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Information technology (IT) is a STEM discipline that covers the systems that store, organize, and disseminate data. In 2016, IT primarily covers computing technology. Students in the field learn about computing hardware and software, web-based platforms, networks, telecommunications systems, and other forms of modern technology, along with the fundamentals of mechanics and electronics that can lead to new products and innovations in the IT industry.

As technology evolves and data management systems become increasingly complex, the demand for highly skilled workers in the field has grown alongside. A bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most IT positions. Today, many students interested in an IT career are choosing to pursue their information technology degree online. Web-based bachelor’s programs follow the same rigorous curriculum that traditional programs adhere to. Furthermore, the flexible online format is ideal for students who must balance their schoolwork with other commitments, such as childcare or a part-time job.

Read on to learn more about what you will study in information technology, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to upon graduation.

WILL AN ONLINE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online information technology degree programs cover a range of specializations, from app development and computer programming to systems implementation and network architecture. This allows students to concentrate in a specific area of the field to further enhance their career prospects. Many programs also encourage students to find an internship, where they receive supervised onsite training from established professionals.

WILL AN ONLINE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online bachelor’s in IT programs offer a convenient alternative to classroom-based education. Most programs are taught asynchronously, which allows students to submit assignments and take exams on their own schedule from the comfort of their home computer. New e-learning technology also enables distance learners to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other Wi-Fi-compatible device. Students can usually arrange internship opportunities at a location near their current residence as well.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR’S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?

An online bachelor’s in information technology will qualify you for a variety of jobs. Your eligibility for specific positions will depend on a few factors, including your minor or degree concentration. Common career choices for IT degree-holders include roles in network administration, system analysis, software and hardware development, computer programming, and database administration.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs and professional interests. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s in information technology programs in the United States. If you are interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in IT, and you value the flexibility of the online format, be sure to take a look at these top online programs.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 74.21 3/5 73% Minneapolis, MN

UMN-Twin Cities offers a fully online information technology degree. Courses include project management, messaging systems, and networking standards and protocols. Graduates are prepared for careers in private businesses, corporate IT departments, education and financial institutions, and more. Many students in the information technology management program also participate in internships. The program comprises 120 total credit hours. UMN charges the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state students. Around 93% of students find a job in their field of study within six months of graduation.

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2 Kennesaw State University 72.35 3/5 42% Kennesaw, GA

KSU is located in Kennesaw, Georgia. The school’s bachelor of science in information technology program covers IT planning, development, implementation, and operation, and is one of 70 online programs offered at KSU. Students can complete the program either entirely online or in a hybrid online/on-campus format. Information technology degree online students adhere to the same curriculum as their on-campus counterparts.

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3 University of Illinois at Springfield 69.72 3/5 47% Springfield, IL

UIS offers an information technology online degree through its department of computer science. The BS in information systems security provides students with a strong foundation in computer science; they will learn about the design and implementation of secure systems, security assessment, and computer security ethics. Graduates will leave school prepared to pursue security-focused careers in network and computer administration, system analysis, computer support, or to pursue graduate-level education in computer science.

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4 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 69.66 3/5 54% Lowell, MA

The UMass-Lowell online school for information technology offers an array of courses to match your interests in the field, whether they are in Java programming, web development, network security, system administration, or other dimensions. Distance learners can pursue their IT degree entirely online or in a hybrid format, at a part-time or accelerated rate. The curriculum for the online IT bachelor’s degree comprises 120 credit hours; courses range from applied chemistry for non-scientists to Linux/Unix system administration. Students must complete all core curriculum requirements and maintain a 2.0 GPA.

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5 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus 68.91 4/5 50% University Park, PA

Penn State World Campus is the online platform for courses through Pennsylvania State University. PSU’s 125-credit online IT bachelor’s degree program caters to students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Distance learners can customize their IT degree by choosing either the integration and application (ITINT) option or the information systems: design and development (ISDEV) option. The former track explores the role of IT within businesses and prepares students to use IT in strategic organization and problem-solving. The ISDEV option teaches students to develop advanced information technology systems. Graduates are prepared to work as systems designers, network managers, web administrators, and more.

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6 University of Florida-Online 68.06 3/5 86% Gainesville, FL

UF-Online offers an online bachelor's in information technology through its computer science program. The program combines computer science with a strong liberal arts education, and it’s a popular choice among students who want to pursue a double major. The degree comprises 120 credits, including foundation coursework, core coursework, and required electives. Required material covers analytic geometry and algebra, programming fundamentals, data structuring and algorithms, and more.

