Web development programs can be quite rigorous, so it’s important to be well-prepared before you jump in. Part of getting to know web development programs is understanding which courses you’ll likely be taking.
For web development, you’ll have to take courses in digital design, application development, object-oriented programming, and more. Most programs focus on teaching both abstract concepts in computer science and web design as well as practical skills in programming.
Read on to learn more about what a web development degree entails. This article will discuss some of the most common courses required for web development majors.
Required Classes for Web Development Majors
When you’re majoring in web development or a related discipline, you can expect courses in technology, programming, and web design, among others. The following are some of the most common classes you may take for a web development degree.
Remember that these vary by institution.
Statistics is a key foundational course for web developers, as well as a common core competence class for undergraduate students. Understanding the fundamentals of statistics is important for web development because it teaches quantitative reasoning and provides a basis for understanding web analytics.
Calculus is another foundational course required in most web development degrees.
Computer science and software engineering degrees are especially likely to require calculus, as these are more math-heavy degrees than a program in web design or user experience design. Other mathematics classes may also be required in addition to calculus, but calculus is most key.
3. Digital Design
Digital Design courses teach the fundamentals of creating digital layouts for web development, including how to make digital media and online user interfaces. While many web developers work alongside designers who take on the bulk of the design workload, having this knowledge is key for developers who want to contribute meaningfully to a project in multiple ways.
4. Scripting for Internet Technologies
Scripting courses focus on object-oriented programming and structured programming fundamentals, including syntax and semantics and construction principles. Students in a scripting course will learn to create and manipulate pieces of a webpage or other digital interface using a programming language.
5. Interaction Design
Interaction Design courses are key for web development because they teach future professionals how to think about a webpage from a user’s perspective. Typically, students will learn to parse what audiences want through observation, discussion, and interviews, creating and testing prototypes with real users.
6. Web Languages
Usually, these courses involve mainly front-end or client-side languages, whereas other courses will focus more on server-side technologies or database administration. Web Language courses may also involve an element of web design.
7. Application Development
8. Object-Oriented Programming
Object-Oriented Programming courses are fundamental to learning web development or software engineering. They teach the common concepts found in a family of common languages used for full-stack development.
These concepts include but are not limited to classes, objects, inheritance, and encapsulation.
9. Information Design and Usability
Information Design and Usability courses teach best practices for structuring information on a web page or application, increasing the usability of websites. This course is especially useful for those who want to work in user experience design, including web developers who want user experience design expertise.
10. Website and E-Commerce Strategies
Website and E-Commerce Strategies courses involve website management techniques and strategies for tracking marketing analytics. They may cover e-commerce business models as well as best practices for handling an online marketplace.
Many web developers end up in management positions where knowing these strategies is incredibly useful.
11. Image Editing
Sometimes, web developers edit images to optimize them for the web. Image Editing courses teach web development students the necessary skills for operating image editing software, which is key to manipulating image files. These courses typically teach both the theory and application of using images online.
12. Professional Portfolio Design
When web developers are first getting started in the field, having a stand-out portfolio is key. Professional Portfolio Design courses help by teaching fundamentals of putting together a good portfolio, from selecting content to audience analysis.
Typically, this course is taken near the end of a program before graduation.
13. Data Structures and Algorithms
Data Structures and Algorithms courses are key for those who want to be back-end or full-stack developers.
These courses teach you how to design programs that handle data, including both theoretical and practical learning in data structures like trees and networks. In these courses, you’ll also learn how to make and interpret graphs of data.
14. Technical Writing
Technical Writing courses are common in web development degrees because developers must know how to communicate their work to others. They may have to write documentation or explain technical concepts to coworkers, so having technical communication skills is vital.
An English department typically offers these courses.
15. Database Development
In addition to learning how to use databases, web development students may also learn how to build databases. This is key for back-end developers and future database administrators. These courses may include learning to use SQL to manage relational databases, covering everything from storing and retrieving data to using functions and updating data.
16. Computer Organization
Computer organization is another course you might find as a part of a web development degree. It covers everything to do with hardware, including assembly and architecture. It requires the use of sequential and combinational digital logic, as well as CPU design.
Computer science students are especially likely to run into a course like this.
Best College Majors for Web Development
Most schools do not offer a bachelor’s in web development, but they do offer majors that prepare you for a career in web development. These include software engineering, web design, and user experience design.
Some schools offer web development certificates or concentrations within these programs.
The key to picking a good major for web development is looking at the curriculum and seeing whether the program offers the fundamental skills you need as a web developer. This involves both theoretical courses in how computers and browsers work and practical courses in programming and design.
Schools With Web Development Concentrations
Depending on whether you want to focus on front or back-end technologies, you might have different needs for your program. Some programs combine web development with web design, while others combine web development with more back-end technologies and concentrations.
The following are the top 15 college programs teaching web development in the U.S.:
|Utah Valley University||Web Design and Development (Interaction and Design, Web and App Development)|
|Weber State University||Web and User Experience (Full-stack Web Development, User Experience Design)|
|Arizona State University||Internet and Web Development|
|Youngstown State University||Computer Science (Programming and Problem-Solving, Operating Systems, Software Engineering)|
|University of Arkansas-Little Rock||Web Design and Development (Mobile Web Design, Web Technologies, Introduction to Media Production, Usability Testing, and Design)|
|St. Cloud State University||Software Engineering (Software Design, Software Reverse Engineering, Computer Security)|
|University of Colorado-Boulder||Computer Science|
|University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh||Interactive Web Management (Computer Science, Journalism, Information Systems)|
|SUNY at Albany||Informatics (Interactive User Experience, Cybersecurity, Social Media, Data Analytics, Software Development, Information Technology)|
|University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point||Web Development|
|Brigham Young University – Idaho||Web Design and Development|
|California State University – Los Angeles||Computer Science|
|Montclair State University||Information Technology|
|Alfred State College of Technology||Technology|
|Lewis-Clark State College||Web Design and Development|
Best Software Engineering Programs in the United States
If you want to be a full-stack web developer, perhaps the most practical degree you can choose is a degree in software engineering.
The top 15 college programs teaching software engineering in the United States are:
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of California – Berkeley
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of Illinois – Urbana – Champaign
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of California – Irvine
- Stanford University
- North Carolina State University
- Purdue University – West Lafayette
- California Institute of Technology
- University of California – Davis
- University of California – Los Angeles
- University of Massachusetts – Amherst
- University of Washington
Each of these schools offers top-notch programs in software engineering and computer science that will well-prepare you for a career in web development.
How To Do Well in Web Development Classes
Web development programs can be challenging, no matter your concentration or what school you’re going to.
The following are worthwhile tips on how to do well in any web development program:
- Attend every class: One of the most important pieces of any web development degree is working alongside other students with a mentor figure. Your professors are there to support you, and you shouldn’t discount the time you have in class. Time in class is incredibly valuable in building your understanding and committing to doing well.
- Go to office hours: Beyond attending classes, you should also put the time in to get to know your professors during office hours. They’re there to answer questions for you and help you work through problems. Not going to office hours is a waste of the resources you have available as a student.
- Organize: Keeping an organized desk, computer, and calendar is key to managing the heavy workload of a web development degree. Having an organized computer is perhaps the most important piece, as most of your work will involve using your computer.
- Form a study group: Working with other students in the same position is a powerful way to make the most of your degree. When one of you learns something, the chances that someone else will learn the same thing increase. You might be able to explain something to another learner in a way that a professor couldn’t.
- Use online resources: There are countless online resources for web developers, from community coding guidance at StackOverflow to practical coding practice at CodeWars. Find the resources that will work for you and stick to them as you work through your degree.
- Take care of yourself: When you’re working through any degree program, you need to make time to take care of yourself to continue bringing the best of what you have to offer. This means exercising, drinking water, and eating a balanced diet. These factors improve memory and make it easier to concentrate.
Do You Need a College Degree for Web Development?
You don’t need a college degree for web development. Many training programs in web development offer certification to get you started in the field. That said, those who do complete a college degree in web development or a related field have a big advantage in the job market.
College degrees teach you more theoretical knowledge than boot camps, plus they are more comprehensive.
There’s only so much you can learn in a short-term boot camp. When you sign up for a web development degree, you’re getting four full years of education, where a boot camp might last only a few months.
Bootcamps make the most sense for working professionals who want to change their career path or already have a college degree in a different discipline. A college degree in web development, computer science, or software engineering would be most appropriate for students who are just getting started and know that they want to be web developers.
It’s also important to note that many boot camps require a college degree anyway, even if they do not require that it be related to the field.
All things considered, you will probably need a college degree to become a web developer, even if you choose the boot camp route. And, having a college degree in a related discipline is a big advantage in any case.
Having or not having a degree is a never-ending debate. If you want to read more then I have written a more in-depth article that shows the benefits and cons of having a degree and what options are available to you if you don’t have one.
Having said all that, I got a web development job without a degree. I had zero programming experience before I joined a full-stack web development bootcamp. Landed the internship immediately after and currently work as a CTO of a small start-up.
Common courses for web development majors include web design, programming, and application development. Typically, web development students will learn a range of theoretical concepts in addition to the practical knowledge necessary to build fully functional, full-stack applications.