Getting an online PhD in MIS is a great option for those who want to work with both computers and other forms of technology as well as financial topics. Management information systems (MIS) is a discipline that focuses on how to organize and use financial information via different forms of software. Those who graduate from an MIS PhD online program can work as an analyst or a consultant, but they can also work in research and development and in academia. We created this article as a way to help prospective students learn more about the most affordable programs that are available online.
The information in this article comes directly from the National Center for Education Statistics because that nonprofit organization maintains accurate records with up to date information. We found 50 schools listed with this organization that offer MIS online programs, but we reduced that list down to include just the top 10 schools with the most affordable Doctorate programs.
While many students assume that getting a PhD online is expensive, our list proves that there are some affordable options out there. Some schools charge a rate of more than $30,000 a year, but our list includes schools that charge $25,000 a year or less. We even found some that let students get their degrees while spending less than $10,000 a year.
In addition to using the National Center for Education Statistics, we also utilized the College Navigator created by that organization. This let us view all schools that offer MIS programs at the doctorate level and to identify those with the lowest rates. Students interested in these programs can now view the top 10 most affordable programs that we found.
Ranking Low-cost Online Management Information Systems PhD Programs
10. Hampton University
Online PhD in Business Administration with an Information Systems Concentration
Hampton University offers a hybrid business administration with a concentration in information systems. The university requires that students spend four weeks on the campus at the start of the program, which is when they learn the research skills that they will need later on. Students will then take online classes during semesters that run for 16 weeks. There is a comprehensive exam that all students must take before working on their dissertations, which is the last step needed to earn a degree. This program includes courses like empirical research methods, strategy and policy leadership, advanced organizational theory and practice and advanced organizational behavior.
9. Liberty University
Online Doctor of Business Administration with an Information Systems Concentration
Liberty University is fairly unique because it allows students to apply for any of its online programs up to a few weeks before classes start. Its DBA program with a concentration in information systems is an entirely online program that requires students successfully complete 60 credits of work. Students can transfer in up to 15 credits earned from another university. Those in the information systems program will need to take four courses outside of business administration classes that include IT infrastructure, enterprise models, human computer interaction and emerging technology and systems analysis modeling and design. Liberty University offers this program for those who want to work in data administration and similar fields.
8. Capella University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management with an Information Technology Management Specialization
Capella University specializes in online degree programs that let busy students earn their degrees while working. Its MIS online program is highly affordable because the university offers a flat tuition rate that lets students take multiple classes for the same price, and those enrolled in this program can get their degrees while spending less than $14,000 a year. Capella charges an application fee of $50 but allows students to apply and start classes faster than other schools do. In addition to a comprehensive exam and a dissertation, this program features courses such as advancing research in management information systems and management theory creation.
7. Argosy University
Online Doctoral Degree in Business Administration with an MIS Concentration
Argosy University is another university that specializes in online classes. It has a DBA program with a concentration in MIS available that requires students complete 60 credits of courses beyond the undergrad level. Students will take 18 credits of core courses and at least 15 credits of research courses and work. Courses in the program include applied research, advanced qualitative methods, holistic management in organizations and corporate and global finance. Students will also need to take a qualifying exam to remain in the program. Argosy awards students up to 15 credits for the work they do towards their dissertations also.
6. Walden University
Online DBA in Information Systems Management: Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Walden University allows students to transfer in more credits than other schools do. Students can bring in up to 30 credits that they earned above the undergrad level, which allows them to complete this program even faster. All incoming students who live in the United States can qualify for a grant that gives them $5,000 towards their classes too. Students must agree to complete two residency programs that require them to spend two days on the campus. The university gives students eight full years to finish their degrees. Information systems management students must take three seminars on global supply chain management, innovation management and IT for competitive advantage in addition to other courses.
