As computers and smartphones become more important to consumers, the demand for web developers is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for web developers is projected to increase by 15% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than average.
Web developers perform multiple roles, including designing websites and applications, writing code for websites, integrating visuals, audio, and video, and ensuring that websites run smoothly. While entry-level web developers don't need a master's degree, earning a master's in web development online is an excellent way to learn new programming languages, learn to use new programs, and develop critical leadership skills.
What to Know About Online Master's in Web Development Coursework
While most master's degrees can be specialized with a concentration, students pursuing a master's in web development should expect the curriculum to cover advanced information technology and networking topics. Communications and leadership are also common for many master's in web development programs.
Most master's in web development online programs require 30-36 credits to graduate. Program length varies by school. Students can typically finish a program with accelerated eight-week courses sooner than a semester-based program.
Students should expect to earn a similar education online as they would find on campus, so long as they study at an accredited school. Web development courses focus mainly on computers, so earning a master's online is often more natural than trying to earn other degrees.
What Common Courses are Offered in a Master's in Web Development Program?
No two master's in web development programs are the same, although many programs cover similar topics. Common courses include:
- Principles of Database Design
Database management systems require a complex design, typically created through a program like SQL. In this course, students learn to design and implement their own databases. As students explore database design, they learn to create increasingly complex databases with specific requirements.
- Usability Design
Designing a website is one matter, but creating a site that meets the user's wants and needs requires practice. In this course, students cover the psychology of online users and analyze user profiles to design websites specifically for a target audience.
Web developers must often perform website analyses to determine their effectiveness. To do this, they typically use statistics and other forms of math. Along with statistics, students cover probability, differentiation, integration, and theories surrounding statistics and probability.
- Website Design and Management
In this course, students learn advanced skills to create and maintain websites, from the initial blueprint to the final product. They explore user design, advanced HTML and CSS, and information architecture.
- Capstone Project
After mastering new concepts and skills, students demonstrate their knowledge via a capstone project. This project covers everything students learned plus any particular interest in web design. The capstone project measures competency and demonstrates portfolio experience.
What Specializations are Available in a Master's in Web Development Program?
A master's in web development is often specialized with a concentration area. Concentrations allow students to learn skills required for their desired positions. Not all online colleges offer specializations, and those that do may not offer the same specializations as other programs. See below for some common specializations for a master's in web development:
- IT Management
An IT manager is in charge of a business' entire IT infrastructure. In this role, students take on a leadership position, spending more time managing employees than web programs. Courses specific to this program often cover management, resource planning, and ethics.
- Information Security
The security of information online is increasingly becoming an important issue for most users. This specialization examines online security, assessing security risks and ways to improve online security. Common courses include human factors in security and network assessment.
- Data Analytics
Students who want to focus less on coding and more on data may be interested in a data analytics concentration. This concentration involves collecting big data sets, analyzing the sets, visualizing the information, and sharing the information with coworkers to improve websites. Students typically take data visualization courses for this concentration.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
Fortunately for web development students, exams are not typically required to graduate. However, students must usually demonstrate their competency with a capstone course, which they can complete in their last semester or quarter.
Through the capstone, students demonstrate their ability to integrate their knowledge from master's courses into a fully functioning website or application. The capstone essentially demonstrates mastery of web development skills and techniques. Capstone project specifics may vary by concentration.
How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master's in Web Development Program?
With many online programs available, finding a quality program can seem daunting. Students who are concerned about a program's quality should always research the school's accreditation. Accreditation comes in two forms: one to verify the school's quality and another to verify a program's quality. Finding a program with both forms of accreditation is a promising sign. You can find a school's accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education.
Along with accreditation, take note of a program's graduation rate, class sizes, age, and faculty. Older, more established programs with high graduation rates and good student outcomes tend to be safe, high-quality options. While none of these individual factors speak to a program's quality, when combined, they can provide a helpful glimpse of the degree.
Students should also be wary of red flags. For example, an incredibly low tuition with no potential for federal financial aid could be a sign that the program is unaccredited. If a program seems too good to be true, trust your instincts.
