Top Rated School with a Software Programming Degree - Washington, DC

School and Ranking Information

Those who are interested in careers in software programming might consider completing degrees in software engineering or computer science programs with concentrations in software engineering. While there are no schools in Washington, D.C., with software programming degrees, based on program options and rankings, the three top schools in the area for software engineering programs are:

  • Winner: George Mason University (GMU), located just west of Washington D.C. in Fairfax, Virginia, offers software programming and engineering degrees at all levels. GMU has the low tuition rates and offers undergraduates internship opportunities.
  • Runner Up #1: George Washington University (GWU) also offers programming degrees at all levels. This nationally ranked school has the highest graduation rate of the three schools profiled here, and offers state-of-the-art computing and research facilities.
  • Runner Up #2: Howard University (HU) is a top-ranked among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HU has advanced computing labs and offers internship and research opportunities for its computer science majors.

School Comparison Chart

Category George Mason University George Washington University Howard University
Rankings 1st among up-and-coming national schools in 2012,
63rd among graduate computer science program in 2010, nationwide*
79th among graduate computer science programs in 2010, nationwide* 120th among national universities in 2013*
Location Fairfax, Virginia (20.1 miles from downtown Washington, D.C.) Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.
School Type Four-year, public Four-year, private not-for-profit Four-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $9,620 in-state, $27,764 out-of-state (undergraduate); $11,690 in-state, $27,620 out-of-state (graduate)** $45,780 (undergraduate); $24,147 (graduate)** $22,683 (undergraduate); $30,323 (graduate)**
Software Programming Degrees Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelors', master's and doctoral degrees
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Entering Class 64%** 81%** 63%**
Noteworthy The Department of Computer Science offers research centers and laboratories, as well as research areas The school offers eight areas of research, such as software engineering and systems The bachelor's program in computer science and systems is accredited by ABET

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator.

Winner: George Mason University

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the school 70th among top public national universities in 2013
  • 139th among all national universities in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • Department offers four research centers and 13 laboratories, including a software design and analysis laboratory

The Volgenau School of Engineering at GMU has an ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in applied computer science with a program concentration in software engineering. This four-year program trains students how to program, use, design, test and maintain software. Some of the requirements include object-oriented software design, designing software for the Web and software architecture, as well as an internship for a software company.

The university also offers a 30-credit Master of Science (M.S.) program in software engineering that includes emphases in software design, secure software engineering, software management and Web applications. Required courses include object-oriented software, software modeling, distributed software engineering and testing. Other programs offered at GMU include a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Information Technology with a concentration in software engineering, as well as graduate certificates in software engineering, software engineering for the Web and software engineering for C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) systems. In addition to access to labs and centers, the school offers departmental faculty with research interests in software engineering.

Runner-Up #1: George Washington University

  • Forbes named this university 77th among all schools in the U.S. in 2013
  • Ranked 52nd among all national universities in the 2012 Washington Monthly report

GWU is a private university near the capitol and the largest school in Washington, D.C. The institution offers an ABET-accredited B.S. program in computer science with a track in software engineering and application development. Those who want to pursue a second major in computer science can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with a track in software engineering and design. Participants in both bachelor's degree programs learn project development during a capstone project. Internship opportunities are available at high-tech companies and federal labs.

The university's M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in computer science each offer an optional concentration in software engineering and systems. Some of the classes offered in this concentration include UNIX programming, software testing and software engineering. Students without a master's degree must complete 54 credits to earn the Ph.D., while those with a master's degree in computer science only need to complete 18 credits of coursework and a 12-credit dissertation.

Runner-Up #2: Howard University

  • Ranked second among all historically black schools in the nation in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • Low 10:1 student-faculty ratio, as reported by NCES College Navigator

Howard University, a historically black private school in Washington, D.C., offers undergraduate and graduate programs for prospective software engineers, as well as seven state-of-the-art computer labs, simulation platforms and multimedia workstations. The Department of Systems and Computer Science offers a B.S. degree program in systems and computer science. Students can focus studies even further by selecting from ten coursework tracks, including cybersecurity, gaming, networking and computer systems. Required classes include UNIX programming, programming language structures and simulation, as well as a senior design project. While not required, participants are encouraged to pursue an internship, a co-op experience or undergrad research opportunity. Exceptional students may be eligible to earn an M.S. degree in computer science with one added year of study through the accelerated M.S. program.

The Graduate School at Howard has M.S. and Ph.D. programs in computer science with an optional specialization in software engineering. Participants in the M.S. degree program complete coursework, such as algorithms, software engineering, computer architecture, computability and advanced operating systems, and they may choose to complete a thesis or a project. Ph.D. students must complete a comprehensive exam and a dissertation, in addition to coursework.

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