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Schools for Aspiring System Administrators: How to Choose

Dec 11, 2019

Individuals who want to become system administrators can enroll in computer science programs at 4-year colleges and universities.

Top Computer Science Schools

The following schools offer computer science programs. Tuition figures are based on the 2018-2019 academic year.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $55,465
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $51,832
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $51,354
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $14,184 in-state, $43,176 out-of-state
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,094 in-state, $31,664 out-of-state
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $55,188
University of Washington multiple locations in WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,207 in-state, $36,588 out-of-state
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $12,424 in-state, $33,020 out-of-state
University of Texas - Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Undergraduate Certificate $10,610 in-state, $37,580 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), a bachelor's degree in a subject such as computer science, information science or management information systems is the generally preferred level of education for employment as a system administrator. Keep in mind these important considerations:

  • Programs that offer specialization or concentration options in software management, network systems or database administration could be useful to aspiring system administrators.
  • Programs with extensive hands-on practical experience and internship opportunities could be preferable to students who want a greater amount of practice.
  • Students may enroll in programs offered online, on-campus, or a mix of the two styles.

Certificate in Computer Science

Certificate programs in computer science may be completed in one year and typically require that applicants already hold a bachelor's degree. These programs can benefit those looking to train for a different career or those seeking the computer science training needed to qualify for entry to a graduate computer degree program. Coursework may include data structures, software processing, digital information, and coding.

Associate Degree in Computer Science

Associate degree programs in computer science may help aspiring system administrators gain employment when combined with additional work experience. Some associate degree programs can also be used to transfer into a bachelor's degree program upon completion. Coursework may include data organization, operations management, software techniques, programming, and networking.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

A 4-year computer science program typically requires the completion of a capstone before graduation. This may consist of an internship, directed study or a final design project. Coursework often includes programming, computer hardware, and system structure.

While certificates and associate degrees are available, system administrators are likely to need a bachelor's degree. Appropriate fields of study include computer science and information science.

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