A masters in software development offers the chance to develop new skills and broaden your understanding of this rapidly growing field.
A software developer is responsible for designing software that allows an organization to function efficiently and effectively. As a result, professionals with software development skills are in high demand across practically every industry.
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Online software development graduate programs are a flexible way to prepare for a role in software development. While earning your degree, you can study subjects like software coding, design, and testing.
Online Masters in Software Development Programs
A Master of Science in Software Development is an asset to any professional who wants to advance their current computer science career or transition into a more technical role.
Software development programs focus on skills related to designing and developing new software programs for mobile devices, operating systems, and networks. Students in these programs discuss existing methods of software development as well as developing trends.
Some of the subjects you can expect to study during a software development degree program include:
- The software development life cycle
- Design patterns
- Mobile application development
- Software testing
- Project management
- Computer language theory
- Operating systems
In addition to completing your coursework, you may also be required to write a thesis, complete a capstone project, or participate in an internship prior to graduating. These experiences allow you to explore specific areas of interest and connect with experts in the field.
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After finishing your degree program, you might choose to apply your skills to a career in software development. These professionals develop, test, and deploy software for their employers. Software developers play a crucial role in technology startups and computer companies, but they are equally important to organizations in other industries.
After earning your degree, you may be qualified to work for an array of employers, such as:
- Research labs
- Colleges and universities
- Government agencies
- Healthcare facilities
- Finance companies
- Retail businesses
You can look for master’s degree programs that offer elective courses related to your interests if you have a particular industry or specialization in mind for your career. This will help ensure that you are fully prepared for your preferred profession.
If you’re a current software developer, you might choose to use your new credential to help move into a higher position as a manager or administrator. You may also have the chance to train the next generation of computer science professionals as a postsecondary teacher.
A master’s degree in software development is also a logical step if you hope to earn a doctorate in the future.
Software Development Careers & Salaries
A degree in software development is beneficial if you want to develop expertise in designing innovative applications and programs for businesses, nonprofits, and government offices.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, a master’s degree may help you continue building and specializing your career. Software development graduates offer critical services not only as software developers but also as analysts, scientists, programmers, and managers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are among the most popular occupations for graduates of software development masters programs.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$164,070|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$136,620|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$102,240|
|Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$99,620|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$90,520|
|Postsecondary Computer Science Teachers||$84,760|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth for software developers will be strong over the next ten years. This translates to increased job opportunities for graduates of software development masters programs.
The projected growth rate for software developers is 26%, which is much faster than the average rate for all occupations. Overall employment for computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow by 15% over the same period.
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Related professions—including software quality assurance analysts and testers (21% job growth) and web developers (30%)—have equally impressive projected growth rates (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Master of Software Development Curriculum & Courses
Software development masters programs sometimes differ in focus, but many of them include a similar set of foundational courses, such as the following:
- Introduction to Software Development: This course gives you an overview of software design, with a focus on programming languages, data types, and hardware components.
- Data Structures and Algorithms: In this class, you’ll learn how to use different data structures, create and decompose algorithms, and resolve computational problems.
- Software Design and Patterns: Students taking this course explore a variety of creational, structural, and behavioral design patterns used in software design.
- Advanced Programming Techniques: This class focuses on high-level programming skills, such as using exceptions, concurrent programming, and programming tests.
- Software Engineering: This course prepares you to develop software with essential tools and techniques, including programming frameworks and integration tools.
- Information Systems Analysis and Design: Students in this class enhance their existing programming knowledge with training in subjects such as system feasibility, database utilization, and software system architecture.
- Web Application Development: During this course, you’ll build core skills in web design and development.
- Software Quality and Testing: In this course, you’re introduced to the theory and practice of software testing and quality assurance during each stage of the software development cycle, particularly with regard to security management.
- Database Systems and Applications: The goal of this course is to provide students with the knowledge necessary to analyze and use structured and unstructured data.
- Data Analytics and Visualization: This class teaches you how to visually represent and interpret data gathered through a variety of methods, including clustering and regression.
In addition to these classes, you may also have the opportunity to take electives focused on your particular area of interest, such as artificial intelligence, data science, or machine learning.
When applying to a software development graduate program, it’s necessary to meet specific admissions requirements, which may include:
- Test scores. If required, you’ll submit scores from the GRE or GMAT.
- Transcripts. You’ll provide an official transcript showing you completed an undergraduate degree.
- Recommendations. You can ask former instructors or supervisors to explain why you’re a strong candidate for the program.
- Personal statement. You can describe your goals and how they relate to the degree.
- Application and fee. You’ll complete an official application and pay any application fee.
Some programs also require students to have professional experience in software design and development.
As you research colleges with software development degrees, accreditation is an especially crucial consideration. Attending a regionally accredited school for your masters degree has academic and professional benefits.
