The price of tuition at American colleges has increased 498.41% since 1986, while the overall inflation rate during that time has been only 115.06%. In simple terms, the cost of a college education has increased more than four times faster than the rate of inflation.
Americans currently owe over one trillion dollars in student debt. Unfortunately, many of the individuals who owe this debt now hold soft science or liberal arts degrees which will do little to help them earn enough money to pay back their student loans. The average salary for a new graduate with a bachelors degree is $44,455. However, the average starting salary for a new graduate with a bachelors degree in computer science is $59,221. That extra $15k/yr really helps to pay off student loans.
IT certification are an increasingly attractive alternative to college degrees, due to lower costs in terms of both time and money and also due to the higher salaries paid to certified individuals. However, certification is not the correct path for everyone. Some career paths require a traditional college degree. Mostly these are government and military careers, but many large corporations also require degrees for employment or advancement.
For those who still want to earn a traditional degree, but at a lower cost, the option of completing a degree mostly or completely online is becoming increasingly available. More schools, and more reputable schools, are creating online degree programs every year. Due to the global nature of online education, every online school competes with every other online school offering a similar program. This is significantly different from traditional offline education, where each school competes mainly with other schools in its geographic area. This increased competition drives up quality while concurrently driving down costs.
Let’s look at a few of the top offerings related to Information Technology from some of the current leaders in the field.
UMUC was founded in 1947 and is the largest public university in the US. UMUC is one of eleven degree-granting institutions in the University System of Maryland. In addition to online learning, UMUC maintains more than twenty locations in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia with on-site classes and student services. UMUC offers a wide array of bachelor’s and master’s degrees related to information technology.
- Computer and Information Science
- Computer Networks and Security
- Computer Science
- Digital Media and Web Technology
- Information Systems Management
- Accounting and Information Systems
- Cybersecurity Policy
- Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation
- Health Administration Informatics
- Information Technology: Database Systems Technology
- Information Technology: Informatics
- Information Technology: Information Assurance
- Information Technology: Project Management
- Information Technology: Software Engineering
- Information Technology: Telecommunications Management
- Technology Management: Information Systems and Services
- Technology Management: Project Management
WGU was founded in 1997 as a joint project by the governors of 19 US states. WGU is a national online-only university with more than 38,000 students in all 50 states. WGU began offering a bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems in 2001. WGU now offers a variety of degree options related to computer science:
- B.S. Business—Information Technology Management
- B.S. Information Technology
- B.S. Information Technology—Network Administration
- B.S. Information Technology—Network Design and Management
- B.S. Information Technology—Security
- B.S. Information Technology—Software
- B.S. Health Informatics
- M.S. Information Security and Assurance
- M.S. Information Technology—Network Management
- MBA Information Technology Management
The University of Massachusetts created UMassOnline in 2001. UMassOnline students are UMass students and receive the same benefits as their on-campus peers. An online degree from UMass is the same degree earned from the University of Massachusetts. The only difference is that with an online degree, you don’t have to physically attend classes. UMassOnline offers both bachelors and masters degrees in Information Technology.
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
- Bachelor’s in Information Technology: Business Minor
- Second Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology
- Online Master’s Degree in Information Technology
The University of Florida offers a variety of master’s degree programs oriented towards students interested in electronics and communication systems.
- M.S. in Computer Engineering
- M.S. in Computer Engineering (Specialization in Bioinformatics)
- M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Specialization in Communications)
- M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Specialization in Semiconductor Device Technology)
- M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering (Specialization in Information Systems Engineering)
- M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering (Specialization in Communication Systems Engineering
- M.S. in Material Science and Engineering (Specialization in Electronic Materials)
Florida Tech University has been ranked a Tier 1 Best National University by U.S. News & World Report and was ranked by Forbes among America’s Best Colleges in 2010. Fiske Guide to Colleges named FTU one of the top universities for technical institutions in engineering.
Florida Tech University Online offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration Computer Information Systems and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. In addition, the university also offers Master of Science degrees in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Information Technology/Cybersecurity.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a bachelor of science degree in Information Systems as well as master’s degrees in Management Information Systems and Information Engineering and Management.
Southern New Hampshire University, at #12, was the only university to make Fast Company’s 2012 list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies, which also included such companies as Apple, Google, HBO and LinkedIn. SNHU has a total enrollment of more than 13,000 students in more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, available both online and at their campuses in New Hampshire and Maine. SNHU Online offers some degree options which you won’t easily find elsewhere.
