25 Best Online Software Engineering Degrees [2020 Guide]

According to U.S. News, the best job 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.

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.

Best 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 Bachelor’s in Software Engineering takes an ordinary person and makes 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.

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, a Bachelor’s in Computer Science takes an ordinary person and, as the saying goes, makes them into a person who drinks coffee and turns it into code.

A BS in Computer Science gives you 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.

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 also enables you to do other cool jobs, like working in cryptocurrencies.

Software Engineering Careers and Salaries

Software Engineering Careers and Salaries

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

The Bachelor’s in Software Engineering opens up a variety of exciting roles, and we need to talk about salaries. without a doubt, a BSc in software engineering offers exciting salary possibilities.

Your options include the following careers:

Careers Average Annual Salary
Software Developer $106,816
Software Consultant $76,449
IT Consultant $73,000
QA Engineer $69,867
Software Tester $56,995
Software Sales Rep $53,169
Technology Writer $50,655

The mean salary of a software engineering graduate is $86,615 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

Every Bachelor’s degree needs 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.

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.

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 will open a world of possibilities.

Being able to make software enables you to work for a rage of companies and understanding software development opens 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 21% through 2028, much faster than the normal growth rate.

Your career options 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 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. As a Computer Scientist, you 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.

Computer engineers typically study electronics, electrical engineering, and programming. As a computer engineer, you’ll 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 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

We have to say a resounding “yes.” A Software Engineering degree is a gateway to some great benefits, no matter which career path you choose.

With a Software Engineering degree, you can access:

  • Working from anywhere in the world (often online)
  • A good salary
  • Job security
  • Teamwork or individualized work
  • The chance to work for great corporations
  • The chance to build your own startup
  • Innovative work environments
  • Great benefits in terms of healthcare and support

It’s not all about the money, either; software engineers have a high level of job satisfaction, according to reports, and it is considered 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 opens up to you, you’ll find something to match your work preferences.

If you’re a natural problem-solver, like computers, and have an inquiring mind, this is a great degree. 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

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer software engineering bachelors degree online.

#1  American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University campus

American InterContinental University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University campus

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

#5  Champlain College

Champlain College campus

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

#6  College of St Scholastica

College of St Scholastica campus

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

#7  Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  DePaul University

DePaul University campus

DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#9  Eastern Florida State College

Eastern Florida State College campus

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

#10  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

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

#11  Mercy College

Mercy College campus

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

#12  Middle Georgia State University

Middle Georgia State University campus

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

#13  National University

National University campus

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

#14  Park University

Park University campus

Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#15  Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

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

#16  Saint Cloud State University

Saint Cloud State University campus

Cloud State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#17  Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

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

#18  Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

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

#19  Troy University

Troy University campus

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

#20  Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University campus

Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#21  University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield campus

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

#22  University of Maine – Augusta

University of Maine at Augusta campus

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

#23  University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

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

#24  Washington State University

Washington State University campus

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

#25  Western Governors University

Western Governors University campus

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 access to great job options, and with many companies offering remote work in the sector, it can be a flexible and rewarding career.

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.