Specialized master’s degrees in IT are cropping up at an increasing rate to cover everything from data science to technology management to enterprise architecture. Despite the wide range of areas covered, the programs have a common thread: They’re decidedly management-track, representing “a way to understand how technology truly supports the business,” says Priscilla Tate, President and Executive Director of the New York-based Technology Managers Forum. “If you’re a programmer, on-the-job experience is the big thing. But the corporate track is really why you do these degrees.”
Well, that and the potential to bump up your pay, she adds.
While graduate degrees aren’t a requirement for management-level jobs, they can be a differentiator when it comes time for employers to make a hiring decision. Says Jeff Kaye, Co-CEO of Dallas-based search firm Sanford Rose, “While on paper, graduate degrees are directly correlated to those who have achieved higher levels of academic proficiency, in reality a graduate degree, for the most part, is simply the equivalent of a VIP access pass into that field.”
Here’s a quick rundown on some of the specialty programs getting employers’ attention.
UC Berkeley’s Master of Information and Data Science
Launched in January 2014, this online program is geared toward putting data scientists on the leadership track. The multidisciplinary curriculum encompasses the data lifecycle, from planning and gathering information to analyzing and presenting findings. Coursework features self-paced content, interactive case studies and collaborative assignments. “There are programs for tech skills, but our view from the beginning was that we wanted to incorporate business skills and communications into the process to have graduates in a decision-making position,” says Steven Weber, a professor at the university’s School of Information.
Enterprise Architecture at Penn State
Penn State’s Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Architecture graduated its first class of students in 2012. The degree offers a broad-based approach to enterprise architecture by integrating classes on strategic, business and technology planning. It’s designed for professionals who aim to assume a role with enterprise-wide scope and authority.
SMU’s Master’s in Datacenter Systems Engineering
Southern Methodist University launched its Master of Science program in Datacenter Systems Engineering through its Lyle School of Engineering in the fall of 2014. The program provides a multidisciplinary approach to the management and design of datacenter systems. Built around a broad-based curriculum, it offers elective specializations in three technical areas: facilities, infrastructure and subsystems; data systems engineering and analytics; and computer networks, virtualization, security and cloud computing. Students can attend classes on SMU’s Dallas campus or through the school’s distance education program. The program, says Director Ed Forest, “allows the student to specialize and go deeper into the technology or become a generalist and possibly step up to a management role.”
Georgetown’s Master’s in Technology Management
When it launches in January 2015, this program will be the first online graduate program in Technology Management, geared toward building soft skills and leadership qualities. “This is the program for technology professionals who didn’t want to go for the MBA, but they want to advance in tech leadership,” says Beverly Magda, an associate dean at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies. The program will use a hybrid of technology and business curricula, with courses covering information security, financial analysis, business management, business intelligence and enterprise modernization, as well as one of the only technology management ethics classes offered in the country.
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