School and Ranking Information
About 16 schools within a 25-mile radius of the downtown Atlanta area offer computer networking programs. Based on location, program offerings, and rankings, the best three schools for studying this field in the area are Clayton State University, Atlanta Technical College (ATC), and Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC).
- Winner: Clayton State University is the only school on the list that is ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Clayton's networking offerings include certificates, an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Networking Technology, and options to pursue undergraduate degrees with computer networking concentrations.
- Runner-Up #1: Atlanta Technical College has the lowest tuition of these three schools. It offers associate's and certificate programs for aspiring network specialists or technicians, as well as a diploma. Of these schools, it's the only one located directly in Atlanta.
- Runner-Up #2: Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers associate's degree and certificate programs related to networking, as well as a diploma option. It also provides a job placement service for students.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Clayton State University||Atlanta Technical College||Georgia Piedmont Technical College|
|Ranking(s)||55th for regional universities (South)*||N/A||N/A|
|Location||Morrow, GA (12 miles from Atlanta)||Atlanta, GA||Clarkston, GA (10 miles from Atlanta)|
|School Type||4-year, public||2-year, public||2-year, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)||$5,014 (undergraduate, in-state), $14,537 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**||$2,224 (in-state, undergraduate), $4,162 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**||$2,378 (in-state, undergraduate), $4,298 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**|
|Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications Degree Levels Offered||Associate's degrees; certificates||Associate's degrees; certificates||Associate's degrees; certificates|
|Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012||15**||15**||20**|
|Most Popular Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications Program in 2011-2012||Associate's degree (8 awarded)**||Certificate 1-year (6 awarded)**||Certificate 1-year (10 awarded)**|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class||27%**||31% (for 2008 entering class) **||25% (for 2008 entering class) **|
|Noteworthy||Clayton describes educational environment as 'one-on-one' given small classes and personalized support||ATC is an accredited unit of the Georgia Technical College System||GPTC offers the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) program, Georgia's unique scholarship program|
Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator
Winner: Clayton State University
- AAS program graduates may pursue B.I.T. or B.A.S. in Technology Management with concentration in Computer Networking
- School is one of the few 'Notebook Universities' in the U.S.
- 5th for top public schools in 2013, nationwide*
The Morrow-based Clayton State University has several networking degrees programs, including a certificate in computer networking, and an AAS in computer networking technology offered through its College of Information and Mathematical Sciences. Students that have completed the 60-hour AAS degree may select to pursue either a BIT or BAS in technology management with concentration in computer networking, which is provided through the department of social sciences. The AAS program has students through classroom and laboratory work cover topics of LANs, WANs, IP telephony, routing, and foundation courses in databases, IT, programming, and project management. Completion of the program earns the CCNA certification. The baccalaureate programs with the networking concentration have students complete required courses in advanced routing, multi-layer switching, network security, and troubleshooting networks. Three electives complete the necessary courses for the concentration, with selections from server technology, quality issues, and operating systems or secure system development. The computer networking technician certificate program emphasizes courses in networking fundamentals, routing, wireless LANs and IT. Through a partnership with Cisco, the school also offers Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification.
Runner-Up #1: Atlanta Technical College
- NCES statistics showed 95% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012
- ATC in 2010 only GA community college ranked among the top 50, according to Washington Monthly
- ATC offers more than 100 programs such as business, health sciences, and industrial technologies
ATC offers diploma and associate degree programs for networking specialists. The school further offers various technical certificate programs, including a CISCO network specialist, a Microsoft network administrator, and as a computer hardware and network technician. Graduates of the school's networking specialist degree program are required to complete 69-70 hours. A general education portion amounts to 18 hours, with the remaining 51-52 hours covered by technical courses required for the degree, including hardware installation and maintenance, OS concepts, Cisco networking, and network security. Students complete the program by completing 16 hours in a Cisco, Microsoft, or Unix/Linux specialization. The diploma program only requires 53-55 hours. The CISCO certificate, Microsoft® certificate, and computer hardware/network technician certificate require 16, 15, and 32 hours, respectively.
Runner-Up #2: Georgia Piedmont Technical College
- The in-state tuition and fees were $2,378 in 2012-2013, according to NCES
- In FY 2010, GPTC served 24,590 students and conferred 1,118 awards
- 99% job placement rate; 69% graduate placement in study area-related jobs or further education
The GPTC's computer information systems (CIS) program consists of four degree offerings, four diploma selections, and 12 different certifications. The CIS networking specialist degree program requires 66 credit hours for graduation. There is a 15-credit general education requirement, and the technical course portion covers 35-credit hours, with topics on installation, maintenance, SQL, security, A+ preparation, and networking fundamental. The final 16 credit hours, and four courses, are satisfied by the selection of a Cisco, Unix/Linux or Microsoft® specialization. The CIS networking specialist diploma program requires only 55 credit hours, with technical and specialization course coverage as offered in the degree program. Four certificate programs offerings relate to networking. The Cisco, Unix/Linux and Microsoft® certificates are not only stand-alone programs, but are also the specialization portions embedded in the school's networking specialist diploma and degree programs. Graduates of the Microsoft® certificate program may sit for the Microsoft® Certified networking exam.