Computer Software Education Overview

Software describes a group of computer programs, data, and related documentation. Computer software is programmed to work together to create an outcome in conjunction with hardware, whether that includes running an application, managing the computer's operations, or creating information from raw data. With the help of human input, software directs the computer toward a certain activity or purpose. Without software, the hardware would not know what to do; without hardware, the software would be unable to accomplish its purpose.

The three main types of software include system, utility, and application software:

  • System software refers to the computer's operating system (OS), which interfaces with the computer's hardware to make all other programs functional. This system will be familiar to many in the form of those created by Microsoft (Windows OS, such as Windows 95 or Windows 11), and those created by Apple (such as macOS Monterey, iOS 16, iPad OS 15).
  • Utility software is programs that execute particular tasks that keep the computer running and functioning properly. Utilities (or tools) are usually included with or are built into the computer's OS in the form of optimization and security programs. Optimization tools have access to the computer's hard drive and work to keep it running efficiently through zipping files, systems clean-up, and disk defrag. Security programs keep unwelcome users and programs out (firewalls) and find and remove unwanted programs should they gain access (anti-virus software).
  • Application software (known colloquially as apps) includes any number of programs that perform different functions for various purposes, from entertainment and socialization to productivity and education. They are perhaps the most recognizable form of software. Most people with a smartphone or computer use them without even thinking about it. Applications allow people to access the internet (web browsers), retrieve stored information (files app), create documents (word processors), and enjoy free time (streaming and gaming apps).

The two main types of educational degrees related to software and programming are computer science (CS) and information technology (IT). CS is generally more concerned with the creation and architecture of computers and their programs. IT tends to work more in maintaining and optimizing computers and the networks they interact with. Both require extensive training in programming and professional working knowledge of the software.

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Software Education Resources

Software programs, their design, and their proper function makes up a large part of computer technologists' work on a daily basis, and dealing with them requires extensive training. From hundreds of college-level lessons, specialized study guides, and computer science tutoring, Study.com has every resource a student could need to become proficient in information technology and software development. CS students will also learn related skills such as programming, network architecture, and interface design which will be important for their continued success in this field.

Computer Software Courses

Computer science (CS) and information technology (IT) programs produce professionals desired by nearly every business and field of study. Study.com has hundreds of courses related to these disciplines, and many that discuss the details of computer software and software architecture. With college-level courses, quizzes, and practical projects, students interested in a career in IT will have everything they need to succeed right at their fingertips.

Computer Science 102: Fundamentals of Information Technology

This course serves as a college-level introduction to the subject for students interested in a career in information technology (IT). Chapters discuss software and hardware, networks and information support systems, the internet, and computer security.

Computer Science 103: Computer Concepts & Applications

This college-level course covers essential concepts and applications of computer science (CS), which is important for both CS and IT students. The lessons cover the basics of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and telecommunications systems.

Computer Science 105: Introduction to Operating Systems

IT and CS students will find value in this college course, which provides a general look at computer operating systems (OS). It provides an overview of the various processes, storage and file management, networking, and security issues affecting an OS.

Computer Science 305: Operating Systems

For students pursuing a degree in computer science, this college class is a deep dive into the specifics of operating systems (OS). Its chapters include information on how to use an OS, concurrency, external device management, security, and memory management.

Computer Science 307: Software Engineering

This college-level course concerns the basics of software engineering for programmers and CS students. Lessons go into detail on process models, development and testing methods, interface design, verification, and software architecture, design, and reuse.

Additional Courses

Software Test Prep for Teachers and Students

Software Test Prep

Prepare to earn college credit for computer software knowledge by using Study.com's CLEP Information Systems Study Guide to prepare for the CLEP exam. Review key topics that will be covered on the test, including hardware and software, network systems, systems development, data management, basic programming, and more. This course is designed to present information in an engaging, informative matter to help aid retention and prepare test-takers to succeed in their goal of earning college credit.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does software mean?

    Software refers to a group of programs and their various related data. As unified software, these programs work together to achieve the desired outcome and direct the computer towards that purpose.

  • What are three types of software?

    Three types of software are system, utility, and application software. When using a computer, applications are the most visible form of software, while the operating system interfaces with the hardware and utilities keep it all running.