What is the difference between various IT degrees?

November 28, 2018 · 7 min read · By ASU Online

Technology is one of the world’s most exciting career fields with wide-ranging applications, spanning network infrastructure, disruptive startups and more. Organizations need teams of skilled computing professionals to manage data storage, hardware malfunctions, data analysis and more.


The technology industry

Computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow faster than the national average for all occupations from 2016 to 2026, rising 13 percent to add approximately 557,100 new jobs to the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Much of this demand will be for individuals skilled in information security, cloud computing and the collection and storage of big data.

The technology industry is also known to offer competitive earnings potential. The median salary is $84,580, per the BLS, and many professionals can earn a six-figure salary depending on their position.

Securing a technology job requires a high level of technical skill. Job seekers may need to know multiple programming languages, understand network infrastructure, be able to edit graphic images or perform other specialized tasks. Formal education can give candidates a competitive edge by attaining the qualifications to meet employers’ various requirements.

Arizona State University offers many online technology degrees, ranging from graphics to engineering to information technology and more. Students can complete their coursework online, allowing for a convenient and flexible learning environment while preparing for a lucrative career in the growing technology field.

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Technology Bachelor’s Degrees

Business Data Analytics (BS)

Users generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, per the business intelligence company Domo. Enterprise organizations need skilled analysts to sort through this massive quantity of information and generate relevant, actionable conclusions. The online Bachelor of Science in Business Data Analytics can help students attain the technical and critical thinking skills to fill these positions.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Dimensional modeling
  • Business data warehouses
  • Enterprise analytics
  • Data mining

Possible careers include:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Clinical research coordinator
  • Computer and information systems manager
  • Investment fund manager

Computer Information Systems (BS)

Public, private, nonprofit and government organizations across the globe are increasing their demand for qualified computer experts — specifically individuals who can design, build and maintain information systems to help these entities make strategic decisions. The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems provides a thorough overview of computer architecture and can prepare students to enter many in-demand positions.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Business statistics
  • Global supply operations
  • Enterprise web technologies
  • Business information system development

Possible careers include:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Computer network administrator
  • Software developer
  • Information technology manager

Geographic Information Science (BS)

The online Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Science degree takes a STEM-based approach to social science. Students can explore social issues as well as software, statistics and computer programming, preparing them to apply computer- and data-based solutions to cultural problems.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Statistics for geography and planning
  • Natural science
  • Programming principles
  • Cultural diversity

Possible careers include:

  • Cartographer
  • Geospatial intelligence analyst
  • Geographic information systems analyst
  • Geospatial information technologist

Graphic Information Technology (BS)

Graphic content is as informative as it is visual, and institutions rely on skilled artists to help communicate their message in a way that is aesthetically appealing. The online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology can help students obtain a foundation in creativity, technology and management. Through this program, students can graduate ready to create visual content for a variety of channels, including print, video, web and more.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Graphic communications
  • Digital illustration
  • Commercial photography
  • Digital video techniques

Possible careers include:

  • Art director
  • Graphic artist
  • Animator
  • Film editor

Information Technology (BS)

Emphasizing network security, the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree online can teach students to create, evaluate and improve complex computer and database systems. The coursework incorporates project solutions and presentations almost every semester, so students will gain experience that may directly apply to their future careers. Students can pursue jobs in a number of enterprises and large-scale government agencies upon graduation.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Programming logic
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Organization and administration of computer and network systems
  • Information modeling, storage and retrieval

Possible careers include:

  • Computer network analyst
  • Database administrator
  • IT project manager
  • Information security analyst

Internet and Web Development (Applied Science BAS)

The online Bachelor of Applied Science in Internet and Web Development can prepare students to fill a variety of website-related roles, such as user experience design, emerging technology, cross-platform media and more. This degree is designed for students who earned an Associate of Applied Sciences from a regionally accredited institution. Relevant AAS degrees include graphic design, fine arts or a technical discipline with related work experience.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Website design
  • Web markup and scripting
  • Image editing
  • Multimedia production

Possible careers include:

  • Web developer
  • Graphic designer
  • Search engine optimization specialist
  • UX analyst

Software Engineering (BS)

The online Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering program offers a unique project-driven curriculum founded on the concepts of engaged learning, discovery-based education and learning-by-doing. Students complete practical software engineering projects every semester and can improve their technical and professional skills, preparing them for numerous jobs.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Programming principles and languages
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Mathematical structures
  • Data structure and algorithm design and analysis

Possible careers include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Video game developer
  • Information technology manager
  • Software developer

Technological Entrepreneurship and Management (BS)

The online Bachelor of Science in Technological Entrepreneurship and Management combines tech and business, creating a program that can prepare students to lead innovative initiatives. This program is suitable for individuals who want to begin their own technology-based organizations or enter a career in technology management. Students may work with people from other academic programs who participate in TEM courses as electives, allowing TEM students to prepare for careers that involve collaboration between multiple departments and disciplines.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Technology literacy
  • Enterprise systems
  • Mathematics for business analysis
  • Design methodology

Possible careers include:

  • Business analyst
  • Marketing manager
  • Quality control manager
  • Cost estimator

Technology Master’s Degrees

Computer Science (MCS)

