example, some doctorate programs only require 90 credits, while others require as many as 120. If you must work a full-time job during your studies, you may take longer to finish your dissertation project. Choosing a flexible, asynchronous online program can help you finish your degree quickly while balancing other responsibilities.

What Master's Degree Do You Need to Be Able to Earn a Ph.D. In Information Technology?

Obtaining a master's in information technology or a related subject, like cybersecurity, positions graduates to pursue a Ph.D. in information security. Some schools allow prospective doctoral students with degrees in other subjects to take foundation courses or earn certificates in information technology to qualify for admission.