In today's tech-based business climate, computer networks drive communication and information exchange across a wide range of industries. These networks range in size from local area networks (or LANs) with a small number of users to wide area networks (WANs) that cover multiple locations across an extensive geographical area. Networks require constant supervision and support, and this responsibility is handed to network administrators. These professionals monitor network traffic, perform hardware and software upgrades, evaluate the network's overall performance and take measures to protect users from hackers, viruses and other outside threats.
What are the best network administration programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|2||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT|
|3||Dakota State University||Madison, SD|
|4||California Baptist University||Riverside, CA|
|5||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|6||Fort Hays State University||Hays, KS|
|7||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, NH|
|8||Southern Nazarene University||Bethany, OK|
|9||Florida State College at Jacksonville||Jacksonville, FL|
|10||Excelsior College||Albany, NY|
Many network administrators get their start in a bachelor's degree program. The curriculum is heavily concentrated in computer science and information technology. Students are introduced to fundamental areas of the profession, such as operations management, systems analysis and network security. Other courses cover subjects like mathematics, software engineering, business administration and project management. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's degree in network administration online. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as brick-and-mortar options, leading to the same number of opportunities for online graduates. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of most online degree programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with on-campus learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's degree in network administration and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE NETWORK ADMINISTRATION BACHELOR'S PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Online bachelor's in network administration programs usually take a comprehensive approach to the subject. Students learn various methods and strategies for developing and installing networks, troubleshooting different problems and ensuring the system is secure for all network users. Many degree programs culminate in a capstone project, which allows students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained through a research or practicum-based project. The best online bachelor's in network administration programs also prepare students who plan to earn professional certification in specific areas of the field.
WILL AN ONLINE NETWORK ADMINISTRATION BACHELOR'S PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
An online bachelor's in network administration provides a flexible academic alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students will be able to access course lectures and readings, participate in class discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and contact their professors all from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. Additionally, faculty members will be on hand to provide virtual career counseling and advisement about graduation, capstone projects and other programmatic requirements.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY NETWORK ADMINISTRATION BACHELOR'S DEGREE?
Most careers in network administration are attainable with a bachelor's degree. The network and computer systems administration field is relatively large; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that more than 380,000 professionals are currently employed in this field, and the ten-year industry projection calls for roughly 30,000 new jobs by 2024. Other common career pathways for network administration degree recipients include network architects, information security analysts, systems analysts and computer programmers.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE NETWORK ADMINISTRATION BACHELOR'S PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's degree in network administration programs in the United States. If you are considering an online bachelor's in network administration, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Network Administration Degree Programs
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 0%||
BU is an open-access university that serves about 50,000 students annually. The school offers over 80 academic programs, including an online bachelor of science in management information systems. Students may complete this program fully online or through a hybrid format.
This program covers topics like business communication and research, managing innovations in information systems, and strategic management. Students learn how to make financial and budget decisions with regards to net present value and return on investment. Learners may use the curriculum's 51 elective credits to personalize their experience.
This degree completion program requires applicants to hold a relevant associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits. Prospective students also need three years of IT work experience.
Western Governors University
|Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Western Governors University provides a comprehensive array of online certificates and degrees. WGU's distance learning programs include a bachelor of science in business administration in information technology management.
This program includes classes like accounting principles, data management, and quantitative analysis for business. Students also delve into IT management tools and issue tracking systems that support business continuity. Learners round out the program by completing a capstone project and creating a professional portfolio.
WGU does not require a minimum GPA or ACT/SAT scores. The university uses a competency-based learning model that enables students to demonstrate content mastery through course completion and/or relevant work experience. WGU's business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Dakota State University powers distance education with the Desire2Learn platform, and students at DSU can pursue an online bachelor of science in network and security administration. By completing this 120-credit program, graduates are prepared to work as cybersecurity analysts, IT project managers, and vulnerability assessors.
Coursework includes web application programming and operating environments. Students also take advanced classes in database management systems, offensive/defensive network security, and Linux/Unix administration. Participants gain hands-on experience by completing an internship with a local company.
DSU accepts applications year round. The university offers financial aid opportunities, including scholarships for first-year and transfer students. DSU also offers a dual-degree track that allows students to earn their online bachelor's degree in network administration and a master of cyberdefense in five years.
California Baptist University
|Riverside, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Based in Riverside, California Baptist University enrolls about 11,000 students in more than 160 academic programs. Degree options include a fully online bachelor of science in network administration and management that prepares graduates for careers as solutions architects, web developers, and network engineers.
The curriculum of this bachelor's in network administration includes 48 major-related credits and covers topics like database design and processing, computer and operating systems architecture, and Voice over Internet Protocol. Students also develop advanced business networking skills, learning to evaluate the IT needs of diverse organizations and implement appropriate solutions. The program culminates in an integrative capstone course.
Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. CBU prefers candidates with 24 or more transferable credits. The university delivers online coursework asynchronously through Blackboard Learn.
|Burlington, VT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Champlain College focuses on providing accessible education to working professionals and other adult learners. Champlain's academic catalog includes an online bachelor of science in management information systems that offers accelerated, seven-week classes. Throughout a flexible curriculum, students learn seven key technical competencies and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be used in cross-sector business environments.
Course topics include enterprise database systems, information systems analysis and design, and introduction to Python. Students also learn about usability in website and software design. They can pursue one of two concentrations, earning a specialized certificate in computer networking or software development.
To enroll in this bachelor's program, applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also submit a professional resume and write 3-4 essays.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Fort Hays State University offers over 200 online degrees and certificates. For example, distance learners can earn a bachelor of business administration in management information systems. This program boasts small class sizes and one-on-one faculty engagement. Students access asynchronous classes through Blackboard, with 16-week fall and spring terms and accelerated, eight-week offerings over the summer.
This program includes coursework in business law, marketing principles, and production and operations management. Students also examine business intelligence strategies and technological innovations in entrepreneurial leadership.
Incoming first-year students need a minimum 2.0 GPA if they reside in Kansas and a minimum 2.5 GPA if they live out of state. Applicants must also score at least 21 on the ACT or 980 on the SAT.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Southern New Hampshire University serves more than 100,000 students through on-campus and online programs. SNHU's comprehensive catalog includes a fully online bachelor of science in management information systems. With access to accelerated, eight-week classes and the ability to apply up to 90 transfer credits toward the degree, students can complete this program largely at their own pace.
This degree track requires coursework in computer platform technologies, IT service management, and Structured Query Language. Students learn to mine, compile, and analyze data with respect to the flow and structure of data within different client systems. They round out the program with a capstone seminar.
SNHU uses a holistic evaluation process that does not require minimum GPA or ACT/SAT scores. The university accepts applications on a rolling basis.
Southern Nazarene University
|Bethany, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Southern Nazarene University delivers 11 fully online undergraduate and graduate programs, including a bachelor's in network management program that serves as a degree completion pathway. Designed as a hybrid program, distance learners need to take some evening classes at SNU's campus in Bethany, Oklahoma.
Students in the program complete classes like Windows networking, routers and switches, and personal and professional ethics. They learn to assess formal and informal IT challenges to implement effective organizational change strategies. Learners also delve into network security, studying topics like intrusion detection and next-generation firewalls.
Applicants need at least 48 transferable credits. They must also pass a university entrance exam. SNU offers scholarships, loans, grants, and assistantships to its students.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
|Jacksonville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Florida State College at Jacksonville serves over 24,000 students annually, many of whom enroll in online courses through Canvas. FSCJ's online programs include a bachelor of applied science in information technology management that emphasizes practical skill development. Students take accelerated, asynchronous classes.
Required courses include computer networks and telecommunications, object-oriented programming with Java, and hardware and software configuration. As part of their upper-division requirements, students investigate systems analysis and design, as well as electronic commerce systems and strategies. They complete the program with a capstone seminar that covers the entire IT project cycle.
FSCJ requires applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. The college provides financial aid opportunities and career development services.
|Albany, NY||Graduation Rate: 0%||
Based in Albany, New York, Excelsior College powers distance education with Canvas. Excelsior's distance learners can enroll in a fully online bachelor of professional studies in technology management program. Since Excelsior accepts up to 113 transfer credits, experienced students can complete the program in one semester.
