Web developers are responsible for building, maintaining and enhancing a website’s functionality. It’s important to note that web developers are different from web designers: web designers design the graphics and layout of a website, whereas web developers develop the code that creates and runs the website in the first place.
Prospective students looking to begin or expand upon their education in web development at an online college have a couple of options: they can enroll in an associate program, where they can learn about tools, technologies and practices at an introductory level, or a bachelor’s degree program, where they can receive more comprehensive instruction on multiple topics related to the industry. Both options have distinct advantages and may aid individuals in achieving their professional goals.
Best Online Colleges for Web Development in 2018
To help online and nontraditional students interested in web development find the school that can best suit their needs, OnlineColleges.com has put together this ranking of the 10 best online colleges for web development. We used data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), analyzing data points such as acceptance rate and in-state tuition costs with our proprietary methodology. For more details on our methodology, see the bottom of this page.
Stark State College
National American University - Ellsworth AFB Extension
Cerro Coso Community College
Lewis-Clark State College
Riverland Community College
St. Petersburg College
Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg
Macomb Community College
Central Georgia Technical College
Degree Overview: Web Development
To do their jobs properly, a web developer must have working knowledge of both the aesthetic and technical aspects of a website, as well as a strong grasp of programming and graphic design. Formal education through online programs for web development can help them get there, but how? This section will detail some of the oft-seen courses found in online web development programs, as well as the skills those courses may help to nurture in their students.
Online Web Development Courses
Though there are some certificates available in web development that can provide a starting point for a career, most aspiring professionals must have an associate degree in order to begin entry-level work in web development. An associate degree program can take up to two years, though accelerated programs might allow a hard-working student to finish their studies in 18 months. Students who embark on an associate degree program for web development may see some of the following courses:
- Introduction to Operating Systems
- Software Logic and Design
- Management of Information Systems
- Web Client Scripting
Students who want to move into the workforce immediately can opt for an applied associate degree, which focuses on the courses students will need to start hands-on work. On the other hand, those aiming for a bachelor's degree may instead want to find an associate degree in web development that allows them to transfer their credits to a bachelor's program.
Online bachelor's degree programs in web development usually take up to four years to complete. These programs are expected to go in-depth with various aspects of web development, including a strong overview of programming languages and demanding graphic design courses. Courses encountered at this level might include:
- Problem Solving with Computing
- Introduction to Web Page Construction
- Information Design and Usability
- Multimedia Authoring, Scripting and Production
Students should graduate from their online program with a substantial portfolio of work, serving as a representation of the work they can do as a web developer. Employers can base their hiring decisions on a variety of factors, but the portfolio is usually a prominent one, so students can expect several courses that focus on building that portfolio to be a competitive presentation of work.
Career-Related Skills to Develop
Those who pursue online education in web development can look forward to honing a number of skills that will hold them in good stead during their career. Developing the ability to concentrate for long periods of time while upholding intense attention to detail is definitely required of web developers, as it can take many hours of careful work to write detailed code. That attention to detail is vitally important, as one tiny mistake in the midst of all those long lines of code can be enough to prevent an entire website from working properly.
Creativity is also vitally important, especially in a world where so many websites are competing to get attention online. Though web development is not graphic design and a corporation will often have creative designers to take point on this aspect, creativity can lead to a better portfolio and thus better hiring opportunities — and of course, a web developer working for a small company or as a freelancer will need to handle the creative and marketing aspects themselves. A freelance web developer will also need to develop customer service skills, as they will find themselves working directly with clients to varying degrees in order to make their vision for a website come to life.
Web Development Career Outlook
As people figure out more ways for technology to be of use to companies and employers, more and more people are needed to use and handle that technology. Web development careers will likely continue to be solid pursuits for quite some time considering the rate at which they are growing, making a web development degree a valuable goal.
If you love technology but also enjoy being creative, web development might be the perfect field to pursue. Web developers deal with the technical and creative aspects of building a website. Not only do they create the look and feel of websites used by individuals and businesses, but they deal with technical details like performance, capacity and website speed, giving the web developer creative control over both aspects.
Earning an associate degree in web development is the most common way to begin this lucrative and exciting career. However, it is not the only path to this career: some entry-level positions may be achievable with a high school diploma and plenty of on-the-job experience, while conversely, some particularly technical employers may require a bachelor's degree.
When you have several departments made up of several people who are all performing several tasks on different computers within different networks, you need somebody who can organize all of that technology. These experts plan, coordinate and direct computer-related activities for their employer or organization in multiple ways:
- Chief information officers (CIOs) are the big-picture thinkers who plot an overarching technology strategy for their organization, then take steps to make sure that strategy is put into effect.
- Chief technology officers (CTOs) are always on the look for new technology that can help their organization be more effective and efficient. The CTO usually reports directly to the CIO.
- IT directors are the leaders of their organization's IT departments. They are the people who put the CIO's plans into action: they coordinate the rest of the IT department and handle their department's budget.
- IT security managers protect their organization's network and data security. They plan and implement security measures, enforce them throughout the company and supervise investigations into security breaches.
Computer network support specialists provide back-end support to a variety of workers in various office settings. This role is vital to many organizations; it's no exaggeration to call these professionals the backbone of their organizations. They troubleshoot problems that occur with websites and computer networks; provide technical support to their colleagues; and perform regular network maintenance to ensure computer networks are running smoothly and efficiently.
Because this career can involve supporting such a wide variety of programs and machines, many educational paths can lead here. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some computer network support specialist careers begin with a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, while others start with an associate's degree or some postsecondary education.
To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:
- In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2015-16 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/