July 2, 2022

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Best online master’s in database management 2021: Top picks

As organizations invest more money and attention into their information technology services, computing professionals with advanced data handling skills have become highly sought-after. Data storage, analysis, and security represent some of the most in-demand fields in computing. In a database management master’s program, you learn to build and implement databases for organizations of various sizes.   

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in computer occupations between 2020 and 2030. Database management master’s graduates have access to many of the careers in this field, particularly those dealing directly with organizational data. Here, we look at the database management master’s degree and highlight the best of these programs.

The best online database management master’s degrees

To build our list of the best database management master’s degrees, ZDNet’s ranking methodology evaluates publicly available national, school, and program data. Listed alphabetically, the following schools run some of the best programs in this field.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

About the program: The largest Catholic university in the country, DePaul runs a 52-credit online master’s in data science with courses in database processing for large-scale analytics and mining big data. The program offers concentrations in healthcare, computational methods, marketing, and hospitality. 

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Avg. annual net price: $30,090
  • Years to completion: One to three
  • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Lewis University

Romeoville, Illinois

About the program: A Roman Catholic university, Lewis offers an online master’s in data science with courses in large-scale data storage systems, data mining and analytics, and data visualization. The program features several concentrations including data engineering, data science research, and cybersecurity data science.

  • Acceptance rate: 64%
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • Avg. annual net price: $18,664
  • Years to completion: One to two
  • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous 

Accreditation: Lewis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Regis University

Denver, Colorado

About the program: A Jesuit Catholic university, Regis offers an online master’s in data science with courses in data engineering, data analytics, and statistical methods and experimental design. The program offers an optional data engineering specialization.

  • Acceptance rate: 71%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Avg. annual net price: $25,483
  • Years to completion: One to two
  • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 recommended
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery methods: Asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

About the program: USC’s 32-credit online master’s in applied data science features core courses in foundations of data management and applications of data mining. The program also offers electives in advanced data stores and data visualization.

  • Acceptance rate: 11%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Avg. annual net price: $29,528
  • Years to completion: One to three
  • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Asynchronous and synchronous 

Accreditation: The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

What to expect in an online database management master’s degree program

The typical database management master’s program provides advanced training in database design, architecture, security, and analysis. Students also acquire more general training, including programming, information systems management, and information technology management.

Combining theoretical and practical studies, these programs often conclude with a hands-on capstone project or a research-heavy thesis. Many schools also offer virtual lab experiences and internships for additional practical experiences. 

The database management discipline may be available as a standalone major or a specialization within a computer science or information technology program. Students can even build unofficial concentrations by choosing focused electives. While online programs feature the same content as on-campus programs, they often reward more independent learning and ambitious students.

Database management master’s courses

A database management master’s program blends database design and administration with data science. You might also take business courses to understand how organizations get the most from their data and what they need from data storage centers.

The training at this level can delve into advanced information technology and systems management as well. The following courses are some of the more common topics covered in database management master’s programs. 

Database design and implementation

This course teaches students various database concepts and how to design them using SQL. Students learn to evaluate client needs and work with different systems and engines. 

Database backup and recovery

In this course, students learn how to create a database backup and recovery plan. They work with various tools, operations, and methodologies used to recover data depending on the technology and situation.

Database security 

Students in this course learn to evaluate database security needs and then create and implement the appropriate protections. The study topics may include access controls, virtual private databases, and SQL injection.

Data mining and analytics

The course teaches students some of the leading data mining techniques and methods of analysis used in organizations. Learners work with pattern discovery, data visualization, and advanced data science problem-solving. 

Database management degree levels

Each subsequent level of database management degree tackles more advanced study material and leads to new postgraduate opportunities. Here, we examine the various credentials in this discipline and highlight some possible career paths. You can use this section to identify the best degree level for you based on your educational and professional interests.

Certificate in database management

  • Length: 2-12 months
  • Cost: Varies
  • Post-grad careers: Computer systems administrator, computer support specialist, and customer support specialist 

What a certificate in database management offers depends on the program and the level. Certificates may feature introductory training for entry-level career opportunities, or they may provide specialized or graduate-level training for experienced computer professionals.  

At the introductory level, these programs explore the principles of databases, including programming and administration. Graduate certificates examine more advanced topics in data analytics, database security, and database architecture. Certificates usually provide accelerated and practical training. 

Associate in database management

  • Length: One to two years
  • Cost: $11,389/year in 2018-19
  • Post-grad careers: Computer support specialist, computer systems administrator, and computer programmer

At the associate level, database management programs usually focus on the fundamentals of information technology, while touching on some specialized training in database management basics. You study foundational subjects, such as programming, systems management, and principles of cybersecurity. 

You also learn how databases operate and how professionals troubleshoot some of the most common issues. Associate programs provide general education training as well, ensuring you can hit the ground running in a bachelor’s program should you wish to continue your training after graduation.

Bachelor’s in database management

  • Length: Three to four years
  • Cost: $28,123/year in 2018-19
  • Post-grad careers: Database administrator, database architect, and information security analyst

Database management bachelor’s programs offer comprehensive training that covers information technology basics, intermediate systems management topics, and specialized database subjects. You may also acquire business fundamentals in these programs to help contextualize some primary data applications.

A database management degree at the bachelor’s level qualifies you for many computer occupations, such as database architect and administrator careers. The training combines theoretical and practical training, including internships and virtual lab experiences.

Master’s in database management

  • Length: One to two years
  • Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20
  • Post-grad careers: Database manager, computer and information systems manager, and information research scientist

In a database management master’s program, you dive into various advanced data-related topics. Your training will likely include explorations into database design, architecture, operations, and security. You may also look at data mining strategies and data analytics models and methods. 

Graduate programs typically include extensive research, theoretical examinations, and practical exercises. These programs may conclude with a practical capstone project or a thesis, depending on the program and direction you wish to take after graduation.

Doctorate in database management

  • Length: One to two years
  • Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20
  • Post-grad careers: Postsecondary teacher, top executive, and information research scientist 

As the terminal degree in this field, a doctorate in database management can lead to most of the available data-related positions. While graduates commonly use the research-heavy program to prepare them for academic careers, you can also pursue many information technology and research and development professions. 

At the doctoral level, this training tends to explore specialized topics in database management, such as building innovative database applications, developing new technologies, and finding new industries to support with data.  

In conclusion

Organizations in many industries rely on data, databases, and database professionals to collect, organize, and analyze the information to which they have access. With a database management master’s, including the top-ranked programs above, you can acquire some of the most advanced training and careers in this field.

If you want more information, reach out to the schools directly and ask about their programs.