Which is Better, a Master’s in Information Technology, or a Master’s in Computer Science?

Technology continues to drive how society functions every day. Business, education, health care, manufacturing, and all other industries utilize technology and technological systems to operate. Behind that technology are computers and computer systems. Information technology specialists and computer scientists develop, implement, maintain, and design the computers and software needed for computer technology. To acquire the skills and knowledge to work in these fields, prospective students have the option to choose between a master’s in information technology and a master’s in computer science. Both programs give graduates the skills and knowledge necessary to work in a highly skilled technology field with seemingly never-ending possibilities.

Master’s in Information Technology

A master’s degree in information technology does not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree in computer science for admission. The program options are designed in many cases for professionals in other fields that are looking to open up opportunities in their careers by gaining additional knowledge on information systems and gaining the skills needed to navigate in today’s technology-driven business world.

Students in an information technology graduate program will take a variety of courses that might include information security, networking, software development, business information systems, decisions support systems, telecommunications, health information technology, and fundamentals of computer systems.

The courses in information technology prepare graduate students with the knowledge and skills needed for various career positions, including IT specialist, business analyst, technology analyst, database administrator, web engineer, web developer, and applications developer. Specialized courses can prepare graduates for specific industries, including courses in health care technology, general business, management, and more.

Master’s in Computer Science

Interested students in a master’s in computer science program should have a background and previous education in engineering, computer science, or mathematics.

A computer science path typically requires in-depth study in a specialized area of computer science. General studies include courses in mathematics, mathematical theory, computer systems, and applications. Specialization areas vary by institution, but might include options in bio-computation, computer and network security, artificial intelligence, software engineering, database systems, theoretical computer science, or scientific computation. Computer science graduate programs will also build foundations in engineering, physics, and algorithms.

A master’s in computer science helps to prepare graduates for work in a variety of positions as well. Some examples include senior programmer, software development engineer, computing and systems researcher, and systems engineer, as well as for doctoral programs.


Choosing a Degree

Much of the coursework and many of the positions available for graduates are similar, but there are notable differences in the two degrees. For prospective students interested in the study of computers and software development, computer science master’s degrees provide the knowledge and skills for developing applications and understanding various computing platforms.

Information technology graduate programs, on the other hand, focus more on the use of computer skills to help the end user of computers and software through problem solving and processing information in a variety of specific industries such as health care or business management.

For additional information on computer science and information technology possibilities, visit the International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology website.