MSIT vs. MBA in IT: Which One Should You Choose?

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Information technology has established itself as a critical component of all businesses. We’ve come a long way from just email services and websites; today’s businesses are increasingly making use of complex point of sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. At the same time, the tech field is exploding with business opportunities as new startups pop up everyday to develop the latest and greatest mobile application, payment service or other digital innovation.

This means there’s a lot of opportunity at the intersection of technology and business. You could be business savvy and interested in heading into the tech field to launch your own startup. Or maybe you’re a programmer or developer who’s motivated to sharpen your managerial skills to innovate within a company or even launch an enterprise of your own. 

If you’re looking to advance your career in the fields of tech and business, then there are different higher education degrees that would be beneficial, but it’s important to explore what degree will provide the most relevant knowledge and experience. Would you be better served by an MBA in Information Technology, a Master of Science in Information Technology or a different kind of master’s degree such as the Master of Science in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship?

What is an MBA in Information Technology

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an internationally recognized degree that is designed to develop the skills required for professional careers in business and management. In general, the MBA curriculum is more focused on teaching skills related to administration and management, though many programs provide elective courses for students to specialize in a specific area – such as finance, marketing, healthcare or IT.

Consider an MBA with a concentration in Information Technology Management if you wish to combine business management skills with an advanced understanding of systems specific to the technology field. This is typically for people who already have compiled a strong set of technical skills, such as programming, engineering or information architecture, but need more management training to advance their careers.

What is a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT)?

The Master of Science in Information Technology is designed for those who will be managing information technology, especially the information systems development process, at the leadership level. The curriculum ensures that students are able to take responsibility for an organization’s information technology solutions and use its information technology resources to solve problems.

The MSIT is ideal for current IT professionals who have a prior background in computer science and computer engineering and are seeking to add business acumen, management and targeted problem-solving skills to their CV. This degree is also of interest to people who already have a strong business background and are hoping to learn more about information technology. 

What is the Master of Science in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (MITE)?

The Master of Science in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (MITE) is designed for those seeking new market opportunities or leadership roles in technology or technology-adjacent fields. This curriculum is built around the “technology connectivity” ecosystem – focusing on the opportunities that emerge, or are discovered, amid our world of nonstop technological advancement.

The MITE degree focuses on cross-functional training to develop leadership skills in key business areas including marketing, product management, human resources and team-building. This degree is a great fit for IT professionals who are looking for a review of fundamental and advanced business models, concepts and practices. It’s also tailor-made for current and aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in navigating the world of technology innovation and its relationship to financing and product/market fit. 

MSIT vs. MBA vs. MITE Comparison Table

 Curriculum Popular Careers Average Pay Preferred Prior Courses
 MSIT  

  • Information Security Management 
  • Global Information Technology Management 
  • Project Management for Information Systems and Management of Software Systems 
  • Corporate Finance 
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Accounting
  • E-commerce 
  • Data Warehousing
  • Leadership and Managerial Roles 
  • Systems Software Manager 
  • IT Architect Manager 
  • Chief Information Officer 
  • Data Processing Manager

 

$89K –
$153k
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Administration

 

MBA in IT  

  • Systems Analysis 
  • Data Communications 
  • Security Systems 
  • Networking 
  • Business Applications 
  • Systems Management and Risk Management 
  • Database Management Technology 
  • Global Information Technology Management
  • Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Leadership and Managerial Roles 
  • Database Administrator 
  • Chief Technical Officer 
  • Network Architect 
  • Information Technology Director

 

$95k –
$171k
  • Statistics 
  • Economics 
  • Calculus

 

 MITE  

  • Introduction to Communication and Networking 
  • Principles of Computing
  • Principles of Connectivity
  • Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship 
  • Sustainability 
  • Technology Business Exits 
  • Technology Management and Leadership
 

  • Leadership and Management Roles 
  • Tech Startup Founder 
  • Business Innovation Consultant 
  • Technology Innovation Consultant 
  • VP of Product Development
  • C-Suite Executive
 $97k –
$200k
  • STEAM courses 
  • Business related disciplines

 

Career Outlook for MSIT Graduates 

MSIT graduates can look forward to careers in a variety of technology-related fields, including data analysis, information systems, cybersecurity and network security. Payscale lists an average salary for related careers at about $87,869, though higher level positions are all but guaranteed to be over $100k. Here are some of the more popular positions for MSIT graduates:

Database Administrator – $98k
Database administrators install and maintain the performance of an organization’s database servers. They ensure that information remains readily accessible and secure for everyone accessing the database. They’re responsible for optimizing database performance, tuning the database systems and installing and upgrading database applications.

