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Online Doctoral Programs in Information Technology

Online doctoral programs in information technology focus on research and innovations that push the limits of what’s possible in the digital world! In an online PhD in IT program, you may study areas like analytics and decision support, information assurance and security, the digital economy, and even artificial intelligence.

IT doctorate degree online programs may be aimed at the IT professional, or those who wish to pursue teaching and research.

Earning an IT Doctorate Degree Online: What You Need to Know

Types of Online Doctoral Programs in Information Technology

As you begin your search for online doctoral programs in information technology, you’ll notice they don’t all go by the same name. Programs may share overlapping goals and knowledge areas while focusing on slightly different aspects of information technology.

We’ll explore some of the distinctions a bit later. For now, here are some technology doctoral program types you might come across while searching for the online PhD in IT program that’s perfect for you:

  • Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) Online
  • Online Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Technology
  • Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Systems Online
  • Online PhD in Information Systems and Technology Management

What Might I Learn in an Information Technology Doctorate Program?

You may explore the world of IT from the perspective of a business leader, scientist, researcher…or all of the above!

You may discover how to engineer software that solves a business problem, or you may study the role of technology in data-intensive industries, like finance. You could even explore new technology business models, and their potential impact on the evolving tech landscape.

Some IT doctoral programs may offer concentrations or tracks in areas like:

  • Analytics and decision support
  • Healthcare information systems
  • Computer science
  • Management science
  • And other potential paths

Still other programs may consider themselves interdisciplinary, blending IT with the study of related areas like economics, management, and even organizational behavior and psychology!

Online doctoral programs in information technology are typically research-intensive.

In addition to exploring theories in your field, you may take courses in research methodology, too. Qualitative and quantitative research, plus the principles of designing a research study, may be a key part of your program.

Through the course of your studies, you may complete more than one research project, including a dissertation on a topic of professional interest to you.

Here are 12 potential courses you may encounter in an IT doctoral program:

  1. Operating Systems Principles
  2. Artificial Intelligence
  3. Software Engineering
  4. Internet Supply Chain Management
  5. Applied Statistics
  6. IT Infrastructure, Technology, and Network Management
  7. Principles of Information Assurance
  8. Data Warehousing
  9. Digital Marketing
  10. Managing Web 3.0
  11. The Economics of Information
  12. The Economics of IT in Markets and Organizations

Of course, all online doctoral programs in information technology will have different course offerings, varied learning goals, and a unique philosophy!

Admissions Requirement for Online PhD Information Technology Programs

In general, IT doctorate degree online programs are aimed at candidates with educational and/or professional experience that relates to the degree. So, your background should likely be in information technology or a similar field. While each prospective program you consider may have slightly different admissions requirements, here are a few common ones.

  • Baccalaureate degree or masters degree. At the minimum, you will need to have earned a bachelors degree before pursuing a doctoral program. However, some programs may require you to have earned a masters degree, as well.
    Your degree should be in a field of study accepted by your prospective doctoral program. Generally, IT, Information Systems, or Computer Science. Alternatively, you may be able to apply to a combined M.S./D.Sc. program, and potentially earn your masters degree on the way to earning your doctorate.
  • Professional experience. Some online doctoral programs in information technology may have knowledge requirements that can be fulfilled by professional experience. For instance, if your previous degree is in a field other than IT but you have professional experience in a relevant area like IS/IT Management, you may still qualify for an online IT doctoral program.
    Keep in mind that the rules vary from program to program.
  • Particular skills. Online doctoral programs in information technology may require you to have certain foundational skills. These could include programming basics, how to create spreadsheets, or knowing how to manage Windows and UNIX operating systems.
    Check with your prospective program to learn more.
  • Statement of purpose. This is basically a document that outlines your background, reason for pursuing a PhD in IT, your research interests, and what goals you hope to pursue. Every prospective program may ask something slightly different of you. For instance, an IT doctoral program may ask you to discuss how your research interests align with those of specific faculty members.
    It’s important to read each program’s requirements carefully. Then, tailor your statement of purpose to match!
  • GRE scores. Some information technology doctorate online programs may require you to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Other programs leave it up to you. Programs may also have different rules for minimum acceptable test scores.
  • Minimum GPA. Your prospective doctoral program may need you to have a minimum undergraduate GPA, such as 3.0.
  • Letters of Recommendation. You may be required to send letters of recommendation from authorities in your field. Often, these will be professors you have worked with in the past. Your recommenders may need to speak to your readiness to pursue doctoral studies in the field of information technology.

Fun Fact

The word “computer” sounds relatively new, but it actually dates back to the 1600s. Originally, the word was used to describe a person who performed calculations and computations!

Graduation Requirements for Online Doctoral Programs in Information Technology

Each program will ask candidates to take a slightly different path to earning a PhD or doctorate in information technology. However, here are some common graduation requirements:

Coursework – You will need to complete all the courses in your doctoral plan of study. The coursework and number of credits you’ll need to take depends on your program’s requirements and whether or not you have transferred credits from a masters program.

