If you’re good with computers, you may consider turning your talent into a marketable skill with a computer information systems associate degree online.
Not only can this degree help you stand out in a competitive job market, but it can also serve as a foundation for further study if you ever decide to go for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
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Since a computer information systems degree can be obtained online, you can also learn at your own pace from the comfort of your home.
Online Associates in Computer Information Systems
Computer information systems (CIS) is a field of study that focuses on computers, networks, databases, and other digital systems. It’s sometimes considered a sub-specialty of information technology (IT) or information systems (IS), but an increasing number of schools are offering CIS as its own discipline.
CIS students can expect to study subjects like networking, programming, database management, operation systems, and web development. Many programs may be completed entirely online without any in-person requirements.
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You may be wondering about the difference between computer science and computer information systems. While there can be a lot of crossover between the subjects, CIS tends to be more business-focused. Computer information systems is a practical degree that applies technical knowledge to business settings.
If you earn a CIS associates degree online, potential career options include programmer, software developer, systems administrator, and computer support specialist. You may find work in almost every job field, from retail companies to government agencies.
Computer Information Systems Careers & Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for computer and information technology occupations is $91,250 per year. That’s substantially higher than the national average of $41,950 per year for all occupations.
This average does include the wages of bachelors and masters degree holders as well as associate degree holders. Additionally, an entry-level job may not pay as much as an experienced one.
With those caveats in mind, here are just a few careers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that you might pursue with an interest in computer information systems:
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$151,150|
|Computer and Information Research Scientist||$126,830|
|Computer Network Architect||$116,780|
|Information Security Analyst||$103,590|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$93,730|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrator||$84,810|
|Computer Support Specialist||$55,510|
A computer information systems salary with an associates degree depends on the employer and position. With an associates degree, you may qualify for a job as a web developer or a computer support specialist. Other entry-level positions may be available as well.
Many computer jobs, management positions in particular, often require more than a two year degree. If you choose to go on to earn a bachelors, your associates degree may allow you to work in the field and gain experience while you further your studies.
Associates in CIS Curriculum
You don’t need a background in computer science to pursue an online CIS associate degree.
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Since it’s an entry-level degree, you’ll be taught the basics in your first few semesters, and you can customize your degree from there.
- Principles of Computer Information Systems: This is a foundational class that will introduce you to the terms, concepts, skills, and problems that you’ll be dealing with in CIS.
- Operating Systems: This introductory class will teach you about the infrastructure of computers and how they work.
- Business: These classes can take the form of everything from organizational behavior to project management. They’ll prepare you for the real-world integration of business, technology, and computer science.
- Data Analytics: Depending on your school, you might be required to take different math- or science-related classes, including data analytics. Other possibilities are algebra, calculus, statistics, and algorithms.
- Networking and Interfacing: Networks play a big role in the interconnection of computer information systems, and these classes revolve around their design, management, and implementation.
- Programming: Computer programming languages include Java, Python, C, C++, and SQL. You might be allowed to choose one, or you might be required to learn a common one, like Java.
- Systems Analysis and Design: Usually offered in conjunction with things like database administration and network development, this class revolves around general computer systems.
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity classes are devoted to the protection of data and can cover many subjects, such as malware, hackers, risk management, and data retrieval.
- Web Architecture and Development: Even if you aren’t planning a career as a web designer, these classes can teach you valuable skills in everything from coding to marketing.
- General Education Requirements: These are a requirement of every degree. Their purpose is to give you a well-rounded education in all subjects, not just computer information systems.
Some schools may not offer a degree in computer information systems. Some only have CIS as a specialty or concentration for a broader degree in computer science, information technology, or information systems.
You generally don’t need many qualifications to pursue a computer information systems associates degree. Most 2 year degrees are offered through community colleges, and community colleges tend to have open admission policies that make education accessible to everyone.
Here are a few basic requirements that you might see from a community college:
- High school diploma or GED. You’ll need to prove that you have a high school education or its equivalent.
- SAT or ACT scores. These are usually optional for community colleges, but if you have them, you can often submit them.
- Application. Depending on the school, you may need to include traditional elements of a college application, such as essays and letters of recommendation.
- Placement test. Many community colleges will ask you to take a placement test in subjects like math, science, and social studies before you can officially register for classes.
Many community colleges offer programs and preparatory courses for students who don’t yet qualify for admission. For example, you might be able to enroll in a GED course, or you might be allowed to take non-credit remedial classes to work your way up to college-level classes.
Accreditation is a way for colleges to establish their legitimacy. It proves that they’ve been reviewed and approved by organizations like the US Board of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Accreditation isn’t required, but it’s standard. Employers and other institutions often respect and acknowledge accredited degrees. There are several different types of accreditation, but the gold standard is regional accreditation.
