By earning a network administration degree online, students gain the skills to manage computer networks and systems within a number of industries. While learners gain specific skills in network administration, they also develop strong computer skills that allow them to explore many fields and opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the job outlook for computer-related professions will increase by 13% by 2026, a rate nearly double the national average.
To get the most out of a network administration degree, students may consider supplementing their studies with courses in programming, security, and design. These additional courses may allow graduates to more easily transition into other computer-related professions, including computer programming, information systems management, and information security. Within network administration, professionals can explore various industry and vendor certifications to bolster their qualifications. In addition to improving one’s skills and abilities, these additional licenses may lead to higher salaries and more opportunities.
The following information covers what students should look for in a network administration degree online program, which career opportunities graduates may pursue, and which factors students should consider when making a decision.
Bachelor in Network Administration Degree Online Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The Best Online Network Administration Degrees
1. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
WGU’s BS in cloud and systems administration program offers a competency-based education; students progress through courses as they demonstrate mastery of subject material. Unlike other network administrator bachelor’s degree programs, WGU’s program does not hold students to a specific timeline for course completion.
Coursework covers topics including network security challenges, operating systems, and scripting and programming. Students are required to complete the equivalent of three or four courses during each six-month term. The program culminates in a capstone project, during which students propose a solution to an industry-specific issue.
WGU’s tuition rates are based on time, rather than credits. Students reduce the cost of the degree by completing courses faster. WGU also offers scholarships and financial aid for online students. WGU accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis, after an individual transcript review. New students can begin courses on the first of any month. Applicants must submit official transcripts and complete an online readiness assessment.
Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
2. North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, North Carolina
Established in 1891, North Carolina A&T State University is a public, historically black research university with around 12,000 students enrolled. Through its College of Science and Technology, the university offers an online bachelor of science in information technology with a concentration in computer networking.
The program requires 125 credits and includes online college courses in areas such as:
network security applications, human computer interaction, system integration and architecture, computer networking, computer database management, and network security applications.
Through a balanced blend of core and concentration coursework, theory and practice, and business and technology concepts, the program prepares students to enter a variety of lucrative career paths in network administration. At the end of their education, students complete a capstone project that synthesizes what they learned.
The College of Science and Technology has 2+2 agreements with some community colleges. This agreement gives some students flexible options for turning their associate degree into a bachelor’s degree. Otherwise, the online BS in computer networking may be completed in four years of full-time study.
North Carolina A&T State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Excelsior College
Albany, New York
Excelsior’s online bachelor’s in information technology with a concentration in network operations is designed for working professionals. Students complete asynchronous coursework at their convenience, without interfering with professional or personal commitments, and online students can earn the degree at an accelerated pace.
The 120 required credits comprise coursework in the arts and sciences, technology, and free electives. Students must declare a concentration, such as cybersecurity technology, general option, or information security and network operations. The network systems administrator degree also requires a capstone project. Graduates secure IT positions addressing users’ technological needs and often collaborate with colleagues in the field.
Tuition rates vary by program, course load, and number of transfer credits. Discounts are available for veterans and military members. Excelsior provides an online cost calculator to help prospective students determine program costs. Financial aid options for students pursuing the network administrator degree online include grants, scholarships, and flexible payment plans.
Excelsior College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
4. Champlain College
Unlike other network administrator degree programs, Champlain’s bachelor’s in computer information systems emphasizes the social skills required to succeed in the workplace. Graduates possess both the technological knowledge and the practical skills necessary to pursue successful careers.
Located in Burlington, Vermont, Champlain designs its online programs for working professionals. The fully online network administration degree comprises seven-week classes. While earning their network administrator bachelor’s degree, students can also earn certification in fields such as computer forensics, Java programming, Linux administration, and security and support.
The curriculum covers topics such as enterprise database systems, information systems development, and cybersecurity. Students also complete general education courses, such as writing in the workplace, intercultural communication, and ethics in the professions. Graduates are able to administer and secure network systems, use scripting languages and web services, and employ project management tools and techniques.
Because Champlain’s network and computer systems administrators degree is designed for working professionals, applicants should have both academic qualifications and professional experience.
Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
5. Fort Hays State University
FHSU offers a BS and a BA in information networking and telecommunications with a computer networking and telecommunications concentration. Graduates enter technology-driven roles in fields such as education, healthcare, and law enforcement. FHSU offers coursework that leads to Cisco certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Networking Associate credential.
Both the BS and BA require 124 credit hours, including 39 credit hours in the core concentration. However, BA students complete 65 general education credit hours and 20 elective credit hours, whereas BS students complete 55 general education hours and 30 free elective hours. Core classes include foundations of information networking, research methods in informatics, and public policy, and ethics and law in telecommunications. Each student works with an advisor to develop a degree plan that suits their career goals.
