Date Updated: November 3, 2020
Technology forms the foundation of modern business. Today's enterprises rely on technology to sell products, serve customers, store data, and transact commerce. Consequently, the world demands professionals who can keep business technology up to date, secure, and efficient.
Known as information technology (IT) managers, these professionals hold positions in one of the fastest-growing, highest-paying career fields of the 21st century. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% job growth for the computer and IT field between 2019 and 2029, adding 531,200 new positions at a median salary of $88,240.
IT managers can work across all industries and in companies of nearly any size. Their roles may include cybersecurity, network management, computer programming, and technology leadership.
The ranking below offers an introduction to the field of IT management, a ranked list of business technology master's degrees, and more information about what it's like to earn a graduate degree in this discipline.
The 10 Best Online IT Management Degrees
|1||Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business and the College of Engineering||Blacksburg, Virginia|
|2||Florida State University College of Business||Tallahassee, Florida|
|3||University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bryan School of Business and Economics||Greensboro, North Carolina|
|4||University of Arizona Eller College of Management||Tucson, Arizona|
|5||Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business||Auburn, Alabama|
|6||Boston University Metropolitan College||Boston, Massachusetts|
|7||Missouri University of Science & Technology College of Arts, Sciences, and Business||Rolla, Missouri|
|8||Colorado State University College of Business||Fort Collins, Colorado|
|9||Stevens Institute of Technology School of Business||Hoboken, New Jersey|
|10||University of South Florida College of Engineering||Tampa, Florida|
What Is Information Technology Management?
Qualified technology professionals work in a variety of jobs across a spectrum of industries and business verticals. They may serve as computer programmers, network administrators, or computer systems analysts. With more management experience, IT professionals may move into roles as information systems managers or department heads. Leadership-oriented professionals may eventually assume positions as chief technology officers or chief information security officers.
Today's managers join a profession that stretches back to the early 1900s, when newly formed industries needed skilled managers to make teams and departments function effectively. IT management, however, forms a relatively new subfield of management. When businesses began relying on computers in the 1980s, the IT field arose as they needed experts to manage their technology.
Today, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and consulting firms in every industry employ IT professionals to help keep their systems secure, functional, up to date, and in good working order.
As companies rely more and more heavily on technology, the role of IT professionals can only expand. In fact, the BLS projects 531,200 new jobs in the field between 2019 and 2029, indicating a much faster-than-average growth rate for computer and IT occupations.
Professionals in the industry can particularly expect to see cybersecurity and data analytics jobs proliferate. Right now, cybersecurity is one of the hottest jobs fields available and looks well-positioned to stay that way. As more and more companies acquire, store, harvest, and use data to make decisions, companies need to hire more data analysts.
Why Get an IT Management Master's?
An IT management degree combines two of the most lucrative, intriguing, and in-demand job fields — business administration and IT. Graduate education requires deep research, synthesis, team work, and writing, which together form the foundation of a great career.
In a master's program, students acquire advanced knowledge and superior real-world skills. With suitable knowledge and skills in both business and technology, graduates position themselves to earn above-average IT manager salaries.
- – Build Credibility: Standing out in a broad field such as business can seem tough. A master's degree in IT management often helps professionals enhance their professional recognition and expand their personal networks while adding to their knowledge base.
- – Earn More Money: According to research from the BLS, people with master's degrees earn more money and enjoy lower unemployment rates than people with less education. This degree can open up higher-paying leadership roles in business technology.
- – Develop Your Personal Brand: A master's degree can help distinguish young and mid-career professionals on social media, in their industry associations, and in the job search. It demonstrates authoritative knowledge and skill in problem solving and business technology.
Ranking the Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in IT Management
Graduate education demands time, effort, and money. That's why prospective learners need to weigh many considerations when choosing a school.
Online rankings provide a launching pad for deeper research into available programs, their relative strengths, and their costs. While no one should make a decision based on a single ranking list, these resources offer an introduction to the best programs, giving students a feel for the overall merit of the degrees available.
Researchers rank academic programs in many different ways. No single ranking methodology holds sway in the marketplace, but we created our list using the following metrics:
- – Accreditation: 25%
- – Affordability: 25%
- – Regional College Prestige: 25%
- – Online Prestige: 25%
To learn more about our ranking methodology, you can visit our dedicated methodology page.
1. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Public university in Blacksburg, Virginia, accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
A public, land-grant university of more than 36,000 students, Virginia Tech holds distinction as the state's second-largest university and one of six senior military colleges. The institution offers about 160 graduate programs.
Commissioned by the state 20 years ago, Virginia Tech's master of IT program awarded degrees to more than 1,000 students. The program now holds a National Security Agency Designation as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.
The program consists of 11 courses — four foundation courses and seven electives — that together total 33 credits. Foundation courses include software engineering, object-oriented programming with Java, and strategic leadership in technology-based organizations. Students can focus their elective courses on a specialization such as cybersecurity, big data, software engineering, or analytics & business intelligence.
Applying to Virginia Tech
- – Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- – Students need experience in a modern programming language.
- – Prospective students do not need to submit scores from the GMAT or GRE.
2. Florida State University
Public university in Tallahassee, Florida, accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Founded in 1851, FSU is the oldest continuously operating institute of higher learning in the state. Today, the school serves more than 40,000 graduate and undergraduate students in over 360 academic programs.
This 33-credit graduate program requires 11 courses that blend technological prowess with advanced business knowledge.
Courses include knowledge management, corporate information security, and database development and management. Students also choose four electives from options such as business conditions analysis and marketing strategy in the global environment. By taking two courses online each semester, students can finish the program in about two years.
Before enrolling, learners need two years of work experience in technology or a bachelor's degree in technology and two years of general work experience.
Applying to FSU
- – Applicants submit a statement, resume, and letters of recommendation.
- – Students need transcripts from all schools attended.
- – FSU accepts either the GMAT or the GRE, but prefers the GMAT for this competitive program.
3. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Public university in Greensboro, North Carolina, accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Founded as a women's college and now part of the University of North Carolina system, UNCG educates about 20,000 students each year. The university offers approximately 187 academic programs through on-campus and virtual learning options.
Preparing students for enriching careers in business or IT, UNCG's MS in IT and management offers state-of-the-art coursework in a flexible curriculum along with valuable career connections. This program requires 30-36 credits, including 12 credits of core courses, six credits of basic business courses, and the remainder as electives in a concentration option.
Core courses include organizing data for analytics, app design and programming, designing secure computer and IoT networks for business, and a capstone. Students can concentrate in business analytics, cybersecurity, or supply chain management.
Applying to UNCG
- – Applicants need to hold a bachelor's degree in any discipline.
- – The university reviews applications for any semester.
- – Students who complete one of the program concentrations as a certificate can secure a GMAT waiver.
4. University of Arizona
Public university in Tucson, Arizona, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
The first university in the Arizona territory, UArizona today enrolls more than 45,000 students across 19 colleges and schools. Its business school serves about 6,500 students in 10 undergraduate and 16 graduate programs.
Students learn to meet the challenges of a modern, tech-driven business world in this accelerated academic program. The master's in management information systems requires 30-33 credits, which learners can complete in just 10 months according to the university's eight-week course schedule.
Core courses include enterprise data management, data mining for business intelligence, and information security in public and private sectors. Enrollees must also take at least three elective courses and complete a final project. UArizona offers one dual degree with this program — the master's in cybersecurity.
Applying to UArizona
- – Applicants can apply for one of six enrollment dates each year.
- – Requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and two years of work experience.
5. Auburn University
Public university in Auburn, Alabama, accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
One of Alabama's two flagship universities, Auburn serves more than 30,000 students, making it the state's second-largest institution of higher education. The school's athletic team, the Auburn Tigers, competes successfully in many collegiate sports leagues.
Students can expand their technical knowledge across data processing and digital products through Auburn's master's in information systems management. Offered through the college of business, this degree can serve seasoned industry professionals and students who hold no technology background.
Degree-seekers can participate in international experiences, service learning opportunities, and faculty-led career-focused workshops. The program's curriculum requires 31 credits composed of three required courses, seven electives, and one global business experience. To graduate, students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA both cumulatively and in the major.
Applying to Auburn
- – Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, and the school prefers applications from prospective students with two years of experience.
- – The school requires applicants to submit scores from either the GMAT or GRE, and prefers the GMAT.
