In order to realize the greatest level of success in the Computer Information Systems (CIS) degree and certificate programs at Olympic College, it is critical that students have their own computers to work on. Most of the course content found in our CIS offerings is now online, and much of what we do entails working directly with applications and operating systems in virtual environments. While many of the software applications used throughout the program are provided to students for their various courses of study to install and practice with at home, a highly-capable hardware system for home use is not. As such, a highly-capable computer will go a long way to help ensure the student has the tools needed to succeed.

The following specifications are for a computer that would be sufficient for a two-year program of study in the CIS program for a student pursuing the Associate of Applied Sciences degree or certificate in the area of Information Systems Specialist. These specs are recommended as a minimum, since systems can exceed this, and those less than this might introduce barriers to success with some assignments. 

Students unable to obtain these resources should consult with faculty to discuss options. Note that access to these resources are, in general, provided at on-campus facilities. Mac users may need to utilize tools such as VMware to run Windows OS virtualized on their Mac (see FAQs or a CIS instructor). 

  • Intel Core i7 CPU or equivalent
  • 32GB of DDR4 RAM for multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) for learning other operating systems 
  • High performance NVidia or AMD GPU
  • 256GB to 1TB of Hard Drive (HD) storage for curriculum support of the networking courses
  • Webcam if you plan to take classes remotely 
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless Network Interface Card (NIC) for the widest range of wireless connectivity (laptop systems only)
  • Ethernet NIC, gigabit Ethernet 
  • Bluetooth 5.2 capable
  • USB 3.0 for faster data transfer when storing VMs on a flash memory device (i.e. “thumb drive”)

The following items are considered necessary as well, though no minimum specifications are called for:

  • A primary display
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse (or integrated trackpad)
  • Speakers
  • Microphone
  • Headset
  • 32G removable solid-state storage (a.k.a. thumb drive)
  • Printer (monochrome laser recommended)
  • Access to high-speed (broadband) Internet

The following items are optional and optimal for augmenting the learning environment:

  • 2nd display can be very useful for interacting in Zoom while working
  • Laptop case for a laptop
  • Laptop anti-theft hardware for a laptop

Please feel free to contact your CIS faculty advisor with any questions or concerns you may have on any of this.