Leadership

TechRepublic names America's top 10 IT college programs

In order to help tomorrow's IT leaders find the best programs, and to help today's IT leaders find the best IT talent, TechRepublic has released a special report on the Top 10 U.S. college programs for IT.

Many of the current crop of IT managers do not have a formal education in technology or business because when they were in college there weren't many programs aimed at training business technology leaders. That's no longer the case. Today there are a variety of excellent IT programs at U.S. colleges and universities from coast to coast.

In order to help tomorrow's IT leaders find the best programs, and to help today's IT leaders find the best IT talent, TechRepublic has released a special report on the Top 10 U.S. college programs for IT.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

16 comments
misterloftcraft
misterloftcraft

One of my friends just got his online physical therapy degree last week. I have to say that I'm very surprised about how fast has the online college environment developed in the past 2 years. Today you have more choices than ever.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I think colleges need a little more focus on WHAT IT we're talking about. Networks are not databases and databases are no operating systems. So, just like in CS, you need a little more focus and slightly less breadth. One of the bigger problems facing IT is what happens as the highly knowledgeable Baby Boomers retire, the Gen Xers get stretched even thinner, and Gen Y doesn't fill the gaps?

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

What didn't you learn in college that you wished you had learned once you got into the real world?

MikeGall
MikeGall

Two immediate arguments for a broader curriculum: 1) You never know when you'll need a skill for your job. Trying to figure out a disk problem in a server? Maybe your network is bursty. Also, you have to deal with vacation coverage. So you're lucky and your company has a DBA, a network admin, a helpdesk, a Unix admin, a windows admin and a storage admin. Well you all have vacation time, who covers for who when they are away? Which leads into: 2) Unless your company is very large you won't have people to fill in for each role if you define them too tightly. For example I'm a Unix admin/network admin. At my last job I was "everything not hardware" DBA, aps, development. Both companies had around 500 employees. A company needs to be very large to be able to have narrowly focused staff, I'm guessing around 20 IT staff (so you have backup coverage), which would translate into about 1k at least for the company size. Which would make it less than half of all workers work in a company that can support that many people. (http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/smallbus.html) As well from what I've seen on TR and other sites it seems we are well off at my current job with 5 IT staff per 500. So companies might even need to be much larger than 1k to have a chance off hiring the amount of staff they'd need for highly specialized people.

rm.squires
rm.squires

This is from a uk perceptive. I recently took a course called "Btec National Diploma in IT" and the college only offered two choices for the second and last year (the same year ;)): -general stream -networking stream Although they did revamp the course this year, I wonder how it works now...

Gate keeper
Gate keeper

and vice versa .. professors are not well suited to tell you how things are done in the 'real world'. I am finishing up a Masters in Computer engineering at the moment and am taking an optical network engineering course that is being taught by a professional from the 'real world' with 20+ years experience. He was brought in because people were not happy with past professors who could not realistically describe how the technology was being implemented in the market but knew the theory very well. two big problems with the professional were: 1- being in the field for 20+ years working with colleagues who are pretty much similar to him in experience & education .. he did not have the patience to repeat and explain concepts which to him are 'very basic' but to someone knew to the area a bit hard to grasp. 2- Bias towards specific implementations of a technology or a tool set. which may be because he has worked with them predominantly or actually are technically superior .. but there is a detectable bias. these two issues are not common among academic professors. professionals are good if they come in once in a while to give seminars or demonstrations to the students on how things are really done in the field .. but they generally do not make good teachers

