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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Database Administration

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Database Administration

Value
DePaul University won our best value award for the schools that offer an online master’s degree program in database administration. PayScale.com, a Seattle-based company with one of the largest online employee salary databases in the world, reports that Boston University’s annual return on investment (ROI), is 7.2%. ROI is the measurement of what a student pays for tuition versus what they receive in lifetime earnings. When financial aid is considered, the university’s annual ROI increases to 8.8%.

Flexibility

Walden University claimed our award for flexibility. College Prowler gave the university an “A” for academic flexibility, which demonstrates how flexible a school is with making reasonable accommodations to work around a student’s schedule. The grade is also determined by how easy it is to register for classes and transfer credits, how much of a time investment is required, and how available classes are.

Career Support

DeVry University’s career planning service, HireDeVry, won the institution our award for career support. HireDeVry is a national job lead database that provides students and graduates with the means to connect with employers. The university’s website also has resume, cover letter, and interviewing tips as well as links to job sites and advice on researching compensation. According to DeVry University, 90.1% of graduates in the active job market are employed within six months of graduation. College Prowler gave DeVry University an “A-” for its career services which shows how supportive the school is in helping students find employment after they graduate. Unlike some of the other schools on this list, DeVry offers its data administration program as a concentration of its Master of Information Systems Management curriculum.

Financial Support
The University of Denver claimed our award for financial support. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 85% of full-time beginning undergraduate students received financial aid in the 2010-2011 school year. The university’s office of financial aid works with students to help them identify every type of aid they’re eligible for. Its website includes information on the grants, scholarships, and loans available for undergraduate, graduate, and distance learning students.

Technology Support

Walden University received our award for technology support. Since online learning is all about being able to complete your course work at any time of the day, Walden University provides technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. University staff members also offer assistance in locating assignments, textbooks, and other learning materials, as well as help in accessing other student resources.

Student Engagement

Walden University also earned our award for student engagement. College Prowler gave Walden University’s online courses an “A,” which shows the degree to which professors communicate with students and how easy it easy for learners to interact with their peers. The grade also considers if classes are convenient and academically strong, if the grading system is fair, and how much the workload is.

Library/Research Support

Walden University won our award for library and research support because of its online library which offers 50,000 full-text journals, 90 databases, 100,000 e-books, and 1.5 million dissertations. The university provides tutorials and webinars that help students use their research tools more effectively, and the library staff assists students in developing search strategies, navigating databases, and finding additional resources outside of the library. Walden University’s Center for Research Support provides a wide range of services, such as helping students pursue funding for their research projects and constructing rubrics for developing a thesis or dissertation.

Faculty Credentials

Walden University received our award for faculty credentials. College Prowler gave the university an “A-” for academic experience, which may show how knowledgeable professors are. Other factors considered in the grade include consistency and fairness of the grading scale, strength of the academic programs, workload, class sizes, and how well professors communicate with their students.

Faculty Accessibility and Involvement

University of Denver also claimed our award for faculty accessibility and involvement. College Prowler gave Boston University a “B+” for academics, which shows that professors are accessible, knowledgeable, and care about their students’ success. It also demonstrates that class sizes are favorable for students, courses are engaging, and that instructors communicate well with their learners.

Alumni Engagement

DePaul University claimed our award for alumni engagement because of the benefits and services it offers its graduates. Members of the school’s alumni association receive discounts from certain retailers, car rental agencies, hotels, restaurants, insurance companies, and on vacation packages and moving services. Alumni can also take advantage of a number of career services, including networking opportunities, job postings, recruiting and networking opportunities, and workshops.

New Student Orientation

DePaul University also earned our award for new student orientation because of the guides it provides students to help them get the most out of their online learning experience. The tutorials cover a wide range of topics, including how to log in to the schools online classroom, see their current courses, access their assignments, submit homework, take exams, and the system requirements needed to run the system properly. DePaul’s website also offers information on tutoring, scholarships and financial aid, exam schedules, and the university’s career center.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Database Administration

Conquering a master’s degree in database administration will help information technology professionals hoping to hold upper-level and managerial positions attain their career goals. This degree is officially known as a Master of Science in Information Systems, or Computer Science, with a concentration in database systems. In their studies, database administration students will learn the functions of a database administrator and receive a thorough knowledge of database management systems. Most master’s programs are designed for full-time students to graduate in about two years. Part-time students generally graduate in three to four years, depending on the schedule they set for themselves. However, no school’s established curriculum is exactly the same as another’s, so graduation times can vary depending on the school a student attends.

Class Curriculum

Students will learn the internal organization and construction of database management, computer, networking, and operating systems. They will also learn the primary tasks to which database administrators are responsible, as well as how to apply database theory to real-world situations. As such, students will take courses that teach them Java, system analysis, and methods for remedying a database disaster. Additionally, students may take these courses:

  • System Design and Development. This course will direct students to the design elements of database systems. It will touch on entity-relationship diagrams, interface design, Internet, LAN, and distribution system design, and design implementation. Students will also learn how to test and maintain systems.
  • Managing IT Projects. Management techniques employed in the field on IT projects will be taught to students. They will be trained in time and resource management, assessing and reducing risks, auditing projects, and managing a projects’ progress. Students will learn to use software and other industry tools to aid them in their management duties.
  • Securing Systems. This course allows students to combine their design skills with the security precautions necessary for database systems. Students will be introduced techniques for assessing and managing system security threats and vulnerabilities, as well as learn to use firewalls and other controls to ensure a safe system.

Assignments for this degree will include projects in which students prove their understanding of design programs and the construction of database systems. As with any degree, students will be expected to stay up-to-date with assigned reading. Because an online program lacks the traditional class structure, some programs have video lectures students are expected to watch; some also require students to participate in online class discussions.

A practicum, thesis, capstone project, or some combination of two or more of these, is often part of course curriculum. A practicum is effectively a supervised internship in which students apply their education to the workplace. Thesis and capstone projects are both rigorous research projects. A thesis is usually the length of a book, and attempts through research to answer a question related to one’s career field; students are encouraged to get their theses published. A capstone project is ordinarily shorter, similar to the size of an article, and has a much narrower scope than a thesis.

Building a Career

After mastering the course curriculum, students will be equipped with research, design, and practical skills. These will leave them primed for careers as database and network administrators. Database administrators organize, manage, repair, and design database systems; they improve functionality, performance, and the security of databases. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published data in 2010 that labeled the typical database administrator’s salary as $73,490 per year; and considering that a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for this job, master’s degree holders may earn even more. The BLS also indicated that the probable change rate in employment is 31% over the next eight years, making the outlook for those seeking this job positive in the near future.

A second path for master’s earners is network administration. Network administrators provide everyday maintenance and operations assistance to businesses’ computer systems. They also provide system organization and installations. BLS reports in 2011 designate $70,970 as the average network administrator’s salary. Be mindful, however, that salary and job descriptions vary among employers, and rest on on an employee’s level of experience, among other considerations. The employment rate of change in the next eight years is expected to increase by 28%, placing this career among the few growing faster than average.

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