Information technology is a growing field, and the skills learned in college prepares students for many careers in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in IT jobs was $82,860 per year in May of 2016.
Many schools offer a degree in information technology online. This degree leads to a career that pays well, keeps you current with technology, and develops your critical thinking skills, making you a valuable employee in a variety of contexts.
What are the best IT programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Keiser University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|2||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, FL|
|3||Peirce College||Philadelphia, PA|
|4||Randolph Community College||Asheboro, NC|
|5||Union County College||Cranford, NJ|
|6||Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls, MN|
|7||Campbell University||Buies Creek, NC|
|8||College of Southern Maryland||La Plata, MD|
|9||St. Petersburg College||Clearwater, FL|
|10||Northern Virginia Community College||Annandale, VA|
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Information Technology and Systems Programs
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Keiser's online associate in information technology program awards an AS. The major curriculum includes coursework that covers topics like the principles of information security, the essentials of networking, and web systems. General education requirements include multiple elective options. Graduates leave the program with research and critical thinking skills.
Keiser's career advisors help degree-seekers prepare resumes, hone interview skills, and develop money management plans. The university also offers professional development workshop videos that students can watch at any time.
High school graduates and individuals with a GED certificate can apply. As a private university, Keiser does not charge out-of-state tuition. The Keiser University Scholarship Program does not require a separate application and considers students' financial need and academic merit.
Saint Leo University
|Saint Leo, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Saint Leo's online associate degree in information technology includes required courses in computer systems, programming in Java, and systems analysis and design. The university also offers multiple general election electives that cover topics such as science fiction and global warming. This Roman Catholic-affiliated university requires all degree-seekers to take a course in religion.
More than 90% of Saint Leo information technology alumni enroll in a bachelor's program or begin a full-time or part-time job within 12 months of graduating. The university helps prepare students for the job market by hosting virtual workshops that highlight professional letter writing and job search strategies.
Students must submit high school transcripts (or GED scores), and the school awards credit based on AP results and challenge exams. Additional requirements include FAFSA results. Incoming first-year students may qualify for institutional scholarships.
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Peirce's associate in information technology program allows students to earn their degree entirely online or in a hybrid format by taking some courses on the college's Philadelphia campus. Core coursework emphasizes networking fundamentals, server administration, and the ethical management of information technology.
Peirce's career center provides students with interviewing tips and a career-planning guide. The center also offers alumni advice on how to earn a promotion.
The program accepts up to 30 transfer credits. It does not require standardized test scores and charges all degree-seekers the same per-credit tuition rate. Incoming students can submit the Common Scholarship Application to apply for all institutional financial aid programs.
Randolph Community College
|Asheboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
RCC's online associate in information technology program offers an IT support specialist track and a network and cybersecurity specialist track. In addition to honing their IT fundamentals, students develop important interpersonal and communication skills.
Recent RCC alumni have all started a career or entered a bachelor's program within one year of graduation day. The college helps each student succeed by giving them information that covers interview techniques, resume best practices, and workplace professionalism.
To apply, individuals must fill out a residency determination and the RCC College Foundation application. North Carolina residents receive a significant tuition discount. However, out-of-state learners can still apply for institutional grants and scholarships.
Union County College
|Cranford, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Aspiring and experienced information systems professionals can apply to Union's associate in computer information systems and technology program. The 60-credit curriculum features courses related to the dynamics of communication, computer applications, and systems analysis and design. Full-time students can earn the degree in two years.
Union's career services office provides students with information about bachelor's programs and potential careers, resume feedback, and networking opportunities with potential employers. Union also hosts workshops where alumni speak to current students about a variety of career topics.
Union recommends that prospective students submit SAT scores. The college awards credits based on AP and IB results. Union County residents pay the lowest tuition rates. Learners who take at least six credits per semester can apply for institutional financial aid.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
|Fergus Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
M State's online associate degree in information technology awards an AAS. Graduates leave the program with the ability to evaluate emerging technologies and provide excellent customer service. During core coursework, students analyze IT essentials, microcomputer operating systems, and network security.