The online Master of Computer Science program, which focuses on the scientific and engineering aspects of the discipline, aims to provide an advanced education in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity. This online engineering technology program can prepare students to enter some of the most cutting-edge technical positions in business and government.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Knowledge representation and reasoning
  • Data processing at scale
  • Information assurance and security
  • Software verification, validation and testing

Possible careers include:

  • Computer network administrator
  • Software quality engineer
  • Telecommunications engineering specialist
  • Computer system architect

Education in Learning and Design Technologies (MS)

Schools and businesses are incorporating an increasing amount of software applications for learning purposes. The former use innovative educational applications and devices to help students achieve learning outcomes, while the latter often create career development programs or assessments and certifications. These organizations seek technicians who understand technology and education to develop the tools they need. The online Master of Education in Learning and Design Technologies program can help students learn pedagogy and software development, allowing them to enter such positions.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Learning theories
  • Learning design and technologies
  • Designing effective communications
  • Evaluating learning systems

Possible careers include:

  • Curriculum developer
  • Elearning developer
  • Technology integration specialist
  • Educational software consultant

Engineering Science in Software Engineering (MSE)

The online Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in Software Engineering can prepare students to work as engineers or task leaders on projects using agile or formal Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) methodologies. Students will learn about major development techniques, methods, tools and processes, allowing them to adopt a multifaceted role in software development.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Information assurance and security
  • Software engineering principles
  • Process and quality management
  • Software verification, validation and testing

Possible careers include:

  • Application developer
  • Software developer
  • Computer system analyst
  • Electronics engineering technician

Global Technology and Development (MS)

The online Master of Science in Global Technology and Development highlights how technology can help solve global disparity in wealth and access to resources and basic needs. Individuals with a tech background who want to address international socioeconomic and political issues, both within and between countries, may be well-suited for this degree. The program incorporates cultural, historical, religious and social studies to help students consider these factors when designing technology-based solutions.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Research design
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Technology and the international political system
  • Development in zones of conflict

Possible careers include:

  • Technology manager
  • Nonprofit executive
  • English as a second language researcher
  • Humanitarian engineer

Graphic Information Technology (MSTech)

Graphics professionals, supervisors and managers who want to advance their skills in managing digital content should consider the online Master of Science in Technology in Graphic Information Technology. Learners in the program often have a background in web design and development, multimedia, informational graphics or another related field. Near the program’s end, students will have the opportunity to complete an applied project that demonstrates knowledge, solutions and suggestions for a graphics-related problem.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • User experience design
  • Product lifecycle management
  • Virtual environments
  • Visual intelligence and perception

Possible careers include:

  • IT project manager
  • Art director
  • Public information officer
  • Film and video editor

Health Informatics (MAS)

Health care professionals can improve their understanding of technology and how it relates to the clinical environment with the online Master of Advanced Studies in Health Informatics. This program may also be suitable for professionals in a non-health care role who want to transition into the field. Students will study how information technology, data science and knowledge representation impact individual and community health.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Population health management and analysis
  • Database modeling
  • Health systems engineering
  • Leadership and change in clinical environments

Possible careers include:

  • Health care project IT manager
  • EHR information system analyst
  • Clinical informatics manager
  • Health informatics analyst

Information Management (MS)

The online Master of Science in Information Management can give students a business- and IT-driven advantage to help them compete for leadership positions. Offering a broad overview of IT, the courses can assist students in strengthening their problem-solving skills and learning to incorporate data analytics, information systems and emerging technologies into business operations, thereby improving company performance.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Emerging technologies
  • Managing enterprise systems
  • Information-enabled business modeling
  • IT services and project management

Possible careers include:

  • Financial manager
  • Marketing manager
  • Revenue cycle analyst
  • Cybersecurity engineer

Information Technology (MS)

Students wishing to improve their knowledge of modern cyber system infrastructure should consider the online Master of Science in Information Technology. The degree focuses on strengthening students’ ability to conceptualize, organize and realize IT projects that meet user needs, ultimately culminating with portfolio and applied project options.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Information analysis, modeling, representation and communication
  • Security analysis
  • Middleware programming
  • Managing the cloud

Possible careers include:

  • Network forensics engineer
  • Database architect
  • Information systems modeling
  • Big data specialist

Technology Graduate Certificates

Global Development and Innovation (Graduate Certificate)

Twenty-first-century global development requires a transdisciplinary approach that incorporates equity, participatory democracy, social values and innovation. As such, development aid workers need an education that incorporates not only theories of human welfare but also knowledge of technology. The online Graduate Certificate in Global Development and Innovation can help students and professionals better understand how technology relates to and can improve the lives of communities across the globe.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Global technology and development
  • Development policy and practices

Possible careers include:

  • Director of infrastructure and technology
  • Director of innovation and biodesign
  • Global strategy manager
  • Global education director

Earning an online technology degree from ASU

The breadth of ASU Online technology programs can help students gain technical skills, critical thinking abilities and technological expertise. These programs are offered online, so students can earn their bachelor’s, master’s or graduate certificate in a manner that works with their lifestyles and current occupations. Taught by expert faculty, a technology degree from ASU Online can help students enter a robust technology career in various fields, including IT, health care, education and more.

Program details are subject to change. Current information can be found by visiting individual ASU Online degree pages.

Computer and Information Technology Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Data Never Sleeps 5.0 by Domo
ASU Online – All Online Degree Programs: Technology

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