Online Computer Information Systems Degree | Penn Foster College

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Computer Information Systems Degree

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Associate Degree in Computer Information Systems

If you enjoy working with technology, it’s time to explore with Penn Foster College’s Computer Information Systems degree program. In this online associate degree program, you’ll study topics like computer applications, network protocols and internetworking, computer programming in Java, database technology, HTML coding, structured systems analysis, systems design, and much more.

At $79 per credit and no application fee, our Computer Information Systems Associate degree program is an affordable way to pursue your educational goals.

Associate Degrees from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Computer Information Systems Associate's Degree program prepares students for an entry-level position in the field of computer and information technology.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to create programs following basic problem solving principles and guidelines common to all programming languages
  • Demonstrate the ability to create and integrate documents using word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software applications
  • Demonstrate an understanding of communication systems used by computers to form networks; identify different networking implementation strategies and technologies available
  • Demonstrate the ability to create and maintain a database and how the collected data can be deployed
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the system development cycle and the role of the systems analyst in developing business applications
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine the level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

INT101 Computer Technology Orientation 1 credit

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program, and learn about the role of technology in society.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
  • Explain the impact of technology on business and the economy.
  • Understand the social implications of technology and its benefits and trends.
  • Identify technology careers and what skill sets they require.
ENG103 Information Literacy 1 credit

Get better at finding and using information!


  • Search the Internet more effectively.
  • Get tips about search engines and reliable websites.
  • Learn how to search libraries and other information centers for important, useful information.
MAT115 Intermediate Algebra 3 credits

This course introduces basic algebraic concepts that you’ll need to be successful in your career.


  • Understand the systems of equations, polynomials, and radicals.
  • Factor polynomial expressions.
  • Simplify rational expressions.

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Intermediate Algebra

CSC104 Computer Applications 3 credits

This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate the popular software tools within Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
CSC105 Introduction to Programming 3 credits

This course concentrates on the basic guidelines and best practices for developing good programming skills.


  • Learn the basics of computer programming and logic.
  • Understand the basic logic common to all programming languages.
  • Learn how to create your own programs.
  • Use Boolean expressions.
  • Create loops and arrays.
  • Design graphical user interfaces.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Programming Logic and Design

Social Science Elective (Choose two) 6 credits

SSC105 - World Civilizations

This course will allow you to understand the importance of studying history as it relates to the individual and society as a whole.


  • Discuss the major events of the sixteenth through twentieth centuries.
  • Explain the consequences of events and the trends that they cause.

SSC125 - Introduction to Sociology

This course is designed to introduce you to social structure and social interaction through groups, networks, and organizations. Study politics, the economy, population, social movements, technology, and social change.


  • Describe deviance, crime, and social control.
  • Discuss the effects of stratification, racial and ethnic inequality, sex, gender, and sexuality.
  • Examine the role of health, family, education, and religion in human behavior.

SSC130 - Essentials of Psychology

This course will introduce you to the relationship between biology and behavior. You will learn about human development throughout the life span.


  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
  • Explain how community influences behavior.
Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

CSC221 Advanced PC Applications 3 credits

In this course, you'll learn to use computer software that's important to any business.


  • Learn about Microsoft® Access®
  • Create new Access® databases, forms, and reports.
  • Sort and filter your data with queries. 
  • Analyze your data using Access.®
  • Create PowerPoint® presentations by placing and manipulating clip art.
  • Choose a background template and add notes to a PowerPoint® slide show.
  • Embed and link Word™ and Excel® material in PowerPoint® presentations.
  • Add sound, movie files, and hyperlinks to PowerPoint® presentations.
  • Embed an Excel® worksheet, chart, or graph into a Word™ document.
  • Learn the difference between object linking and embedding.
  • Study the procedure for linking an object to a Word™ document.
  • Use Microsoft® Access® to create a data source.
  • Develop a form letter with form fields.
  • Merge a database with a form letter.
INT120 HTML Coding 3 credits

This course teaches how to create web pages with hypertext links, tables, frames, and forms.


  • Create your own Web pages using HTML.
  • Use JavaScript to add interactions to your Web pages.
  • Create special effects using Dynamic HTML.
  • Understand XHTML to create a well-formed valid document.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: HTML and XHTML Demystified

ENG100 English Composition 3 credits

This course will allow you to polish and enhance your writing skills.


  • Effectively use free writing and brainstorming.
  • Perfect your ability to edit and revise your writing.
  • Apply techniques for getting the reader’s attention.
  • Write descriptive essays, first-person narratives, reflective essays, persuasive essays, and effective thesis statements.

Additional Course Materials

Textbook: Successful College Writing

Supplement: The Little Brown Essential Handbook

INT128 Network Protocols and Internetworking 3 credits

In this course, you'll learn how computers communicate with each other.


  • Understand network fundamentals.
  • Explain how local area networks and wide area networks work.
  • Maintain and troubleshoot a network, secure a network, and know what devices to use for connecting networks.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Cisco Networking Essentials

MAT222 Pre-Calculus 3 credits

This course covers pre-calculus concepts all college students need as prerequisites to calculus and related courses required in many undergraduate majors.