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7 Brigham Young University-Idaho 67.69 2/5 52% Rexburg, ID

BYU-Idaho offers an online BS in computer information technology, designed to help students pursue careers in IT management, web development, network engineering, project management, and more. The information technology degree online is offered entirely online; as part of the program, students can pursue minors or concentrations in the business department alongside IT classes. Students must complete 40 credits of foundation courses, 51 credits of major courses, and 29 required electives. They must also complete either a senior project or internship and a senior practicum.

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8 Liberty University 67.31 4/5 46% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Its BS in information technology online degree awards students with credit for military training, life experience, professional training, passing an examination, or submitting a portfolio. The BS in IT program comprises 120 credit hours, 30 of which are upper-level courses. Students can choose from a variety of specializations, including application and database development, data networking & security, gaming design, and web & mobile programming. Graduates leave school prepared for careers in gaming design and development, intelligence, software development, and more.

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9 George Washington University 66.07 4/5 80% Washington, DC

GWU’s department of computer science features an online CS program. As part of the program, all distance learners must complete an eight-credit senior design project to help them practice project development. Within the computer science department, students can select a technical track to study topics like artificial intelligence, data science, software engineering, systems, and other emphases. The school also gives bachelor’s students the opportunity to earn a master’s in computer science or cybersecurity in CS with just one additional year of study. GWU is located in Washington, DC and has a strong research program for students who want to get involved in researching topics like data science and networking/mobile computing.

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10 The University of West Florida 65.92 3/5 45% Pensacola, FL

UWF's online campus offers a BS in information technology with a focus on network systems operations. This is an intensive and highly technical program which teaches the design, implementation, and maintenance of network and telecommunications systems. Courses cover networking and telecommunications, and students can pursue one of two focus areas: computer web development technologies or business and communications. All students must complete an internship in technology systems operations to gain hands-on experience.

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11 George Mason University 65.92 3/5 66% Fairfax, VA

George Mason offers a robust information technology bachelor’s degree online. The program is aimed at students who want to focus their career on the use and management of IT resources. Students learn to apply IT to business processes, and develop strong problem-solving and communication skills. Graduates will leave school prepared to work in network administration, information security, information systems, computer graphics, and more.

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12 Oregon State University 65.66 3/5 61% Corvallis, OR

Oregon State's online information technology degree is delivered through the university's eCampus program. This is a post-baccalaureate bachelor’s program designed for those who already have a degree in a different field; graduates leave school with a BS in computer science. Applicants are not required to have any previous computer science experience or IT training. The program features flexible timelines ranging from one- to four-year tracks. The one-year track is the most intense and designed for full-time students. Students must complete 60 credits in order to graduate.

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13 Troy University 64.06 3/5 35% Troy, AL

Students at Troy can earn an information technology degree online through the school’s computer science program. Distance learners can choose between on-campus, online, or hybrid learning opportunities. Online classes are delivered through the eTROY program. Courses cover a variety of topics, including cyber security, advanced programming, and careers in computer technology. The curriculum integrates coursework with the latest technology, as students develop games and apps and work on team projects. Distance learners leave school prepared to work in roles as software engineers, system analysts, computer system designers, or computer programmers.

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14 Western Governors University 64.06 3/5 27% Salt Lake City, UT

Located in Salt Lake City all programs at WGU are offered entirely online, including seven different online BS programs related to IT. These programs include management/data analytics, information technology, IT -- security, IT -- network administration, software development, health information management, and business -- information technology management. Students who earn an information technology online degree at Western Governors can partake in virtual labs and develop hands-on experience through the Microsoft IT Academy. All courses are taught asynchronously, which allows distance learners to study and consume lectures at their convenience.

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15 LeTourneau University 62.91 4/5 61% Longview, TX

Studying computer information systems at LeTorneau will open up doors for anyone wanting to learn about IT management and the analytical and technological skills required to work in the field. With an information technology online degree from LeTourneau, you will graduate equipped with the skills you need for a career in computer system design, software publishing, data processing, hosting, and other careers. The curriculum covers programming for information systems, software engineering, database management, and much more.

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16 Excelsior College 62.86 3/5 40% Albany, NY

Excelsior College's online school for information technology allows working professionals to pursue a bachelor's degree while they work full time. Excelsior focuses on helping students graduate as quickly as possible, while also providing affordable tuition and flexible payment plans. The school also has a generous transfer policy and will award the maximum number of credits possible for courses completed at another university.

