What to look for in an online IT program

May 24, 2017

If you’re researching online information technology (IT) programs, it’s important to look for three key features: accreditations, designations, and a curriculum that’s aligned to your profession.

Here’s why these features are important.


Accreditation is a process that ensures an institution or specific programs meet acceptable levels of quality for faculty, student support, curriculum, and fiscal stability. There are two types of accreditation in higher education: institutional, that recognizes the whole college or university, and specialized, that recognizes specific programs or departments.

For an IT program, accreditation by an IT-focused agency means that the program has undergone a rigorous examination of what’s being offered and how often it’s being updated. Especially in IT, content that is up-to-date and related to real-world scenarios prepares students for workplace challenges . It’s also important to find a program where you’re not just reading a chapter and writing a paper, but actually using the tools, whether it’s programming, web and mobile design, ethical hacking, developing apps, or system development.

Accreditation is recognizable to employers in the field and helps provide the assurance that graduates from those programs have a firm grounding in IT.


Another feature to look for is whether or not the IT program has earned designations from any professional or governmental organizations.  One such agency is the National Security Agency or the Department of Homeland Security which designates National Center of Academic Excellence. Designations signify that the IT program has undergone rigorous and continued assessment and that the program has specific education and outcome expectations that meet agency requirements.

Professionally aligned curriculum

Professionally aligned curriculum means that a program has both an academic and industry component. As part of Capella’s competency-based education model this type of curriculum goes beyond theory to provide something tangible for the employer, so it bridges a gap that satisfies employment needs.

Programs that feature a professionally aligned curriculum are designed around industry standards, so they also provide students with the foundational information and authentic experiences beneficial when sitting for industry certification exams.

Capella has the following accreditations and designations that apply to IT:

  • Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Capella’s Bachelor’s in IT program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET*.
  • The Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral IT Project Management specializations are accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (PMI-GAC)*.
  • The National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security (NSA/DHS) have designated Capella as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD) for academic years 2014-2021.

*The FlexPath format is not accredited.

In addition, many of the courses in Capella’s IT programs are aligned to various professional certifications, including many from Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, and other such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®), SAS® Certified Base Programmer, and Certified Data Management Professional (CMDP). Students who complete the aligned courses may gain the necessary skills and knowledge to take select certification exams – and the vouchers to take them for free.

Learn more about Capella’s online IT programs.

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