25 Best Online Software Engineering Degrees [2021 Guide]

Ready to start your journey?

According to U.S. News, one of the best jobs worldwide this year is as a software developer, so now is a great time to consider an online software engineering degree.

Software Engineering Degrees

With over 300 million startups and counting in the world right now, software engineers are only going to be more in demand in the future.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

If you want great job security, a degree in software engineering seems like a good plan, right? But what exactly is it, and how do you go about getting one? There’s a bewildering array of information online, so we’ve compiled an article to help you make an informed decision.

Software Engineering Degrees Online

Select the engineering online degree program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Online

software engineers working on a project together

Speaking broadly, the goal of a Bachelor’s in Software Engineering is to take an ordinary person and make them into a designer and builder of software.

As such, it involves courses particular to software design, like Software Requirements and Modeling and Software Validation, along with the typical math and computer science courses.

One could say software engineering is applied computer science since it involves a lot of the same knowledge but uses it to the practical end of making useable software.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Because the work involves use of matrices, logic, and probabilities, there is an emphasis on math courses like Linear Algebra. However, Software Engineering isn’t as mathematical as Computer Science. Computer Programming and Program Design are requirements that characterize computer science courses as well.

Some degree programs will focus on programming languages like Java, while others will teach a range of programming languages. Some institutions will also add general education courses, such as Critical Thinking, as a requirement.

Software Engineering involves elements of the design and creation of software that Computer Science lacks.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science Online

computer programmers working in the office

In contrast to a Software Engineering degree, the goal of a Bachelor’s in Computer Science is to take an ordinary person and, as the saying goes, make them into a person who drinks coffee and turns it into code.

A BS in Computer Science can help you obtain broader skills than a BS in Software Engineering while still enabling you to work as a Software Engineer. Computer Science people don’t just work with software; they work with operating systems, hardware, and networking.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

A Bachelor’s in Computer Science typically involves the following courses: Computer Programming and Programming Paradigms, Algorithms, Computer Architecture and Operating Systems, and Networking and Numerical Computation, along with math courses such as Linear Algebra, Logic, Statistics, and Probability.

Many Computer Science courses place a heavy emphasis on math. Computer Science is a broad field compared to the more applied field of Software Engineering. However, studying computer science is one route to the job of Software Engineer. It can also enable you to pursue other cool jobs, like working in cryptocurrencies.

Software Engineering Careers and Salaries

Software Engineering Careers and Salaries

People with a Software Engineering degree are some of the most in-demand professionals worldwide.

The Bachelor’s in Software Engineering can help open up a variety of exciting roles, and we need to talk about salaries. without a doubt, a BSc in software engineering can offer exciting salary possibilities. Your options include the following careers:

Careers Annual Median Salary
IT Manager $151,150
Software Publisher $124,050
Network Engineer $116,780
Sales Engineer $108,830
Information Security Analyst $103,590
Computer Systems Analyst $93,730
Computer Programmer $89,190
Network Systems Administrator $84,810
Web Developer $77,200
Mobile Applications Developer $72,050

The mean salary of a software engineering graduate is $110,140 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is an average across a wide range of possible careers.

Choosing an Online Software Engineering Degree

Software Engineering Degree student studying online at home

When you’re choosing an online degree, there are some factors to consider.

  • Accreditation – Is the institution accredited?
  • Value – How much does it cost per credit, and how many credits will you need?
  • Time required – How many credits do you need, and what level of time-commitment is expected from the courses?
  • Admission requirements – Do you meet the admission requirements?
  • Mode of assessment – How will the courses be graded? What is the commitment like in terms of assignments?
  • Structure of courses – How many credits will you be expected to take, and can you take more than one course at the same time?
  • Mode of delivery – What is the online classroom like? Are there support materials available? What about forums and other options for getting in touch with peers and instructors?
  • Technical requirements – What kind of operating system and other requirements will your computer need for you to use it for online learning?

You could try a free online course or trial at an institution, if they offer one. It’ll give you a feel for what it might be like to do their online degree.

And, don’t forget, it’s always possible to email the institution and make any inquiries you might need before committing to your choice. They usually offer informative brochures and are more than happy to answer your questions.

Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Courses

software engineer working in the office

Most Bachelor’s degrees need at least 120 credits (about 40 courses) in total. The courses you’ll need to take while doing your Software Engineering degree will, of course, vary by institution.

