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Doctorate Degrees in Software Development

Obtaining a doctorate degree in the field of software development can help you pursue a career in teaching computer science in a post-secondary environment, while building your skill set in programming languages and troubleshooting development problems. Read on to learn what specific degree programs are offered, curriculum, common courses, and potential salary figures.

Can I Earn a Doctorate Degree in Software Development?

You can learn software development skills at the doctoral level through programs in software engineering. Like most doctoral curricula, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Software Engineering programs are research intensive, require close and frequent work with professors, and often require the use of expensive computer systems and applications. For these reasons, this degree program is not typically offered online.

Degree Programs Ph.D. in software engineering
Curriculum Software development troubleshooting, research-intensive learning style
Common Courses Applied statistics, computer systems design, theory of programming languages
Median Salary (2018)$78,470* (for postsecondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-26)15%* (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn?

Software engineering Ph.D. programs prepare you to pursue faculty positions at colleges, universities or research institutions. You can expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of software development issues, including the advancement of your own narrow area of research, while engaging in teaching apprenticeships that allow you to learn about pedagogy, as well. Courses teach you how software development relates to public policy, economics, markets, and regulatory issues. You'll also learn and implement research methodologies that address current software development problems on both the theoretical and practical levels.

What Are the Requirements?

Courses in a doctorate degree program combine didactic learning with hands-on training, and most require that you complete a research dissertation or thesis. You will have to participate in teaching at the undergraduate and, on occasion, graduate levels. Some schools present you with a candidacy exam in the second year of study covering what you've learned to date and awarding you a master's degree that qualifies you for continued study. Typical required coursework includes:

  • Applied statistics
  • Research methods for software engineering
  • Performance analysis
  • Theory of programming languages
  • Software systems
  • Application systems
  • Computer systems design
  • Software legislation issues

What Can I Do After I Graduate?

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in software engineering usually qualify for jobs in academia. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected the employment rate for post-secondary educators to increase approximately 15% between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that the overall median annual wage in 2014 for computer science professors was $82,220. School location made a difference in salaries, with college-level educators in California and Rhode Island earning over $125,000 per year, and those in District of Columbia and Ohio earning $123,250 and $112,390 respectively, according to the BLS.