Earning an Online Ph.D. in Management Information Systems

If coming up with creative ways to improve business functions while making a six-figure income sounds appealing to you, consider earning an online Ph.D. in management information systems (MIS). This degree equips graduates to earn the credentials to lead successful companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CEOs make an average annual salary of $104,980, and the occupation is continuing to expand with an 8% projected growth rate in coming years.

Anyone who wishes to advance in the business world and emerge as a company leader can benefit from earning this versatile degree, which helps learners develop the skills they need to improve an organization from the inside. Doctoral degree holders typically enjoy increased salary potential and job growth. Learn more about how to fund your doctorate, what the program entails, and how to connect with your peers and stay current on industry advancements after graduation.

Why Get a Doctorate in Management Information Systems?

Pursuing Specialization

To become an expert in your tech field, you should pick a specialization and devote time to studying that niche area. For example, earning a specialization in entrepreneurship can position you to open your own management information consulting firm. Specializations may also allow you to branch out into a wider variety of related industries, like financial advising.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Earning an online Ph.D. in management information systems opens doors to higher-paying jobs with more advanced responsibilities, making this degree the perfect option for individuals who want to lead entire research teams or organizations. A master's degree can help you earn a job as a manager or director, but a doctorate helps you advance to a corporation's executive board; doctoral degrees prepare individuals to make big-picture decisions and evaluate and improve business functions.

Online Learning Technology

In a world where technology changes every day, professionals must stay on top of the latest advancements. Earning a Ph.D. in management information systems online allows students to use the latest communication technology, engage in online discussion boards, and use other helpful e-learning tools. Pursuing this degree in an online format allows students to gain even more confidence in their technical skills.

What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DBA in Management Information Systems?

The main difference between a Ph.D. and a DBA is the learning focus. Ph.D. programs focus more on research and scholarship, making them a great option for professionals aspiring to contribute valuable research to the management information systems field. A Ph.D. prepares students to work in either education or the professional field, making it a flexible degree. On the other hand, DBA programs better suit individuals who want to make a practical difference in the business world.

Ph.D. graduates tend to work as researchers or professors, but they may also pursue careers as top executives or consultants. DBA graduates usually work in professional settings instead of research or higher education settings. Prospective students should choose their doctoral degree depending on their career goals and whether they want to learn more about practical applications or scholarly theories.

Prerequisites for Online Doctorate in Management Information Systems Programs

Before beginning your studies, you need to gain work experience, earn adequate college entrance exam test scores, take undergraduate and graduate classes, turn in recommendation letters, write an essay, and possibly conduct an entrance interview. Most Ph.D. programs in management information systems impose their own unique requirements, but you can generally expect each school to maintain similar prerequisites.

  • Work Experience: Typically, most doctoral programs require a few years of on-the-job experience in information technology or a related field. This allows students to get even more out of their degree, because they can apply their studies to what they've already learned from working in the field. However, some programs accept students with only internship experience.
  • Exams and Test Scores: The best online Ph.D. in management information systems programs require students to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Some colleges set minimum requirements for these scores. Most look for GMAT scores above 720 and GRE scores above 150. Scores for both exams stay valid for five years.
  • Coursework: Required courses for a Ph.D. in management information systems vary widely between programs. STEM courses tend to prove especially beneficial for this degree. All applicants must obtain both an undergraduate and graduate degree with a minimum GPA of around 3.0.
  • Recommendations: Many programs require applicants to submit 1-3 recommendation letters or contact information for references. Previous professors or supervisors, not family members or friends, must write these letters. The same rule applies for references. Always obtain permission to use someone as a reference.
  • Essays: Applications commonly require essays as well. Essay topics generally center around statements of purpose, or why you want to earn the degree. You might be able to repurpose the same essay for several applications, as long as you tailor the content to fit each specific prompt.
  • Interviews: Before investing time into a Ph.D. in MIS online application, pay attention to the interview requirements. Some programs require in-person interviews, which might involve travel expenses. However, many allow prospective distance learners to telecommute for their interviews.
  • International Students: International students applying for Ph.D. programs in the United States may need to submit TOEFL scores in addition to GMAT or GRE scores. Together, these scores demonstrate to prospective schools whether applicants can understand and speak fluent English.

How Much Can I Make with a Doctorate in Management Information Systems?

Graduates with a doctorate in management information systems can expect to earn between $38,130 and $123,640, depending on their work experience and chosen professional field. Professionals who wish to switch into this technology-driven field from a different career should consider earning a Ph.D., which can help them advance more quickly into higher-paying positions.