6. Boston University, Metropolitan College
Private university in Boston, Massachusetts, accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Founded in 1965, BU MET is one of the 17 degree-granting institutions that make up BU. The college serves part-time and non-traditional students. BU itself maintains an enrollment of about 35,000 students in graduate and undergraduate programs.
Equipping students for leadership roles in technical positions, BU's master's in computer information systems requires 40 credits and takes 18-24 months to complete. Enrollees take 20 credits of core courses, including business data communication and networks, database design and implementation for business, information systems analysis and design, and IT strategy and management. Small course sizes facilitate hands-on activities.
The degree includes seven concentration options such as security, data analytics, and database management and business intelligence. Graduates can compete for jobs fighting cybercrime, developing applications, or managing computer networks.
Applying to BU
- – Applicants can apply for one of six start dates during the school year.
- – All students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
- – The school does not require the GRE or GMAT, but students may use their scores to strengthen their applications.
7. Missouri University of Science and Technology
Public university in Rolla, Missouri, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
A member institution of the University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T serves more than 8,000 students. Most of these learners are pursuing a variety of STEM majors at either graduate or undergraduate levels. Interestingly, the campus features a partial reconstruction of the Stonehenge monument.
Missouri S&T's program prepares tomorrow's information science professionals through a rigorous curriculum in design, development, and application of information systems for businesses. The degree requires 30 credits, including four core courses and a selection of electives.
Core courses include human-computer interaction, foundations of internet computing, advanced information systems project management, and technological innovation management and leadership. Students may select their electives from areas such as AI, finance, business intelligence, and mobile business and technology. The curriculum includes both thesis and non-thesis options.
Applying to Missouri S&T
- – Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or successfully complete 12 graduate hours in information science and technology.
- – Applicants must hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
- – Students must meet or exceed minimum GRE or GMAT scores.
8. Colorado State University
Public university in Fort Collins, Colorado, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
The Colorado State University System's flagship university, CSU enrolls more than 33,000 students in about 160 academic programs. More than 5,000 of the university's students learn online. The school is recognized for its work on clean energy development.
A 33-credit program with a 99%-job-placement record, CSU's master of computer information systems prepares skilled professionals for technology leadership positions. Full-time students take three semesters to complete the program's 15 core and 18 elective credits. Part-time students need five semesters.
Core courses include business database systems, software development methodology, and application software infrastructure. Degree-seekers select electives from options such as cybersecurity, e-business application technologies, and advanced IT project management. Online learners study using self-paced lectures in step with class assignments.
Applying to CSU
- – Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- – CSU accepts GRE or GMAT scores or a waiver.
- – Applicants must demonstrate skill, capacity, and strong written communication abilities.
9. Stevens Institute of Technology
Private university in Hoboken, New Jersey, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
One of the oldest technological universities in the U.S., Stevens began in 1870 as a mechanical engineering school. Today, the institute serves more than 6,000 students and houses two national centers of excellence.
Stevens prepares business-focused technology leaders for the future of digital innovation. The school's 36-credit information systems master's degree requires a business core, an information systems core, and a series of electives. The program concludes with a customized capstone experience.
Courses include digital innovation, risk management, integrating information systems technologies, and data analytics and machine learning. Students can use their elective courses to pursue one of four concentrations, including cybersecurity risk management and business intelligence and analytics.
Stevens also offers an MBA with an IT management concentration for students interested in a more traditional business-focused curriculum.
Applying to Stevens
- – Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a "B" average.
- – Resumes should show at least one year of experience, although applicants can receive consideration without meeting this requirement.
- – Submit competitive scores on the GRE or GMAT.
10. University of South Florida
Public university in Tampa, Florida, accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
As Florida's fourth-largest public university, USF enrolls more than 50,000 students across 180 academic programs, 14 colleges, and three campuses. USF houses both the National Academy of Inventors and the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.
USF's IT master's degree equips learners to solve business problems using strong technology skills. This hybrid program requires at least 30 credits composed of nine core credits and 21 hours of electives. Core courses include advanced database management, penetration testing for IT, and advances in object-oriented programming for IT.
