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) Credits Description
English 3 This is an introductory course designed to familiarize students with various styles of thinking and communication used at the college level.
Mathematics 3 Generally a college algebra course, students begin the required math sequence.
Microsoft Networking I 3-5 Teaches the basic skills and knowledge necessary to deploy, administer, and maintain the current Microsoft Windows Desktop Operating System.
Networking Electives 3-6 Additional credits for students who choose to specialize in a specific area of networking.
Second Semester (Freshman) Credits Description
English 3 Generally a research-driven class, students learn how to conduct and report on research at the college level.
Essentials of Information Security 3 Students gain a basic understanding of best practices and current standards and explore topics of increasing importance in the industry as a whole.
Microsoft Networking II 3-5 Delves further into the knowledge and skills necessary to deploy, administer, and maintain the current Windows Server Operation System.
Networking Electives 3-6 Additional credits for students who choose to specialize in a specific area of networking.
Third Semester (Sophomore) Credits Description
CCNA Internetworking Fundamentals 4 Introduces the architecture, structure, functions, components, and models of the Internet and other computer networks.
CCNA Routing Protocols and Concepts 4 Students analyze, configure, verify, and troubleshoot primary routing protocols.
Introduction to IT Project Management 3 Students learn the concepts of project management as it’s used within the information technology fields.
Humanities/Social Science 3 Students fulfill their required coursework in this area.
Fourth Semester (Sophomore) Credits Description
Fundamentals of Wireless LANs 4 Introduces wireless LAN concepts and focuses on the design, planning, implementation, operation, and troubleshooting of wireless networks.
Principles of Management 3 Students study fundamentals and principles of management, administrative policies, objectives and procedures, and problems of organization control and leadership.
Science Course 3 Students fulfill their required coursework in this area.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.

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) Credits Description
Professional Issues of IT 3 Ethics and social issues associated with developing and maintaining information technology systems are presented.
Internetworking Technologies 3 Students gain specialized knowledge in computer networks and apply skills in networking equipment.
System Administration 3 Students manage resources, including server performance, and learn to acquire reliable information and services in a networked server environment.
General Elective 3 Students choose from a list of general electives.
Sixth Semester (Junior) Credits Description
Project Management 3 Students receive an in-depth analysis of the methods and principles  involved in specification, analysis, design, development, and testing networks.
Networking Technologies 3 This course covers wide area networks design, devices used, protocols and technologies essential to a wide area network.
Wireless Networks and Security 3 Students gain additional knowledge of wireless network communications and security issues.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.
Seventh Semester (Senior) Credits Description
Industry-Based Project I 4 Students apply what they have learned throughout the program to a real-world problem.
Enterprise Networks 3 The focus in this class is on technologies, software, tools, and protocols that are used for VOIP and integration of existing technologies.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.
Eighth Semester (Senior) Credits Description
Industry-Based Project II 4 Students apply what they have learned throughout the program to a real-world problem.
Virtual Networks 3 Students demonstrate their knowledge in local and wide area networks.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.
General Elective 3 This is an optional class for students.

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 Description
Research Methods & Proposal Development Students learn the fundamentals of researching and reporting at the master’s level.
Enterprise Computing Provides knowledge pertaining to the enterprise environment, networking, storage, security, and system administration.
Computer Networks Students learn, at an advanced level, about data communications, network architectures, communication protocols, data link control, and TCP/IP, among other things.
Introduction to Computer Performance Modeling Presents queuing theory and simulation techniques as tools for modeling and studying the performance of communication networks and computer systems.
Internet Protocols Students focus on the application layer of networking and study advanced computer networking concepts.
Advanced Topics in Internet Protocols Students develop ideas on internet protocols and study other network architectures.
Network Security Using real-world models, students study internal and external threats to an organization’s information network.
Advanced Topics in Wireless Networks Students study the latest research in wireless networking, focusing on mobile ad hoc, sensor, and cloud networks.
Telecommunications Network Design This course covers methods and techniques for the design of computer and telecommunications networks using real-world models.
Optical Networks Presents the state-of-the-art in the field of optical communication networks.

ONLINE PHD IN COMPUTER NETWORKING

An online doctorate in computer networking isn’t offered at most colleges and universities. Instead, doctoral students interested in this field tend to pursue PhDs in computer science or computer engineering. In both options, computer networking is a significant part of the curriculum. Students in these programs spend several years beyond a master’s degree to research a topic of interest, with the guidance and assistance of an advisor. Before completing the program, students must also defend their dissertation.

Schools with Computer Networking Programs

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SCHOOL NAME CITY, STATE STUDENT POPULATION SCHOOL TYPE TUITION PROGRAM TYPE PROGRAMS
University of Phoenix-Online CampusPhoenix, AZ307,871Private, 4-year$9,216Campus
Associate
  • Network and System Administration/Administrator
Bachelor’s
  • Network and System Administration/Administrator
Arizona State UniversityTempe, AZ72,254Public, 4-year$9,208Campus
Master’s
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
Houston Community CollegeHouston, TX63,015Public, 2-year$744Campus
Associate
  • Network and System Administration/Administrator
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolis, MN52,557Public, 4-year$12,060Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX50,230Public, 4-year$5,297Campus
Bachelor’s
  • System
  • Networking
  • and LAN/WAN Management/Manager
Tarrant County College DistrictFort Worth, TX50,062Public, 2-year$1,296Campus
Associate
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
Austin Community College DistrictAustin, TX45,100Public, 2-year$1,860Campus
Associate
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
University of Maryland-University CollegeAdelphi, MD42,713Public, 4-year$6,024Both
Master’s
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
Bachelor’s - ONLINE
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks and Security
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA38,010Private, 4-year$43,722Campus
Master’s
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications