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Computer Programming Major

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Computer Programming

145 Master's Degrees Annually
#220 in Popularity (Master's)
$89,580 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Computer Programming Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many computer programming graduations there were in 2019-2020 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 275
Graduate Certificate 27

What Computer Programming Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to programming were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Programming Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Skills for Programming Majors

When studying programming, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Programming Majors

As a programming major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

What Can You Do With a Computer Programming Major?

People with a programming degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Computer Network Support Specialists 8.2% $62,770
Computer Science Professors 8.1% $82,220
Software Developers, Applications 30.7% $103,620
Software Developers, Systems Software 11.1% $110,000
Web Developers 14.9% $69,430

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Computer Programming?

275 Master's Degrees Annually
25% Percent Women
26% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major attracts more men than women. About 75% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of programming majors is as follows:

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 47
Black or African American 9
Hispanic or Latino 10
White 99
International Students 86
Other Races/Ethnicities 24

Geographic Diversity

Programming appeals to people across the globe. About 31.3% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • India
  • China
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia

How Much Do Computer Programming Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that computer programming students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $82,400 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $82,400 (25th percentile) and $82,400 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to programming.

Salaries According to BLS

Programming majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $75,580 to $108,080 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Computer Programming Major  ( 75580 to 108080 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with programming require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for programming careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.6%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 2.0%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 4.9%
Some College Courses 3.8%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 58.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.3%
Master’s Degree 13.6%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 6.6%

Online Computer Programming Programs

In 2019-2020, 586 schools offered a programming program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 215 23
Certificate (2-4 Years) 13 4
Associate’s Degree 410 70
Bachelor’s Degree 17 6
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 15 7
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Computer Programming Worth It?

The median salary for a programming grad is $89,580 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 125% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $993,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to programming.

Major Number of Grads
Computer Information Systems 81,384
Computer Science 53,722
Information Technology 38,958
Information Science 18,368
Computer Systems Networking 14,814
Computer Software & Applications 13,180
Data Processing 2,320
Computer Systems Analysis 2,269
Other Computer & Information Sciences 1,326

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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