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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Software Development

Majors Overview December 11, 2013

The role of a software developer is to develop and design application programs. Software provides computers with the instructions to perform an action. Software analyst, application developer, and software engineer are terms that can sometimes be used interchangeably. Entry-level jobs, such as help desk specialist, computer programmer, application developer, IT support technician, and system administrator, can be obtained with an associate’s (A.A.) degree in software development.

A.A.S. Programs in Software Development

Students enrolled in an Associate of Applied Science in Software Development are prepared to perform work in wider aspects of the software development process including cost-benefit analysis, documentation and testing, product definitions, integration and data migration, core programming implementations and software design. A software developer employed in a company might have to perform work in one, or all, phases of program development; this would depend on how large or small the company is.

Coursework related to an associate’s degree in software development provides foundational knowledge and skills relating to basic programming and development. Often, graduates of this program transfer to a bachelor’s degree in an upper-division program or in computer science.

Students are expected to gain basic computer knowledge and be able to document and program in various languages such as C++, Visual Basic, Java and Python to develop software applications. Typically, they might need skills necessary to creating ASP.NET Web applications that allow the manipulation of data in a database by end users and designing databases through the use of Microsoft SQL SERVER.

Education Requirements

Apart from standard requirements expected by community colleges, admission criteria in programs often require applicants to demonstrate that they are proficient in mathematics and English and that they boast a cumulative high school grade point average (GPA) of 2.0, or more.


Coursework in software development associate degree programs focuses on basic tasks such as the navigation of the World Wide Web and provides fundamental knowledge on areas such as operating systems. Coursework might involve hands-on training in word processors and spreadsheets.

Students are taught how to use programming languages such as Visual Basic in the construction of stand-alone applications; there is stress laid on advanced object oriented programming languages such as C++. Coursework in several associate degree programs also covers computer hardware, network technologies and data management. While coursework is not necessarily centered on software development, it includes more rounded studies in essential business principles, workplace diversity management and accounting management. Typically, other classes may comprise topic areas such as:

•Data structures and algorithms
•Business mathematics
•Web development
•Introduction to UNIX and LINUX
•Oracle SQL
•Networking and security
•Principles of microeconomics

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 21% has been predicted for software engineers holding a bachelor’s degree, during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Software developers are not treated as a separate category by the BLS, which predicts a negative job growth rate of three percent for computer programmers during the period 2008-2018. In October 2010, the middle 50% of software developers took home between $50,760 and $62,130 as an annual average wage (

Continuing Education Choices

Even though hirers in the industry are usually satisfied with candidates holding a 2-year certificate or degree, those who aspire to software development jobs would benefit by earning a bachelor’s degree. Often, employers demand master’s degree holders. Hence, a higher degree in these fields would only enhance the employment prospects of an interested candidate.

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