  • Understand exponential and logarithmic functions.
  • Understand trigonometric functions and analytical trigonometry.
  • Explore systems of equations.
  • Understand inequalities.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Precalculus

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 3

ENG121 Business and Technical Writing 3 credits

Learn how to write business and technical documents.


  • Organize your material logically and systematically.
  • Use action verbs effectively and construct paragraphs.
  • Conduct research and document sources.
CSC218 Visual Basic® 3 credits

This course provides an introduction to Visual Basic.® 


  • Use Visual Basic® to create computer programs.
  • Write programs to solve real-world problems.
  • Understand flowcharting.
  • Understand the stages in the development life cycle.
  • Create a Windows® Forms application.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Beginning Visual Basic®

INT225 Introduction to Database Technology 3 credits

This course provides an overview of essential database concepts, with a focus on the relational model of database management.


  • Know what a database is and isn’t.
  • Understand what goes into creating and maintaining a database.
  • Understand how massive databases can be deployed to benefit organizations and their customers.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Hands-On Database

Science Elective (Choose two) 6 credits

SCI110 - Earth Science 

This course will allow you to learn about planet Earth and the various aspects of the environment.


  • Describe specific characteristics of Earth.
  • Describe different types of rocks and minerals.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Earth Science

SCI120 - Introduction to Biology

This course will allow you to explore the origin of life and the relationships among all living things.


  • Explain how organisms are structured and how they work.
  • Discuss the various forms of life and their processes.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Essentials of Biology

SCI140 - Nutrition 

This course will allow you to develop a healthier lifestyle by making smarter nutritional decisions.


  • Explain the various components of nutrition as a science.
  • Describe nutrition from a global viewpoint.
  • Understand the importance of water and exercise.
  • Identify the basics of human growth and aging.
  • Discuss food safety procedures.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Nutrition

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

INT215 Programming in Java™ 3 credits

This course is designed to teach Java™ to those studying programming for the first time, but is also appropriate for those building on experiences in another programming language.


  • Use Java™ to program applets.
  • Create animations and graphics for use on the Internet.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Java, A Beginner's Guide

CIS245 Structured Systems Analysis and Design 3 credits

This course covers the system development cycle, information gathering and reporting activities on the analysis phase, interaction of various participants in the systems process, and the role of the systems analyst in developing business applications.


  • Analyze a business and determine its information needs.
  • Understand the methods for assessing project feasibility.
  • Select the best design strategy using qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Understand how to generate alternative strategies.
  • Learn Internet and personal security as well as network and enterprise security.
  • Incorporate the steps involved in recovering from an attack and create an attack-recovery plan.
  • Use spyware tools to detect viruses.

Textbook: Essentials of Systems Analysis and Design

Core Electives (Choose two) 6 credits

CSC275 - Computer Forensics


  • Understand the concepts and practices involved in computer forensics.
  • Identify the tools ranging from graphical user interface (GUI) acquisition software to hex editors.
  • Understand report writing, following rules of evidence, and giving testimony in court.

Textbook: Computer Forensics JumpStart

INT125 - Internet Server Environment


  • Understand the foundations of the Internet: the servers, clients, and technologies that link them together.
  • Know Web site configuration.
  • Identify common hosting environments, including Windows® and Unix-based platforms.
  • Create and configure your own Web server.

INT114 - Internet Marketing and E-Commerce


  • Contrast E-commerce with traditional commerce.
  • Identify major market and enterprise issues that impact electronic commerce.
  • Explore how firms conduct business on the Internet, including their selling and marketing strategies.
  • Examine legal and ethical challenges that are unique to E-commerce.
  • Discover the major steps in implementing an E-commerce venture.

Textbook: Complete B2B Online Marketing

INT130 - Internet Security


  • Understand Internet and personal security.
  • Understand network and enterprise security.

Textbook: Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

INT201 - Web Site Project Management


  • Understand Web site design and development.
  • Create interactive projects, from the initial planning to the project release.
  • Put a Web site together using the various steps in the project cycle.

Textbook: Web Project Managment

INT203 - Extensible Markup Language (XML)


  • Create XML documents.
  • Understand how to extract data from XML documents.
  • Add XML attributes.
  • Connect CSS to an XML document.
  • Create an XHTML document.

Textbook: XML: A Beginner’s Guide

INT205 - Introduction to Internet Multimedia


  • Understand how to make Web sites more attractive and popular to users.
  • Understand the importance of planning out your Web site ahead of time.
  • Understand the various types of media and the best ways to include them in your Web site.
  • Add a database.
  • Know the best practices for using a Web site for business purposes.
  • Effectively advertise an online business.
  • Plan and design an attractive Web site using multimedia.

