Master’s in Information Systems and Technology (IST) Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology Program?

Choosing to enroll in an online master’s in information systems and
technology program provides you with an education that meets the same
quality standards as a traditional, on-campus program but with the
convenience of completing your coursework in the comfort of your home.
Flexible scheduling and accommodating attendance policies ensure the
pursuit of your graduate degree will come with minimal disruptions to
your daily routine and allow you to fulfill any current personal or work
obligations. Before choosing a distance learning program, take the time
to compare several to ensure you enroll in one that will support your
career goals and lifestyle.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
IT Project Management Focuses on standard project management principles as they apply to IT work. This can include overseeing finance planning, resource delegation, risk management, integration model structures and software development. IT project manager for a government or private IT department
Data Analytics Provide an overview in the gathering and organizing methods used for data collection and how to analyze large data sets to find logical solutions to issues facing businesses and society. Topics include data visualization, data mining and the study of probability theory. Data scientist, data architect, data analyst for IT departments in a technology lab or office setting
Information Security Examines current and future threats to digital security, with a focus on risk management, biometric systems and cryptography. Students learn how to identify cybersecurity threats and develop solutions and preventive measures. IT manager, information security analyst, information systems research scientist for government or private IT departments in an office or technology lab setting

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology

The curriculum you can expect from an online master’s degree in
information systems and technology will vary between schools. To ensure
you get the most out of your degree, check the offerings of multiple
schools to see which is most supportive to your professional
aspirations. Pay close attention to the delivery method too, as some
schools have blended online programs that include courses that must be
taken on-campus.

The degree concentration and distance learning institution you choose
will both have an impact on the courses that are offered to you. Some
classes, however, are almost universal and will be found in some form as
part of most programs, including:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Enterprise Data Management Students learn the value of data as a resource regarding current and new issues with technology and the development of data storage.
Computing Legal and Ethical Issues Explores the ethical responsibilities programmers have regarding the public’s privacy and social concerns; internal technology issues, such as intellectual property, are covered along with relevant regulations.
IT Financial Management Calculate return on investment using financial planning tools and make financial decisions based on their findings.
Software and Security Examine security weaknesses of software and evaluating different software factors to overcome those weaknesses.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Information Systems And Technology?

The average online master’s degree in information systems and
technology program is 32 to 48 credit hours and is designed to be
completed in under two years. Students with full schedules can elect to
follow a part-time course load and will have up to five years to
complete their degree. Those who want to reduce the time until
graduation may be able to enroll in an accelerated program, allowing
them to take a heavier course load in exchange for fewer semesters.

Your completion time can also be affected by the structure of
curriculum delivery. Some colleges and universities offer a self-paced
format that allows students to complete their courses at the speed they
choose. Others offer a cohort program, where students are grouped
together and proceed through the curriculum at the same pace. Although
the cohort program has a more restrictive timeline, it fosters
networking between classmates, allowing them to lean on each other for
support.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Information Systems Security Professional The CISSP certification is relevant to those who wish to work as a chief information officer, security analyst or IT director. Recognized by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Defense, the CISSP certification can be obtained by passing the exam and logging in five years of relevant work experience. Those with a master’s degree can become certified with only four years’ experience.
Certified Information Systems Auditor The CISA certification is offered through ISACA, previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and recognizes those who have passed the exam and can demonstrate five years of relevant work experience. Advanced degrees can reduce the work experience requirement by up to two years.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology

When building your list of schools that offer an online master’s in
information systems and technology program, make sure those you consider
are accredited by a respected agency. Accreditation is an important
designation because it signifies the program or school has been found to
meet the educational standards set by the accrediting agency. Choosing
to attend a school without accreditation could put your professional
future at risk by preventing credit transfer if you choose to pursue a
postgraduate degree, disqualifying you from licensing or certification,
and possibly risking being rejected by an employer that doesn’t
recognize a degree from a nonaccredited program.

