Complete Guide to Top Online Software Engineering Degrees
Online software engineering degrees are available at every level, from associate to doctoral, and provide graduates with the skills to design computer programs. Students will learn to evaluate clients' software needs, upgrade existing programs, and collaborate with other engineers. Software engineering requires a unique blend of creativity and technical skills, and students should look for programs that encourage creative thinking through project-based or interdisciplinary classes. Prospective students should also take accreditation into account when choosing an online software engineering degree. Reviewing our top online colleges offering bachelor's degrees or our top online colleges offering master's degrees in software engineering lists may be helpful in choosing a school.
2018 Top Online Colleges Offering Software Engineering Degrees
With annual tuition rates as low as $12,640 and academic strength as high as 69%, these four online colleges offering bachelor's degrees in software engineering are top-ranked in terms of affordability and academic rigor. Arizona State University and Upper Iowa University, ranked #1 and #2 respectively, both offer Bachelor's of Science in Software Engineering degrees. The College of Saint Scholastica is ranked third and offers a BA in Computer Information Systems with an emphasis in software development.
View our methodology for more details.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 Arizona State University||Annual Tuition $15,300||Academic Strength 69%|
|#2 Upper Iowa University||Annual Tuition $13,230||Academic Strength 57%|
|#3 The College of Saint Scholastica||Annual Tuition $12,640||Academic Strength 54%|
|#4 Elmhurst College||Annual Tuition $36,070||Academic Strength 67%|
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Software Engineering Degrees ( 56)
Online Software Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information
Online degree programs in software engineering are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Associate programs are two-year degrees that give individuals a basic foundation in software engineering skills, preparing graduates to enter baccalaureate programs or gain entry-level positions. Bachelor's degree programs will prepare students to find work as a full software engineer in the fields of software application engineering, computer system administration, security systems, video game creation, and many others, while master's degree programs are available for professionals who want to update their skill set or move into more project management or managerial roles. Online doctoral degrees in software engineering will prepare professionals to conduct advanced research or teach at the university level. Graduate certificates in software engineering are also available, and can help students decide whether to pursue a full master's degree. Certificate coursework can usually be applied toward master's degree's completion requirements at a later date or can be used to learn specific skills to assist with finding more job opportunities.
Online software engineering degrees at the associate level are not as common as more advanced degrees. However, there are some programs available that will teach students the fundamental skills they need to begin their career. An individual looking to pursue a software engineering education at the associate level might enroll in an program in software engineering technology. An associate degree will prepare students for entry-level jobs and also provide a spring board for moving on to a bachelor's degree. A student enrolled in an associate program should expect to spend about two years completing their degree, and will take classes in areas such as systems analysis and design, database management, and programming. This type of degree is usually offered at technical schools. A high school diploma or equivalent is required in order to be accepted.
A bachelor's degree in software engineering is the typical minimum requirement for finding work in the field. Individuals with this degree can work in areas such as software application engineering, computer system administration, security systems, video game creation, and many other related fields. The bachelor's degree takes an average of four years, or 120 semester credit hours to finish. An online bachelor's in software engineering can be earned through colleges, universities, and technical schools. Coursework for the software engineering bachelor's degree includes classes in web engineering, computer security, human-computer interaction, technical communication, and data structures. It is also not uncommon for students to be required to complete an internship and/or some kind of senior project in order to graduate. The usual requirement for enrolling in a bachelor's degree is a high school diploma or equivalent.
Online master's degree programs in software engineering are designed for professionals who want to advance in their career. In order to gain entrance to one of these programs, a student must have a bachelor's degree and a strong background in math and computer science, as well as some knowledge of a programming language such as Java. The bachelor's degree usually has to be in a related field, such as mathematics, engineering, physics, or computer science, but a student may be able to gain admittance to a master's program with an unrelated bachelor's degree if they have appropriate experience. These programs usually take around two years to complete and require an average of 30-36 semester credit hours. A student enrolled in an online master's program in software engineering can expect to take such classes as pattern oriented design, enterprise integration, web security and privacy, computer systems architecture, and software systems engineering processes. Upon completing a master's program, an individual will be prepared for management positions and be equipped with the ability to lead various types of projects. A master's degree is also beneficial because it helps professionals keep their skills up-to-date.
2018 Top Online Colleges for a Master's in Software Engineering
The 530 schools below represent the top universities offering online master’s in software engineering degrees based on their modest tuition rates and rigorous academics. Brandeis University, ranked #3, has the highest academic strength score on the list at 85%. The school with the lowest tuition, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, offers an MS in Software Engineering for only $8,595.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 University of Alabama in Huntsville||Annual Tuition $8,595||Academic Strength 75%|
|#2 Mercer University||Annual Tuition $13,230||Academic Strength 74%|
|#3 Brandeis University||Annual Tuition $16,999||Academic Strength 85%|
|#4 Arizona State University||Annual Tuition $13,710||Academic Strength 69%|
|#5 Lewis University||Annual Tuition $12,720||Academic Strength 65%|
|#6 Nova Southeastern University||Annual Tuition $13,950||Academic Strength 69%|
|#7 East Carolina University||Annual Tuition $13,160||Academic Strength 65%|
|#8 Auburn University||Annual Tuition $16,133||Academic Strength 73%|
|#9 Southern Methodist University||Annual Tuition $20,250||Academic Strength 82%|
|#10 The University of West Florida||Annual Tuition $15,888||Academic Strength 63%|
|#11 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||Annual Tuition $16,740||Academic Strength 64%|
|#12 California State University-Fullerton||Annual Tuition $17,574||Academic Strength 64%|
Engineers that are interested in conducting large, complicated software research projects can complete a doctoral program. These degrees require advanced coursework, followed by the completion of the research project and a dissertation. Advanced courses and the research project usually revolve around the student’s particular interest area, such as artificial intelligence, networks, database systems, or systems engineering design. Online doctorate programs in software engineering are beneficial for someone who wants to make a career out of researching new types of software, or for people who want to teach at the university level. The length of time it takes to complete a Ph.D can vary depending on how long an individual takes to complete their dissertation, though a student can plan on spending four to five years in their program. Coursework for a software engineering Ph.D includes classes in the areas of advanced mathematics, design and engineering of software systems, research, and the study of how software interacts with society as a whole. Admission requirements to a doctorate program usually include the completion of a bachelor's degree in a related field, work experience, a firm grasp on various software technologies, and letters of recommendation.
