Guide to an IT Management Online MBA

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Technology is integrated into every aspect of daily life, including business operations. Organizations have an increasing need for tech-savvy individuals and managers who can lead teams of IT professionals. Earning an IT Management Online MBA demonstrates to employers that you have what it takes to succeed in technology-driven management careers. If you are an IT professional seeking advancement, an IT Management Online MBA would be an excellent route to achieve your goals.

What is an IT Management Online MBA?

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Professionals with a background in IT can advance their career by pursuing an online Master of Business Administration with a focus on Information Technology. This graduate degree is a combination of business management and technology. This degree can also be referred to as an online MBA in Management Information Systems. Online MBA programs are a convenient option for those employed full-time because they can complete coursework from anywhere with an internet connection without interfering with work hours. Most online MBA programs are a minimum of 30 credit hours, but adding the concentration in IT Management may extend the number of required hours, so it is important to check specific requirements with any programs you are interested in applying to.

IT Management MBA v. Master’s in Information Technology

While these degrees may seem very similar, there are some distinct differences. An IT Management MBA emphasizes the human and business component of technology. There are many complex problems that need to be solved related to IT, such as human resources, design, and implementation of programs, project management, and budgeting. A Master’s in IT is a much more technical degree and will help you become an expert in IT, but it doesn’t prepare candidates to succeed in business leadership roles. When deciding which degree to earn, ask yourself would you rather lead a team of IT professionals or be the number one programmer in the IT department. Earning an IT Management MBA opens the door for a wider range of career opportunities.

Curriculum

Students will strengthen their managerial and technical skills in an online IT Management program with a combination of business and computer courses. The robust curriculum consists of core business courses such as Accounting, Business Law, Change Management, Economics, Ethics, and Marketing. In addition to these foundational business courses, students will dive into specialty courses focused on emerging technologies and data management. Industry-specific skills acquired through the program include blockchain, advanced programming, artificial intelligence, 5G, Virtual Reality, the internet of things, and 3-D printing. Students will gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology through virtual labs and simulations. IT Management courses may also include Financial Management for IT Professionals, Globalization in Technology, Human Resources for IT Managers, and Project Management. A capstone project may be required during a student’s final semester in the program to demonstrate the application of knowledge gained throughout the program. Examples of projects could include using IT solutions to implement greater communication or higher efficiency within an organization. Curriculum is often created in collaboration with IT experts who know exactly what skills are needed in the workforce.

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History of IT Management Online MBAs

Especially after spending the past year working remotely and relying heavily on technology, it is hard to imagine a time when offices kept paper records in filing cabinets and hand-wrote minutes for boardroom meetings. However, the birth of IT departments began in the 1980s when business executives started using personal computers in expensive offices. Computers began increasingly sophisticated, including software such as initial programming. Though some employees were resistant to change, it became obvious computers were not just a trend, but here to stay.

In 1989, Microsoft Office was released, which included Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Professionals who could type and format documents in Word, create spreadsheets in Excel, and design PowerPoint presentations were in high demand and could command high salaries. College courses were established within business departments to teach students to utilize Microsoft Office programs. In the 90s, many businesses grew their customer base through the use of the internet. The internet made companies more competitive because it was easier to compare prices for goods and services, research available options, and easily place orders across the country.

Google suites launched in 2006, providing a central location for employees to create shared documents, spreadsheets, and schedule meetings. The introduction of iPhones in 2007 made it easier than ever for employees to check emails, use work apps, and communicate with bosses and clients when away from the office. IT teams must constantly learn the evolving technologies used by businesses, and IT managers must be able to recruit effectively, train, manage a budget, and oversee IT professionals. IT Management MBA programs regularly update curriculum to ensure managers are at the forefront of their industry.

How do I Choose the Right IT Management Online MBA?

One major advantage to enrolling in an online MBA program is expanding your options to programs spanning the United States and potentially even the world. You may be familiar with the reputation of colleges in your geographic region. Still, you may wonder how you determine if a university in another state also has a stellar reputation. College websites will portray their programs in a positive light but always seek facts. Do your research on accreditations, recognitions and from whom, specializations that match your interests, completion time, and tuition rates.

