I was trying to decide between an MBA and a Masters in Computer Science, and then I heard about an MBA in IT. Do you think an MBA in IT is my best choice?
Trying to answer your question as directly as possible, all three choices are great alternatives. The one that’s best for you depends on what you would like to do professionally long term. If you have no aspirations to become a manager and wish to become a true expert in a specific technological discipline, such as security, data communications or data management, a Masters in Computer Science degree within your chosen technology may be your best educational direction.
Regarding an MBA or MBA in IT, here too, there are advantages of both based on your long term professional goals, and the specific class offerings of the program you select. A general MBA has the advantage of teaching you a wide range of professional business disciplines, including marketing, finance, human resources, sales and other corporate functions. At first glance, this may seem to be of little or no value to you if you wish to become a future IT executive. In fact, an understanding of these non-IT business functions will be of crucial importance to you as a leader within IT because, by definition, your job will be to provide technical support to all of these business areas. Therefore, the more knowledgeable you are of these business areas, the better understanding you will have of their needs, wants and challenges. This, in turn, will allow your group to maximize the value you provide to those you are trying to serve. Using myself as an example, I have undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Computer Science and an MBA. I have always worked within IT and can honestly say that my understanding of accounting and the various topics I learned within my MBA program, which I attended nights, has been of great value to me as an IT professional and IT executive.
An MBA in Information Technology can also provide great value to you because it will help you to better understand the business of IT. I personally believe, and it has become a hallmark of my company, Manager Mechanics, that to grow from individual contributor to IT manager, you must grow in three ways. First, you must learn to manage people. Second, you must learn to perform management processes, such as hiring new employees, giving performance reviews, and department budgeting. Lastly, you must learn the business of IT which, from a leadership/management perspective, includes topics such as e-commerce, internal technical support, software methodologies, disaster recovery, data center management and other IT related topics. An MBA in IT, by definition, will include these types of topics within their curriculums.
As to which of these alternatives is right for you, only you will know best based on your career aspirations, ability to finance your education, and the educational alternatives available at your physical location or online.
What I will say to you is that you have taken a great first step toward making the right decision. This step is to ask for advice. In addition to me, I strongly suggest you seek the advice of those who know you personally, respect and trust. These types of people know your strengths, weaknesses, background and personal situation. As a result, you can talk honesty with them regarding what you would like to do and add their thoughts and perspective to your own. This widened perspective will help you make an informed decision regarding the selection of your ideal professional direction and, thus, your best educational alternative.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.