Courses to Take and Skills to Study in an IT Degree Program

It may be a passion for coding and building your own computer hardware that brought you to an IT degree program, or you may enjoy dissecting complicated technical networks to understand what makes them tick. Whatever your interest in information technology, there is a huge range of programming languages, network and internet protocols, and hardware to understand in order to move forward into your desired career path.

While your interest in all things digital may have carried you this far, one primary benefit of an IT degree is that it can help you develop the specific skills and knowledge you want to pursue your goals. So how do you know what specific courses to take and skills to learn in an IT degree program?

An IT program should help you develop a range of IT-specific skills in order to provide strong foundational knowledge for whatever area of the field you want to move into next. The following classes, skills, and experience can give you a head start when it comes to pushing your IT knowledge to the next level.

Core Information Technology Courses at AIU

All IT degree students at AIU are required to take a selection of core courses designed to establish a strong baseline of knowledge upon which to build once you choose an IT specialization. These classes act as introductions to the fundamental concepts and material you'll work with more in-depth as you make progress through your degree.

Core courses to take in the IT program include:1

  • Discovering Information Technology
  • Introduction to Computer and Network Hardware
  • Information Technology and Society
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Fundamentals of Programming and Logic
  • Introduction to Databases
  • Network Infrastructure Basics

Once these courses have been completed, additional upper-level core classes such as Data Structures and Implementation (ITCO 321) and Introduction to Web Systems and Media (ITCO 381) can provide the knowledge to work with various data and technical structures, as well as the tools to design and implement IT solutions. Additional upper-level core courses include Information Technology Security (ITCO 361), Human/Computer Interfaces and Interactions (ITCO 391) and Object Oriented Application Development I (ITSD 322).

Besides core courses, the curriculum includes specializations courses with more in-depth exploration of topics such as digital investigations, information assurance and security, software analysis and development, and network administration.

Additional Important IT Skills and Experience

The courses you take as part of your core IT program requirements and any additional specializations can help provide you with a diverse range of knowledge and experience. It's your responsibility, however, to make sure you're using these courses as opportunities to actively develop the skills you'll need to succeed in your chosen career path. Make sure to spend time on the following while taking your classes.

Become familiar with a variety of coding languages and operating systems.
Employers likely want to see that potential job candidates have a diverse range of skills and can take on a variety of projects and responsibilities. This means that even if your specialization or ideal position only utilizes a specific set of programming languages and skills, you should remain comfortable and familiar with a wide range of those currently in use.

Labor marketing information company Burning Glass lists the following among IT employers' top software and programming skills in greatest demand:2

  • SQL
  • JAVA
  • Oracle
  • LINUX
  • JavaScript
  • XML
  • Microsoft C#
  • C++
  • UNIX
  • Python
  • Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (OOAD)

Increase your knowledge of cyber security and digital theft protection.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates that information security positions will increase by 18% from 2014 to 2024, as companies increasingly rely on digital storage solutions for confidential information and records.3

Collaborate on projects with students outside your department.
For upper-level managerial positions within IT fields, an understanding of business process planning and organization can be highly valued by employers. If you have any opportunities to collaborate with business students or anyone else outside your department, it could prove to be useful experience when you enter the job market.

Many IT positions require working with multiple departments across a company in order to provide employee training, implement new technical protocols and solutions, and prepare for large-scale changes in company processes and services. While you may not take courses specifically focused on this kind of collaboration, the experience may be well worth going out of your way to pursue.

Keep in mind that you also have a network of instructors and advisors at your disposal—if you have more questions about what courses to take and skills to learn in the IT field, don't hesitate to ask for advice.

Ready to learn more? Explore IT degree programs at AIU.


1. Specific courses are subject to change. Visit the AIU catalog at http://aiuniv.smartcatalogiq.com/en/current/Catalog at for the latest program curriculum.

2. "Software and Programming Skills in Greatest Demand." Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/15-12/31/15.

3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, "Information Security Analysts," on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm (Visited 1/30/17).

AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures at www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures.