Online Information Systems Degree Programs

As the field of Information Systems booms more online schools offer information systems degrees. Info tech pros work with computers, software, networks, security and more. With many ways to carve a niche, find out how to prepare for this very fast growing field by going for an information systems degree online.

WHAT IS AN ONLINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREE?

An online information systems degree studies computer systems and networks. It looks at how they collect, sort, record, access, secure and move data. Then as an applied science focus on ways to use these technologies to solve problems. As a result it often touches on programming, design, hardware or software.

One may find information systems programs at all levels. Bachelor’s, master’s and PhDs. At each level online students may study an area that matches interests and skills. Creative, technical, research, analysis or managerial.

Bachelor’s programs are basic. They tend to introduce the various components and uses of info tech and how they fit together. Grads may leave with a solid set of technical skills and an ability to use information systems to reach business goals.

Master’s programs allow for professional growth. They often refine skills while adding an element of leadership. Today’s managers and directors in the information systems world often go for a grad degree to climb the corporate ladder.

PhD programs focus on thought leadership and research. One must come up with an original theory that adds to their field. So, this is often the degree of choice for innovators, teachers and those who want to consult and lead. 

When looking for an online college, one thing to check for is its accreditation. Accredited schools follow a set of quality standards to get this status. 

Regionally approved schools also take part in Federal financial aid programs. Program specific accreditors (like ABET) ensure the curriculum is timely and relevant.  

Formats for online learning may also vary. It is common to be able to take classes at your own pace while keeping track of due dates. Make sure you understand the expectations and how to plan your time.

Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems

An online bachelor’s degree in information systems offers entry level coursework. Many online programs span 120 credits and take four years. Less if you have eligible transfer credits.

There are two types of degrees available. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS). Of them, the BS tends to cover more math and analytics in the general education requirements. 

In either program you may grow basic technical skills people working in information systems need. Things like how to set up a network, server, client system, and firewall.

Other aspects may help you adopt a systems thinking approach to solving problems. You may also learn about corporate information systems departments and how to be a team player.

In looking for online colleges you may find tuition rates vary. If you choose a public college, it the avg. cost was $17,797 per year in 2017/18. Private schools tend to be more expensive. About $46,014 at private nonprofit or $26,261 at private for profit per year. 

When ready to apply, you need a high school diploma or GED (plus transcripts). Some admissions teams look for a minimum GPA.

Master’s Degree in Information Systems

An online master’s in information systems is a professional graduate degree. The avg. program covers from 30 to 36 credits in about two years and requires a bachelor’s for entry.

Two of the most common awards are the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). Both aim to refine skills including leadership.

That said, the MS is more technical. Since an MBA’s goal is to provide a well rounded set of administrative topics, there tend to be a handful of information systems classes.

These classes aim to build deeper skill sets in a specific area. Cyber security, networking and management information systems (MIS). 

MIS is the study of people, technology, org.’s, and the relationships among them. Beyond coding, this class might help you design systems that are effective and drive results. 

If wondering about admission, a complete application includes all transcripts. Some schools set a minimum GPA and may ask to see GRE schools but many don’t. Along with these items you may need to send in a current resume and proof you speak English. 

Tuition, like curriculum is another variable. The avg. graduate tuition and required fees at a public college is $11,617. Private nonprofits ($26,551) and for profits ($14,784) usually have higher avg. annual costs.

PhD in Information Systems

A PhD in information systems is a terminal research degree. It is often the degree people choose when they want to research or teach. 

To graduate, there is an expectation you will add value to your field of study. Most students choose a minor that matches their own goals as well as ongoing faculty research projects. 

Some schools also offer a Doctor of Information Systems (DIS) degree. It has a practical and less academic focus. Either program may feature at least 45 credits plus any research dissertation (PhD) or final project (DIS). That tends to take at least 3.5 years, and often more. 

Courses at this level may be very technical and comp sci focused. In the mix, you often find strategy classes to help students learn to lead and make data informed decisions. Since some learning may be hands on you may have some brief in person sessions.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH AN ONLINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREE?

An online information systems degree may be a gateway for many career paths. As tech advances it creates jobs in business, finance, medicine, research and engineering. Since computer jobs are still evolving, there may be work for all levels of education.