To obtain regional accreditation, an academic institution must undergo a thorough assessment of its faculty and curriculum. Only schools that meet the highest standards of quality are regionally accredited, which helps ensure that your education will include up-to-date and relevant coursework.
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Because the bar for regional accreditation is so high, many employers and doctoral programs prefer candidates with degrees from regionally accredited schools. It’s also generally easier to transfer credits from these programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Finding a variety of funding sources can help alleviate the financial pressure and upfront costs of higher education. The federal government is one of the most popular sources of financial aid. You can submit a FAFSA to determine whether you’re eligible for federal loans or grants.
Your state government may also offer aid opportunities, particularly if you’re attending an in-state school. Scholarships are another critical source of support. Some programs are designed for specific disciplines, while others are intended to help students with impressive accomplishments or specific challenges.
Working professionals may also qualify to receive tuition assistance or reimbursement from their employers. Some organizations offer this as part of their overall benefits package and a form of professional development.
Should I Get an Online MS in Software Development?
The decision to pursue a master’s degree in software development depends on your goals, interests, and abilities, but there are many possible advantages to this type of degree.
Software developers are highly sought after by a broad pool of employers. As a result, the salaries for professionals with software development skills are very competitive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for software developers is $127,260.
Obtaining a software development master’s degree may also allow you to develop a specialization. Specializing might make you more marketable to prospective employers and grant you the opportunity to advance in the field.
What Is a Software Development Masters Degree?
A masters degree in software development is a graduate program that provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed as software developers and professionals in related fields.
During a software development program, students learn about the lifecycle of software development, software design and architecture, and programming languages. They build technical skills through a combination of theoretical discussions and practical applications.
Many programs culminate with a capstone project that requires students to design a unique piece of software using the tools and techniques taught during their courses. Some masters programs also require extensive research and writing for a final thesis.
What Can You Do with a Master’s in Software Development?
A career as a software developer is a natural path for a graduate of a software development master’s program, but it’s not the only option available. With an advanced degree, you may qualify for a management position in computer and information systems.
A software development degree is also well suited to a career as a scientist or analyst specializing in data or computer research. Some graduates of these programs also work as computer science teachers in colleges and universities.
What Do You Learn in a Masters in Software Development Online Program?
Software development master’s programs focus on skills such as coding, designing, testing, and debugging software and applications. Students can also gain advanced knowledge of operating systems, data science, and security management.
These skills and knowledge are developed through a series of core courses and electives, which may include:
- Software design
- Database design
- Web development
- Programming techniques
Some programs allow students to select a concentration, such as mobile application development, database management, software design, or web development. This area of focus determines what additional courses you take while earning your degree.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Masters Degree in Software Development?
The amount of time required to earn a master’s in software development depends on your other commitments and the program structure. Most programs require around 36 credit hours, which a full-time student who takes summer classes can generally complete in 1 year.
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Degree programs with a thesis requirement often have longer timeframes. Additionally, if you can only take classes part-time due to other obligations, such as work or childcare, it might take 2 years or longer to graduate. Before enrolling in a program, it’s helpful to research whether there is a cap on the number of years you can spend completing your degree.
What’s the Difference Between a Web Development vs. Software Development Masters Online?
A masters in web development and a masters in software development have many overlapping qualities, but there are also key differences between them, such as:
- Courses: A software development program often includes coursework in data science and machine learning. These topics aren’t typically addressed by a web development program.
- Careers: Software developers create software for operating systems or networks, as opposed to websites or mobile applications.
- Collaborations: Software developers usually work with IT departments, whereas web developers often collaborate with marketing teams.
When choosing between these degree paths, you might think about your skills, interests, and whether you’re more artistically or technically inclined.
What’s the Difference Between a Software Developer vs. Software Engineer?
Software engineers and software developers share skills and responsibilities, but the terms aren’t interchangeable. These professions are distinct in important ways, such as:
- Scope: Software engineers create an overall system, while developers focus on a particular component or aspect of that system.
- Clients: Software engineers create products that may be useful to multiple companies, but developers usually address a specific company’s needs.
- Skills: Because they’re responsible for an entire system, software engineers often have more advanced technical skills than developers.
Either a masters in software engineering or software development can help you develop the skills to succeed as a software developer.
Is a Master in Software Development Degree Worth It?
Yes, a master in software development degree is worth it for many students. Software development is essential in a world that uses technology for daily personal, professional, and educational tasks.
A software development degree is versatile in terms of both career paths and potential employers. Graduates of these programs work in government agencies, information technology companies, and research departments. Software development experts also tend to enjoy a high level of job security.
