CSU to Offer Online IT Degree Program

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University is launching its first online bachelor of science degree program in information technology, preparing students for one of the nation’s fastest growing occupation areas.

“This program will be ideal for parents and full-time workers, or, for example, the TSYS employee working from six-to-six three days a week or the enlistee at Fort Benning waiting to be shipped out,” said Professor Wayne Summers, chair of CSU’s TSYS Department of Computer Science.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies IT fields as network and data communications, computer software applications and systems, database administration, computer systems analysis, and systems administration and management.

Current and prospective IT professionals can enroll as CSU students now for the fall semester. The program also is known as Georgia WebBSIT and is facilitated by a University System of Georgia consortium. Columbus State joins Southern Polytechnic, Clayton State, Georgia Southern, Armstrong Atlantic and Macon State universities in delivering the program.

WebBSIT Executive Director Vickie Booth said CSU’s presence strengthens the consortium by providing professors for its teaching faculty and administrative leadership. CSU’s affiliation also has the potential to boost the 4-year-old program’s enrollment, which peaked at 213 this spring.

“We anticipate that CSU, with its proximity to Fort Benning, will help us tap into the military, which represents a huge market for online degree programs,” Booth said.

Though Columbus-area residents have had access to the program prior to CSU’s entry, prospective students tend to prefer enrolling in online programs through an institution they’re familiar with, feel an emotional attachment to, or one that’s simply close to home, she said.

While information technology programs at member institutions are the foundation of WeBSIT, the program dovetails, and is structured similarly to, the USG’s eCore program of online courses covering all undergraduate general education requirements.

Continuing students can transfer credits (according to the selected university’s standard criteria) into the program, or new freshmen can take eCore classes through CSU and complete the entire four-year program without setting foot on campus. Such students could continue related graduate study off campus, as WebBSIT also will feed into CSU’s online computer science master’s degree program, said Summers, who represents CSU on the consortium’s operating board. CSU College of Science Dean Glenn Stokes also has joined the group’s governing board.

Summers said that in academia career terms, information technology and computer science have evolved in the past 10-15 years as separate but complementary computing disciplines.

Computer science programs prepare students to design and implement software and devise new ways to use computers, while IT programs prepare students to be the caretakers of these systems for businesses and organizations — all of which today depend on information technology.

IT specialists select and integrate appropriate hardware and software products for their employers. This relates to networks, network administration and security. Their expertise also typically covers Web page design, multimedia resource development, installation of communication components, overseeing e-mail systems, and planning and managing their company’s technology life cycle.

For more information about the WebBSIT program through CSU, call the TSYS Department of Computer Science at 706-568-2410, e-mail cs@ColumbusState.edu or go to http://www.WebBSIT.org.