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17 Nova Southeastern University 62.63 4/5 42% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Students can earn an online bachelor's degree in information technology at Nova Southeastern, a private research university located in Fort Lauderdale. NSU's online BS in information technology teaches critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills that help graduates advance in their careers. Courses cover network security, database management, human-computer reaction, and more.

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18 University of North Texas 62.54 3/5 48% Denton, TX

UNT offers an online bachelor's in information technology. The school’s online BS in information sciences program is at the intersection of information, people, and technology, teaching students to add value to the field and to apply the latest technologies in their careers. Distance learners can customize their degree by focusing on specific concentrations or by choosing a minor or certificate in another area of study. Students must complete 120 semester hours in order to graduate. Graduates are prepared to work as chief information officers, data mining specialists, or intelligence analysts.

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19 University of Wisconsin-Stout 62.31 3/5 52% Menomonie, WI

Students can earn an online information technology degree from UW-Stout entirely through online classes; distance learners can take these classes either part-time or full-time. The curriculum for the BS degree in information and communication technologies covers information technology, communication technology, and management and business courses. Students can focus their studies on networking, media, technical communications, web management, enterprise systems, and leadership development. They may also complement their major with a minor in enterprise technology, computer networking systems and design, or web technology.

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20 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 61.69 4/5 60% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Keiser offers an online BS in information technology management that emphasizes the business side of technology, including designing solutions for customer problems and interactions. The school's online division, or eCampus, has an online career center to help students even if they are not studying on campus. The information technology degree online is designed as a degree completion program for students who have already earned their associate. In order to graduate, students must complete 60 upper-division credit hours.

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21 Old Dominion University 61.62 3/5 49% Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion’s information technology online degree is offered as a BS in business administration program with an information systems and technology track. Students learn how to integrate leading technology with other elements of the business, including quantitative methods, economics, and marketing, among others. The online courses follow ODU's standard academic calendar, though some courses require synchronous participation. Graduates leave school prepared to lead exciting careers as business application developers, internet/intranet developers, network administrators, and more.

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22 University of Maryland-University College 61.18 3/5 4% Adelphi, MD

UMUC’s online school for information technology offers six different majors to choose from in computer science and IT. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in computer networks and cybersecurity, computer science, cybersecurity management and policy, digital media and web technology, information systems management, and software development and security. The curriculum prepares students to be certified by Microsoft, Cisco, or CompTIA. Its award-winning technology programs are taught by renowned faculty members with professional experience in careers at the highest levels of government and private industry.

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23 Drexel University 60.62 5/5 65% Philadelphia, PA

Drexel offers a bachelor’s in computing and security technology program that emphasizes hands-on education and work experience. Its online bachelor's in information technology is flexible, and the program allows students to pursue concentrations in computing security and computing technology. The curriculum is designed for professionals employed in IT or other fields, or working adults with either an associate degree or two years of college experience. IT certifications may count as additional credit toward a bachelor's degree, and courses are designed to help students prepare for these certifications.

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24 City University of Seattle 59.91 3/5 47% Seattle, WA

CityU of Seattle offers an online BS in information technology. Students can emphasize in information security or networking. Courses are self-paced and available online; the program can be completed in as few as two and a half years. Students complete preparatory courses, core requirements, depth of study courses, and a technology capstone. The program teaches students valuable skills in ethics, information management, project management, programming, and other topics. Students have access to the university’s state-of-the-art laboratories and are taught by professors who are current industry leaders.

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Timeline
4 to 5 years
Program Costs
$30,000 to $60,000 for full tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
Computer Science, Software and Hardware Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Systems Engineering, Management Information Systems, Industrial Technology, Network Administration
Accreditation
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

Job Placement

The job outlook is quite favorable for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in IT, particularly for candidates who can supplement their education with professional work experience. A 2014 survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that experienced college graduates with degrees in ‘computers, statistics, and mathematics’ have a 4.3% unemployment rate; by comparison, the national unemployment rate is 5.0%. Additionally, the unemployment rate for IT degree-holders with no work experience is nearly twice as high as the rate for experienced employees in the same industry.

Unemployment rates in the technology sector vary by discipline. The following table uses data from the CEW survey to compare job placement prospects among degree-holders in different tech fields.

Major Field of Study Unemployment Rate for Graduates with No Work Experience Unemployment Rate for Graduates with Some Work Experience
Computers and Information Systems 12.10% 4.3%
Computer Science 7.4% 4.0%
Information Sciences 4.3%
Miscellaneous Computer 11.3% 6.0%
Management Information Systems and Statistics 3.6%

Source: From Hard Times to Better Times’ by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW)

As the table reveals, the unemployment rate for experienced college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in IT is significantly lower than the rate for those with no work experience. With this in mind, IT students are encouraged to research internship opportunities to build their knowledge and skills, and to demonstrate their usefulness to prospective employers. Students can also boost their resume by working part-time in network or database administration, computer programming, or other relevant fields.

