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Technology and information technology (IT) define how we live and do business today. As Microsoft founder Bill Gates observed in 2008, "There are about a billion PCs in use around the world today. The number of people who use cell phones is close to 3 billion. About 300 million people are connected to broadband Internet. Software permeates every sector of the economy and almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives."

The demand for highly trained technology professionals has never been stronger. A master's degree in technology and IT prepares you to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether you use the degree to keep pace with evolving technology, advance into a supervisory role, or expand your expertise into a new field, a graduate education offers a powerful tool for growing your career.

Master of Science and Professional Master's Degrees in Technology and IT

Master's degree programs in technology and IT range from the research-oriented Master of Science in technology to the applied professional master's degree.

Graduate technology and IT program options include:

  • Master of Science (MS or MSc): The MS resembles the traditional academic master's degree, combining advanced coursework and a research capstone project. Though most graduates go on to a professional career, some use the MS in technology as a springboard into a technology PhD program or a teaching career. The MS qualifies you to teach at vocational schools, community colleges, and in corporate training.
  • Professional Master's Degree (PMD): The professional master's degree is a relatively new credential designed to reflect the real-world needs of IT professionals. The curriculum bridges the gap between the MS and the MBA with up-to-date technical instruction and practical business skills development. Students prepare to advance into management roles with training in leadership and communications.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): The MBA in IT management fosters the business skills and technical understanding needed to run an IT department or oversee projects. IT professionals generally use this degree to advance into supervisory roles such as project manager, IT manager, and CTO. Working IT professionals can earn a master's degree online in IT management.

Technology and IT Disciplines

Graduate technology and IT programs reflect the the vast landscape of technical careers. Choose from master's degree programs in these technology disciplines:

Computer Science

Upgrade your design and development skills with a Master of Science or professional master's degree in a computer science field. The following programs range from theoretical computer science degrees to applied training in the software and hardware development:

  • Computer science
  • Computer and software engineering
  • Computer programming

Information Technology

The MS in IT offers an overview of the advanced technology used to manage information. The IT degree generally blends computer science, information management systems, and digital media communications training in the following programs:

  • Information science
  • Information technology
  • Information systems
  • Information systems security
  • Information assurance

Network and Database Management

Network and database management master's degrees prepare you to build and maintain information systems. Learn how to apply available technology to manage data securely and efficiently, affording reliable access, transmission, and storage of information in the following programs:

  • Database management
  • Network administration
  • Network security

Digital Media and the Internet

Digital media play a crucial role in commercial ventures, communications, and entertainment. Discover the latest digital media design technologies with an online master's degree in:

  • Multimedia and Web design
  • Web development
  • Game design and development

Interdisciplinary Master's Degrees in IT

Interdisciplinary master's degrees prepare students for roles that require both technical and non-technical skills, as in the following programs:

  • IT management. Business topics include IT management, project management, marketing, communications, finance, and more.
  • Technology education. Education topics include classroom management, K-12 education, IT curriculum development, and distance education.

Graduate-Level Careers in Technology and IT

Graduate-level careers in information technology represent some of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., according to the Department of Labor.

Information Technology

The computer systems design industry is set to grow 45 percent between 2008 and 2018, or four times as fast as average for all other industries. Network systems analysts make up the fastest-growing occupation in the U.S., with an estimated 53 percent job growth through 2018.

Graduate-level careers in information technology include:

  • IT management
  • Systems analyst
  • Database analyst

Technology Development

Software development jobs, meanwhile, are on course to grow 30 percent during the same period. Computer research scientists will increase their ranks by about 24 percent through 2018, adding an estimated 7000 jobs nationwide.

Careers in technology R&D include:

  • Computer research scientist
  • Software engineer
  • Computer programmer

With strong demand across high-level technology and IT careers, you can expect to recoup the value of your master's degree in professional advancement and salary increases.

The Road Ahead for Graduate Technology and IT Programs

Students in technology and IT are receiving historic support for graduate education, as the government and private industry struggle to increase the supply of workers with advanced degrees. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers account for more than 50 percent of the nation's sustained economic growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Yet between 1994 and 2004, the number of master's degree graduates steadily declined.

In response to this alarming trend, public and private organizations have joined forces to promote master's degrees in technology and IT. In a 2008 speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, Bill Gates called for the U.S. to "double the number of science, technology, and mathematics graduates by 2015." The federal government has taken various measures to ensure continued support for technology education, including the STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009.

The implications of these efforts for master's degrees in technology and IT include:

  • National Science Foundation and private funding for graduate education
  • Improved accessibility of graduate education; for example, distance education programs enable students to earn a master's degree online
  • Professionalization of the master's degree in IT, including "coursework in finance, project management, and other areas of business"

Robust demand for advanced technology and IT degrees combined with ample support for graduate education add up to ideal conditions for earning a master's degree. Earn a master's degree online, and you'll earn the means to advance your technology or IT career.

Sources

  • "Computer Network, Systems, and Database Administrators," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • "Computer Scientists," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • "Computer Systems Design and Related Services," Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011 Edition. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Professional Master of Science and Technology (PMST), University of Utah
  • "Software Publishers," Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011 Edition. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009, Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives (Jun 8, 2009)
  • Terrell, Nicholas. "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Occupations," Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Spring 2007)
  • "The 30 fastest growing occupations covered in the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook," Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • "The STEM Workforce Challenge," U.S. Department of Labor (April 2007)
  • Written Testimony of William H. Gates Chairman, Microsoft Corporation And Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Committee on Science and Technology United States House of Representatives (Mar 12, 2008)

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