There are several accrediting agencies that are well-known and
respected. The Department of Education is a national agency that offers
accreditation to schools that meet the U.S. educational standards. There
are six regional agencies in the country, including the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
These agencies work with schools in their designated areas and increase
the likelihood of credit transfers between schools they’ve accredited.
There are also industry-specific agencies, like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, that set standards based on industry best practices.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Information Systems And Technology Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Earning a master’s degree in information systems and technology can
open professional doors for you. Having a graduate degree helps you
stand out to potential employers, providing evidence of your additional
knowledge and dedication to your career field. Although many jobs
available to professionals with a degree in information systems and
technology only require a bachelor’s degree, most employers prefer a
master’s degree. This gives you an advantage when applying for the
position you want and also helps you to get the most out of any job you
accept. With the added negotiating power a master’s degree provides, you
can attract a higher starting salary and better benefits.

Expected Salary

The salary potential for jobs held by graduates of information
systems and technology programs starts anywhere between $39,000 and
$74,000, depending on the career path you choose. The table below shows
the salary ranges of some common jobs for people with information
systems and technology degrees.

Job Title Salary Range
Information Systems Manager $49,146-$121,591
Computer/Network System Administrator $41,203-$86,558
Computer Programmer $39,602-$97,951
Software Developer $49,042-$102,555
Network Architect $74,041-$153,702

Earning a graduate degree helps build your knowledge and experience in your field. When it comes to careers in technology, increased experience and knowledge can lead to a dramatic increase in salary potential. The next table shows the relationship between experience and average salaries paid to professionals.

Career Opportunities

A master’s degree adds significant knowledge to your skill set,
giving you more tools to work with that can help you set yourself apart
from your colleagues. This can help when a promotion comes up or can
open professional doors if you wish to switch employers. There are a
number of career options available for someone with a master’s in
information systems and technology.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Computer Network Architect Computer Network Architects are responsible for building small and large data communication networks. This involves creating the layout, soliciting approval, checking for security risks, complete any necessary upgrades and stay up to date on innovative network technology. $104,650 per year 6%
Computer and Information Systems Managers Computer and Information Systems Managers, or IT managers, are responsible for all computer-related activity within an organization. Their job includes determining company computer needs, managing computer security efforts, managing other IT professionals, creating proposals for new projects, recommending computer upgrades when needed and aiding in determining the organization’s technology goals. $139,220 per year 12%
Software Developer Software Developers are the professionals who design software applications to meet the needs of consumers. This involves rigorous testing of developed software to ensure it works as advertised before being released as a completed product. $103,560 per year 24%
Computer Programmer Computer Programmers create and test the code used by software programs and computer applications. They are responsible for building the programs designed by developers, updating and expanding existing programs and test programs for errors. $82,240 per year -7%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations are a great resource for educational and
networking opportunities, career tools and keeping up with the latest
industry news. Here are a few organizations designed for information
systems and technology professionals.

Association of Information Technology Professionals:
The AITP offers members career tools, access to a full library of
training tools, networking communities, the latest in IT research,
additional career resources, members-only discounts and invitations to
exclusive AITP events.

Association of Software Professionals:
ASP members receive a variety of professional benefits, including a
comprehensive list of discounts and freebies, access to the
organization’s newsletters past and present, access to additional
industry publications and discussion groups for networking with your
peers.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Information Systems And Technology

Lower average tuition prices are one of the factors that attracts
students to choose to pursue their graduate degree online, but sometimes
financial aid is still needed. If you need assistance to cover the cost
of graduate school, the first step to take is to fill out the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and find out if you’re
eligible for any of the government-issued grants and loans. Other
options include applying for a private loan or scholarships. The
following resources can get you started on your search for financial
assistance.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

ESA Foundation Scholarship

Award: $3,000

Deadline: May 29

Eligibility: Open to minority students and women with a GPA of at least 2.75 who are pursuing degrees with the intention of working with video game arts or computers.

The Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program

Award: Full tuition

Deadline: Varies

Eligibility: Open to students who are pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree in STEM with at least a 3.0 GPA who can commit to participating in summer internships at a laboratory for the Department of Defense.