Generally speaking, you’ll need software-related courses in addition to math and computer science courses. There might be courses on education and critical thinking, too, depending on the college you are attending.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

In addition, most software engineering programs may mix in a few courses from other engineering fields such as from an electrical engineering online degree program or computer engineering online degree program.

Here is a list of the most typical courses included in a Software Engineering degree:

Software courses:

  • Software Requirements
  • Software Project Management
  • Software Design and Construction
  • Software Configuration
  • Software Validation

Computer Science courses:

  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Architecture
  • Algorithms
  • Operating Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Data and Databases

Mathematics courses:

  • Linear Algebra
  • Boolean Logic
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Discrete Math

Most online courses offer credit transfers, so if you have some of these courses already, it would be worth asking about a credit transfer. Additional courses you may want to consider as part of your software engineering degree are critical thinking, communications, and information systems.

Many employers say that college-educated software engineers lack practical experience, so, to give yourself an edge, consider pursuing some practical courses online or making yourself more desirable to employers by getting some work experience during your degree by working as an intern.

Admission Requirements

Software Engineering Degree student studying online

To do an online Bachelor’s course, you will need to have completed your high school education. The admission requirements differ depending on the college, and GPA, ACT, and SAT scores count the same as they do for the brick-and-mortar version of your institution.

There may be additional requirements related to hardware (whether you can access the online classroom on your PC) and time commitment.

Check the website of the university or college for their requirements. Also, don’t forget to make sure that the course is 100% online, as some courses might require minimal time on campus to take exams.

Accreditation

Software Engineering Degrees Accreditation

When considering an online degree, it’s vitally important to first check if the institution is regionally accredited. Accreditation means, in short, whether your degree will be accepted by employers or colleges.

To see if a college or university is accredited, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for Software Engineering Degree students

Both campus programs and online programs offer financial aid options, including federal aid, state aid, and institutional aid.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

A good place to start is by filling out a Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Can You Do With a Software Engineering Degree?

Mobile Game Developer working on mobile application

Answer: loads! From working as a traditional developer to working in sales and even launching a startup, your Software Engineering degree can help to open up a world of possibilities.

Being able to make software enables you to work for a range of companies and understanding software development can open up a number of roles, from project manager to sales rep and careers in Developer Relations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of computer software engineers is anticipated to grow at a rate of 22% through the next decade, much faster than the average growth rate.

Your potential career options to pursue as a software developer include:

  • Applications Developer
  • Database Administrator
  • Game Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Multimedia Programmer
  • Software Tester
  • Developer Relations
  • Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Technical Consultant
  • Software Sales Representative
  • Startup Founder

Not only is there a growing demand for software engineers, but the skills you acquire while earning the degree can help make you desirable in a number of roles, from writing manuals to managing relations with developers and managers. There is no single career path for software engineers, but an array of possible options.

What’s the Difference Between Software Engineering and Computer Science?

software engineer working overtime in the office

Computer Science is a broad subject that involves all aspects of computers, not just the software. Computer scientists learn about and interact with operating systems, hardware, and networks, as well as the software that runs on them.

In contrast, a software engineer designs software, which will interact with the operating systems, networks, and compilers that computer scientists design.

Computer Scientists and Software Engineers both learn programming and know how to create software, but a degree in Software Engineering is aimed at enabling you to design and test software that works well and is optimized and user-friendly. According to the BLS, many Software Engineers actually studied Computer Science first.

What’s the Difference Between Software Engineering and Computer Engineering?

software engineer working on her computer

Computer Engineering involves the hardware of computers – the actual electronics, like circuit boards.

A computer engineering degree focuses on the design and development of electronic components that make up computers, while a software engineering degree focuses on the design of software that will eventually run on that hardware.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Computer engineers typically study electronics, electrical engineering, and programming. As a computer engineer, you’ll likely spend plenty of time in labs actually making circuitry, while computer programmers and software engineers seemingly never leave their desks!

How Long Does It Take to Get a Software Engineering Degree Online?

Software Engineering Degree students studying together

The time for online learning depends largely on you, as accelerated learning is supported. The average time for a 120-credit degree is four years (30 credits or 10 courses per year).