No User
No User

I first went to a private 2 year college that completely blew away the 4 year university I went to afterwards. Additionally the Community college that I have attended off and on over the last 20 years has an amazing IT curriculum. First off how many colleges even offer an Operating System class? Of them how many require it for the degree. The answers to those questions will be very telling. Both 2 year colleges required O.S. classes the Community college has several O.S. classes including Unix/Linux and in addition offers four 8 week classes for CCNA four 7 1/2 week classes for MSCE also Security+, Network+, A+, 2 classes on Computer forensics, A PC Desktop Support class, A Help Desk class, Several database classes focusing on Oracle and Access and many other networking, Operating System and programing classes plus they offer many application classes such as MS Office and Desktop Publishing and so on. My point is the 2 year colleges blow away the 4 year universities. The party line on the universities is "We offer a well rounded education" and if you eat and drink enough at one of them you will indeed get well rounded. ;) The second point is that the college system is a monopoly. They can teach the same class and use the same text book at 2 different schools and not accept the credits on transfer from either. They try to pull the old well we know how ours is taught line but even in the same school you typically have professors teaching the same classes different ways so that is BS to justify not accepting your credits and in turn making more money from you. The well rounded BS is if they force everyone to take certain classes then they will have enough money to offer a wider range of degree programs. Such as if everyone takes intro to Psychology then they can finance a Psychology department and degree program. It wont do you a bit of good if you are in a hard science program but you must whip out your wallet for it just the same. So they need to be required to accept credits in full and in doing so they will enter the Free market competition. This will eventually lead to them tailoring their degree programs to be much closer to Market needs. There are very few folks in any degree program that are paying mega bucks and spending 4 years of their life and in doing so lose 4 years of wages just to get a well rounded education 98% plus are there to learn a trade and get a job in that trade dot period. In Maryland if you graduate from one the community colleges in the University system you are automatically eligible to attend the university of Maryland and if your degree program is the same then all credits transfer at least in IT that is. Unfortunately even with that all of your IT requirements will have been met in the community college so the next 2 years are pure fluff. I find that very telling. I have over 6 years of college all in IT and in my humble opinion a typical BS degree in IT doesn't mean a whole lot in fact most are not worth the paper they are written on.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is not academia. Lesson one in the real world and not taught as far as I can make out.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I've done the one man shop bit, but my 'speciality' is client server database development. I can swap a router, fit a card, back up a box, restore a DB, write a shell script etc. But by no means would I claim to be a specialist DBA, hardware, admin or networks chap. What I know is enough to know when I need one, and when I need one, I need one. Managing to be expert in two of those domain is difficult, more than that and keep up with technology near impossible. If you were capable of that you certainly wouldn't be doing the everyday 'grunt' work. :p Generalists and specialists are needed and more of the former. What usually happens is your 'expert' in one thing gets drafted because some fool (quite often him/her) believes their expertise carries over. That doesn't even start to cover the massive shortfall between academic and practical IT, which is a far more pressing problem.

No User
No User

Teaching is an acquired skill. My Physics Lab Professor (The infamous David Willey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Willey) has a Masters degree in Physics and a degree in education so that he can better teach Physics. I have a limited patience training folks especially non IT folks and I freely admit it. On the job training has completely different dynamics then teaching in a school environment where folks have four months to get it together as opposed to real time or a few days. In many ways teaching is a gift.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

many professionals and professors struggle with it badly..... I've done a fair bit of training others in my time and evidence suggests I'm reasonable at it, as in people enjoyed and learnt from it. Whether I'd be good in the teaching profession is another question though. It's far easier to teach and to be seen to be teaching people who want to learn. Good teachers can teach you what they know, unfortunately most academics know naff all about the real world. Bad teachers can't teach you anything, you can with some effort learn from them, but that's self directed.

bens
bens

I also attended a 2yr college and received my Associates, then got in the field and starting really learning. I'm going back now to a 4yr university and I'm feeling the same way you mentioned. In my opinion it seems to come down to theory vs application. Sad story really...

bens
bens

I also attended a 2yr college and received my Associates, then got in the field and starting really learning. I'm going back now to a 4yr university and I'm feeling the same way you mentioned. In my opinion it seems to come down to theory vs application. Sad story really...

MikeGall
MikeGall

If you go to a church, you expect to talk/find people interested about God, if you go to a football game you expect to talk/find people interested about football. Same thing applies usually to a university. The profs are profs because they like research, and if you are lucky, teaching. Yet people go to university expecting to be trained in how to do things in the "real" world. My background is physics, I knew going into my degree that while what I learned would be interesting and useful at times, the main goal wasn't to learn job skills. Sadly, a lot of people go to university thinking I studied X so I'm qualified for job title Y. Germany has a pretty interesting idea, high school students can do a sort of apprenticeship as an addition to their school work. So you can get practical experience if you want, or go to college or university.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

and some have suggested after twenty + years of coding professionally, 30 in total, I should get one to prove I know what I'm doing...... Aside from the how ridiculous that is, if I were to take their advice, would I be a highly experienced professional, or a newbie. :p I mean everyone is going to think I had to go back to learn not to validate... Not saying I wouldn't learn something, it would be hard not to, four years worth though?. No chance. Not to mention four years lost earnings at my current rate, and the expense of doing it. Anybody with an IQ above thirty would figure I was a complete plank. PS Don't try my route now, you can't get a job in IT refilling printers without a degree nowadays.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

generally if you go to study physics, you'd probably expect to be doing either teaching or research. Not usually soemthing you pick up to say be an engineer. IT however the preponderance of opportunities are in business, so indeed you'd expect a bit more concentration on meaningful variable names and a bit less on AI. I've always liked the idea of an apprenticeship type environment for those who plan to make a mainstream career choice. Aside from anything else the students given they are interested, can learn an order of magnitude more about applying their knowledge from someone who is doing it than from some academic who thinks something like the Vienna Development Method is a sensible choice.