2023 Best Online IT Degrees
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||Capella University||$78,621|
|# 2||Drexel University||98||$75,431|
|# 3||Pennsylvania State University||87||$65,214|
|# 4||Champlain College||87||$65,066|
|# 5||Lindenwood University||85||$63,962|
|# 6||American Public University System||84||$63,468|
|# 7||Kennesaw State University||82||$62,631|
|# 8||Arizona State University||71||$58,893|
|# 9||Bellevue University||62||$56,155|
|# 10||Ferris State University||61||$55,898|
Overview of Online Information Technology Programs
IT includes aspects of data collection and analysis, and it involves working with the physical and digital components that make multiple computing activities possible. Students enrolled in an online IT bachelor's program blend computer science theory with practical technology management so they can learn how to address the multiple technical challenges that arise in the workplace. This highly flexible credential qualifies graduates for many entry-level positions in private industry, nonprofit, and public sectors. An online bachelor’s program also fosters transferable problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills.
Students enrolled in an online IT bachelor's program blend computer science theory with practical technology management.
With many colleges and universities offering distance education programs, it's possible to pursue a bachelor’s degree exclusively online. These programs require 120-124 credits, with full-time students completing roughly 40-50 courses over four years. Part-time students, who take fewer courses per semester, tend to take 5-6 years to complete their degree. Applicants typically need a high school diploma or GED, letters of reference, and personal essays to gain admission into an IT bachelor's program. Furthermore, some IT departments expect students to have a minimum B grade in math and science subjects.
What Will I Learn in an IT Degree Program?
An IT bachelor's degree includes classes in humanities and social science subjects, as well as core and elective coursework in computing and STEM areas. Individuals typically learn about different programming languages and may take courses on machine learning, web development, ethical hacking, database system administration, and cloud technologies, to name a few. Most information technology programs expect students to complete a capstone project in their final year in which they must apply their knowledge of IT. Depending on the program, they may need to complete a project, pass an exam, or write a research paper to meet this requirement.
The technical nature of the IT field can give students the opportunity to pick up skills in project management, data analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Furthermore, given that their chosen field is primarily concerned with business computing, students may also spend time learning about various management theories.
Information Technology Concentrations
A vast discipline, IT has various areas of concentration. Many programs, therefore, offer students the chance to focus their core and elective coursework in one or more of these areas so that they can develop specialized knowledge. IT degree concentrations are generally useful for graduates who aim to land a job in a particular area or industry. Below is a list of common concentrations students can choose from at the bachelor's level.
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Schools
Accredited schools have undergone a rigorous evaluation process to prove that they meet established academic standards. Attending an accredited school ensures that students receive a high quality education while enabling them to apply for different types of aid — which are typically only awarded to students who are enrolled at an accredited school or program — and transfer credits from schools accredited at a similar level.
Additionally, professional organizations may evaluate specific degree programs to determine whether they meet educational standards for a specific field. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is the main organization assessing IT degrees. Students should check the U.S. Department of Education or Council of Higher Education websites to check the accreditation status of their prospective schools and IT programs.
Careers With a Degree in Information Technology
Since today's world is largely driven by technology and information, IT is a necessity for businesses and organizations of all sizes. As a result, IT professionals can be found working in nearly every sector of the economy, from business and services to government, healthcare, and education. A bachelor’s degree helps foster essential skills related to maintaining networks, managing databases, and using existing technologies to implement software solutions. Graduates are qualified to land entry-level positions in domains, such as cybersecurity, programming, and web development. After gaining some professional experience, bachelor’s graduates may even take on supervisory or managerial roles.
The following is a list of career options available to IT graduates along, with salary and job outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts, also known as systems architects, design efficient computer networks. They work with business technology and IT, studying existing computer systems and identifying opportunities to improve functionality. In some cases, these professionals also write training manuals for new systems.
Database Administrators and Architects
Database administrators and architects are responsible for storing and cataloging types of data. They work for a range of organizations, troubleshooting, designing, building, and maintaining databases that hold massive amounts of information, from employee data to business operations. A large part of their job involves ensuring the security of these databases.