To complete the degree in three years, you would need to finish 1 course and-a-bit per month, (assuming three credits per course). While that might be possible if you’re a student full-time, if you’re working part-time, that becomes intense. However, nobody can tell you it’s not possible!

You can likely expect to put in four hours a day on studies, though more would be ideal to complete the degree faster.

Are There Any Affordable Online Software Engineering Degrees?

Software Engineering Degree student studying at a cafe

Yes! Some institutions offer degrees for as little as $185 per credit hour, but they range to up to $600 per credit hour.

There are certainly affordable options, and there are financial aid options available for online students. It would be best to contact your institution of choice and find out if they can offer you any financial assistance options.

Is an Online Software Engineering Degree Worth It?

Software Engineer working at home

For many people, the answer is a resounding “yes.” A Software Engineering degree can be a gateway to some great benefits, no matter which career path is chosen.

With a Software Engineering degree, you can access opportunities to:

  • Work from almost anywhere in the world (often online)
  • Earn a good salary
  • Have job security
  • Participate in teamwork or individualized work
  • Work for great corporations
  • Build your own startup
  • Work in innovative environments
  • Receive great benefits in terms of healthcare and support

It’s not all about the money either; overall, software engineers have a high level of job satisfaction, according to U.S. News & World Report, and it is considered as one of the world’s happiest jobs.

Flexibility, autonomy, and good pay come together to make this a great career, along with a good work/life balance. And, with the number of alternative paths a Software Engineering Degree can open up to you, you should be able to find something to match your work preferences.

If you’re a natural problem-solver, like computers, and have an inquiring mind, this may be a great degree for you. Whether you like teamwork or prefer to work more autonomously, there are options for you.

Universities Offering Online Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University campus

American Intercontinental University offers a very comprehensive Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree that requires students to complete 180 credit hours.

Heavy emphasis is put on teaching students to write and test code, as well as to debug and analyze software applications. Students should also become fluent in different operating systems.

American InterContinental University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

The Arizona State University Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering program is consistently ranked in the top 25% of all accredited engineering programs nationwide, and the school is currently ranked #2 for top online electrical engineering master’s programs by U.S. News & World Report.

The program features courses in principles of programming, personal process and quality and design.

Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Graduates of Bellevue University’s Bachelor of Science in Software Development program should be able to evaluate software quality, demonstrate effective teamwork, write and troubleshoot advanced coding, apply best practices for app design, and develop apps.

The program requires 127 credit hours, and the school will allow students to transfer previously earned credits.

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University campus

Students headed into the technology and software developing fields at Brigham Young University can enroll in the Master of Science in Applied Technology program.

The university has an extensive technology department, offering certificates, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in the field. Each degree is also customizable to fit each student’s needs.

BYU is accredited as a Higher Educational Institution by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Champlain College

Champlain College campus

At Champlain College, students can select a 100% online software development bachelor’s program. The degree requires 120 credits to complete and only requires students to invest between ten and 17 hours a week on coursework, which has very flexible due dates. There are three semesters a year; each semester features two 7 week terms.

Champlain College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

College of St Scholastica

College of St Scholastica campus

The College of St. Scholastica offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems.

There are several distinct concentrations from which students can choose including data analytics, cyber security, business analysis, software development, and health informatics. Students also have the potential to create custom concentrations.

The College of St. Scholastica is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program at Colorado Technical University features a software engineering concentration. The program is flexible and there are CTU Fast Track exams available that allow qualfied students the opportunity to earn credit for their prior experience.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DePaul University

DePaul University campus

DePaul University is another college that offers a software development concentration with its Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree.

It’s a comprehensive, 192 credit hour program featuring advanced courses in many computer science and engineering fields such as Python for programmers, discrete math, distributed systems, and global software development, among others.

DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Eastern Florida State College

Eastern Florida State College campus

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Program Development and Software Development program at Eastern Florida State College must have prior knowledge of C++ programming and statistics.

The curriculum is designed for working professionals and aims to provide students with the fundamentals necessary to become fluent in modern programming languages and software design.

Eastern Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University’s 120 credit hour Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program takes most students less than four years to complete.

Students can transfer up to 75% of the total credits and can choose from four concentrations: application and database development, web and mobile programming, data networking and security, or game design.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Mercy College

Mercy College campus

Mercy College offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to students looking to improve their Java and C++ programming skills or go into the fields of software engineering, computer networking, or computer architecture after graduation.