Accreditations and Distinctions

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Ensure the online MBA program you choose to pursue is fully accredited by one of the three business accrediting bodies. Business school accreditation increases your marketability and often your earnings over the course of your career because employers trust and respect your qualifications. The most elite business accreditation is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education also offer business accreditations. Some business schools offering IT specializations may hold an additional accreditation through the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering. ATMAE is officially recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

US News and World Report features a ranking of the Best Online MBA Programs Offering Technology. All of these MBA programs offer a designated concentration in Technology or IT. Tied for number one is Carnegie Mellon University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Rankings are calculated based on five categories: Engagement, Expert Opinion, Faculty Credentials and Training, Services and Technologies, and Student Excellence. Of the 28 universities on this list, 22 are 100% online. The Princeton Review also publishes a ranking of the Top 50 Online MBA Programs but doesn’t have a specific ranking for programs featuring IT concentrations.

Specializations and Professional Certifications

Some online MBA programs in IT allow you to select an additional concentration. Popular choices include Cybersecurity, Data Mining, IT Governance, and Web Applications. Prior to selecting a concentration, carefully consider your career goals and research what skills are most beneficial in those positions. Look over the course selections for each concentration option, and select the concentration that best prepares you for your desired career path. Elective credits can also be applied towards earning certifications, such as the PMI Certified Associate in Project Management.

Hybrid MBAs with IT Management Specialization

In a hybrid MBA program, students would take the bulk of their business courses involving reading assignments, independent work, and lectures online. Experiential learning courses, such as technology labs, would be held in person. Hybrid programs can help minimize time spent on campus by only requiring in-person attendance for courses that would be most beneficial in that format. It is important to consider how frequently you will be required to travel to the campus and the distance before selecting a hybrid option. Some programs may only require a few overnight residencies throughout the program, but others may require you to come to the campus as frequently as one weekend per month.

Completion Time

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An online MBA in IT Management typically takes approximately two years to complete by students enrolled full-time. Accelerated programs may be completed in as few as 12 months and are offered for those ready to fast-track their careers and have the time and ability to be fully devoted to their studies. Students who are employed are not advised to take the accelerated path. Part-time students may take one to two courses per semester and choose the number of courses to enroll in each semester based on their work schedule and other commitments. Part-time students may graduate in three years or take longer if needed. If you’re unsure of which completion option is best for your personal needs, meet with an academic advisor to discuss the right fit for you.

Asynchronous v. Synchronous Format

Online MBA programs may offer entirely asynchronous courses, synchronous courses, or may feature both formats depending on the particular course. If you need a more laid-back schedule that allows you to complete assignments and communicate with your professors at various times, you should seek programs that are primarily asynchronous. If you can commit to a more fixed schedule and like the idea of logging into classes once or twice per week to interact with peers and your professor in live-time, synchronous courses would be a great fit.

Affordability

Online MBAs in IT Management offer a great potential ROI, but you don’t have to acquire student loans that you’ll be paying for years in order to earn your degree. Universities featuring online MBAs with IT concentrations below $500 per credit hour include Fort Hays State University, Clayton State University, and Campbellsville University. All of these programs were ranked amongst the top online MBA programs by US News and World Report. Online programs also help save money by cutting out the commute, they don’t require students to relocate, and they often feature the same tuition rates as in-state students. Scholarships and financial aid may also be available to assist with financial expenses. Scholarship application components may include an essay about technology or your future career goals, transcripts with competitive undergraduate GPAs, and a portfolio with professional work samples. FAFSA, or financial aid applications, should be completed as soon as they are available to increase your likelihood of receiving funds.

How do I Apply for an IT Management Online MBA?

Most applicants for IT Management Online MBA programs typically hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, with undergraduate coursework completed in computer programming, math, and software development. Students will be required to submit their undergraduate college transcripts. Those with an undergraduate degree in a non-computer-related field may be required to take prerequisites prior to enrolling in graduate IT courses. However, some programs allow you to enter the online MBA program first, and after completing entry-level business courses, they allow you to select a concentration in IT Management. Strong candidates have professional work experience in a related field.

Some MBA programs may also require prospective students to submit a resume highlighting related professional work experience, letters of recommendation, or write an admissions essay. Some online degree programs do not require applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores but check with the individual institutions since requirements vary from college to college. GMAT waivers may be available based on previous work experience. Most universities require students to pay an application fee. These typically range from about $50 to $125 per application.

What Career Prospects will I Have after Earning an IT Management Online MBA?

