I know that people don't need degrees to create closed source software.

My question:

Because open source programming is different to closed source, is any other education REQUIRED to program open sources things?

  • If yes, what degree / education?
  • If no, why not?
  • There is a related question/edit which could make this specific to OSS - but it might also make it 'primarily opinion based'
    – kdopen
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 19:31
  • As it is phrased, with emphasis on the "programming": you can be given a sheet of paper with symbols on it, and a keyboard with keys that show those symbols. If your mental and physical capabilities are sufficient to become aware of the symbols and type them on the keyboard, and if you can legally* state* that this is then supposed to be licensed under an open source license, then you have programmed an open source thing. (* is why some open source projects are very hesitant to accept contributions from minors without the consent of a legal guardian, iirc). Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 23:39
  • 3
    Apparently as opposed to some other commenters here, I do not consider this an excellent question at all. Neither is "Because open source programming is different to closed source" a reasonable basis for any assumption, nor is it made clear what is meant by "required" (who would require it? required for what particular action?). Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


Simple answer: nope. I know this because I've made open source software and I don't have a degree.

The degree isn't required because the knowledge of programming required to make software doesn't change between proprietary and open source software. You still need to able to write good working code, and that doesn't require a degree - you can teach yourself.

Of course, a degree is always beneficial because it'll teach you things you didn't know and often will give you an overview of the business side of things too, but it's by no means necessary.

  • Personally, I think getting a degree is far more valuable after you have a few years experience in the real world
    – kdopen
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 19:33

The open source community is largely meritocratic. When you provide a patch for an open source project, nobody will ask you for your references or academic qualifications. Many open source projects would not even want to know your real name, unless they need you to sign a CLA. Your contribution will only be judged on its own merit.

This makes open source a great opportunity for self-taught developers without formal qualifications to collect experience and build a portfolio they can use to convince potential employers of their competence.

  • 2
    There is no single 'open source community'. Could I sell you an edit to 'many open source communities'?
    – bmargulies
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 14:43
  • @bmargulies I disagree. There is a single open source community. It's broad and disjointed but it is one community and everybody in it does judge contributions based on merit rather than qualifications. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:56
  • No, everyone does not. There are plenty of projects that judge contributions only on whether the contributor works for a particular company, or whether they salute some particular ideological flag.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 21:35

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