Study Information Technology: Associate's, Bachelor's & Online Degree Info

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Associate's and bachelor's in information technology can lead to careers as programmers and database administrators. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Information Technology Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

Information technology (IT) is a field that encompasses computers and the supporting technology. Opportunities in this field are available through IT firms or large companies that have their own IT division. The type of career available to you depends on your degree. With an associate's degree, you may work in a technology support position. If you have a bachelor's degree, you may find work in more skilled positions, eventually working your way up to management.

While most careers related to IT are expected to have employment increases, the outlooks vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for computer programmers and computer support specialists are expected to increase 12% and 18%, respectively, from 2010-2020. However, some professions have a much higher outlook. For instance, the BLS reported that job opportunities for database administrators are expected to increase 31% over the same time period.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals looking for careers in technical support Individuals interested in more skilled positions that could lead to a leadership position
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Computer support specialist ($48,000)*
- Computer programmer ($73,000)*
- Computer programmer ($73,000)*
- Database administrator ($75,000)*
- Network and computer systems administrator ($71,000)*
- Computer and information systems manager ($118,000 - (position typically requires 5-10 years of experience)*
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Around 60 semester credits - Around 120 semester credits
- Capstone course
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED - High school diploma or GED
- SAT or ACT scores
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Associate's Degree Programs in Information Technology

Information technology programs at this level typically award the Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degrees. Related programs may be offered in areas like computer science technology. These 2-year programs train you in the practical skills needed to make upgrades and repairs, as well as the business skills needed for the workplace. Concentrations may be available in some programs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • May qualify you for specific industry certifications
  • Some programs offer specializations or concentration areas
  • May give you an advantage over individuals with just a high school diploma

Cons

  • May not qualify you for management positions
  • Not all programs are specific to IT
  • May include some courses in general office programs, rather than advanced programming or IT topics

Coursework and Requirements

In addition to the core coursework, you will need to complete courses in math and science. Some programs incorporate hands-on training and provide courses in specific technologies or software programs. The courses you may take include:

  • Database management systems
  • Principles of programming
  • Management information systems
  • Hardware fundamentals
  • Systems analysis and design

Online Programs

Online associate's programs in or related to IT are available online through traditional and professional for-profit schools. You should review the curriculum of any online program to ensure that it's accredited and prepares you for the career you want. Some on-site requirements may be included.

How to Get Ahead with This Degree

In addition to completing a degree program, you may consider becoming certified, especially if your program qualifies you for one. These certifications may be offered through a major company like Microsoft or Cisco. Typically, you will have to pass a comprehensive exam to become certified. You may also want to be comfortable with at least one major programming language.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Information Technology

Bachelor's programs in this field typically take four years to complete and award degrees like the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. These programs teach you the skills needed in business and IT. Similar to associate's degrees, these programs may include specializations. These programs can also provide a more accessible route to a management or leadership-type position.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offer more specific coursework than associate's programs
  • May offer specializations within information technology
  • This degree may give you an advantage over individuals with an associate's degree

Cons

  • Management-level positions typically require experience
  • May have to complete more advanced math and science courses
  • May be at a disadvantage when competing against someone with a master's degree

Coursework and Requirements

The non-IT requirements may include statistics, calculus and a science. Within these curricula, you may be required to take business courses in areas like business decision models and organizational behavior. A capstone course in an area like project management may be required. Some of the core courses you may take include:

  • Operating systems concepts
  • Network security
  • Database management systems
  • Object-oriented design
  • Information security management

Online Programs

Bachelor's programs in IT are available online. These programs may be offered completely online or in hybrid formats. Occasionally, there are special options, such as second bachelor's degree programs that transfer most of your credits from a previous degree. Fast-track options may be available if you've already earned an associate's degree.

How to Get Ahead with This Degree

Similar to individuals with associate's degrees, you may consider becoming professionally certified. For some careers, the BLS indicates that product vendors and software firms may require you to be certified to use their products. You may also consider developing your business skills to help you in working with departments outside of IT.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BSIT: Network Admin
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • BS in Health Information Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
      • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - General
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - Information Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Computer Science
      • BS: Computer Science - Information Assurance
      • BS: Computer Information Systems
      • BS: Cybersecurity
      • BA: Business Administration - Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. City University of Seattle

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Information Technology
      • B.S. Applied Computing
      • B.S. Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
      • B.S. Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
      • Business Intelligence - MBA (Master's)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
  • Ithaca, NY

    Cornell University

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Marquette University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    Temple University

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BSIT - Information Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Information Technology

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

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Saint Leo University

  • BS: Computer Science
  • BS: Computer Science - Information Assurance
  • BS: Computer Information Systems

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City University of Seattle

  • B.S. Information Technology
  • B.S. Applied Computing
  • B.S. Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

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Baker College Online

  • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
  • Game Software Development - Bachelor
  • Business Intelligence - MBA (Master's)

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Utica College

  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance

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