Students in the online network administration degree program have access to loans and scholarships, and FHSU offers programs and benefits for military members. Applicants over the age of 21 are not required to submit ACT or SAT scores.
Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
6. Southern Nazarene University
Located in Bethany, Oklahoma, SNU offers a fully online bachelor’s in network management program, which prepares students to earn certifications such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate and Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician. Students gain strong interpersonal skills, along with the technical knowledge necessary to become effective IT professionals.
SNU offers the BS as a degree completion program; applicants must have some previous college experience. Students complete coursework with small groups of peers. The curriculum covers topics such as Windows networking, routers and switches, network security, and professional ethics. Students can complete prior learning assessments to earn up to 30 credits for knowledge and life experience.
Applicants must pass an entrance test with a score of 80 or higher; only the top 16 scoring applicants are admitted. Students who score below 90 are encouraged to complete a workshop prior to beginning the program. SNU offers financial aid and scholarships for online students.
Southern Nazarene University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
7. Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Graduates of DSU’s bachelor’s in network and security administration program secure positions such as systems administrator, network systems engineer, and penetration tester. Located in Madison, South Dakota, DSU emphasizes both technical skills and business management techniques. The program is available entirely online, and students are encouraged to form connections with their professors, many of whom hold valuable partnerships and relationships with industry leaders.
Most students complete the 120 required credits in four years. Coursework covers topics such as hardware, visualization and data communication, web application programming, and computer forensics. Students also complete free electives in areas such as math, social sciences, and the arts.
DSU offers a unique, per-credit tuition system, which only charges students the cost of taking each class; the university does not require students to pay fees for services they may not use, such as a gym or library. Students enrolled in at least six credits are eligible for scholarships and financial aid.
Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
8. Florida State College at Jacksonville
FSCJ offers a BAS in computer systems networking and telecommunications that students can complete in as few as 20 months. The program is ideal for students interested in fields such as information security, network flow optimization, and system design and analysis.
The network administrator degree requires 120 credits, and the curriculum includes coursework in technical support and server configuration, advanced convergent technologies, service support management, and software defined networking. The program requires an eight-hour foreign language component, which students can meet through high school credit or CLEP exams.
FSCJ is among the most affordable four-year institutions in the nation. The university offers financial aid and scholarships, and many graduates find employment opportunities in nearby communities. FSCJ awards credit for industry certifications, completed college-level examinations, and portfolios of learning experiences. Applicants must have at least an associate degree and 60 transferable credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better.
Florida State College at Jacksonville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Bellevue University
Located in Nebraska, Bellevue’s online bachelor’s in systems and network administration is designed for students with network administration experience who want to advance their career through further education. Students learn to formulate technical solutions, develop strategies for information security, and design database infrastructures.
The program requires 127 credit hours, including 36 general education hours, 55 elective hours, and 36 major hours. Students complete coursework in Linux 1, virtualization of computing resources, and web server administration. Students in the online network administration degree program gain hands-on experience with Microsoft products, Linux operating systems, database management systems, and web servers.
Applicants must have one of the following: two years of professional IT experience, an associate degree, 60 previous credit hours, a grade of B or better on certain IT courses, or CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Network+ certification. Applicants must also demonstrate proof of a high school diploma, its equivalent, or an associate degree.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
10. Rogers State University
RSU was the first university in Oklahoma to offer a fully online degree. The university’s online bachelor’s in business information technology with a concentration in computer network administration requires 124 credit hours. Coursework covers topics including data modeling and network operating systems, accounting, and marketing. Students also complete general education courses in areas such as geography, chemistry, and philosophy.
Students pursuing RSU’s network administrator online degree choose from two options: computer network administration and software development and multimedia. The computer network administration option includes coursework in network operating systems and emerging technologies and is ideal for students planning to pursue positions such as system specialist or system network administrator. The software development and multimedia option requires coursework in software engineering and web development, and graduates pursue careers in web programming and software engineering.
Applicants must submit ACT scores and official high school transcripts or a GED certificate. Online students are eligible for the same financial aid options as on-campus students, including the GI Bill®, scholarships, and grants. Oklahoma residents pay discounted tuition rates.
Rogers State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Advantages of a Network Administration Education
While an associate degree in network administration may qualify graduates for entry-level positions in the field, employers typically seek candidates with bachelor’s degrees as a minimum. According to the BLS, the growth outlook for network administration sits lower than the national average, meaning candidates should seek strong qualifications. The most promising job prospects require at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, many bachelor’s programs in network administration provide diverse information technology training, helping students develop the widely applicable skill set necessary for other computer-related positions.
Equipped with training in a variety of IT disciplines, bachelor’s degree graduates often qualify for positions in programming, systems design, analysis, and engineering. Additionally, students who complete their network administration degrees online can round out their education with supplemental training and specializations.
