2021 Best System Administrator Degree Programs Online

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A system administrator degree program can prepare you to work with the information technology systems in an organization.

System Administrator Degree Programs Online

You can learn how to install hardware, update software, maintain servers, protect data security, and manage user accounts. System administrators are vitally important for many modern businesses that depend on technology for their everyday activities.

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Degree programs in systems administration can help you develop both the computer know-how and the management skills necessary for this field.

Online System Administrator Degree Programs

System Administrator Degree Programs

Computer system administration is a technology degree. Students in this field learn about the various aspects of organizations’ information technology setups. If you become a system administration major, your studies will cover hardware, software, networks, and operating systems.

You’ll also study how to use, improve, and secure computer systems. Your courses will likely cover topics on:

  • Computer networks
  • Databases
  • Networks
  • Operating systems
  • Programming languages
  • Routers
  • System design

Through your college courses, you can also learn how to communicate technical information to the non-IT people in your organization who have to use those systems. Learning teamwork and leadership skills will be important, too.

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While system administration can be a standalone field, it is often studied as a subset of another degree program. For example, some schools offer bachelors degrees in computer science with a concentration in system administration. It can also be a specialization for an informatics or information technology degree.

Network and computer systems administrators often work in finance, education, business, computer design, or insurance settings. Some professionals break into the field by working as network support specialists.

With experience, network administrators may qualify to become computer systems managers or computer network architects. Earning industry certifications or a masters degree can help you advance toward a leadership position.

Systems and Network Administration Careers & Salaries

Systems and Network Administration Careers & Salaries

Computer administrators support the IT activities in an organization. They can handle responsibilities related to hardware, software, servers, security, and more.

Because computers are so integral to today’s business environment, many different employers hire for this role. Some of the top sectors for system administration employment are computer systems design, education, information, finance, insurance, and business management.

Entry-level professionals with a system administration degree may work as computer support specialists. Their responsibilities focus on maintaining networks or assisting individual computer users. Network or system administrators often supervise support specialists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for computer and information technology occupations is $91,250 per year.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Computer Hardware Engineers $119,560
Computer Network Architects $116,780
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
Computer Network Support Specialists $65,450
Computer User Support Specialists $52,690

Your eligibility for the above jobs may depend on the nature of your college degree, your work experience, and any additional certificates that you hold.

System administrators’ knowledge of network security and computer components can make them candidates for security or systems analyst roles as well. Analysts evaluate various aspects of organizations’ technology systems and recommend changes or upgrades.

The IT knowledge that a sys admin holds can also be useful for designing various computer systems. Some professionals work as computer hardware engineers or network architects. Others may build software through programming work or head up database development.

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IT professionals from many backgrounds can become computer and information systems managers. People in managerial roles are responsible for tech processes and decisions, and they also supervise the team members who carry out those jobs.

Network and System Administration Curriculum & Courses

Network and System Administration Curriculum

To prepare for a career in system administration, your college program will typically include a variety of technology-focused courses, such as the ones listed below.

  • Computer Programming: As a sys admin major, you can learn basic programming principles and also become familiar with a particular computer language.
  • Database Services: In this course, you’ll learn about different database models and gain practical skills for database administration and development.
  • Fundamentals of Information Technology: An introductory class will survey basic concepts and get you ready for more advanced IT studies.
  • Help Desk Services: This class can teach you how to help other people with their computer issues.
  • Messaging Platforms: During your time in this course, you’ll explore email and other communication platforms that facilitate quick chats between two or more parties.
  • Network Introduction: You can learn how the internet and other networks are structured, and you may have hands-on opportunities to build simple networks.
  • Operating Systems: Depending on your program, this class may focus on working with Linux, Windows, or another operating system.
  • Repair Skills: In one or more classes, you can learn to fix problems with a computer’s hardware or software.
  • Security Principles for Information Systems: This class will focus on essential principles for protecting an organization’s data and blocking external threats.
  • Technical Writing: Your time in this course can help you clearly and professionally communicate complicated technical information with non-tech audiences.

Before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer system administration, you will typically earn at least 120 credits.

How to Become a System Administrator

becoming a system administrator

The process of becoming a system administrator can take several years. Here’s what you can expect as you pursue this career.

  • Earn a degree. The most common way to enter this field is with a bachelor’s degree in network and system administration or a related program. Some students earn their degrees in computer science or information technology. Alternatively, an associate degree or industry certificates are sufficient training for some employers.
  • Add professional experience to your resume. Positions for system administrators often require 3 to 5 years of experience in the field. You can gain this through internships, volunteer work, entry-level help desk roles, or other means.
  • Complete certification programs. As you gain experience, you can also work on earning certifications. You may have the chance to earn some certificates during your college program, but adding more can only enhance your resume. For starters, Oracle, Microsoft, Red Hat, CompTIA, and Cisco offer certification options.
  • Continue moving up. Eventually, you’ll have the experience and credentials to apply for system administration jobs. Once you do, you can choose to keep pushing forward. Earning a master’s degree or applying for management positions may offer career advancement opportunities.

