mobile development degrees online
There has never been a better time to learn mobile application development. As mobile devices continue to change how we do business, communicate, and access news and entertainment, the need for new and innovative apps is soaring. This increased demand translates to a massive skills gap, i.e., there are more mobile development job openings than qualified application developers to fill them.

Accredited schools now offer a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs that feature coursework in mobile application development. Read on to compare mobile development degrees and for tips on how to choose the best program.

This page will explore the most important considerations when choosing a mobile development degree program, including:

  • Courses and skills you should look for in a mobile development degree curriculum.
  • Comparison of mobile development degree levels with data like cost, duration & requirements.
  • Potential career paths and salaries you can earn at each level of mobile development degree.
  • Frequently asked questions from prospective students in mobile development degree programs.

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Mobile Development Degree Curriculum

The skills and platforms you will learn in a mobile development degree are paramount when building a learning plan. Here are the key hard skills and soft skills that employers demand, and which you should seek out in a mobile development program.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the tools, techniques, and platforms you will use in the field on a regular basis. Hard skills to look for in a mobile development degree program include:

  • Apple iOS and Google Android application development - These two platforms account for over 99% of mobile operating systems in the U.S., so this is where the jobs are. iOS has the edge in America while Android leads globally.
  • Native mobile development programming languages, i.e., code that's designed to work on each mobile platform; this means Java or Kotlin for Android, and Swift or Objective-C for iOS.
  • Cross-platform mobile development tools - these frameworks that are rapidly growing in popularity enable devs to build web and mobile apps for multiple platforms at once, hence the name "cross-platform." Marketable cross-platform dev tools right now include React Native, Ionic, Flutter & Xamarin.
  • Mobile media distribution and promotion - In a competitive field like mobile, it pays to have expertise in the business and marketing domains that help determine the commercial success of applications.
  • User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design - Knowing how and why users interact with mobile applications and how to capitalize on these tendencies is a vital skill set for mobile app developers.
  • Graphic arts and creative design - Having strong design skills in the Adobe software suite and other popular design programs will make you more well-rounded and valuable to employers.
  • Database expertise - Knowing how to design and manage information systems is key for mobile devs as many apps need to interact with information kept in relational databases.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are character traits and communication skills that will benefit you in the job role. Soft skills to seek out in a mobile development degree include:

  • Creativity: Creativity is hard to learn, but it can be done. Aspiring mobile developers will benefit from creativity-boosting coursework in subjects like fine art and writing. Creativity is invaluable in a field like mobile development, which is driven in large part by innovation.
  • Problem-Solving : Many problems, such as coding and platform conflicts, arise during the development of a mobile application - those who can think critically and solve these issues in a timely manner will be well positioned for success.
  • Effective Communication: Being a good listener and speaker is vital in most roles, including mobile app development. Those who can distill and implement feedback from clients and colleagues, as well as confidently express his or her minds when the time comes, are vital. Solid communication skills will also pay dividends in the mobile developer interview process.
  • Teamwork: Mobile developers often function as part of a team that consists of designers, clients and project managers. App developers who work well with others, calling on traits like patience and open-mindedness, will be sought after in this collaborative setting.
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Mobile Development Degree Levels

Degrees in mobile application development and related subjects come in a range of levels, such as associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate. The mobile development degree level you pursue will depend on multiple factors, including your current education level, career goals, and the time and money you wish to allocate toward training.

Here are the most popular mobile development degree types along with the cost, duration, entry requirements, and jobs you can pursue with each:

Associate Degree in Mobile Development

Associate degrees in mobile development typically take 2 years to complete as a full-time student.

Common admission requirements for a mobile development associate program are a high school diploma or a passing grade on the GED.

The average net price (after financial aid) for a mobile development associate degree is $12,652, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Jobs you can pursue with an associate degree in mobile application development include junior software developer, mobile application tester, and computer programmer.

Bachelor's Degree in Mobile Development

Bachelor's programs in mobile development typically take four years to complete as a full-time student.

Admission requirements for a BS (bachelor of science) or BA (bachelor of arts) in mobile application development are a high school diploma or GED. Some mobile development bachelor's require certain scores on your high school transcripts or SATs - these academic performance requirements vary by school.

The average net price for a bachelor's degree in mobile app development is $24,653, according to the NCES.

Jobs you can pursue upon earning a mobile development bachelor’s degree include mobile application developer, software engineer, and user interface (UI) designer.

Master's Degree in Mobile Development

Most master’s degrees in mobile application development and related subjects can be completed within 2 years with a full course load.

Typical admission requirements for an MSc (master of science) or MFA (master of fine arts) in mobile development include having a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study and a minimum GPA requirement (usually a 3.0 out of 4.0 or greater) which varies by school. Some mobile development master programs also require a strong score on the GRE or GMAT exams.

The average net price (after financial aid) for a mobile development master's degree is $25,219, according to the NCES.

Positions you can pursue with a master’s in mobile development include senior application developer, mobile developer team lead, and senior software engineer.

Doctoral Degree in Mobile Development

You won't find any doctoral degrees in mobile application development. However, you can continue your education in this space with a DSc (doctor of science) or PhD (doctor of philosophy) in subjects like computer science and software engineering. A doctoral degree in one of these mobile-adjacent fields can typically be completed in 3 to 4 years for students with the required educational background - usually a bachelor’s and master's degree in a related field, as well as a high GPA and competitive GRE score.

There are usually 60 - 90 credits (beyond the master's degree) in a doctoral degree in fields related to mobile development, and the cost per credit typically ranges from $500 to $1000. This places the average cost of a mobile development doctorate degree from $30,000 to $90,000 before financial aid and scholarships are applied.

Potential career paths for graduates of a doctoral program in mobile application development include computer scientist, senior software architect, postsecondary educator, and software development manager.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tech and education insiders answer common questions from mobile development degree candidates.

What can you do with a mobile development degree?

Earning an undergraduate or graduate degree in mobile application development can unlock a range of career opportunities. Here are some popular jobs for graduates of degree programs in mobile development and related subjects, along with the typical education level and salary for each position.

Job Title Typical Education Level Average Salary
Mobile Application Tester Associate Degree $67,000
Mobile Application Developer Bachelor’s Degree $116,000
Software Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $117,000
Software Development Manager Bachelor’s or Master’s $130,000
Senior Software Architect Master’s Degree $138,000

Source for salary data:

What degree do you need for mobile development?

There is no across-the-board requisite degree for becoming a mobile developer. However, most people in this role have at least a bachelor's degree in mobile development, software engineering, computer science, or a related field. That said, you can gain the skills to become a mobile developer with a well-designed associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, or even without a college education - providing you have the skills listed above and a strong portfolio of work. Your ideal mobile development degree level will depend on your existing skill set, career goals, current level of education, preferred learning style, schedule, and budget. Whichever route you choose, having a relevant degree will definitely increase your mobile developer job prospects.

How long does it take to finish a mobile development degree?

The duration of a college degree in mobile app development depends on the level of program you're pursuing. A mobile development associate degree typically takes 2 years to complete. A mobile development bachelor’s typically takes 4 years to finish. Earning your master’s in mobile development will take an additional 2 years as a full-time student. The duration for all of these degrees can be reduced by transferring in credits from previous college courses and work experience or by attending more courses each semester.

Further Reading

About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.