Career Opportunities With a Master's in Web Development Degree
After earning a master's in web development online, graduates can pursue bachelor's-level positions and advanced careers, including management positions. While students might work in the following positions, they should note that some careers require special certification or licensure. Specialization or work experience may be preferred as well.
- Web Developer
Web applications are becoming more important for all types of businesses, and web developers are needed to create and run these applications. While web developers don't need a degree, many employers prefer applicants with at least a bachelor's degree. Some prefer a master's degree. Most web developers work in computer system designs. The BLS reports that nearly one-sixth of web developers are self-employed.
- Median Salary: $69,430
- Currently Employed: 162,900
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: +15%
- Information Systems Manager
Also referred to as IT managers, these professionals direct and manage IT projects in a business or organization. A bachelor's degree is required, but employers often prefer students with a master's degree, preferably related to IT or management. Most information systems managers work in computer systems design, although others work in information and finance.
- Median Salary: $142,530
- Currently Employed: 367,600
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: +12%
- Computer Systems Analyst
These professionals analyze computer systems and find ways to improve upon the current system. Also known as systems architects, they are sometimes in charge of IT or might work closely with IT managers. Most computer systems analysts work in computer systems design firms or businesses, although larger businesses may have their own departments.
- Median Salary: $88,740 per year
- Currently Employed: 600,500
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: +9%
- Top Executive
Many graduates with a master's in web development advance into leadership roles, such as chief technology officer (CTO). CTOs direct the technology portion of a business. The importance of the CTO varies by business. While CTOs may not use their web development skills daily, a background in technology is important.
- Median Salary: $104,980 per year
- Currently Employed: 2,572,000
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: +8%
These professionals work in many fields, including analytics, healthcare, business, and engineering. Statisticians draw on their analytical knowledge to find ways to solve complex problems. Typically, a master's degree in statistics or analytics is required to work as a statistician.
- Median Salary: $88,190 per year
- Currently Employed: 40,300
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: +33%
Source: BLS, 2019
What's the Expected Job Growth for Web Development Careers?
In the growing tech field, web developers can provide a variety of services to businesses. Whether graduates provide analytics, web application development, or leadership, graduates with a master's in web development enter a field that is projected to grow faster than the average job, according to the BLS. The BLS projects that computer occupations may grow 13% from 2016-2026 -- well above the national average of 7%.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Web Development
Even with so many potential careers, web development graduates can still use some help finding positions and continuing their education. In some cases, additional certifications may help them secure jobs. Organizations offer other benefits, such as networking, conferences, and career services.
Boasting more than 150,000 members, this online community was created in 1994 for early web designers. The site offers certification, education, and networking for current web design professionals.
This international community sets the world's standards for the web. Comprised of leaders in the field, W3C provides members with news and support along with jobs and fellowship opportunities. Membership may also look good on some applications.
A leader in advocacy both for students and current web professionals, this organization offers various certifications and exams to prove expertise. Members can also access a job board.
Since its creation in 1996, IWA has focused on education and professional certification. Today, the organization represents more than 300,000 professionals and members have access to jobs around the world.
Current and aspiring web professionals can find valuable education through CIW, which offers online degrees, training, certifications, continuing education courses, and funding.
How to Pay for a Master's in Web Development Degree
With the rising costs of college, many students turn to student loans to finance their degrees. However, there are other forms of financial aid. Federal financial aid, scholarships, and grants can cover some or all of the costs of education, and students can also look for fellowships to gain valuable experience while covering the costs of a graduate degree.
FAFSA is a federal financial aid program that provides financial aid to students. A reward's size is typically based on financial need, not academic record. Students who plan to pursue an accredited degree should apply for FAFSA regardless of their financial situation.
The NYC Web Development Fellowship is offered through the Tech Talent Pipeline. To be eligible, students must have no previous professional experience in web development. Winners attend the Fullstack Academy in the summer to complete the fellowship.
In addition to the FAFSA, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators offers financial aid based on a student's state of residency. Applicants must be the first in their family to attend college and be a resident of the state where their school is located.
Any computer science student is eligible to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition, where students develop a creative computer design product and present it to a panel of judges. Winners receive prizes, including cash prizes that can be used toward tuition.