In many computer science and tech fields, one needs a bachelor’s for entry level roles. Apart from that, many information systems professionals have a master’s or higher degree. Those working with specific software may also need industry certification. CISCO, CompTIA, Microsoft etc.

1. Computer Network Architects

A network architect builds and sets up systems that transport data. Local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. This takes a range of skills beyond hardware and software. From being able to research new tech. To understanding how cloud computing and company’s goals. As a result, for more complex jobs one may need a master’s or MBA.

2. Database Administrators

DBA sets up systems using software to store and keep data in order. Part of their role is to keep this data secure from unauthorized access. They also install upgrades, fix bugs and write programs for software. As job functions vary, one may need a master’s to move up the ladder.

3. Information Security Analyst

An info sec analyst works in network security. Their role is to protect an org.’s computer networks and operating systems. To do so they install firewalls, encrypt data and run tests. As such, they need to know how hackers think and what to do in case of a cyber attack or breach. The more involved roles may require a master’s degree.

4. Software Developer

software developer is part creative part analytic. They assess users’ needs and then design the apps that meet them. Or work in software engineering to build the systems that run devises and networks. Many get their feet wet with a bachelor’s in this industry though a master’s may help for some roles.

5. Computer Scientists

computer scientist solves problems using logic. Their world is one focused on research, data analytics, design and innovation. As such, they may be at the forefront of new hardware and software. Whether in business, science, engineering or biomedicine. Because this takes in depth skills one tends to need a graduate degree.

6. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Information Systems managers and directors plan the details of computer activities within an org. That means keeping a finger on the pulse of new technology. As well as figuring out how to reach org. goals using computer systems. For C suite jobs like Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTA) one may need a master’s or higher.

7. Computer Systems Analyst

An IT analyst solves data processing problems by first assessing an org.’s use of tech and info systems. Then finding a way to make it more efficient and productive. Often referred to as systems architects, these pros bring business skills like project management to the table too. Many work in IT departments or as IT project managers and systems analysts in a variety of settings. This may entail a solid understanding of the field one works in (e.g. finance) and a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

8. Network Administrators

network admin is in charge of day to day tasks. Systems administration includes the install, set up and support an org’s computer systems. It may include LANs, WANs and other communication channels. Beyond that they need to know how to spot security flaws. And, are the ones who set up user access codes. Apart from a bachelor’s degree it may be wise to go for certification.

IS AN ONLINE DEGREE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS WORTH IT?

An information systems degree may yield marketable skills, prospects and above average earning potential. Depending on your area of expertise, jobs in information systems fields are growing much faster than average.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there should be about 48,100 new jobs or 10% growth by 2029. These jobs span programmers, analysts, managers, engineers and so many others who work with computers in one way or another.

Three things that are moving the needle in these fields are cloud computing, big data and cyber security. So Information Systems professionals with skills related to these areas may find brighter outlooks.

For e.g. if your ability lies in database management, the field should see 10% more jobs. For info sec analysts the projections are even higher (31%) due to the more complex cybercrimes.

Workers in software development expect a jump of 22% over in the next few years. That’s thanks to the expansion of digital platforms. To work in these areas, one tend to need a bachelor’s degree for entry level roles. An MBA, master’s or PhD may be preferable if in management or academia.

Salaries in all fields vary by technical difficulty and business savvy. The median annual wage for computer and info technology occupations was $88,240 in May 2019. Of these, the highest paying jobs were in research ($122,840), network design, ($112,690), software ($107,510) and security ($107,510). Avg. annual salaries for computer programmers are in the five figures ($86,550). But this particular industry is slow in the United States due to outsourcing.

Online Information Systems Degree Jobs & Salary

OccupationAverage SalaryJobs
Network Architect $112,6908,000
Database Administrator $93,75012,800
Information Security Analyst$99,73040,900
Software Developer$107,510316,000

Top States for Jobs as a Database Administrator

StateJobsAnnual Mean Wage
NJ4,090$115,600
WA2,690$111,640
CA13,530$106,720
CT1,530$105,230
D.C.930$103,680

WHAT CLASSES WILL I TAKE WITH AN ONLINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREE?

An information systems degree program studies the practical uses of computers and how these systems may move the needle on business goals. Because it is such a broad field, there are many anchor points to think about. 

