Virginia Tech’s online master’s degree in information technology (MIT) has moved up to third position (from No. 4 last year) as one of the nation’s Best Online Programs, according to newly-released 2022 rankings from U.S. News & World Report. For the second consecutive year, the program also ranked No. 1 for veterans.

Virginia Tech is also ranked No. 20 in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Master’s Engineering Programs.

The MIT program is a collaboration between the College of Engineering and the Pamplin College of Business and combines a variety of courses provided by the following departments: the Department of Computer Science and the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, both in the College of Engineering; and the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, the Department of Business Information Technology, and the Department of Management, all in the Pamplin College of Business.

In 2021, the program introduced new cutting-edge courses and certificates designed to meet market needs in artificial intelligence, machine learning, innovation, and entrepreneurism, said Parviz Ghandforoush, professor, associate dean, and executive director of the MIT program in the Pamplin College of Business.

“We are committed to providing quality instruction and services with an up-to-date curriculum,” said Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast. “The high ranking of the MIT is aligned with other national recognitions that Pamplin, the College of Engineering, and the university are receiving.”

Virginia Tech’s MIT program is one of the largest IT master’s degree programs in the country, enrolling nearly 1,000 students from the United States and other nations who want to learn about information technology and its applications.

“They want to understand how the concepts, tools, and techniques we teach in the program can benefit their employers or their own companies,” said Ghandforoush. “A large majority concentrate in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence/machine learning, big data and analytics, and innovation/entrepreneurism."

The MIT program has been ranked as a top degree program in the country since 1999, and since 2014, program enrollments have been increasing steadily at about 10 percent annually.

Ghandforoush said that while 2021 did see a decrease in MIT enrollments due to lingering uncertainty surrounding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend did not extend to the number of enrolled veterans, who have been less affected by economic conditions.

“Enrollment of veterans has continued to increase due to the program’s 100 percent online synchronous/asynchronous delivery format and a growth in the number of job openings in the IT sector. We have been directly involved in the educational training of veterans both here in the United States and abroad to fill the growing number of IT job openings,” Ghandforoush said.

This increasing need for IT professionals is a driving factor in the MIT program’s methodology and flexibility, said Glenda Scales, associate dean for global engagement and chief technology officer for the College of Engineering.

“Our faculty in the MIT program continually improve the learner experience and expand what it means to engage our learners in a virtual environment,” said Scales. “The need for IT professionals is still critical and our goal is to work with our talented faculty and learners to provide flexible opportunities for professionals to earn certificates and degrees in the information technology field.”

With this year’s rankings, Virginia Tech’s online graduate engineering program has also maintained its position in the top 20 of the Best Online Master’s Engineering Programs, reflecting its steadfast dedication to enabling students to succeed in the workforce, either as first-time working professionals or as those making career transitions.

“Today’s students highly value flexible and high quality online graduate program options that allow them to balance professional careers, families, and other circumstances,” said Julia Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “We expect that demand for these College of Engineering programs will only grow as students seek accessible options that give them a leg up in the workforce and enable them to pursue new career opportunities around existing schedules and obligations.”

Scales said that to meet industry demands for online certificates and graduate degrees, the College of Engineering plans to launch a new certificate program in construction and infrastructure engineering and management and online graduate degrees in mechanical, nuclear, and material science engineering.

Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, recognized worldwide for excellence in engineering education, features state of the art technology to enhance its online offerings. All courses are offered based on the Virginia Tech academic school year calendar.

Written by Barbara Micale

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