In a world that grows more connected through technology with every year, the field of Information Systems has expanded into one of the keystone industries that keeps the wheels turning. But how can a student begin a career in the field of Information Systems? An online master’s degree in Information Systems may be exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you’re interested in web development, networking architecture, computer systems analysis, or any other Information Systems-related field, academic advancement can help you to unlock your career potential. So, is an Master’s in Information Systems Online worth it and right for you? Check out this guide we’ve put together to find out.
Most Affordable Master’s in Information Systems Programs Online
Not only do online degrees offer more flexibility, but many online master’s in cyber security programs also offer lower tuition rates than on-campus cyber security programs. These programs offer the best degrees at an affordable cost.
After considering cost, a lot of students are also curious about what other factors are taken into account when deciding which schools are of the highest quality. We’ve gathered some of the top online master’s degrees in Information Systems based on student success rate, financial support for students, and the size of a program’s online classes.
Understanding an Online Master’s in Information Systems Program
The field of Information Systems deals with any aspect of the collection, storage, processing, protection, and sharing of data and information. Oftentimes, this also is incorporated into practices of effectively managing and developing computer networks and systems to maximize productivity. Information Systems careers exist in nearly every industry, helping to ensure that students will find employment after graduation.
Common Specializations for an Online Master’s in Information Systems
Students who are researching master’s degrees in Information Systems may come to find they have the opportunity to explore an emphasis or area of specialization that falls under the Information Systems umbrella. Check below to see some areas of specialization typically found within the Information Systems field.
Area of Focus
Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Business Intelligence and Analytics
Any business will be producing a large quantity of data that speaks to the efficiency of a product, service, or process. An emphasis in Business Intelligence and Analytics teaches students to navigate the gathering and interpretation of business data utilizing software and computing systems.
Business Intelligence Analyst; Business Intelligence Engineer; Data Architect; Data Scientist
Information Security and Assurance
This branch of Information Systems deals with the protection of data and user/company information, specifically in regards to breach prevention, detection, and reaction.
IT Security Engineer; IT Security Consultant; Information Security Risk Officer; Information Security Analyst
Master’s in Information Systems Vs. Information Technology
A common misconception regarding Information Systems is that it is the same thing as Information Technology. While similar, there are a few key differences between these field students should be aware of. Below you will find a few of these differentiations to help you decide which field might be the right choice for you.
Information Systems refers to how the totality of a set of information is processed. This includes the data (both raw and refined), the technology used to interpret this data, employees, and company processes that go into understanding large quantities of information.
Information Technology (or IT) deals specifically with designing and implementing the support systems that are necessary to manage the data that makes up an information system. You can think of this as the tech side that is used to understand data, rather than studying the entire process of how data is gathered and interpreted.
Online Master’s in Information Systems Admission Requirements
So what does it take to get into an online master’s in information systems program? Most students understand that they likely need to apply to the program itself, but might not fully understand other requirements they need to meet for program admission. Below are a few common admission requirements, but it’s important that each student looks into their specific program’s requirements by speaking to them directly.
Letters of Recommendation: Graduate programs want to hear from the people that know you the best and can speak to your ability to succeed in an academic program such as this. You’ll want to request letters from former professors or employers that have a background related to the program you’re pursuing.
Pre-Admissions Testing: Students who are looking to apply into graduate school will most likely be required to provide some form of test scores with their application. Most often graduate programs will require students to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
Good Undergraduate Academic Standing: One of the first things an application review committee will be checking is your undergraduate GPA. If you do not at least meet the minimum GPA requirement, your application will likely not even be considered. However, some programs may make an exception to this rule if you provide sound reasoning in a cover-letter you may be required to provide.
Curriculum for an Online Master of Information Systems Program
Systems Analysis: This course teaches students how to build and maintain efficient systems. This course also helps students understand how to best evaluate systems for performance and effectiveness, and identify best practices for system design, requirements, and analysis.
Software and Security: In this course, students will dive into the concepts of identifying, managing, and improving potentially vulnerable software. Students can expect to learn advanced information to examine and evaluate coding techniques and programming languages.
Enterprise Data Management: This course teaches students how to use data to their advantage. This course is typically a good option for those going into data science or database management, but can also help IS majors work through and examine data and know how to best use it as a resource.
Computer Networks: This course teaches students about data communication and networking technologies. The course is a deep dive into how enterprises use computer networks, business perspective using case studies. Students are taught about network operating systems, various LAN and WAN networks, VOIP, wireless networks, and security. Some universities also extend this course to include the latest technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).
Virtualization: Many universities are starting to include this latest technology in their curricula. In this course, students will learn about how virtualization works, how organizations set up virtual machines to scale their operations with low investment on hardware. Students also learn about various tools such as VMWare and how to configure these tools and software.
