Online Degree Programs

Online Degree Programs
Selecting a degree program can be a daunting task, particularly if your area of study covers a variety of disciplines. One way to help narrow down your choices is to visit a career counselor who can help you better understand your interests and long-term goals. Even if you feel like you have a basic idea about your academic plan, you may still be able to learn from discussing different degree options with a counselor. Finding a career that fits your interests and strengths, one that intrigues and challenges you, is not always an easy thing to do.

Let’s say you’ve made the decision to get a degree in computing and technology because you are fascinated with computers and all they have to offer. You begin by browsing the web for universities that specialize in degrees in various areas of computing and technology. First and foremost, you should select a university that provides an accredited education. Attending an accredited university means that you are more likely to achieve a degree that recruiters and employers recognize as a quality education, thus improving your chances for better career opportunities. Search for the “25 best online computing schools,” for instance, as a good starting point.

When you have narrowed the field down to a few of your top choices, it’s time to review and compare the degree programs thoroughly. To follow our example, you should conduct a bit of research in the field of computing and technology to get a sense of the variety of disciplines offered. Here are a few degree options, including brief descriptions:

  • Computer Science (CS) focuses on the design and development of computational systems, such as intelligence systems, robotics, and bioinformatics.

  • Information Systems (IS) addresses the needs of businesses and enterprises by integrating technology solutions and new business practices to improve productivity.

  • Software Engineering (SE) is the process of designing, developing, maintaining, and testing software, using the principles of engineering.

  • Computer Engineering (CE) focuses on the design and development of hardware-software integration by utilizing both electrical engineering and computer science.

  • Information Technology (IT) covers a broader scope of computer technology needs in the government sector, private sector, schools, health care, and other types of organizations.

Although the above disciplines are all part of the computing family, each one comes with a different area of expertise and a different set of expectations. In the fields of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Software Engineering, the most important courses required will be computing courses, such as programming languages, mathematics, and algorithms. On the other hand, Information Systems and Information Technology will emphasize several non-computing classes, such as Decision Theory, Organizational Behavior, Business Models, and Interpersonal Communication, in addition to the core computer courses. Knowing the course requirements for each discipline will help give you an idea of how complex each field is, which may help you narrow down your choice.

Prior to selecting your degree program, it is not a bad idea to do some research to ensure that your area of study is sustainable. Many areas of computing and technology are only short-lived trends, while other technologies are part of prolonged evolutionary processes. The idea is to ensure that the technologies you are studying will still be available when you achieve your degree. To improve your chances, try to diversify your areas of study to help broaden your scope of knowledge. For instance, add a minor in business to a major in computing. This will not only provide you with a broader foundation of knowledge, it will also help cast a wider net for future career opportunities.

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+Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger

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