Earning a Living

IT students who hold a bachelor’s degree enjoy higher earning potential than their colleagues with less education. The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report lists the salary differences between college graduates in different major fields at all degree levels. The table below features the salary expectations for IT bachelor’s and associate degree-holders at two key career stages.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Associate Degree in Information Technology $39,400 $59,500
Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology $53,000 $84,300

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, bachelor’s degree-holders outearned associate degree-holders in the same field by 34.5% at the entry-level mark and 41.6% at mid-career. However, your salary will depend on a few factors, such as your location and the job title in question. Using PayScale data, the next table compares the expected earnings in five common career pathways for bachelor’s degree recipients.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Computer Programmer $51,422 $65,169 $72,883 $76,986
Software Developer $62,448 $76,168 $86,399 $90,105
Network Architect $86,246 $100,535 $117,277 $120,178
Information Systems (IS) Manager $61,379 $70,545 $83,945 $89,078
Network Administrator $49,466 $56,158 $61,904 $65,313

Source: PayScale

As the table shows, network architects earn the highest salaries at all three benchmarks. However, this career ranked fourth in terms of career salary growth (39.3%) behind computer programmers (49.7%), information systems managers (45.1%), and software developers (44.3%). Network administrators saw their salaries increase roughly 32% after 20 years in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

College students who graduate with a degree in IT will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions, as well as some managerial jobs generally reserved for students who have completed their undergraduate studies. Below, we covered four common careers for IT majors.

Computer Programmers: Computer programmers write and test code, which provides the foundation for modern software programs and applications. They are responsible for ensuring their code sequences are compatible with test computers, and they often rewrite code to accommodate different systems or applications. Many programmers specialize in specific computer languages, such as C++ or Java.

Software Developers: These employees design and test computer applications, games, and other programs with software components. In many cases, software developers also create the platforms and network controls that allow software-based programs to function. This career path requires professionals with strong math, engineering, and programming skills.

Computer Network Architects: These professionals design, build, and modify different types of telecommunication networks; most projects are classified as local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs). They are also responsible for studying their company’s organizational structure in order to create sustainable networks, and for making hardware and software upgrades.

Computer and Information Systems (IS) Managers: Also commonly referred to as IT managers, these employees oversee day-to-day tech operations at companies and organizations. The profession demands candidates with a wide skill set, including computer programming, mathematics, software development, and business administration. Computer and IS managers are often responsible for administrative tasks, such as interviewing, screening, and hiring new employees, and collaborating with other department heads on company-wide projects.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Computer Programmers $79,530
Software Developers $100,690
Computer Network Architects $100,240
Computer and Information Systems (IS) Managers $131,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Many information technology degree-holders choose to continue their education in a master’s program. For more information, please visit our Online Master’s in Software Engineering Guide.

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning as much as you can about IT is crucial to your success in the field. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below, you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for IT professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • Association of Information Technology Professionals: Founded in 1951, the AITP is considered one of the largest global organizations for IT managers and personnel. The association hosts 55 U.S. chapters across nine regions of the country, and also sponsors college chapters at postsecondary institutions in 36 different states.
  • Association of Software Professionals: The ASP is a trade organization dedicated to software developers and engineers who design programs, apps, and networks. The website features an extensive calendar of upcoming conferences and events, as well as full issues of the ASPects monthly newsletter.
  • Network Professional Association: The NPA supports computer networking personnel through advocacy, professional development, and networking events. The association’s website features information about the CNP certification credential, as well as an online career center, an electronic journal, and an events calendar.
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Information Technology Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Northeastern University Boston, MA
2 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
3 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
4 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA
5 Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO
6 Elmhurst College Elmhurst, IL
7 DePaul University Chicago, IL
8 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
9 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
10 Champlain College Burlington, VT
11 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM
12 Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI
13 Oregon Tech Klamath Falls, OR
14 King University Bristol, TN
15 Pace University New York, NY
16 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
17 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
18 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
19 University of South Carolina - Upstate Spartanburg, SC
20 Granite State College Concord, NH
21 Columbus State University Columbus, GA
22 Hodges University Naples, FL
23 Ottawa University - Milwaukee Brookfield, WI
24 Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
25 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL