Information Technology Master's Degree Programs: A Software Engineer Insider Look
Master of Information Technology (MIT) and Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) are popular degree choices for growing career paths such as computer system analyst and database administrator. A high-level IT professional is an expert in both computer systems and human systems.
There are many IT Master's specialization options, tailored toward specific career tracks.
IT degrees frequently take an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating coursework such as organizational behavior, project life cycles, economic considerations, and even global business concerns. Some information technology programs are more technical than others. There are many options, tailored toward specific career tracks.
Master’s Level Coursework
The following are among the typical course offerings:
There will likely be an IT foundations course; this may include an introduction to resource acquisition and intellectual property rights as well as computers, networks, and databases.
There may be a course in information systems architecture that covers concepts such as layered network architecture and cloud computing.
IT project management coursework will typically cover project life cycles as well as management concerns.
An IT security course may cover security architecture, security certifications, access control, and law and investigations.
Master’s Level IT Specializations
It is likely that all master’s level IT students enrolled through a particular school will cover the same core coursework. There may be room, however, for many electives. Students can often select from several specialized career tracks such as the following.
Database management: The student may study relational database systems, distributed database systems, data mining, and database security.
Information assurance: This track may cover network security, cryptology and data protection, intrusion detection, and ethical concerns.
Telecommunications management: The student may begin with an overview of the telecommunications industry and go on to study network management and design, satellite systems, wireless systems, and internet security.
Project management: A master’s level student who opts for project management may have coursework in process management, budget control, and procurement, as well as in implementation and management of networks, databases, and other systems.
Health information technology: A health IT professional may learn to manage IC10 conversion projects and analyze clinical applications. This is one of many arenas where a student may use internships for career leverage. The Mayo Clinic, for example, takes on highly qualified IT students as interns; among the areas where student interns may be utilized are video WAN troubleshooting and operations design (http://www.mayoclinic.org/jobs/internships/information-technology/program).
Advantages to Master's Level Information Technology Study
Many would-be information technology professionals already have degrees in complementary fields such as business. The more technical IT master's can help them move into new arenas, or if they have already begun to take on information technology duties for a small company, make them competitive for more specialized positions and larger firms.
An IT master’s can also have value for individuals who already have tech degrees. While bachelor's and master's level IT professionals compete for some of same jobs, the master' level candidate can vie for more competitive positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that companies with large databases often like to hire database administrators with master's degrees, whether in information technology, information systems, or computer science. The BLS further notes that some employers like their computer system analysts and computer system architects to have MBAs with specializations in information science – the information science MBA is a degree that may have a greater management focus even than an MIT, and be less technical. Network administrators, too, tend to keep taking classes -- some companies expect the master's. One thing that becomes clear from these BLS summaries is that the higher degree is an asset for mobility and advancement, whatever the particular skill set.
A professional with a master’s may need less work experience to achieve mobility. Some companies state different experience minimums for bachelors and masters candidates. The actual level of experience will of course depend on the strength of a particular candidate’s resume.