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Want to create an app? There's a class for that.

By Amy Farnsworth / July 22, 2009

A woman scans through applications on her iPhone in Hong Kong. Since the iTunes App Store opened in July 2008, 1.5 billion apps have been downloaded.

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There's no doubt that the launch of the iTunes App Store has spawned a cottage industry of iPhone application developers eager to make a few bucks.

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Take iPhone developer Ethan Nicholas, for example. Within one day, he earned $37,000 after his game iShoot reached No. 1 in the iTunes App Store. Or Steve Demeter, an iPhone developer, who made $250,000 in two months after he created the $5 iPhone game Trism.

Though such iPhone app success stories may be rare, with 1.5 billion iPhone apps downloaded within a year, some colleges are realizing that the time is ripe for budding iPhone app developers.

Now, in an effort to train future developers, colleges are offering classes in iPhone application development to students pursuing computer-related majors.

Last fall, Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., began offering a 10-week iPhone app development class to 60 students. The class, which is fittingly taught by two Apple employees who are well versed in iPhone app technology, was expanded to include the spring 2009 semester. But not only did Stanford students get to learn the ins and outs of iPhone app development – all the courses were filmed and uploaded onto iTunes U so people could download them for free. (You can take a peek into the classroom and see what students have to say about the course here.)

Though Apple offers a university program, USA TODAY reports that the company will not comment on the number of colleges currently offering iPhone app development classes. But the number of colleges and universities teaching such courses is increasing as iPhone and smart phone usage expands.

In New Jersey, NJIT, a science and technology college in Newark, offered an iPhone app development class last spring. In these classes, students learn how to build an iPhone app and have a chance to submit their creations to the iTunes App Store. After taking a course in iPhone app development at NJIT, student Taylor Austin has already reported making a profit from two apps he created in class.

Other colleges and universities are planning to offer similar classes this fall. The University of Washington Extension in Seattle will offer a 10-week certificate program in iPhone programming skills, while the computer science department at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., which collaborated with AT&T and Apple, will enroll 20-30 students in a two-part iPhone course beginning this fall.

Who knows, maybe majoring in iPhone app development will be next?

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