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Application Architecture Degree and Certificate Programs

Application architecture programs prepare students to understand how computer software applications are designed and organized. This education is available in the form of graduate certificate, master's and doctoral degree programs.

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Essential Information

Application architecture is also known as software engineering. Aspiring software architects and systems engineers in relevant certificate and degree programs can expand their understanding of engineering fundamentals, as well as software modeling and testing procedures.

Graduate certificates in software engineering are designed to give an overview of techniques in application design, from initial analysis to validation. Certificate programs are run by computer science departments, and they take one semester to complete. While graduate certificate programs do not discriminate with regard to undergraduate majors, a bachelor's degree is required for admission, as is a working knowledge of programming languages, discrete mathematics and data structures. Some programs may require the submission of an educational statement and proof of work experience.

Students in 2-year master's programs investigate advanced concepts of software engineering such as group dynamics, configuration management and verification. Some programs require a traditional thesis, while others simply require the completion of specified coursework. Students must hold an undergraduate degree. Applicants are also required to have a background in algorithm design, operating systems and transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) architecture.

Doctoral programs teach students everything from software modeling to construction and testing. Programs take 3-5 years to finish depending on the amount of graduate-level work the student had previously completed. In addition to coursework, students complete original research and a dissertation. Applicants to these programs must have earned a master's degree or a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, with a grade point average of 3.5 in relevant coursework. Some schools waive this requirement if applicants demonstrate sufficient practical experience working on software development teams.


Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering

Graduate certificate training programs in software engineering are designed for professionals working in the field of computer science. Students learn to manage shared stores of data, ensure that the software architecture supports a client's goals, and analyze the performance of a program's architecture. Topics of study include:

  • Component-based development
  • Quality assurance
  • Reliability engineering
  • Requirements analysis
  • Software modeling

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Master's Degree in Software Engineering

Software application architects are tasked with building trusted software programs that juggle system needs like security, modification ability and performance.

Graduate-level programs offer courses in communication skills applicable to human-computer interaction design, as well as the technical side of designing software system models. Students take classes such as:

  • Engineering processes
  • Software artifact analysis
  • Software development
  • Software testing
  • System specifications

Doctoral Degree in Software Engineering

Doctoral students tailor curriculum choices to the completion of a dissertation project, such as design strategies that promote energy efficiency, by creating efficient interactions between the user and the software program. Fields of study include:

  • Cyber security
  • Data mining
  • Machine learning
  • Statistical theory
  • User interface design

Popular Careers

Since graduate-level certificate programs are designed for working professionals, graduates of these programs transition from junior software engineers into higher-paid positions. Graduates qualify for work as:

  • Systems engineer
  • Software architect
  • Software systems engineer

With a Ph.D. in software engineering, employment options can be found in computer systems design working with software publishers, as well as managing or consulting with companies of all types. Common job titles include:

  • Computer science professor
  • Information technology consultant
  • Researcher
  • Software designer
  • Software engineer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for software developers was forecast to grow 17% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Reasons for this increase in opportunities include heightened concerns over cyber security, as well as the rapid proliferation of technology.

The median annual wage for these professionals was $100,690 as of May 2015, stated the BLS. The same report showed that the highest paying industries for these professionals were computer and electronic product manufacturing, software publishers, and finance and insurance.

Graduate certificate application architecture programs provide an overview of application design techniques, while master's and doctoral programs teach relevant advanced concepts, like configuration management and software testing.

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