Guide to Information Technology Degrees


Updated February 22, 2024

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Degrees in IT can vary in time commitment, curriculums, and career prospects. Learn about the different degree options and the relevant skills taught. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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An information technology (IT) degree can teach you the skills necessary to meet a corporation's technology needs. Without IT professionals, a corporation's ability to transfer information would be severely impacted, making these employees essential workers.

What is an information technology degree going to do to boost your chances in the job market? This page covers the different types of IT degrees you can get, and whether you even need them to work in the field.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Is an Information Technology Degree?

Information technology, the use of computers or other technology to use and transfer electronic data, allows businesses to improve performance and productivity. Students interested in pursuing a degree in information technology study a variety of topics including programming, data management, and network security.

Information technology impacts society, too, by helping promote the spread of information, providing education tools, and connecting people around the world.

Graduates with degrees in information technology can contribute to the societal benefits of the field by supporting existing infrastructure, updating critical components, and creating tools to combat misinformation.

Computer Science vs Information Technology

Computer science and information technology can be confused for each other, due to their similarities and relation to the technology industry. However, these two subjects have distinct differences. Computer science refers to designing and building computer systems and programs. Information technology refers to maintaining and analyzing computer systems and programs.

In some situations, an information technology degree may be more useful than a computer science degree, and vice-versa. The below bullet points help define computer science vs. information technology degree benefits in various scenarios.

  • Computer science degree advantages
    • Preparing for careers that require C++, or JavaScript
    • Learning about the software development cycle
    • Studying database tools including MongoDB and PostgreSQL
  • Information technology degree advantages
    • Learning about troubleshooting methods and network configurations
    • Understanding ethical hacking
    • Discovering how to integrate technologies into businesses

Overview of IT Degree Levels

Prospective information technology enrollees can pursue multiple education pathways, from certificates to doctoral degrees. An individual's choice can be persuaded by time commitments, curriculums, and ideal career paths.

Students may start with a degree that can be completed faster to assure their interest in the field. Graduates can pursue additional IT degrees to expand their field of knowledge and meet educational requirements for senior IT positions.

Information Technology Certificates

You can complete Information technology certificates online , in-person, or as a hybrid program. Certificate programs can vary from 9-24 credits, which may require 6-12 months to complete. You can find certificate programs run by established schools and technology corporations.

Certificate curriculums differ by the school or company hosting the program. Enrollees may study various subjects, including programming, math, and database management.

Many information technology careers require a higher degree of education, but with a certificate you can pursue roles as a network system administrator, IT help desk support, or cloud support specialist.

Associate Degrees in IT

You can earn online associate technology degrees at institutions across the U.S. Enrollees can complete the degree within two years and choose a general IT track or specialization, including cybersecurity, data analytics, or game development.

The program's track will impact the curriculum, but students will generally learn multiple technology skills, including cloud computing, computer security, and website development.

Graduates of an associate degree program may be able to find entry-level technology careers or transfer credits towards a bachelor's degree. With an associate degree in information technology, you can pursue careers as an information specialist, website developer, or health IT specialist.

Bachelor's Degrees in IT

Bachelor's degrees in IT programs are available at accredited institutions online or in person. Most bachelor's degrees require four years to complete, but self-paced and accelerated programs can be completed in 2.5-3 years. Often, you'll need to complete 120 credits to meet general education, core information technology, and elective course requirements.

You'll learn essential IT skills in the major courses, including scripting, computer networks, and project management. IT degrees may also include technology certifications within the program, without any additional costs or time commitments.

Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue IT roles as a computer programmer, computer network architect, or information security analyst.

Master's Degrees in IT

Another option is attending a fully online master's degree in IT program. These master's degrees can consist of 30-36 credits, which may take 1-1.5 years to complete. Before you enroll in a master's technology degree, you should already have a fundamental understanding of IT.

Master's IT degrees teach various skills, including IT architectures, risk assessment, and solving business problems with computing.

Graduates of a master's technology degree can pursue advanced roles including computer and information research scientist, computer network architect, and software developer. Recent graduates may need previous work experience to qualify for advanced IT positions.

Doctoral Degrees in IT

You can take doctoral degrees in ITfully online; some programs offer flexibility with course start dates, lecture hours, and course choices. Doctoral programs may require 42-90 credits, which can take 3-4 years to complete. Attendees may be required to complete a mixture of courses, exams, and a dissertation.

For doctoral IT degrees, you may learn about algorithms, multivariate modeling, and statistical research techniques. Programs may require that you pick a field of study in order to focus on more complicated topics, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, or data science.

Graduates holding a doctorate in IT can pursue the highest-level careers in the field, including chief technology officer, technical manager, or professor at a higher education institution.

Do You Need a Degree to Work in IT?

People with degrees in IT provide employers an understanding of their educational background. However, some hiring managers understand that capable IT workers may have learned the valuable skills required for basic tech jobs via alternative methods.

Students that prefer alternative learning pathways or self-learning can participate in massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs can be free, flexible, and offer assignments to test participants' skills.

People may also use self-training, a method similar to MOOCs, to learn IT skills from online guides, books, and videos.

Those who learn better via hands-on methods can pursue internships in IT to gain experience. Mentors or tutors can also provide experiential learning in a comparatively relaxed environment.

Teaching yourself via the above methods may take several years, similar to the timeframe required for earning a degree. While these skills take time to develop, learning via open online sources or hands-on experiences can be free. Your commitment to learning, practicing, and establishing your skills determines how effective these methods are.

Coding bootcamps are a middle ground between traditional degrees and self-teaching.

Bootcamps, which consist of condensed learning courses, can be completed in 8-16 weeks.

Attendees follow structured curriculums from qualified teachers to quickly learn essential skills. Since bootcamps provide only a few months of teaching, they often have specializations, including web development, data science, or cybersecurity.

Resources for IT Degree Students

Best IT Certifications To Boost Your Computer Science Career

Best IT Certifications To Boost Your Computer Science Career

How to Become an Information Technology Architect

How to Become an Information Technology Architect

Coding Jargon: Terms to Know for Programming

Coding Jargon: Terms to Know for Programming

The Top AI Tools to Help You Study in College

The Top AI Tools to Help You Study in College

Frequently Asked Questions About Information Technology

What is information technology?

Information technology refers to the use of any technological device to transfer, process, or secure electronic data. Most corporations use the broad industry to help with internal operations, which can improve efficiency.

What degree is best for working in IT?

The best degree for working in IT depends upon a person's ideal career path. Prospective IT employees should consider their future career, required skills, and educational prerequisites. While some jobs require a doctoral degree, many require only a bachelor's degree in IT.

Are IT degrees worth it?

IT degrees can be worth the time and cost for people interested in technology, computers and programming. Degree holders can pursue their dream job, remote work options, and additional skills in the field.

How difficult is an IT degree?

An IT degree can be difficult as students must learn complicated coding languages, advanced technologies, and math. An IT degree requires a significant time commitment for attending courses, studying, and completing assignments.

Page last reviewed January 26, 2024.

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