Most CIOs spend their entire careers working in IT. As a result, many understand technology very well but are less familiar with the bigger picture of how the business operates.
However, today more than ever, IT leaders need to have a solid understanding of business principles if they are going to do their jobs well. According to the 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 62% of CIOs now sit on their executive boards, up from just 38% in 2005. Having a seat at the table results in much higher job satisfaction for CIOs, but it also requires them to be well-versed in topics like finance, marketing and strategic planning that might not have been a part of their previous education or work experience.
One popular way to fill that gap is with an advanced degree. A master's in business administration (MBA) gives IT leaders the business foundation they need to contribute as a member of the executive board, and a growing number of top business schools now offer MBAs with a concentration in an IT-related area like information systems or business analytics.
Many schools also now offer masters of science (MS) degrees in information systems, and the number that have MS programs in business analytics has risen sharply over the last year. In the CIO survey, six out of ten respondents said their departments consistently experience skills shortages, and the two skills most often lacking were big data/analytics and business analysis. Universities are responding with programs that aim to fill this need.
So where should IT leaders go to get these advanced degrees?
The answer depends on whether they want to attend a full-time program or keep working, where they want to live, their particular specialized interests, their learning preferences, their budget and their academic background. The following slides take a closer look at the top 10 business schools with graduate information systems programs as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. (The list actually has 11 schools because two were tied in the rankings.) It offers an overview of the key features of the programs and links to the business schools' websites for more information.
The publication ranked schools using weighted scores for peer assessments, recruiter assessments, graduates' mean starting salaries and bonuses, employment rates for graduates and selectivity.
10. (tie) Santa Clara University
Leavey School of Business
Location: Santa Clara, California
Annual Tuition: approx. $37,380 (more for executive MBA)
Enrollment: Information unavailable
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Information Systems
This Jesuit university in the heart of Silicon Valley caters to students who work in the technology industry. Its two-year MBA programs are offered in evening or online versions designed for students who are currently working and have about five years of experience. Its executive MBA program is a more intensive (and more expensive) 17-month program for students with 10 or more years of experience and classes every other weekend.
The MS in business analytics takes five quarters for students who attend full-time or two years for those who attend part-time. As with the MBA, courses are offered evenings and weekends. Average GMAT scores for incoming students is 668 with an average GPA of 3.48 and average age of 28.
The MS in information systems is a flexible program that can take from 18 to 27 months depending on how many courses students take at a time. Again, courses are offered evenings and weekends. Students in this program tend to be a little younger — average age of 25 — with an average GPA of 3.30 and average GMAT score of 648.
10. (tie) Indiana University
Kelley School of Business
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Annual Tuition: $26,265 (in-state, full-time); $47,128 (out-of-state, full-time)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Information Systems
Kelley's two-year, full-time MBA program gives students the option of majoring or minoring in business analytics (as well as other areas of business focus). The program also includes a unique "academy" approach that introduces students to the needs of particular industries. The current class has 185 students with an average GPA of 3.34, average age of 28 and average GMAT score of 670.
The MS in Information Science program has 141 students. Incoming students had an average GPA of 3.45 and an average GMAT score of 684.
The school also offers online MBA and MS programs, and a 3/2 program that allows students to earn both a BS in business and an MBA in five years.
9. University of Maryland — College Park
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Location: College Park, Maryland
Annual Tuition: $44,766
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Information Systems, Master of Science in Marketing Analytics
For students seeking an MBA, the Smith school offers a variety of options: full-time, part-time or online. Its part-time MBA program is particularly popular with 820 students, compared to 230 in the full-time program. The full-time MBA is a two-year program (54 credit hours) that also requires a summer internship. Students are discouraged from working while attending the program. The part-time MBA generally takes between 24 and 28 months with classes either two nights per week or on weekends. The online MBA includes a track for Information Systems and Business Analytics. The curriculum is the same as the in-person programs, and the coursework can be completed in as little as 24 months.
The other master's programs can be completed in one or two years. Smith currently has 785 students enrolled in these courses.
7. (tie) Stanford University
Graduate School of Business
Location: Stanford, California
Annual Tuition: $68,868
Enrollment: 854 (MBA program only)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, MSx, MBA/MS in Computer Science
With its deep ties to Silicon Valley, Stanford is a popular choice for IT professionals looking to add an MBA to their resumes. The standard MBA program is a two-year, full-time course of study that can include courses in information technology. About one in five Stanford MBA students chooses to get a joint degree, such as the MBA/MS in computer science, which requires three years to complete. For the most recent school year, Stanford received 8,173 applications for the MBA program, and 418 students enrolled.
The MSx Program is an accelerated, one-year master's degree program that allows students to choose more than half of their own courses. It had 104 participants in 2017.
The school has 300 faculty members, including three Nobel laureates and four members of the National Academy of Sciences.
7. (tie) New York University
Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Location: New York, New York
Annual Tuition: $69,086
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Data Analytics and Business Computing
NYU offers a wide range of MBA programs, including the Andre Koo Tech MBA that takes one year to complete. It includes courses in leadership, marketing, accounting, corporate finance, business analytics, DevOps, emerging technologies and much more. The current class had 182 applicants, of whom 60 were admitted and 33 enrolled. The media GPA was 3.49, and the median GMAT was 710.