Your career path may not follow these steps exactly, and different employers have different requirements for their IT professionals. Your training may also depend on which certifications you choose to pursue.

System Admin Bachelor’s Admissions Requirements

System Admin Bachelor’s Admissions

Getting into a college bachelor’s degree program often involves turning in the following materials:

  • Personal essay
  • References from teachers or work supervisors
  • School transcripts
  • SAT or ACT test scores (not required at all schools)

Some online sys admin programs are designed for degree completion, meaning they offer only junior- and senior-level coursework. For these types of programs, you’ll likely need an associate degree or professional experience that can be converted into college credit.

Accreditation

System Administrator Degree accreditation

For a respected degree in system administration, it’s necessary to choose a regionally accredited college. Regional accreditation provides assurance that a school is respected in academia and the professional world.

There are seven organizations in the US that provide regional accreditation. They evaluate the merits of colleges based on factors like academic standards, ethical leadership, and financial responsibility.

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Accredited classes more easily transfer to other colleges, and an accredited degree can help you qualify for admissions to masters degree programs. Also, an accredited degree may increase your chances of being chosen for a competitive job opportunity.

System Administrator Certifications

System Administrator Certifications

A degree is one sign that you’ve received IT training. Certifications are additional ways to demonstrate your skill sets. A certificate program is a strategic way to develop your expertise in a particular area of this field.

Here are some examples of system administrator certifications:

  • CompTIA Server+: This program, which is focused on server administration, addresses concepts like data security and server design. The principles it covers are applicable to products from a variety of companies.
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in Cloud Platform and Infrastructure: This credential focuses on topics like networks and cloud storage, but you’re required to hold a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certificate before you can pursue it.
  • Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA): This certificate is designed for Linux administrators, and it focuses on skills related to user accounts, partitioning, and file management.
  • VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV): This program addresses vSphere infrastructure and trains professionals to move their organizations toward more cloud computing initiatives.

Certifications often build on each other, so you can continue to add credentials to your resume.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

System Administrator Degree financial aid

If you qualify, government and private financial aid can help you pay for a college degree in system administration or a related field. The first step to learning about your assistance options is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Based on your FAFSA results, you may be eligible for grants or loans. Grant eligibility usually depends on income level.

Loans, which are available to a wider range of students, are funds that you borrow from the government, so you’ll pay the money back after graduation. Interest will be added, but the rates on government loans are usually lower than those on private loans.

Your college may also have scholarship funds for qualifying students. These can pay a portion of your schooling costs or even cover the entire thing. Outside organizations may offer scholarship money to deserving students as well. Even some employers chip in toward their employees’ college costs.

What Is System Administration?

What Is System Administration

System administration is a discipline that’s centered around technology. System administrators take care of the information technology (IT) aspects of an organization.

Administrators are often known as “sysadmin” or “sys admin.” They oversee how an organization’s computer system is used. They can also be in charge of managing user accounts or creating responsible technology policies.

System administrators also ensure that the right technology components are in place. They can install and upgrade hardware and software. Troubleshooting is another important aspect of this job. Quickly fixing computer and server problems reduces costly downtime.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a System Administrator?

System Administrator qualifications

Most employers require system administrators to have bachelors degrees. Qualifying programs can include network administration, system administration, computer science, or information technology.

Professional experience can help you secure this type of job as well. Many employers prefer at least 3 to 5 years of experience in the field. Getting started as a computer support specialist might help you give your resume a boost.

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Employers may also want to see industry certificates. The requested credentials may depend on which computer system the organization uses. Cisco Certified Network Professional and Microsoft Certified System Administrator are common certificates.

What Do System Administrators Do?

System Administrators careers

System administrators’ responsibilities can include upgrading hardware and installing software programs. Sys admins can also manage accounts for the users in an organization, manage databases, create data backups, and keep apprised of security issues.

In addition, administrators respond when computer systems aren’t working correctly. When a particular user has an issue or there’s a system-wide outage, the sys admin will be called in to fix the issue.

In large organizations, a system administrator may have a narrow set of responsibilities. In smaller organizations, one administrator may be responsible for all IT tasks.

What Degree Do I Need to Be a System Administrator?

bachelors degree in System Administrator

A bachelor’s degree is the most common educational requirement for a career as an IT systems administrator. Some students major in sys admin, and others study computer science, informatics, or information technology.

There are associate degree programs in system administration, too. Some employers accept an associate degree or industry certification as sufficient educational preparation for this line of work.

On the other hand, some employers may prefer their administrators to hold a masters degree in a computing field, especially when it comes to leadership roles.

What Can You Do with a Computer Systems Administration Degree?

Computer Systems Administration Degree

Recent graduates may maintain networks or address individual users’ computer issues as computer support specialists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, network support specialists make a median salary of $65,450 per year.