For elective credits, learners may take courses, complete an internship, arrange a special project, or enroll in a special topics seminar. To graduate, students must hold a minimum GPA of 3.0 and pass a comprehensive exam.
Applying to USF
- – Unless they qualify for a waiver, applicants must score in the 81st percentile or higher on the quantitative section of the GRE.
- – Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with an average grade of "B" in all coursework undertaken in the last two years.
What to Expect From IT Management Master's Programs
Earning a master's in information technology management can take less than a year or up to three years, depending on the program's requirements and format. Many executive MBA programs run on a 10-month calendar, for example, while part-time master's degrees may let students take fewer courses over a two- or- three- year time frame. Most full-time MBA programs require 40-60 credits. Accelerated MBAs may only require 36 credits, much like most MS and MA programs.
Students who plan to lead teams, departments, or companies may choose the MBA, while aspiring technicians or career-switchers may find the MS or MA a better fit.
Regardless of the type of degree chosen, all IT management degrees incorporate coursework in both business management and technology.
The length of a program depends on the number of credits and the structure of the school's academic calendar. Degree-seekers typically complete online and in-person programs in similar time frames.
Most applicants for IT master's degrees need a bachelor's with a minimum GPA. For the MBA, however, students may need to hold a business major or minor or meet other academic prerequisites.
IT Management Degree Options
Not all IT learners share the same career goals, so not all IT degrees hold the same focus. Students can choose to pursue one of several online master's in IT management, including the master of arts, master of science, and the master of business administration.
Typically, the master of arts focuses on soft skills such as business communication and technical writing. Most IT management degrees, however, emphasize the overlap between business and technology.
Usually a 33- or- 36- credit program, the master of science includes coursework in real-world management scenarios focused on IT processes and policies. This degree usually requires a bachelor's in any subject for admission and prepares students for entry-level careers in the field. The master of business administration, by contrast, helps entry-level professionals with some academic background in business to advance to mid-level or executive roles in management.
Most MBA programs require an undergraduate major or minor in business and three years of work experience. Future technical writers and business communicators may pursue the MA, while technicians typically pursue the MS and aspiring executives enroll in the MBA.
Popular IT Management Courses
Any master's in information technology management can help students prepare to lead IT teams that support business functions. But not all schools achieve that goal through the same curricular path. Each institution builds its curriculum according to its own vision, resources, and preferences.
Nearly all IT management degrees, however, include a series of core courses in both technology and business along with a selection of electives. At some schools, students can use electives to create a concentration. Most programs conclude with a capstone or final project.
- – Telecommunications and Networking: In this course, students learn the fundamentals of telecommunications and networking such as analysis, design, implementation, related hardware, current trends, and network models. The course includes discussion of the strategic position that telecommunications and networking occupy in the modern business environment.
- – Advanced IT: Enrollees in this course learn the principles underlying IT systems, including their analysis, design, and management. Course topics include development methodologies, software engineering, requirements analysis, and systems planning and implementation. Learners also study project management relative to IT.
- – Enterprise Resource Planning: Blending business management practices with information technology, this course examines how enterprise systems support business functions in organizations. Students consider how IT teams work together with business managers to enable tech integration and business process re-engineering.
- – Management of IT: Students in this course delve into the details of managing IT in contemporary business settings. Topics include the relationship between organizational structure and technological change, best practices for IT management, and project management.
- – IT Management Capstone: The culminating experience for a master's in IT management, the capstone helps learners integrate the skills and knowledge gained throughout the program. A capstone project can take many shapes, but its goal remains to support students as they transition from the classroom to the job site.
What Jobs Can an IT Management Degree Get You?
Master's degrees open the doors to interesting careers and lucrative salaries across a spectrum of industries and sectors. Most people who earn a master's degree in business either want to specialize in their field or plan to move into management. Those who pursue an IT management degree plan to do both. They often envision themselves leading teams of technology professionals.
The BLS projects an 11% increase in computer and information technology jobs between 2019 and 2029, and a 5% increase in management jobs in the same time frame. These fast-growing career fields also pay well above average. Computer and IT professionals earn a median of $88,240 per year, while managers bring in $105,660.