The school boasts small class sizes, excellent faculty, collaboration on real-world projects and lots of hands-on experience.

Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Middle Georgia State University

Middle Georgia State University campus

The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program at Middle Georgia State University allows students to choose from eight different concentrations including cyber security, cyber forensics, game design, software engineering, and others.

Students are expected to take a mixture of core educational courses, lower and upper-division core major courses, and several mathematics courses.

Middle Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University campus

National University, San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program whose curriculum includes multiple series of 4 week courses. The University offers tuition assistance and other perks for current and former military students, and financial aid may be available to qualified students.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

New England Institute of Technology

New England Institute of Technology campus

The New England Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering.

Students must complete 180 quarter credit hours to graduate. They have the option to receive half of the required credits through the school’s associate degree program. Applicants must submit an online application with official high school transcripts. Letters of recommendation and an admissions essay may be submitted but are not required.

New England Institute of Technology is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Park University

Park University campus

Park University offers both an Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Information and Computer Science. Both programs seek to prepare students for a wide variety of careers in various technological fields, and the BS degree, especially, aims to prepare students looking to continue on to graduate school. Concentrations are also offered.

Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

The Bachelor of Science program from Pennsylvania State University – World Campus is a 126 credit hour program. Students can enter the program with only a GED or high school diploma, and graduates should be prepared to work in multiple tech fields.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Saint Cloud State University

Saint Cloud State University campus

Students in the software engineering bachelor’s program at St. Cloud State University can expect to complete many collaborative projects each semester. The purpose of these projects is to build students’ critical thinking, teamwork, and communication skills.

Students will also have the opportunity to explore patterns, paradigms, and methodologies in software development, and work with industry professionals.

Cloud State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

The Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering program at St. Leo University holds the designation of being an NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Students should learn to balance theoretical and fundamental concepts in modern software design and gain invaluable practical experience.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University offers a software engineering concentration as part of its Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program. Students are expected to explore emerging technologies and learn standard, proven techniques in software design at this NECHE accredited university.

The degree requires 120 credit hours, 90 of which can be transferred from another university.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Troy University

Troy University campus

Troy University’s Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science degree has available specializations in cyber security and advanced programming.

This degree is designed to prepare students for a plethora of tech-related jobs including database administrator or architect, IT manager, software developer (apps), software developer (systems), software quality assurance engineer, and so many more.

Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield campus

The University of Illinois – Springfield offers rolling admission to its Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program each year. Students can select specialties in either software engineering or systems security and information assurance. Graduates should leave with a firm understanding and foundation of the core skills needed for a successful tech career.

The University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Maine – Augusta

University of Maine at Augusta campus

The University of Maine – Augusta offers a wide variety of options for students interested in receiving education in computer science or software engineering. The school offers associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, post baccalaureate degrees, and numerous different certificates.

Concentrations are offered in cyber security, cyber forensics, computer networking, and computer information systems.

The University of Maine at Augusta is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

The Bachelor of Science in Software Development and Security at University of Maryland Global Campus is a 120 credit hour program that allows students to transfer up to 90 previously earned credits. Students are expected to learn to work individually and in group settings to plan, manage, document, and design new software and technologies.

University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Washington State University

Washington State University campus

Students undertaking the Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering degree at Penn State World Campus receive many opportunities to develop strong critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. They’ll also be introduced to the newest, state-of-the-art technology and tools on the market.

WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University campus

The Bachelor of Science in Software Development at Western Governors University has two possible tracks: Java or C++. The school allows students to transfer many previously earned credits, and most students finish the program in under three years. The tuition is affordable, and WGU offers several financial aid options to qualified students.

Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Online

Bachelor’s in Software Engineering student studying at home

The bottom line is that a Bachelor’s in Software Engineering is demanding, but lets you be assured of a great job when you finish. With so many courses online, all offering flexible, 24/7 learning options anywhere in the world, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

A Bachelor’s in Software Engineering offers you the chance to pursue great job options, and with many companies offering remote work in the sector, it can be a flexible and rewarding career.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Katharine Henninger
WRITTEN BY
Katharine Henninger
Katharine has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from the Technical University of Darmstadt, as well as a Master's and Bachelor's in Nuclear Physics from Rhodes University. Her research interests included exotic nuclei and unusual structures such as haloes and clusters in nuclei.