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Without software, computers are just pricey paperweights. Software engineers design the programs that allow computer hardware to actually do something useful – from making a video game character jump to helping a plane make a safe landing in a storm. Earning a college degree can help technology-minded individuals break into this in-demand profession – and online programs can make the process more convenient and affordable. Keep reading for an in-depth look at online software engineering degrees and the career paths that may follow.  

Best Online Software Engineering Programs 2018-2019

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Online software engineering programs allow students to work towards their degree while meeting other time obligations and learning valuable skills to excel in this field. To help students enter this field with the proper credentials, many schools now offer software engineering programs with online learning opportunities. We’ve ranked schools all over the country based on our comprehensive methodology to help students choose the best program that meets their personal and academic needs. Explore the top online software engineering programs for 2018 here.

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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Altierus Career College Tampa, Florida$12,7293%75% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Alterius Career College offers a 12-month Computer Information Technology diploma program which is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Graduates will gain the skills needed to install, troubleshoot and administer both hardware and software. They will also comprehend the professional, legal, ethical and security concerns that impact IT administration. This program is hybrid, requiring 1 day a week at the campus in either Norcross, GA or Houston Bissonnet, TX. Additional coursework offered through TestOut® lab simulations will provide students with real world experience and training. The curriculum requires a total of 240 lecture hours and 80 lab hours in the following classes: Computer Networking Fundamentals, IT Helpdesk Support, Computer Hardware Concepts, Computer Ethics, Intro to Linux/Unix, Network Infrastructure and A+: PC Operating Systems The curriculum also includes employer-desired certification preparation and a voucher for the CompTIA A+ exam. New programs start every 5 weeks, allowing a student to begin when it suits their life and schedule. When on campus, students will have access to resources such as the library resource center and computers, tutoring and bookstore.

School website
2 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, Illinois$9,49385%52% 1 Yes Yes Yes

The Department of Computer Science at University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) offers an online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science for aspiring software engineers. Bachelor's and master's degrees are offered on-campus and online, should a student wish to continue their graduate studies at this same institution. UIS offers 1,681 majors online and computer science is among the top enrolled programs. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Computer science is the core of the 120 hour curriculum, with 36 credit hours in courses such as Data Structures and Algorithms, Foundations of Computer Science and Programming Languages. All online learners must complete 30 hours of 300-400 level courses at UIS. To further UIS' spirit of educating public servants and leaders, students are required to view a minimum of 4 ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience) speakers series events which encourage students to be active and engaged citizens. Applicants must complete a provided statement of purpose form, have a minimum 2.0 GPA , 2 semesters of Java Programming Experience and 1 semester of each of the following: Statistics, Calculus and Discrete or Finite Math. If students don't meet these requirements they are able to take them at UIS. International students and students with extensive work experience may have different admission requirements. Before registering, students should contact their advisor to map out their course of study and determine which 12 hours of electives (3 courses) they would like, based on their area of interest.

School website
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia$15,10588%55% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Liberty University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology through the School of Business. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Liberty is well versed with online education as it has had distance learning programs since the mid 1980's. There are 4 concentrations to choose from depending on where you would like to take your career: Application and Database Development, Data Networking and Security, Gaming Design, and Web and Mobile Programming. Each concentration will take 120 total hours and typically 4 years to complete and half of major and related courses must be taken at Liberty. You must have a 2.0 GPA and a grade of C for all upper level courses in your major. Courses at Liberty are eight weeks long and there are eight different start dates each year. Students can log in when they choose, offering a great degree of flexibility to schedule their course work around their life. Liberty is an evangelical university and they "Train Champions for Christ." 12 credit hours are required in classes such as Survey of Old & New Testament and Christian Life & Biblical Worldview. Online students can become immersed in the university culture by joining the social media community Yammer. Yammer provides the potential to network with other students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In addition, students have access to webinars and tutorials to help them navigate the registration process, student resources, dropping and adding courses, and other administrative functions.

School website
4 Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska$6,84062%32% 3 No No Yes

Bellevue University's Bachelor of Science in Software Development is designed for someone who is currently a computer programmer and/or lacks the necessary credentials and experience needed to take their career to the next level. Bellevue works with area businesses, experts in the field and IT employers to gain a solid understanding of what employers are looking for, thereby confirming that graduates have the skills needed to excel in this field. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The project management coursework allows for certification in the CompTIA Project+. Online learners have the opportunity to participate in online forums with their peers, access online tutoring and have access to support tools, library resources and tech support services. Students will learn programming by practicing with applications such as Java and Ruby on Rails. Applicants must have one of the following to apply to this program: Associate degree, 1 year of computer programming experience or a minimum of 60 semester hours with a minimum grade of C- from an accredited institution of higher learning. A student must complete 36 credit hour requirements in the major. Credits may be earned at Bellevue or another institution. Potential classes include Business Telecommunications and Information Security and Database Connectivity. To obtain a Bachelor's Degree, a student must also take general education classes and electives for a total of 127 credits. In addition, all Bellevue students must complete the Kirkpatrick signature series which is a total of 9 credits that focuses on US specific topics such as citizenship and American democracy. Bellevue University is an open admissions school, therefore, contact an admissions counselor to see if you have the solid understanding of computing necessary to enroll in this program.

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5 Troy University Troy, Alabama$7,22457%39% 1 Yes Yes Yes

At Troy University, you can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science degree entirely online or in a hybrid format. Whether you wish to prepare yourself with useful technological skills to enter the workforce, or plan to continue your education in graduate school, Troy has a highly diverse computer science program for you. Even with a large student body of over 18,000, Troy offers a synchronous cohort learning program with small classes, various science organizations, weekly study groups, and other beneficial organized online or in-person learning activities. Unlike many other computer science programs, Troy often requires students to work in groups to complete projects. These special team-based projects include training and exploration in video game design, cell phone apps, web applications and graphic design in digital media. You will need 120 credit hours to complete this bachelor's degree, including general studies courses, the major and minor core curricula and the appropriate electives. Most full-time students can complete the degree in about 4 years. Graduates of Troy's applied computer science program move on to careers such as software engineers, business intelligence analysts, database administrators, web developers, information security analysts and data warehousing specialists. For incoming students with previous college credit, the Academic Evaluation Center will determine if any or all of your credit can transfer toward your B.S. degree at Troy. You may also earn academic credit through Credit by Examination, including DANTES, CLEP general and subject exams, the International Baccalaureate exam, and Advanced International Certificate of Education exams. You can also earn credit for previous learning experience including military service, state recognized police and corrections academies, and certificates or coursework recognized by the American Council on Education.

School website
6 University of Florida Gainesville, Florida$4,47729%88% 1 Yes Yes Yes

The University of Florida's 100% online bachelor's degree in computer science is a great way for any budding software engineer to get their start. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. UF online students pay a special online tuition price. This is a 120-credit program that should take a student about 4 years to complete, assuming they're taking a full course load. Full-time attendance is None, however. Students are free to complete the program at their own pace, taking as few as 3 credits per semester and even taking 1 semester off entirely without penalty. Like campus-based students, online students at the University of Florida work closely with advisors to tailor their college experience and are eligible for an array of financial aid options including loans, grants and scholarships. Before applying, applicants must meet UF Online's prerequisites, which include a minimum 2.0 high school GPA and acceptable SAT or ACT scores. To graduate, students must maintain a C average while completing all 120 required credits. Graduates of this program have gone on to careers spanning the technological spectrum. All students are encouraged to delve into how to solve computational problems paving the way to careers including computer programmer, computer systems analyst, and information systems manager.

School website
7 University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, Wisconsin$7,01418%55% 2 Yes Yes Yes

The University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technologies. This program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is in collaboration with Wisconsin Technical Colleges. This is 1 of 15 online programs offered at UW-Stout, a polytechnic university with a career-focused mission. Of the total 9,600 students enrolled, 2,000 are online students learning in 49 states and 20 countries around the globe. Each online student at UW-Stout has an advisor and program director. Additinally, online learners have free online tutoring and a writing lab where they can receive valuable feedback. In order to graduate from this program, a student needs 120 credits: 32 of which must be from UW-Stout. The credits are broken down as follows: 40 credit in general education, 25 in professional studies, 15-24 in the elective track or minor (online minors include computer networking systems and design, web technology, and enterprise technology), and 40 credits in technical specialty or transfer. It is estimated that over 99% of online learners in the programs transfer in prior credit. An A.A.S. or A.S degree in a field related to the major is desirable. Effective fall 2018, there will be an information security management minor available as well.

School website
8 Park University Parkville, Missouri$11,73049%27% 1 Yes Yes Yes

For those looking to become a software engineer, Park University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems. Park University is a private, liberal arts, four-year school and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Park's degree program provides the potential to work in a variety of sectors including government, nonprofit and business. Students must select one of the following minors: business administration/management, geographical information systems, graphic design, leadership, organizational communication and statistics. This degree requires a minimum of 120 credit hours to graduate (at least 36 credit hours must be upper-division, 300 or 400-level) and a cumulative GPA of 2.0. A student is required to earn a minimum of 30 credit hours at Park; including 63 hours of degree-specific core curriculum courses and 39 business core courses. Most students complete the degree in 4 years, but for those with a tighter time table, there are accelerated 8-week terms available. Students are offered 5 start dates throughout the year, allowing them to fit it into their individual schedule. Park University has a strong military commitment, as illustrated by the discounted tuition rate for those currently serving and transfer credit for prior military training and experience. Park University's Zero Textbook Cost program provides students studying online free electronic textbooks. Park's Academic Support Center is free and open to all, offering subject and area tutoring, writing help, online writing resources and the step up mentoring program which allows students to work one on one with a mentor.

School website
9 Murray State University Murray, Kentucky$7,29671%53% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Murray State University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) have partnered to offer a 100% online Bachelor of Science in Business Computer Information Systems. KCTCS offers all of the lower-level requirements for the degrees and the degree is then finished online through Murray State. This program is Accredited by AACSB-International: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Computer Information Systems program is two-fold as it is a business degree and a technology degree. Students have a wide range of career possibilities including managing projects, creating new software, training users and designing systems. The emphasis is on both people and machines as team work and people skills are encouraged. Potential careers include e-commerce developer, systems analyst, technical sales and computer operations manager in a wide range of industries including insurance, education, and service industries. Total hours of study at Murray State is 42 which includes 20 hours of business core courses including Principles of Finance, Fundamentals of Operations, and Strategic Management. 13 hours of Computer Information Systems Courses including Topics in Information Systems, E-Business Programming, and Advanced Database Management Systems. Murray requires 9 hours of Computer Information Systems Electives including Systems Planning and Enterprise Resource Planning. Finally, Murray requires a 2.0 Cumulative GA to graduate.

School website
10 Davenport University Grand Rapids, Michigan$17,54493%41% 3 Yes Yes Yes

Founded in 1866, Davenport University is a private, not-for-profit university with online degree programs and multiple campuses throughout Michigan. As an online or on-campus student, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. With this degree you are prepared to work with and adapt to new progressive technologies and use them to solve real-world problems. You will take foundational courses in algorithmic and applied theoretical methods and focus on areas such as computer vision, artificial intelligence, modeling and simulation. If you have a desire to create and write software and work independently or with a team, a degree in computer science from Davenport may be a good fit for you. Davenport graduates move on to work at notable companies in the computing industry, including Google, Apple and Microsoft. Additionally, this degree prepares you for specialized work in finance, telecommunications, education, and the automotive industry. Students at Davenport choose between concentrations in artificial intelligence, computer architecture and algorithms and gaming simulation. You must complete 120 credit hours to graduate, which takes most full-time students 4 years to complete. To be extra competitive in the job market, some Davenport students also pick up the recommended, but None, minor in mathematics. Additional degrees in the computer science field are also available online through Davenport, including Bachelor's of Science degrees in Digital Forensics, Technology Project Management, Cyber Defense, Network Management and Security and Computer Information Systems. Transfer students may earn university credit through prior experiential learning, certification programs such as the College-Level Examination (CLEP), DANTES, Credit by Exam programs and military experience. Davenport also accepts transfer credits from accredited programs which they evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

School website
11 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, Nebraska$7,79049%50% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
12 Dakota State University Madison, South Dakota$4,29776%43% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
13 George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia$4,53029%70% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
14 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, Colorado$15,68399%41% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
15 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, Utah$5,7801%19% 3 No No Yes School website
16 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, Florida$22,400100%43% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
17 National University La Jolla, California$13,0164%50% 1 Yes Yes No School website
18 Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon$8,71567%67% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
19 Pennsylvania State University-Worldwide University Park, Pennsylvania$16,95235%87% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
20 Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia$6,33065%55% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
21 Fort Hays State University Hays, Kansas$3,78973%44% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
22 California State University-Monterey Bay Seaside, California$5,47245%48% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
23 East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina$4,36542%61% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
24 Granite State College Concord, New Hampshire$7,2006%21% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
25 Broward College Fort Lauderdale, Florida$1,94412%- 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
26 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, Maryland$6,81611%10% 1 No No Yes School website
27 New Mexico State University-Main Campus Las Cruces, New Mexico$4,95661%51% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
28 Baker College Flint, Michigan$9,00080%18% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
29 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, New York$17,77283%32% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
30 Miami Dade College Miami, Florida$1,98323%- 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
31 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, Colorado$8,400-- 1 No No Yes School website
32 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, Maine$6,51040%15% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
33 Virginia International University Fairfax, Virginia$9,408-- 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
34 Limestone College Gaffney, South Carolina$23,90097%29% 3 Yes Yes Yes School website
35 Franklin University Columbus, Ohio$11,856-16% 2 No No Yes School website
36 Brandman University Irvine, California$12,000-- 1 No No Yes School website
37 Peirce College Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$13,87294%- 1 No No Yes School website
38 Hodges University Naples, Florida$13,20020%25% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
39 City University of Seattle Seattle, Washington$16,748-- 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Western Nebraska Community College Scottsbluff, Nebraska$2,28073%25%2Yes No Yes School website
2 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, Indiana$4,05511%11%10Yes Yes Yes School website
3 Garden City Community College Garden City, Kansas$1,82444%31%1Yes No Yes School website
4 Lone Star College System The Woodlands, Texas$2,73610%8%4Yes Yes Yes School website
5 Metropolitan Community College Omaha, Nebraska$2,62531%13%2Yes Yes Yes School website
6 Central Community College Grand Island, Nebraska$2,52034%32%3Yes Yes Yes School website
7 Lamar Community College Lamar, Colorado$3,28866%42%1Yes Yes Yes School website
8 Pitt Community College Winterville, North Carolina$1,82416%10%4Yes Yes Yes School website
9 North Hennepin Community College Brooklyn Park, Minnesota$3,9223%13%3Yes Yes Yes School website
10 Collin County Community College District McKinney, Texas$2,4603%13%2Yes Yes Yes School website
11 Sheridan College Sheridan, Wyoming$2,13654%30%1Yes No Yes School website
12 Sinclair Community College Dayton, Ohio$3,16944%16%3Yes Yes Yes School website
13 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown, North Carolina$2,1284%13%3Yes Yes Yes School website
14 Central Texas College Killeen, Texas$2,94019%9%3Yes Yes Yes School website
15 Stark State College North Canton, Ohio$2,79619%7%3Yes Yes Yes School website
16 San Joaquin Delta College Stockton, California$1,104-31%1Yes Yes Yes School website
17 Clark State Community College Springfield, Ohio$2,91237%13%2Yes Yes Yes School website
18 Cerro Coso Community College Ridgecrest, California$1,2881%25%2Yes Yes Yes School website
19 Mesa Community College Mesa, Arizona$2,06425%13%1Yes Yes Yes School website
20 Southwestern Community College Sylva, North Carolina$2,1289%30%1Yes Yes Yes School website
21 Minnesota State College Southeast Winona, Minnesota$4,969-26%2Yes Yes Yes School website
22 Jefferson State Community College Birmingham, Alabama$3,51015%8%3Yes Yes Yes School website
23 Cincinnati State Cincinnati, Ohio$3,56719%12%1Yes Yes Yes School website
24 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, Minnesota$4,8247%34%2Yes Yes Yes School website
25 Calhoun Community College Tanner, Alabama$3,51021%15%1Yes Yes Yes School website
26 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, Wisconsin$3,96512%46%1Yes Yes Yes School website
27 Southeast Technical Institute Sioux Falls, South Dakota$2,83417%44%1Yes Yes Yes School website
28 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, Wisconsin$4,17117%59%1Yes Yes Yes School website
29 Murray State College Tishomingo, Oklahoma$3,58470%30%1Yes Yes Yes School website
30 Finger Lakes Community College Canandaigua, New York$4,3684%24%1Yes Yes Yes School website
31 Bristol Community College Fall River, Massachusetts$5761%21%2Yes Yes Yes School website
32 Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, Virginia$4,89019%23%1Yes Yes Yes School website
33 SUNY Ulster Stone Ridge, New York$4,33025%31%1Yes Yes Yes School website
34 Trident Technical College Charleston, South Carolina$4,4612%11%1Yes Yes Yes School website
35 Northern Essex Community College Haverhill, Massachusetts$6005%20%3Yes Yes Yes School website
36 Ocean County College Toms River, New Jersey$4,0501%34%1Yes Yes Yes School website
37 Rappahannock Community College Glenns, Virginia$4,13325%28%1Yes No Yes School website
38 Quinsigamond Community College Worcester, Massachusetts$5767%17%1Yes Yes Yes School website
39 Roane State Community College Harriman, Tennessee$3,7447%18%1Yes Yes Yes School website
40 Front Range Community College Westminster, Colorado$3,2887%20%2Yes Yes Yes School website
41 Arapahoe Community College Littleton, Colorado$3,28818%20%1Yes Yes Yes School website
42 Clovis Community College Clovis, New Mexico$1,0088%40%3No No Yes School website
43 San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino, California$8,00045%19%3No Yes Yes School website
44 Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem, North Carolina$1,906-15%7No Yes Yes School website
45 Odessa College Odessa, Texas$3,14429%20%1No Yes Yes School website
46 Trinity Valley Community College Athens, Texas$1,08035%21%3No Yes Yes School website
47 Rio Salado College Tempe, Arizona$2,0641%4%1No Yes Yes School website
48 Mt San Antonio College Walnut, California$1,288-32%2No Yes Yes School website
49 Bladen Community College Dublin, North Carolina$2,1287%11%2No No Yes School website
50 Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, North Carolina$2,4322%13%1No Yes Yes School website

National Median Annual Salary & Job Growth For Software Engineering

The bureau of labor statistics provides the following data about job growth in the Software Engineering industry. As well as the following national median salary data for several different careers in the field of Software Engineering.

Career National Job Growth(2014-2024) National Median Annual Salary (May 2014) Minimum Education
Computer Systems Analyst 21% $82,710 Bachelor’s degree
Computer Hardware Engineer 3% $108,430 Bachelor’s degree
Computer Network Architect 9% $98,430 Bachelor’s degree
Computer Programmer -8% $77,550 Bachelor’s degree
Database Administrator 11% $80,280 Bachelor’s degree

EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME A SOFTWARE ENGINEER

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Software Engineer’s Milestone Map

Those who earn online software engineering degrees have numerous professional paths available to them. Here’s a sample path that a hardworking software engineer could take.

High School

Takes a computer programming class and advanced math classes

Undergrad Degree

Obtains Bachelor of Science in software engineering

College Internship

Takes summer job at tech startup and learns how mobile apps are developed

Entry-Level Job

Writes computer code under the direction of senior software engineer

Graduate Degree

Obtains online master’s degree in software engineering

Promotion

Becomes lead software engineer and receives CODiE award

Earning a Software Engineering Degree Online

Those who attend an online software engineering program receive the same quality education as a traditional student, yet have the advantages of distance learning flexibility. Most online software engineering programs are 100 percent online with no need to travel to the school’s campus. The programs are often self-paced, allowing students to complete their degree as quickly or slowly as they choose. This not only offers an ideal, personalized learning environment, but allows the student to continue working in their established job while obtaining the degree.

Fittingly, the educational content in software engineering programs is delivered using innovative and advanced software. Distance learning software programs and suites make it possible for students to receive the same lectures and class materials that their on-campus counterparts get while attending class in person. Students can watch class lectures on their own time table, whether it’s live or in the middle of the night, and they can interact with other students and professors via chat rooms, message boards and video conferencing.

Software Engineering Degree Options

Even though there are several degree options available for those seeking an online software engineering degree, the predominant online degree can be found at the graduate level, either as a master’s degree or certificate. Online software engineering degrees can be found at other levels, but they are relatively rare.

