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Postgraduate (MSc, MA, MBA and PhD) Programs in IT 

Find postgraduate programs in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

MIS professionals find their expertise in demand in virtually every sphere of business and non-business activity. They might be charged with optimising a factory floor information system, developing a new information product, or evaluating an organisation’s overall strategic plan. They might undertake these sorts of activities for a financial services firm, non-profit/not-for-profit consultancy, government department, or distribution company. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the new world of MIS is its pervasiveness – the need for senior executives and others not in IT to understand the value of information technology. This is now true in virtually every field, not just high tech, financial services, and the like.

Find postgraduate programs in INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Trends in Information Technology

Numerous substantial trends continue to drive this field, including:

• The push toward open-source and/or ready-made software.
• Increasing reliance on software the firm leases or borrows rather than owns.
• The shift from separate systems for each function (accounting, distribution, etc) to enterprise systems (such as supply chain management systems).
• Use of information systems to support and drive decisions throughout an organisation.
• Dramatically increased use of information technology by sectors (healthcare, manufacturing, government) traditionally considered tech laggards.
• Development of new information products and services.
• Concerns about data confidentiality.
• Continuing tension among general management, IT management, and user management. 
• Increasing technical complexity.
• Utilisation of the Internet to expand business opportunities.

Information Systems Students

Choosing a masters program

Most courses are one year in length. Although some are offered entirely on-campus, others are offered partly or fully online. A more important difference, perhaps, is the extent to which they emphasise:

• Technology
• Management
• Organisational change 
• Specific industries (such as financial services or healthcare).

In the past, programs emphasised the technical side of this field and aimed to develop students’ skills in programming, systems analysis and design, database analysis and design, etc. Later on, programs added a managerial overlay to this technical work. Modern programs, however, generally combine the technical and managerial. Some go further, in recognition of the organisational and strategic impact of information technology. These programs explicitly try to develop both a more high-level understanding of organisations’ strategic situation and needs and the students’ ability to communicate to non-technical managers about technological issues and their implications.

Calculus, statistics, and basic computer skills are often required. Some programs require those without prior work experience to complete substantial extra coursework as part of their degree program.

Many programs also look for:

• An undergraduate degree in computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics or, perhaps, management, depending upon the program’s focus.
• Practical IT skills, whether something as simple as an ability to use the Microsoft Office Suite or as sophisticated as object-orientated programming experience. 
• Those programs that look for those equally interested in the business and the technology aspects of organisations may require an undergraduate degree in business or some postgraduate-level business coursework.   

Information Systems MBA in Information Technology

By studying an MBA in Information Systems students will acquire an in-depth understanding of key aspects of IT Management while gaining a strategic perspective on business and boosting their overall management skills.

PhD in Information Technology

As computers and advances in technology continue to escalate in importance worldwide, studying a PhD in Information Systems could be considered to be a great investment in your future career

Birkbeck University of London has a PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems which has three start dates – in October, January or April. This PhD can be studied full time over three years or part time over 5-6 years. Areas of research for the PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems include: Data Management; Search Engines; and Social Networks.

London School of Economics has a PhD in Information Systems and Innovation which can be studied full time over four years. Areas of research include: Foundations of Social Research in Information Systems; Interpretations of Information; Digital Convergence and Information Services; and Qualitative Research Methods

The University of Aberdeen offers a PhD in Computer Science with areas of research including how to manage knowledge and information in the context of emerging computational infrastructures (cloud computing).  

Careers opportunities

Information technology continues to affect how people and organisations interact, compete, co-ordinate, and so on – both internally and externally. The result of this continuing change is substantial and growing demand for people who:

• Understand the relationship between people, organisational processes, and technology.
• Speak the languages of marketing and finance as well as that of electrical engineers. 
• Understand the technology to be able to develop and communicate the plan for a firm’s information infrastructure.

At a junior level, you will be expected to define and then solve business problems. At a more senior level, you will be expected to understand how the different parts of a process or organisation fit together – in both business and technological terms.  

Typical job titles

Information systems • Test designer
• Sales engineer
• Data analyst
• Project officer
• Project manager
• Web developer
• Account executive
• Innovation consultant
• Marketing manager (for technological products)
• Product development manager
• Risk analyst
• System analyst
• System architect
• Internet security consultant
• IT analyst
• Product implementation associate
• Technology analyst
• Software engineer
• Technical marketing engineer
• Business intelligence systems developer
• Quality assurance engineer
• Application engineer
• Knowledge management officer

Professional associations (UK and US)

British Computer Society
British Institute of Technology & E-Commerce
Information Technology Association of America
Software & Information Industry Association (US)
Association of Information Technology Professionals (US)

Introductory readings

Those who wish to get a high-level view of the subject have several good choices. A simple guide for CEOs to know how to talk to and manage their chief information officers – or is it the other way round? – is presented in Mark D Lutchen’s Managing IT as a Business: A Survival Guide for CEOs (John Wiley & Sons). It focuses on how to link IT and corporate strategies, as well as how to define technology needs and risks. A more in-depth overview of these issues is presented in Lynda M Applegate et al’s Corporate Information Strategy and Management (McGraw-Hill). Those needing a more in-depth view of the business issues, however, should consult Stephen Haag and Maeve Cummings’ Information Systems Essentials (McGraw-Hill), which covers a wide range of issues and technologies, with a notably hands-on approach.

Those needing to get their programming up to snuff can consult Y Daniel Liang, Introduction to Java Programming (Prentice Hall) or other similar titles.

This field is uniquely subject to obsolescence, so the above publications should not be favoured if something much more up-to-date is available.

Information systems