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Computer Programming Major

Computer programming is a major that typically falls into the Computer & Information Sciences category.

There are 408 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in programming, 113 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 13 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 1 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Programming Degree?

This is a less frequently chosen major. Only 1,600 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer programming in 2017. This major attracts more men than women. About 86.6% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 6.2%
  • Black or African American: 7.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 9.5%
  • White: 62%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 4.1%
  • Other Races: 10.4%
Computer Programming Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in programming. About 4.1% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending programming majors to the U.S. are India, China and Singapore.

What Will You Learn as a Computer Programming Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to programming to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Programming Majors

A major in programming should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Computer Programming Majors

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:

Important Skills for Computer Programming Majors

Abilities for Programming Majors

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

Important Abilities for programming Majors

What Can You Do With a Programming Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with programming:

Careers Related to Computer Programming
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Computer Science Professors



Computer Programmers



Computer Network Support Specialists



Software Developers, Applications



Software Developers, Systems Software



Web Developers



Computer Programming Major Salary

Programming majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $76,000 to $108,000. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Programming Major  ( 76000 to 108000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Computer Programming Major Jobs

Some careers associated with programming require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education 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.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Computer Programming
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Computer Programming Programs

There are 113 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in computer programming, with 32 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Computer Programming Major Worth It?

The median salary for a programming grad is $90,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 130% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,013,600 after 20 years!

computer programming salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Luis gomes via License

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