How to Get a PhD, DBA, or EdD in Information Technology

The success of any business is owed in part to the organization of its technology and systems. With a doctorate in information technology, you’ll combine computer science, information systems, and other major disciplines to innovate within the field. This terminal degree proves your mastery of information science and technology.

Earning a PhD in Information Technology

Information technology is often considered an interdisciplinary field, allowing students to work closely in one area of research while maintaining a broad base of knowledge. A PhD in Technology with a specialization in Information Technology combines the following fields:

  • Computer science
  • Software engineering
  • Information systems
  • Telecommunications

Because the practice of information systems management requires a broad scope of management and technology skill, you can expect a doctorate degree in the field to employ the same wide level of education and research.

Online PhD in Information Technology

Online PhD programs and online DBA programs alike offer similar benefits to students. Attending online graduate school means you have more freedom and control over your schedule. Unlike campus-based programs, you’re not tied to a certain schedule.

While some online PhD programs may have a campus attendance requirement, fully online programs can be completed wherever you can find an Internet connection. Consider an online PhD in Information Technology if you’d rather keep your career as you attend school. Self-motivated doctoral students enjoy adding to their educational level as they build their career experience.

Alternative Doctoral Degrees in Information Technology

Students looking for an alternative degree to the PhD might consider a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Information Systems Management, a DBA in Technology Entrepreneurship, or an EdD in Information Systems. Each degree should be considered equally rigorous in terms of research and study.

Professional DBA in Information Systems Management

Working in information systems management means tailoring your business management knowledge specifically to information and communication technology. Whether it’s an on-campus or online DBA program, a typical DBA in information systems management will cover the following topics:

  • Building organizations
  • Innovation in professional practice
  • Systems in international business
  • Strategic marketing practices
  • Doctoral study prospectus

As a DBA candidate, you’ll combine extant theory and innovative research to add to the body of knowledge related to information systems management. Graduates of DBA programs return to the workforce with a unique set of skills:

  • Broad perspectives in business
  • Practical expertise in information systems
  • Understanding of management across culture
  • Research skills related to the field

Such skills are valuable in both the corporate and academic world, and as a graduate you may go on to work in upper management, consulting, teaching, or research. A DBA in technology entrepreneurship will have similar educational goals, with a higher research focus on new business leadership.

Academic EdD in Educational Technology

As technology evolves, institutions of higher learning have an interest in research that leads to the development of best practices within the technology-enriched classroom. A Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in educational technology will consider the interaction within the following fields:

  • Curriculum design
  • Educational pedagogy
  • Information technology

Doctoral students earning an EdD in Educational Technology focus their research on the ways technology interacts with education. Graduates may go on to teach in higher education, or work in administrative positions at colleges and universities.

Requirements for the PhD in Information Technology

Though the research and goals vary from degree to degree and from school to school, a few standard requirements apply to any doctoral degree program. In the study of information technology, doctoral candidates will complete a research paper, qualifying examinations, and a dissertation that adds new knowledge to the practice and study of information technology.

Beyond those basic requirements, programs vary in terms of research requirements, classroom attendance, pedagogy instruction, and more. Even online PhD programs in information technology could require students to meet a requirement of academic residency. As you begin researching doctoral programs, you should begin to consider how different programs fit in with your own goals.

Researching Doctoral Programs in Information Technology

Because no doctoral program is alike, finding a school that suits your needs and goals can be a long process. Considering standard elements across all doctoral programs is one way to narrow your focus. Begin your doctoral program research by considering these categories:

  • Accreditation: In the accrediting process, a third-party accrediting board gives schools their seal of approval. Without accreditation, there is no guarantee that your educational experience will meet a standard of quality enjoyed by other students. Always check to make sure that a doctoral program is approved by a national or regional accreditation board. Doing so will help ensure that your degree is held to the same standard as others.
  • Faculty: An accomplished, publishing faculty is important to a doctoral program’s relevance in the job market. However, a faculty packed with big names can send tuition costs skyrocketing. Look for PhD, DBA, or EdD in Information Technology programs that have a good mix, and feature faculty with publications that align somewhat with your research interests.
  • History: A graduate degree program with a long history of excellence could come with higher tuition costs, but it could also mean more success in the job search. With older programs in information technology, look for evidence that the program evolves as easily as the technology you’ll study. If you’re considering newer programs, seek out mission statements that align with your ideals.
  • Alumni: The successes of a program’s graduates speak for the strength of education and mentorship. Seek out alumni statistics such as tenure track placement, general career placement, and publications. Additionally, schools with a thriving alumni committee may be able to offer you career advice and connections when your own graduation day comes.
  • Prerequisites: You will generally need a master’s degree from an accredited institution, plus letters of recommendation and high GRE scores. Competitive programs may ask applicants to have a strong work history involving information technology management.
  • Student Life: The atmosphere in a doctoral program affects everything from your chances of admission to your happiness at the university. If you’re considering schools with a high campus requirement, pay close attention to the doctoral student community.

The categories above can go a long way to get you started thinking about the differences between doctoral programs in information technology. With careful attention, you can pare down a long list of potential campus-based and online PhD programs.

Individuals Aid Your Doctoral Search

Once you’ve used the Web to begin your search for doctoral programs in information technology, it’s time to personalize your focus. Once you’ve begun to narrow down your options, it’s time to make contact with individuals at the schools you’re considering:

  • Admissions representatives: These trained professionals work to answer your questions about the admissions process, including what you need to apply, application deadlines, and acceptance statistics.
  • Financial aid workers: Turn to financial aid counselors for more information about federal and school-wide grants and scholarships, student loan information, and financial aid deadlines.
  • Departmental advisors: Talk to advisors in the computer science or information technology department to learn more about department-specific scholarships and grants, faculty information, alumni statistics, and contact information.

The individuals above are instrumental as you continue narrowing down your doctoral program choices. Establish strong connections with them, and you’ll reap the benefits of their knowledge. Because all schools are different, hearing personalized information can help you further narrow down your options.

Online Graduate Degree Information Resource

Whether you’re returning to school after years in the field, or continuing your education with a PhD, DBA, or EdD immediately after securing a master’s degree, you likely have questions about the process. Fortunately, offers a wealth of resources designed to help make your transition into a doctoral program as smooth as possible.

  • Looking for a way to pay for your education? Check out the Financial Aid section for information on loans, grants, and scholarships. Federal financial aid, student loan repayment, and other helpful information can be found here.
  • The Guide to College Majors offers a broad perspective on your education. Look here for more information on other college majors and minors. If your doctoral program requires a minor, this page can be particularly helpful in your search.
  • Browse Education Resources for test preparation, learning help, accreditation information, and more facts on campus-based and online PhD degrees. You’ll also learn more about, including a quality assurance commitment.

The resources above are offered free of charge to anyone considering a degree or certificate program. You’ll find a number of sources that apply directly to your doctoral degree experience. Use these pages at any point of your research or study.

Join the Information Technology Community

Part of the process of earning your PhD, DBA, or EdD in Information Technology is reading and contributing to the information available in the field. Subscribe to journals, join professional organizations, and begin to attend conferences as you become more comfortable with the academic and research committee. Here are just a few popular journals and organizations to get you started:

  • Journals: Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, Information Systems Journal, Information Technology for Development
  • Professional Organizations: Association of Information Technology Professionals, Software & Technology Professional Organization, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Computing Machinery, Association for Women in Computing, Association of Information Technology Professionals
  • Conferences: Europe’s Fifth Information Architecture Summit 2009: Beyond Structure, Thriving on Diversity–Information Opportunities in a Pluralistic World, IA Summit 2009–Expanding Our Horizons

The groups above are filled with professionals in your field, making a real contribution to the study and practice of information technology, management, computer science, and computing. Look to these industry leaders as your guide as you become a student in an information technology doctoral program.

Earning your doctorate degree in information technology means much more than the diploma. It represents your achievement at the top of your field, your commitment to add new research and theory to the ever-expanding world of information technology. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are operating at the top of the IT industry.

As you graduate with your EdD, DBA, or PhD in Information Technology, you’re prepared to educate and lead the next generation of technology leaders. Take the first step today to research your available options and find the doctoral degree program that suits your goals.


  • Annual Review of Information Science and Technology
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals
  • FAFSA–Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • Illinois State University–Milner Library, Information Technology: Professional Organizations
  • Information Systems Journal
  • Information Technology for Development
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
  • Software & Technology Professional Organization
  • U.S. News & World Report
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