A bachelor’s degree also provides a solid foundation to an advanced degree for those who wish to pursue careers in management or research. Additionally, as highlighted below, the computer industry compensates its workforce very well and rewards both education and experience.
Network Administration Degree Salary Information
The broad range of computer skills covered in network administrator bachelor’s degree programs can prepare students for careers in all IT settings. Some of these careers may be freelance or contract based, allowing for a more diverse work environment, while others feature work within a single, specific organization.
Network administrators design, implement, and manage an organization’s computer network. They assess these networks and optimize its performance based on the organization’s needs. With a bachelor’s degree, network administrators possess the skills to work with advanced networks and troubleshooting methods.
Computer Systems Manager:
Computer systems managers oversee the IT needs of an organization. The diverse skill set earned in a bachelor’s program prepares professionals to work with multiple IT elements, including networks, hardware, and software.
Computer programmers write the code that allows computers to run applications and programs. These professionals often test and troubleshoot programs to ensure optimal performance. They also design and create programs to meet specific organizational needs and requests.
Computer Systems Analyst:
Computer systems analysts evaluate and assess an organization’s computer systems and suggest improved solutions. Some analysts assist in the implementation of these solutions, as well as aiding in the training and organizational roll-out.
Information Security Analyst:
Information security analysts design and implement security measures and systems for organizations. They monitor the IT systems for threats and establish defense measures. Some analysts look for system weaknesses and vulnerabilities to protect against possible attacks.
Salary by Experience for Network Administration Careers
|Job Title||5–5 Years||1–10 Years||10–20 Years||20+ Years|
|Computer Systems Manager||$59,000||$76,000||$91,000||$99,000|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$54,000||$69,000||$73,000||$81,000|
|Information Security Analyst||$63,000||$82,000||$89,000||$91,000|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Choosing an Online Network Administration Degree Program
Choosing the right program can be challenging for students, as it represents one of the more important decisions a person can make for their future. For that reason, students should carefully weigh all options and considerations before making a final choice. Though students do not need their entire future mapped out, they should think about the possible career options that certain programs offer. Many programs feature specializations that create additional opportunities, whereas others offer certification or licensure tracks.
While local schools and programs typically offer tuition discounts to residents, distance learning allows students to explore programs across the country, often without cost restrictions. The following list highlights just some of the variables that students should consider when comparing schools.
For many students, program cost is the most important consideration. Costs vary considerably from program to program. Some of the factors that impact program cost include reputation, faculty, program offerings, and educational resources. Tuition for in-state students often costs substantially less than tuition for out-of-state students, but many online programs now offer a flat rate to improve accessibility.
For students with prior undergraduate education, finding a school with a strong transfer credit policy should sit high on the priority list. Many programs welcome transfer students from other accredited institutions, granting credit for prior training in general courses and foundational subjects. Transfer credit can shorten a program’s length considerably.
School Size and Type:
Students value school size and type differently. Some smaller programs and classes allow for more interaction with professors or offer a more dedicated training environment. Some students seek larger programs for a stronger peer community and network.
Many programs offer flexible study lengths to accommodate different students. Short programs attract students with flexible schedules looking to graduate as soon as possible, whereas working professionals often require longer programs with the option of part-time study.
On-campus requirements, specifically for online students, are a major consideration. Students should explore how many on-campus sessions their program requires and when these occur.
Accreditation for Online Network Administration Degrees
Students pursuing network administration degrees online should pay close attention to accreditation, as it may result in better education, funding, and career opportunities. Accreditation comes in three major forms: regional, national, and programmatic.
At the institutional level, both regional and national accreditation provide students, employers, and funding agencies with assurances that a school meets high academic and career standards. Regional accrediting agencies grant accreditation to colleges and universities within their particular area that meet rigorous standards. Most public universities and research institutions hold regional accreditation. National accreditation agencies typically review faith-based schools and technical schools.
Programs and departments within a university can also hold accreditation specific to a certain field or industry. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) provides the most common and sought after programmatic accreditation for network administrator programs and related degrees. While not mandatory, programmatic accreditation may prove beneficial for obtaining certifications and employment. Students interested in earning their network administration degrees online may therefore prioritize programs with specialized accreditation.
National and regional accreditors must obtain recognition from the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These organizations ensure each accreditor holds an acceptable standard of evaluation, which in turn provides protection for students and funding agencies. CHEA also recognizes programmatic accreditors like ABET. To verify that a school or program received proper accreditation, students should explore the Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Network Administration Concentrations
Different degree programs have the option for students to choose a concentration in areas like web development or data management. These programs may have varying requirements for graduation, such as capstone seminars or projects. Students should consider which type of academic experience they’re looking for and select a project that caters to those needs and goals.