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Graduates of Online MBA programs in IT Management are prime candidates for technology and management careers in diverse fields. Computer systems design and related services are the most common industry for IT professionals to be employed in, followed by information, finance and insurance, management of companies and enterprises, and manufacturing. Nearly every company has an IT department. IT managers can easily find jobs because they have highly-specialized skills that most business professionals have minimal knowledge of. In fact, by 2029, IT occupations are anticipated to grow by 11 percent. Some of the most common jobs include IT Managers, Information Systems Security Managers, Software Project Managers, and Web Developers. IT managers can cover a broad range of tasks or specialize in specific areas. Specialty career titles may include Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, IT Directors, and IT Security, Managers. IT managers work an average of 40 hours per week in an office setting or from home. Graduates can easily transition to other business careers since they hold an MBA.

Salary

IT managers earn lucrative salaries and also benefit from many other perks. According to the BLS, Network and Computer Systems Managers make an average of $84,810, and Database Administrators make $98,860. Depending on your career choice, it’s definitely possible to earn a six-figure income. The average annual salary for Computer and Information Systems Managers is $151,150. The highest-paid CIS managers work in Information and make an average of $166,770 per year. The highest 10% earn more than $208,000. IT managers also have job security because many businesses are shifting from physical office spaces to virtual platforms, which creates even more IT management careers.

How Do I Succeed in an IT Management Online MBA?

Before entering an IT Management Online MBA, it is beneficial to learn everything you can about technology or the tech niche you are interested in. There are many online self-guided tutorials and videos available, as well as free coding programs. Libraries also frequently offer courses to help individuals develop specific technology and programming skills. If you are already employed, find out if your job offers any technology training or research conferences that could be beneficial to your current role and request permission to attend.

Once you are enrolled in an IT Management MBA, learn what technology resources are available for students. Many colleges offer students free access to Office 365, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams.

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Communication

It’s a great idea to reach out to your professors early in the semester to introduce yourself. Making a quick phone call or sending a short email can go a long way when you need some assistance later in the semester. Also, try to connect with your classmates through discussion boards or other virtual platforms. They can be a great resource for creating study groups or asking that last-minute question you put off until the day an assignment is due.

Time Management

Speaking of due dates, always try to complete assignments well before deadlines. You never know what emergencies could come up last minute. Don’t wait until the night a quiz is due to take it, because you could have internet issues or have to stay late at work. Look over the course syllabus during the first week of classes and highlight dates for tests, projects, and essays. Add these dates to a calendar app or planner, and make a plan for when you will study and work on assignments that you can realistically stick with. If you know you are tired each evening when you get home from work, plan the bulk of your study sessions for the weekend. Do you study better in short bursts or when you can block out a few hours? Full-time professionals often struggle to find time to complete coursework but try to be creative with time management. For example, break a longer assignment into small chunks you can complete during your lunch break each day.

Student Services

Students are offered a wide range of student services to help them successfully navigate their online IT Management MBA from the time they are accepted until graduation. To ensure you enroll in the correct courses, schedule an online advising session before creating your class schedule for the semester. Digital resources and research tools are available through the library to complete research papers. The writing center is also ready to help out by proofreading essays, and online tutorials can help students with difficult material and preparing for exams.

Career Services

When it comes time to apply for a job, make sure you schedule an appointment with career services to perfect your resume, elevator pitch, and learn about career fairs. Online students can receive support with all of these important job tasks virtually and can even schedule virtual interview sessions or attend a virtual career fair. Don’t wait until it’s time to graduate; build your resume during your MBA experience with an internship or job. Internships and campus jobs can help students gain experience solving technical issues. If you are not employed in an IT role, seek out a position working for the IT help center. Some of these job positions may be offered remotely, so it’s still worth looking into, even if you live too far to work on campus. Career services can usually help connect you with jobs that are in your region. Students can also volunteer to manage IT services for student organizations or serve a local non-profit by updating their electronic databases.

IT Management Organizations

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Joining IT Management organizations can help students meet contacts through networking events, provide enriching internship opportunities, and connect students to professional mentors. IT organizations that may be offered on your campus include the Association of Information Technology Professionals, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the MBA Association. Women in Technology provides a supportive community for female students pursuing IT careers. These organizations likely already offer options for virtual students, but if not, reach out to officers from these organizations. Perhaps you can get your foot in a leadership role by offering to head up virtual meetings. Membership in professional organizations will stand out on your resume.

Action Plans

Earning an IT Management Online MBA can open doors for solid career prospects, increase your skillset, and earn you a substantial pay raise! You know the perks, but you also know it’s going to be hard work. Set yourself up for success by creating a game plan. Research colleges you are interested in applying to. Find out their application deadlines, and get busy filling out your admissions packets. Choose a college, and you’ll be on your journey to becoming an IT manager!

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