Online computer networking programs are mostly offered from four-year universities and colleges. There are options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which lead to distance learners earning certificates as well as associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. To complete their studies, online students log on to a virtual classroom managed by their school to access lectures, work on assignments and communicate with instructors or classmates.
A number of colleges offer graduate certificates and master's degrees in computer networking or related areas totally online because they're usually designed for students who already have an academic and/or professional background in the field. East Carolina University and Stanford University are two such institutions that make these learning options available.
Some programs may require a bachelor's degree, Cisco CCNA or coursework, and/or GRE scores for acceptance.
East Carolina University
Students who hold a bachelor's degree are able to pursue either certificates or master's degrees from East Carolina University, which is located in Greenville, North Carolina. Unlike some campus-based programs that require students to begin their degrees in fall semester, ECU students may start in fall, spring or summer. No campus residency time is required, but students must have up-to-date computers and high-speed Internet.
Computer Network Professional Graduate Certificate
A remote access virtual lab offers students in this certificate a hands-on chance to manage or install client-server networks. Applicants need not take the GRE.
Students take five core courses and an additional, optional course about communication within the industry is also available. This certificate is designed for the would-be network administrator or communication specialist and requires 15 to 18 credits. The online coursework covers the following areas:
- Internet research
- Technical management
- Computer network technology
- Communication technology
- Information security
M.S. in Network Technology - Computer Network Management
Students need Cisco CCNA (Certified Network Associate) or equivalent coursework and GRE scores to get ready for this Master of Science in Network Technology program with a concentration in Computer Network Management.
The curriculum includes 15 credit hours in core coursework along with 15-18 credits within the concentration area. Distance learners who complete two courses (six credit hours) a semester can graduate in two years and have the option to pursue careers as chief information officers, network administrators or network architects.
Basic core courses for the master's program teach technical management strategies, communications and technological cost analysis. Students in this online program have the option to complete a thesis, practicum or comprehensive exam as their culminating experience. Classes for the specialization in computer network management include the following:
- Network security
- Information infrastructure design
- Network technology management
- Emerging technologies
A higher education can be pursued right in a student's own home through online graduate certificate offerings from the Stanford Center for Professional Development at California's Stanford University. These programs are open to students who have bachelor's degrees and programming experience. Lectures are given on campus, but the streaming video of each lecture is available every day, any time, until the course is over.
Software Systems Graduate Certificates
Working engineers are the target audience for this graduate certificate. Typical students complete the program in 1-2 years, but up to 3 years are allowed.
Each student must take core courses in systems programming and operating systems, compilers and introductory computer networking. They can customize their programs with one of a wide range of elective classes. Elective options include:
- Computer and network security
- Web programming and security
- Object-oriented programming
- Database systems
- Programming languages.
The university also offers a distance learning certificate that expands upon the curriculum of the software systems program. Students enrolled in the advanced software systems program gain higher-level knowledge and skills in computer networks, operating systems and distributed systems.
East Carolina University and Stanford University both offer online computer networking programs at various degree and certificate levels. Prospective students interested in pursuing online degrees in computer networking should check with individual schools about specific admissions requirements.