The 25 Best Colleges for Nerds

UPDATED BEST ONLINE COLLEGE 2009 RATING:

Below you will find our ranking of the best online universities for 2009. Students can request free information directly from the best online university for them by clicking on the ‘More Info’ links:

1.
Westwood College Online
With the nation’s leading online BS in Web Design, AS in Graphic Design and Multimedia, Game Art and Animation programs, its no surprise that Westwood belongs at the top of this list.
2.
Kaplan University
Kaplan is nation’s overall top ranked online university for nerds, as it offers the nation’s leading selection of computer, technician, and IT programs online.
3.
University of Phoenix
The most recognized online university, Phoenix is also one of the best universities for nerds due to its large selection of design, development, animation, and IT programs.
4.
AIU Online
With top 10 programs in web design, digital design, visual communications, and a strong computers department its no surprise that AIU is consistently one of the best online colleges for nerds.
5.
Baker College Online
Baker’s ranking as one of the best online colleges for nerds is due in large part to the strength of its web design and development department which is consistently ranked among the best in the nation.
6.
Devry University
For those looking for an affordable online university, DeVry is one of the best online colleges due to their financial aid packages combined with the strength of their curriculum.
7.
Liberty University
Likely the best online college for Christian nerds, Liberty combines strong Christian values with an excellent curriculum in science, technology and computing to achieve a consistent ranking as one of the best online colleges.
8.
Capella University -
Capella’s national reputation in employer surveys for producing talented students, makes it a one of the best colleges online for almost any career goal.
8.
Grand Canyon University
With a focus on graduate-level education, GCU offers the best online college technology interface to complement its top rated masters degrees programs, making it one of the best colleges online.
10.
ITT Tech
ITT is the best online college for technicians degrees. ITT offers both online and campus degree programs in almost every career a nerd could be interested in.

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Pull out your pocket protectors and penny loafers…its Nerd Time Baby!  From video game design, to artificial intelligence, to majors in ‘ethical hacking’, colleges around the world are starting to appeal to the nerds in all of us.  This list of 25 courses and programs offered at colleges around the world identifies some of the nerdiest coursework, starting with the most obvious, and winding up with the most obscure…

215140273_c9c3a20c49 1. Game Software Design and Production: Video games, especially the interactive, online versions, are gaining in popularity by the day. So much so that hardware is being designed exclusively to support the graphic capabilities and speed that gaming applications demand. USA Today credits the DigiPen Institute of Technology with the title, “the Harvard of the joystick-clenching students fresh from high school”, for the four-year course offered in gaming design and production. For an online offering, check out the Video Game Design and Development course from Gatlin Education Services.

2. Ethical Hacking: It takes a crook to catch one seems to be the motto here. The rampant spread of hacking attacks has necessitated the introduction of ethical hacking courses that train students to become hackers themselves, so that they can stop the bad guys from spreading havoc through the Internet. The University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland became the first university to offer a full-time, four year course in Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures earlier this year. Similar online offerings are available at the InfoSec Institute.

3. Open Source Development: The advent and growth of the worldwide web has seen the parallel rise of applications and software developed using open source tools, thus facilitating a world with no copyrights and fostering faster development. The University of Berkeley, California, explores the economic, legal and social perspectives of Open Source Development and Distribution of Digital Information, while a study of open source development tools is available as an online offering at The Open University. Those interested in learning Unix and Linux online with an intent to becoming system administrators can check out the online training course at the University of Illinois Online.

45808386_7606245a15_1 4. Cryptography: As more and more transactions move into the online realm, it becomes increasingly important to secure these dealings and keep them from prying electronic eyes. The key to this challenge? The art of cryptography aka cryptology, of course. The forerunner to this skill was undoubtedly Leonardo Da Vinci. Do “The Da Vinci Code” and its cryptex ring a bell? The Stanford University offers Advanced Topics in Cryptography for those who wish to master the art of coding and decoding. Online offerings abound in this subject, but the best would be those offered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Stanford University, and the University of Washington. The last one is a sure draw for those looking for a free ride.

5. Network Security: Learning the ropes in protecting your network from hackers, virus writers, spammers, phishers and the like is a high priority in these days of system crashes and stolen data – courtesy cyber attacks. Computer and network security courses are offered on-campus at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and online at The American Intercontinental University Online.

6. Wireless Communication: The need to get connected and stay connected seamlessly and sightlessly is what’s driving the wireless communications industry to a stupendous growth. Regular courses from Stanford University and online equivalents from the University of Illinois Online make this an interesting and topical subject.

7. Computer Architecture: The design and operational structure of a computer is changing so rapidly that a new technology becomes obsolete a few months after it hits the markets. The Imperial College in the UK offers an advance course in Computer Architecture, a similar online offering being available at Virginia Tech.

8. Multimedia: Users of information want it in all possible formats – text, audio, video, graphics, and as interactive structures. Multimedia content makes this possible and courses like the ones offered at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign and the San Francisco State University (online) make advances in this field a possibility.

9. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: Remember the movie “Titanic”? The recovery of the blue diamond would not have been possible without the deep-sea submersible that helped explore the depths of the ocean and reveal its mysteries. The study of engineering principles for use in the marine world is both fascinating and demanding. Which is why the course on offer at the University of Michigan, ranked number one in the United States, is the best bet for those eyeing the deep waters. And for those of you who would prefer to plumb the secrets of the sea from home, the course offered by the University of New Orleans is quite a good option.

182062829_dbb184394e 10. Aeronautics and Astronautics: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is flying high with its aerospace program, beckoning students who dream of “participating in the future of the machines, the systems and the technology of our future in air and space”. And while you would think that such a complicated subject would be too tough to teach online, the Stanford University is proving otherwise by offering a graduate course in Astronautics and Aeronautics.

11. Nuclear Engineering: The engineering science that deals with the design, development, analysis, testing, and maintenance of nuclear reactors and weapons and the counter-effects of radiation is addressed comprehensively at the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Berkeley, California. The University of Tennessee has a distance education course that facilitates those who are unable to learn on campus.

12. Industrial Design Engineering: Combining the diverse skills in design, manufacture, and material, masters of this science turn out to be good product design engineers. Pretty amazing that the Royal College of Art in the UK offers a good graduate course in this discipline. The Penn Foster Career School offers a similar online course.

13. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Teaching machines to think independently is a tough call, but not if you’re enrolled at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. The Register claims that this institute has one of the best AI courses in the United Kingdom.

14.Robotics: Movies like “Terminato289650368_cf1fea9b33r" and “I, Robot” may be science fiction, but that’s just for the present. They not only proved box-office hits for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Will Smith, but have brought to the fore the increasingly profound effect robots will have in the future of the earth. The Robotics Design Studio at the Wellesley College offers robot-geeks the opportunity to design, build and invent their own LEGO robots. For the sit-at-homes, NASA offers a distributed, distance-learning summer course in Robotics and Engineering every year.

15. Medical Robotics: Robots are being designed to go where no man can ever hope to go, within the human body. The study and design of machines that assist in surgeries and aid the cause of less-invasive orthopedic procedures is the primary focus of researchers at the Medical Robotics Technology Center (MRTC) of the Robotics Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University.

16. Cybernetics: Pangaro defines cybernetics as the use of models of organizations, feedback, goals, and conversation to understand the capacity and limits of any system (technological, biological, or social). The science refers to control and communication in both humans and machines. The University of Reading in the United Kingdom offers comprehensive cybernetics courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels. In the United States, the University of California, Los Angeles has a similar offering that has been rechristened Computational & Systems Biology.

17. Haptics: The science of applying the sense of touch to computer applications is playing a key role in the development of virtual reality systems. Remember Demi Moore in the virtual database in “Disclosure”? For those of you who had no clue as to what was going on, read on at the Haptic Exploration Lab at the John Hopkins University.

18. Machine Learning and Neural Networks: A subfield of artificial intelligence, machine learning involves the creation of procedures that enable computers to learn and amass knowledge. Neural networks use a combination of hardware and software to solve problems where AI uses traditional algorithms. The University of Columbia offers an advanced course in machine learning and perception.

19. Decision Support Systems Engineering: The design and development of systems that aid in the process of decision-making by evaluating the relative worth of each alternative is what DSS engineering is all about. George Mason University has a typical on-campus course while Virginia Tech offers an online equivalent.

257266483_306ed644ca 20. Speech Synthesis: Stephen Hawking’s brilliance would have been lost to this world if not for this path-breaking field of computer science. The artificial synthesis of human-like speech using a computer finds a place among the courses offered by The Center for Spoken Language Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The Text-to-Speech Synthesis course is affiliated to the Language Technologies Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University.

21. VSLI Design: The microchip is getting smaller and more crowded by the day, thanks to the advances made in the design of very large scale integrated circuits. VLSI and Advanced Digital Design is taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology, while the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Design and Applications online course is offered at the Stanford University.

22. Bioinformatics: is a science which uses techniques in applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, AI, chemistry and biochemistry to resolve biological problems at the molecular level. Taught effectively online at the University of Washington and offline at the Boston University.

249344391_fd9b4b77ca_2 23. Nanotechnology/MEMS: Small and even smaller is beautiful in the nanotech world which deals with existing sciences on the minutest scale. Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems (MEMS) leverage nanotechnology to integrate mechanical elements, sensors, and electronics on a silicon wafer through the process of micro fabrication. The University of York in the UK offers both graduate and undergraduate engineering programs that combine electronics and nanotechnology.

24. Design of Hydrological Systems: Basically, these systems implement the science that deals with the design and creation of instruments that help manage water resources through analysis, operations planning, conflict resolution and hydropower. Short term courses are offered by the Cranfield University in the UK while more elaborate offerings are available from the Portland State University.

25. Digital Political Organization: Technology is ubiquitous, which is why it has spread its tentacles into the world of politics too. Harnessing the power of digital technology in the fields of political science and international studies just got easier with the minor offered in Political Organizing in the Digital Age from the University of Southern California.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nerds would conform to the formalities demanded in the pursuit of college degrees, but let’s face the facts – add some theoretical and hands-on knowledge to the natural flair that they have for their mean machines, and you get experts who can contribute immensely to development and growth in specialized fields of computer science. 

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