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If you want to make sure that your chosen school is accredited, you may check the CHEA website. It has a searchable database of accredited colleges and college programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many forms of financial aid available for students who qualify. Loans, grants, and work-study programs are available through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will automatically determine your eligibility for various types of aid.
Another option is to search for scholarships. Various ones are often available for students of every age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and income level, so you can even search for specific ones that apply to you. Eligibility may vary for each scholarship. You may also search for scholarships meant specifically for computer science students.
What Can You Do with a Computer Information Systems Associate Degree?
A degree in computer information systems can prepare you for many types of work. Potential job opportunities involve everything from data analytics to creative web design.
Most careers have an emphasis on technical skills, but you may pursue business and administrative careers with a CIS degree as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer occupations are expected to grow by 11% through the next decade.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Information Systems Associate Degree Online?
The length of time to completion of an associate’s degree in CIS is usually about 2 years.
Most CIS programs consist of 60 credits, so if you take 15 credits for 4 semesters, you may complete an information systems associate’s degree in 2 years. Most colleges only require you to take 12 credits per semester to be considered full-time, but you’ll need 15 credits per semester to graduate in 2 years.
One of the benefits of an online program is that you can go at your own pace. Some universities even offer accelerated 8 week classes. So, if 15 credits per semester is too much for your current workload and responsibilities, you can take as many credits as your schedule will allow.
In the end, your time to completion will depend largely on your course load and the length of your college classes.
Is an Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems Worth It?
Yes, a computer information systems degree is worth it for many students. Jobs in the computer and information technology field are projected to grow at a rate of 11% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), much faster than the average job growth for all occupations.
Common CIS careers in this field include programmer, network manager, database administrator, systems analyst, cybersecurity engineer, and information research scientist.
You may also choose to earn a degree in a related field, such as computer science, information systems, or information technology (IT). These degrees often have digital information systems as a focus area within their programs.
Universities Offering Online Associate’s in Computer Information Systems Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Alexandria Technical and Community College’s computer information systems associates program is mainly for students wishing to continue on to the bachelors level after graduation.
Courses are designed to provide students with strong CIS foundations. They’ll learn about programming, computer systems, security and cyber forensics, computer applications, and virtual computing.
Alexandria Technical & Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students in Bristol Community College’s Associate in Science in Computer Information Systems transfer program will learn about the basics of CIS. The course curriculum is math and programming heavy. In addition to general education requirements, other notable courses include Python, visual basic, advanced visual basic, Oracle, and SQL basics.
Bristol Community College is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Commission on Higher Education, Inc.
The computer information science transfer pathway program at Cowley College features a broad, comprehensive, flexible curriculum that includes multiple courses on various programming languages and fundamentals.
Students will learn about Java, C++, Python, SQL, and Oracle. The degree is a transfer degree, so multiple general education courses are also required.
Cowley College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students enrolled in the Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems program at Eastern Oklahoma State College can complete the degree entirely online. There are three specialties available: business, mathematics, and computer forensics. Tuition is among the lowest in the nation, and scholarships are available to students who qualify.
Eastern Oklahoma State College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Hudson Valley Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems.
This program is designed for students looking to go straight into the workforce after graduating, and the courses provide them with strong foundations in IT, CIS, information resource management, systems analysis and design, and database management.
Hudson Valley Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Laramie County Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems program is flexible and affordable and can help students gain various CIS-related certificates.
Electives can be chosen from numerous fields to help students tailor their programs to their career goals. Popular subjects include computer programming, IT, and security.
LCCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems program at Niagara County Community College teaches students to become innovative problem solvers, work collaboratively with others, apply technical skills and knowledge to computer science issues, and design, test, and debug programs.
Students also learn about the three principles of object-oriented design.
Niagara County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Santa Barbara City College has an extensive computer information systems program with a myriad of options for students, depending on their goals.
They can earn multiple skills competency awards, two different certificates of achievement, or an Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems with an optional concentration in Systems Administration.
Santa Barbara City College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Students interested in CIS at South Texas College can choose to earn their associates degrees in either computer information systems or in computer science. The general education courses for both programs are largely the same. The difference comes in the elective courses, which students will select in accordance with their programs.
South Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Tompkins Cortland Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems program to students hoping to enter the workforce after college.
Potential careers after graduating include computer programmer, computer user support specialist, network and computer systems administrator, computer and information systems manager, and database administrator.
Tompkins Cortland Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Computer Information Systems Associate Degree Online
An associate’s degree in computer information systems may be a great way to open doors within the industry. Since the job market is growing at such a rapid pace, a degree may help you stand out from the competition.
Additionally, if you ever want to build on your education, an associate degree can help get you started with the credits required for a bachelors or masters degree.
If you’re interested, you may consider exploring accredited schools with CIS programs. Computer information systems is a highly lucrative field of study, and an associate degree may be your first step to capitalizing on it.
If you’re still uncertain, you may also consider earning your associates online in information technology.