Ask LH: Which University IT Course Should I Do?

Hi Lifehacker, Right now I’m working on an IT help desk as technical support. I already have CCNA, MCSA Windows Server 2012 and ComptTIA A+ certification, and I’m going for MCSD Web Application and MCSA SQL Server 2012. I love system administration and web development, but I want to study for a bachelor’s degree. At the university in my town there are two degrees on offer: Computer Science and Engineering (which includes a lot of maths and C and Java development) and Information Technologies and Systems (which covers web development, systems administration and analysis, C/C++ and Java, and has less maths). Which one do you think is the best choice for a guy like me? Thanks, Studying Hard

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Dear SH,

The short and obvious answer is that it depends on what you want to do with your life. If you’re expecting to continue working in systems administration, the Information Technologies and Systems degree is more directly relevant. If you can imagine wanting to build up your development skills, the Computer Science degree might make more sense. There’s definitely something to be said for including as much maths as you can: the technologies you use in the workplace will change over time and you’ll need to retrain anyway, but a solid understanding of mathematical principles will be useful no matter which tech you have to tackle.

It’s also possible you don’t have to make a definitive choice up front. I’d be very surprised if there weren’t several subjects which you have to take in both degrees, especially at first-year level. If you’re planning to study part time, start with a subject that’s common to both. In most universities, swapping between degrees in this way isn’t particularly difficult — the main risk is that if you can’t get full credit for work already completed, you’ll end up with a larger HELP debt.

One other thought: double-check and see if your existing certifications can count as credit towards your degree. This isn’t always the case, but it never hurts to ask. Good luck!


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