Online Master’s in Information Systems Program Length
The length of an online master’s in information systems can vary from school to school and from student to student. Typically, students can expect to complete this degree within 2-3 years, or after completing around 30-36 credits, but that timeframe can either be shorter or longer depending on specific program rigor and requirements and students’ individual needs and desires for their degree program.
Online learning gives students the added benefit of flexibility throughout their program, so they don’t have to worry as much about in-person time commitments, and, in some cases, get to choose when to work on their academic work. It’s important for online learners to check with their school and get a full understanding of what the online program looks like, what it focuses on, and how it’s structured so they choose the right program for them.
Free or Low-Cost Master’s in Information Systems Programs
Graduate students continue to seek out affordable options for college, but did you know that there are Information Systems courses that are free? While there are no full master’s programs in information systems that are free and accredited by reputable institutions, there are some programs that allow students to watch lectures from past sessions and free courses from reputable schools. Students will not get a masters diploma in information systems, but they can learn on par with master’s students at other online master’s institutions. The courses are created by accredited universities but available via some online educational content providers. Explore the following courses below:
How to Pay for a Master’s in Information Systems Degree
With the cost of tuition constantly fluctuating and varying from school to school, it can feel overwhelming to plan for the cost of a graduate degree. To help with this burden, it’s important that students know what financial resources are available to them and what methods they can apply to help cut the cost of their degree. Below are a few methods students might consider when planning how to pay for their online graduate degree.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships
Many programs offer a limited number of work study positions for graduate students to work in the department and earn money to help cover the cost of tuition or the cost of living. These positions are also a good option for online and distance learners since they are often offered off-campus as well.
It’s common for graduate students in information systems to already be working in the field in some relevant positions. Many companies and employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, where they help pay for the cost of your degree. Each company will have their own requirements to qualify, but this can be a huge financial relief for prospective graduate students.It’s common for graduate students in information systems to already be working in the field in some relevant positions. Many companies and employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, where they help pay for the cost of your degree. Each company will have their own requirements to qualify, but this can be a huge financial relief for prospective graduate students.
Likely the most common method of saving money on your education, financial aid includes grants, scholarships, and loans that are designed to help students complete their graduate degrees without too much financial concern. Once they choose their program, students should talk with the program to understand what specific school-, state-, or program-funding aid is available to them.Likely the most common method of saving money on your education, financial aid includes grants, scholarships, and loans that are designed to help students complete their graduate degrees without too much financial concern. Once they choose their program, students should talk with the program to understand what specific school-, state-, or program-funding aid is available to them.
Scholarships for Information Technology Students
Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship: Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) is a professional association that connects people, ideas, and solutions globally. AFCEA administers the Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship. This scholarship is sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton company. The scholarship is awarded to women and minority students that are pursuing a graduate program at any accredited institution in Information Technology and other STEM degrees. Amount: $3,000 Deadline: Spring
Library Information Technology Association (LITA): LITA is a leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services. LITA is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). LITA administers many awards scholarships for students that are pursuing STEM and other degrees. Students that are pursuing a master’s degree in information technology are eligible to apply for these scholarships. Read more about LITA’s various scholarships here. Amount: Varies by the scholarshipDeadline: Varies by the scholarship
Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship Program (MSSGC): MSSGC is a graduate fellowship award for students that are enrolled in STEM degrees in any MSSGC universities. Eligibility also includes students pursuing a graduate degree in an area that is related to research or interest to NASA. Amount: $22,000 Deadline: Mar 9
Alice L. Haltom Scholarship: The Alice L. Haltom Educational Fund (ALHF) exists to further education in the field of information and records management. ALHF administers scholarships for students that are pursuing bachelor’s or master’s degrees for a career in information and records management. The application process involves students writing a 200-300-word essay describing how their educational pursuits will benefit their career in information management and add values to organizations. Three letters of recommendation must be included. Amount: $2,000Deadline: May 1
Resources for Online Master’s in Information Systems Students
There are many opportunities for online graduate students who are looking to support their education with professional organizations. These organizations can help students advance their understanding of information systems, keep up with changes in the field, and network with like-minded professionals in IS roles. Below are a few professional organizations that graduate students might consider:
Association for Information Systems: The AIS promotes continuous learning and application throughout the IS field. As one of the top IS professional organizations, members will have access to leading scholars in the field, networking opportunities, and other valuable research and information.
International Association for Computer Information Systems: IACIS provides members with activities, information, and data through a forum for networking and research ideation and discussion throughout the information systems community. Members can attend the IACIS annual conference, access organization-based awards, and network with their international member base.
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