As long as businesses continue to embrace computer networking and online technologies to improve their prospects, the need for skilled information technology leaders should continue to rise as well. This may create unique opportunities for those who understand computers from both a business and technical perspective, and can use this knowledge to further an organization's goals. For such individuals, earning an education in technology management can be a valuable asset in the field. However, attending college is often easier said than done, especially for people who have a commitment to a job or to their family. In such a circumstance, an online degree program may be able to help.
To help students and technical professionals alike sharpen their technology and business expertise, we've created a list of five schools that offer online degree programs for IT management. This list was made possible by analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) with our unique methodology, which weighs information such as acceptance rate, tuition costs and graduation rate to find the best colleges for online and nontraditional students.
Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools. But first, let the spotlight focus on these five featured online colleges for IT management.
IT management is a job that requires seeing the big picture and the little picture at the same time. At times, it can seem a little bit like being able to see into the technological future. Succeeding in this fast-paced field requires considerable education — the kind found in online programs for IT management. Here's an overview of the kinds of courses students can expect from these programs, as well as the skillsets they may acquire while taking them.
Typically, earning an IT management position requires a bachelor's degree and preexisting professional experience, so these programs are usually offered at the graduate level. However, online bachelor's degree programs in IT management do exist — usually as concentrations in a related major, such as business administration. Completing such a program does not guarantee you early access to an IT management position or anything of the sort, but it can prepare you for the rigors of an IT management master's degree program in a way students may find more relatable than a related degree, such as information technology or computer programming.
Students earning online master's degrees in IT management should expect to study not only information systems and computer-related topics, but also business subjects such as risk management, leadership, quality assurance and financial analysis. Much of the work of IT managers is technical project management — seeing a computer-related project from conception all the way through planning and implementation. This means that project management is a large part of the coursework students will encounter, across all degree levels.
Courses offered in an online IT management master's degree program may include:
Additionally, many online graduate programs for IT management include capstone courses, which are courses that ask students to demonstrate learning throughout their program, as well as proctored exams. Some Master of Science programs may even include thesis projects supervised by faculty members, which require students to conduct significant research.
Aside from the technical skills IT managers must have, there are a number of personal qualities they'll find important for doing this work. In general, IT managers should be confident and skilled with technology but also strong business leaders. Colleges offering online IT management degree programs are structured to emphasize skills such as:
Those who pursue information technology project manager careers marry the principles of project management with an understanding of how different technologies work. As a result, these professionals are able to take the lead in information technology projects while keeping in mind both the business and technological realities of working on these projects. Specific duties include creating schedules and budgets and ensuring they are adhered to; keeping track of milestones; making assignments for different elements of a project and monitoring employees' progress; providing assistance with technology testing; and performing risk assessments. Those who want to pursue IT project management positions should have strong critical thinking, written and verbal communication, and negotiation skills. Workers may obtain employment with a bachelor's degree, but some organizations may require a graduate degree.
Computer and information systems managers lead the way when it comes to fulfilling employer's technology needs. These professionals look for ways to upgrade their company's computer networks with the goal of making their systems work faster or with more efficiency. When the time comes, they also research and suggest software updates to executives who make spending decisions for their company. Other responsibilities include ensuring that an organizations' data and networks are secure from breaches. These professionals may work for a variety of industries, such as computer systems, finance, insurance, management, and manufacturing companies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many computer and information systems managers have a graduate degree. However, a bachelor's degree and related work experience may help workers qualify for entry-level work.