Online Degrees in PC Technology: Program Overviews

Dec 03, 2019

Learn about online degree programs with PC technology courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

There are a wide variety of postsecondary programs that are related to PC technology, and many of these options offer either a fully online or hybrid experience. Majors that these courses are typically associated with include PC maintenance technology, computer information systems and computer engineering. Associate degree programs in this field are offered online, but may be more commonly available in on-campus settings, and online programs may be most commonly available through private, for-profit institutions. At the bachelor's degree level, online programs are also available, and may be offered as completion programs, where an applicant must already have completed a minimum amount of credit hours to enroll. At the master's degree level, online programs may be more commonly available, and may be completed 100% online.

Associate's Degree in PC Maintenance Technology

Online associate's degree programs in PC maintenance technology are available for distance learning students. These programs train students to install and troubleshoot hardware and software. Students learn to work on a variety of devices, including desktops, laptops, notebooks and PDAs. Graduates are able to build new PCs and repair existing ones.

Information and Requirements

The associate's degree can be completed in two years. Courses are self-paced with online exams. Final exams may need to be proctored. Student services and support are available by phone. Instructors can be reached by e-mail.

Personal computers used to take courses must run a recent version of the Windows operating system. Microsoft Office is required for some classes. High-speed Internet is recommended.

Course Topics

General education requirements include math, physical science, psychology, art, music and English composition. In addition to identifying, understanding and using PC hardware, classes cover basic programming in Java and CGI/Perl. Other subjects include HTML coding, Internet security and computer applications.

Database Technology

Students are trained in database concepts, functions, administration and management. Topics include client server systems, data warehouses, structured query language (SQL) and object-oriented (OO) databases.

PC Hardware

This course covers PC repair techniques for a variety of computer types, PDAs and external I/O devices. Students learn about building PCs, data protection and recovery, virus protection and support services.

PC Operating Systems

This class examines the structure and function of modern operating systems. Discussion focuses on several operating systems from both Microsoft and Apple. Students also examine virus and data protection software appropriate for each operating system.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Information Systems

Online bachelor's degrees focusing on PC technology include the Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. Areas of concentration for this degree include computer forensics, computer business management, database management, security and Web development. Students learn about the storage, structuring and management of data on computers and networks.

Information and Requirements

By time of enrollment, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Bachelor's programs can be completed in four years. During this time, students learn to design and create software as well as how to analyze and improve computer systems.

Recent versions of Web browsers and operating systems are recommended. Students may have to download specific plugins for certain classes. Computers should be equipped with speakers and the ability to play audio and video. Students are advised to have updated antivirus and security software. Some required software may not be supported by a Mac operating system.

Course Topics

General education requirements for the bachelor's degree include writing, algebra, statistics and communication. Classes focused on the use of computers in business include accounting, economics and statistical analysis. Math courses are often prerequisites for programming courses.

Analysis and Design for Computer Systems

Students learn terminology and techniques for the creation and analysis of computer systems. Topics include project proposals, flow diagrams and logical systems, dictionaries and data modeling.

Introduction to Programming

This course teaches students to create basic software and programs. Classwork covers structured and modular programming, Java programming and algorithmic design. Students also learn about debugging, branching statements, variables, operators and data types.

Data Security and Privacy

This course covers ethical, legal and technical issues in security for data and information. Students learn to follow policies, standards and laws regarding information systems security and privacy.

Master's Degree in Computer Engineering

Those interested in graduate-level study of PC technology can consider an online Master of Science in Computer Engineering degree. Students gain expertise in VLSI (very large scale integration) testing and design, systems design and computer architecture. Related online master's programs include computer information systems and cybersecurity.

Information and Requirements

All courses are available online. Students log in to view readings, lecture materials, assignments and quizzes. Using this online platform, students may also submit their work via an electronic drop box. Students communicate with each other through chat and discussion forums. Students may be allowed to take exams locally if they can find a suitable proctor.

Students must have consistent and reliable Internet access. Courses may require the use of a word processing program to type up assignments. Media players may be necessary to view class material. Tech support can be reached by e-mail or phone.

Course Topics

Courses include information on Internet architecture and protocols, designing and managing networks, and circuit design. Students have a choice of electives in computer science and electrical engineering.

Hardware Design

Students use hardware description languages, such as VHDL, for logic synthesis, register-level synthesis and computer hardware modeling. During this course, students complete a design project.

Communication Networks

Students learn to manage network systems through routing, traffic control, data control, packet switching and circuit switching. Other topics include protocol architecture, local area networks (LAN) and signal encoding.

Computer Architecture

Students gain familiarity with combinational and sequential circuits, computer hardware subsystems and binary number systems. In this course, participants learn to evaluate and improve computer performance and capacity.

Career Information

The associate's degree trains graduates to be PC maintenance technicians performing computer repair. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, computer repairers had a mean annual wage of $40,880 in May 2018.

Graduates may seek jobs in various industries, such as gaming, telecommunications, education, healthcare, e-commerce and the military. Most modern businesses use computer networks that require management by network or database administrators. Other career possibilities include Web development, computer systems analysis and crime solving through computer forensics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, network and computer systems administrators had a mean annual wage of $87,070 in May 2018. Computer systems analysts earned an average salary of $93,610 in the same period.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer software developers for applications had a mean annual wage of $108,080 in May 2018. Software developers for systems software earned $114,000 a year for the same period. Computer programmers had an average annual salary of $89,580. The BLS predicts a 21% increase in job opportunities for software developers between 2018 and 2028.

Continuing Education Information

PC maintenance technicians can earn certification to demonstrate a working understanding of the field. While not always required to find a job, many employers prefer technicians who have earned CompTIA A+ certification. Some employers require all their technicians to be certified.

Certifications for service on specific computer programs, operating systems and hardware can give job seekers an advantage in employment and career advancement. The Network+ certification is useful for network administrators and other IT professionals. Certification can also be earned in particular hardware or software, such as the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or Cisco Certified Network Associate certifications. Certification exam preparation courses and materials are available for students looking for additional study.

There are many online programs available that related to PC technology, and they can result in an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree. Degree programs that include PC technology coursework include PC maintenance technology, computer information systems and computer engineering.

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