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For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers and computer and information systems managers have projected growth rates of 26% and 16%, respectively.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Software Development Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Bellevue University offers a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems online and on campus. The program aims to teach various computer theories and applied skills. Potential courses include IT Infrastructure, Software Development, and Cloud Computing. The admissions process does not require GMAT or GRE scores.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Boston University offers an online Master of Science in Software Development. The program requires 32 credits and can usually be completed in 16 to 24 months. Class sizes are typically small for more personalized attention, and the curriculum features real-world projects and case studies to help teach practical skills.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Columbia University – New York offers a fully online Master’s in Computer Science with a Software Systems concentration. The program typically focuses on practical computing skills. Potential courses include Programming Languages and Translators, Fundamentals of Large-Scale Distributed Systems, and Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming.
Columbia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Dominican University offers a flexible online Master of Science in Software Development program. Typically, the program can be completed in as little as 18 months. The opportunity to build connections with classmates is available through videoconferencing, where faculty may also provide personalized support.
Dominican University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Grand Canyon University offers an MS in Software Development online. The program consists of 34 credits of 8 week courses. Potential courses include Advanced Software Engineering Fundamentals, Software Design and Architecture, and Software Maintenance and Testing.
GCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Illinois Institute of Technology offers a MAS in Information Technology and Management with a specialization in Software Development. The curriculum includes research projects and hands-on activities. Potential courses include Intro to Software Development, Database Management Systems, and Web Development. The program is available online and on campus.
Illinois Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Liberty University’s MS in IT: Software Design Management can typically be completed 100% online in about 1.5 years. All of Liberty’s courses are taught from a Christian perspective. The program requires 36 credits. Potential courses include Software Development Management, Database Design and Development, and Secure Software Engineering.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Maryville University offers an online Master of Software Development. The curriculum typically includes 4 courses on coding, 5 on management, and 1 capstone. GMA or GRE scores are not required to apply. Applications are accepted in the spring, summer, and fall.
Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Middle Georgia State University offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology with a focus area in Software Development. The program requires 30 credits. The curriculum aims to help students develop communication, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.
Middle Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Pace University’s online MS in Software Development and Engineering helps prepare graduates to sit for the IEEE certification exam. The program gives the option to complete either a thesis or an applied project as a capstone. The program requires 36 credits, and part-time students can typically graduate in 2 years.
Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Purdue University offers an online Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Secure Software Development and Quality Assurance. Courses last 6 weeks each, and the program takes an average of 2 years to complete. There are multiple start dates every year to provide flexibility.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Saint Joseph’s University offers a Computer Science MS online and on campus. Students can typically graduate in 2 years. This 30 credit program includes stackable certificates. Students start by earning a software development certificate and then choose one more certificate in cybersecurity, web and database technologies, or artificial intelligence.
Saint Joseph’s University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online MS in IT with a concentration in Software Application Development. The program aims to teach hands-on employable skills and can usually be completed in about 15 months. Courses have no set meeting times, and may include Advanced Information Technology, Object Oriented Application Development, and Operating Systems.
SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.
St. John’s University offers an MS in Computer Science. Specializations are available in Cyber Security, Data Science, and Artificial Intelligence. Full-time students can typically finish in 3 or 4 semesters. A 9 credit bridge course sequence is available for career-changers who are new to the field of computer science.
St. John’s University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Temple University offers a Master’s in Information Science and Technology. The curriculum aims to be highly interactive and collaborative. Some classes are also available on campus. The program allows for applications all year and no previous experience is required.
Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Troy University offers a Master’s in Computer Science with a Software Development track. The program is available online, on campus, or in a hybrid format. Class sizes are small, and the school’s Computer Science Club hosts seminars and study sessions. Students have opportunities to work on both individual and group projects.
Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Central Missouri offers an MS in Computer Science with a Software Development track. The program teaches practical problem-solving skills, and past graduates have had a 95% job placement rate. A thesis is optional, and there are opportunities to participate in internships and applied projects for industry partners.
The University of Central Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Cincinnati offers an MS in Information Technology with a focus in Software Development. Classes are small to help foster personal connections, and the curriculum is designed to develop technological and communication skills. The program consists of 30 credits, or 10 courses, which can be completed 100% online.
The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Denver offers a Master of Science in Information and Communications Technology with a concentration in Software Design and Programming. The program requires 12 courses, which can typically be completed in 18 months. Courses are available in the evenings and online and may include Technology Leadership, ICT Technical Essentials, and Distributed Computing.
The University of Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
An MS in Computer Science is offered through the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth. Online courses are typically asynchronous, and applications are accepted anytime. The program includes access to specialized research labs. Potential courses may include Paradigmatic Software Development, Software System Design, and Database Design.
The University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
Getting Your Masters in Software Development Online
From mobile applications to software for operating systems, software developers are tasked with creating programs that keep modern companies running and connected to their customers, clients, and stakeholders.
To work in software development or a related field, it’s beneficial to hone your technical skills and learn about the latest trends in design. A master’s degree program provides this knowledge as well as the chance to practice cutting edge techniques with hands-on projects.
A master’s degree may be the gateway to a personally and professionally rewarding career in this fast-growing industry. You can begin your journey today by researching online software development masters programs from accredited schools.