As business and the disciplines of information technology (IT) become more and more intertwined, an MBA in IT is becoming an increasingly important qualification for the industry as a whole. IT professionals speak a very different language to most people, especially those in management positions (for managers in any industry are also famous for speaking their own language).

What is an MBA in IT?

An MBA in IT will provide you with the skills needed to manage both IT systems and employees, combining the traditional business knowledge of an MBA with specialized courses on information security, telecommunications and IT project management, to name a few.

Being able to cross these linguistic boundaries will certainly go a long way towards helping technical specialists progress in their IT careers – and then there’s the added consideration that no matter how strong your technical skills are, there’s a whole other suite of soft and business skills necessary for leadership roles.

Jobs & Salary Trends 2014/15, IT jobs account for 13% of new MBA opportunities globally, after growing 8% in 2014. A further 12% growth is expected to follow over 2015.

Is an MBA necessary to be an IT manager?

While an MBA has not been necessary in the past to become a successful IT manager, the skills engendered by the MBA are becoming more and more essential as IT becomes increasingly ingrained across industries and business functions.

If you throw in all of new tech startups and IT based companies that have recently cropped up – and the potential ones waiting to be founded – then an MBA in IT begins to look like it has truly cemented its place in the pantheon of MBA specializations. Companies need flexible minds to deal with both the business and technical sides of the business coin.

IT courses and specializations

Though the skills taught during an MBA in IT program can be applied across a wide variety of careers that require managing IT specialists, the program itself is fairly specific. However, there are some further specializations that are either closely related to an MBA in IT, or available as a concentration area within it. Here are some examples:

  • IT entrepreneurship
  • Biodesign
  • Data, big data, and data mining
  • Supply chain management
  • New energy technology

MBA in IT vs MS in IT

An MBA in IT focuses more on the business and management side of the IT field, while an MS in IT focuses more on the technology side of things. While an MS in IT may include some business classes, the emphasis is much more on the technical aspects of software development, telecommunications, business information systems, and decision support systems. An MBA in IT on the other hand, will be 80-100% based on management skills.

MBA in IT vs MS in information management

Similarly, an information management master’s (MS in IM) also differs from an MBA in IT.

An MS in IM deals with the running of information systems and their related software and hardware, while an MBA in information technology is more about the management of the people who are looking over those systems (one can choose to focus on information management within an MBA in IT).

IT courses

Most IT courses in an MBA program focus on IT management skills, but a select few schools, such as Berkeley Haas and Stanford GSB offer courses in programming to help less technically-minded MBAs familiarize themselves with the more technological side of things.

For the most part, the skills learned within an IT specialization are almost identical to the skills learned in any other MBA specialization; the principal difference being that IT courses focus on industry specific subjects, such as supply chain management, entrepreneurship in technology, technology concepts, data modeling and, of course, some programming – and perhaps more specific areas, such as biotechnology and bio design.

IT Careers

IT careers are many and varied, especially with an MBA. The multifaceted nature of the IT industry carries over into its management roles, which can range from project management in software design and development to network and systems management.

Common job roles

Careers for those in possession of an MBA in IT focus on the management of an IT team. Typical job roles include project management, cross-platform communication, business development, strategy and planning, product management, product and corporate marketing, supply chain management, and human resources.

IT manager salaries

According to the QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2014/15, MBA salaries for those working in the IT sector in North America and Western Europe averaged US$89,600, supplemented by a bonus of US$29,200, taking total remuneration to US$118,800.

Startups vs large companies

As with any other specialized MBA, graduates of MBA in IT programs who opt for life with a startup will be required to put the full spectrum of their MBA skills to use, given the smaller employee base.

Roles will range from finance and HR responsibilities to more specified IT skills and tasks, such as network management and supply chain management. If you are managing a tech startup, then your role is likely to have far more in common with those available at large corporations, but with added responsibilities to the business.

Larger companies won’t look to a candidate’s finance or marketing skills quite so much, as they will have dedicated finance and marketing departments for specialists in these areas. Job roles at a large company might include working with IT teams and business teams in supply chain management, contacting vendors and other businesses, optimizing efficiency, detailing and optimizing costs, and project management.

Top Companies for MBA in IT graduates

According to Business Insider, 2014’s top 10 tech companies to work for were:

  • Google
  • F5 Networks
  • Facebook
  • Qualcomm
  • Adobe
  • MathWorks
  • Apple
  • LinkedIn
  • Zillow


Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and many more tech companies all offer IT internships on a regular basis. An IT MBA can be a useful distinction to have if you are targeting a technologically-inclined business. Pretty much every company needs IT managers and IT MBAs are perfectly suited for those roles – be it as a hire or an intern.