2022 Best Online Computer Information Systems Associate Degrees

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If you have a passion for technology and solving problems, a computer information systems associate degree could help you enter this lucrative field.

Best Online Computer Information Systems Associate Degrees

An associate program can help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge to solve information challenges for businesses in many industries.

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Earning an online associate in computer information systems can help you qualify for entry-level jobs in technology. It can also provide you with a solid foundation for further education.

Online Computer Information Systems Associate Degrees

Man getting a degree on Computer Information Systems

Information systems involves applying technology to manage businesses. Through a computer information systems associate program, you can focus on building your analytical, design, and programming skills. The aim is to use these skills to bridge the gap between technology and the business world.

The main components of information systems are people, technology, structure, and tasks. So, CIS involves collecting, storing, and processing data as well as distributing information. Most of the coursework in this field focuses on technical knowledge, business skills, and industry experience. Some programs also aim to prepare you for professional certifications.

Some of the topics you may study include:

  • Web architecture and development
  • System analysis and design
  • Computer logic and algorithms
  • Security system protocols
  • Network administration

An Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems is most commonly pursued by those who intend to go on to earn a bachelors degree. An Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems is often a strategic degree path for job preparation.

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You could also get an Associate of Arts in the field. The suitability of the associate program depends on your long-term goals. An online CIS associate degree takes a shorter time to complete and often costs less than a bachelors degree. It may also have simpler admission requirements, offer flexible learning, and allow you to transfer credits into a bachelors.

An associate degree in CIS could also help prepare you for entry-level careers in the field. CIS professionals who are just starting out tend to work as:

  • Web developer
  • Network and computer system administrator
  • Computer support specialist

Through an associate program in CIS, you could learn how to create websites as well as how to design, construct, and manage databases. You can also study computer networks and explore computer systems security. CIS skill sets are in demand and highly versatility in the job market. Graduates can apply these skill sets in a wide range of businesses.

CIS Careers & Salaries

CIS Careers & Salaries

Computer information systems encompasses the technical side of business solutions, making it applicable in different industries. CIS graduates tend to work in various organizations, handling data and operations on digital platforms.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for some of the careers related to computer information systems.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Software Developers $120,730
Information Security Analysts $102,600
Computer Systems Analysts $99,270
Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers $98,220
Database Administrators $96,710
Computer Programmers $93,000
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $80,600
Web and Digital Interface Designers $79,890
Web Developers $77,030
Computer Support Specialists $57,910

CIS professionals may work in tech roles in various sectors, including health, insurance, research, music, fashion, hospitality, finance, and non-profit. The technical skills acquired throughout a CIS associate program can prove versatile and marketable.

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Many jobs with competitive salaries might prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree, but the fields of computer and information technology tend to value skills and experience more. It’s possible to enter the job market through various channels, including associate degrees, professional certifications, and higher degrees. Some people even self-train or complete training bootcamps and proceed to build a portfolio of work.

AS in Computer Information Systems Curriculum & Courses

Students taking AS in Computer Information Systems

While pursuing an associate’s in CIS, here are some courses you’re likely to encounter:

  • Enterprise Architecture: In this course, you’ll learn how to design, implement, and manage enterprise IT solutions, and you’ll also cover frameworks and content management strategies and infrastructure.
  • Database Systems: You’ll learn how to design, construct, and manage database systems. You’ll also cover different types of data modeling, data security, and the role of database administrators.
  • Foundations of Information Systems: This course covers the core components of information science, including their uses, integration and management, and applications. It also introduces system development concepts and technology acquisition.
  • Introduction to Information Assurance: This course teaches you how to identify threats and vulnerabilities, troubleshoot, and manage system errors.
  • Programming in Java: In this course, you’ll explore object-oriented programming, developing applications, coding, testing, and debugging using Java.
  • Systems Analysis and Design: This course covers designing, implementing, and documenting the development cycle of a system. It also explores the analysis, testing, and maintenance of current systems.
  • Computer Software: This course covers system software, configuration of microcomputers, and practical skills in operating systems.
  • Web Standards: This course introduces you to popular web development programming languages, the essentials of web development concepts, and the hands-on application of this knowledge.
  • Computer Programming: This course introduces you to different types of data structures, data types, algorithms, and basic coding concepts.
  • Cybersecurity Fundamentals: This course covers important areas of cybersecurity, which is necessary knowledge for any professional who deals with designing or managing information systems.