Traditional Careers

Career Stats Description
Chief Information Officer

Median Pay: $155,259

Job Growth: 8%

This executive position requires individuals to build leadership and information technology skills. These professionals oversee the management and security of an organization's technology. Individuals who perform well under pressure and encourage others to do the same thrive in this position.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Median Pay: $142,530

Job Growth: 12%

These professionals plan, coordinate, and direct all computer-related activities in an organization and problem-solve to come up with creative solutions to technical issues. Individuals who enjoy working as project managers and who can juggle multiple activities at once do well in these positions.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Median Pay: $118,370

Job Growth: 19%

Computer and information research scientists work behind the scenes to come up with ways to enhance technological security and overcome threats. Individuals who enjoy researching and problem-solving often thrive in this position. These professionals work in various industries, such as business and medicine.

Computer Network Architects

Median Pay: $109,020

Job Growth: 6%

Computer network architects come up with creative ways to construct data communication networks. These may include local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. The networks these professionals design vary, from small connections between two offices to cloud infrastructures connecting multiple customers.

Computer Hardware Engineers

Median Pay: $114,600

Job Growth: 5%

Computer hardware engineers perform various tasks building to the same goal: creating computer systems. These professionals research, design, develop, and test computer systems. They also test computer components like processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. People who like working in hands-on positions often enjoy working as computer hardware engineers.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for a Doctorate in Management Information Systems Online

Prospective students should prioritize cost when choosing a doctorate in management information systems online program. Earning this degree can significantly increase graduates' earning potential, but a large student loan can also cut into their personal budget. Future learners should familiarize themselves with how study timelines affect tuition rates and apply for subject-specific financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. With a little bit of research, you can find an affordable, high-quality online program to help you achieve even your loftiest career goals.

Scholarships for Online Management Information Systems Students

Don't go it alone when it comes to paying for your education. Undergraduates aren't the only students who can benefit from financial aid and scholarships -- management information systems majors at all degree levels enjoy access to scholarships and grants. Start applying for aid today, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

What to Expect from an Online Management Information Systems Program

To successfully complete an online Ph.D. program, students must devote at least two years to studying the ins and outs of computer systems and leadership methods. The virtual classroom experience caters to individuals with strong self-discipline who love to manage their own schedules. Many students find it doable to juggle an online degree with a full-time job. Read below to learn about the common major milestones in a management information systems degree program.

Major Milestones

  1. Residency

    Some hybrid programs require students to complete an on-campus residency. This experience allows students to meet other students and program faculty and typically lasts only a weekend.

  2. Required Coursework

    Most students complete their required coursework within a few weeks of graduation. Each course should relate directly to the management information systems field, since Ph.D. programs don't require general education classes.

  3. Fellowship

    Typically during the last year of their program, students get the chance to complete a fellowship. Fellowships, like internships, provide students with hands-on experience in real-world settings. Fellowships require more research than internships, and students often receive scholarships in exchange for their research.

  4. Dissertation

    After acquiring new knowledge through their coursework, students finish out their program by writing a dissertation on a current issue in the management information field. This experience allows students to showcase the research skills they acquired throughout the program, and they present their findings to a board.

  5. Research Project

    Research is a major component of Ph.D. programs. Students often choose their own research project topics relating to management information systems. Most programs require students to complete this project during their last semester.

  6. Comprehensive Exam

    Some Ph.D. programs also require a comprehensive exam, sometimes in place of a dissertation. This allows professors to identify how much a student has learned. Sometimes, the comprehensive exam does not count for a grade but simply serves as an evaluation tool for the school's administration and faculty.


Coursework varies between programs, but most Ph.D. in management information systems programs cover the topics listed below.

Philosophy of Science and Measurement

In this course, students examine the philosophies behind the research process. The class teaches students to develop and test their own technology-related theories based on certain principles of measurement and research designs.

Introduction to Structural Equation Modeling

This class covers the basics of structural equation modeling methods and techniques. Learners explore how to apply confirmatory factor analysis to real-world scenarios. This hands-on course allows students to use the tools required to complete structural equation modeling.

Management Information Systems Topics Seminar

This seminar class allows students to learn more about theories, conceptual issues, empirical papers, and approaches to information systems research. Learners can usually choose their own topics of study, under their professor's guidance.

Management Information Systems Topics Directed Study

Most Ph.D. programs allow students to tailor their studies to fit their career goals, with the curriculum including a directed study. In this class, students work one-on-one with their professor to develop a topic and study goal for this class. The topic must directly relate to management information systems.

