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Idaho State University to Offer Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Starting Fall 2024

May 20, 2024

A woman talks to a man at a computer.

Idaho State University will soon offer a degree in one of the nation’s fastest-growing fields. Starting in Fall 2024, the Department of Computer Science will offer a bachelor’s degree in software engineering.

Compared to the already offered bachelor's degrees in computer science and computer engineering, the software engineering degree path will emphasize software development skills and programming while requiring students to take fewer math courses. Classes for software engineering will be offered at ISU’s Pocatello and Idaho Falls campuses. 

“Each year, over 250 students take our Computer Science and Programming course and show a strong interest in software engineering careers, but they aren’t interested in taking the math courses required to obtain a degree in computer science or computer engineering,” said Steve Chiu, professor and chair of Idaho State University’s Department of Computer Science. “With a focus more on the coding side of the field, this new degree in software engineering will allow students to enter the workforce with the skills necessary to land high-paying and in-demand jobs.” 

“I chose to pursue a degree in software engineering to complement my computer science major and applied mathematics minor because it requires just a few additional courses,” said Gabriel Ory, a junior at Idaho State. “Yet, beyond convenience, the program's emphasis on practical skills like project management and teamwork, often overshadowed in CS programs by technical skills and knowledge of theoretical concepts, is something I believe will be helpful for me and my career. The opportunity to learn about mobile app development also excited me, given my interest in video games.”

Another of the first degree-seeking students of the new major will be an employee of the computer science department. Chan Blackett, an administrative assistant, plans to earn her degree as a nontraditional student. 

"I fell in love with programming when I took a BASIC class in high school,” said Blackett. “Since then, I have dabbled in a few programming languages, learning them on my own. Once I heard that the department was starting a software engineering program this coming Fall, I jumped right on it." 

The median wage for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is just over $124,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall employment is expected to grow by 25 percent by 2032.  

“There is a significant shortage of software developers and engineers in Idaho and the country,” said Chiu. The reason is simple: sophisticated software systems have become essential in most of what we rely on to sustain and enhance our daily lives. Additionally, the rapid rise of artificial intelligence-based systems could not have been possible without significant contributions from software engineers.”

Since the Fall of 2019, the number of students majoring in computer science at Idaho State has grown from 183 to 262 in the Fall of 2023, an increase of more than 40 percent. In May 2022, ISU awarded its first advanced degrees in computer science, and that same year, Idaho State started offering a bachelor’s in computer engineering.

“The software engineering and computer science degrees represent two complementary approaches to software,” said Lyle Castle, Interim Dean of ISU’s College of Science and Engineering. “Having both of these programs opens up the field to many more students and helps meet a growing demand for careers in software development.”

For more information on the ISU Computer Science Department, visit isu.edu/cs

Prospective students can schedule a campus tour at isu.edu/visit


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