Whether online or on a campus, a PhD in education — in Information Technology or otherwise — generally will unfold in the same manner. Programs typically take between four and six years to complete, with a balanced load of coursework in the first two years, and the remainder of the program dedicated to the research and composition of a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation represents for most students the longest, most rigorous academic paper of their careers, and generally runs between 250 and 300 pages. At the end of the course sequence and before the dissertation becomes students’ sole focus, they will take a General Examination, a comprehensive test of all material covered in the courses that usually takes the form of a very involved essay question that requires students to synthesize all the information they have learned. Some General Exams also include an oral section that is equally challenging and does not allow students the luxury of organized responses.
About Online PhD Programs in Information Technology Education
Pursuing an information technology education PhD online will be substantively comparable to pursuing a PhD in Education in a campus-based program, with a few key logistical, and some disciplinary, differences. First, and most apparent, is that online PhD information technology education programs are not conducted at regular intervals in classrooms, but rather online at a student’s discretion. This is beneficial for students that work full-time or have other responsibilities that prohibit them from physically being in a classroom. That the learning is conducted online, however, does not affect the quality or the content of the program, though the content will depart a little from the standard PhD in education curriculum to account for the information technology specialization. Outside of these minor distinctions, online information technology education PhD programs are the same as more conventional programs.
In general, students will spend four to six years pursuing information technology education doctorate degrees online, the same as traditional programs, dedicating the first two years to instruction in educational theories and information technology principles. Online doctoral programs in information technology education feature a mix of mathematics, science, and technology courses; but Online PhD programs in information technology education often go beyond computers and technology and focus on the analysis, design, expansion, execution, and assessment of learning and instruction. Some typical doctoral information technology education courses are: (course titles and descriptions from Capella University’s course catalog)
- Information Technology Technical Foundations . Introduction to the theoretical, investigative, and practical foundations of information technology management, surveying the history of technology systems, current systems, applications, programs, and procedures—especially in the business world—and emerging software and technology. Students will also apply information learned to theoretical problems, and begin to refine their own research abilities.
- Information Technology Delivery. Examination of the technical, systematic, psychological, and physical dimensions of deploying information technology in organizations. In addition to studying both academic and professional sources, students will become familiar with the successes and failures of delivery in the past, and be challenged to research current alternatives.
- Information Technology Strategy and Management. A focused look at information technology from an organizational, managerial perspective, i.e. strategy development and implementation; IT organization, structure, and governance; and roles of IT staff and departments within organizations.
- Quantitative Research Techniques. Exploration of fundamental concepts of quantitative research methods, including dependencies among research design, measurement, and analysis; variable types and levels of measurement; and descriptive and inferential statistics.
- Theory and Methods of Educating Adults. Study of pedagogical theories of adult education, adult instruction teaching styles, sociological and psychological influence in adult classrooms, as well as course design for adults.
- Theoretical Basis of Instructional Design. This course provides learners with an understanding of the theories that form the foundation of instructional design and development. Learners examine the fundamental instructional design theories and models associated with training and education and apply these theories to create an instructional design model that meets the current or projected needs of an organization.
- Ethics and Social Responsibility in Distance Education. Learners in this online Instructional Design for Online Learning doctorate course analyze the influence of law and ethics on course ownership, privacy, intellectual property, freedom of speech, and social responsibility.
- Higher Education Curriculum Development and Teaching Strategies. The focus of this course is on curriculum development in higher education. Learners review the evolution of curriculum design and examine the impact of various design models on instructional frameworks and strategies. Learners analyze curricula that use face-to-face, online, and hybrid instructional platforms and develop curricula that meet diverse individual and cultural needs.
- Classroom Assessment in Education . Learners in this course explore evidence-based classroom assessment and evaluation practices and apply a variety of tools and strategies to assess and evaluate learning. Learners also develop appropriate formative and summative classroom assessment techniques that address intended learning outcomes and promote learning in a global society.
Just like with campus programs, General Exams follow the online coursework and test students comprehensively over the material they studied. The remaining years will be spent researching, writing, and finally defending a dissertation, usually between two and four years, culminating in a 250-300 page piece of original research in the information technology education field.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Information Technology Education
The value of an online information technology education PhD will only increase as technology improves and becomes more visible and vital across all industries. The expanding use of technology will create demand for more skilled technicians, which in turn will direct more students into Information Technology programs. In order to adequately serve the large influx of IT students, there will be a corresponding high demand for qualified professors of Information Technology. Online PhD Information technology education graduates, then, will have a distinct advantage, having specialized not only in the leading educational theories and practices but in Information Technology principles, concepts, and practice as well. Furthermore, it is predictable that a large number of burgeoning IT programs will be online programs, adding still more value to pursuing Information technology education doctorate degrees online—graduates of these programs will also have experience in the online instructional platform, and will therefore be prepared to anticipate and overcome some of the challenges it presents.
An online PhD in Information technology education is not without its shortcomings, however—specializing in Information technology education will limit employment options to that field and will not afford a lot of flexibility the way more liberal arts-based programs can.
