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What Do I Need to Study in College to Be a Software Engineer?

by Dr. Jillian L. Wendt , Demand Media

    With a degree in software engineering, you will gain essential knowledge in mathematics and computer science, which could mean the difference between a mediocre career and an exciting and fulfilling future. Gaining a degree in software engineering will afford you opportunities in computer gaming, business and military applications, network control systems and almost every other aspect of modern technology according to UVa-Wise. Knowing your degree options will allow you to begin planning for your future now.

    Certificate

    Options for attaining skills as a software engineer abound as some universities -- such as the Harvard Extension School -- now offer certificate programs in software engineering (see Reference 3). The Harvard Extension School requires you to complete five software engineering courses for certificate completion. Required courses include Introduction to Computer Science and Abstraction and Design. You will need to complete a course in Unix/Linux or a course in systems programming and machine organization. To complete the certificate requirements, you will then choose and complete two elective courses ranging from programming, mobile development, software design, programming languages and computing foundations.

    Bachelor's Degree

    A bachelor's degree in software engineering will prepare you for many careers as a practicing professional by completing approximately 92 credit hours, according to UVa-Wise (see Reference 2). To complete the degree, you will be required to complete courses covering topics such as software design, testing, verification, validation, quality assurance, configuration, project management, programming, algorithms, database design, operating systems, programming languages, computer architecture, probability and statistics, algebra, calculus, physics and technical writing (see Reference 2).

    Master's Degree

    Several universities offer master's degrees in software engineering. Regent University offers online and on-campus courses that will enable you to earn a Master of Science in software engineering with as few as 36 credit hours (see Reference 1). To complete this degree, you should be prepared to take courses in information technology concepts, object-oriented software engineering, information technology research methods and enterprise architecture. You will have the opportunity to choose from multiple elective courses that will allow you to specialize your degree. You will also be required to complete a capstone course that ensures you have mastered all necessary skills and material, a practicum course that will put your new skills to use and a graduate-level thesis that will allow you to contribute to the technology field.

    Considerations

    You will find yourself with many opportunities for careers by earning a degree in software engineering. You can seek a career as a software architect, designer, tester or project manager according to UVa-Wise (see Reference 2). As a software engineer, you will have the skills to design and develop software, video games, word processing applications, business applications, military applications and operating systems. More importantly, as UVa-Wise reports, "job prospects should be excellent, as computer software engineers are expected to be among the fastest-growing occupations through the year 2016" (see Reference 2).

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    About the Author

    Based in Northern Virginia, Jillian Wendt has been in science and teacher education for eight years. She has been writing education-related articles for practitioner and research journals for several years. She holds a Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University. Dr. Wendt is passionate about education and is a fervent reader, writer and researcher.

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