Wondering what you can do with an online PhD in information technology? This expert degree might just land you your dream IT job. Computer and information technology managers, often referred to as IT specialists or IT project managers, coordinate, direct, and manage computer-related activities within a company or organization. They work in both small and large companies, managing small in-house projects to large corporate computer networks.
Most jobs in IT require degrees. The more education, the more potential you have for career advancement. Low level management positions may only require a few years of experience and a master's degree in information technology, but by earning an information technology doctorate online, career opportunities increase. And, by earning a cheap online information technology PhD, your return on investment also grows. We created a list of the 10 most affordable doctorate in information technology online programs to help you with your research. These schools and PhD programs offer accreditation and the convenience of learning online.
Ranking Low Cost Online Information Technology PhD Programs
To determine our ranking of the ten most affordable online PhD in information technology degree programs, we looked at approximately 15 online information technology PhD or related programs. We selected colleges or universities that had received accreditation, either regional or national, and at least one ranking from a major publication like U.S. News and World Report. School and program rankings were considered. We then gathered in-state graduate tuition and fees from the National Center for Education Statistics (College Navigator) and ranked the top 10 schools according to raw affordability.
The sources we used to determine our list of ten information technology PhD online programs are listed below:
The National Center for Education Statistics – College Navigator, for tuition information.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics, for earnings potential and projected job outlook.
U.S. News and World Report for school and/or program rankings.
Sources were used to verify information, compile data, and examine tuition costs. The most affordable online information technology PhD programs include:
#10 – Columbia University
Online PhD in Computer Science
New York, New York
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $45,554
Some schools like the prestigious Columbia University offer a computer science doctorate that may appeal to individuals interested in earning an online PhD in information technology. The 30-credit, partially online program is for existing Columbia computer science MS students only. The program is highly research-based and upholds strict admission requirements. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 and satisfactory GRE scores. Courses expand on topics taught in a PhD information technology online program as well as scholarly areas of interest. These areas include robotics, software engineering, and vision. Columbia is certainly not the most affordable school on our list in terms of graduate tuition, but offers an excellent return on investment. The school is ranked #5 among best national institutions and considered a top 10 best value university.
#9 – Northcentral University
Online PhD in Technology and Innovation Management
San Diego, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,781
Northcentral University offers an accredited information technology PhD online program designed for working students. This program has six available specializations, including computer science, cybersecurity, data science, engineering management, information systems, and IT project management. The IT project management specialization and PhD takes 50 months to complete, and consists of 20 courses. These classes can be taken online and include introduction to research design and methodology for technology leaders, qualitative research design and methodology for technology leaders, and technology policy and strategy. Northcentral is accredited and offers one of the more affordable information technology doctorate online programs on our list.
#8 – Capella University
Online PhD in Information Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,003
Capella University's PhD information technology online degree program, offered through the School of Business, is designed to provide IT professionals with a flexible and convenient doctoral pathway. Graduate students design their own schedule and choose dissertation topics in information security, network architecture and design, or focus on IT within a specific industry. The degree may be tailored to meet specific career goals and personal interests. Classes are delivered entirely online and include advancing research in information technology management, innovating information technology life cycle management processes in a changing environment, and management theory creation. Online students receive a dissertation mentor to help them navigate and fulfill graduation requirements. Also, enrollment counselors assist students in navigating the admission procedures. Capella is accredited to offer PhD programs online and has received recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national institution. It offers one of the most affordable online PhD in information technology programs on our list.
#7 – Walden University
Online Doctor of Information Technology (DIT)
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,555
Walden University offers an accredited online PhD in information technology program designed for working IT professionals. The program prepares students for key IT and leadership positions within various organizations as well as for roles in academia. After successfully completing required courses, students may be eligible to receive an MS in Information Technology while working toward the doctorate degree. While most classes are delivered online, residencies are required. Residency programs allow students to network face to face with small groups of students who share research interests while enhancing analytical and critical writing skills. In some cases, residencies may be completed online. Walden is accredited and has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Also, major publications like U.S. News and World Report ranks Walden as a top national university.
#6 – Colorado Technical University
Online Doctor of Computer Science – Enterprise Information Systems
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,439
One of the most affordable information technology PhD online programs on our list is the computer science doctorate from Colorado Technical University. This entirely online program consists of 96 credits and offers online courses that cover a wide range of information systems and IT topics. Some of the courses offered include advanced topics in database systems, business intelligence, current topics in computer science and information systems, futuring and innovation, and principles of research methods and design. Graduates of the program must offer a research proposal to be approved by the student's committee. A dissertation must also be approved and defended. Colorado Tech is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West. Also, the online graduate computer information technology programs at Colorado Tech rank #38 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. The school offers a cheap online information technology PhD with a favorable return on investment.
#5 – Colorado State University
Online PhD in Systems Engineering
Fort Collins, Colorado
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,716
Colorado State University's PhD information technology online program focuses on systems engineering and the technological advances in any industry. This 72-credit hour program explores topics in engineering risk analysis, information technology and project management, simulation modeling and experimentation, and systems engineering architecture and processes. The program is designed to be completed mostly online, although select courses have in-person attendance options. The program can be completed at your convenience, based on the intensity of study and previous transferrable coursework. A dissertation requirement must also be met and may require a campus visit. Colorado State University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 124th best national university and the 138th best value school. Also, the online graduate IT programs are ranked #30, and the online graduate engineering programs are ranked #31 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. Colorado State offers a cheap online information technology PhD with the working student in mind.