Earning an MBA in IT management can help current IT professionals or project managers take advantage of jobs in these salary ranges by increasing students' knowledge, technical skills, and personnel management savvy.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Working across a variety of sectors including technology, finance, and manufacturing, computer and information systems managers oversee other IT professionals. These managers direct a company's computer-related activities such as data analysis, hardware installation, and vendor negotiation. They also stay abreast of new technology so they know what to recommend as their company considers upgrades.
- – Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; MBA preferred
- – Job Outlook (2019-2029): +10%
- – Median Annual Salary: $146,360
Chief Information Officers
Serving as part of the senior leadership team, a chief information officer holds responsibility for managing, implementing, and using a company's technology. These executives often work with finance, sales, and product development teams to oversee building and operating digital platforms that serve cross-functional purposes within the organization.
- – Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; MBA preferred
- – Job Outlook (2019-2029): +4%
- – Median Annual Salary: $184,460
Information Security Analysts
These professionals help protect organizations from cybersecurity threats and breaches. Their roles may vary depending on the size and mission of their company, but typically, information security analysts monitor the network, conduct tests, install and use security software, and prepare reports on security related issues.
- – Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; MBA preferred
- – Job Outlook (2019-2029): +31%
- – Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Selecting Your Master's in IT Management Program
Selecting which online master's program to attend is not easy. Prospective students need to weigh several factors in their choice. For instance, where is the program located? How long does it take to complete? What benefits does this school's brand offer? And do my test scores meet minimum standards?
A rankings list can offer a great start, but students should also think about:
- – Accreditation: Regional, national, and programmatic accreditors approve schools in the U.S. Regional accreditation serves as the industry gold standard. Without it, students may face challenges in obtaining financial aid, transferring coursework, and securing admission to doctoral programs. Many of the best business schools also hold programmatic accreditation with an agency such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
- – Alumni Network: How many alumni does this school have? Of those, how many hold a business or IT degree? Is the alumni network active? Can members help new graduates secure interviews and job placements?
- – Cost and Financial Aid: Is this school affordable? Prospective students need to make data-based decisions about cost. Sometimes a school with a higher sticker price offers a better financial aid package. Weigh all factors before deciding which option is the priciest.
- – Program Length: Students should consider how much time they want to invest in a degree. Will this program take 10 months or three years?
Why Should You Get an Online Master's?
A decade or two ago, some employers looked askance at degrees earned online. Not today, however. With nearly 7 million learners studying online even pre-pandemic, the marketplace now embraces internet-delivered education. Today, an online degree shows that a student possesses self-discipline, personal ambition, and strong time management skills.
In fact, post-COVID, nearly all students can say they earned at least part of their degrees online. Consequently, virtual learning no longer bears a stigma among employers. In fact, it can demonstrate positive personal and academic characteristics. Students earning a technology-related degree can show their facility with learning platforms in part by completing their education online.
An online master's in IT management fits easily into an online format. Unlike certain healthcare or social science degrees, this program's technology and business emphases focus on project-based learning that an online platform can easily facilitate.
The benefits of earning a master's in information technology management online include a flexible schedule, lower costs, and online networking opportunities.
Each student, however, must decide if online learning is right for them. Only students with good organizational skills, self discipline, and the commitment to see an online degree through to completion should start a distance education program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a master's in IT management worth it?
One of the fastest-growing and most-lucrative career fields in the world, IT management offers some of the 21st century's top careers. Students who want to put one foot in management and one in technology can see their dreams come true with a master's in IT management.
What can I do with a master's in IT management?
An IT management degree can open up careers in project management, computer systems analysis, information systems management, and cybersecurity oversight. An IT-focused MBA with a concentration in data analytics may open that field as well.
What kind of IT management degrees are there?
Students can earn an associate degree, bachelor's degree, or graduate degree in an IT management field. Many jobs require at least a bachelor's degree for consideration. Graduate programs can include an MBA, a master's in computer science, or a master's in management.
What does an IT manager do?
IT managers plan, manage, and supervise the IT department in their company. Their responsibilities cover hardware, software, and networks, but specific job descriptions vary by company. They may do hands-on work at a small enterprise or direct operations at a larger one.
What is an IT manager's salary?
According to PayScale, the average IT manager in the U.S. earns $88,480 per year. This salary falls in line with most jobs in the computer and IT sector, and more than doubles the average American worker's salary.