Computer Database Administration Degrees: Master, PhD & Online Info

About this article
What will you learn in a database administration master's or doctoral degree program? Read about master's and doctoral degree program requirements, the pros and cons of a master's or doctoral degree and potential careers.
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Studying Computer Database Administration: Degrees at a Glance

Database administration refers to the management of computerized records. Administrators working in this field ensure that database users can access records quickly and appropriately, but may also merge databases, restore or backup database records, change a database's structure or create a database. As a database administrator, you may often work on teams with other technology professionals. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), experience is often required prior to becoming an administrator.

The BLS indicated that employment opportunities for database administrators are expected to increase 31% from 2010-2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. This projected growth is due to the increases with data collection in businesses and the need to provide security. The employment projections for postsecondary teachers are not as good as the BLS projected a 17% increase in employment.

Master's Doctoral
Who is this degree for? - Bachelor's degree holders seeking preparation to work as a database administrator - Individuals interested in a research career
- Individuals interested in teaching at the postsecondary level
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Database administrator ($75,000*) - Computer and information research scientist ($125,000*)
- Postsecondary teacher ($73,000*)
Time to Completion Around 2 years full time 5-7 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Thesis, capstone project or practicum - Comprehensive exam
- Dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Work experience
- Coursework in computer programming or interactive scripting
- Bachelor's or master's degree in computer science or a related field
- Demonstration of knowledge in systems, programming and computer theory
- GRE scores
Online Availability Yes None available at this time

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's Degree Programs in Database Administration

According to the BLS, most database administrators have a bachelor's degree, but some employers prefer to hire database administrators who have a master's degree. Master's degree programs in database administration can be offered as a Master of Science in Database Technologies, Master of Science in Information Systems with a concentration in database administration or a Master of Science in Database Design and Administration. These programs provide instruction in database management, administration, security and theories.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some employers prefer to hire database administrators with master's degrees over individuals with just a bachelor's
  • Programs are available online or in hybrid formats
  • Some programs may prepare you to earn certifications during your studies or prepare you to take certification exams after graduation

Cons

  • A master's degree is not needed to work as a database administrator
  • Some programs may require that you have at least two years of work experience for admission
  • Online programs or courses may cost more per credit hour than their in-person counterparts

Courses and Requirements

Some programs allow you to earn certifications in areas like database development, database administration with Oracle, networks or information assurance during your studies. Most programs have you complete a capstone project or practicum or write a thesis prior to graduation. The curriculum of a database administration master's program typically includes a set of core courses in topics like information technology concepts, management, systems analysis and design, enterprise architecture and infrastructure, research methods, database design and IT project management. Elective classes may be available in subjects like:

  • Database backup and recovery
  • PL/SQL programming
  • Data warehouse design
  • Website design and management
  • Object-oriented databases
  • Data mining
  • Cryptology
  • Database administration and management

Online Availability

Database administration master's degree programs are available online. The requirements of online programs are the same as their in-person counterparts. Sometimes, schools permit you to complete the program in a hybrid format, allowing you to take some classes online and some on-campus.

Stand Out With Your Degree

To stand out against your competition, consider earning certifications while completing your master's degree program requirements. Certifications, such as ones in database administration or development, demonstrate that you have more in-depth knowledge of database operations and management than individuals who only possess master's degrees. This advanced knowledge may impress potential employers.

Doctoral Degree Programs in Database Administration

Schools typically do not offer Doctor of Philosophy programs specifically in database administration. Additionally, the subject is rarely offered as a concentration. Instead, schools offer PhD programs in business administration or computer science. These programs may offer courses and research opportunities in database administration.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs prepare you for a career in research or academia
  • The ability to select a specialization for your studies means that you can focus on the field of database administration most appealing to you
  • Allow you to pursue original research in database administration

Cons

  • A doctoral degree is not necessary to work as a database administrator and degree programs related to the field do not prepare you to for a career in that position
  • Tough competition for tenured professor positions
  • Programs specifically focusing on database administration are unavailable, requiring you to craft your degree to suit your career goals

Courses and Requirements

Doctoral degree programs commonly require the completion of computer-science related courses, passing comprehensive exams and writing and defending a dissertation. Programs in business administration typically require you to complete advanced business-related coursework. Courses related to database administration include complex database management systems, database and knowledge-base systems and database management. Other courses include software design, operating systems, compilers and computer networks.

During your studies, you may also engage in hands-on experience, such as working in a lab. Many departments offering these degree programs engage in research projects related to databases. These research areas may be identified as 'database and knowledge-base systems' or 'distributed information systems'.

Online Availability

Doctoral degree programs that offer research opportunities or coursework in database administration are not available online. This is perhaps due to the hands-on writing and researching components these programs typically contain. Attending an on-campus program allows you to interact with other doctoral degree students and engage in research with your professors.

Stand Out With Your Degree

To stand out with your degree, consider specializing your studies in database research. Some schools allow doctoral degree students to craft a focus for their studies in an area of their choice. Choosing database administration or a subject related to databases as your area of specialization allows you to incorporate extensive research and coursework on the subject into your studies. Becoming familiar with research software may also be helpful.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS in Information Technology - Business Intelligence and Analytics
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Tulane University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
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    4. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • Raleigh, NC

    North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Raleigh, NC

    North Carolina State University

  • La Jolla, CA

    National University

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Master: Information Technology
  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance

Which subject are you interested in?

Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Specialization

What is your highest level of education completed?

Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

National University