Network administrators play a crucial role in public and private businesses and government entities. They design, plan, set up and maintain an organization's computer network, as well as administer network security, troubleshoot problems and oversee all related networking hardware and software.
The institutions featured here represent 10 of the best colleges for on-campus and online network administration degrees from U.S. colleges and universities. Programs range from associate degrees to master's degrees in network administration - although a bachelor's degree is a commonly accepted level of postsecondary education for most employers. Students can use the information provided below to make more informed decisions about enrolling in network administration degree programs.
Read on to learn more about the 10 best colleges for network administration degree program, as well as insight into scholarships, career outlooks and common career paths for program graduates.
Best Colleges for Network Administration Degree Programs 2018-19
Each college in the list below was chosen using our unique methodology that combines data gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics. Students can use these rankings to learn more about program highlights and offerings from 10 of the best colleges for network administration degree programs in the U.S. Read on to learn more about these featured institutions, or click on the button below for more insight into how this list was created.
The top institution in our rankings has 10 campus locations in eight states, as well as its online college. Herzing University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology with a concentration in network management that's taught at campus locations in Atlanta, Madison, Wisc., Kenner, La., and online.
The program runs for a minimum of 36 months and requires 120 credits to satisfy degree requirements. The curriculum has a strong focus on infrastructure, and it's also designed to prepare students for a wide range of industry specific certifications, including Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician, Red Had Certified Systems Administrator and many more. Students who complete the university's bachelor's degree program in information technology can earn up to 12 credits toward an M.B.A. through Herzing University.
Herzing heads our list based on its 96 percent admissions rate, favorable 14:1 student to faculty ratio, and high number of students enrolled in distance education programs at 50 percent.
FSCJ has grown from a small junior college into a large regional university serving Duval and Nassau counties. Total enrollment for the 2015-2016 academic year was more than 50,000 students.
The college offers an associate degree in network systems technology, as well as a bachelor's degree in computer systems networking and telecommunications. The A.S. degree can be completed online in an accelerated 20-month timeframe. The B.A.S. degree also may be completed online in accelerated format in an additional 20 months. The bachelor's degree requires 120 credits to complete, while the associate degree requires 60 credits.
Florida State College at Jacksonville lands in the second spot in these rankings primarily due to its low cost of in-state tuition. At $2,830, tuition is 114 percent less than the next most affordable college in our top 10. The college also has an open admissions policy.
East Coast Polytechnic University has eight campuses in Virginia and additional locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The university offers a Bachelor of Science in computer and information systems with a major in cyber and network security at all 12 campus locations, as well as through ECPI Online. ECPI offers an associate degree in the same pathway at each location as well.
Curriculum is reinforced through hands-on experience using the latest technologies from Windows, Unix and Cisco. Student outcomes include proficiency with installing and maintaining network hardware and software, evaluating and monitoring networks, and assessing new network requirements. The program also prepares graduates to sit for a number of important industry-specific certifications.
ECPI has the second-highest graduation rate among our 10 featured institutions, as well as an 84 percent admissions rate. It also had the second-highest number of IT and networking degrees conferred to students of any university in these rankings.
The fourth institution in our rankings is a public four-year university located at Madison, S.D. The school may have been founded in 1881, but it's got a heavy focus on use of technology in the classroom - programs are designed to incorporate technology in variety of innovative ways.
Dakota State University offers both on-campus and online Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degree programs in network and security administration. The two-year A.S. degree requires 60 credits to complete, while the B.S. pathway requires 120. With its emphasis on technology, the university provides networking administration students the opportunity to configure real network setups using routers and switches, as well as firewalls and voice-over-internet phones. Students also can perfect their skills in network forensics and defensive hacking.
DSU makes our list at No. 4 based on its favorable 81 percent admissions rate, and it had the third-lowest cost of in-state tuition at $7,974.
This for-profit university has campus locations in 10 states, as well as an online college. The university's Rapid City campus in South Dakota offers several IT degrees, including a Bachelor of Science degree in network management/Microsoft with a focus on network and server administration.
