Troy Whitfield

Troy Whitfield
  • SchoolKaplan University
  • DisciplineMaster of Science in Information Technology
  • SpecializationInformation Security and Assurance
  • Year in SchoolFirst
  • Previous DegreesMaster in Business Administration from the Strayer University (2011)

“I think earning my masters degree online will have a positive effect on my career options because earning a degree online requires discipline, good time-management skills, and a strong work ethic.”

Why did you choose to pursue an online masters degree in information technology from Kaplan University?

I decided to pursue an online masters degree in information technology because I know that it is a growing field and that a graduate degree in information technology can raise my salary, which would allow me to finish my law degree.

Information technology is the ability to analyze systems, improve their efficiency, and fix numerous problems that can arise within the system. I am very interested in how online information is protected.

I chose to earn my masters degree at Kaplan University out of loyalty. I earned my bachelors degree there, and when I decided to enroll in this most recent graduate program, I immediately knew I wanted to attend Kaplan University again.

How did you prepare yourself for going to graduate school online?

I didn’t have to prepare very much for the admissions process because I earned my bachelors degree at Kaplan University, so they already had most of my information there. However, I did look at the different course options available through the information technology degree and decided what my concentration would be.

From the time I expressed my interest in the program to the time I was enrolled, it took 1 month at the most. Aside from the books I purchase each term, I didn’t need to buy any new technical materials.

What tips do you have for a student who is applying to study information technology online at Kaplan University?

My advice for students applying to information technology programs at Kaplan University is to make use of the faculty. The instructors are good teachers who are willing to work with their students and help them accomplish their goals. If a student ever has a problem understanding an idea or an assignment, their instructor will help them work through them.

Can you describe your online information technology masters program?

Kaplan University’s masters program in information technology takes 2 years of full-time study to complete. Although I have a full-time job, I am still able to attend school online and will be able to finish the program in 2 years.

All of the classes I have taken so far have been really useful. Because I don’t have a background in information technology, these classes are providing me with a thorough introduction to the field.

The biggest strength of Kaplan University’s information technology program is the faculty. Its biggest weakness is that some of the topics that students are asked to research have few resources outside of an assigned textbook. I don’t mind the research being difficult, but I wish we had more resources available.

If I had to rate my instructors on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give them a 9 and a half at least. The faculty is knowledgeable and a number of the instructors work in the field, so they know about theory and practical applications. Some of my instructors’ classes are quite difficult, but I think a challenging curriculum is good for the students.

Do you have a specialization in your masters program in information technology?

My specialization within information technology is information security and assurance. I work in the prepaid card services industry where we handle a lot of personal information, so keeping that information secure is extremely important. Within information security and assurance, I would like to focus on the computer viruses and worms that cause harm to security systems.

In Kaplan University’s information technology program, I think most of the classes I take are information technology classes that all of the masters students are required to take. I will only take 3 or 4 classes in information security and assurance.

How is your masters degree curriculum in information technology presented?

The curriculum for the masters degree in information technology is presented via class websites, discussion boards, and online seminars. The discussion boards act as an online forum where students and instructors can discuss a class’s topics. Assignments that are not delivered to the discussion boards are uploaded to a class drop box.

Depending on the class, an online seminar can be mandatory or optional. For the seminars that are mandatory, all students have to log in at a specific time. The instructors can tell which students have logged on and which have not. The optional seminars allow students to view them at a later time.

What kinds of resources does Kaplan University provide to support you as an online masters student?

Kaplan University provides its online students with a library and tutoring services that are available entirely online. I find these services really helpful, especially since I have responsibilities outside of school and it is sometimes easier to conduct research or get help with classes online.

What is a typical day like for you as an online masters student?

A typical day for me as an online masters degree student is busy because I work and take care of my kids in addition to attending school. My days begin with work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I get home around 6 p.m., make dinner for my family, and spend time with my kids. At around 9 or 9:30 p.m., I start doing my coursework and that usually takes about 3 hours.

I have to make my own free time, which is usually on the weekends. However, there are weekends when I will have to finish a reading or research assignment or do a project because it is the only time I have.

Personally, I am able to balance school, work, and family by keeping these areas separate from each other. I don’t take work home with me at the end of the day and I wait until after I eat dinner and spend time with my kids before I begin any schoolwork.

Do you have any study tips that would help other online students to succeed?

A good tip for online students is to schedule everything, including the times you are at work or with your family. If a schedule is accurate and realistic, students shouldn’t have much trouble sticking with it.

How much does your online masters degree in information technology cost?

I am not sure of the exact cost of earning a masters degree in information technology from Kaplan University, but I think it is somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000.

How are you funding your graduate degree at Kaplan University?

I am funding my masters degree at Kaplan University with financial aid in the form of student loans. The loans cover my tuition and the books I have to buy each term. The process of filling out the financial aid applications is much easier than many people think it is.

How do you intend to use your online masters degree in information technology in your career?

I hope to use my online masters degree in information technology to advance my career at my current company. I would need to earn a couple of other certifications, but those aren’t difficult to obtain.

If I decide to leave my company, my masters degree will allow me to apply for a variety of jobs with employers that need information technology security, particularly companies in the financial services industry. These kinds of jobs and careers can earn professionals between $80,000 and $100,000 per year.

Do you think that earning your masters degree online will have an effect on your career options?

I think earning my masters degree online will have a positive effect on my career options because earning a degree online requires discipline, good time-management skills, and a strong work ethic. Most employers respect that.

If you could begin your program again, is there anything you would do differently about pursuing your online masters degree at Kaplan University?

If I could begin my program in information technology again, I don’t think I would do anything differently. I like the school and enjoy the masters degree program, so I think I have made the right choice.

What should a student know about getting a masters degree in information technology online?

Students who are interested in earning their masters degrees in information technology online should know that it can be difficult at times, but it is worth the time and the effort they invest in it.