Information technology professionals are in higher demand now more than ever. Nearly every organization needs a well-built IT infrastructure to keep its business running. If you're handy with the essential tech hardware and software that keeps a business and its employees connected to the world, you'll have the skills necessary to find steady work just about anywhere you go.
More than a half million jobs in computer and information technology are expected to be added to the economy from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the industry is expected to see 12 percent job growth during that period, which is much faster than the average of all jobs. Plus, the BLS also reports that the nationwide median income for IT jobs is more than double the median pay for all occupations.
Most information technology degree programs can give you insight into how to troubleshoot and resolve issues that arise with the software and hardware solutions typically used in an organizational setting. Some programs may also train you in computer programming or web administration or teach you how to build IT systems from the ground up.
If you're daunted by the prospect of returning to school full time, don't forget that many institutions offer online degree programs for IT students, including certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree and advanced education options.
Along with giving you more freedom to complete coursework on your own schedule, online IT degree programs can feature digital communication platforms for interacting with classmates and instructors.
Best Colleges for Information Technology Degree Programs
In order to track down the best schools for information technology, we put together a massive data set using numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and analyzed hundreds of schools in categories such as tuition, graduation rates and student debt. The following are the top ten IT programs in the nation according to our methodology.
The University of South Florida has distinguished itself as a premier destination for higher education in recent years. The university is one of the nation's top producers of Fulbright Scholars, is among the top ten public institutions for patents and has a reputation for being veteran-friendly. Across all campuses, the University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students and offers 180 undergraduate programs.
Information technology programs at USF: Undergraduate students at USF can major or minor in information technology. The school's Bachelor of Science in Information Technology can be completed partially online and covers topics such as databases, programming, cybersecurity and web design. Students can expect to learn the skills needed to work in diverse industries such as healthcare, government and education.
Miami-based Florida International University is a public research university offering more than 190 degree programs. The school hosts more than 300 academic associations, cultural groups and other student organizations and is home to three art and history museums. As an international education destination, the 54,000 students enrolled at the university represent more than 140 countries.
Information technology programs at FIU: Two different undergraduate IT degrees can be earned at FIU. The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology is available for those who want a single major, and this program is available in a software track. There is also a Bachelor of Arts option for those who want to study information technology as a second major. Both programs are housed within the School of Computing and Information Sciences and are available online.
Founded in 1851, Florida State University is the oldest continuous site of higher education in its state. Today, the school enrolls more than 41,000 students from more than 130 countries. It is known as an elite research university and offers nearly 300 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.
Information technology programs at FSU: FSU has its state's only iSchool. Known formally as the School of Information, it houses IT programs within the Florida State College of Communication & Information. At the undergraduate level, students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in one of two majors: information technology or information, communication and technology. The program covers topics such as networking and security, health informatics, IT project management and design and development.
As another top Florida institution, the University of Central Florida has been providing higher education services since 1963. Its nearly 70,000 students include 340 National Merit Scholars, and more than one in five undergraduates are first-generation students. There are 13 colleges within UCF, and they offer more than 220 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Many programs are available online as well as on campus.
Information technology programs at UCF: The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at UCF is designed to prepare students to work in a variety of disciplines, to function as a member or leader of a team, and to be mindful of the potential negative impacts created by the introduction of new IT-based solutions. The program can be found within the university's College of Engineering and Computer Science. The college also offers an information technology minor.
Purdue University Global is known for offering online degree programs that make higher education accessible to students regardless of where they live. However, the school also maintains a number of campus locations. Purdue University Global-Davenport offers academic advising and career services in Iowa and is known for being a military-friendly institution.
Information technology programs at Purdue Global-Davenport: There are a number of online IT programs offered through Purdue Global, including opportunities to earn an associate or bachelor's IT degree. The bachelor's program, available in an ExcelTrack option, can help students graduate faster by using a personalized learning model. Those interested in IT certification may find the school's certificate plans in Cisco Networks and Microsoft Operating Systems meet their needs.
More than 54,000 students choose the University of Washington for their education, and nearly a third of incoming freshmen are the first in their families to attend college. The university includes 18 colleges and schools which offer programs online and on campus. As a successful research university, UW operates under the values of diversity, integrity, excellence, innovation, respect and collaboration.
Information technology programs at UW: The Information School at the UW offers graduate programs as well as one that results in a bachelor's degree in informatics. The iSchool allows undergraduates to design their own curriculum or select from one of five degree options: information architecture, information assurance and cybersecurity, data science, biomedical and health informatics or human-computer interaction. Informatics is also available as a minor at the UW.
Offering more than 375 degree programs and 236 minors and certificates, the University of Cincinnati places a special focus on experience-based learning. The school was founded in 1819 and says it invented cooperative education in 1906. Its more than 46,000 students have access to numerous co-ops, internships, study abroad and research opportunities.
