Description of Master of Information Technology
A Master of Information Technology (IT), also known as a Master of Science in information technology, is a postgraduate academic degree that is offered to students who have previously studied computer or technology related courses through their undergraduate degree. It’s also an option for those who have a current IT career and want further training. Becoming a leader in an IT department within a large company or organization requires advanced expertise that this degree can provide.
Curriculum of a Master’s of Information Technology Program
IT curriculum is focused on providing you with advanced knowledge, skills and training that you can use immediately in the workplace and throughout your professional career. Most IT master’s degree programs last 2 years and include about 30 credits, although this differs depending on the program you attend, whether you’re a part-time or full-time student, and if you choose to take extra courses to flesh out your specialized knowledge in a particular field. Usually two-thirds of your courses will be core courses, with one-third left for electives focused on a particular area of study or interest.
IT programs cover various areas of technology including software engineering, software development, computer programming, software testing, and computer security. Topics of study may include: algorithm design and optimization, computer graphics, computer networks, computer security, data communication, data mining, database management systems, digital electronics, distributed system, e-commerce, geographical information systems, multimedia technology, programming languages, relationship database management system, software engineering, UNIX shell scripting, and more.
There are variations among different schools’ IT classes, although there are some basic materials that you will learn no matter which program you enter. These things include computer programming, design, leadership, management, software, internet security, and web related studies. Specific course titles that may be required in your program include:
- Object Oriented Programming with Java
- Software Engineering
- Fundamentals of Computer Systems
- Leadership in IT
- Network Architecture and Protocols
- IT Security
- Internet Software
- Software Design and Quality
- Information Systems Design
- Database Concepts
- Data Management
- Computer-Based Decision Support Systems
- DSS Design and Implementation
- Web Applications
- Electronic Commerce
Prerequisites for a Master of Information Technology Degree
The Master of Information Technology has stricter requirements for prerequisites than other degree programs because of the highly specific and technical nature of the information and skills being taught. It’s important to look into a variety of programs’ prerequisites before applying, as they will differ slightly. General prerequisites for Master of Information Technology programs are:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution: Sometimes schools will require the bachelor’s degree to be in computer science or electrical engineering, or another technical field. Previous knowledge of programming and higher level math is almost always necessary.
- Work experience in an IT-related position: Most programs want applicants that have had previous IT experience and have a strong desire for better understanding the engineering principles of IT while learning how to evaluate and manage it. Since all industries have IT departments, applicants will come from a variety of different backgrounds. It’s important to know what each program’s specialization options are to be sure that they have something that fits your current IT background. If your bachelor’s degree was in another subject, such as art or political science, sometimes schools will waive the requirement if you have had at least four years of post-college IT related job experience.
- Academic requirements: Sometimes schools will set minimum grade point average or GRE scores. Usually GPA minimum scores will be around 3.0, and GRE scores will be 650/800. Applicants will be required to demonstrate math aptitude since this is an engineering-based degree.
- Programming requirements: Occasionally programs will require specific background knowledge or skills, such as the ability to program in a certain language. It’s important to know what requirements your school has for IT programs before applying.
You may also be required to submit letters of recommendation, and other material submitted with the application such as a curriculum vitae or résumé.
Available Career Options with a Master of Information Technology
With a Master of information technology you will be taught how to manage IT situations within a company, business, corporation, or firm. You’re provided with enough training to handle IT in numerous fields, which opens the doors to many IT careers. Some areas of focus in future work may include coding, budgeting, web development, and leading teams.
Master in Information Technology programs usually make it possible for you to specialize in a particular niche, which is useful when you’re trying to get a career later on. An example of this would be if you currently work in the healthcare field and wish to work in healthcare IT departments. IT in a healthcare context is an industry unto itself, and knowing how to securely manage huge databases of health records will boost your chances of finding a job in the field. Getting a master’s degree in IT with an emphasis in your current field of work will help you negotiate for a salary raise or different position in the same industry.
Below are a few of the most popular careers for graduates of Master of Information Technology programs:
- Chief Information Officer (CIO): The CIO of a company is typically the highest officer of the IT department, and is responsible for the long term technology implementation at the company. You’ll be responsible for: determining what computers and software need to be supplied and to whoever needs them the most; computer installations, such as networking, software, and training; handling the technology budget of the company, determining what the company needs and what they can do with their budget. The mean annual wage of a computer and information systems manager was $125,660 in May 2011, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- IT Supervisor or Director of IT: As a supervisor or director you will become the manager of the IT division of a company. You also may choose to run an independent IT-based firm that manages different computers and technology of several small companies or businesses. Usually this includes computer set-up, maintenance, and repair, as well as internet related functions. In this position you’ll typically be the last line of defense in an IT program. You also will be responsible for training and leading other IT technicians in performing work for your clients and employers.
- Systems Software Manager: With this position you would become the “handyperson” of the IT department, responsible for various duties from project management to system coding. Typically you will work with a team to help develop new programs or design products for a company, business or corporation. The mean annual wage of a software developer was $92,080 in May 2011, according to the BLS.
Benefits of Online Master of Information Technology Programs
There are many online Master of Information Technology degree programs available. These programs make getting a master’s degree much easier as you don’t have to attend class in a traditional classroom and you can study on your own time. Instead of scheduling your life around your courses, you can schedule your courses around your life. Even if you’re currently working full-time you can still get your graduate degree in IT.
You’ll most likely have an online classroom format that you’ll use with your online degree. Through this classroom you can access assignments, syllabus, and all the study material you’ll need. This classroom base will also keep track of your grades and course curriculum. Email, messaging, and video chat are made easy through these online programs.
Most programs have great faculty who will provide lectures online through a mixture of streaming video, audio, slide decks, and text files. You can watch these as often as you wish, download the notes, and email your professor with questions or comments. Sometimes there are regular discussion seminars that will require your attendance along with other students, but these aren’t in all programs.
There are usually options for online discussion with your classmates using persistent web applications so that materials that are posted don’t go away when their poster signs out. Students in online programs come from everywhere, and this will give you a great opportunity to network and become acquainted with IT professionals across the country and world. You also will have discussion boards and listservs to help you stay in regular contact with others students in the program. Sometimes there are group projects or group study sessions that you can become a part of if you find it helpful.
Online programs always have technology services that are there to provide you support 24/7. These services can help you with library access, career advising, and help you navigate the online program successfully no matter where you’re located.