Your coursework will be made up of core courses, electives, and general education units.

Admissions Requirements

Friends preparing requirements for Associates in CIS

Here are some of the common admission requirements for AS in Computer Information Systems programs:

  • High school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Official high school transcripts
  • Minimum GPA
  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require this)

Computer information science involves the application of math and computer concepts, so some schools want applicants to have a strong background in the two subjects. You may also be required to show a minimum number of credits in certain core subjects.

Accreditation

University offering AS in Computer Information Systems

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when researching online information systems degree programs. Regional accreditation indicates that a school has been evaluated and found to provide high-quality studies and services to its students.

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Attending a regionally accredited school is often required to qualify for financial aid. Credits earned at an accredited school are also more likely to transfer to another credible school or bachelor program down the road. You can search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website to see if an institution is regionally accredited.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Computer Information Systems Associate

A CIS associate’s degree often costs less than a bachelors, but it’s still a financial investment. Luckily, there are a number of financial aid options available to qualifying students.

It’s strategic to start your financial aid journey by checking your eligibility for federal aid. You can do so by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Student loans, grants, and work-study programs are common forms of government aid.

You could also look out for scholarship opportunities. There are even some scholarship programs specifically for technology students. Scholarships are often based on merit. Some employers also offer tuition benefits.

CIS Professional Organizations

Becoming a member of a computer information systems professional organization can expose you to valuable resources. Here are a few CIS professional organizations you could consider joining as a student or graduate of CIS:

Professional organizations can offer you networking opportunities and access to online journals and publications. As a member of an organization, you could also have access to job listings and opportunities for professional development.

Is Computer Information Systems a Good Degree?

Professor guiding the students of Computer Information Systems

Yes, computer information systems is a good degree for many students. A CIS associates degree program can help you develop in-demand skills that are marketable in many industries.

If you want to join the workforce immediately after attaining your degree, an associate’s program can train you for entry-level roles in the field. Many graduates with an associates in CIS start out as web developers, computer support specialists, and network and systems administrators.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median salary of computer and IT occupations is $97,430. Individual salaries vary depending on work experience, geographic location, industry certifications, and similar factors.

What Can I Do with an Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems?

An associate’s degree in computer information systems could help you qualify for various career opportunities. Common entry-level roles include web developer, network and systems administrator, and computer support specialists.

Some graduates also pursue entry-level roles in software development and computer systems or security analysis. Some associate programs in computer information systems can also help prepare you for professional certification. In addition, a CIS associate can act as a stepping stone toward a bachelor degree in a related field.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree in Computer Information Systems Online?

Student getting AS in Computer Information Systems online

Associate degree programs in information systems tend to have 60 to 67 credits. These can include core classes, elective classes, and general education classes.

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An associate degree in CIS will typically take 2 years to complete if you follow a 16 week semester and enroll as a full-time student. Online programs tend to have more flexibility in scheduling, often offering shorter, 8 week semesters. You might be able to finish your degree sooner with shorter terms and year-round classes.

What’s the Difference Between an Associates in Computer Information Systems vs. Computer Science Degree?

If you’re interested in computers but aren’t sure whether to pursue an associate’s in computer information systems or computer science, here are some differences to consider.

Computer Science Computer Information Systems
  • Primarily studies programming and coding
  • Extensively explores the makeup and working of computers and other devices
  • Focuses on the application of technological tools to meet business needs
  • Covers technology but also emphasizes business applications

These two degrees have several areas of overlap, but computer science professionals often lean toward the technical side of programming. Meanwhile, information science professionals focus on the application of technology in organizations.

What’s the Difference Between an Associate Degree in Computer Information Systems vs. Information Technology?

People often use the terms “information systems” and “information technology” interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two.

Information Technology Computer Information Systems
  • Studies the design, implementation, and management of data within the information system
  • Focuses on the hardware and software required in an organization’s operations
  • Studies the entire system of information, including the people, business, and technology used to manage it
  • Focuses on using technology to accomplish business objectives

These areas of study can sometimes overlap.

