2021 Best Online Masters in Computer Networking

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Networking masters degree programs offer the chance to advance your practical career skills related to designing, planning, testing, or administering computer and digital communications networks.

Best Online Masters in Computer Networking

As digital workplace environments become more and more complex, well-trained networking engineers, administrators, and security analysts are in high demand.

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Specialists are needed to help organizations maintain, expand, and oversee critically important computer networks.

Online Networking Masters Programs

Online Networking Masters Programs

Most networking masters programs require you to have some prior training and qualifications related to computer science. This can include experience in programming, software engineering, or computer network administration.

Computer networks are technically complex, and day-to-day network operations in larger organizations may also require extensive network administration support and leadership.

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Masters in networks programs offer varied courses and specializations, but they typically provide a broad range of coursework related to planning, operating, and administering large networks.

Topics in a networking masters program might include:

  • Computer network design and architecture
  • Software engineering
  • Database administration
  • Network and data security methods and policies
  • Network administration and project management
  • Computer systems and software testing and analysis

In this field there’s plenty of overlapping areas of expertise needed to design large networks, to secure them, and to keep them operating efficiently. Networking combines knowledge related to hardware components, software tools and interfaces, database security and administration, and computer and software programming.

Computer Networking MS Careers & Salaries

Computer Networking MS Careers & Salaries

Computer networking masters degree programs might be technically demanding, but they can also be very practical. A graduate-level degree in networking could open doors to a variety of career opportunities in the growing computer and IT field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced skills and qualifications can make you a competitive candidate for a number of careers in the lucrative computer and information technology field.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Computer and Information Research Scientists $126,800
Computer Hardware Engineers $119, 560
Computer Network Architects $116,780
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers $110,140
Information Security Analysts $103,590
Database Administrators and Architects $98,860
Computer Systems Analysts $93,730
Computer Programmers $89,190
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810

Technologies in computer networking and related IT careers evolve quickly. When it comes to maintaining winning IT networks, professionals may pursue masters degrees to help their organizations get ahead and stay ahead.

While a number of networking and related roles don’t require a masters degree, professionals with advanced degrees can often qualify for senior or leadership positions in the field. A masters may also help you increase your earning potential.

Networking Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Networking Master’s Curriculum

Courses will vary by school and program, but most master’s programs provide intensive learning in a range of connected topics. Here are examples of the types of courses you’re likely to find in a networking grad program:

  • Data Communications Networks: You’ll learn the fundamentals of business-related data communications needs as a foundation for understanding computer network requirements and designs.
  • Systems and Network Architectures: This course presents network design methods and principles related to linking and integrating software tools, databases, communications networks, and cybersecurity applications.
  • Database Management: This course is an overview of database technologies, including relational database designs, data security methods, and machine learning applications and integrations.
  • Network Management: This course provides training in advanced network management methods and challenges, helping you understand various network administrative functions and practices related to network assessments, networking support roles, network security, and network design and testing.
  • Advanced Information Systems Analysis: You’ll learn objective methods for analyzing and designing efficiently integrated information system networks, including design and implementation methods as well as project management skills.
  • Computer Programming and Coding: This course offers comprehensive training in critical programming and software engineering design principles, concepts, and methods, including user interfaces.
  • Enterprise Cybersecurity Management: This course introduces fundamental concepts and principles of cybersecurity related to strategic cyber defense methods and strategies, threat assessment, cyberattack response, and cybersecurity policy designs.
  • Software Testing and Evaluation: You’ll learn testing and evaluation methods that help professional IT leaders test, troubleshoot, and evaluate software qualities, capacities, and security profiles.
  • Healthcare Information Systems: You’ll learn about advanced and complex information networks in this fast-growing technology field, including telehealth networks, distributed records access, relevant data security protocols, and ethical and regulatory principles.
  • Project Research and Management: This course is a scenario-based and project-based overview of practical project design and management challenges and methods.

Many masters programs also require a masters thesis or an alternative capstone activity. Course designs can also offer lab-based or other hands-on learning opportunities.

How to Choose an Online Master Degree in Computer Networking Program

Master Degree in Computer Networking Program

Computer network architecture and engineering careers involve many areas of technical specialization. They also require professionals with relevant managerial skills.

