Computer Programming Program Header


Computer programmers write and test the instructions that computers follow to perform tasks.

Computer programs are instructions for computers. Computer programs tell computers:

  • Which information to access
  • How to process information
  • What equipment to use

Programs vary widely based on the type of information being used or produced. Simple programs can be written in a few hours, but complex programs may require more than a year of work. Long projects usually require several programmers to work together as a team under the supervision of a senior programmer.

Programmers write programs by breaking each task into a logical series of instructions the computer can follow. There are many programming languages. Programmers usually know more than one language. Since many languages are similar, programmers may be able to learn new languages easily.

Programmers may use computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools to add commands. CASE tools generate whole sections of code automatically so a programmer can focus on the unique parts of the program. Automatic coding makes programs more reliable and consistent.

Programmers test programs by running them to be sure they produce the correct results. They make the necessary changes and recheck the program if errors occur. This process is called debugging. Some programmers prepare instructions for a computer operator who runs, or debugs, the program.

Programmers prepare various types of records and reports. They may also write user manuals. Experienced programmers may train or direct other workers.

Computer programmers often specialize in one of two areas:

Applications programming

Applications programmers usually focus on business, engineering, or science programs. They write software to handle a specific job, such as tracking inventory. They may also modify packaged software.

Systems programming

Systems programmers control software that runs an entire computer system. They make program changes that affect how the network, workstations, and central processing unit (CPU) of the system handle jobs. These changes also affect how the network communicates with auxiliary equipment, such as printers. Systems programmers have the highest level of expertise. They sometimes help other programmers determine the source of problems.

Information Above From Montana Career Information System

Job Title Average Wage Annual Job Openings Expected Growth
Computer Programmer MT: $78,210/yr
US: $93,000/yr
MT: 90
US: 9,700
MT: 4%
US: -10%

*Information obtained from O*NET OnLine

Computer Programming AAS Estimated Costs

Figure Out Your Finances

Students seeking federal financial aid (which includes grants and loans) must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which online at As a result of completing a FAFSA, an applicant will receive a federal Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail or online. An electronic version of the SAR is automatically sent to the schools listed on the FAFSA. To list Great Falls College MSU, use our school code: 009314.

Students applying for financial aid may also be required to provide proper federal income tax information, completed verification materials, and any other information requested by the Financial Aid Office. Students must apply for financial aid annually.

Assistance is available to prospective students applying for financial aid. In addition, financial aid counseling for new students is an integral part of the admissions and orientation process. Once enrolled, students may receive counseling and assistance as needed. For assistance, please call 406-771-4334, or write to the Financial Aid Office, Great Falls College MSU, 2100 16th Ave S, Great Falls, MT 59405, or email

Great Falls College MSU also offers a wide variety of different scholarships to assist you in paying for your college. To view a list of current scholarship offerings, please see our scholarship page.

Computer Programming AAS Program Requirements


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