It is rare to find a degree program dedicated solely to software quality assurance (QA). However, many professional software testers have a background in software engineering, and several schools offer degree programs in that subject. A bachelor's degree and work experience prepares software engineers for certification, though master's degrees help professionals advance. Aspiring software engineers and software QA professionals can also consider programs such as Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Master of Science in Software Engineering and Master of Business Administration in Information Technology.
Applicants for bachelor's programs are required to have completed high school or earned an equivalent credential. Most master's programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. Other programs state admission seekers must have a background in operating systems, transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) architecture, algorithm design, and discreet math.
Bachelor of Science Degree Programs Covering Software Engineering
Careers in computer analysis require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Students in 4-year programs learn to meet customer and information security requirements as well as design specifications. Some programs allow for specializations in topics like e-commerce, bioinformatics, or information security. Finding, recreating and fixing errors in software code requires knowledge of analysis methods, communication and ethics. Other commonly offered topics include:
- Technical writing
- Operating systems
- Management principles
- Data structures
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Computer Engineering Technologies, General
- Computer Hardware
- Computer Systems
- Software Engineering
Master of Science in Software Engineering
Software quality assurance engineers repeatedly break software programs in order to locate and fix issues in software code. Some of these 2-year programs offer concentrations in software development or software systems engineering, so students learn to simultaneously design for modifiability, security and performance functionalities. Project, thesis, and online options are available.
Graduate coursework is applicable to problems in human-computer interaction design and systems software modeling. Students learn about topics including:
- Engineering processes
- Software development
- Artifact analysis
- System specifications
- Software testing
Popular Career Options
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment figures from May 2014 showed that over 1 million people were employed as software developers (www.bls.gov). Among these, graduates of bachelor's degree programs were qualified to find work as:
- Systems analysts
- Software developers
- Database analysts
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, job opportunities for software developers were anticipated to grow 17% from 2014-2024. Contributing to the rapid growth were concerns about the increased use of new technologies in modern life and cyber security issues.
The May 2015 BLS reports showed that the median annual wage for software developers working on systems software was $105,570. The same source showed that software developers who worked in applications took home a median annual wage of $98,260.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Software Quality Engineer (SQE) certification is administrated by the American Society for Quality. A combined total of eight years of work experience and education are required to qualify for certification; three of these years must be in a decision-making position. Education is not mandatory, but each year of education will serve to waive roughly one year of work experience, so that individuals holding a bachelor's degree get four years of work experience waived and those holding a master's degree get five years waived. A certification candidate must pass a 4-hour, multiple-choice exam.
Certification remains valid for a 3-year period. The recertification process requires retaking the certification exam or the documentation of a sufficient amount of continuing education credits. Students not wishing to enter into a graduate program are able to enroll in graduate certificate software engineering programs that include training in quality assurance.
Individuals who have completed bachelor's or master's degrees related to software engineering may be qualified to enroll in Ph.D. programs in the subject. Graduates of doctoral software engineering programs can be prepared for jobs as researchers, information technology consultants and professors. Optional coursework in these programs includes data mining, machine learning and the design of user interfaces.
Students can study software engineering, including quality assurance methods, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Depending on the student's educational background and future career goals, they can choose one of several bachelor's and master's degree programs that cover topics in the field.