  • Information Assurance: keeping data safe, secure, private and intact
  • Digital Forensics: solving computer crimes 
  • Data Management: setting up systems that keep track of data and make it usable
  • Network Administration: ensuring authorized use of communication channels
  • IT Project Management: leading an IT team and working towards business goals
  • Data Analytics: making data usable so it can inform organizational decisions
  • Software Development: designing apps and programs for use on computer platforms
  • Web Design: developing a website through back end programming

You may study many of these areas and others when going for a degree in info technology online. But each level may do so in a different way. Here are a few samples of common classes at the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD levels.

Bachelor’s Degree Classes

One goal of an online bachelor of science degree is to help grow the skills and knowledge to design, administer, and support information systems for an organization. So one part may be purely technical. While another, may grow your ability to listen to client needs and generate a plan from that. 

Grads may leave ready to install, configure and troubleshoot information systems. Especially ones that are essential for successful business operations. To give you some practice, you may have to complete a capstone project.

Many schools also partner with vendors (CompTIA, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and VMware). As a result, the courses often contain material to help you go for industry certifications later. Some of the possible online courses you may take are:

Below are a few samples of classes at the bachelor’s level:

Computer Programming

An intro to basic programming, design, and testing concepts using Python scripting. This class may practice skills in using lists, dictionaries, conditional logic, and looping controls. 

Human Computer Interaction

HCI topics draw from psychology and perception, computer and interface system design, and system analysis. Understanding these areas may help with the design of interactive computing systems. For e.g. video games.

Information Systems Security

This class may cover the security issues faced as cyber attacks rise. Students may learn how to secure networks and systems, encrypt data and use tools such as penetration testing and firewalls.

Database Development

This course may teach you to design, implement, and use database management systems. These systems store, search and analyze data. So some side topics might explore software packages, SQL query languages, and security tactics.

Graduate Degree Classes

A master’s degree in information systems may refine skills. Courses tend to stress core technologies and allow room to focus on a narrower section of information systems. Whether computer architecture, info tech mgmt., data science, info security or another area.

While honing technical skills, one may take a class in strategic leadership. This is about the role of the leader in crafting corporate tactics surrounding tech and its use to the firm’s competitive edge. 

Not every master’s program has a research side to it but many PhDs do. These programs often cover a series of classes about collecting and presenting findings. A PhD may also come with a final dissertation requirement, teaching practicum or project. Below are samples of a graduate level information systems degree program curriculum.

Network Security

Networks transport data and there are many practices that keep data (including websites and emails) secure. Including encryption, IP security (IPsec); SSL, intruders, malicious software, and firewalls.

Information Systems Management

Aims to prepare managers to develop an IT strategy that aligns business strategy with IT infrastructure for a competitive edge. May help understand how to manage a project and team with moving parts and people. 

Software Engineering

In this class, you may explore the principles and tools used to build complex software systems. As a result you may study all phases of the life cycle from cost and design. To testing, quality control and upkeep.

Machine Learning and Big Data

Basic principles and methods for big data analytics. Including ones used to to store, search retrieve, and process large data sets.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREE ONLINE?

The time it takes to earn an information systems degree online varies. Because of the flexible nature of online study, some programs allow part time study. That said, a bachelor’s in information systems may take a full time student four years beyond high school. A master’s may take another two years beyond that. Students who go onto to a PhD from a master’s tend to need at least three to four. But given the research involved some schools give up to eight.

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Western Governors University Bachelors 36 12 30
Columbus State University Bachelors 123 2 48
Bellevue University Bachelors 127 4 48
Purdue University Global Masters 60 quarter credits 4 24
Arizona State University Masters 30 Every 7.5 weeks 24
Pace University Masters 30 3 24
Walden University PhD 45+ quarter credits 12 42
Capella University PhD 90 quarter credits Multiple 42
Indiana University PhD 90 1 48

15 SCHOOLS WITH ONLINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREES

Many schools offer Information Systems degree programs online. There are also more specific majors and online degree programs. To help you narrow school search results, here are 15 schools with online degrees in information systems at all levels.

  1. Western Governors University
  2. Point Park University 
  3. Columbus State University
  4. Southern New Hampshire University 
  5. Bellevue University 
  6. Purdue University Global 
  7. Arizona State University
  8. Pace University 
  9. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 
  10. Touro College 
  11. Walden University
  12. Capella University
  13. Indiana University Bloomington
  14. University of the Cumberlands
  15. Colorado Technical University

FIND AN ONLINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEGREE

Let’s take a closer look at the online information systems degrees that these 15 schools have to offer.