Systems Analysis and Design

This class deals with the design of specific information systems. In this course, students learn to design new, useful software and evaluate current software, looking for creative improvements.

Degree Timelines

When it comes to finishing your Ph.D., most schools allow you to choose your own timeline. Discover the pros and cons of part-time, full-time, and accelerated paths.


Time to Complete: Four years

Students pursuing this Ph.D. part-time can expect to spend four years in the program. To complete the program as a part-time student, learners must take 6-9 credits per semester. This approach allows students to juggle full-time jobs with their studies and best suits those without a tight budget because tuition costs tend to rise from year to year.


Time to Complete: Two years

Full-time programs typically take students just two years to complete. To graduate in this time frame, learners must take at least 15 credits per semester. This option suits students who work full-time jobs but want to complete their degrees quickly to save money and reap higher-earning benefits.


Time to Complete: 1.5 years

Accelerated programs offer students the chance to complete their Ph.D. programs quickly, often in just 1.5 years. Accelerated programs include shorter, more frequent terms, making it a little more difficult to juggle work with doctoral studies. This option best suits students who only work part-time and want to save money on their studies.

Licenses and Certifications

The management information systems field is broad, but with a little effort, you can gain expertise in a specific niche. Set yourself apart from the crowd and find a job that suits your interests by earning licensure or certification. By pursuing additional education, you can become an expert in a specific area and gain the skills and confidence you need to advance the industry. Learn more about the licenses and certifications you can acquire in this field.

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: To earn this certification, individuals must take exam preparation courses and pass an exam. Because Microsoft applications constantly change, these professionals must take an additional exam each year to keep their certification current. This certification caters to advanced-level practitioners who manage modern data centers.
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor: Professionals who wish to obtain this certification must pass an exam and have at least five years of experience in information systems audit, control, assurance, or security. This certification prepares information technology professionals to successfully evaluate systems for cyber breaches and attacks.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate: IT professionals can become Cisco-certified network associates by passing a 90-minute written exam comprising 50-60 questions. Individuals who want to learn how to detect and solve common network problems can benefit from earning this certification.
  • CompTIA A+ Technician License: This entry-level license provides information technology professionals with the knowledge they need to perform maintenance for personal computers, printers, operating systems, mobile devices, and laptops. Professionals who want to work in office settings can benefit from earning this license.

Professional Organizations and Resources

The most successful management information systems professionals commit to staying lifelong learners. This industry constantly changes, and joining professional organizations is a great way to stay up to date. These associations connect professionals to like-minded peers, and they often host informative conferences and provide members with complimentary training and webinars. Often, employers pay the annual membership dues.

Read below to learn more about major organizations management information systems professionals can join and how they benefit from membership.

  • Association for Computing Machinery: ACM connects information technology professionals from more than 100 countries. The organization includes special interest groups, each of which provides members with exclusive conferences and newsletters.
  • Association for Women in Computing: AWC welcomes women in the computing industry as members. The organization encourages professional growth through networking opportunities and career-oriented events. Local chapters typically host monthly meetings with informative guest speakers.
  • Network Professional Association: With local chapters all across America, this organization helps certified network professionals learn from each other and gain much-deserved recognition for their hard work in network computing.
  • Black Data Processing Associates: BDPA helps advance and educate black professionals in the information technology field. The organization brings this community together to encourage networking and collective advancement.
  • Association of Shareware Professionals: This organization caters to developers who create products for consumers to use on a "try before you buy" basis. Members benefit from newsgroups, development and marketing assistance, and other educational and networking opportunities.
  • Software Development Forum: It's worth the trek to Silicon Valley to attend an SDF. These events allow Silicon Valley information technology professionals, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists to discuss current topics and network.
  • TechRepublic Resource Library: This free resource allows information technology professionals to download informative white papers about nearly every topic relating to their diverse field. The library proves especially beneficial when an unprecedented IT issue arises within an organization.
  • IT Pro Guru: This informative blog helps information technology professionals stay current with technology security breaches and threats and industry networking events. The site also informs readers how to get the most out of IT systems like Microsoft and Linux.
  • Scalable Startups: This blog is an invaluable resource filled with helpful blog posts that aim to help startups survive the first few challenging years in business.
  • Computer Weekly: This website brings together writers in the tech community to discuss current events and other interesting technology topics. The resource contains plenty of free content, but you can also pay to access premium content.