Online Information Technology Degree Program Overviews

Get information about online programs in information technology and IT management. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career options.

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Essential Information

Online degrees in information technology (IT) can be found as both fully online programs and as hybrid programs that allow or require some coursework to be taken on campus. Hardware-focused specializations are more likely to require campus-based labs than more software-oriented concentrations. Programs may include field practicums at sites arranged by the school.

Associate's degree programs in IT focus on practical skills, with some supporting general education coursework, and prepare graduates for immediate employment in computer repair and maintenance or tech support. Information technology bachelor's degrees take four years and present a more in-depth look at IT topics as well as a broader general education curriculum, opening career pathways in programming and IT management. Both degree programs are commonly offered online. Students may be required to have field specific software and hardware.

A.S. Degree in Information Technology

Online Associate's of Science in Information Technology programs teach individuals the foundational knowledge required for entry-level employment in the information technology (IT) field. Students learn the basics of personal computers, networks, databases, hardware troubleshooting and desktop software. Students can choose electives that concentrate on the area of IT that most interests them, such as websites or e-commerce, programming, database design or multimedia.

Program Information and Requirements

An online associate's degree program in information technology takes 24-26 months to complete on a full-time basis. Students use the school's course management software to log on to facilitated discussions, online lectures, exercises and assignments. A high-speed Internet connection works best when accessing material online. Some IT programs or courses require that specific software, such as Java, is installed on the student's computer.

Generally, online IT associate's degree programs that are completely online also allow students to attend classes on campus. Students who want to focus on the hardware side of IT may need to attend the occasional on-campus class or lab. Additionally, students must fulfill any practicum requirements at the school's designated workplace.

Course Topics

Foundational classes in information technology typically focus on subjects that will be immediately applicable to students when they graduate and begin work in the business environment. These subjects can include business software, operating systems, intra-office networks and website building. Technical coursework is usually balanced by general education requirements, such as composition, economics, business and mathematics.

Database Concepts and Management

Students learn the terminology, architecture and concepts of a database. Other topics may include e-commerce, relational databases and structured query language (SQL). Students often design and build a database application as part of the coursework.

Personal Computer and Applications

This course provides students with an overview of typical business software. Spreadsheets, presentation, word processing and database management are the most common subjects covered.

Programming

This introductory level course covers the main concepts of programming languages. Although the course may use a specific programming language, such as VB.NET or C, the concepts are applicable to most programming languages.


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B.S. Degree in Information Technology

Online bachelor's degree programs in information technology instruct students in many of the same subjects as an IT associate's degree program, including networks and Internet technology. However, a bachelor's degree program typically places additional emphasis on business processes and project management. Students can usually take general and technical electives that reflect their area of interest in IT.

Program Information and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in IT are available either fully online or in a combination of online and on-campus classes. Some programs may require that students take exams at an approved site. In contrast to associate's degree programs in IT, students usually have more choices in both general and IT-specific electives. Students taking a full course load can expect to complete an IT bachelor's degree program in about four years.

Course Topics

The subject matter of classes available in IT bachelor's-level degree programs can vary widely, simply because of the number of specialties available in the field. These concentrations include research, programming, support and hardware. Students can focus their studies by specializing in website development, security or a specific programming language. Approximately 36-38 credits in general education are required.

Designing and Developing Websites

This course encompasses subjects such as HTML, CSS, script programming, browsers and design. Students practice what they've learned by creating their own webpages.

Network Management

This course covers material at the network administration level. Subjects include client/server configuration, LAN, WAN, communication protocols, network connectivity and security. Students also learn about Internet communication protocols such as IP, FTP and HTTP.

Information Systems

Covering a broad area of information, this course discusses how technology can be used to design and manage systems that support users at their workplace. Also included are database management, system concepts, IT ethics, the Internet and security.


Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job growth in the IT field to be excellent with an estimated 15 percent increase in IT management jobs between 2014-2024. Graduates with an Associate of Science in Information Technology degree will probably find it easier to get a job offer if they also have IT work experience.

Information technology bachelor's degree graduates can often find employment in the computer or technology field, working for software firms, network management firms, consulting services and more. IT professionals may also find work in non-technical industries that rely on IT services, including government, financial, insurance and manufacturing sectors. As of May 2015, the median salary for an IT manager was $131,600, according to BLS data.

In an online information technology associate's program, students learn about computer basics, programming, networks, and databases which can help with troubleshooting issues. Bachelor's programs educate students in business processes, project management, computers and technology that can benefit those interested in a career as an IT manager.

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