Application & Admission Requirements
The online doctorate in Information technology education combines detailed analysis, critical thinking, research, and academic writing with skill development in advanced instructional techniques and curriculum design. Students pursuing online doctoral degrees in Information technology education will also need to be proficient with technology tools, computer hardware and software programming, and how to integrate technical knowledge in an education and training environment. Some of the top accredited online PhD programs in Information technology education provide students with residencies to strengthen their insights, training, and knowledge needed to be successful in their doctoral studies and beyond.
Some of the Master Degrees that lead into an online Information technology education Doctorate include:
- Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training
- Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction
- Master of Science in Software Engineering
- Master of Science in General Information Technology
- Master of Educational Technology
Individuals pursuing online doctorate degrees in Information technology education come from professional backgrounds such as education, corporate training, administration, computer engineering, and technology management.
Career Options & Job Market
Technology educators work in many sectors including public and private school systems, higher education, business and corporate, and military and government. Some graduates of online doctoral programs in Information technology education choose to become technical consultants. Students who hold an online PhD in Information technology education also have valuable opportunities to use their advanced training and skills to be influential in significant and growing foundations, available scholarships, professional develop opportunities, publications, and national conferences.
Some career prospects in the Information technology education field include:
- Instructional Designer An instructional designer creates educational materials and assessments for presentation over the internet. In school settings, instructional designers also teach educators how to use technology effectively in the classroom. The growth of this field is faster than average. Median salary: $58, 780.
- School Technology Specialist Technology specialists are responsible for training, modeling, and assisting teachers in integrating technology in the classroom. A technology coordinator is also expected to conduct and maintain training and training schedules, attend technology meetings, help with grants and funding, introduce technology-integrated curriculum, fix and upgrade computers, install software, and troubleshoot networks.
- Corporate Trainer A technology-based corporate trainer works within a company and conducts training, workshops, and professional development opportunities to improve employees’ technology skills needed to advance the company’s goals.
- Self-Enrichment Technology Teaching Jobs These teachers adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students’ varying needs and interests. Many self-enrichment teachers are self-employed or work part-time. Average salary: $36,440.
- Postsecondary Technology Educators These teachers model, guide, evaluate, and instruct higher education students on subjects critical to success in the technology field. Average salary for vocational or community college instructors is $58,830. Average salary for university professors is $79,000.
Teaching others, in any capacity, can be a rewarding experience. As schools and businesses strive to stay on pace with the continuous advances in technology, Information technology education is expected to experience a rapid growth in the future, and online PhD degrees in Information technology education will be more and more valuable.
Where to Find Information
- NEA The National Educational Association is an organization that has pushed for the rights of educators and students since 1857. As teaching environments become more complicated, teachers in all fields will benefit from this group’s activity.
- AITP While not specifically for information technology educators, the Association of Information Technology Professionals is a valuable network and educational resource to all professionals in the field.
- TechAmerica TechAmerica is the largest advocacy group for technology professions, including information technology educators, largely responsible for the creation of technology jobs and productivity growth in America.
- ITEA The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association is a professional association for teachers and other educators in the information technology and engineering fields that supports technological teaching efforts, and those engaged in that pursuit.
How to Get Funding
Generally there are two types of funding available to students pursuing an online information technology education PhD: scholarships and grants. Scholarships are usually need- or merit-based, and can be highly competitive. Grants can take a number of forms depending on the source of the funds—the two most common are government grants, given to students with demonstrated financial need and outstanding educational history, and research grants, awarded after a proposal has been submitted to a government department, a corporation, a business, or sometimes an individual, promising to research a submitted topic and return with data and conclusions about it.
The following websites will be instrumental in a search for funds for an online doctorate in information technology education:
- Robert C. Ford Scholarship. Capella University offers several scholarships to incoming students on the basis of academic and professional merit, as well as financial need. One such scholarship is the Robert C. Ford Scholarship, which awards $16,000 cumulatively to a student with an exceptional academic and professional history, as well as demonstrated financial need.
- Thomson Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award. The National Education Association awards $1,000 dollars to innovative and outstanding teachers in the information technology field.
- FAFSA. The Federal government disperses billions of dollars into the education system every year to fund students seeking secondary and post-secondary education. They offer scholarships, grants, and loans to any eligible student that fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Online doctorate programs in information technology education are a helpful vehicle to a teaching career, but are not a guarantee of employment as an educator in and of themselves, and need to be complemented with practical teaching experience to be as effective as they can be. Many students that graduate with an online PhD in information technology education go into research full-time, and never teach at all—remember that the best online PhD programs in information technology education are heavily research oriented, as much concerned with theoretical or statistical advancement as with practical application. Given that knowledge, getting teaching experience will both ground your research in real-world problems, and substantiate the theory discussed in class, reinforcing your knowledge of the educational practice, and further qualifying you as a teacher.
- In order to get experience that will bolster information technology education doctorate degrees online and make you an attractive candidate for schools seeking information technology teachers, consider postponing your application to information technology education PhD programs online for a few years after receiving a master’s degree. As mentioned previously, this will both supplement your education with practical experience, thereby making the material more personally relevant and important, and help strengthen your resume when you go out into the job market.