M State provides learners with resume guides, interviewing tips, and job fairs. The college's CAREERwise Education resource highlights career opportunities throughout the nation, with an emphasis on jobs in Minnesota.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED scores. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores must take a placement test. M State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|Buies Creek, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Campbell's online associate in information technology security management program uses a 62-credit curriculum that covers database management, systems analysis and design, and information technology fundamentals. The program also allows students to personalize their educational experience by choosing electives. All learners must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Campbell's career services office helps learners research career opportunities and bachelor's programs. Helpful resources available to both students and alumni include a job board, resume and cover letter assistance, and virtual events.
This program accepts up to 45 transfer credits. Active-duty military personnel receive a 40% tuition discount. Non-military students can apply for endowed scholarships.
College of Southern Maryland
|La Plata, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Recent high school graduates and professionals seeking a career change may be interested in CSM's online associate degree in information services technology. The 60-credit, four-semester program includes courses in computing essentials, introduction to databases, and program design and development. During the program's final semester, students complete a capstone project or an internship.
Each year, nearly 1,800 CSM graduates earn admission into bachelor's programs. Students can research top bachelor's in information technology and systems programs and explore entry-level careers on CSM's career services website.
Applicants without prior college coursework or standardized test scores must take a placement test. Additional requirements include FAFSA results. Maryland residents receive a slight tuition discount.
St. Petersburg College
|Clearwater, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
SPC's associate in computer programming and analysis program trains learners to use Java, C++, and C#. Students also develop in-demand software maintenance skills. Degree-seekers must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Over 90% of SPC alumni transition to a career or bachelor's program soon after graduation. The college provides learners with job hunting tools, including Handshake software and resume critiques. Additionally, SPC hosts a career and internships blog that provides information about job hunting best practices.
Applying to SPC takes most individuals about 10 minutes, and Florida residents receive a tuition discount. SPC offers an interest-free tuition payment plan, and students who pay tuition on time receive a discount on textbooks.
Northern Virginia Community College
|Annandale, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
NOVA's online associate degree in information technology prepares graduates to transfer to a bachelor's program. This 61-credit program includes required coursework in advanced database management, personal computer hardware, and Java programming.
The college offers degree-seekers a four-step career success plan that involves taking interest inventories, exploring relevant job opportunities, developing job hunting skills, and applying to jobs. NOVA also provides students with videos that cover resume writing and career fair preparation.
Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and speaking with an academic advisor. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores must take the Virginia Placement Test. The college's Our Opportunities website displays current institutional scholarships and directions on how to apply.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Information Technology/Systems Program?
Online information technology programs are designed to help you earn your degree while working with your existing schedule. While the details of any given program will vary from school to school, there are some common features that can help you find the right program.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|eCommerce||This concentration explores online commerce, from storefronts to carts to shipping information. It prepares you to work for a company that sells products online or to sell independently.||Webstore coordinator|
|Multimedia||Multimedia focuses on areas such as computer aided graphic design and audio and visual production. You will learn the basics of streaming video and audio, WE commerce, and other systems.||Graphic designer, artist, editor, sound designer, and director|
|Bioengineering||Bioengineering integrates life science with information technology, helping doctors perform surgery or solve clinical problems.||Biomedical engineer, medical instrumentation, biomedical computing|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Courses in information technology vary from one program to another, but there are some topics that are commonly covered. These courses form the basis of information technology online degree programs, as well as the basis for further education.
- Introduction to Networking: These courses provide you with the basics of networks and the technologies that support and maintain them. This knowledge is crucial if you want to work as a network administrator for a wide variety of employers, such as universities or software developers.
- Human Computer Interaction: These courses teach you how people actually use computers, giving you the foundation to design and implement positive user experiences with software and hardware. This is essential knowledge if you want to work as a software developer or video game designer.
- Web Design and Development: These courses teach you how to build and maintain websites and web-based applications, some of the most commonly used aspects of information technology. This knowledge can help you to become a webmaster or web developer, helping to make the internet easier for people to use.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY?
On average, an online associate degree in information technology takes two years to complete. A number of factors can affect this, and some people may complete their degree in more or less time. One factor is how many courses you decide to take in a given semester or academic year.
Another significant factor is whether or not you can transfer existing credits from another institution or program. An online information technology degree, like most college programs, will require some general education which you may already done.
Accreditation for Online Associate in Information Technology Degrees
Accreditation is an important part of choosing where to pursue an online information technology degree. A school or program which has been accredited has met standards of excellence in the eyes of the accrediting organization. This means that they can be trusted to provide a quality education that meets the guidelines set by the United States Department of Education or another group.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is one such organization, which investigates schools to determine if the education they are providing is enough to prepare someone for entering the information technology field. ABET accredited schools are worth exploring if you're serious about pursuing an information technology degree online. The accreditation ensures future employers that you have the necessary knowledge for a career in the field.
Accreditation is guided by the Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The DOE oversees and sets general educational policy for the whole country, and in order for a school to be respected, they must meet these guidelines. CHEA is a an organization focused on improving academic quality by working with schools to get them accredited. They help to ensure that groups which handle the day-to-day work of accrediting schools on behalf of the DOE are being held to the highest standards. For a list of accredited schools, visit the DOE or CHEA websites.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Information Technology/Systems Degree?
An online associate degree in information technology can be the first step towards many career paths. People with this degree can become web developers or computer support specialists, and they can go on to work as network administrators, test engineers, and programmers. Workers in these fields are generally excited by technology and enjoy learning about the newest devices, software, and methods. These roles require critical thinking and an interest in investigating the causes of problems.
- Web Developers: Websites are designed and maintained by web developers, who work to make sure that a site works and is easy to use. They keep track of and improve the performance and capacity of websites.
- Computer Support Specialists: People in these roles provide assistance to a variety of users who are experiencing problems with their computers or networks. They help individuals or businesses that don't have their own information technology staff solve problems and get back to work.
- Network Administrators: Even small businesses make use of and rely on computer networks, and they need to be sure those networks are running efficiently. Network administrators handle the day-to-day operations of networks and solve issues when they come up.
- Information Security Analysts: Cybersecurity is an important aspect of modern life, and information security analysts work to ensure that information is safe from outside intrusions. They implement and maintain systems to prevent cyberattacks and to improve their networks after such attacks.
- Database Administrator: The information which is stored on computer networks, like financial information or customer shipping records, is organized by a database administrator. They work to ensure that data is secure and that it can be accessed by those people who need it.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Computer Support Specialist||$52,160||12% (88,800 jobs)|
|Web Developer||$66,130||27% (39,500 jobs)|
|Network Administrator||$79,700||8% (30,200 jobs)|
|Database Administrator||$84,950||11% (13,400 jobs)|
|Information Security Analyst||$92,600||18% (14,800 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
While an associate degree in information technology is a great way to get started in the world of computer science, some people choose to transfer their credits to a bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree requires more work, but it also gives you a stronger understanding of information technology, and that can help you achieve higher paying work in the computer science field.
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology: This program is focused on programming languages and database management. You'll learn how to create new software on a variety of platforms and in many different environments.
- Bachelor of Science in Information Systems: This program focuses on current and emerging technology, as well as communication and management skills to help you become a leader in information technology. You'll learn the skills needed to work on information systems for government and business.
- Bachelor of Science in Data Management/Data Analytics: This program focuses on data and how it is gathered, managed, and used. You'll learn how to create systems for gathering data and how to analyse it to make meaningful insights.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Information Technology/Systems Graduates
Many factors can impact how much a person makes in a given role over the course of their career. From the employer or industry in which you work, to the state or even city you live, these factors affect your earning potential. The following table, based on information from PayScale, highlights the median incomes of several roles for which an associate degree in information technology can prepare you.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (Less than 5 Years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (10+ Years)|
|Computer Support Specialist||$42,735||$37,000||$43,000||$53,000|
|Information Security Analyst||$70,407||$63,000||$82,000||$91,000|
Professional organizations can be a huge help to people working in any field. They can provide you with networking opportunities, continuing education, job postings, and even scholarships or discounts on software and hardware. Many organizations run or contribute to conferences where professionals meet to discuss their field, how it's changing, and how to improve it. Many professional organizations require a membership fee.
This organization works to help advance women in various computing professions. They provide mentoring, networking opportunities, and continuing education.
This organization works to advance computing as a science and a profession. They provide members with access to a digital library and maintain publications and conferences.
This group is focused on career-development for information technology professionals. They sponsor numerous conferences and maintain a number of journals and magazines.
Financing Your Online Associate in Information Technology/Systems Program
There are a number of ways to finance an associate degree in information technology. Some students pay for classes out of pocket, but there are a variety of financial aid options provided by state and federal governments and private lenders. Scholarships and work-study programs are also available to help you pay for your education.
Approximately two-thirds of 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.
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 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.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
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.