Ph.D. in Information Technology Online

Become Team
Become Team
July 8, 2019

After garnering years of work experience, many ambitious tech professionals choose to pursue a doctoral degree. Individuals who earn a Ph.D. in information technology online can assume high-level positions in research and academia, using their advanced technical expertise and analytical skills to make substantial contributions in the field. In addition to diverse and rewarding career opportunities, doctorate holders enjoy salaries far higher than the national average. Read on to learn more about online doctoral programs in information technology, including admission and degree requirements, common courses, and potential careers for graduates.

Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in Information Technology?

From increased earning power to a desire to lead classrooms or companies, there are many personal and professional reasons to earn a doctor of information technology online. Below are a few common reasons why candidates choose to pursue this doctoral degree.

  • Desire to Teach: After spending a few years in industry roles, some individuals acquire a passion to educate the next generation of IT professionals. Most college and university instructors are required to hold a Ph.D. in information technology or a related field.

  • Interest in Advanced Research Roles: Many candidates who earn a Ph.D. in information technology online do so to qualify for high-level or specialized positions in the field. Professionals who take on advanced roles develop new technologies, find ways to improve existing systems, and use original research to drive innovation and solve technical challenges.

  • Access to Higher Wages: Overall, information technology professionals enjoy above-average salaries. However, higher educational attainment correlates positively with higher earnings, and doctorate holders typically outearn IT workers with associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees.

  • Ability to Take on Leadership Positions: In addition to holding advanced technical skills, individuals who aspire to lead top-tier tech companies must cultivate an understanding of organizational structure, employee management, and strategic planning. Doctoral programs help graduates become well-rounded and effective leaders who excel at promoting innovation and change.

What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in Information Technology?

Technology plays an integral role in nearly every business, organization, and initiative, and IT experts enjoy a positive job outlook and high earning potential. Online doctoral programs in information technology teach the theoretical knowledge and applied skills graduates need to find meaningful roles in many settings. This section discusses a variety of career opportunities available to candidates with a doctoral degree.

Information technology professionals are in high demand in many different sectors. Medical facilities require highly trained individuals to maintain complex information technology infrastructures, and the healthcare industry provides graduates with substantial employment opportunities. Government organizations also rely on IT experts to create secure, individualized systems for storing classified information and large amounts of data. For-profit and nonprofit organizations both hire professionals to meet their IT-related needs, including database management, administration, and research.

Doctorate holders also work in many different positions. Some graduates are drawn to postsecondary teaching roles, helping college students master complex topics and competencies. Others see themselves working in computer labs, using research to develop cutting-edge programs and systems. Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit may decide to set up a consulting firm, serving a variety of clients who seek their expertise.

Government agencies and departments can be a great source for job opportunities in legislative and policy design, industry advocacy, and lobbying. In addition, many graduates find work at charitable organizations. While nonprofit jobs are typically less lucrative than many other positions, they allow IT experts to support a good cause while increasing productivity, ensuring data security, and furthering organizational missions through technology.

A Ph.D. in information technology opens up a world of employment possibilities. The following careers represent a few of the challenging and rewarding opportunities available to doctorate holders.

Postsecondary Professor

Working within information technology departments, professors give lectures, create syllabi and assignments, and grade papers. They also assist students with course selection, provide mentorship, and help learners decide on a career path after graduation. Most perform original research and present their findings at academic conferences or in peer-reviewed publications.

Company Executive

Working at the top level of their organizations, information technology CEOs provide companies with strategic direction and leadership. They manage other senior-level staff; set productivity goals; meet with boards and shareholders; and work to create an efficient, effective workplace culture.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

These individuals work with private companies, academic institutions, and independent organizations to propel the information technology field forward through research. They solve complex issues, develop new computing methods and languages, test theories and hypotheses, and publish their research in academic and industry publications.

Project Management Director

Working in a variety of organizational settings, these professionals oversee teams of information technology employees. Project management directors ensure that IT projects advance in a timely fashion, stick to budgets, and meet client or company needs. They set project goals, provide employee feedback, and hire staff as needed.