Minimum GPA – You may need to earn a minimum GPA for your coursework, often 3.0 (B average).

Qualifying Examinations – IT doctoral candidates may need to pass qualifying exams in order to prove their expertise in key knowledge areas. For example, you could be tested on your understanding of operating systems, data structures and algorithms, software engineering, computer security, and other subjects. Keep in mind that programs may be strict about how many times you can re-take the qualifying exams in order to pass.

Residency – Though you may pursue the bulk of your degree online, you might have to travel to campus for short-term, face-to-face sessions. Sessions may have different learning goals, like formulating a research question, participating in peer review, and meeting with faculty and colleagues.

Research Papers – One or more research papers may be required in addition to your dissertation. For example, programs where students pursue a masters on the way to earning a doctorate degree may ask you to complete a masters thesis. Your doctoral program may also encourage you to work on research papers to submit to conferences and peer-reviewed journals.

Dissertation – In most cases, to earn an online PhD information technology degree, you must complete a major capstone research project. In most cases this is called the dissertation, though some programs may have other names for it. Candidates must generally have their topic approved by faculty before getting started. Then, they spend a significant amount of time defining and researching their topic. They may gather data firsthand. Finally, they write up their findings. PhD candidates usually have to successfully defend their dissertation in order to earn their doctorate degree. A completed dissertation may take the form of several book chapters, or something else.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a PhD in Information Technology Online?

That depends on a variety of factors, like whether or not you are starting the program having already earned a master’s degree in IT. For example, a masters degree-holder may be able to earn an IT doctorate online in three years. On the other hand, a student without a masters may need additional time.

Here are some other factors that could affect your timeline.

Credits required – Some online doctoral programs in information technology may require you to earn as many as 88 credit hours to graduate, while others may require fewer. Also keep in mind that the number of credits required will depend on whether you are pursuing a bachelors-to-doctorate track or a masters-to-doctorate track, like an M.S./D.Sc.

Full or Part-time Status – Some information technology doctorate online programs may allow candidates to pursue their studies either part-time or full-time. Studying part-time means progressing at a slower pace. Some programs place a cap, like seven years, on how long a candidate may take to earn the degree.

Time required to complete your dissertation – A dissertation is a self-directed research project, and as a result, it tends to be unstructured. Some candidates may need more time than others to finish this key requirement for graduation.

Did You Know

The first desktop computer, Programma 101, was released to the public at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

Online Doctor in Information Technology vs PhD

A doctorate program such as a DIT (Doctor of Information Technology) or D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) in Information Technology is often aimed at professionals who wish to apply their knowledge in a non-academic setting.

On the other hand, a PhD in IT may be intended as a teaching and research degree. However, those who earn a doctorate may go on to teach, and those who earn a PhD may pursue goals outside academia.

Doctorate in Information Systems vs. Information Technology

Information systems is the study of how information is created, stored, distributed, etc. But remember: not all information systems are computer-based!

Therefore, information technology falls under the umbrella of information systems, even though these two areas may share a lot in common.

A degree in I.S. may include courses like information theory and even social science. A degree in I.T., on the other hand, may focus more on databases, networks, software, and other means of storing, processing, and sharing information.

However, as you explore prospective doctoral programs in I.S. or I.T., you may find a lot of overlapping knowledge areas and learning goals. Whether or not these two doctoral degree types are significantly different may depend a lot on the individual program.

Doctor of Computer Science vs PhD in IT

Computer science and information technology may deal with similar concepts, but they have different approaches and goals. Computer science is a mathematics-based field that focuses on the theories behind how technology works.

IT may focus more on how people and organizations interact with technology to achieve their goals. They may study how existing technology can be applied within designed systems.

However, these fields are interconnected. Some IT doctoral programs may even offer a computer science track.

What’s Next After Earning My IT Doctorate Degree Online?

Graduates may pursue a variety of goals in academia, private industry, or the government. Some degree programs may focus on teaching and research, while other programs may help students pursue goals in data-intensive fields, like banking. Here are two potential career paths that may require candidates to earn a doctorate degree:

CAREER 1 - Computer and Information Research Scientist

  • Most roles require a PhD [i]
  • Median salary (2016) was $111,840 [ii]

CAREER 2 - Postsecondary Information Technology Instructor [iii]

  • Many roles require a PhD [iv]
  • Median salary (2016) was $77,570

Find Online Doctoral Programs in Information Technology That May Be Perfect For You!

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) online, a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Technology, a PhD in Information Systems, or another program entirely, your next step is to compare programs that interest you.

Explore our sponsored listings for accredited online doctoral programs in information technology that may help you pursue your goals. You’ll be able to learn more about the programs that catch your eye, and compare what each degree path may have to offer.

Don’t forget to use the Request Info button to get started!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm | [ii] www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/doctorate.doc | [iii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2008/fall/art01.pdf | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1111.00#WagesEmployment