Foundational coursework includes business leadership, project management, and financial accounting. Excelsior requires students to take major classes like integrated technology assessment and economic analysis for technologists. Students personalize their curriculum by choosing one of four concentrations, including options in information technology and renewable energy technology.
Excelsior does not require test scores or a minimum GPA for admission. Distance learners can apply for institutional scholarships based on their academic merit, major, and military affiliation.
What to Expect From an Online Network Administration Program
|Timeline||4 to 5 years|
|Program Costs||$8,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||Computer Science, Information Technology, Information Security, Software/Hardware Engineering, Computer Programming, Web Design and Development, Communications|
|Accreditation||There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.|
Employment Outlook for Network Administration Graduates
A growing number of businesses and organizations rely on computer networks, and steady industry growth indicates that qualified professionals will be in-demand for years to come. As a result, the employment outlook for network administration personnel is quite favorable. U.S. News & World Report notes that the 'computer systems administrator' career path now faces an unemployment rate of 2.0%; by comparison, the national unemployment rate is currently set at 4.9%.
Using U.S. News data, the following table compares the unemployment rate of network administrators against the rates of other related tech careers.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
As the table indicates, computer systems administrators are tied for the third lowest unemployment rate of all careers listed. With a healthy 10-year outlook for network administrators and the tech industry as a whole, students who earn online bachelor's degrees in this field should continue to enjoy steady unemployment rates.
Earning a Living
In addition to favorable unemployment rates and job security, students who earn an online bachelor's in network administration also enjoy high earning potential. According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the median annual salary for college graduates with a bachelor's in 'computer and network administration' is $50,800 during the first five years on the job and $66,900 after 10 years in the workforce. Both of these figures are higher than the $48,320 median annual salary for all occupations, as projected by the BLS.
The table below looks at salary expectations for network administration majors and recipients of bachelor's degrees in other tech-centric fields.
In addition to undergraduate majors, specific job titles also determine the earning potential for network administration degree-holders. Other important factors include employer size and city/state of employment. The next table explores career salary growth rates for network administrators and other common pathways in this professional field.
|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)|
|Network Operations Manager||$70,000||$83,700||$95,228||$101,169|
|Network/Data Communications Manager||$76,000||$78,119||$99,058||$100,140|
All careers listed on the table experienced career salary growth of more than 20%. Network engineers saw the highest growth rate: a 44.7% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Network operations managers placed in a close second, with 44.5% earnings growth after 20 years in the workforce.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who graduate with an online bachelor's in network administration will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions, as well as some supervisory roles normally reserved for job candidates that have received a formal college education. Four of the most common careers for network administration degree recipients are detailed below.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators: These professionals handle day-to-day management of network operations and activity. They are often responsible for installing new networks, upgrading components, running security checks and adding new users.
Network Architects: Network architects design, develop and construct various types of networks, including LANs, WANs and customized systems. Their blueprints must take certain factors into account, such as coverage, information security, accessibility and efficiency.
Computer Systems Analysts: These analysts create computing systems and networks based on the specific needs and capabilities of individual companies and organizations. They must assess the day-to-day operations of each client in order to create systems that are efficient, cost-effective, secure and applicable to the employees that will be using them.
Information Security Analysts: Information security analysts monitor the computing systems and networks of their company and organization. They specialize in mitigating human threats like hackers and cybercriminals, as well as other issues like computer viruses, network outages and malfunctioning hardware or software.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$77,810||8% (+30,200 jobs)|
|Network Architects||$100,240||9% (+12,700 jobs)|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$85,800||21% (+118,600 jobs)|
|Information Security Analysts||$90,120||18% (+14,800 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to network administration is crucial to your success. 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 network administration professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- 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.
- 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.
- Information Systems Security Association: Currently representing more than 10,000 members across the globe, ISSA is a non-profit organization created to provide professional development and advocacy for information systems security personnel. The organization maintains local chapters around the world, including 99 U.S.-based chapters. Other perks for members include an invitation to ISSA's yearly international conference and full access to the organization's online, peer-reviewed journal.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Network Administration
Despite the relative affordability of online criminal justice master's 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.