Information technology programs at UC: The School of Information Technology offers a variety of degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For undergrads, the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology can be completed either on campus or online. There are five majors available within the degree. UC also offers an information technology minor, six certificates and four accelerated programs that combine undergraduate and graduate studies.
Founded by and affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University has a reputation of offering quality academics at an affordable price. The school enrolls more than 33,000 daytime students from 105 countries. BYU has hundreds of degree options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Information technology programs at BYU: Undergraduate students can select an IT major or minor through the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering. The bachelor's degree in information technology offers four emphasis areas: user experience design, mobile and web development, system and network administration and the Internet of Things. The program concludes with a two-semester capstone project in which IT students work with a partnering company to address a technical need.
The history of Purdue University dates back to 1865 when the Indiana General Assembly voted to establish the institution. The university has since grown to include 13 colleges and schools on its West Lafayette campus, where more than 44,000 students take classes. The institution has also become one of the nation's top providers of online education through Purdue University Global and Purdue University Online.
Information technology programs at Purdue: Students earning a bachelor's degree in computer and information technology from Purdue get real-world experience and the opportunity to customize their education. The program offers concentrations in systems analysis, design and integration, wireless networking, data management and software development. Purdue's Department of Computer and Information Technology also offers a minor, graduate degrees and online IT programs.
Founded in 1856, the University of Maryland is the flagship public university in its state. The school enrolls approximately 41,000 students who come from 118 countries as well as all 50 states. They are taught by a faculty that includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy winners and Tony winners. Overall, the school offers more than 275 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Information technology programs at UMD: At UMD, undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Science, also known as an InfoSci degree. The university's College of Information Studies offers the program with specializations in cybersecurity and privacy, digital curation and data science. Founded in 1965, the UMD iSchool also offers a number of graduate programs and research opportunities for its students.
Information Technology Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
The world of IT careers is vast and diverse, and candidates with a degree in the field are likely to qualify for a range of different positions. Here's some information about the jobs you may be in line for after earning your degree.
Certificate in Information Technology
Help desk technician
Information technology specialist
Computer support specialists
Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology
Software applications developers
Information security analysts
Network systems administrators
Master's Degree in Information Technology
Computer and information research scientists
Information technology director
Doctoral Degree in Information Technology
Chief Information Officer
Information Technology Program Accreditation
ABET is the nonprofit organization that provides voluntary accreditation to IT degree programs. The accreditation criteria is developed by volunteers who are computer professionals, and school evaluations are coordinated through CSAB, a society within ABET. Currently, more than 450 computing and IT programs have been accredited worldwide.
Information Technology Specialties
The broad field of information technology covers everything from setting up wireless networks to developing applications that interact seamlessly with users. While schools offer general IT degree programs that touch on many topics, students may find it valuable to specialize in a particular area.
Although not available at every school, the following are a few of the specialties found in the field:
- Network administration
- IT entrepreneurship
- Data science
- Game design
- Systems analysis
Information Technology Certification and Licensure
IT workers don't need to be licensed by the government, but there are a number of credentials they can earn from industry associations and vendors. Employers may look for information technology certifications as a way to confirm a job candidate has the skills needed for a position. The following are just a few of the credentials available to IT professionals.
- CompTIA A+ — This entry-level certification is often held by help desk technicians and support specialists.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) — Network administrators may have this credential to demonstrate their aptitude working with Cisco networking systems.
- AWS Certified Developer — This credential shows the ability of a software developer or other IT professional to work with Amazon Web Services.
- Certified Ethical Hacker — Offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, this information technology certification is for cybersecurity experts.
Career Outlook for IT Majors
Certain jobs for information technology graduates are growing faster than others, and knowing which ones have the best outlook can help you spend your time in school wisely. Take a look at these employment projections for some top information technology careers.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Information Security Analysts||$104,210||125,570||31.6%|
|Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers||$82,370||148,340||13%|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$156,390||433,960||11.3%|
|Database Administrators and Architects||$96,110||125,460||9%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$96,160||589,060||8.8%|
|Computer Network Architects||$115,110||152,420||5.3%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in IT
Many scholarships for IT students are awarded by individual U.S. states or the colleges themselves, but some programs have national eligibility. For example, the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)'s Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship is open to any qualifying student looking to focus on library IT. Here are a few other aid programs you might qualify for.
Based on continued positive academic performance
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale:
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees
- Median debt
- 3 year loan repayment rate
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- Institutional spending
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Percent of students enrolled in DE
- Evening and weekend programs
- Academic and career counseling
- Total number of degrees conferred for particular CIP codes