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Programming Degree and Certificate Program Overviews with Course Info

Associate's degrees, undergraduate, and graduate certificate programs are widely available in computer programming and are usually adequate for those seeking employment in this field.

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Essential Information

Computer programmers develop instructions for computers and computer applications to function. Programming degree and certificate programs introduce students to various programming languages, including Visual Basic, Java and C++. Students can also expect to learn about databases, networks and operating systems. After completing their education, students could choose to obtain voluntary certification in one or more programming languages.

Prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED, completion of bachelor's or master's degree (depending the program), and a minimum GPA.


Associate's Degree Programs in Computer Programming

These programs train students for entry-level programming positions in the computer industry. Students learn the basics programming, including data structure, string processing and computer programming languages, such as Javascript, SQL and PHP. Hands-on experience in computer labs is an integral part of the curriculum. Courses cover both introductory and advanced concepts in programming theory and practice. Many programs include advance mathematics courses. Topics include:

  • Computer applications
  • Programming languages
  • Computer networks
  • Internet
  • Systems design
  • Calculus

Certificate Programs in Computer Programming

These are available in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education levels. These programs often are geared towards professionals looking to change careers or enhance their skills. The admissions requirements vary from program to program, but the curriculum is essentially the same. Programs emphasize analytical skills and require completion of approximately 21-24 credit hours. Instruction focuses on commonly used computer languages and technical skills. Coursework may include:

  • Linux
  • C++
  • Visual Basic
  • Java
  • Web application design

Popular Careers

An associate's degree may qualify students for a wide range of job opportunities. Programmers work in many industries programming business applications. Some job titles include:

  • Programmer
  • Information designer
  • Software developer
  • Data manager
  • Business applications programmer

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer programmer job opportunities were predicted to decline by 8% for the decade 2014-2024. Job opportunities for software developers were predicted to increase 17% during the same decade. As of May 2015, the mean annual wage for a computer programmer was $84,360.

Continuing Education

Associate's degree programs in computer programming may lead to a 4-year degree program in software engineering, game programming or computer science. Some community colleges and technical schools that offer 2-year computer programming degrees have agreements with colleges and universities to allow credits earned to apply to a bachelor's degree program.

Certificate programs at the undergraduate level prepare students for a bachelor's degree in computer science. A post-baccalaureate certificate program in computer programming can help students without a computer programming background gain experience and required coursework to enroll in a master's degree program in computer science or in software engineering.

Associate's degrees, undergraduate, and graduate certificate programs provide students with knowledge of and experience with programming languages, databases, networks and operating systems. Graduates work in an number of environments and often go onto work in software engineering, game programming or computer science.

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