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Online Computer Networking Degree Programs by Program Level

Apr 20, 2021

Essential Information

Computer networking programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels emphasize theory and policy, making them ideally suited for adaptation to an online environment. While some programs offer the curriculum entirely online, others may require completion of certain classes or tests at the campus. Online education programs in this field are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level, though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that a bachelor's degree is the most common minimum requirement for entry into the field of network administration (www.bls.gov). Students should already have a bachelor's degree in order to be admitted to a master's degree program.

Courses in computer networking degree programs include programming, security and network design. Management courses may be included, and students may also take courses on how to train employees in computer use.

Though not required, many students choose to obtain industry certifications. Network-specific certification options include Certified Novell Administrator (CNA), Cisco Certified Networking Associate/Professional (CCNA/CCNP), CompTIA Network+ or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). These certifications do not require any college experience, though many degree programs provide students with the knowledge and practical experience to pass these industry exams.

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Networking

Computer networking professionals are in charge of establishing, maintaining and repairing the physical and administrative structure of data communications systems. Online bachelor's degree programs in computer networking may also be labeled as information technology programs and allow students to specialize in areas such as programming languages or networking technologies.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's degree programs in computer networking typically run the same length as traditional programs, encompassing 120 credits or more. Students need a computer with an up-to-date operating system and a fast internet connection. Additional free software, such as the Java platform, may be required to run some of online programs.

Course Topics

In addition to a broad liberal arts curriculum, online bachelor's degree programs in computer networking also include courses in businesses, programming and ethics. Students typically choose a specialized course load to focus an information technology degree on computer networking.

Data Communications and Networks

This online networking course introduces students to the most basic theories regarding network functions. In most cases, only a single network protocol is covered, functioning as a lead in into more advanced network technologies.

Network Design and Management

Online network design and management courses cover the creation and administration of various network services. Students learn enterprise-level network applications, as well as the digital architecture necessary to support these programs.

Management Information Systems

Management information systems classes examine the usage of tools that assist in management reporting and transaction processing. Distance-learning students analyze the different applications, as well as different theories on network policy.


Master's Degrees in Computer Networking

The most common computer networking administration programs found online result in master's degrees. These programs entail approximately 15 credits, covering topics in networks, management and finance.

Program Information and Requirements

Applicants to online computer networking master's degree programs must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; this degree does not necessarily have to be in a technology-related field. These programs are typically fashioned towards working professionals whose duties entail administration of data networks, security policy or computer systems.

The courses are typically delivered through an educational content management system, such as Blackboard, a class website and e-mail. Some institutions also deliver real time streaming audio and video of class lectures, requiring a relatively modern computer with a high-speed Internet connection.

Course Topics

Online computer networking courses offered at the graduate level cover a variety of topics, ranging from cryptography to basic network design. While some programs focus solely on technology-related coursework, others may integrate courses in business and finance.

Data Networks and the Internet

Such distance learning programs introduce students to the overall theoretical and physical components that comprise modern computer networks. Concepts include transmission control Protocols (TCP), user datagrams (UDP), Internet protocols (IP), domain naming service (DNS), Ethernet network specifications and more. Practical lesson teach student to establish, configure and debug computer networks

System and Network Security

This online course covers the myriad of threats to computer networks, as well as the technologies available to mitigate them. Students learn about computer viruses and worms, as well as TCP/IP vulnerabilities and other attack mechanisms. Countermeasures covered include organizational security, firewalls, encryption and more.

Data and Network Security

Going beyond the mere security of the infrastructure, this online course addresses the control of access to sensitive data stored and transmitted throughout the network. Topics cover area such as physical security of data, legal issues, data backup plans and ethics.

Advanced Network Architecture

Delving into the design and implementation of systems, courses in network architecture address the next generation of network services. Such services include voice over IP (VoIP), streaming video and peer-to-peer programs.


Career Information

Network administrators are employed in a wide variety of large- and small businesses, as well as various government organizations. The field for network administrators is expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports that the median salary in this field was $84,810 in 2020; however, the report included database and other computer-related administration specialties.

Computer networking is a broad field in which individuals must be skilled in the areas of data networks, network design and systems security, among others. Because computer networking is a common role across many different fields, individuals may wish to pursue industry specific certifications.

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