Information Security Analyst – $103k
Information security analysts work to design and implement IT security systems to protect computer networks from cyberattacks and data breaches. They’re responsible for planning security measures, monitoring computer networks for security issues, installing and updating security software and documenting all security issues or breaches.

Computer Network Architect – $116k
Computer network architects are the ones who design, build and maintain an organization’s data communication networks. They work with all manner of systems, from in-house intranets to cloud-based information systems. They’re the ones who are ultimately responsible for networked software architectures that support core functions, define and implement IT policies, procedures and best practices

Chief Information Officer – $185k
The chief information officer (CIO) is the chief executive in charge of the entirety of an organization’s information technology and computer systems. CIOs set the strategy for technological development and oversee all leadership responsibilities. Their duties include assessing current processes, optimizing business practices and coordinating with the rest of the executive team on the needs and development of IT.

Career Outlook for MBA in IT Graduates

As the MBA is such a popular degree, the range of careers and salary is highly dependent on a person’s specific job and degree of work experience. Generally those in starting positions or  less than one year of work experience earn an average salary of around $88k, while PayScale lists an average pay for established professionals at around $111,652. Here are some popular positions for MBA graduates with IT specializations:

Computer Systems Analyst – $93k
Computer systems analysts are responsible for overseeing a computer system’s procedures and security, offering suggestions for optimizations and improvement. They design, implement and manage security countermeasures when network vulnerabilities are discovered and offer technical guidance on networking solutions, technology roadmaps and product plans.

Computer and Information Systems Manager – $151k
Computer and information systems managers are responsible for overseeing any computer-related activity within an organization. They set the technical and business goals for the organization and ensure they’re accomplished. They also plan and direct the installation and maintenance of all computer hardware and software and coordinate the security of an organization’s network and electronic documents.

Information Technology Director – $151k
Information technology directors are in charge of IT departments, and so are responsible for the management of IT personnel as well as the execution of IT policies and goals. IT directors oversee and coordinate the development of technical projects, the establishment of networks as well as financial requirements and budgeting.

Chief Technical Officer – $185k
The chief technical officer (CTO) makes all the executive decisions regarding the technological interests of a company. In comparison to a CIO, CTOs are more focused on researching or developing innovative technologies. They are responsible for outlining the company’s technological vision, implementing established technology strategies and ensuring that the technological resources are aligned with the company’s business needs.

Career Outlook for MITE Graduates

The MITE degree is designed to help graduates take leadership roles within the environment of fast-moving technologies and new innovative business opportunities. While MITE graduates can fit into many of the same roles that MBA in IT and MSIT graduates can, there are a few other careers that they’re positioned for, including:  

Technology / Business Innovation Consultant – $87k
Consultants collaborate with businesses to identify problems, review processes and develop a strategy to improve efficiencies. They analyze data and interview personnel to help an organization explore how to shift priorities, introduce new initiatives and better meet the needs and wants of their clients. Tech consultants specialize in analyzing an organization’s technological capacity and identifying areas for growth.

Vice President of Product Development $163k
VPs of product development oversee a company’s production teams and direct product development from initial inception to final deliverable. They coordinate with engineering, marketing, sales and other departments to guide development and design efficient strategies for pricing, commercialization and market targeting. They also ensure that products live up to brand standards and deliver on meeting consumer needs. For VPs in tech startups, products can be physical objects or programs such as mobile apps and SaaS platforms.

CTO / CIO / IT Director$185k
Depending on the size or structure of an organization, the roles and responsibilities of CTOs, CIOs and IT Directors could be split, shared or combined. No matter the specific title, this position is responsible for making the highest-level executive decisions with regard to the technological interests of a company. It could be inward-focused to outline the company’s technological vision, outward-focused in order to align a company’s development with partners and clients, or a mixture of both.