In order to discover which networking masters program is best for you, you may want to take the following factors into consideration:

  • Career goals. Some masters of networking programs are designed for networking majors, while other programs offer networking as a single area of concentration within a broader IT management or software engineering emphasis. You can compare programs to see which ones best match your academic and professional interests.
  • Faculty. You may benefit from deep faculty expertise in the areas of concentration that most interest you. So, in addition to checking out course designs, you may want to learn about a program’s faculty members and inquire about their areas of professional and academic expertise.
  • Program offerings. You may want to consider what learning resources, designs, and lab formats a school uses to ensure that students get a feel for specific software, hardware, and technical components that are up to industry standards.
  • Thesis or capstone project. Advanced degree programs often include a thesis or offer an alternative, work-oriented capstone project. As you compare programs, you might consider which kinds of capstone projects align with your academic interests and future goals.

Learning designs can vary significantly from school to school. As you compare programs, you may find that it becomes easier to figure out which programs offer the right kind of focus, perspective, and specialization for your own academic needs and professional goals.

Admissions Requirements

Masters in Computer Networking admissions

MS in Networking admissions requirements will vary by school and program but typically include the following:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
  • Relevant work experience
  • Letters of recommendation

If you have a bachelors in an unrelated field, you might consider comparing admissions requirements to find your best options. You might also consider taking some bridge courses if necessary.

Accreditation

Masters in Computer Networking accreditation

Enrolling in a regionally accredited school can help ensure that you receive technical training that meets industry standards. Holding a degree from an accredited school can also give you an advantage with some employers.

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Accreditation can also be a precondition for some forms of financial aid as well as some forms of industry certification. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) offers more information on accreditation and finding accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Computer Networking financial aid

With a practical and in-demand degree such as a masters in networks, you may have opportunities to work in a variety of industries. You may still be wondering how to get started when it comes to dealing with the upfront costs of going to graduate school, though.

Federal and state aid, student loans, and scholarships are the most common forms of student financial aid. If you’re already working in IT or a related field, you can also check with your employer to see if they offer employer-based financial assistance.

If you’re planning to apply for need-based financial aid, submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is often a helpful first step.

What Is a Masters in Networking?

Masters in Networking

A masters in networking is designed to help you develop advanced IT system engineering and architecture knowledge as well as network management and project management skills.

This kind of degree program typically helps you better understand the IT needs of large businesses and organizations. It also covers concepts and methods that are necessary to assess IT network needs and to design, implement, safeguard, and administer complex IT networks.

Professionals who manage large networks also tend to oversee or assist with a range of important technical issues. So, most computer network masters programs also include training in a range of useful IT topics. These topics often include cybersecurity policies and threat assessments, software engineering concepts, and project management methods.

Why Get a Masters Degree in Computer Networking?

Masters Degree in Computer Networking

If you already have a bachelors in computer science or a related field, getting a network masters degree could be a way to pivot to a new area of specialization.

If you’re already working as a network specialist, getting a masters could help you advance your skills and help you qualify for more senior roles and handle more challenges.

On the one hand, computer networking degree programs can help you develop and apply interrelated skills in computer engineering and information systems and network designs. On the other hand, they also help you develop skills related to network and project management and network administration.

What Can You Do with a Master in Networking Degree?

Master in Networking Degree

Qualified professionals with network testing, design, security, and management skills are needed to help organizations keep up with growing digital workplace demands.

Some networking professionals work as computer network architects, computer and information systems managers, and computer systems analysts. Networking professionals might also specialize in information security research and analysis.

Employment for information security analysts is expected to grow at a tremendous rate of 33% (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Some also work their way toward becoming computer and information research scientists, another high-paying and fast-growing career.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MS in Computer Networks Online?

MS in Computer Networks Online

It generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete a masters degree program. If a program only requires 36 credit hours and does not include a thesis component, you may be able to complete the program in 1 year with full-time, year-round enrolment.

There are also accelerated programs that may allow you to complete your program sooner with full-time studies. The number of credit hours required for a program can vary, and this is one of many factors that can impact how long it takes to earn your degree.

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For instance, a thesis requirement may add some additional time to completion, as will attending only part-time.

Is Computer Networking a Good Career?

Computer Networking Career

Yes, computer networking is a good career for many professionals. There is a growing reliance on mobile communications and connectivity.

With increases in the remote workforce and the growth of cloud-based data and communications networks, computer networking professionals are needed by many businesses and organizations. Common careers in this field include computer network architect, network and computer systems administrator, and computer and information systems manager.

This field boasts above average salaries as well as positive job outlooks. For instance, the median salary for computer network architects is $116,780, and the median for computer and information systems managers is $151,150 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What’s the Difference Between a Network Engineer vs. Network Administrator?