Students in this concentration learn to develop and implement IT security measures. The concentration provides training in threat detection and prevention, as well as information backup and restoration. Students also learn to apply security skills in cryptography and authentication.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Information Security Analyst, Network Administrator, Computer Systems Manager
In this specialization, students learn to analyze an organization’s database needs and provide suitable solutions. The program provides training in database design and security for a variety of industries, including finance and healthcare. Students also gain training in the design and protection of information backups.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Database Administrator, Information Security Analyst
In a telecommunications specialization, students focus on the communications devices within organizations. Students gain expertise in the design, construction, and management of wireless communications and networks. They also learn about common business, security, and legal issues involving these technologies.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Computer Systems Manager, Network Administrators
Healthcare Information Systems:
A healthcare information systems specialization provides students with training that focuses on information services and IT solutions for professionals working within a healthcare setting. Some programs include training in healthcare informatics and medical record databases, as well as security and troubleshooting techniques.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Health Information Systems Manager
Cloud computing specializations teach students to implement, secure, and manage a cloud computing environment. Students explore how cloud computing integrates with contemporary business and the solutions it offers. Some programs offer training in cloud computing design and security.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Cloud Operations Engineer, Network Administrator, Computer Systems Manager
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Network Administration?
The length of a network administration degree online program depends on several factors. While most bachelor’s programs require 120 credits and take four years to complete, course load, term length, transfer credits, and course delivery all impact study time. Since program completion times can fluctuate, most programs charge tuition per credit and not for elapsed time. Students with transfer credits, therefore, can not only decrease the amount of time for degree completion, but the cost as well.
For students looking to complete a degree in the shortest possible time, many programs offer accelerated options. These formats may include courses with flexible completion dates, allowing students to finish course requirements quicker. Other programs feature shorter terms and course lengths, allowing students to cover more ground in a shorter period of time. With certain asynchronous online programs, students can complete heavier-than-average course loads without worrying about scheduling restrictions. Conversely, working professionals may use this scheduling freedom to complete a degree while maintaining full-time employment.
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Network Administration Program
When it comes to network and computer systems degrees, students can earn many technical certifications before graduating. Some network administrator degrees build certifications into the curriculum, preparing students for the various exams required to earn the certifications. Students can obtain various credentials, including CompTIA certifications, Microsoft certified solutions credentials, and CIW site development associate. Aside from earning certifications, students in network administration programs also take courses that emphasize skills in areas like network design, operating systems, scripting and programming, and challenges in network security.
In this course, students learn to recognize and detect common information systems threats. The course covers counteraction and protection methods used against these attacks, along with the legalities involved in information security. Students may also learn to create information backups and security measures to prevent future attacks.
Database administration courses teach students the value and function of databases in relation to network administration. These courses delve into common database designs and languages, often allowing students to work with actual industry models and data sets.
Scripting and Programming
Students learn to build scripts and develop programs using various languages. Topics include scripts for server administration and security, packet creation, and network engineering. With experience in programming, network administrators not only open more career opportunities, but also gain additional troubleshooting skills in the field of network administration.
Business of IT
This course explores the interaction between IT and business operations. Students learn how businesses function and how IT solutions integrate within that system. Equipped with this knowledge, IT professionals can more accurately assess business needs and become more effective problem-solvers within organizations.
Operating System Administration
This course teaches students how to manage the most common operating systems. Topics include network configuration, IP address management, and monitoring network access. Students learn how to implement and manage network structures within organizations. The course also covers common problems and troubleshooting methods.
Network Administration Membership Associations
Professional associations offer benefits for network administrators at every level of their career. For new grads and current students, these associations often provide career preparation assistance and mentoring. Both recent graduates and experienced professionals can benefit from networking events and professional development opportunities. The following list provides information on some of the most popular organizations for network administrators.
Network Professional Association:
NPA represents networking professionals from around the world. The organization strives to establish and uphold a set of industry standards and best practices. Members gain access to networking events, professional development opportunities, and leadership programs.
Network and Systems Professionals Association:
NaSPA advocates for improved professional standards and working conditions for network professionals. In addition to acting as the voice of its members, the association offers access to industry events, publications, and training and professional development programs.
CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals:
CompTIA AITP provides resources for professionals in various information technology professions, including network administration. For nearly 70 years, the association’s network has allowed professionals to exchange their knowledge and develop a stronger industry. Members gain access to education, events, and industry news.
Association for Computing Machinery:
As a leader in the computing industry, ACM connects professionals, advances the profession, and raises awareness about the industry’s value. Members of the ACM gain access to publications and networking events, along with lifelong training programs allowing for professional evolution.
Information Systems Security Association International:
ISSA develops industry standards, ethics, and best practices in information systems. The association provides members with a place to connect and share ideas. ISSA offers educational opportunities and hosts educational forums to enhance each member’s abilities and advance the profession as a whole.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/index.asp