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6 great North American schools to prep for IT careers

September 24, 2013

With a degree from a reputable tech school, young professionals can boost their chances of getting the best IT jobs available. However, choosing the right institution can be a challenge. Depending on the career aspirations of each individual, certain schools may be more realistic options for helping students gain employment in the role they desire. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): the exclusive school
Widely regarded as one of the best learning institutions in the world, MIT is one of the most difficult schools to get into. According to Network World, the early admissions rate for applicants this year was 10 percent, the lowest of eight schools with solid IT programs the source analyzed. 

With a wide range of tech-related degrees to choose from, MIT is fantastic launching pad for IT careers. The Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) Department offers undergraduate programs that address a number of subjects. The average starting annual salary for a graduate with an EECS bachelor's degree is greater than $90,000

Carnegie Mellon University: the security expert's school
​This Pittsburgh institution has been around since 1900, and has a long history of spearheading tech developments and education. The school offers graduate degrees in a number of fields, including IT security. 

Known for providing an interactive learning experience, Carnegie Mellon offers students a chance to actively research, develop and test the latest security technologies in the world.

For example, former graduate students Hirokazu Sasamoto and Eiji Hayashi and faculty member Nicolas Christin were able to present research on security of ATMs at the 2008 CHI conference, a leading forum for research and computer science. This is just one example of the vibrant IT security environment found at Carnegie Mellon. 

University of California at Berkeley: the executive's school
For tech-savvy students who want to call the shots in the boardroom one day, Berkeley is a great option. A Network World article indicated that more tech CEOs come from the California institution than any other. Some of the well-known industry leaders to earn degrees from the school include Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan. 

California Institute of Technology: the Nobel Prize winner's school
According to Times Higher Education, 30 Caltech graduates have won Nobel prizes, which is part of the reason the source ranked it as the top school in the world for 2012-2013. 

With just under a 7:1 teacher to student ratio, the school offers an intimate learning environment on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Undergraduate students are able to participate in a number of degree programs including the Applied & Computational Mathematics, Computer Science and Control & Dynamical Systems programs, all run by the Department of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. 

Home to NASA's world-renowned Jet Propulsion Lab, the school offers a complex, hands-on IT training experience at one of the foremost research facilities in the country. 

Georgia Tech: the early bird's school
Many driven high school students enter their senior years ready to figure out which college they will attend. For this reason, many pupils opt to apply for early admissions. Of the many reputable tech schools in the United States, Georgia Tech has one of the best admission rates for early applicants. 

Last year, the school accepted 55 percent of early applicants and deferred an additional 21 percent to regular admissions. Although some may perceive it as non-exclusive due to the high admission number, the school attracts some of the brightest tech students around. The school stated that the average GPA of its early admissions class was 4.0 and the group boasted a 1460/2155 SAT profile. High-schoolers who want to get the college search out of the way as soon as possible should consider Georgia Tech. 

Harvey Mudd College:  the programmer's school
Programming is perhaps one of the most specialized niches in the IT field. For individuals who can't stop coding, Harvey Mudd will provide the network needed to establish a long-term career as a programmer. 

David Thielen of Windward Solutions wrote for the Huffington Post that his organization's Windward Code War—a intercollegiate competition among programming teams from North American schools—provides valuable insight into the depth of community at programming schools.

At Harvey Mudd, 87 students participate in the competition, accounting for 21 separate teams - more than any other school. Thielen suggested that prospective programmers should think about attending Mudd if they want to interact with one of the most vibrant programming communities found in higher education. 

A word of advice
North America is one of the most significant locales for IT education. As a result, there are a number of great schools that can prep students for roles in the tech sector. 

Although these schools represent fantastic options, this is hardly a comprehensive list. Other institutions such as Stanford University, Purdue University and Harvard University are also more than qualified to arm IT learners with the skills they need to pursue career opportunities in IT. To find the right school, aspiring students should consult with high school guidance counselors and professionals in the industry before making a decision.

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