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Computer Programming Major

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Computer Programming

1,560 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
145 Master's Degrees Annually
#143 in Popularity
$89,580 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Computer Programming Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many computer programming graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Basic Certificate 3,860
Associate’s Degree 3,787
Bachelor’s Degree 1,560
Undergraduate Certificate 1,334
Master’s Degree 145
Graduate Certificate 2

What Computer Programming Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, programming majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Programming Majors

Programming majors often go into careers in which the following 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

A major in programming will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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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 Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Programming?

1,560 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
15% Percent Women
31% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 1,560 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer programming in 2019, making it rank #143 in popularity. This major attracts more men than women. About 85% 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:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Programming Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 100
Black or African American 100
Hispanic or Latino 193
White 914
International Students 47
Other Races/Ethnicities 206

Geographic Diversity

Programming appeals to people across the globe. About 3.0% 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?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of computer programming students with a bachelor’s degree is $51,300 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $50,900 (25th percentile) and $51,300 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to programming so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $75,580 to $108,080 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to programming. 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 degrees associated with programming may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to programming have obtained the following education levels.

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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 the 2018-2019 academic year, 614 schools offered some type of computer programming program. 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) 352 67
Certificate (1-2 years) 211 28
Certificate (2-4 Years) 14 3
Associate’s Degree 398 83
Bachelor’s Degree 12 4
Post-Baccalaureate 352 67
Master’s Degree 14 8
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 76,482
Computer Science 47,906
Information Technology 33,399
Information Science 17,779
Computer Systems Networking 14,055
Computer Software & Applications 12,793
Computer Systems Analysis 2,472
Data Processing 2,138
Data Entry 1,382
Other Computer & Information Sciences 1,243

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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