Both the master's programs mentioned above take one year. The difference is that the data analytics and business computing degree is a full-time program jointly offered in New York and Shanghai. The business analytics program is part-time with five in-person modules.
Stern also has executive MBA programs offered in New York or Washington, D.C., plus a Trium option that is jointly offered by the London School of Economics and HEC Paris across five different cities.
6. University of Pennsylvania
The Wharton School
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Annual Tuition: $70,200
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, eMBA
Founded in 1881, Wharton was the world's first business school, and it continues to be one of the most well respected. For IT leaders, it offers majors in business analytics and information: strategy and economics, as well as in other areas of business.
For the class of 2019, Wharton received 6,692 applications and enrolled 863 students. Incoming students had a mean GPA of 3.6 and a mean GMAT score of 730. Graduates earn a median salary of $125,000, and 95% of graduates accepted full-time jobs shortly after graduation.
The school also has an executive MBA program in both Philadelphia and San Francisco. The program has the same curriculum but takes slightly longer as students primarily take courses on weekends. It caters to older students with more work experience.
5. University of Arizona
Eller College of Management
Location: Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona
Annual Tuition: $24,312 (in-state, full-time); $44,262 (out-of-state, full-time)
Enrollment: 6,550 (750 graduate students)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Cybersecurity, Master Science in Management Information Systems, MISOnline
The Eller College has some of the more specialized programs available for IT leaders. The cybersecurity program is offered online and requires students to amass 33 credits in 8-week or 16-week accelerated courses on either an information systems track or a physical systems track.
The MIS degree can be earned either online or on campus. In 2017, the 86 incoming MIS students had an average GPA of 3.6 and an average GMAT of 657. Students also have the options of pursuing an MIS concentration in entrepreneurship, a dual MIS/MBA degree or an MBA with an MIS concentration.
The traditional MBA degree offers full-time, evening, executive or online education options. Students in the full-time program have an average age of 28, a GPA of 3.34 and an average GMAT of 642.
4. University of Texas — Austin
McCombs School of Business
Location: Austin, Texas
Annual Tuition: $35,324 (in-state, full-time); $51,804 (out-of-state, full-time)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in IT and Management, Master of Science in Business Analytics
McCombs offers a 10-month Master of Science in IT and Management course that is tailor-made for IT executives. It requires courses in programming, financial management, change management, supply chain management, IT security, data science, cognitive computing and more, plus a capstone project that students complete in partnership with a sponsoring company.
The business analytics program is also a 10-month program with an emphasis on big data. It has been highly rated by several publications, and incoming students to the program have a mean GPA of 3.61 and an average GMAT score of 718.
In addition, Texas has a traditional MBA program, with courses of study designed for full-time students, working professionals and executives.
3. University of Minnesota — Twin Cities
Carlson School of Management
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Annual Tuition: $38,208 (in-state, full-time); $48,936 (out-of-state, full-time)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Business Analytics
Carlson offers full-time, part-time, part-time distance and executive MBA programs for IT leaders interested in improving their business skills. For the fall of 2017, the full-time MBA program had 565 applicants, of whom 208 were admitted and 88 matriculated. Entering students had a median GPA of 3.43 and a median GMAT of 690. The part-time program had 369 applicants, of whom 317 were admitted and 268 matriculated. Ninety-six percent of its full-time MBA students had accepted job offers within 90 days after graduation. The master of science in business analytics program had an even more impressive employment rate, with 100% of students accepting jobs within 90 days after graduation. Graduates work at companies like McKinsey & Company, Amazon, Facebook, Ford, Expedia, Ameriprise, Google and others.
The school has 191 full-time faculty members, including 16 who teach information and decision sciences.
2. Carnegie Mellon University
Tepper School of Business
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Annual Tuition: $64,000 per year (full-time)
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Science in Business Analytics
The Tepper School offers undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs, and its MBA program has a concentration in business technologies, as well as business analytics and technology leadership tracks that might be of interest to IT leaders. In addition to the full-time MBA program, it has a three-year, part-time online hybrid option and a three-year, part-time on-campus option. In the fall of 2017, the entering class had an average GPA of 3.3 and an average GMAT score of 691. The Master of Science in Business Analytics program takes 18 months to complete and will be enrolling its first class in the fall of 2018.
The school boasts 145 full-time staff, and it is included on numerous best college lists. This fall it will also open a brand new state-of-the-art building called the Tepper Quad (see above).
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Annual Tuition: $71,000 (full-time)
Enrollment: Approx. 1,300
Programs for IT Leaders: MBA, Master of Business Analytics
MIT's Sloan School offers 10 different degree and non-degree programs. The most noteworthy for IT leaders include its flagship two-year master of business administration program, and its new one-year master of business analytics program. The school is highly selective. For example, in 2017, it had 5,798 applications for its MBA program and enrolled 404 students. The Master of Business Analytics program received 828 applications for 2017 and enrolled 30 students.
The school boasts more than 200 faculty and lecturers with 14 action learning labs. Its alumni have founded a number of influential companies, including E*Trade, Gartner, Genentech, HubSpot, InVivo Therapeutics, Teradyne, and Zipcar. 2016 MBA graduates earned a mean base salary of $125,036.
Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio