Associate Degrees in Information Technology

There’s more than one way to prepare for an IT career track, and earning an associates degree in information technology could be a path worth considering. Pursuing this degree may be a good opportunity to explore the field of IT and learn what it takes to solve challenging technology problems. If you’re interested in computer science and want to learn more about an associates degree in IT, keep reading for some frequently-asked questions about this education option.

What does earning an associates degree in information technology involve?

An associate’s degree is an undergraduate credential that may be earned at community colleges, technical colleges, and other institutions, as well as online. You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll, and your school may have other requirements for admission. Often, an associate’s degree includes general education courses, such as math, science, business, and other areas of study, in addition to courses in your major.

An associate’s degree in IT may include the study of networking, hardware and software fundamentals, operating systems, web development, an introduction to programming, and more. Every program is different, so be sure to check out the specific courses and requirement for the schools you are considering. For example, a program with a focus on network development may include classes in network design and implementation that a more general IT program might cover in less detail. Having a career goal in mind before beginning your program may help you decide on an area of focus.

What can I do after earning an associate's degree in information technology?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate’s degree in web design or a related IT field is the most common requirement for pursuing a web development career. [i] An associate’s degree may also help candidates to prepare to pursue a career as a of computer support specialist or IT help desk representative. [ii] For some students, earning an associate’s degree in IT could also be a springboard for further education and professional development. You could pursue an entry-level career path after earning your associate’s degree, or you could consider enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program to further your study in the field of information technology. It’s up to you to understand the requirements for your proposed professional goals in order to decide if earning an associate’s degree is a good next step.

How long does it take to earn an associate degree in information technology? 

The average student may be able to earn an associate’s degree in about two years, but completion times vary based on factors such as your part-time or full-time status. Some students opt to earn an associate’s in IT while working, which could take longer than two years if you are not able to maintain a full course load. The flexibility of an online associate’s degree may be appealing to some students who choose to work while attending school.

What’s the difference between an AA in information technology and an AAS?[iii]

Earning an A.A. (Associate of Arts) in Information Technology or an A.S. (Associate of Science) in Information Technology could possibly allow you to transfer to a four-year college down the road. An A.A. or A.S. often includes more general courses in areas such as English, math, and science. An A.A.S. (Associate of Applied Sciences) in Information Technology, on the other hand, is a technical degree that generally emphasizes career-oriented coursework. While you could still take general studies classes, you may be more likely to pursue technical coursework right away, helping you to prepare to pursue an entry-level IT career following graduation. Your decision should depend on your professional and educational goals.

What kinds of courses could I take in an IT associate’s degree program?

Every program is different, but some common areas that may be covered include computer and wireless networks maintenance and administration, software and hardware troubleshooting, business concepts and communications, web development, creating Java applications, and more. You may even be able to focus on an area of career interest such as help desk service or network administration. In most cases, the goal of the program is to offer an overview of the IT field and help students strengthen their preparation for related opportunities.

How do I choose an IT associate’s degree program?

Today, students are not necessarily limited by geographic area, since associate’s degree programs in information technology are often available online. It’s usually a good idea to evaluate programs based on course offerings and areas of focus that interest you, as well as the program’s overall reputation for helping students pursue their goals. Don’t be afraid to ask about graduation rates, school accreditation, and the kinds of opportunities recent graduates have pursued.

Check out some relevant programs in this field that may interest you!


Sources:  bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm  |  blog.frontrange.edu/2012/09/26/a-a-vs-a-s-vs-a-a-s-what-associate-degree-should-i-get  |  elearners.com/colleges/kaplan-university/aas-in-information-technology-7611  |    elearners.com/colleges/harrison-college/associate-of-applied-science-network-administration-199

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