Information Technology Director

IT directors are in charge of their organization’s computing and information technology operations. They provide staff leadership and create strategic plans for improving IT infrastructures and systems. They must safeguard company information and prevent security breaches and cyberattacks by maintaining database and network security.

Information Technology Ph.D. Program Overview

Students who pursue a Ph.D. in information technology management online must complete years of challenging coursework. Before beginning the enrollment process, students should be sure to gather the information they need to make an informed decision. The following sections explore admission criteria, common coursework, programmatic outcomes, and other factors to help aid in this decision making process. This guide also look at the importance of choosing an accredited institution and how accreditation can influence job opportunities and licensure eligibility.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

While online doctoral programs in information technology each uphold slightly different standards, most feature a few common requirements and request certain application materials. All schools expect candidates to provide transcripts from any previously attended institutions and most maintain academic prerequisites to ensure that students are adequately prepared for the program. While many institutions require applicants to submit their GMAT or GRE scores, some waive this requirement.

Along with transcripts and standardized test scores, schools often request a statement of purpose outlining an applicant’s academic and professional objectives, prospective career path, and goals for the program. They may also ask candidates to provide letters of recommendation from former colleagues or instructors and an up-to-date resume detailing relevant work experience. Competitive programs may require applicants to participate in a face-to-face or digital interview with department faculty.


Typically, the curricula for online doctoral programs in information technology combine advanced IT coursework and original research. While some programs emphasize large amounts of individual research and experimentation, others feature a core curriculum, specialized coursework, elective classes, and dissertation requirements to help students build and strengthen integral skills before beginning work on their culminating projects.

Most students complete all required coursework about halfway into their degree plan. Candidates spend the remainder of their time submitting research proposals, gathering feedback, conducting research, and making any necessary changes to their project before presenting and defending their dissertation. In addition to a dissertation, some programs require doctoral students to pass comprehensive examinations. Candidates may apply for graduation after they successfully defend their dissertation and meet all other program requirements.

Distance learners can check with their prospective school’s admissions department to learn more about specific course offerings, faculty focus areas, research opportunities, and support services available to doctoral candidates. While curricula vary considerably from school to school, many programs include similar core classes, such as the ones described below.

  1. Information Technology Research: In this course, candidates develop the advanced skills needed to identify research problems, select appropriate data collection methods, and design studies. Students learn to assess and draw conclusions from statistical information.

  2. IT Ethics: Exploring ethical concerns in the IT industry, this class presents strategies for addressing security breaches and cyberattacks. Candidates review ethical methods for handling sensitive client data and classified information.

  3. Electronic Commerce: This course covers the theories, challenges, and research issues surrounding internet-based commerce. Lectures emphasize common security problems, electronic payments, financial reporting, and value chains.

  4. Advanced Databases: In this class, prospective database administrators examine data organization and access methods as they survey database management systems. Learners also study emerging database models and new innovations in the field.

  5. Data Mining: Using case studies and hands-on practice, this course presents fundamental data mining concepts such as clustering, classification, detecting anomalies, and association analysis.

Program Outcomes

Graduates who earn a doctor of information technology online develop a versatile, broadly applicable skill set in addition to specialized technical knowledge. Degree holders demonstrate strong interpersonal and leadership skills that can help them maintain operations, drive progress by using project management strategies, and develop efficient organizational structures.

Capable of analyzing complex problems, graduates use advanced research strategies to identify technical and personnel problems, create solutions, and adapt existing frameworks to better suit organizational needs. They should possess the stamina, discipline, and focus to effectively manage their own and others’ time while encouraging positive employee work habits.

Prior to graduation, most doctoral candidates complete a dissertation based on original research. This in-depth project hones students’ composition and oral communication skills, teaching learners to express, present, and defend their ideas in a clear, succinct manner.

Accreditation for Online Information Technology Ph.D. Programs

While many schools offer a Ph.D. in information technology online, some of the best programs hold accreditation from industry-based accrediting agencies like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Serving as the gold standard for information technology accreditation, ABET reviews curricula, faculty, and student outcomes to ensure that programs demonstrate academic rigor and excellence.

Before selecting a program, prospective students should also be certain that their chosen school holds proper institutional accreditation. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation maintain comprehensive databases of accredited programs and institutions on their websites.

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