Curriculum includes study in the Windows operating system. Students learn how to install and administer Windows server programs and hardware, as well as design and implement server infrastructure. The program is designed to prepare students to test for the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certificate. The degree pathway also can be completed online. NAU also offers an online diploma program in network and server administration.
The university lands in the fifth spot in these rankings based on its open admissions policy, low 12:1 student to faculty ratio, and high number of students enrolled in distance education programs - 86 percent, highest among these 10 featured institutions.
This private non-profit institution at Warwick, R.I. lands in the sixth spot in our rankings based on its strong graduation rate - second-best among our featured colleges - and high number of networking and IT-related degrees conferred to students.
NEIT offers an associate degree in network engineering technology, as well as a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity and network engineering. Curriculum in the A.S. degree program focuses on both Microsoft and Cisco desktop server installations and prepares students to take exams from both organizations. The B.S. degree furthers that education with advanced study in configuration and management of local- and wide-area networks, as well as management of web servers. New England Institute of Technology also offers a master's degree program in information technology for students who wish to continue their education past the baccalaureate level.
Mt. Sierra College is a private institution located at Monrovia near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. The college's Bachelor of Science degree in network communications has eight distinct concentrations: networking, wireless technologies, internet and intranet technologies, computer information systems, telephony and data communications, general network communications, emerging technologies and general education. It also includes strong focus on project management, as well as business and management to better prepare students for real-world experience. The program's core courses also include a lab component to maximize student engagement.
The college makes our rankings in the eighth spot with its open admissions policy and favorable 13:1 student to faculty ratio. Mt. Sierra College also offers alternative tuition payment plans and night and weekend classes to better accommodate students.
NOTE: Mt. Sierra College closed its campus as of June 2019. Students can explore other schools on this list for network administration degrees, or check out other top schools in California.
This private university is headquartered at Salt Lake City, although its primary focus is online education. WGU's competency-based programs allow students to complete study modules at their own pace, and once they demonstrate subject mastery in a given module they can advance to the next. This model allows for highly accelerated education for dedicated students who quickly assimilate new material.
WGU offers several bachelor's degree programs that touch on the field of network administration, including:
- Cybersecurity and information assurance
- Cloud and systems administration
- Network operations and security
Graduates of the B.S. in network operations and security also pick up 14 industry certifications during the course of their studies. The program consists of 35 courses. WGU also offers a master's program in cybersecurity and information management for students interested in earning an advanced degree.
Network Administration Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Coursework in network administration degree programs focuses on a wide range of study in computer science, including engineering technology, programming logic and electrical engineering. Students also learn about the technology that powers the internet, as well as local-area and wide-area networks. Courses that focus on communications hardware include study of servers, routing and switching equipment, cabling, networking configurations and related topics. Additional coursework focuses on performance and troubleshooting, domain control and network management, and maybe most critical, network security.
Career Outlook for Network Administrators Majors
Demand for trained networking professionals is expected to remain high as companies grow and invest in newer and faster technologies, as well as mobile platforms, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Employment is expected to be best for network administrators who work in the field of computer systems design and related industries. The growth of cloud computing - especially for small and mid-sized businesses lacking dedicated IT staff - could be a large driver of employment for network administrators. Job seekers who hold a minimum educational obtainment of a bachelor's degree and are proficient in the latest technologies face the best job prospects.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$68,860||185,430||6.4%|
|Computer Network Architects||$115,110||152,420||5.3%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$88,410||354,450||4.7%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Network Administration
Federal financial aid is not the only option for help with tuition for students enrolled in on-campus or online degrees for network administration. There are many scholarships available as well. Western Governor's University, one of the institutions featured in our rankings, partnered with the Computing Technology Industry Association to offer two scholarships for students enrolled in WGU's IT degree programs. The federal CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service award is for students enrolled in programs in the field of cybersecurity or information assurance. Cisco also offers a scholarship for students who want to go through its networking academy and earn crucial career certifications that can boost their career and employment options.
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, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015