- Business Studies (BS) – Computer Information Technology
- Business Studies (BS) – Game Design and Development
- Computer Information Technology (BA)
- Computer Information Technology (BS)
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Cybersecurity
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Database Management
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Game Design and Development
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Network and Telecommunications
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Software Development
- Computer Information Technology (BS) – Web Design and Development
- Game Design and Development (BA)
- Game Design and Development (BA) – Game Development and Supporting Technologies
- Game Design and Development (BA) – Interactive Storytelling and Supporting Arts
- Game Design and Development (BA) – Psychology and Marketing of Games
- Game Design and Development (BS)
- Game Design and Development (BS) – Game Development and Supporting Technologies
- Game Design and Development (BS) – Game Production and the Business of Gaming
- Game Design and Development (BS) – Interactive Storytelling and Supporting Arts
- Game Design and Development (BS) – Psychology and Marketing of Games
- Health Informatics (BS)
- Technical Management (BS)
- Information Technology (MS)
- Information Technology (MS) – Game Design and Development
- Information Technology (MS) – Database Design
- Information Technology (MS) – Healthcare Informatics
- Information Technology (MS) – Internet Security
- Information Technology (MS) – Web Design
- Justice Studies (MS) – Cybersecurity
- MBA in Information Technology Management
- MBA in Internet Marketing
- MBA in Social Media
- Technology Integration Specialist (Masters of Education)
ASU is ranked 79th in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. ASU ranked 46th among all universities in the United States and 26th among all public U.S. universities. For six consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked ASU in the top tier of national universities. ASU is ranked 139th among the more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities reviewed. The university is also named one of the top “2013 Up-and-Comers” among national universities in the “2013 Best Colleges” guidebook. Perhaps most importantly, the Wall Street Journal ranks ASU 5th in the nation for top universities favored by employers for job recruiting.
- Electrical Engineering (BS)
- Engineering Management (BS)
- Graphic Information Technology – Concentration in Web Technologies (BS)
- Information Technology (BS)
- Internet and Web Development (BAS)
- Master of Engineering – Embedded Systems
- Master of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering: Area of Study: Semiconductor Processing and Packaging
- Master of Engineering in Engineering Science: Concentration in Software Engineering
- Master of Science in Engineering: Electrical Engineering
- Master of Science: Global Technology & Development
- Master of Science in Technology: Graphic Information Technology
- Master of Science: Information Management
CSU Global is the online arm of Colorado State University. CSU educates more than 37,000 students in its online program and at its campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo. CSU Global offers a BS in Information Technology and an MS in Management with an IT concentration.
Sam Houston State University was founded in 1879 and offers more than eighty undergraduate degrees, over fifty graduate degrees, and six doctoral degrees. More than twenty of those degree programs are offered online through SHSUO. SHSU was named by U.S. News and World Report as among the Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs and was recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the “Best in the West” universities. The Princeton Review and PC Magazine also named Sam Houston State University one of the “Most Wired” colleges in the nation. Sam Houston State University Online offers a Master of Science degree in Information Assurance and Security.
Through the DEN@Viterbi distance education network, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering offers several Masters degree programs related to information technology:
- Computer Science
- Computer Science (Computer Security)
- Computer Science (Multimedia and Creative Technologies)
- Computer Science (Software Engineering)
- Computer Science (Technical Professionals)
- Cyber Security
The Rest of the Field
Other institutions which now offer IT-related degrees online include: Concordia University – Wisconsin, University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Capella University, American InterContinental University, Webber International University Online, Liberty University Online, Walden University, Colorado Technical University – Online, Grand Canyon University, Everest University Online, Regis University Online, Ashford University, American Sentinel University, Jones International University, Independence University, Full Sail University, Keiser University eCampus, Sullivan University, National American University Online, Northcentral University, Strayer University, Post University Online, ECPI University Online, Iowa Central College, Anthem College Online, Potomac College Online, Medaille College Online, New England College, Ashworth College, Rasmussen College Online, Miller-Motte Technical College, Vista College Online, ITT Technical Institute, Devry, Lawrence Tech, Tribeca Flashpoint, The Art Institute Online, Penn Foster Career School, and the Newport Business Institute.
These institutions did not make our Leaders list, and in the super-competitive world of online education you must be a leader to deserve consideration. Unless you are looking for a specialty degree not available at one of the institutions on our Leaders list, you probably don’t want to take the time to evaluate the rest of the field.