Bachelor's degree programs in computer science offer an in-depth look at computer hardware and software applications. Bachelor's degree programs in management information systems combine business education with courses in computer technology. Regardless of program, entrance requirements include a high school diploma or GED, along with considerable computer skills. It takes around two to four years to complete a bachelor's degree in this field.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science
Computer science degrees prepare students for a variety of IT professions, such as network administration and IT architecture. Programs may offer degree options, such as interdisciplinary degrees, or opportunities to pursue a range of professional electives in areas such as embedded systems, multimedia or computational biology. Computer skills along with a high school diploma or GED are common prerequisites.
Computer science programs provide a thorough study of computer hardware and software applications. Students are also exposed to multiple areas of computer technology, such as Web design, artificial intelligence and computer networking.
Computer skills are developed through courses in:
- Computer system architecture and organization
- Software engineering
- Data structures and algorithms
- Programming concepts and languages
- Network design
- Operating systems
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Bachelor's Degree in Management Information Systems
Bachelor's degree programs in management information systems (MIS) blend computer technical education with business skills. Several programs offer schedules designed for working professionals. Because IT architects often make significant business decisions, studying MIS at the bachelor's degree level may help to develop a strong business prowess in addition to a technical skill set.
Coursework includes core business and information technology classes that develop skills such as business problem solving and project management. Students may also work to develop a professional portfolio.
Common classes in MIS programs include operations management and marketing along with the following:
- Management and organization principles
- Business policy and strategy
- Software system design and analysis
- Financial and managerial accounting
- Network security
IT architects play a range of roles within a professional organization's IT department. Such duties and roles may include business analysis, project advising and technology advising. IT architects also integrate management systems and make significant decisions regarding an organization's IT infrastructure. Beginning architects may work under the supervision of an experienced senior IT architect while gaining work experience.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment was expected to increase by 9% for computer network architects, information security analysts and Web developers between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the 2015 median annual wage for computer network architects was $100,240 (www.bls.gov).
Individuals with an interest in becoming computer network architects can train through either bachelor's degree in computer science or in managerial information systems. Additional education, training, and certification are also available.
Master's and Ph.D. programs in computer science may be sought to earn higher credentials. Those interested in an IT architecture career may also seek specialized training through training and certification programs. Some professional organizations also provide specialized continuing education courses. IASA, an IT architect association, for example, offers courses in areas such as business technology strategy, system design and information architecture (www.iasa.org).
As the IT architecture field expands, formal certification can be an advantage. Applicants need several years of experience in IT architecture to qualify for advanced certification through programs such as Microsoft's Certified Architect program; however, some certification programs, such as Open Group's IT Architect Certification program and the IASA Architect Certification, offer multiple levels of certification based on experience level.