Earning a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems Online

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Become Team
July 30, 2019

For top-level jobs, individuals need a blend of experience and education. An online Ph.D. in management information systems demonstrates both. Available for students with a minimum of a bachelor's degree, this degree proves your mastery of computer science and information systems. Common degree outcomes include managerial or research roles, collegiate teaching roles, and executive positions.

Flexibility is a big benefit of earning a Ph.D. in management information systems online. Students can earn their degree at their own pace while continuing their current job.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems?

Management information systems is a broad field that involves research, analytics, computer science, educating, and managing. Graduates can find positions working for the government, schools, startups, or large corporations. Because professionals complete many tasks related to management information systems on a computer, some graduates can find roles that allow for remote work.

Potential Careers & Salaries

The amount of money you can make with an online Ph.D. in management information systems depends on where you work. For example, a graduate may work as a professor, which doesn't offer the same high salaries as some private jobs but can lead to tenure. Private sector jobs are popular for these graduates since they often offer higher pay. These positions typically exist at large corporations or tech companies; however, public jobs are available beyond education. Thousands of graduates find work with the federal or state government.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Annual Median Salary: $142,530

Job Growth Projection: 12%

Also called IT managers, computer and information systems managers create plans, coordinate employees, and run computer-based projects of different sizes and scales. Other roles include negotiating with vendors, creating long-term plans, and running cost-benefit analyses for planned projects.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Annual Median Salary: $118,370

Job Growth Projection: 19%

From inventing new computer languages to publishing research for academic journals, a computer and information research scientist contributes in many ways. This professional's main role is creating new tools and solving complex problems for fields such as business and medicine.

Computer Systems Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $88,740

Job Growth Projection: 9%

Computer systems analysts, or systems architects, are in charge of entire IT systems. They work with consultants and IT employees to design more efficient systems across an entire organization. Systems architects need a strong background in IT and business.

Database Administrator

Annual Median Salary: $90,070

Job Growth Projection: 11%

A database administrator is in charge of maintaining databases. Roles include backing up data, ensuring networks are secure, and changing existing databases as needed. Database administrators must also determine who can access databases. They often work in a computer systems design company.

Top Executive

Annual Median Salary: $104,980

Job Growth Projection: 8%

Top executives run organizations and direct activities to ensure departments meet their goals. An online Ph.D. in management information systems can lead to chief technology officer or chief executive officer positions.

University Professor

Annual Median Salary: $78,470

Job Growth Projection: 15%

Postsecondary or university professors teach subjects related to their expertise. They teach courses, plan curriculum, and work with other professors to improve existing courses. A strong background in management information systems and a Ph.D. are often required to become a professor in this field.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Traits of a Successful Management Information Systems Professional

Management information systems professionals must demonstrate a mastery of computers and business. Daily tasks include directing employees, setting deadlines, and managing workflow processes. A management information systems professional must also be able to communicate with other department heads for collaborative planning. To accomplish these tasks, skills in data analysis, software development, and database management are required, as are communication and leadership.

The field's technical nature requires knowledge of computer systems, servers, software, and other technological equipment. An accredited degree from a distance education program teaches students to apply these skills to common tasks. Experience is typically needed before an individual can take on a management role.

Steps to Earning a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems Online

Graduates with a Ph.D. in management information systems reach their degree in different ways. Some may bypass a master's degree with ample experience and an appropriate bachelor's degree, and others might choose a flexible distance education program while earning the experience they need. Different schools maintain different requirements, and each program is unique; however, most programs require similar steps.

Find the Right Program for You

Just because a school offers an accredited distance learning program doesn't mean it's right for you. Some universities require students to study in cohorts, meaning they must complete courses at a steady pace. Other online programs allow students to continue working full time while earning their degree. Be sure to inquire about a program's in-person requirements, which may include exams, specific courses, capstone projects, and work experience. Some schools offer accelerated courses that students can complete in 7-8 weeks.


With your application, you must likely submit college transcripts and test scores. Some programs have minimum requirements for undergraduate or graduate GPAs, and others want to see GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL scores. You should also expect to submit multiple recommendation letters, your updated resume, and other relevant materials that demonstrate your qualifications. Completing required tests and gathering materials takes time, but once collected, the application process runs quickly.

Capstone, Dissertation, or Thesis

Depending on your chosen program, you may need to complete a capstone project or dissertation to finish your degree. A capstone project typically relates to a specific field, demonstrating your expertise and giving you professional portfolio samples. A dissertation is an academic piece of work that demonstrates your field expertise, often in a specific niche. Most online doctoral programs in management information systems require a dissertation.

Curriculum for an Online Ph.D. in Management Information Systems

Your management information systems Ph.D. requires you to demonstrate mastery of computer systems and management. These two areas comprise most of the coursework you must complete. Other courses are related to data analysis and data mining, two fields that graduates often end up managing. Graduates desire different careers, so independent study and professional research are common courses students take. Curriculum also requires students to cover broad management information systems topics and readings, preparing them for potential roles as educators.

  1. Quantitative Analyses: Topics covered in this course include machine concepts, linear programming, and terminology. This course is usually offered from a scholarly standpoint, helping students round out their skills to become better educators. While these skills have applications in the business world, this course is designed primarily for future college professors.

  2. Readings in Management Information Systems: Readings in management information systems do not have a strict structure. Instead, students research, write, and share field-related papers. They then discuss and peer-review papers. This course is structured to help prepare students for their dissertation. Students gain the necessary skills to teach at the collegiate level.

  3. Econometrics: Sometimes called information systems economics, this course takes economic and analytic models and applies them to management information systems. This is a reading and writing intensive course that lays the groundwork for future economic research projects. A background in economics can translate directly to professional and academic roles.

  4. Enterprise Database Management: Students learn about databases at the enterprise level. Topics include database design, analytics, and software implementation. Courses often use enterprise resource planning software that organizations use. These skills translate directly to a managerial role at a large organization.

  5. Organizational Decision Making and Judgment: Leaning toward the management side of the curriculum, organizational decision making and judgment teaches students to make business-minded decisions through thoughtful, ethically based thinking. By the end of the course, students know how to make high-level, complex decisions. They can apply the skills learned in this class directly to most potential career outcomes.


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