5. University of Arizona
Online Doctoral MIS
Caption: hybrid program, students can take most of their classes online
The University of Arizona is home to one of the oldest MIS programs in the world, which started in 1974, but this is also one of the nation's only doctoral programs in management information systems too. Though many of the students in this program earned their graduate degrees from Arizona, other students come from colleges across the country. As it's a hybrid program, students can take most of their classes online. PhD candidates have the chance to take a variety of courses, including topics in data and web mining, enterprise data management, economics of information systems, models for qualitative analysis and readings in management information systems.
4. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Online Doctor of Computer Science – Enterprise Information Systems Concentration
Students enrolling in the Colorado Technical University will find that it offers a Doctor of Computer Science program with a concentration in Enterprise Information Systems rather than the Doctor of Business Administration programs that other colleges offer. This program starts several times a year and covers subjects approved by the Department of Homeland Security, which is helpful for those who want to work for the federal government. Students can enroll and begin classes every few months. This program takes three years to finish and features six classes during its third year that allow students to focus on finishing their dissertations and get credit for their work.
3. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctorate in Management Information Systems
The doctorate program that Northcentral University offers calls itself an MIS program but is actually a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in MIS. It prepares students for working as database administrators in private and public companies as well as for government departments. Though it features 18 courses, this program allows students to graduate in around 39 months depending on the amount of time it takes them to finish a dissertation and take all required classes. Northcentral gives its DBA students a maximum of seven years to complete this program, which begins when students take their first classes. If a student goes over their allotment, he or she will need to reapply.
2. Baker College
Online Doctor of Business Administration with an Information Systems Concentration
The online PhD in MIS that Baker College offers is a DBA program with a concentration in information systems. Designed to help students get a better foothold in the business industry, it focuses specifically on the tools and skills that students need to work in different professions. The online version of the program includes the same seminars that students would otherwise attend on campus and the same assignments that those students complete. In addition to writing a qualifying paper and doing a dissertation, students will take classes like quality improvement and organizational change, introduction to research methods and design and corporate and personal ethics.
1. Metropolitan State University
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Online Doctor of Business Administration with an MIS Concentration
The most affordable online MIS PhD program is this one from Metropolitan State University. MSU accepts students into this program who have an MBA or the equivalent of an MBA degree. Those students will spend two years earning 40 credits before selecting a dissertation topic. During the second phase of the program, students do their dissertations and take a qualifying exam. MSU expects students to complete a minimum of 52 credits of work through the university. This program features a wide range of courses that include advanced methodology, information technology issues and strategy, accounting and financial policy, global issues in business and advanced strategic management.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Careers are Open to MIS PhD Holders?
Many of the careers open to those who complete an online PhD in MIS are at the advanced level. While it can take years to earn a degree, it's important that students have some idea of the jobs waiting for them after they graduate. One of the more common jobs in this industry is that of a database administrator. Database administrators are responsible for the daily operations and security of a large database. They typically work for companies and corporations with security concerns and monitor the database for any security threats.
Those with more experience may want to work in cyber security. Cyber security is one of the newest related industries and one of the fastest growing ones too. These professionals work for the government and for organizations within the government like the Department of Homeland Security to keep government infrastructures safe. They can also work for public and private companies that need more security help.
Some of those with an MIS degree work as health care information technicians. The need for professionals in this field grew significantly after the Affordable Care Act passed because hospitals and facilities needed workers capable of keeping up with the flow of new patients who had insurance. As the government looks to change the ACA, the need for health care information technicians may drop.
A small number of students enroll in cheap online MIS PhD programs because they want to work in software development too. They have the chance to base their dissertations around software that they want to market and sell to customers after they graduate or software they hope to sell to a major corporation. Software designers find a problem that a large group of people has and builds software to solve that problem.
One field related to software development is game design. Game designers take an idea for a game and do the coding and other work necessary to build that game from scratch. They may assign tasks to other individuals or groups such as rendering the backgrounds used in that game or coming up with the plot that leads players through the game. Video game designers can also work in app development and design new apps.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a MIS PhD?
