Degree programs in systems analysis will likely not fall under the title of 'system analysis' and will instead be offered as more broad programs in information systems. Specialization options include information systems management, IT project management and health informatics, among others. Students learn to solve technical problems to help businesses run smoothly. Associate and master's degree programs are offered online.
To apply to an associate's or bachelor's degree program, students may need to have completed prerequisite coursework and pass a placement exam. For master's degree programs, applicants must submit GRE scores, a personal statement, a resume and letters of recommendation.
Associate's Degree in Information Systems
Associate's degree programs often award an Associate of Applied Science degree and are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field or for future studies. Students take general education courses in addition to core computing classes. Courses applicable to system analysis are offered as core requirements or electives. Other than computer system security, courses related to systems analysis that students may take include these:
- Management of information technology (IT) projects
- Information systems management
- Development of Web systems
- Database management and design
- Business system analysis and design
- Integration of advanced Web systems
Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems
Bachelor's degree programs for systems analysts often award Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in information systems. These programs can teach students about various programming languages, computer systems and project management techniques. Graduates are often prepared to integrate, design, and implement computer systems for businesses. Programs are available in a distance-learning format or in a traditional classroom environment. Students complete general education requirements while also taking core classes and elective courses. Major requirements often include both computing and business classes. Some of the courses students could take include Database Management and the following:
- Management of projects
- Computer programming languages
- Projects and information systems
- Data communication for business
- Designing and implementing systems
- Process analysis and design for business
Master's Degree Programs in Information Systems
Graduate programs that potential systems analysts can pursue may award a Master of Science degree in areas such as information systems, computer information systems or a similar area. Students enrolled in master's degree programs can learn to solve problems using both technical and managerial skills. Graduate information systems programs usually include a combination of graduate-level general studies courses, core business and computing requirements and elective courses. Core and elective computing and business courses could include Finance, Risk Management, IT Management, Managing Databases and the following:
- Information systems research
- Advanced systems design and analysis
- Communicating and managing data
- Computer and network security
- Application development
- Computer programming
Graduates typically have a wide array of computer and network skills, which are in demand among such employers as government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies. Although some employers prefer to hire bachelor's degree holders, individuals with associate's degrees may still be able to pursue the following careers:
- Computer support specialist
- Systems analyst
- Computer programming support tech
- Systems administrator
Although a master's degree may not be a requirement to pursue one of these career paths, it could be an asset in terms of finding work and possessing advanced technical knowledge. Some positions graduates might pursue include those listed below:
- Computer network architect
- Information security analyst
- Systems analyst
- Information services consultant
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates of associate's degree programs can pursue bachelor's degrees or additional certifications. Some of the certifications that individuals could pursue include CompTIA A+ certification and CompTIA Network+ certification. The A+ certification demonstrates an understanding of the foundational skills required for an entry-level IT position, and obtaining it requires that individuals possess hands-on experience and pass two exams. To earn the Network+ certification, individuals must pass a 100-question exam that tests knowledge of networking basics.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs can pursue master's degrees or enroll in a post-baccalaureate certificate program. Additionally, graduates can pursue industry certifications offered by professional organizations and vendors. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals offers information systems analyst certification to 4-year degree holders who pass a 3-hour exam. Professionals who work with medical imaging technology systems can earn the certified PACS systems analyst designation. Some of the vendor certifications that individuals can pursue include the Microsoft certified technology specialist designation and the ArcSight certified systems analyst designation.
After graduating from a master's degree program in information systems, individuals can pursue positions in the IT field or enroll in doctoral degree programs in information systems. These Ph.D. programs are generally designed for students interested in teaching or performing research in the IT field. However, some Ph.D. holders also pursue careers with cutting-edge companies and industry leaders.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Jobs for systems analysts were predicted to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 21% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). More jobs could be created as companies implement additional information technology solutions, particularly in the healthcare field. The median annual salary for a systems analyst in May 2015 was $85,800.
Even though it is not possible to earn a degree specifically in system analysis, there are both undergraduate and graduate-level information systems programs that cover the topic. In these programs, students build computer skills that can be applied to a wide range of IT-related careers.