Master of Information Systems: Online Degree

Dec 04, 2019

Get info about online master's degree programs in information systems. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online master's degree programs in information systems. Some programs can be completed entirely online, while other programs may have some on-campus class requirements and internships.

Applicants to a Master of Information Systems program should have a bachelor's degree. They may need to complete some prerequisite courses if their undergraduate degree is not in computer science or business.

These programs are designed to prepare students for management jobs in information technology through a combination of business and computer courses. Some programs allow students to choose an area in which to specialize, such as project management or information systems security.

Master's Degree in Information Systems

Online master's degree programs in information systems generally include a combination of technical and management courses that prepare students to take on leadership roles in information technology. This degree may also be referred to as a master's in information technology.

Students must have a bachelor's degree, which can be in any area of study. Those with a degree from fields outside of computer science or business may be required to take prerequisite courses. Online students who are interested in general business management focus may choose to pursue a Master of Science in Management Information Systems or Master of Business Administration with a concentration in information systems.

Information and Requirements

Students typically complete an online master's degree program in information systems in 1-3 years, with part-time students taking longer. Many schools offer 100% online coursework, with students downloading archived lectures and course materials as their schedules permit. They can interact with classmates and instructors through online message boards and chat functions.

Some programs require students to complete prerequisite courses on campus, and others offer most, but not all, specialization courses online. In some cases, students may have the opportunity to participate in an internship, which they must complete in-person.

Common Courses

Required courses for an online master's degree in information systems vary widely, depending on whether the program is more business or technology focused. Some programs require core courses in areas like statistics, economics, finance and marketing, while others require courses in areas that include networks, database management and systems analysis. Many programs allow students to choose a specialty area, such as software development, interactive design, healthcare information technology and geographic information systems.

Software Project Management

Students learn the elements of a successful software development project and how to estimate, plan, and schedule to maximize efficiency and minimize risk. They learn how to assemble and lead a team, assess quality and report on the progress of a project.

Network Security

This course emphasizes threats to the security of a multi-user network. Students learn how controls like firewalls and anti-spam and anti-virus tools can address network vulnerabilities.

Data Mining

Students learn about the function and importance of mining data in a variety of fields, such as business, medicine and government. Other possible topics include data association, clustering and data mining on the Web.

Career Information for Graduates

Graduates of online master's degree programs in information systems can manage information technology networks, databases, systems and projects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment of network and computer systems administrators is expected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028, while employment for database administrators is expected to grow 9% during that same period ( The BLS reported in 2018 that network and computer systems administrators made an average salary of $82,050, while database administrators earned $90,070.

Continuing Education Information

Students who plan to teach at the university level or conduct industry research may choose to pursue a doctoral degree in information systems or information technology. Many of these programs accommodate part-time students by offering a combination of online and on-campus courses; however, nearly all require some on-campus work. Students must research, write and defend a dissertation, and, in some programs, students are required to teach undergraduate classes.

Online master's degree programs in information systems prime students for head roles in the industry, as they learn principles in software development, network security and data mining. Some graduates enter the field as network and computer systems administrators or as database administrators.

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