Best online graduate certificate in network administration 2021: Top picks

    Networking administrators maintain and support channels that keep individuals and organizations connected. As networking technologies advance and more people and businesses rely on them, the demand for these support professionals grows. With a network administration graduate certificate, new professionals can enter the workforce and experienced professionals can expand their qualifications.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the addition of nearly 370,000 new network administrators between 2020 and 2030, plus nearly 25,000 annual job openings. Graduates of network administration certificate programs can access several other computer professions as well. On this page, we dive into the details of this program and rank the best online network administration graduate certificates available.

    The best online network administration graduate certificate degrees

    ZDNet’s ranking methodology relies on expert insight and publicly available information from national datasets. We examine program and school information as well, including reputation, affordability, and outcomes.

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    1. Towson University

    Towson, Maryland

    About the program: TU’s 15-credit online networking technologies graduate certificate includes courses in information technology infrastructure, system development processes, and networking architectures.

    • Acceptance rate: 76%
    • Graduation rate: 73%
    • Avg. annual net price: $18,233
    • Years to completion: Less than one year
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 2.75
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Towson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    2. Colorado State University

    Fort Collins, Colorado

    About the program: CSU’s online computer systems engineering certificate offers three focuses: networking, embedded systems, and computer architecture. Learners study systems design, machine learning, and fault tolerance.

    • Acceptance rate: 81%
    • Graduation rate: 69%
    • Avg. annual net price: $18,668
    • Years to completion: One
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    3. Central Michigan University

    Mount Pleasant, Michigan

    About the program: CMU’s 15-credit online digital management graduate certificate includes courses in virtual team communication, ethics in digital transformation, and digital culture.

    • Acceptance rate: 70%
    • Graduation rate: 59%
    • Avg. annual net price: $15,981
    • Years to completion: Less than one
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 2.7
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Central Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    4. Metropolitan State University

    St. Paul, Minnesota

    About the program: Metropolitan State’s 22-credit online database administration graduate certificate features training in management information systems, supply chain information systems, and database and server systems.

    • Acceptance rate: 56%
    • Graduation rate: 57%
    • Avg. annual net price: $15,225
    • Years to completion: One to two
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Metropolitan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    5. Western New Mexico University

    Silver City, New Mexico

    About the program: WNMU offers several 18-credit online graduate certificates, including management information systems and digital forensics. The management information systems program provides training in information systems networking, e-commerce, and management information systems for managers.

    • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
    • Graduation rate: 32%
    • Avg. annual net price: $12,411
    • Years to completion: One to two years
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

    Accreditation: Western New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    6. University of Maryland Global Campus

    Largo, Maryland

    About the program: UMGC’s 18-credit online cloud computing and networking graduate certificate includes courses in network engineering, cloud services and technologies, and decisive thinking.

    • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
    • Graduation rate: 28%
    • Avg. annual net price: $14,288
    • Years to completion: One to two
    • GMAT/GRE: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    7. Golden Gate University

    San Francisco, California

    About the program: GGU’s 18-unit online information technology management graduate certificate includes courses in network and infrastructure management, software engineering leadership, and managing data structures.

    • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
    • Graduation rate: 45%
    • Avg. annual net price: Not publicly available
    • Years to completion: One to two
    • GMAT/GRE: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Over three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Golden Gate University-San Francisco is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

    What to expect in an online network administration graduate certificate degree program

    Network administration graduate certificates can differ quite significantly depending on the focus of the program. Some provide more fundamentals for professionals with little expertise in the field, whereas others offer more specialized and advanced training. At varying depths, students learn how to design, build, and manage networks and related systems.

    Usually, these programs offer accelerated and focused studies, omitting the general education and unrelated courses typical of degree curriculums. As with many computer programs, these certificates often feature significant practical training, including hands-on assignments and virtual lab work.

    While online programs contain the same material as on-campus programs, they can demand more independence and proactive study habits from students.

    Network administration graduate certificate courses

    A network administration graduate certificate can feature many different courses. Some programs may explore only the principles of network administration, whereas others examine specific technologies and advanced network engineering tactics.

    Most graduate certificates provide graduate credits, which can be transferred into master’s programs. Some may require prospective students to meet certain prerequisites prior to entry. Below, we outline some of the more common courses in these programs.

    Network architectures

    In this course, students learn to design and build basic and advanced computer networks. They explore ways of meeting client needs, upgrading technologies, and securing systems, along with building scalable and manageable systems.

    Cloud services

    This course examines cloud services, shared infrastructures, and virtual networks. The training looks at the traffic, security, and applications of these services, along with how to incorporate cloud networks and overcome potential challenges.

    Network security

    Students in this course study topics in cryptography, virtual private networks, and the major security standards. Learners often look at the most common types of threats and methods of attacks, along with strategies for identifying them.

    Managing client systems

    In this course, students learn to oversee various client systems. They learn to install, configure, and troubleshoot systems, along with methods for securing them.

    Network administration degree levels

    In addition to a certificate, prospective students can pursue network administration training within the various degree levels. Depending on their study interests and career goals, some learners may find a degree is better suited to them. Below, we examine the degree levels and look at the types of training and career opportunities they offer.

    Associate in network administration

    • Length: One to two years
    • Cost: $11,389/year in 2018-19
    • Post-grad careers: Computer support specialist, web developer, and network administrator

    Network administration programs at the associate level focus on building information technology foundations. Students learn the principle network functions and technologies, while also developing an understanding of computer systems overall.

    In addition to general education and information technology courses, a network administration associate degree curriculum may include specialized courses in troubleshooting, installation, and network performance management. Graduates can pursue entry-level careers or continue their studies with a bachelor’s degree.

    Bachelor’s in network administration

    • Length: Three to four years
    • Cost: $28,123/year in 2018-19
    • Post-grad careers: Network administrator, computer network architect, and computer systems analyst

    Bachelor’s programs in network administration provide comprehensive training, which includes general education, information technology foundations, and specialized networking courses. Students learn to design, install, and secure networks. They also learn to maintain them and upgrade them based on client needs.

    Many bachelor’s programs in this discipline emphasize practical training, and learners often complete internships and lab work during their studies. Graduates can qualify for most networking positions, along with many information technology careers.

    Master’s in network administration

    • Length: One to two years
    • Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20
    • Post-grad careers: Computer and information systems manager, computer and information research scientist, and computer network architect

    A master’s program in network administration delves into the more advanced networking technologies and capabilities. Students learn to design, develop, secure, and manage large and complex networks. They can also specialize in many different areas, such as cloud technologies and network security.

    Master’s programs typically provide considerable practical training opportunities, such as internships, hands-on assignments, and capstone or thesis projects. Graduates possess the skills to acquire most computer and information technology positions, including management and analyst careers.

    In conclusion

    Computer networking is an exciting and growing field, and graduates with an online network administration graduate certificate can access many of the available careers. By choosing one of the ranked programs above, students can put themselves in a great position to take advantage of the opportunities. Prospective students can learn more about the individual programs by contacting the schools directly.

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