#4 – Liberty University
Online DBA in Information Systems
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,430
Liberty University offers an online DBA in information systems that may appeal to those interested in an information technology doctorate online program. This uniquely designed 60-credit hour degree is 100% online and serves as preparation for careers in data administration, data networking, or systems integration. Students learn basic platforms of business that focus on design, ethics, security and strategy. Admission to the program requires an earned master's from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better. The master's must be in business administration (MBA), accounting (MSA), information systems, or management information systems (MIS). Liberty is a private Christian institution that has been in operation since the 70s. The school has earned accreditation and rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. The online DBA program is recognized and ranked as a top 200 program.
#3 – Aspen University
Online Doctorate of Science in Computer Science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,125
Aspen University's doctorate in computer science may appeal to those individuals interested in online PhD in information technology programs. This online degree is highly affordable, accredited, and aimed to benefit students from a variety of disciplines by offering curriculum that focuses on the practical applications of computer science and information technology. Courses are delivered online and include computer ethics, concurrent and distributed systems, systems metrics and risk management, techniques and interpretation for advanced statistical research, and technology and innovation management. A dissertation must also be completed and defended. Admission to the PhD information technology online degree program at Aspen requires an earned master's degree with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better and computer science experience. Aspen offers one of the most affordable online PhD in information technology or computer science programs on our list.
#2 – Dakota State University
Online Doctor of Science in Information Systems
Madison, South Dakota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,181
One of the top information technology PhD online programs on our list in terms of affordability is the online information systems doctorate from Dakota State University. This uniquely designed online degree is for working professionals who want to pursue careers as professors, researchers for government or private companies, or IS and IT directors in various industries. Three specialization options are also available so that students may tailor their degree toward areas of interest. These specializations include analytics and decision support, healthcare information systems, and information assurance and computer security. To apply to the information technology doctorate online program, students need an earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and satisfactory GRE scores on a test taken in the last five years. Dakota State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest and the 34th best top public school.
#1 – University of the Cumberlands
Online PhD in Information Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970
University of the Cumberlands offers an online PhD in information technology that can be completed in the comfort of your own home and without attending traditional classes. The program consists of online courses and professional research. Some of the courses include data science and big data analytics, enterprise risk management, information governance, information technology importance in strategic planning, and information technology in a global economy. Professional research includes advanced research methods, a dissertation, and an inferential statistics course. Admission to the online PhD program requires an earned master's from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The institution is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and offers the most affordable online PhD in information technology program on our list.
Other Schools Offering a Doctorate in IT Online:
PhD in Computer Science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,910
University of Florida
Online EdD in Curriculum and Instruction – Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,737
Old Dominion University
Online PhD in Education – Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,480
Online EdD in Instructional Systems Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,996
Boise State University
Online EdD in Educational Technology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,440
Career Options for Individuals With An Online Information Technology PhD
There are several career paths for individuals with information technology online PhD degrees. IT security managers and directors often work alongside top executives to plan security measures, promote information security, or manage projects within the organization. Earning a cheap online information technology PhD can open doors in senior leadership roles, making the return on investment extremely valuable.
With experience and armed with a PhD in IT, you may be able to work your way up to a chief technology officer (CTO) role. A CTO in any organization evaluates new technology and determines how it can improve the company. Another important leadership role of an organization is the chief information officer, or CIO. A CIO determines the information goals of an organization and oversees the implementation of the technology to meet these goals. Both CTOs and CIOs should be educated and offer years of experience. These jobs are possible with an information technology online PhD.
Earning Potential with An information Technology Online PhD
The earning potential for an individual with an information technology online PhD is statistically higher than an individual with a master's degree, although several factors must be considered. Experience level, industry setting, and type of job will all impact the level of pay.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was $135,800 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $82,400 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
The top industries in which the highest paid IT managers work include information, computer systems design and related services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, and management of companies and other enterprises. Most computer and information managers work full time and more than 40 hours per week. In 2016, BLS reports that one in three full-time IT managers worked more than 40 hours per week.
The Importance of Accreditation
Accreditation is a critical component of your education, especially for online information technology PhD programs. Accreditation is not just college jargon but also a facet of your education that could impact your future. So what does accreditation mean and how is it important?
Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation and assessment that colleges and universities undergo in order to maintain stringent standards of educational quality that is agreed upon by a governing body. These careful assessments may include evaluations by representatives of peer institutions who belong to the same accrediting body. The most widely recognized accrediting agencies for colleges and universities include:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
North Central Association (NCA)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
When a school is not accredited, red flags abound. Employers may look at your unaccredited degree and question its validity. You should only pursue education from a college or university that has received accreditation from a governing body listed by the Department of Education.
The Job Outlook for Computer and IT Managers
The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job outlook for computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026. This means that individuals with an online information technology PhD from an accredited college or university should fare well in their job search or career advancement. This rate of growth is five percent faster on average than all occupations. Demand for computer and IT specialists will increase as firms and organizations expand their business to digital platforms. An increase in employment opportunities means earning an information technology online PhD could be a strategic move.
Employment growth will also result in areas of business looking to improve and bolster cybersecurity. Recent cyber attacks have caused alarm, and businesses are looking to hire specialists who can prevent a disruption in operations. This means that IT specialists and experts with a cybersecurity background will be in demand.
Employers are always on the lookout for experts in a chosen field. Earning a PhD in information technology showcases your expertise. And if you can earn your degree while continuing to work in the industry, you will offer your employer, or potential employer, education and experience.