Complete Guide to an Online Network Administration Degree
Online network administration degrees train graduates for the daily operation of local and wireless area networks in businesses and other organizations. Students learn how to analyze an organization’s information technology (IT) needs, install networks, and protect them from security issues. Undergraduate certificates and associate degree programs include an introduction to basic IT principles as well as courses in network installation and maintenance competencies. Bachelor’s degree programs also discuss systems administration, programming, and management topics. Master’s degrees are often used by current IT specialists to learn business-focused IT skills.
While not required for employment, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits information technology and computer science programs at the undergraduate and master’s degree level. ABET is highly respected in engineering and technology education. Read More
Comprehensive List of Colleges & Universities for an Online Network Administration Degree
Overview of Available Online Network Administration Degrees
Online associate degrees in network administration can be used to apply for entry-level administrator, technical support, or technician positions, especially when they are combined with professional certifications. Undergraduate certificates are typically combined with a bachelor’s program or used to master foundational networking topics. Core classes include hardware configuration, networking essentials, desktop applications, and server operating systems.
The online bachelor’s degree program is required by some employers for staff-level network administration positions. Along with a deeper understanding of the business and management aspects of IT, students also gain a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences. Network administration courses discuss interconnecting network devices, security fundamentals, server administration, network design and management, and IT project management.
Online master’s degree programs in network administration can be used to master IT leadership skills, delve deeper into networking concepts, or complete an IT research project. Students study network administration from a computer science angle through classes like computer architecture, advanced operating systems, data and computer communications, and network security. Leadership programs discuss IT project management, decision making, and strategies for fostering innovation.
Online associate degrees in network administration prepare students for various careers in the field of network systems. Programs give students the opportunity to build a solid foundation for career advancement in the IT field. Prerequisites may include algebra, basic computers, and English. Students are required to earn 68 to 99 credits, which takes approximately two to three years.
Much of the training focus is on communication technologies, computer fundamentals, and network infrastructure. Students acquire an impressive range of skills and techniques that allow them to efficiently design, develop, and maintain various network systems. Areas covered by the program include databases, hardware and software maintenance, Internet technology, monitoring network performance, network communications, network hardware, networking media, operating systems, security management, security principles, server administration, and troubleshooting. Programs may incorporate a network development capstone project or a practicum to provide students with hands-on experience in the field.
Associate degree programs prepare students for various entry-level positions in network administration and support. Work settings include businesses, government agencies, computer firms, health care organizations, and schools. Job titles for graduates include computer repair technician, computer systems administrator, computer support specialist, information technology specialist, local area network (LAN) administrator, network administrator, network security consultant, network specialist, network technician, or wide area network (WAN) administrator. Others choose to pursue careers in consultation or disaster recovery.
Online bachelor's degrees in network administration prepare students for technical careers in the field of computer networks. Programs allow students to build a solid foundation in computer information systems and technologies. Areas of emphasis include network administration, network engineering, and network security. Programs require completion of 120 to 130 credits, which generally takes four years for full-time students.
Programs allow students to gain a comprehensive understanding of engineering practices applied on modern networks. Students learn how to install, operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade a wide range of complex network systems. The curriculum covers areas such as data backup and recovery, database management, enterprise architecture, enterprise network management, network fundamentals, network management software, operating systems, programming, project management, security fundamentals, server administration, systems administration and management, technical writing, web technologies, and wireless networking. Students are also required to complete a capstone project in network administration.
Employment opportunities for bachelor's graduates are available in a wide range of industries such as communication, computing, education, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation. Areas of specialization include data communications, database administration, management information systems, network engineering, network systems analysis, and security architecture. Bachelor's programs also help to lay a strong foundation for further studies in computer information systems. Those keen on careers in research and teaching may choose to pursue graduate studies in the field. Other relevant IT classes cover web programming, operating systems, algorithms, and organizational behavior.
Online master's degrees in network administration equip practicing IT professionals with executive-level expertise in network administration. Programs place much emphasis on business and leadership concepts, communication skills, strategic vision, and technical competence. The broad range of competencies acquired by students prepares them for senior leadership roles in academia, government, and the IT industry. Most programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, information technology, or related field. Students are required to earn 33 to 48 credits, which generally takes two years.
Master's programs teach students how to design, implement, and maintain a broad range of network systems for business and organizational needs. The curriculum allows students to form a comprehensive perspective of current and emerging network technology. Areas covered during training include cyber law; compliance and regulations; database systems; disaster recovery planning; enterprise application architecture; enterprise data management; Internet, intranet, and extranet technologies; IT governance and risk management; local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs); network administration; network design and performance; network security challenges; networking and telecommunications; project management; strategic management in dynamic environments; system development theory and practice; and wireless and wired networks.
Programs usually require students to complete a capstone project or write a thesis. In some cases, an oral defense of the project is required. Some programs may require an internship in a management or administrative position. Research-oriented degrees require that students choose a particular network administration topic and spend the better part of a year making new advancements in that interest area, the results of which are written up in the student’s thesis paper.
Graduates may pursue a wide range of careers in network administration and management as well as network architecture. Job titles for master's graduates include database administrator, disaster recovery specialist, network administrator, network security specialist, or systems administrator.
Network administration certificate students learn to install and maintain computer networks for corporations and organizations. To be admitted to a certificate program, many schools require that students possess at least a high school diploma. Other institutes, however, may only allow fully enrolled undergraduate or graduate students to enter into a certificate program. On average, a certificate in computer administration takes about one year to earn, and students are expected to complete 15 to 25 semester credit hours in order to graduate.
During a certificate program, students are introduced to many aspects of network administration. A typical program can include classes in networking technology, system security maintenance, Microsoft networking, Cisco architectures, and microcomputer operating systems.
In addition to core networking courses, more intensive certificate programs may ask students to complete a certain amount of elective classes in information technology or computer science. Additionally, certain programs offer certificate programs that, once completed, qualify students to enter into an information technology degree program. Other certificates can permit students to apply for career certification programs, such as Cisco CCNA certification.
IT professionals who wish to work as network administrators often seek certification in network administration. Most businesses prefer that job applicants have a bachelor's degree in network administration or a related field in information technology; some organizations also request that applicants possess a postgraduate certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree before applying for a position as a network admin.
It's important to learn about a school's qualifications and reputation before enrolling in a network administration program. Schools that have received accreditation have done so because they meet or exceed a certain standard in terms of the quality of their degree programs, faculty, administration, curricula, and student outcomes. Choosing to attend a program at an ABET-accredited (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) school will help ensure that you receive a quality education that will be worth your time and money and that will be valued by future employers. Accreditation also helps qualify you for federal financial aid and will enable you to transfer your college credits to other schools, should you decide to pursue additional education. For more information about the benefits of accreditation and how it works, please consult our comprehensive accreditation hub.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed September 16, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm.
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