Textbook: Multimedia: Making It Work

INT210 - Creating Web Pages with PHP


  • Understand the technologies that will work together to create dynamic, database-backed Web sites.
  • Install, configure, and set up the PHP scripting language, the MySQL database system, and the Apache Web server.
  • Create a Web-based discussion forum or mailing list, or a storefront and shopping cart to a Web site.

Textbook: PHP, MySQL and Apache

INT220 - Programming in CGI/Perl


  • Create online forms.
  • Work with CGI scripts.
  • Write cookies.
  • Manipulate and process data via the Internet using Perl.

Additional Course Material
Textbook: CGI/Perl

INT238 - Streaming Technology


  • Use tools to create Web pages, multimedia, and animation.
  • Work with Adobe Dreamweaver® to create Web sites.
  • Use Adobe Flash® to add interactivity to your projects, particularly with animation.
  • Use Adobe Fireworks® to create graphics for the Web and Integrate Dreamweaver,® Flash,® and Fireworks® to create unique Web sites that contain interactivity, graphics, and/or animations.

Textbook: The Web Collection Revealed

INT242 - Advanced Database Technology


  • Understand relational database theory and Oracle Database concepts.
  • Implement an Oracle Database.
  • Understand the routine of a database administrator.

Textbook: Beginning Oracle Database 11g

Arts and Humanities Elective (Choose two) 6 credits

HUM102 - Art Appreciation

This course will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to critique a variety of artwork.


  • Understand artistic media.
  • Identify historical periods and artistic movements.
  • Explain the roles of the artist and the viewer.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: The Power of Art

HUM104 - Music Appreciation

This course will allow you to understand and appreciate the art of music.


  • Identify the basic principles of music theory, including melody, harmony, dynamics, and timbre.
  • Name the main types of musical instruments.
  • Distinguish various styles of music.
  • Identify influential composers of various periods of musical history.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Listen to This

ENG115 - Introduction to Literature 

This course will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills and broaden your knowledge of literature.


  • Identify themes and forms of literature.
  • Define the main genres of literature—poetry, fiction, and drama.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Perrine's Literature

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later, Microsoft® Office 365, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete all 4 semesters.
  • Pass all courses.
  • Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher.

NOTE: Advanced standing student shipments may vary from the above schedule.
Although this outline covers all four semesters of your program, you receive lesson materials for each semester as you enroll.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Credits earned in Penn Foster programs may transfer to some, but not all, learning institutions. If you are planning to continue your education with another school after you earn your degree from Penn Foster, you should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies.
Microsoft, Windows, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Visual Basic are registered trademarks and Word is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Java is a trademark of Oracle in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks are trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Computer Information Systems sample lesson, click here.

Computer Information Systems Program Details

In Penn Foster College’s Computer Information Systems degree online program you’ll cover topics such as:

Computer Information Systems Online Degree

The Computer Information Systems degree program helps prepare students to build computer software, update business applications, and help employers with cyber security. Here are a few qualities that effective computer science professionals have in common:

  • Analytical: You use logic and careful analysis to solve a problem.
  • Problem solving: Finding the missing piece can be challenging and rewarding.
  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Persistent: Obstacles are part of the job and not a reason to become frustrated.

Penn Foster has a great faculty and staff that truly care about the well-being of their current and future students. Penn Foster has truly helped me obtain my degree through distance learning. I am a military spouse and, up until my last semester, I worked full-time and the convenience to be able to work at my own pace is excellent. My shipments are always on time and I never had any problems with getting the answers I needed regarding my coursework. Penn Foster has given me a life and a career. I feel joy to be graduating in just a few short months and I'm very happy knowing Penn Foster provided me with the knowledge I need to excel in my career. Don't think twice... please enroll today!

- Shantell P., Penn Foster College graduate

Having a degree will increase my chances of being put at the top of the promotion list. I suggest Penn Foster programs all of the time to my coworkers. I am in the military, and Penn Foster is a very military-friendly school. I got all of my materials shipped to me while I was overseas for deployment.

- Amy G., Penn Foster College Graduate

After earning my degree I received a pay increase and a promotion to a supervisor position. The instructors are superb, helpful, and are there with you every step of the way. Also, the student services representatives are courteous and understanding; they are there to answer any questions you may have. After each assignment I completed, the staff of Penn Foster always had encouraging statements that helped me to stay on course. Congrats to Penn Foster College on being the best and bringing the best out of me.

- Shawn C., Penn Foster College Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Computer Information Systems academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

How is Penn Foster College's Computer Information Systems Online Associate Degree Program different from Penn Foster College's Computer Support Technician Career Diploma Program?

The CIS Degree is more focused on programming and system analysis than the Computer Support Technician Career Diploma Program, which focuses on troubleshooting and support. Click here for more information on the Computer Support Technician Career Diploma Program.

Will my Penn Foster College credits transfer to other schools?

Penn Foster College credits have been accepted for transfer into many colleges across the country. Students should check with a specific college to see if they accept our credits, as credit transfer can vary depending on the school. Also, the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated and recommended college credit for many Penn Foster College courses. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits. For more information on transferring credits, click here.

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