Online Colleges for Web Development

Web developers are responsible for building, maintaining, and enhancing a website’s functionality. These professionals are sometimes confused with web designers. It’s important to note that developers differ from web designers – web designers manage the aesthetic layout and composition of websites whereas web developers oversee the technical aspects of Web site creation.

Individuals looking to begin or expand upon their education in web development at an online college have a couple of options: Prospective students can enroll in an associate program, where they will learn about tools, technologies, and practices at an introductory level, or a bachelor’s degree program, where they will receive more comprehensive, well-rounded instruction on a wide range to topics relating to the industry. Both program options have distinct advantages and may aid individuals in achieving their professional goals.

Differences Between Programs in Web Development

Degree programs offered at online colleges focus on a variety of topics, and lengths and prospective career paths may vary depending on the chosen degree level.

  • Associate degree in web development: Programs may be completed in approximately two years. Graduates generally begin careers in support positions, such as assistant developers or software applications testers.
  • Bachelor’s degree in web development: This degree can typically be earned in four years, but some schools offer the option to take courses year round, allowing students to complete their degrees in less than four years. Completing a bachelor’s degree program may qualify individuals for entry-level careers as web developers or applications developers. Some employers may require professional experience in addition to a degree.

About Online College Classes for Web Development

Many colleges offer programs that can be completed entirely online, which increases the level of flexibility for many students. This is especially convenient for full-time workers or individuals with existing responsibilities, as well as those who are unable to attend classes at preset times. Curriculum is usually delivered through online portals or forums, where students may log on at nontraditional times in order to complete assignments and other course requirements. Examinations are also typically administered online with a time limit in order to mirror a more traditional classroom setting. Though uncommon, some online colleges with local campuses may require students to meet with advisors or instructors in person. Be sure to check with an admissions counselor for specific details on program requirements.

Online Degrees vs. Certificates for Web Development - What's Better for You?

If you're interested in a career in web development, you're probably wondering what level of education you should pursue. Should you go after an associate degree or bachelor's degree? Or, would one of the many online web development certificates available work? The answer can be complex. However, what it really boils down to is what your personal goals are and whether you've already established yourself in the field. Basically, if you've already secured employment in a related field and want to take your career to the next level, you should consider pursuing one of the many online web development certificates. However, if you haven't started your career and need to get your foot in the door, you might want to consider earning an online web development degree instead.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of online web development programs available to meet your specific needs. Professionals already working in web development might want to earn a certificate in mobile app development in order to gain employment in that niche industry. Or, they could earn a certificate in a particular program in order to gain specific skills that will set them apart at the workplace. Another option is earning a certificate in website development fundamentals in order to sharpen your skills and become an authority in your workplace. If you're trying to get your foot in the door and choose to pursue an online web development degree, there are a variety of online web development programs that can help you do just that. For instance, you could use your degree in web development to become a desktop publisher, database administrator, or graphic designer. See online IT colleges for more education and career options.

Online Degree Programs in Web Development

Web developers typically master a variety of technology-related tasks and may perform varying job functions depending on where they work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, typical tasks include creating and debugging applications and writing code using programs like HTML and XML. Many web developers also work with designers to determine each website's layout and integrate graphics, video, and audio into website design (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Web developers typically work for clients and are responsible for taking each client's vision and turning it into a functional, attractive website.

Online Associates in Web Development

Online web development programs offering associate degrees give students the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that are essential to a career in the field. Some of the topics covered include programming, creative writing, web scripting, internet commerce, interactive web design, and graphic imaging.

This table provides an in-depth look at concepts you could learn if you choose to pursue an associate degree in web development:

Database Management using SQL

Learn the concepts of basic database creation with an in-depth study of SQL.

Introduction to Linux/Unix

Gain a basic introduction to Linux/Unix and their individual components.

Web Scripting

Learn web scripting via Java-script and HTML.

HTML Programming

Learn to use HTML as a means for web page creation.

Internet Commerce

Take an in-depth look at how businesses use websites for their benefit.

*Baker College Online, Associate Degree in Web Development

Online Bachelor's Degree in Web Development 

If you want to pursue a bachelor's degree via one of the many online web development programs, you'll need to choose a school that offers a comprehensive education in web development and design. Once you choose a school, you'll be immersed in the world of web development and technology utilization. Topics covered in these programs include advanced database management, advanced graphic design, internet marketing, and web information systems programming.

This table provides an in-depth look at skills you could learn if you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in web development:

Graphic Editing Software Utilization

Master the use of graphic editing software as they use the technology to enable advanced website design.

Web Animation

Learn to use industry standard commercial software tools to aid in the creation of web animation.

Web Application Development

Take an in-depth look at web design, graphics, animation, and data storage.

Advanced Graphic Design

Master graphic design fundamentals in relation to high quality website design.

Database Management

Learn about the fundamentals of database modeling and design.

*Franklin University, Bachelor's Degree in Web Development


  1. Baker College Online, Associate Degree in Web Development, bakercollegeonline.com, 2013, http://www.bakercollegeonline.com/programs/web-development-associate-of-applied-science-online/
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition," Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts-web-developers-and-computer-network-architects.htm#tab-2
  3. Franklin University, "Web Development," 2013, http://www.franklin.edu/web-development-bachelors-degree-program
  4. Harvard Extension School, "Web Technologies Certificate," 2013, http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/professional-certificates/web-technologies-certificate

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