Best online information technology doctorate 2021: Top picks

    Are you a professional in the information technology or computer services industries? If you are looking for a degree that can send you to the forefront of your field, consider earning an information technology doctorate. This highly specialized doctoral degree is available online at accredited schools nationwide and can boost your computer and information systems-related career.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information systems managers can anticipate an 11% growth in employment from 2020-2030. A doctoral degree will equip you with the knowledge to evolve with these dynamic changes in computer and telecommunications systems.

    Read on for our ranking of the top information technology doctorates nationwide, along with what to expect from this degree.

    The best online information technology doctorate degrees

    Before reading our rankings of the top information technology doctorates, take a moment to check out ZDNet’s ranking methodology. This page clarifies how we select the most affordable, academically-respected, and practical online degrees for our ranking pages.

    On this page, we have listed schools alphabetically rather than in numeric order.

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    Colorado State University

    Fort Collins, Colorado

    About the program: CSU offers a 72-credit online doctorate in systems engineering that caters to working professionals. The multifaceted degree covers complex systems engineering, including core and elective coursework on information technology management, analytics, and cybersecurity.

    • Acceptance rate: 81%
    • Graduation rate: 69%
    • Avg. annual net price: $18,668
    • Years to completion: Four to five
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Indiana State University

    Terre Haute, Indiana

    About the program: ISU’s catalog of online programs includes a 66-credit online Ph.D. in technology management. The program offers concentrations in quality systems, digital communication systems, construction management, human resource development, and manufacturing systems and requires three-years’ work experience as a prerequisite.

    • Acceptance rate: 90%
    • Graduation rate: 42%
    • Avg. annual net price: $13,896
    • Years to completion: Four to five
    • GRE/GMAT: Required, no minimum score.
    • Minimum GPA: 3.5
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
    • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, Kentucky

    About the program: UC’s 60-credit online Ph.D. in information technology culminates in a dissertation meant to advance best practices in information technology. The program features concentrations in information systems security, information technology, digital forensics, and blockchain technology.

    • Acceptance rate: 80%
    • Graduation rate: 67%
    • Avg. annual net price: $16,894
    • Years to completion: Three to five
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
    • Course delivery method: Synchronous

    Accreditation: University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    What to expect in an online information technology doctorate degree program

    An online information technology doctorate prepares you for top-level management and postsecondary educational positions relating to computer and telecommunications systems. You can expect this degree to take three to five years, or 50-90 credits, to complete.

    Courses in this major typically cover information security management, networks, and data analytics. Your program may also cover philosophical topics in information technology, such as information technology and strategic global management, information governance, and legal and ethical issues in information technology.

    Your program will likely culminate with a conventional dissertation, though some programs may allow you to opt for a capstone project. Working closely with your faculty advisor can make it easier to pick a topic, collect data, and synthesize your findings you will present to faculty.

    Information technology doctorate courses

    Information technology doctorate programs can differ noticeably in their course offerings. Most programs include course topics in networks, network security management, and project management and/or leadership and information technology, along with required research coursework. You also can expect most programs to discuss complex ethical issues relating to information governance and telecommunications.

    The following course list represents some of the most common overlapping courses found at different information technology doctoral programs.

    Information technology and project management

    This course investigates foundational project management skills through an information technology lens. Students learn how to plan, initiate, and follow-through with information technology projects, as well as how information technology contributes to organizational resiliency.

    Information security management

    This course prepares learners for work as a network administrator or analyst, giving them the opportunity to create their own secure network system. Topics may include security systems architecture, system recovery planning, and access control systems.

    Legal and ethical issues in information technology

    This course overviews the different issues relating to privacy, policy, and unauthorized computer and network privacy violations as they apply to local, state, and federal regulation and law.

    Applied research methods

    This course prepares learners for their dissertation by overviewing the foundations of quantitative and qualitative research methods for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. Students with prior graduate-level education can immediately progress to advanced statistical analysis.

    Information technology degree levels

    The different levels of information technology degrees exist to help learners meet different career goals. If you want a quick credential qualifying you to work as a network administrator, an associate will likely fit your needs. More advanced degrees can help you climb the rungs of your company to become a top-level manager in IT and computer systems.

    Information technology certificate

    • Length: 6-12 months
    • Cost: $300-$2,000
    • Post-grad careers: Network associate, IT support specialist, cybersecurity manager

    Information technology certificates offer a quick and inexpensive route into the information technology industry, making them a good choice for computer science majors making a career pivot. Most programs teach you how to work with a particular platform, or teach a particular specialization area, such as cybersecurity.

    The typical program takes 4-12 months to complete and only costs a few hundred dollars. Most programs do not require any previous IT experience, which makes them a great choice for beginners.

    Associate in information technology

    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $5,000-$10,000
    • Post-grad careers: Network and computer system administrator, software developer, computer support specialist

    An information technology associate degree is a relatively inexpensive, generalized credential that can help kickstart a career as a network or computer system administrator, programmer, or data manager.

    The typical program may cover a variety of topics, including programming software applications, installing and maintaining networks, protecting networks and software from cybersecurity threats, and more. To succeed in this program, you need a clear idea of what you want from your degree to pick the right concentration for your career plans.

    Bachelor’s in information technology

    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $40,000-$150,000
    • Post-grad careers: Data manager, cybersecurity manager, cloud architect

    Like a two-year information technology associate, an information technology bachelor’s teaches foundational skills in networks, programming, scripting, and cloud technology. However, this four-year information technology degree covers topics in data management, networks, and network and security in greater detail. Oftentimes, the program also prepares students for professional certifications.

    To succeed in an information technology bachelor’s program, you need strong skills in group collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, along with a passion for data and computer systems and software.

    Master’s in information technology

    • Length: Two to three years
    • Cost: $35,000-$100,000
    • Post-grad careers: IT director, computer or information research scientist, IT project manager

    An information technology master’s is typically aimed at seasoned IT professionals looking for upward career mobility. This degree expands on the bachelor’s by offering deeper coursework in information technology project management, data analytics, and information assurance. Completing this degree can help you achieve a senior-level management position in data management, project management, or cybersecurity.

    Many programs offer the opportunity for you to complete an internship alongside your studies and conclude with a capstone or thesis.

    Doctorate in information technology

    • Length: Three to five years
    • Cost: $50,000-$200,000
    • Post-grad careers: IT director, computer or information research scientist, postsecondary information technology teacher

    A doctorate in information technology is a terminal degree that can prepare you for the highest level of specialization in any given area in information technology, such as networks, data science, and cybersecurity. Alternatively, you can also use it to become a university professor in computer science or information technology.

    Like most doctoral degrees, an information technology doctorate typically culminates in a dissertation. Your program will feature a research component to prepare for your long-form presentation on a contemporary issue in information technology.

    In conclusion

    An information technology doctorate can put you at the forefront of computer and telecommunications systems practice and research. Pursuing this degree will arm you with the skills to create and manage computer and network systems, as well as educate the next generation of information technology professionals.

    If this article has interested you and you want to find out how to finance your degree, take a moment to look at our guide on information technology scholarships.

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