Information Systems Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an information systems degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Information Systems Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Information systems degree programs cover a variety of computer and networking subjects within a business context. Most positions in the information systems field require a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree may help you obtain a lower-level support position. Many times, you are able to advance to a higher-paying position after gaining some work experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate's degree may qualify you for a position as a computer support specialist (www.bls.gov). In this position, however, you will likely need to participate in on-the-job training. Also according to the BLS, a bachelor's degree may qualify you for a position as a network and computer systems administrator. The BLS expects jobs for these workers to increase much faster than average, at a pace of 28% from 2010-2020. Overall, the BLS expects job opportunities in computer occupations to grow 22% over the same time period.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People with little or no experience who want to start a career in the information systems field People who want to work in higher-level administrative or analytical positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) Computer support specialists ($48,000)* -Network and computer systems administrators ($71,000)*
-Database administrator ($75,000)*
-Computer systems analyst ($79,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Information Systems Associate's Degree

Information systems associate's degree programs teach you how to use computers in a business and management-related setting. Coursework typically consists of introductory courses in computer programming, data management, networks and various general education subjects.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can start a career in technology in 2 years or less
  • Earned credits may transfer to a bachelor's degree program
  • May provide students with work experience through an internship

Cons

  • Can take up to 4 years to complete if attend part-time
  • A bachelor's degree is the typical requirement for most jobs in the technology field
  • Associate's degree programs typically provide only basic courses about information technology

Courses and Requirements

Courses in these programs typically cover core computer and business subjects. Some schools may require a few general education subjects, and most require that you complete an internship. The coursework typically requires around 4-6 semesters, or 2 years of full-time study, to complete.

Examples of courses you might take include:

  • Computer programming
  • Database management
  • Web design
  • Spreadsheets
  • Network administration

Online Info

Online information systems associate's degree programs are available. These programs are often designed for working individuals who want to begin a career in the field of technology. Courses in online programs are generally the same as on-campus programs. Additionally, online programs can be completed in the same amount of time as their in-person counterparts.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out with this degree, consider completing courses that provide instruction on the use, functions and setup of recently release software programs. These courses can ensure that you know how to manage and operate the most up-to-date software after graduation, which employers may find appealing.

Additionally, obtaining work experience through an internship or computer support job may help you acquire a higher-paying position after graduation. Work experience is often viewed favorably by employers, and therefore can help you beat out your competition in the job market.

Information Systems Bachelor's Degree

Information systems bachelor's degree programs generally focus more on the business aspect of information technology than associate's degree programs. Many times, these programs offer you the option to concentrate in a specific area, such as network systems administration, general management or cyber security.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Leads to a career in a growing field; faster-than-average job growth is projected for all computer-related occupations (22% growth from 2010-2020)*
  • Curriculum covers a variety of different IT subjects (programming, networks, business, data management, etc.), which can lead to a career in many different areas
  • Some schools allow you to concentrate your studies in a specific area, thereby enabling you to specialize in a topic of your interest

Cons

  • Can take up to 8 years to complete if attend on a part-time basis
  • Degree does not guarantee employment; you may compete with master's degree holders for some jobs
  • Some schools may require you to have basic knowledge of technology subjects prior to admission to their programs

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Coursework in information systems bachelor's degree program typically consists of advanced core courses in business, management and computer-related subjects. In addition to coursework, you may be required to complete a project or participate in an internship before graduation. If you choose to concentrate your studies in a specific area, such as business, security, or network administration, you take additional courses in that subject.

Examples of courses you might take include:

  • Information security
  • Project management
  • Web systems and services
  • Systems analysis
  • Business ethics
  • Critical thinking

Online Info

Many schools offer fully online information systems bachelor's degree programs. The coursework in these online programs is typically the same for both on-campus and online programs.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out against your competition, consider completing a specialization in computer forensics or data security. These topics are of importance to companies that regularly use computers to organize their data and other information. Familiarity with how to protect a company's information may make you more attractive to employers.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSBA in Information Systems Management
      • BSBA in Information Assurance
      • BBA: Project Management
      • BS in Health Information Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Information Systems
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Business Information Systems
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems
      • BS in Business Admin. - Business Intelligence
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
      • BS in Applied Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Management Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Management Information Systems and Business Analytics
      • BS - Information Technology
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • BSBA in Information Systems Management
  • BSBA in Information Assurance
  • BBA: Project Management

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Ashford University

  • B.A. - Business Information Systems
  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Business Information Systems

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems
  • BS in Business Admin. - Business Intelligence

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Virginia College

  • Bachelor: Management Information Systems

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Management Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • BS - Information Technology
  • BS - Business Management

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Herzing University

  • Bachelor: Technology Management
  • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

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