Engineers typically play a more advanced role in technical design and testing, while network administrators help oversee daily network use and operations.

Network Engineer Network Administrator
  • Plans network architecture using technical design specifications
  • Helps organizations with hardware and software needs and solutions
  • Helps develop, install, and troubleshoot hardware and software components
  • Helps ensure hardware and software components are efficiently integrated
  • Tracks and manages network use, access, and end-user support needs
  • Helps develop and enforce protocols for secure access, use, and data-sharing
  • Provides network-related project management leadership or support
  • May help develop, maintain, and communicate network use policies

While network engineers help ensure networks operate correctly, network administrators help oversee and manage network use, access, and settings. Network administrators may also help companies develop and maintain administrative policies related to network security and access.

Is a Masters in Computer Networking Degree Worth It?

Masters in Computer Networking Degree

Yes, a masters in computer networking degree is worth it for many students. Getting an MS in Networking, Computer Network Management, or Computer Network Engineering could be a practical way to develop broader and deeper networking knowledge and expertise.

Accredited grad programs can offer the most up-to-date knowledge in the field and can help you gain a deeper understanding of industry-wide standards and best practices. Many careers related to computer networking and computer network security are growing rapidly too.

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For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for computer network architects (5% job growth), computer and information systems managers (11%), database administrators (8%), and information security analysts (33%).

Universities Offering Online Masters in Computer Networking Degree Programs

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.

Boston University

Boston University campus

Boston University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Computer Networks.

It is a 40 credit program that can typically be completed in 18 to 24 months. This program is designed to help students develop an in-depth understanding of computer data communication and modern networking.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Columbia University

Columbia University campus

Columbia University offers a Master’s in Computer Science with a Network Systems track. The network systems track covers network systems technologies and their underlying principles, protocols, and algorithms. It requires the completion of 30 credits and is fully online. Applicants must submit GRE scores and have a minimum GPA of 3.3 to be eligible.

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

East Carolina University

East Carolina University campus

East Carolina University offers a Master of Science in Network Technology. Students can choose from the following concentrations: Computer Networking Management, Digital Communications Technology, Information Security, and Web Technologies. Students may also choose whether to complete a thesis or a practicum project.

East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology campus

The M.A.S. in Network Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology is a course-only degree program.

The program covers very large-scale integration (VLSI) architecture, wireless and high-speed networks, design optimization, and protocols. It can help prepare students for careers as network security engineers, systems engineers, and IP network engineers.

Illinois Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University campus

North Carolina State University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Networking program. It requires the completion of 31 credit hours.

Courses include studies on internet protocols, wireless networking, design and analysis of algorithms, graph theory, and computer performance modeling. Online students may take some classes on campus if they wish.

North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology campus

Stevens Institute of Technology offers a Master’s in Network and Communication Management and Services. It is available both on campus and online.

Topics covered include 5G mobile wireless, software-defined networks, network function virtualization, Internet of Things, and cybersecurity. Students are also expected to complete a capstone experience to demonstrate what they have learned.

Stevens Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Strayer University

Strayer University campus1

Strayer University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Information Systems with a concentration in Enterprise Network Management.

This is an online program that includes twelve 11 week courses. The program covers network architecture and analysis, cloud and virtual computing, systems analysis and design, and strategic planning for database systems.

Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of California – Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles campus

The University of California—Los Angeles offers a Master of Science in Engineering with a focus on Computer Networking.

Students have up to three years to finish the program. It is a 36 credit hour program. It includes courses on computer security, internet architecture and protocols, data communications, telecommunication networks, and channel coding theory.

UCLA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

The University of Southern California offers a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Computer Networks.

The program is available both on campus and online, and online students never need to come to campus. It can typically be completed in about 2 years of full-time enrollment or 3 years of part-time enrollment.

The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus

Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology program with a specialization in Networking.

Courses in the program include both synchronous and asynchronous elements. It requires the completion of 33 credits but does not require a thesis. Students have opportunities to gain experience in system integration, optimizing system performance, troubleshooting networks, and other technological problem-solving skills.

Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your MS in Computer Networking Online

MS in Computer Networking Online

The computer and IT field is filled with innovation, professional challenges, and lucrative job opportunities.

A masters degree in networking can help you expand your knowledge in this field and develop specialized, in-demand skills. Many accredited schools even offer computer network administration degrees online, so you can structure your academic studies around your other work and life responsibilities.

If you want to advance your qualifications and expertise in this field, then getting a computer network masters degree could be a strategic next step in your educational and professional journey.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.