Software Development Degree Programs

Software developers typically focus on creating, programming or improving computer software products. Learn more about the degree and certification programs, job outlook, salary info and career options. Schools offering Software Development & Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Type of Software Development Degree Programs Are Offered?

Software development degree programs are offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. An associate's degree in software development will help you find you employment in an entry-level position as a software developer or programmer. Although some companies hire graduates of associate's degree programs or provide on-the-job training, most employers prefer graduates of bachelor's or master's degree programs who also have relevant work experience.

Most schools require you to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field before you can enroll in a master's degree software development program. You may choose to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in software development, seek employment and pursue a master's degree through distance learning. This option allows you to advance your education while holding a related job.

Program TypesPrograms are available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's level
Common CoursesProgramming with UNIX/Linux operating systems, different programming languages, modern integration technologies, interactive computer system implementation, importance of software architecture
Online AvailabilityPrograms can be completed entirely online
Median Salary (2018)$105,590* (for software developer)
Job Outlook (2016-26)24% growth* (for all software developers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

As a software developer or software engineer, you'll learn to analyze the needs of the user and create and develop software programs to meet such needs. You'll also have the training needed to coordinate and maintain a computer system. Your curriculum will include coursework with a hands-on learning approach. The level of study you'll receive will vary with the degree level you're pursuing.

An associate's degree program will provide you with the basics of computer programming, applications and information technology. A bachelor's degree program will delve deeper into computers and teach you about digital circuit design, different programming languages and software systems design. Master's degree programs teach you not only software development skills, but they also provide you with effective management skills, a more in-depth understanding of software engineering and the latest technological advances in computer science.

Some programs may require you to participate in an internship or complete a capstone project prior to graduation. This may vary by program and level of study. Common topics of study include:

  • Application programming
  • Using C++ Programming
  • TCP/IP and network security
  • Programming with UNIX/Linux operating systems
  • Different programming languages
  • Modern integration technologies
  • Interactive computer system implementation
  • Importance of software architecture

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

If earning a degree in software development is your career goal, but you can't attend school on campus, you may be able to earn your degree through distance learning. A computer with Internet access and an e-mail address is generally all that's required to participate in an online program. Your courses are delivered through various methods, including online lectures and streaming audio and video files.

Many schools use a course management system, such as Blackboard, which allows you to view your courses at your convenience. Because some of the programs require lab work, you may be required to spend some time on campus or take proctored exams. Whether your goal is an associate's degree in programming and software development or a master's degree in software engineering, you can find an online program that meets your academic needs.

What Are My Career Options?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer software developers were projected to see an employment growth of up to 24% from 2016-2026 ( The BLS states this growth, which is very rapid when compared to the average for all U.S. jobs, comes from the continued growth of computer networking. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for software developers in 2018 was $105,590. Employment opportunities and wages may vary according to location and level of education.

Although certification is not typically required for employment, you may wish to earn certification to add to your credentials. You may earn certification through software vendors, if you're using their software products. Some software development degree programs may offer certification once you complete a specific course. All you need to do is complete and pass the certification exam. Additionally, professional computing organizations, such as the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computing Society, offer software certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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