Is an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems Worth It?

Two Information Security Analysts working in data center

Yes, an associate’s degree in computer information systems is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% job growth for computer and information technology occupations over the next ten years, which is faster than the national average.

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The growth of data as an industry and the adoption of digital platforms in business operations increase the need for professionals in information systems. While some positions require a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree can help you qualify for a number of entry-level roles. Gaining experience and pursuing professional certifications could also make you more marketable.

Universities Offering Online Associates in Computer Information Systems Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Anne Arundel Community College

Anne Arundel Community College campus

At Anne Arundel Community College, the Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems program consists of 60 credits and can typically be completed in 2 years. Graduates often continue their education at 4 year universities or pursue entry-level positions. They often become technical support specialists, systems managers, program analysts, network administrators, or website developers.

AACC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Carroll Community College

Carroll Community College campus

The Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems at Carroll Community College is designed as a steppingstone toward a bachelor’s degree in CIS. This 60 credit, four term program covers core competencies in the field, such as network security, computer repair and support, SQL and database design, and systems architecture.

Carroll Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Century College

Century College campus

Students who possess problem-solving skills and a desire to work with technology may excel in the Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems program at Century College. The program admits new students three times a year, and students can attend part-time or full-time. Classes are offered in a variety of formats, including daytime, evening, and online courses.

Century College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia College

Columbia College campus

Columbia College offers an Associate in Science in Computer Information Systems. The program is designed to help students build essential skills in computer programming, statistics, business communication, accounting, and software development. Students may transfer up to 45 qualifying credits toward the program’s 60 required credits from outside institutions, and classes can be attended on campus or online.

Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Davenport University

Davenport University campus

Davenport University’s Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems program aims to prepare students for the high-demand, dynamic field of computer science. The curriculum is designed to develop students’ skills in data analytics, software development, and systems operations. To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 60 credits, and classes can be completed in-person or 100% online.

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Hillsborough Community College

Hillsborough Community College campus

Hillsborough Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Computer Information Systems that is designed for students intending to transfer into bachelor’s programs. This 60 credit program can potentially be completed in just 5 semesters when attending full-time. The curriculum covers fundamentals in C-, C++, C#, Java, and Python programming.

Hillsborough Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College campus

Midlands Technical College offers an Associate of Computer Information Systems. Most classes can be attended in synchronous virtual, asynchronous online, on-campus, or hybrid formats. Graduates may pursue entry-level computer science positions in a variety of sectors or 4 year degrees in computer science, software engineering, or computer and electrical engineering.

Midlands Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Monroe College

Monroe College campus

Monroe College offers an Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems. The program boasts classes taught by experienced IT professionals, opportunities to gain industry-recognized certifications, flexible scheduling, and online class options. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of field-specific and general education courses. The program can typically be completed in 2 years.

Monroe College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Niagara County Community College

Niagara County Community College campus

Niagara County Community College offers an Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems. The program is designed for students interested in careers as computer programmers, system administrators, data analysts, or information technology specialists. Upon completion of the 60 required credit hours, students can pursue transfer into most 4 year institutions.

Niagara County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Umpqua Community College

Umpqua Community College campus

Umpqua Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems. The program can typically be completed in 2 years and requires the completion of 90 credit hours.

The curriculum is designed to help students hone their critical-thinking skills and learn how to provide support for operating systems, networks, software, and hardware. It covers topics such as digital literacy, network security, computer application, and data management.

Umpqua Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Earning Your Computer Information Systems Associate Degree Online

Man completing his Computer Information Systems Associate Degree Online

The study of computer information systems provides a bridge between technology and business operations. Earning a computer information systems associate degree online could be the first step toward a career in this lucrative field.

With many available online programs, it’s advisable to consider the accreditation status of the institution and the program. Regional accreditation is the mark of a credible education. Some associate programs steer you toward a bachelors degree program. Others focus on preparing you for professional opportunities after graduation, making an information systems degree worth it for many students.

You can start exploring available program options today to find the CIS associate degree that’s right for you.

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Ben Flynn
WRITTEN BY
Ben Flynn
Ben has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northwestern University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Project Management from New York University. Ben's work focuses on the intersections of education, leadership, community college reform, and workplace training and development.