Individuals who want to receive advanced training in the field of software engineering but who aren't sure if they are ready to commit to a full master's program might consider pursuing a certificate in software engineering. These certificates are most often found at the graduate level, meaning that a student would need to have already completed a bachelor's degree before being admitted to the program. Online certificate programs in software engineering usually take a year or less to complete. Students will take such classes as object-oriented design, software product and process evaluation, software testing and debugging, and software design. If a student completes a graduate certificate in software engineering and decides to then pursue a master's degree, the classes completed for the certificate can often be applied to completion of the degree. Completing a certificate program may be enough training to obtain an entry-level job in the software engineering field.
When choosing an online degree program, students should take into consideration is whether or not a school or program is accredited. Accreditation means that an outside, independent organization has looked at the curriculum offered by a school and determined that it meets certain high standards for quality. Regional accreditation is when a particular group oversees the accreditation process for schools within a certain group of states.
There are also accrediting agencies that offer accreditation to specific programs within a school. For instance, the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) provides accreditation for computing, engineering technology, applied science, and engineering degree programs across the country. ABET accreditation is voluntary, and schools that receive this endorsement have to undergo a rigorous examination process. The accreditation is only for specific programs, not the entire school. Individuals who wish to pursue an online degree program in software engineering may want to concentrate their search on programs that are ABET-accredited in order to ensure competitiveness in the job market.
As we live in a society where technology is so prevalent and necessary to our everyday lives, there is a lot of demand for software engineers. Becoming a software engineer requires specialized training, although licensing is not common in the field. Typically, a bachelor's degree is required to find work as an actual software engineer, though other types of computing jobs can be found with less formal education. Students who know that they want to pursue a software engineering career after college should earn their degree in software engineering, information technology, computer science, or a related field. Learning to program is also an important skill for software engineers to develop. While in school, students will want to try and complete an internship in order to gain valuable work experience and make professional contacts. Sometimes, it will be necessary to also earn a master's degree in order to be hired for certain jobs. However, this isn't usually the case, and a master's degree will only need to be earned if an individual wants to further advance their skill set and career. While many institutions offer certifications for software engineers and developers, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the Software Engineering Institute, these are also usually not necessary for success in the field.
- Accreditation. ABET. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/.
- Bachelor of Science in Software Development. Western Governors University. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.wgu.edu/online_it_degrees/software_development_degree.
- BS in Software Engineering. BYU - Idaho. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.byui.edu/online/degrees-and-programs/software-engineering.
- Engineering Science - Software Engineering (MSE). Arizona State University. Accessed July 20, 2016. https://asuengineeringonline.com/online-degrees/engineering-science-software-engineering-mse.
- How to Become a Software Engineer: What You Need to Know. Colorado Technical University. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.coloradotech.edu/resources/blogs/march-2016/how-to-become-a-software-engineer-what-you-need-to-know.
- Master of Science in Computer Science - Software Engineering. Colorado Technical University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/masters/computer-science/software-engineering?navup=true.
- Master of Software Engineering. North Dakota State University Distance and Continuing Education. Accessed July 20, 2016. https://www.ndsu.edu/dce/degrees/graduate/master_softeng#faq.
- Master of Software Engineering. Penn State Online. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/software-engineering-masters/overview.
- PhD IT Concentration in Software Engineering. George Mason University. Accessed July 20, 2016. https://cs.gmu.edu/programs/phd/it/swe/.
- PhD Program in Software Engineering. Carnegie Mellon University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://isri.cmu.edu/education/se-phd/.
- Regionally Accredited vs. Nationally Accredited: What's the Difference?. American Intercontinental University. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/june-2015/regionally-accredited-vs-nationally-accredited.
- Software Engineering (BS). Arizona State University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-science-software-engineering.
- Software Engineering Certificate Overview. Colorado State University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.online.colostate.edu/certificates/software-engineering/.
- Software Engineering Graduate Certificate. North Dakota State University Distance and Continuing Education. Accessed July 20, 2016. https://www.ndsu.edu/dce/degrees/graduate_certificates/softeng_certificate#faq.
- Software Engineering Technology Associate's Degree. New England Institute of Technology. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.neit.edu/Programs/Associate-Degree-Programs/Information-Technology/Software-Engineering-Technology.
- What is Software Engineering?. University of Nevada - Reno. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.unr.edu/cse/prospective-students/what-is-software-engineering.