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Best Master's in Web Development Programs

Mar 26, 2021

What Is a Master's in Web Development Degree?

Students who are interested in designing and creating websites can earn a master's degree in the field of web development. These programs give students a well-rounded background in computer and information systems, as well as train students in the necessary technical programming and design skills needed to make functional websites. Many of these master's programs are available in flexible formats, including full- and part-time, online, and evening formats. Students can most commonly pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Information Systems or Information and Communications Technology with a concentration in web application development, web design and development, or web and application development. However, there are also unique degrees, such as a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Web and Mobile Applications Development or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Web Development Management, available. Learn more below.

Common Undergraduate Degrees for Web Development

Master's degree programs in web development do not usually require applicants to the program to hold a bachelor's degree in any specific major or field. However, it is fairly common for applicants to these programs to already have a background in a computer science- or information systems-related field. Students may already have experience with programming and design. Students who do not have a computer science-related background may be required to take additional preparatory courses, depending on the program, in addition to the master's curriculum.

Admissions Requirements for Web Development Master's Programs

Schools with master's degree programs in web development often have slightly different admissions standards, so students need to carefully research the requirements for their desired school(s). Many master's degree programs in web development require applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree. Although this degree is not typically required to be from any particular field, some programs require those with an insufficient background in information systems or computer science to take additional preparatory courses. These courses may cover topics in areas such as programming, computer concepts, security, and databases. Applicants to these master's programs commonly need to meet a minimum GPA requirement, which varies by school. Several institutions with web development programs do not require applicants to take the GRE or GMAT. Finally, common application materials for web development programs include transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

How to Choose a Master's in Web Development Program

Students' first decision in choosing a master's degree in web development is to figure out what type of degree they want to earn. For example, students wishing to have a broader knowledge in business may pursue an MBA in Web Development, while those wishing to have more computer science-based knowledge should choose an MS in Information Systems or a related area with a concentration in web development. Students should also consider the format of a program and choose the one that works best for their personal schedule and needs. Often, students can choose from full- or part-time programs and online or on-campus programs. Those wishing for the most hands-on experiences possible should also search for programs that are project-based and conclude with a culminating project for experience.

Master's in Web Development Program Accreditation

Accreditation can be another important aspect to consider when choosing a master's degree in web development. Many schools that offer these master's programs are regionally accredited by organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission. This regional accreditation enables students to accept financial aid, transfer credits more easily, and often looks better to employers because it indicates a quality academic program that has met academic standards.

Although there is not an overarching organization that commonly provides program-level accreditation to web development programs, some of these programs do have additional accreditations or associations. For example, at least one program in Colorado is associated with the state-specific group, the Colorado Technology Association, that provides members with advocacy, community, and more. Some programs may also have elective courses that fall under additional accreditation, such as cybersecurity courses that are designated within a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) from the National Security Agency (NSA) or project management courses that align with the Project Management Institute's (PMI) "Project Management Body of Knowledge" (PMBOK Guide).

Web Development Master's Degree Courses

Master's programs in web development commonly require between 30 and 48 credits of coursework. Many of these programs can be completed in 18 to 24 months. Typically, students in these programs take some core courses in information systems, web development courses as the concentration, and then elective courses. Many of these programs include hands-on projects and learning experiences to help prepare students for their future careers in the field. In general, courses try to give students advanced knowledge of information systems and design theories, as well as technical skills in design and programming. Read more below about the curriculum for these master's programs.

Web Development Foundational Courses

Core courses for web development programs usually place an emphasis on technical and business foundations. These courses are designed to give students the necessary background in information systems, as well as general business knowledge needed to move into leadership and management positions within the field. Some programs also include a final capstone project or seminar course that may explore topics such as strategic management in the case of an MBA. Depending on the program, students will likely take between 4 and 6 core courses. These courses may discuss topics in areas such as:

  • Database design
  • Information systems analysis and design
  • Enterprise architecture
  • Leadership and management
  • IT strategy
  • Business data communication

Web Development Specialist & Elective Courses

In addition to core courses, students typically take 4 to 5 concentration courses, specifically in web development. Some programs may have students choose an additional 1 to 4 elective courses. Concentration courses and electives are intended to help students get into the detailed technical skills and knowledge of web development. These courses may be project-based to give students hands-on experience using technologies and tools common to the field. Some programs include an internship opportunity as an elective to provide students with additional real-world, practical experience. Concentration and elective courses for web development discuss topics such as:

  • Web application development
  • Rich Internet Application (RIA) development
  • Web design and management
  • Usability design for websites
  • Website engineering
  • Database management and administration
  • Database security
  • Server-side web development

Licensure & Certification in Web Development

Licensure and certification are not usually required in the field of web development, but many web developers decide to earn professional certification to demonstrate their expertise and stay competitive. Professionals may begin by earning certification in specific programming languages that are commonly used in web development, such as JavaScript. Certification in JavaScript requires passing a 90-minute exam that consists of 70 questions. Those who pass become Certified JavaScript Developers. Professionals can also pursue professional certifications from organizations such as the CIW, a vendor-neutral IT and Web certification program that is managed by the Certification Partners. The CIW Web Development Professional certification consists of 3 exams, the JavaScript Specialist, Perl Specialist, and Database Design Specialist exams. Professional organizations, such as the International Web Association (IWA), also provide multiple certifications, including the CWP (Certified Web Professional) Site Design Specialist, CWP Enterprise Developer, or CWP Security Specialist certificates.

