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A Guide to an IT Doctoral Degree

written by: Faith Oh•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 6/24/2011

IT doctoral degrees cover many different subject areas within information technology and a variety of research interests. Learn more about what these are and how to find the best program(s) for you.

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    IT (information technology) is the all-in-one term for everything technology and computers. Of course getting a doctoral degree in IT involves studying computer science and will most likely be in the computer science department of most universities. In order to be qualified to be accepted into an IT doctoral program you will need a good grasp of math and science and any math, science, or engineering undergraduate degree will most likely qualify you. People with IT doctoral degrees work as computer information system managers in industry, in colleges as professors or as consultants to businesses and governments. They also hold such high-profile positions as chief technology officers and chief information officers directing and supervising the work of other computer technology professionals such as computer specialists, engineers and programmers.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the occupational outlook for IT experts is positive with an expected 17 percent increase in number of jobs available between 2008 and 2018. In addition the median salary for information systems managers in 2008 was about $112,000.

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    IT Doctoral Programs

    According to the, the online college and graduate school directory, there are 413 IT-related doctorate programs in the United States. These programs cover majors in computational sciences, information science, management of technology, internet engineering and software engineering. Given this diversity of majors and possible diversity of interests in the IT field, it is prudent that you spend a significant amount of time doing a personal search for graduate programs that match your own specific IT interests.

    It is best to ignore popular rankings, except of course there is a ranking available for your particular IT niche, which is highly unlikely. You can also use a good online resource to help you create a personal ranking of IT doctoral degree programs based on your own personally-chosen criteria. These can include such things as location, particular research groups and professors you may be interested in working with, cost of living of the city where the university is located, funding availability and average length of time it takes students to receive their IT doctoral degrees.

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    Application Time

    Once you have narrowed down your list of doctoral programs to possibly apply to, it is time to begin the application process. Allow yourself ample time to be able to present your best self to the admission committees, which will in turn give you the best shot at being admitted and being funded. Getting a Ph.D. is a huge commitment in time and energy. It is a huge part of your life and no one should go into this without funding - either from the program or some sort of external fellowship.

    Also contact your recommenders early enough so they can have enough time to prepare good recommendation letters on your behalf. Most graduate programs will require three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should be academic references.