Software Developer Degree

By Henry Steele - July 30, 2018
Reading Time: 5 minutes

A software developer is the creative person behind all computer programs and apps. Some software developers develop applications that let people do certain tasks on a computer or electronic device, while others develop the systems that run the actual devices.

With a degree in software development, you will be poised to enjoy a very well paid career in the booming computer science and information technology industries.

What Is Software Development?

Software development is the process by which software for a computer or electronic device is created with specific programming languages. Software development involves writing a series of programming code that provides the functionality for many types of software. Software development also can be referred to as software design or application development.

Software development also is a logical process that creates a software program that addresses a specific business or personal objective. The development of software is usually planned and consists of certain stages or steps that result in software creation.


Employment for all computer and technology occupations is expected to rise significantly in the coming years, so there will be much greater need for software developers with this degree, as well as related technical professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth in this field will increase by 13% through 2026, which is faster than average compared to other occupations.

Career Paths

The job opportunities for professionals with a software developer degree will be outstanding in the next decade. BLS reports the job demand for software developers will be 24% through 2026, which is much faster than average when compared to other occupations. Also, employment for application software developers should grow at a torrid 31%, while employment of systems developers will grow at 11%.

The increase in demand for all software developers is because of the higher demand for all types of computer software. The need for new, faster and better applications on tablets and smartphones will enhance the demand for application developers. Also, the medical and health insurance industries will be needing more advanced software to handle healthcare insurance enrollments and to administer current healthcare policies.

As of 2016, there were 831,000 software application developers in the country, with most working in these industries:

  • Computer systems design and related services: 35%
  • Software publishers; 10%
  • Finance and insurance: 10%
  • Manufacturing: 7%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 5%

There were 425,000 systems software developers in 2016 employed in these fields:

  • Computer systems design and related services; 31%
  • Manufacturing: 18%
  • Software publishers: 6%
  • Finance and insurance: 6%


BLS reports the median salary for software developers, applications was $101,700 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000. The median salary for software developers, systems software was $107,600 with the top 10% earning more than $164,000.

If you are looking for the best cities for salaries and job opportunities for software developers, be sure to check these out:

  • Seattle WA
  • San Jose CA
  • San Francisco CA
  • Madison WI
  • Raleigh NC
  • Austin TX
  • Boston MA
  • Sacramento CA
  • Portland OR
  • Atlanta GA
  • Dallas TX

Online Degree Programs

Students who want to obtain a software developer degree today have more options than ever before. It is possible to earn your software developer degree online and rarely leave your home if you like. For instance, Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a specialty in Software Engineering. You will learn all of the fundamental concepts and principles of software engineering, and learn the systematic approaches to develop software on budget, on time and within customer specifications. Students engage in complex problem solving by using proven and advanced software design processes and methodologies. Students also will use various approaches to develop code and test software.

Students in this online bachelor’s program also will explore emerging systems and technologies that are driving the new generation of computers; apply highly secure programming principles to develop secure and robust code; and learn foundations of mobile software development, which includes interfacing with displays, sensors and mobile cameras.

Students will also learn vital computer programming languages such as C++, Java and Python, and will use software development and testing tools such as Netbeans, OpenGL and Eclipse.

Bachelor’s Degree

The best way to get started in your software development career is to earn your bachelor’s degree in software developer or computer science. These programs are available both online and on campus, depending upon your needs.

Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering that stresses flexibility in the context of engineering education that is based upon projects, computing, project leadership and software construction. This four year program has established an entirely new model for education in software engineering, and is built around engaged learning, discovery based education and learning by doing. Graduates of this program will be highly qualified to design and engineer computer and software systems that include electrical and mechanical components that work with software.

Some of the required courses include:

  • Software Enterprise: Testing and Quality
  • Engineering Statistics
  • Operating Systems and Networks
  • Principles of Database Management
  • Principles of Distributed Software Systems
  • Web Based Applications and Mobile Systems
  • Software Enterprise: Design and Process

Master’s Degree

To advance in the software development field, it is often necessary to earn a master’s degree in computer science or software development. A great option to consider for moving your career forward is the Master of Science in Software Engineering offered by Penn State World Campus.

You will learn to develop innovative software products and services via software analysis, design and architecture, system verification, and data storage and retrieval. This program is designed for students and professionals who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering or information sciences.

Major features of this two year, online master’s degree program are:

  • Curriculum that is rich with software engineering information and data that you can apply in the real world in your work.
  • Cohort: From the beginning to the end, you will go through this degree program with the same set of fellow students. You will get valuable information from working with and collaborating with the same students and professionals for two years.
  • 100% online: All of the courses that you will take are taught by the same faculty as the on campus program and it is entirely online.

Admission Requirements

All universities have their own admission requirements, but for a master’s degree, these are common requirements:

  • Bachelor of science in computer science or a related field
  • College transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • 0 or higher GPA
  • Updated resume
  • References
  • Writing samples


Some of the courses that you may take in a master’s program in software development are:

  • Requirements Engineering
  • Software System Design
  • Database Design Concepts
  • Pattern Oriented Design
  • Software Systems Architecture
  • Enterprise Integration
  • Applied Human Computer Interaction
  • Software Construction
  • Web Security and Privacy
  • Software Project Management

Financial Assistance

There is huge demand for software developers today, so you can often find scholarships and grants that can help to pay for your bachelor’s or master’s degree:

  • Apple Software Inclusion and Diversity Engineering Scholarship
  • Banatao Family Filipino American Scholarship
  • Delphix Technology Scholarship
  • ESA Foundation Scholarship
  • Future Engineers Scholarship Program
  • Generation Google Scholarship
  • Google Lime Scholarship
  • Honeywell International Scholarship
  • HP Scholars Program
  • Judith A. Sanders Memorial Scholarship


Below are some worthwhile certifications in software development to consider:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
  • Microsoft MTA Certification
  • Amazon Web Services Certified Developer
  • Cloudera (CCDH) Certification
  • Oracle APEX Certification
  • Oracle Certified Java
  • Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)


Consider exploring these associations to expand your career opportunities:

  • International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • Computer Research Association
  • Computer Science Association
  • American Computer Scientists Association

The demand for software development professionals is large and growing. You can write your own ticket in the software development field by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree.


Henry Steele
Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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