Network and computer system administrator roles are some of the most popular jobs for professionals with this degree. The typical salary ranges from $52,830 to $134,970. Others with this degree may become database administrators. The median salary for this position is $98,860.

Computer system analyst is another potential job for professionals with sys admin training. The median salary for analysts is $93,730 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

How Long Does It Take to Get a Systems Administrator Degree Online?

Systems Administrator Degree Online

If a program follows traditional 16 week semesters, you can expect it to take about 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Online schools with accelerated academic calendars may allow you to complete the process more quickly. With that approach, courses may be offered year-round.

Some online colleges give credit for previous certifications or professional experience. Previous college courses or an associate degree may count toward your bachelor’s degree progress as well. With such credits, you may shave some time off of your college studies.

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

Network administrators and system administrators do similar jobs in an organization, but you might prefer one discipline over the other. Here are some comparisons between the two.

Network Administrator System Administrator
  • Takes care of the networks for communication between computers
  • Works with switches and routers
  • Related positions: network support specialist and information security analyst
  • Takes care of the parts of the computers
  • Works with hardware and software
  • Related positions: computer user support specialist and computer system analyst

Some college programs combine network and system administration, and others focus on just one of these disciplines.

Is a System Administrator Degree Worth It?

Yes, a system administrator degree is worth it for many students. After graduating with this degree, many get started as computer support specialists or systems administrators. In time, management roles may be available.

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The computer and IT field is increasingly in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% job growth for computer support specialists over the next decade. Jobs for sys admin are expected to grow at a 5% rate, and there’s an 11% growth rate expected for computer systems management positions.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in System Administration 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.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Bellevue University offers a Bachelor’s in Systems and Network Administration that can be earned on campus or 100% online.

Students that already have an associate degree may have the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree in an accelerated cohort. The curriculum covers information technology infrastructures, information security, and communication and collaboration systems.

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Champlain College

Champlain College campus

Champlain College has an online program for a Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems. Students in the program have 24/7 access to coursework, and courses are just 7 weeks long.

Up to 90 qualifying credit hours can be transferred into the program. Courses include Networking Fundamentals, Introduction to Python, Enterprise Database Systems, and Information Systems Design.

Champlain College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State University offers a B.S. in Management Information Systems. The degree can be completed 100% online to help students fit their studies into their own schedule.

The curriculum covers leadership, information systems analysis, basic programming, financial accounting, web analytics, database concepts, data mining, and business analytics.

CSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Colorado Technical University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Network Management. Course scheduling options are highly flexible.

Courses include Introduction of Programming and Introduction to Computer Security. Others are Unix Fundamentals, Fundamentals of Database Systems, User Interface Design, and Structured Query Language for Data Management.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University campus

Dallas Baptist University offers a BBA in Systems Technology and Information Management. DBU provides a Christ-centered education to help students become ethical leaders.

Classes begin four times a year and are available in on-campus, online, and hybrid formats. The curriculum covers user interfaces, network and data communications, information systems analysis, and web page design.

Dallas Baptist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Florida State College at Jacksonville campus

Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Systems Networking. The degree program covers operating systems, information security, network fundamentals, and project management. Admission occurs on a rolling basis, and students may get credit for prior learning.

Florida State College at Jacksonville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University campus

Fort Hays State University offers a degree in Management Information Systems. The program is designed to provide students with a strong background in business, including business law, accounting, management principles, and managerial finance.

Technology courses cover computer hardware, software, networks, and security. Students can also take electives in web development, human computer interaction, and more.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Maryville University

Maryville University campus

Maryville University offers a Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems program that is 100% online.

It is designed to give students experience in programming, problem-solving, project management, analytics, and network security. The courses in the program use a hands-on, project-based approach. The curriculum also includes courses on business.

The Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Computer Information Systems degree program.

It offers hands-on experiences with a variety of business intelligence applications. It is designed to help students learn how to serve as intermediaries between business and IT units and develop information systems that support organizational goals.

SNHU also offers information technology online degree programs.

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

University of Alabama – Birmingham

University of Alabama Birmingham campus

The University of Alabama—Birmingham offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems. It is 100% online, and technical help is available 24/7. Coursework includes Business Programming, Database Management, Business Data Communications, Systems Analysis, Project Management, and Basic Marketing.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Bachelors Degree in Computer System Administration Online

Computer System Administration Online

Today’s organizations depend on the expertise of system administrators who can oversee their IT hardware and software components.

Administrators can be responsible for tasks like fixing computer problems, selecting new hardware, assigning user permissions, and installing software upgrades. If this sounds like the job for you, then getting a bachelors degree in system administration may be your next step.

For flexibility and accessibility, you can even earn this degree online. At an accredited online college, you can count on learning up-to-date information in today’s sys admin world.

You can start yourself off on the path toward this lucrative field by exploring accredited system administration programs.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.