Online Computer Networking Degrees
An online degree in computer networking gives students the knowledge and skills needed to design, implement, secure, and troubleshoot enterprise-level networks. Students cover topics such as database management systems, operating systems, and network design and analysis in order to build and supervise the systems and networks that businesses rely on every day. The following guide explores the various degree options and coursework, with a particular focus on online learning, to give students the background information they need to make an educated decision about a degree in computer networking.
COMPUTER NETWORKING DEGREE PROGRAMS
No matter if students seek an associate degree or a doctorate degree in computer networking, there are several learning modes from which they can earn that degree. Students that prefer face-to-face interaction with their instructors may benefit from a campus-based program, where the majority of their learning hours are spent in a traditional classroom. In online programs, students learn from the convenience of their own home via the Internet. Instructional materials are delivered online and students interact with professors and other students via chat rooms and similar platforms. Hybrid programs are also available and allow students to have the flexibility of completing some requirements online while still giving them the personal interaction of a campus-based program.
ONLINE DEGREES IN DEPTH
Some degree programs are best suited for brick-and-mortar colleges. Education and health-related fields, for example, rely heavily on practical application that requires a traditional classroom. Many technology-related fields are different, however. Though computer network administrators often work with clients or peers, they can learn much of the core knowledge in an online setting.
An online program is a great way to earn a degree in computer networking. Skype, Blackboard, and Adobe Connect make it easy for students to communicate with instructors and fellow students. Email is also a great way to submit case studies, papers, and other assignments online.
SELF-PACED VS. REAL-TIME
Many online programs offer the flexibility of completing the degree in a self-paced environment or in real time. Self-paced, or asynchronous, programs allow students to register and complete classes when it’s convenient for them. Real-time, or synchronous, programs, on the other hand, are offered at specific times in an effort to incorporate collaboration between peers and instructors.
REQUIRED TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT
When attending an online degree program, students must have some specific equipment in order to be successful. A reliable computer, Internet connection, an up-to-date web browser, word processing software, and the ability to view videos are things to consider before signing up for a distance learning program. Students in degree programs for computer networking will likely have a much more demanding list of necessary equipment. For instance, students will need a more powerful computer, programs to create software programs, access to networking equipment, and much more. Each college or university has its own list of required resources, so be sure to discuss this with an enrollment counselor.
STUDENT PROFILE #1
Nellie is a self-described computer guru and has been working in her college’s computer lab since beginning her associate degree. She helps other students troubleshoot computer issues and has been called upon to assist with some networking issues as well. After learning more about networking and acquiring some hands-on experience, Nellie decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field.
ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREES IN COMPUTER NETWORKING (2 YEARS)
An online associate degree in computer networking gives the student the background knowledge necessary to get started in the field. Students take core classes in networking during the first year, as well as general education requirements. In year two, students delve deeper into networking curriculum, learning not only how a computer functions, but also how it communicates with other machines through networks and the Internet. This knowledge allows students to properly assess a problem and come up with a viable solution. For example, students will be able to identify a computer error versus a network communication problem, and they’ll be able to fix both issues.
Program curriculum varies from school to school. Below is just one possible course sequence that online students at the associate degree level may expect to take:
First Semester (Freshman)
Student Profile #2
In high school, Eric developed a fascination for computer networking and, therefore, chose it as his college major. In his junior year, he landed a coveted internship with a major corporation. Eric was invited back to intern the summer before his senior year, and was hired on to the company following graduation.
ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREES IN COMPUTER NETWORKING (4 YEARS)
Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in computer networking in four years; potentially less if they already hold an associate degree. At this level, distance learners gain a broader overview of the field. In additional to foundational coursework, students also go more in-depth on important topics such as information security and risks, viruses, and data protection.
An associate degree generally mirrors the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. The final semesters of a bachelor’s degree in computer networking may look like the following:
Fifth Semester (Junior)
Student Profile #3
Dani earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but became interested in computer networking during her first job after graduating. She found a convenient online master’s program in networking that allowed her to continue to work and build upon her classroom knowledge while she finished her degree. As a result, she was promoted within her organization shortly after finishing her master’s.
ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREES IN COMPUTER NETWORKING
An online master’s degree in computer networking generally requires an extra two years of coursework. Students determine in advance if they will focus on an academic track, if they wish to earn a doctorate eventually, or a career track. Students who pursue a doctorate are best served in a thesis-based master’s program, which requires more research and a project they present to a board for review. Career-oriented programs typically involve more real world experience and exam-driven classes.
Graduate programs are highly specialized and can vary widely by discipline, school, and department. Enrollment counselors and academic advisors are trained to assist students in choosing the program that best fits individual needs. Because of the variety in programs, it is difficult to list standard curriculum for an online master’s in computer networking. However, this is an example of what a program might look like:
Master s Program Core Courses