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What is an Information Technology Degree?
Information technology (IT) degree programs train students in computing technologies and how to use them to store, secure, manage, retrieve, and send information. IT includes physical equipment or hardware and operating systems and applications, known as software.
In general, individuals who enrol in an IT curriculum aim to lead or be part of a technical team responsible for a company’s information technology infrastructure and assets.
With the broad goal of teaching the relationship between humans and computers, core subjects in IT programs include:
- Leading and managing remote work teams
- Programming Principles
- Database Systems
- Customer Support Systems
- Computer Systems
- Systems Analysis
- Internet Technologies
- IT Project Management
- IT Security
- Ethics in Information Technology
Associate Degree in Information Technology – Two Year Duration
Information technology degree programs at the associate level prepare students for further study in the field or for entry-level jobs, such as computer support technician and computer repair technician.
The typical curriculum covers the fundamentals of computer and information technology. Here are some sample courses:
- Introduction to Operating Systems
- Introduction to Routing
- Introduction to Networking
- Introduction to Programming
- Introduction to Security
Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology – Four Year Duration
Some schools offer a general Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, but it is more common for students to select a concentration. These are some of the more typical ones:
- Data Management and Analytics
- Software Development
- Health Information Management
- Network Systems and Administration
- Computer Forensics
While coursework varies according to the chosen specialization, the following classes are common:
- Information Systems – the basics of computer systems and networks
- Data Communication and Networking – how analog, radio, and digital networks work
- Network Architecture – design of the networks that companies use to manage their data and business processes
- Programming Languages and Logic – languages used in the design of networks
- Information Technology Project Management – managing IT projects from planning to execution
- Cloud Computing – how to use a network of remote servers to manage information
- Cybersecurity – threats to network security, how to prevent and respond to them
- Computer Forensics – searching computers for evidence of criminal activity
Graduates with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology qualify for many roles, including network administrator, network architect, and IT security analyst.
Master’s Degree in Information Technology – Two to Three Year Duration
The curriculum for the Master’s Degree in Information Technology varies depending on each individual student’s concentration. In addition to those listed above, under the heading Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, IT master’s programs may offer further specialization choices, such as:
- Information Technology Project Management
- Computational Perception and Robotics – focuses on algorithms for artificial intelligence
- Human-centered Computing – an approach to technology design that considers human and organizational issues in addition to technical requirements
Core classes may include:
- Machine Learning
- Software Design
- Financial Management for Information Technology
- Contemporary Issues and Innovations in Information Technology
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Information Technology
Most master’s programs require that students write a research-based thesis.
Graduates with a Master’s Degree in Information Technology have many employment options, including leadership roles. Some possible positions are information technology director, computer systems administrator, database administrator, information technology support specialist, and information technology security analyst.
Doctoral Degree in Information Technology – Five to Seven Year Duration
Doctoral degree programs in information technology are aimed at individuals who wish to spend their career conducting advanced research, teaching at the university level, or working in very senior IT roles.
The road to completing a doctoral dissertation and earning a Ph.D. in the field involves independent research and analyzing case studies. Here are some sample subject areas from which to choose a doctoral dissertation topic:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Computational & Synthetic Biology
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Graphics, Vision, Animation, and Game Science
- Computing for Development
- Data Science
- Data Management and Visualization
- Human / Computer Interaction
- Machine Learning
- Molecular Information Systems
- Natural Language Processing
- Programming Languages and Software Engineering
- Security and Privacy
- Systems and Networking
- Theory of Computation
- Ubiquitous Computing
- Wireless and Sensor Systems
- Cloud Computing
Degrees Similar to Information Technology
This degree field teaches students how to develop computer hardware and software. The curriculum includes course in calculus, physics, computer system architecture and networking, digital-logic design, data structures, and programming languages.
Students of computer forensics learn how to collect and analyze digital data for use in legal proceedings. The typical curriculum looks at cybercrime, computer network security, criminal law, and ethics.
Computer Networking and Telecommunications
How computers communicate with each other is the focus of degree programs in computer networking and telecommunications. Students learn about designing and installing computer networks. They take courses in network cabling, configuration, and management.
The field of computer science is focused on computer systems and how humans interact with them. Courses cover artificial intelligence, algorithms, and program design.
This degree program teaches students how to construct and organize large information databases. Coursework includes the fundamentals of operating systems, programming, and algorithm design.
Students who major in information science learn how to build systems to retrieve and store information. They take courses in database architecture and management, multimedia systems, and human/computer interaction.
Management Information Systems
This degree field is focused on information systems and how they are used by businesses and organizations to improve their operations. Classes cover computer databases, networks, computer security, and related project management.
Skills You’ll Learn
- Oral and written communication
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving
- Presenting complex information
- Process review and improvement
- Database administration
- Leading and managing remote work teams
What Can You Do with an Information Technology Degree?
Almost all businesses rely on computers and information management. It follows, then, that the number of occupational categories that information technology graduates can explore is extremely wide, if not almost endless. Below is an alphabetical list of some of them.
- Advertising, Media, Publishing, and Entertainment
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
- Banking and Finance
- Charity, Not-for-Profit, and NGOs
- Cloud-based Solutions or Services
- Data and Analytics
- Educational Institutions
- Energy and Utilities
- Engineering – chemical engineering, civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering
- Environment and Conservation
- Healthcare Technology or Services
- Hospitality and Tourism
- IT Consulting and Service Providers
- Management Consulting and Business
- Manufacturing and Production
- Public Sector and Defense
- Recruitment and Human Resources
- Retail or eCommerce
- Social Media
- Software as a Service (SaaS) Development
- Web Design / Development
In each of these sectors, there may be opportunities to become part of an information technology team in the following and other roles:
- Cloud Computing Engineer
- Computer Network Specialist
- Computer Support Specialist
- Database Administrator
- Information Technology Analyst
- Information Technology Officer, Manager, Director
- Information Security Specialist
- Application Developer
- Web Developer
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