What to Look for in an Online Master’s Program in IT

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Student learning

Probably no other area of education lends itself more naturally to an online format than information technology. Of course a program about technology uses IT to deliver its curriculum. Because of that natural link, educational institutions of all kinds have flocked to the internet to deliver online IT programs. When every institution seems to promise the same opportunity to advance your degree and your career, how do you choose from the thousands of online Master’s programs in IT?

Start With The Basics

Accreditation

Choose a regionally accredited online Master's in Information Systems & Technology Degree program. While national accreditation may appear more far-reaching and impressive, regional accreditation is actually more universally accepted. Accreditation ensures that an institution and its programs have met specific standards of academic integrity and quality. Although voluntary, top-notch universities choose to undergo the often rigorous process to attain and maintain accreditation for their institutions and their individual programs. There are several regional accrediting agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. To determine whether a program and university is accredited, begin with the school’s website. It should proudly display accreditation and link out to the accrediting body. You can also access the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs here to determine whether a program remains accredited in good standing.

Institutional Reputation

It may be an online degree, but where it comes from still matters. If you want to to ensure that what you learn will be current, relevant and immediately usable in the real-world, you need to affirm the overall reputation of the institution. Consider how long the university has offered advanced degree programs in general. Does it have the sort of reputation of which you will be proud? Will employers recognize the institution on your resume as a leader in higher education? When you align yourself with a university, you will forever be connected to it as an alumnus and be in the company of all the alumni who came before you.

Relevant Curriculum

It is vital that IT programs evolve to meet the needs of business and society.  Out-of-date technology is barely technology at all. For systems and technology programs, look for a curriculum that combines the broad concepts of data science with the more specific focus of data analytics. You will want a full understanding of the IT concepts, skills and applications that matter most in business and industry settings. Moreover, you should look for a program with courses that focus on innovative and creative IT solutions.

Respected Faculty

Many universities set up online programs that do not scale well and then scramble to find suitable staffing. Research the professors who are likely to be your instructors. While it’s not unusual for colleges to rely on adjunct faculty—even on-ground programs do—consider a faculty member’s relationship to the institution and his or her individual credentials. Do not be off-put by part-time faculty and adjuncts. In fact, in information technology, there is an argument that current practitioners are better equipped to teach relevant material drawn from their own experience in IT and across industries.

Academic Support

Online programs require self-discipline, sound organizational skills and an independent work ethic. However, the best online programs augment technology with actual human contact. Rather than put everything online for you to watch, read, listen and learn on your own, they use varied methodologies and guide you along. A combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons help you connect to your professor and your fellow coursemates while still allowing you to complete most assignments when it’s most convenient for you. The instructors are also accessible to you - actively supporting your success in not only your courses, but your career.

If you’re ready to commit to an online Master’s Degree in IT, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Take a look at the online Master's in Information Systems & Technology program at Claremont Graduate University. We are sure we will exceed your expectations. Learn more now and join a community of highly regarded practitioners committed to your success.