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Bachelor of Computer Information Systems: Online Degree

Get info about online programs in computer information systems. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems that are available solely through online study. Students generally access lectures and course materials any time, and many programs allow students to interact through discussions on message boards. A reliable and up-to-date computer with a fast Internet connection is needed. Some special programs relevant to certain courses may be necessary. There are also programs that may require a student to have a associate's degree for enrollment.

Students must complete general education courses in subjects such as mathematics, social studies and science. Many programs require courses in statistics and calculus. Students learn about various types of programming, web design, networks, software engineering and database management. An internship or a capstone project may be required.

These degree programs prepare students for employment in the field of computer information systems or for further education. Some programs qualify graduates to seek professional certification.

Bachelor of Computer Information Systems Degree Programs

Bachelor's programs in computer information systems (CIS) teach students how to manage and develop data structures and information systems, how to utilize various programming languages and build networks, and often include instruction on business concepts as well. While knowledge of computers is helpful before starting these programs, many start with basic computer concepts, thus ensuring that those with little or no prior knowledge in the field will not be left behind.

Many of the courses required for a CIS degree are also required for degree programs in management information systems, information technology and other computer technology programs. Also, certificate programs in areas like networking, web programming or information security may appeal to those who already hold a CIS degree, as the knowledge gained through these programs can help round out their education and make them more marketable.

Program Information and Requirements

Computer information technology programs typically take four years to complete. Most require around 120 unit hours of classes. The first two years of classes typically comprise general education courses, whereas the last two years focus on classes related to the CIS field. Courses are completed online through web-based applications that also allow students to interact with professors and fellow students in discussion boards and chat rooms. Course content is usually delivered through video and text, and students will likely be required to purchase print and multimedia materials (like CD-ROMs) as well.

To effectively utilize online classroom applications, students should quickly download and upload information and participate in live, interactive sessions with classmates and professors. They will typically need a high-speed Internet connection and a computer with a fast processor. Some schools may require the installation of applications, such as word processing and database software, on the computer to complete certain coursework.

Many schools use video as a delivery method for course content, so a computer equipped with a good graphics card and speakers may be necessary, as well as a microphone and webcam to participate in online meetings. Many schools with online programs post the minimum system requirements that students will need on the program's web page.

List of Common Computer Information Technology Courses

Curriculum for an online CIS degree program will usually include operating systems, hardware, networking, programming, information systems and web application development.

Computer Network

This type of class provides information about both wired and wireless networks, networking protocols and how the World Wide Web and the Internet work, as well as explore security issues related to online data. A discussion of both theory and practice is likely to be included, and building one's own network may also be a part of the course.

Programming

Programming classes will teach students how to program in different computer, web, and software languages, such as C++ or Java. Methods for debugging and testing code may also be taught, as well as topics like arrays, function applications, syntax and tokens.

Systems Administration

This type of class will teach students about the maintenance and administration of different operating systems like Linux or Windows. It often includes instruction in coding.


Career Information for Graduates

A bachelor's degree in computer information systems can lead to a position in a number of information technology (IT) careers, including database administrator, software developer and web programmer. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the national average annual salary for computer and information systems managers was $141,000 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in May 2015 that database administrators earned an average annual wage of $84,250, and software developers earned a median annual pay of $100,690.

Employment in the IT field was expected to grow rapidly from 2014 through 2024, according to the BLS. For example, it was projected that the employment of database administrators would increase by 11%, software developers by 17%, and network and computer systems administrators by 8%.

Continuing Education Information

Online certification programs, such as those for Microsoft Certified Internet Technology Professionals (MCITP), can help CIS graduates become more marketable and help round out their education. After completing such a program, they often need to sit for a certification exam. For those who wish to pursue a graduate degree, online master's degree programs in computer information systems are also available.

Fully online bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems are widely available; however, there are some programs that require students to accomplish an in-person internship. Graduates of the program could find work as database administrators, network and computer systems administrators and software developers whose employment opportunities are forecasted to increase in the 2014-2024 decade.

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