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts protect computer networks by detecting threats from viruses and hackers. They typically predict potential threats by using software to analyze considerable amounts of data. With cyberattacks on the rise, this profession continues to be in high demand while also evolving to become increasingly sophisticated.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators oversee the daily operation of computer systems in organizations of all types. They are responsible for installing and maintaining local networks, information systems, and other computing systems. They also regularly provide support to professionals using these systems.
Web Developers and Digital Designers
Web developers and digital designers create and maintain websites. Typically possessing skills in programming and user experience, these developers are responsible for a website’s visual representation as well as its technical aspects, such as performance and capacity. Many of these professionals work as freelancers, serving individual client or organizational needs on short-term projects.
Explore our career finder tool to see where other popular programs can lead you on your career path.
Certifications in Information Technology
IT certifications allow students to develop substantive knowledge and foster skills in disciplines, such as information science, web design, IT management, and software development. Given the fast-paced nature of the IT field, these credentials allow IT professionals to learn new skills and continue advancing their careers. They also help non-IT professionals or those with less experience develop new competencies. As such, certifications can also help demonstrate to employers that an individual has specific expertise and relevant training in IT.
Below is a list of common IT certifications available from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA:
Is an Online IT Degree Worth It?
Given that postsecondary education can be a substantial undertaking, you may wonder whether an online IT degree will help you achieve your career goals. Hiring managers typically view an online credential as a legitimate qualification, which may be because distance learning programs have become increasingly common over the last few years. Furthermore, enrolling in an accredited school or program will help ensure you receive an education that meets rigorous academic standards. However, a degree’s worth is partly based on your personal situation and financial circumstances, so it's important to consider these factors before deciding to enroll.
Hiring managers typically view an online credential as a legitimate qualification, which may be because distance learning programs have become increasingly common.
Below are some potential benefits and drawbacks that may help you decide whether an online degree in IT is right for you:
An IT degree helps foster transferable skills. Working with computers may give you experience with problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. These soft skills are valuable in professions outside of IT. While certifications or bootcamps can help you land a job, some employers prefer degree holders for more demanding positions with varied responsibilities.
The online format is suited to learning IT. Unlike humanities or social science students, who engage in debates and discussions, individuals enrolled in an IT program spend most of their time gaining hands-on experience with different kinds of hardware and software.
The job outlook for IT professionals is favorable. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts computer and IT occupations will increase by much faster than the average for all occupations through 2032, with about 377,500 openings each year. An IT degree can therefore prepare graduates for employment in a growing field.
IT professionals report high levels of job satisfaction. According to CompTIA, 74% of workers in this field report being happy with their jobs, with 28% claiming they are extremely satisfied.
An IT bachelor's degree does not provide in-depth training in computer science theory. While they help maintain computer systems in a variety of settings, IT professionals are inexperienced in certain areas, such as software design or coding. Therefore, you shouldn't pursue this degree if your goal is to find work in these areas.
An online degree can be challenging to complete. While this format allows you to learn at your own pace, it requires self-motivation and discipline. You may find a distance education program difficult to complete if you prefer a structured learning environment.
There are faster ways to get a job in IT. For example, bootcamps take considerably less time to complete than a four-year degree and are specifically designed to develop in-demand computing skills. Many also provide students career placement support. An IT degree may therefore not be a suitable option for individuals interested in quickly securing employment in tech.
Advancing in this field may require certification. While a bachelor's degree can provide students with the knowledge necessary to embark on a computing career, the evolving nature of this field means graduates will have to commit time and financial resources in continuing education to remain competitive.
Many schools offer online IT degrees. These programs allow individuals to complete courses based on their own schedule, and may therefore be suitable for prospective students who work full-time, have family commitments, or other obligations. In most cases, distance learners also pay lower tuition fees and save on campus living costs, making online programs more affordable than traditional ones.
An online IT degree can be a valuable asset for students who hope to enter a technology-driven business world. Aside from giving them the chance to gain in-depth knowledge of computing, this degree may also help graduates develop highly specialized skills in data analytics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence — abilities that employers are likely to value in the future.
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