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IT Certification in Academia: An Overview and Survey

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Though you might not think so, local community colleges and technical schools offer great deals on and broad coverage in classes on IT certification topics. For much less than the cost of commercial training (but usually over longer periods of time) students can work with great instructors and in well-equipped labs to prepare for certification exams of many kinds. Ed Tittel takes you on a tour of pursuing certification training in an academic setting.
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As one looks over the IT certification landscape and the many venues available for training and preparation for such credentials, the footprint and impact of academia continue to grow and improve. There are many ways to pursue certification training in an academic setting, and many academic institutions now offer such training as part of their degree plans—as well as in the context of continuing or adult education programs.

Traditionally, this kind of classroom training has occurred outside degree plans and hasn't been tightly integrated into associate, bachelor, or graduate degree programs. But increasing competition for students and the desire to find more ways to win new program entrants are having an impact. In the past three years, the once rigid and strictly patrolled boundary between "ivory tower" academic training and "workplace-oriented" technical and professional training is growing downright fuzzy, if not completely absent in some programs.

That said, it's still the case that although many community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning do offer IT certification training, by no means do all of them include such training within official curricula. This survey attempts to be an initial foray into identifying those institutions that include IT certification training as part of their official degree plans, that require students to obtain IT certifications to obtain degrees, or that offer credit to students if and when they obtain such credentials.

As you examine the various institutions and offerings included in this survey, please note that several e-learning or exam prep companies appear to be forging alliances with academic institutions to bring IT certification and conventional academic training closer together. As I surveyed available offerings and information online, the same URLs or Web site structures kept popping up, even if they covered offerings from institutions all over the country. Where big business senses opportunity, the bet is that growth is in the offing. As this survey gets updated over time, I expect to see more and more institutions partnering up to offer IT certification to their student populations.

As you're shopping around for ways to get a degree and IT cert credentials, don't forget that the best bang for your buck is often only as far away as your local community college. Though inclusion of certs and degrees is not yet in the majority, low-cost, high-quality avenues to cert training are available at most community colleges. Be sure to check out those offerings as you ponder your best pathway to academic and/or cert success!

Resources on Certification in Academia

The best general description of the kinds of relationships between academic degree programs and IT certification I know about appears in a September, 2003, story by Jamie Mulkey in Certification Magazine, entitled "IT Certification on Campus: Credentials in a League of Their Own."

General Search Resources

The following four sites do as good a job of mentioning nationally branded or vendor program-based associate, bachelor, or graduate degree programs that incorporate IT certification (or offer it side-by-side conventional curriculum elements) as anything available online:

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