Computer networking can be studied at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. A 2-year associate's degree program gives students the foundational knowledge they will need to pursue a higher degree or obtain entry-level positions in information technology (IT). Applicants to bachelor's programs need a basic familiarity with computers. These 4-year programs teach students the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a computer network. Students also gain hands-on experience. At the master's degree level, students continue to develop their computer and engineering skills in networking, but also take some technical management courses. In addition, they may be required to complete a thesis or research project. These programs can be completed in a year. Graduates may be able to test for professional certifications as well.
Associate Degree Program in Computer Networking
An Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking introduces students to the basic practices and theories of computer operations while preparing them for further education. Some programs aid students in obtaining professional certifications, such as the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist or the Cisco Certified Network Associate. Course topics include:
- Operating systems
- Programming logic
- Database design
- Computer hardware
- Essentials of networking
Bachelor's Degree Program in Computer Networking
A Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Networking is intended for those with basic computer skills, as well as those whose understanding of computers is developed. Students obtain practical exposure in operating systems, network infrastructures, online security and basic web design.
An undergraduate curriculum in computer networking includes introductory and advanced courses in developing and maintaining wide area and local area networks. Some course topics include:
- Wireless technologies
- Routing procedures
- Ethical issues in information technology
- Online security
- Systems analysis and design
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Master's Degree Program in Computer Networking
A Master of Science degree in Computer Networking consists of engineering, business and computer systems courses. A bachelor's degree in computer information, computer engineering or a related topic is the minimum requirement for admission to a master's degree program. Students without an approved bachelor's degree may be required to complete undergraduate networking coursework before enrolling.
Courses in master's degree programs involve the advanced study of pertinent topics in computer networking. Course subjects may include:
- Network architecture
- Project management
- Computer performance modeling
- Internet protocols
Popular Career Options
An associate degree in computer networking might enable graduates to land entry-level positions in information technology. Some possible positions include:
- Database administrator
- Systems analyst
- Computer support specialist
Graduates holding a master's degree are poised for jobs in research and development. A master's degree may open up management or supervisory positions in various fields of information technology. Some possible careers include:
- Network systems analyst supervisor
- Web administrator
- Network architect
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Due to constant technological advancement, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an 8% job growth for computer network and computer systems administrators from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary for these workers was $77,810.
From entry-level associate's degree programs to higher level graduate programs, degrees in computer networking offer students the opportunity to gain technical skills beneficial to their careers, as well as in pursuing research and development in the field.