1

Western Governors University

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Fully Online


This 36 course program is competency based. So once you master it you pass and move on. First courses cover info systems basics and uses. You also study network and security, data mgmt. and the business side of information systems. While studying these areas, you may earn industry certs. Like CompTIA and CIW. Other possible topics are:

  • Web Development
  • Scripting / Programming
  • Info Systems Mgmt.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $6,670
Grad $7,500
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,308

Average Net Price:
$7,785

More Degree Programs:

  • Data Analytics
  • Information Technology
  • MBA Information Technology Management

2

Point Park University

Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science  

Fully Online


This 121 credit hour program spans a broad set of basics. Like web development, big data and digital security. At the same time, students have 15 credits to use on a concentration. Four are available. Data analytics, networking, general and software. Among the core classes you might take are:

  • Programming
  • Server Mgmt.
  • Data Structures

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $32,750
Grad $17,478
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$18,979

Average Net Price:
$23,705

More Degree Programs:

  • Applied Computer Science
  • Business Administration
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Marketing Sales

3

Columbus State University

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Fully Online


This BSIS program entails 123 credits. It features course work taught from a Christian lens and blends theory with practical uses. Part of these are general college classes in liberal arts and sciences. The courses for the major cover comp sci, networks and data bases. It also walks non business majors through information systems management and:

  • Info Systems
  • Discrete Math
  • Systems Analysis

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,170 / $17,295
Grad $17,478 / $13,264
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$6,863

Average Net Price:
$11,361

More Degree Programs:

  • Applied Computer Science
  • Computer Science – Cyber Security Track
  • Information Technology

4

Southern New Hampshire University

Bachelor of Arts in Information Technologies

Fully Online


This program blends practical and technical topics in a 120 credit program. There are also general classes that may help you grow soft skills in communication, writing and problem solving. Some of the tech studied include the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and scripting. In other classes you may learn about:

  • Security
  • Networks
  • Cloud Based Databases

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $31,136
Grad $18,810
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,913

Average Net Price:
$39,743

More Degree Programs:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business
  • Education
  • Math and Science
  • Technology

5

Bellevue University

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Fully Online


The goal of this 127 credit program is to cover the foundational skills needed to enter the information systems profession. Course work thus frames how to install, set up and upgrade personal computers and operating systems. And, to do so using security standards and suitable policies for cloud and local server settings. Some possible areas of study are:

  • Windows Server Mgmt.
  • IT Project Mgmt.
  • Network Mgmt.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $3,866 / $9,246
Grad N/A
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,650

Average Net Price:
$8,828

More Degree Programs:

  • Business Analytics
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Data Science
  • Information Technology
  • Systems and Network Administration

6

Purdue University Global

Master of Science in Information Technology

Fully Online


This is a 60 quarter credit program. One of its goals is to help grads develop technical, creative and managerial skills. Some of the core topics revolve around knowing how to secure digital assets and intellectual property. There are also ones that explore database design and data modeling. Three tracks help you tailor the major to your career goals: 

  • Business Intelligence
  • Info Security
  • Project Mgmt.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,037 / $14,358
Grad $8,791 / $9,768
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,289

Average Net Price:
N/A

More Degree Programs:

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Information Technology
  • Psychology

7

Arizona State University

Master of Science in Information Technology

Fully Online


ASU offers a 30 credit program that includes a portfolio project. There are four core topics and two electives. The core classes are about the principles of information systems, analysis and systems security. While electives focus on developing your skills in the track you select. Computer architecture and info sec or info systems management and development. Sample class topics may include:

  • Software Development 
  • Information Analysis
  • Computer Architecture

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $11,338 / $29,428
Grad $11,270 / $26,160
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$10,651

Average Net Price:
$13,764

More Degree Programs:

  • Accountancy
  • Applied Business Data Analytics
  • Business Administration
  • Business Analytics
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Science

The MSIT program at pace comes with a cyber security focus. It blends knowledge, skills and problem solving in a 30 credit course plan. In core classes, you study databases, networking and internet computing. You also take 4 classes that relate to internet security. A broad array of electives like mobile forensics and data mining are available to bridge any gaps. Some examples of other topics are:

  • Info Sec Mgmt.
  • App Development
  • Content Mgmt. Systems

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $46,446
Grad $32,400
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$27,641

Average Net Price:
$32,492

More Degree Programs:

  • Business Studies
  • General Studies
  • Nursing
  • Professional Technology Studies

9

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Master of Information Technology

Fully Online


This program entails 33 credit hours. Students also have the option of earning a graduate certificate in a niche areas. Analytics, big data, business info systems, cyber security, health IT and networking are a few. Or, working towards a dual degree with the VT MBA. Any of these areas intends to complement other core classes. Some of these might include the following:

  • Cognitive Computing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Cyber Law and Policy

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $13,691 / $32,835
Grad $15,972 / $29,885
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,023

Average Net Price:
$18,449

More Degree Programs:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • International Business
  • Organizational Studies

This MSIT program targets those ready for an advance degree in comp sci. It entails 33 credits and comes with a choice of tracks. Network Admin and Cyber Analytics and Database Systems, Technology Leadership, and Web and Applicant Development. There are also courses in technical mgmt., cloud computing as well as:

  • IT Project Mgmt.
  • Communication for Managers
  • Strategic Mgmt. of Tech

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $20,550
Grad $12,240
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,995

Average Net Price:
$24,916

More Degree Programs:

  • Network Administration and Cyber Security
  • Data Analytics and Database Systems
  • Technology Leadership / Project Management
  • Web and Application Development

11

Walden University

Doctor of Information Technology

Online / Residencies


There are two entry points to this 45 plus credit program. One is with a bachelor’s, the other a master’s. Those entering with a grad degree study a range of technical classes. These do go over some basics like programming, op systems and enterprise data base design. There are also a set of research classes and leadership simulators. A few examples are:

  • Info Assurance
  • Systems Analysis
  • Enterprise Systems Arch

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,150
Grad $12,039
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,900

Average Net Price:
N/A

More Degree Programs:

  • Business and Management
  • Communication
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Health and Health Sciences
  • Information Technology

12

Capella University

PhD in Information Systems Management  

Fully Online


In this 90 quarter credit program the focus in on both research processes and strategic planning. This tilts the courses in favor of field testing, analysis and also innovation. In the mix, there are several business classes too. Including ethics, leadership and marketing. Along with them, you might learn about, 

  • IT Life Cycle
  • Data Collection 
  • Business Special Topics

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,540
Grad $14,767
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,781

Average Net Price:
$17,368

More Degree Programs:

  • Business Administration
  • Business Management
  • Information Technology
  • Psychology

13

Indiana University Bloomington

PhD in Information Technology

Online / In Person


This program aims to train students to work as data scientists. And to be able to understand, forecast and further the ways we use info systems and communication tech. There is also a focus on the research process and teaching. So while studying, you also work towards a final dissertation in your field. Possible areas for these topics include,

  • Gender & Tech
  • Social Informatics
  • Text Encoding

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $10,947 / $36,512
Grad $9,501 / $31,932
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$11,541

Average Net Price:
$13,036

More Degree Programs:

  • Library Science
  • Information Science (MS)

14

University of the Cumberlands

PhD in Information Technology

Fully Online


The focus of this 60 credit program is predictive analytics. You also explore core topics in data science, and enterprise risk. A set of research classes round things out. These include professional writing and statistics. To tailor your studies, you take a series of content specialty classes. These must be in info systems security, IT, digital forensics and blockchain. Among other possible subjects are:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Info Governance

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,875
Grad $5,670
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$16,150

Average Net Price:
$16,340

More Degree Programs:

  • Information Technology
  • Cyber Engineering
  • Digital Forensics
  • Information Systems Security
  • Information Technology

15

Colorado Technical University

Doctor of Computer Science  

Fully Online


This program comes with a track in cyber security and info assurance. It covers the skills needed to manage enterprise systems using tools such as CORBA and J2EE, XML, RDF, OWL, and UML. Other of the 100 quarter credits map to DHS and NSA standards and also include research and writing. Here are a few other examples:

  • Digital Systems Security
  • Security Mgmt. 
  • Governance

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,529
Grad $14,321
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,039

Average Net Price:
$16,260

More Degree Programs:

  • Business Administration – Data Analytics
  • Business Administration – Information Technology
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science – Data Analytics
  • Information Technology – Security