Millions of Americans use software applications on computers and other digital devices to enrich their daily lives. Major technology companies rely on software engineers' technical expertise for innovation. They work in many industries designing indispensable technologies, including computer applications, mobile apps, video games, and operating systems.
A bachelor's in software engineering prepares the next generation of inventors and innovators. Students develop expertise in areas such as programming languages, software design methods, and computer architecture and data structures. Graduates may experience stellar job prospects according to Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) projected data. Software developers with just a bachelor's degree and no experience earn a median annual salary of $107,510.
This guide provides information such as degree requirements, tuition costs, certifications, and scholarship opportunities for software engineering students.
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Common Questions Asked in Software Engineering Programs
What does it take to become a software engineer?
Software engineers hold at least a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related major. They need strong computer programming skills and hands-on experience.
How many years does it take to become a software engineer?
Freshmen typically complete a bachelor's in software engineering in four years. Students can accelerate degree completion by transferring credits from other colleges.
What is the salary of a software engineer?
A software engineer makes a $107,510 median annual salary, according to the BLS. Pay varies depending on factors such as experience level, location, and employer.
Are software engineers in demand?
The BLS projects a 22% job growth rate between 2019-2029. The projected job growth for all occupations stands at 4%.
Why Get a Degree in Software Engineering?
Graduates with a bachelor's in software engineering can enter a job market with good pay and employment growth prospects. Consumer demand drives a steady need for software developers. The software industry employed about 1.5 million developers in 2019, and the BLS projects a need for 316,000 more software engineers between 2019-2029.
Software engineers with expertise in coding languages such as Go and Scala enjoy among the greatest employer demand, according to job site Hired. Engineers with cloud engineering skills such as Google or Amazon Web Services (AWS) also fared well landing job interviews in 2020. Employers sought out software engineers with backend, full stack, and frontend experience the most.
Most software developers work for computer systems design, manufacturing, and software publishing companies.
How Much Does a Software Engineering Degree Cost?
An online bachelor's in software engineering's cost depends on factors such as school, location, and program length. A sampling of online software engineering programs shows students pay between $228-$688 per credit, or $29,184-$82,560 in total program tuition.Students can expect to pay more if they live out-of-state, but an increasing number of schools charge flat-rate tuition regardless of residency.
Online learners avoid relocation, transportation, and childcare costs. All degree-seekers must factor in costs for supplies such as books and computer technology. Learners can decrease tuition by completing general education credits at cheaper community colleges. Some four-year colleges offer generous transfer policies, allowing learners to transfer an associate degree or a block of credits to accelerate degree completion.
Prospective students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what financial aid they can use to pay for their education.
Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.
How Much Do Software Engineering Majors Make?
While software developers make a $107,510 median annual salary, professionals with the most experience make more than $164,590. The lowest 10% of software developers earn about $64,240. A closer look at BLS data shows the five top-paying states for software developers as Washington, $138,400; California, $137,620; New York, $122,300; Massachusetts, $119,790; and Washington, D.C., $119,630.
Employers place a premium on software engineers with machine learning experience. They earn a median salary of $113,000, according to March 2021 PayScale data. A machine learning engineer with just one year of experience earns a total compensation of $94,140.
Learners may want to consider other well-paying jobs for software engineers, including data scientist and cybersecurity engineer. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $96,000 and $97,000 respectively, according to March 2021 PayScale data.
Courses in Software Engineering
A bachelor's in software engineering prepares enrollees for careers in areas such as software development, database administration, and quality assurance. The curriculum gives learners a strong computer science background that blends theoretical and practical experience. Students complete between 120-128 credits covering topics such as C++ programming, system administration, software design, and mobile application development.
The best online software engineering programs include state-of-the-art laboratories where students can engage in hands-on projects from afar. Degree-seekers learn to use the industry's latest software development tools. Internships at Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms give students hands-on experience and the opportunity to network. Software engineering programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) ensure the highest standards.
The following lists three software engineering courses that represent a sample curriculum.
Introduction to Software EngineeringThis course introduces students to various elements and phases of the software design process. Participants explore topics such as user requirements, design and analysis, proposal management, and how to communicate with clients. Students learn how to turn wireframe designs into prototypes, and how to employ Agile software development methods.
Programming with JavaStudents learn the basics of Java programming to design, code, and debug programs. They explore topics such as elementary data structures, language syntax, object-oriented programming, and basic input and output.
Mobile Application DevelopmentThis course focuses on mobile application design and engineering techniques. Students learn how to use programming languages such as C++ to produce a functional app prototype. They learn about design principles, computer architecture, object-oriented programming, and the importance of user experience.
Certifications and Licensure for Software Engineering
Software engineering students use certifications to highlight their technical proficiencies. Certifications give job-seekers an edge in the job market because employers value these credentials. The following lists three certifications for software engineering students.
OCA certification helps build knowledge of Java and provides the foundation necessary for certification as a professional Java developer. Applicants complete beginner Java SE 8 training and pass the corresponding exam.
This certification demonstrates a developer's ability to use the C++ language in object-oriented programming. Applicants complete required training and pass an exam.
Software engineers with this credential know how to develop, deploy, and maintain AWS cloud-based applications. Applicants must hold at least one year of implementing AWS cloud solutions. They must complete a multiple-choice or multiple-response exam.
Scholarships for Software Engineering
Various organizations establish scholarships to help students pay for tuition and education-related expenses. Eligibility requirements vary depending on the scholarship and funding source. Criteria include students' academic performance and financial need. The following lists three scholarships for students pursuing software engineering bachelor's degrees.
Scholarships for Software Engineering
||Who Can Apply
Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship Program
|$40,000 plus internship
||Amazon established the fund to help underserved populations complete computer science degrees. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in software engineering or related field.
Google Lime Scholarship
||Google uses this scholarship program to help cultivate future innovators. Current undergraduates pursuing a computer science or software engineering degree qualify. Applicants must demonstrate leadership skills and strong academic performance.
Society of Women Engineers Scholarships
||SWE offers several scholarships for women pursuing degrees in engineering or computer science. Applicants must establish need, provide transcripts, and plan to attend an ABET-accredited undergraduate program on a full-time basis.
Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Programs 2021
#1 Online Software Engineering Degrees
Saint Leo University
- Saint Leo, FL
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Saint Leo University's academic offerings include respected, accessible online undergraduate programs. With a main campus in Florida, the private institution also educates students online. Enrollees who need flexible scheduling options can enroll in the bachelor's in software engineering program.
The virtual classroom environment allows distance learners to complete the program without commuting or relocating. Students in the online software engineering program complete assignments and participate in class discussions virtually. After completing core requirements, degree-seekers in the program gain specialized knowledge during advanced classes. After graduation, bachelor's degree holders can apply knowledge from their program to work in relevant entry-level careers.
For details about application deadlines and requirements, prospective applicants can contact an admissions advisor.
Saint Leo University Facts:
Total Bachelor's Programs: 46
Online Bachelor's Programs: 22
Students Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
Percentage of Learners Awarded Student Loans: 50%
Applies Transfer Credits: No
Percent Online Enrollment
Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Online Software Engineering Degrees
Penn State World Campus
- University Park, PA
- 4 years
The bachelor of science in software engineering program at Penn State World Campus is one of the top-ranked online programs in the field. The public institution offers traditional programs at its University Park campus and a variety of online bachelor's programs. The online learning format appeals to students balancing school with work and other responsibilities.
During the online bachelor's program, majors take general education courses, electives, and advanced software engineering classes. Students work closely with faculty mentors and academic advisors to individualize their degree based on their interests and career goals. The school's online services, including tutoring, financial aid advising, and career counseling, help distance learners complete the program.
Online learners enrolled at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs like the Pell Grant. Students can also use scholarships, grants, and loans to pay for their degree.
Penn State World Campus Fast Facts:
Total Bachelor's Programs: 67
Online Bachelor's Programs: 67
Percent of Applicants Accepted: 76%
Student Graduation Percentage: 71%
Permits Transfer Credits: No
Percent Online Enrollment
Middle States Commission on Higher Education