Graduate school is a time to focus your education on a particular field of study and explore it in-depth and hands-on. For students interested in graduate-level IT programs, the variety of available programs is as diverse as the IT profession itself.
If you pursue a master's degree or doctorate in information technology, computer science or computer engineering, you'll notice many of the course titles resemble those found at undergraduate levels. The main difference between undergraduate and graduate programs in these areas is the depth of the coursework and the opportunities for original research.
For example, students of Carnegie Mellon University's graduate program in Electrical and Computer Engineering would take courses similar to those in undergraduate programs, but at a higher level, like:
- Advanced Digital Integrated Circuit Design
- Advanced Computer Architecture
- The Art and Science of System Level Design
- Special Topics in Communications: Network Management and Control
[source: Carnegie Mellon University].
That said, many IT graduate programs don't require students to have majored in engineering or computer science (although a strong math and science background is strongly recommended) [source: Princeton Review]. Even in graduate programs, there are courses meant to introduce students to important IT concepts. In the same Electrical and Computer Engineering program at Carnegie Mellon University, students can take these more general courses:
- Introduction to Security and Policy
- How to Write Fast Code
- Network Security
- Image, Video and Multimedia
Since graduate school is a time to narrow down your studies, there are also many graduate IT programs geared at developing specific job-related skills. For example, students with an eye on being network and systems analysts or administrators can earn a master's degree in Information Networking (MSIN) or Information Security Technology and Management (MSISTM) [source: Information Networking Institute]. Students interested in a career as a tech business executive can get a master's or Ph.D. in Management Information Systems (MIS) [source: Princeton Review]. For die-hard coders, there are programs to earn a master's degree in software engineering.
Now let's look at yet another IT education option: professional certification programs.