Post-Graduate Options After Master's in Web Development

Some graduates with their master's in web development may wish to continue their studies at the doctoral level. Unfortunately, there are not typically doctoral programs available specifically in web development. However, students can continue to advance their knowledge in information systems and further develop their management and leadership skills with doctoral programs in information systems or information systems and management. These programs are typically offered as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs, are available on campus, and require a dissertation. Graduates may conduct research and teach at universities, while others may take on advanced software- and computer-related jobs.

Web Development Professional Organizations

Professional organizations in web development can help connect professionals, provide resources to professionals, and advocate for the field. Some of these groups operate on a regional or national level, while others operate on an international level. Many of these web development groups also offer professional certification to help web developers and other professionals stand out in their field. Typically, these organizations offer membership and may have additional benefits for their members. A couple of examples of web development groups include:

  • WebProfessionals.org- WebProfessionals.org offers membership and a tight-knit community of web development professionals. Professionals can access the group's blog, advocacy information, job postings, conferences, and events. The organization also provides training and several certifications, including the Certified Professional Web Developer.
  • International Web Association- The IWA is an international organization that also offers membership and professional certification in the field. The group's website is a great source for IWA and industry news, as well as job postings. According to the group's website, the group boasts over 300,000 members in more than 100 countries.

What Can I Do with a Web Development Master's Degree?

Career information for graduates of web development programs will vary based on students' personal interests. For instance, career information for those in web page design is slightly different than career information for those in web management. Even within these different subfields of specialty, there are a range of titles. For example, students interested in management and leadership roles may take on positions as web administrators or web coordinators to help oversee the design and function of websites. Web developers are also needed in a wide range of industries. In addition to working for computer systems design services, they can also work for publishing industries, consulting services, advertising, and more. Other specific job titles for graduates include:

  • Web developer
  • Computer and information systems manager
  • IT consultant
  • Data analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Configuration manager
  • UI/UX designer
  • Technical architect
  • Mobile engineer
  • Application developer

Job Outlook for a Master's in Web Development

Computer science- and information technology-related careers are typically in high demand with a growing need for technical experts who can meet organizations' technology needs. Technology is utilized in a wide range of industries, which also helps increase job prospects. Overall, students with a master's degree in web development should have positive job outlooks as they search for advanced careers in leadership. Specific job outlooks vary by position, but several careers for graduates have much faster than average job outlooks from 2019 to 2029. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that web developers had a job outlook of 8%, while computer and information systems managers had a job outlook of 10% over the decade. The BLS also reported that computer jobs, in general, had a job outlook of 11% from 2019 to 2029.

How to Become a Web Developer

Depending on the position and employer, web developers may be required to have anything from a high school diploma to at least a bachelor's degree. They may hold a degree in computer programming, computer science, or other related fields. What is more important is for these professionals to have an understanding of HTML programming and other programming languages. It is also important for web developers to stay updated on current languages and tools used in the field. Experience can be helpful and can help lead to career advancement to management positions.

The BLS stated that web developers made a median annual salary of $73,760, as of 2019. They are primarily responsible for creating and managing websites, including the technical aspects of the pages. Web developers will likely need to understand the need of a website, develop applications for the site, use programming languages to code the site, and include additional media, such as videos or graphics into the website. These professionals usually work closely with other designers and may create multiple prototypes before they test and figure out the final product.

How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

Although many computer and information systems managers hold a graduate degree, a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement along with work experience. These managers typically have a background in information science- or a computer-related field. Some may earn an MBA to further develop their management skills. Computer and information systems managers also usually have several years of work experience and should hold experience in their given area of management, such as experience in information security for an IT security manager. They may start in lower-level management positions and work their way up.

According to the BLS, as of 2019, computer and information systems managers made a median annual salary of $146,360. These managers supervise the computer-based activities of an organization, including planning and managing system upgrades, installation, and maintenance. They need to conduct research to figure out ways to best meet the needs of an organization, compare costs and benefits of projects, and ensure the security of an organization's information. Computer and information systems managers also supervise the work of other IT professionals to help complete a project.

Master's in Web Development Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

Many students need to pursue some form of financial aid to help finance their graduate education. Graduate students are still eligible to use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal and state loans and grants. Scholarships and other tuition discounts from institutions or outside organizations are also a great option.

Several computer-science related professional organizations provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students in the field, as well as some of the colleges and universities that offer these programs. Eligibility requirements and award amounts vary, but students are free to apply to as many scholarships as they would like. A couple of examples of web development scholarships available from universities with programs in the field include:

  • Boston University Merit Scholarships- Applicants to Boston University's MS in Computer Information Systems degree program with a concentration in web application development are automatically considered for these awards. Students already admitted can be nominated for these awards if they meet eligibility requirements.
  • Graduate Impact Scholarship- Graduate students in the University of Denver's University College, including the MS in Information and Communications Technology with a concentration in web design and development, can apply for this scholarship. Financial need and academic merit are considered factors and preference is given to first-generation students, underrepresented populations, and those working in the non-profit sector.
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