Online Software Developer Degree Program Information

Find out about online software developer courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Fully online degree programs for aspiring software developers are widely available, leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree in software engineering or information technology. Because a bachelor's degree is the entry-level credential for software developers, graduates of an associate degree program may need to continue their studies to be competitive in the software development job market. Online master's degree programs require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in a computer science or information technology discipline as well as possible work experience; undergraduate degrees in this field typically do not have educational prerequisites beyond a high school diploma.

Software development degrees are technology intensive and may require students to have computers with more advanced technical specifications in order to complete assignments and interact with peers. Curricula include design and multiple programming languages, with master's degree programs also including management and collaboration topics.

Associate's Degree in Software Development

An associate degree program in software development trains students in the fundamentals of computer technology and software engineering. This program explores computer science concepts, such as programming and management of data systems. Upon graduation from this program, students will be prepared to develop new software and hardware for a variety of industries, including software publishers, computer manufacturers and government agencies.

Program Information and Requirements

The average length of an associate's degree in software development varies greatly and can range from 45-72 credit hours. These programs are available in fully online formats. Students can access their course material at their convenience; however, assignments typically have specified due dates.

Students are required to have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Course material is delivered via streaming video so the student must have audio and video capabilities on their computer. Some courses require additional programs for the student to download such as Java Plugin Console, Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft DirectX End.

Course Topics

Students in associate degree programs complete core computer science and programming courses. Online learners also develop skills for working independently or as part of a team.

Application Programming

Students in this course use current programming language to create single computer applications. They explore concepts in object-oriented coding, strategic procedures and standard programming documentation.


This course prepares students to use the Java programming language to write computer programs. Java topics introduce data abstraction, applets and graphics. Upon completion of this course, students will be prepared to utilize the Java programming language to satisfy the programming needs of future employers.

Concepts in Advanced Programming

Students in a course in advanced programming focus their attention on object-oriented programming. Examples of programming languages found in the course include C, C++ and HTML.

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

A bachelor's degree program with a concentration in software development is available to prospective students who want to pursue a career as a software developer. Students investigate software development, organizational behavior management, information technology, systems management and databases. Upon completion of this program, students have the skills to manage technical data and communicate with clients and coworkers.

Program Information and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program can be completed in 120-140 credit hours. Fully online programs provide students with technical support and online counselors to help distance education students with the challenges of an online learning environment. Programs are delivered in a variety of formats; however, online educational platforms, such as Blackboard, are common.

Since many courses contain streaming lectures, students must have audio and video capabilities on their computers. Courses allow students to communicate in live discussion forums, requiring the use of a headset and microphone.

Course Topics

The curriculum introduces students to operating systems, software engineering, Java programming and database planning. In addition to core computer science courses, students must also complete general education requirements, such as English, mathematics, sciences and humanities.

Software Engineering

This course implements the fundamental concepts central to software development, including design approach and documentation. Students learn to evaluate software requirements and test software applications. Emphasis is placed on the assurance of quality control through various forms of software testing. This course is often delivered over a period of two semesters.

Object-Oriented Programming

A course in object-oriented programming introduces students to high-level programming languages, such as C, C++, Java and Visual Basic. Students utilize these tools in order to manage computer systems, develop problem-solving strategies and improve communication. Concepts explore algorithms, recursion, encapsulation, object interfaces and aggregation.

Website Design

Students in a two-semester course in website design are introduced to the fundamentals of website development, design and publishing. Through analyzing current web pages, students learn how to maximize the functionality and usability of web pages. Online learners also explore page layout, content quality and ease of navigation in websites. Concepts typically cover XHTML, JavaScript, CSS, website maintenance and search engine optimization.

Master of Science in Software Engineering

A master's degree in software engineering program explores concepts in software engineering, software implementation, cost analysis, ethics, critical thinking, research, communication and collaboration. This degree can be earned entirely online, and students must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. Some institutions require students to have two years of computer-related work experience prior to enrollment.

Program Information and Requirements

The Master of Science in Software Engineering is typically 36 credit hours in length, though some programs are as short as 30 credit hours. Programs are easily found and can be completed fully online in about two years. Courses are delivered through online learning platforms. Online learners interact with classmates and faculty through discussion boards, email and instant messenger.

Some institutions require students in this degree program to have a scanner. They must also have access to a graphics-capable printer.

Course Topics

The curriculum of a master's degree program investigates software processes through collaboration, research and implementation. In addition to software engineering courses, online learners complete a thesis or final project.

Human-Computer Interaction

This course teaches students to evaluate software and systems development. Through analyzing current interfaces and studying scholarly articles, students learn to maximize the efficiency of both the computer program itself and the person who is utilizing it. Students integrate these concepts to create prototype programs that enhance the human-computer experience.

Software Management and Maintenance

Students in this course learn principles in software maintenance in order to service existing software, as well as to develop future programs with minimal projected maintenance issues. Online learners explore concepts in development processes, risk management and planning, management methods and software projects. Further topics in management issues are explored, such as quality control, infrastructure and external factors.

Software Testing

This course analyzes current practices and techniques for the testing of software programs. Students evaluate software specifications and architecture, analyze software code and measure program implementation. Students also develop a system evaluation model to set quality parameters for software testing analysis.

Career Information

Graduates of an associate's degree program in software development typically need to continue their education toward a bachelor's degree in order to work as computer programmers and software developers. However, associate degree holders can find employment as a computer support specialist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for computer support specialists is expected to rise by 12% between 2014-2024 ( The median annual wage for this occupation, in May 2015, were $48,620, according to the BLS.

Students who complete a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in software development are qualified to find employment as computer software developers and computer programmers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for software developers is expected to increase by 17%, while computer programmers will see an 8% decrease between 2014 and 2024 ( In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for all computer programmers was $79,530.

Master's degree holders are qualified to find employment as a software developer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a computer systems software developer was $105,570 in May 2015 ( Industries with the highest levels of employment for this occupation include computer systems design, software publishers, computer manufacturing and medical instruments manufacturing.

Students interested in software development can complete coursework completely online at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students with an undergraduate degree will have career opportunities as computer programmers and computer support specialists, while master's degree holders can work as software developers.

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