*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Systems Analysts, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
It is possible to earn an Information Systems bachelor's degree online in less than the four years traditionally required in a brick and mortar school, as the student may take classes year-round. For the student balancing work and/or family obligations, it may take longer. One of the advantages of earning an online degree is that the student may work at his or her own pace. However, you should be aware that some rigorous programs or majors may require you to complete your degree within a certain time frame from the start of your courses. You should check with the department your major falls under and ask if they have any such requirement.
Before choosing a major there are some important facts you should know about.
Information Systems is a wide-ranging field with many different specialties. If you have a specific career you are hoping to enter, make sure the school either offers a major in that field or a variety of classes pertaining to your field of interest. You may be able to find employment information for graduating students, which can show you how many students were able to enter the Information Systems you're looking at upon graduation.
This is a very important question to ask yourself. Your major should play a big part in the schools you are considering. Not every college may offer the major of your choice, so doing your homework is the first step of the selection process.
Before you declare a major in Information Systems, you should have an idea of what kind of timeframe you're looking at. If you are trying to achieve an associate degree, you will only need to finish about 60 credit hours over 2 years. However, if you are going for you bachelor's (B.S. or B.A.) degree in Information Systems, you will need to complete 120 credit hours over four years. And, if you want to attain a master's degree as well, you will have to finish your bachelors first and then spend around 2 years completing 60 more credit hours. Some of the coursework you will find in typical Information Systems degrees are:
If you're concerned about the specific graduation rate at each school you're most interested in, the Office of Institutional Research at each university should have that information. Nationwide, only 41% of university students finish within the four year timetable. The remaining 59% tend to stay in school for five years or more.
This can get very expensive. Students have to pay for additional terms of tuition. Universities and colleges may also penalize students who are taking too long to graduate. So, you need to have a plan that enables you to graduate within four to six years. See an advisor for your major every semester. Take the classes that they tell you are required. Try to take more than just the 12 minimum full-time credits per semester—instead, take 15; if you don't have to work more than 10 to 15 hours a week, try to take 18 credits. Take summer classes to get ahead (or catch up if you fail a class).
Don't change majors too often. If you're not sure of your major, take just your general education credits and try a few majors you're interested in—take an introductory class for each major and find the one that fits you best.
Accreditation is a very important facet of your career since, if the college you attend is accredited by a reputable association, the Information Systems degree you earn from that college will have more value and some employers include this information when evaluating you for employment.
The reason why accreditation is so important is that, without it, it's hard to determine what kind of standards the training programs hold and if they are up to date with technology and innovation.
A college gets accredited voluntarily by an association of their choice. The association will interview and inspect the college thoroughly to see if they meet their standards of everything from cleanliness to academics and, if the college passes the inspection, the association puts their stamp on them as an assurance that they meet all their requirements.
Employers today want only the best of the best working for them. Some businesses are even willing to pay for the education of potential candidates. So, when it comes to degrees, most employers look at the accreditor of the school you earned your degree from, since this says a lot about the kind of education you acquired. If an employer is willing to go so far as to pay for a student's education, imagine what kind of salary they will offer to those holding a degree from a highly reputable association.
Colleges and universities generally charge per credit hour for Information Systems courses. Multiply the cost by the number of credits you're taking for your total semester's financial commitment. Program fees may not be included in the stated tuition rate. If a university charges $331 per credit hour, multiply this by 12 or 15 (the number of credits you're taking per semester). For 12 credit hours, this is $3,972; for 15 credit hours, it's $4,965.
The College Board's Trends in Higher Education Series reported that the average cost of a four-year public Bachelor of Science in Information Systems program was $9,970 if taken in-state. It was as much as $35,260 if taken at a private university or college. And be aware that, even if you are comfortable with the per credit hour cost of the program you are looking at, there will be other costs for fees, textbooks, and room and board if you live on campus.
If your university offers career and/or placement services, you'll be able to take advantage of both as a student or graduate. You can receive career counseling, career assessments, and resume reviews, where you'll learn how to spruce your resume up. It is important to research if your potential college has post career placement assistance. This demonstrates that the college or university Information Systems program is with you from start to finish.