One common question that many students have before enrolling in an online PhD in MIS is how long it will take to finish the program. It really depends on how much time the student dedicates to his or her studies. Most of the affordable programs on our list allow full-time students to finish their studies in three years. They spend one year working on fundamental classes and core courses. The second year is when they have the chance to take more detailed courses and to come up with a dissertation topic and get approval for that topic. In the third year, students take fewer classes and spend more time doing research and any other work that their dissertations need.
Some students spend more than a year working on their dissertations. Those enrolled in more traditional programs may work as research or teaching assistants and work part-time on their dissertations. Students working from home can take more time to finish a dissertation too. They might decide to take a full course load in the first and second year and spread the third year out over multiple years. Colleges typically limit how long students can work on a dissertation though.
What is the Maximum Limit for Submitting a Dissertation?
The most important step or phase in any MIS online PhD program is the dissertation. Management information systems students will need to pick a subject to study and submit that topic to an adviser. The adviser may approve that topic as-is or recommend ways for the student to narrow down the subject further. Though students usually write an extensive paper based on the research that they do, some schools give students the option of doing an extensive project instead.
Colleges will typically give PhD students a specific amount of time to which complete and present their dissertations. This can range from five years to eight years. Those who do not present their work within the maximum time allowed will lose a spot in the program. They will then need to apply for a new spot, and the university may require that they take some classes over again. Colleges use this time limit as a way to encourage students to complete their work and to clear out space in the program for future students.
How Does Getting an Online Degree Affect Job Prospects?
A common misconception that some students have is that online programs are not as strong as traditional programs. Some of these students even hesitate before enrolling because they worry that prospective employers might look down at them for getting a degree online. While this was a common problem during the early days of the Internet and online schools, it's no longer true. Many top colleges now offer students the chance to study online, and depending on where a student goes, employers may not even know that a student got a degree online.
Going to college online can actually be an advantage for MIS students too. Management information systems students need a strong understanding of computer and Internet topics to work in the field. While working on their degrees from home, they learn how to weed out bad resources from good ones. They also develop strong skills in regard to the software used in their classes. MIS online degree holders can show employers that they are good at multitasking and that they have strong time management skills too.
Are There Any Related Disciplines?
Management information systems is a discipline within the computer science industry. Some also refer to it as a subset of the information technology (IT) field. IT professionals can work as independent contractors or for IT departments in major companies. They help with daily problems like computers that won't turn on or with viruses that employees accidentally download to their work computers. IT workers can also offer advice when it comes to purchasing new software or devices for the company.
One related discipline to MIS is business processes. Business process management refers to the way in which workers gather, collect and organization information relating to the processes and activities of a company. It usually requires the use of computer programs and software to keep track of profit margins, profit and loss statements, work flow and related tasks.
What are the Top Jobs in Academia?
Becoming a college professor requires a terminal degree, which is the highest degree that a student can get in a subject matter. In the MIS world, a doctoral degree is the highest level degree available. Students have the option of earning a Doctorate of Business Administration with a concentration in an MIS related field or a Doctorate of Computer Science with a concentration in a related subject. One of the most affordable MIS doctorate online programs that we found offers a full Doctorate in Management Information Systems, but these programs are fairly rare.
Professors and instructors can work at community colleges and vocational schools as well as private and public universities. Those working for universities usually earn more than those working in community colleges do, and public schools often pay less than private schools do. The median wage across all professors is $75,430 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but the BLS found that computer science instructors and those working in similar fields earn more than the median amount. Adjunct professors receive a rate based on the number of courses taught per semester. These instructors can work other jobs while teaching.
What About Consulting Positions?
Having a PhD in MIS also qualifies students to work as consultants. Consultants come in and help a company determine what changes to make based on the company's needs or goals. A management consultant might look at how effective the company is and make suggestions that will help the company run more effectively with changes to the software and programs that it uses. IT consultants deal more with the software and devices used by the company but may help the company find new IT workers too. Consultants can earn between $88,000 and $96,000 a year. Some consultants earn more than $100,000 a year.
Thanks for taking a look at our top picks. We think that each of these online PhD in MIS programs have some benefits for students today.
Updated: March 4, 2020