Startup Founder / CEO – $200k+
Chief executive officers (CEOs) and startup founders are responsible for everything within a company, including but not limited to operations, marketing, strategy, financing, creation of company culture, human resources, sales and public relations. They manage all other C-suite positions and ensure that all departments are optimized, on track and working toward the company’s vision and goals. 

All the listed salaries listed here are as of July 2021 on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or PaysScale websites. Amounts are subject to change pending on location, experience, company and date of hire. Salaries for startup CEOs vary wildly – from as little as $1 up to eight figures. In general, expect a median salary over $200k for CEOs and startup founders.

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Ultimately, choosing your ideal master’s program depends on your background experience, current level of education, career goals, professional interests and career aspirations. 

An MSIT is great for those looking for more “hands-on” experience working directly with technology systems, while an MBA in IT could be more suited for organizing and managing departments and IT teams. 

The MITE degree is perhaps the only U.S. master’s program whose degree is awarded jointly by schools of Engineering and Business. Its one-of-a-kind cross-functional leadership training is developed especially for those professionals interested in joining tech startups or starting a career as an intrapreneur or entrepreneur in a technology-related field.  

Use this post as a starting guide to direct your own research into available programs and potential career paths that you’d like to learn more about.  

FAQs About Choosing a Program

What other career possibilities are there?
First, while likely careers were listed for each degree, none of them are mutually exclusive. It’s definitely possible for an MSIT graduate to get a position as a computer systems analyst or an MBA in IT graduate to work up to CIO within a company. Also, some companies will define job positions in different ways. An IT Director might be the same as CIO for one company, but a unique position within another.

Provided you have the education and experience to showcase your skills, you can secure a position within the tech industry that satisfies your career goals. Other tech-aligned positions to be on the look out for include:

  • Data processing manager – administers the implementation of new or updated systems, and develops technical standards and procedures for system maintenance and operation.
  • Systems software manager – assigns personnel to aspects of a project, supervises progress and oversees adherence to schedules and specifications. 
  • IT technician – collaborates with support specialists to analyze and diagnose computer issues; trains employees or clients on how to use new programs or operate new functions.
  • User experience (UX) designer – collects and reviews user feedback to determine which programs are most efficient and successful; tests and revises products to ensure they are optimized to the user’s expectations.

How long does it take to finish a degree program?
The length of any program will depend both on the specific requirements of the college or university and the amount of time you can dedicate toward accumulating the required number of credit hours.

For example, a full-time student could complete an MSIT degree within 16 months. Whereas a part-time student may be able to complete the same degree within a two-year period, though it could also be longer. 

For more details, research whether a school offers its degree program as traditional, accelerated or part-time:

  • Traditional – full-time, two-year program offered only on-campus
  • Accelerated – full-time, on-campus or online course that can be completed in under two years
  • Part-time – online, on-campus or hybrid program spaced out over four to six years.

With a requirement of 33 credit hours over 20 months of online courses, the USD MITE program is considered an accelerated degree. 

How much does it cost to take a program?
Again, specific costs will vary from school to school. On average, the cost for both MSIT and MBA programs is around $40,000 in yearly tuition – though additional costs for boarding and supplies can quickly inflate that amount. Some full-time private schools can cost up to $200,000 over two years

Online degrees and accelerated programs can cost less than full-time and on-campus programs. The total tuition cost for USD’s MITE degree is $30,525

Where can I apply for these programs?
There are many different MBA and MSIT programs available throughout the U.S. To explore potential MBA programs and where you can start the application process, start with mba.com. For the master of science degree, try starting with Masterstudies. U.S. News and World Report also has an extensive database for both MS and MBA degrees. 

If you’re interested in applying for the MITE degree, that is available exclusively at the University of San Diego. The application process can be started at this link.  

Where can I read more information about the MITE program?
The Master of Science in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship has its homepage on the USD website. General information is provided on the MITE homepage; additional details can be found on the Online Program Curriculum page and on the Admission Requirements page

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