  • Certificate
    (1 year)
  • Associate’s
    (2 years)
  • Bachelor’s
    (4 years)
  • Master’s
    (2 years)
  • Doctorate
    (4+ years)

Most online certificates in software engineering are intended for those who are already working in the field and have software engineering work experience. Most certificate curriculums are for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering (or a related area), but desire additional knowledge of software engineering concepts.

Each school has its own unique certificate program, but typical certificate programs consist of four to six classes totaling about 10 to 18 credits. In order to get an online software engineering certificate, students will need a strong background in computer programming in modern languages such as C++ or Java. Depending on the certificate program, students may also need a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of computer science or software engineering courses.

Students seeking an associate degree in software engineering need to be willing to attend a traditional, on-campus program, as online associate degrees in engineering are extremely rare. However, there are some related online programs available, such as software technology, information technology or computer technology.

Online software engineering bachelor’s degrees are relatively rare. As is true with most other bachelor’s degrees (both online and traditional), students can complete their online degree in four years; accelerated classes might cut that time down a bit. In addition to software engineering coursework, students can expect general education classes as a part of their curriculum.

The vast majority of online software engineering degrees can be found at the master’s level. A master’s degree is ideal for those who already have an undergraduate degree in software engineering, computer science or a similar program. Most master’s students will also have at least several years of experience in the software engineering industry. By getting their master’s degree, these software engineers will obtain specialized computer engineering instruction and therefore be able to take on more in-depth projects, possibly helping to advance their career.

Taking about two years and usually accumulating to 36 credits, the curriculum for an online master’s software engineering degree consists of classes such as advanced software design concepts, advanced operating systems and database software design. There is also usually opportunity for students to take a few electives to gain additional knowledge in subjects of their choice.

The curriculum is designed to allow students to continue working full-time while completing their degree in two years. However, some programs allow for accelerated coursework, which means students can complete their master’s degree in as little as one year. In addition to traditional coursework, a large number of programs also require students to conduct a software engineering project in order to complete their degree.

Online doctoral degrees in software engineering are rare. Of the doctoral level degrees that are available online, they are in areas related to software engineering, such as computer science with a concentration in software development or computer engineering.

Software Engineering Courses You Are Likely to Take

Even though each school has its own curriculum for students and flexibility in their specific course load, there are commonly found courses in the typical online software engineering program.

Database Design

This class will delve into the process of developing relational databases by incorporating user needs and software and hardware limitations.

Human-Computer Communications

The theoretical concepts and techniques of how humans and computers interact are examined in this class. Students will learn fundamental principles for creating and designing the most efficient computer-human interfaces.

Software Systems

The basic principles and theories of major software architectures and design are studied here. Both scientific and mathematical concepts and how they form the basis of software creation and logic are covered.

Artificial Intelligence

In this class, students learn advanced artificial concepts such as problem solving and algorithms and apply them to real world situations such as voice recognition and natural language comprehension.

Internet Security Protocols

The most recent industry standards as they apply to protection of networked information will be covered in this course. Encryption, firewall and other protection protocols will be discussed.

Choosing an Online School for Software Engineering

There are plenty of online software engineering degree programs to choose from, so narrowing down a list of schools to apply to and attend requires some time and effort. Some of the traditional criteria for choosing a school, such as location, weather and campus facilities, are rather a moot point with distance learning. The below list will provide a few steps to take in deciding where to apply.

  • Confirm your school of choice is accredited.Even though most software engineering programs are not accredited by ABET, at the very least the school itself should have regional or national accreditation.
  • Figure out the admission requirements.Is a certain degree needed for acceptance? If not, do you need a certain amount of work experience or have taken a certain number of computer and programming classes? Is an admissions test required, such as the GRE?
  • Ask to meet with an academic or admissions advisor.Even if you have no questions, it’s still worth the time to speak with an advisor to make sure your understanding of the online software engineering program is correct. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • Determine an area of study you’re interested in.Formal specializations aren’t common in online software engineering programs. However, most schools provide opportunities for their software engineering students to take classes or work on projects in specific areas of academic interest. Make sure your school of choice will allow you to take courses in areas you’re interested in.
  • Research the alumni network and career services department.Even if you will already have a job at graduation, a school with a more extensive and well-developed alumni network can provide additional professional opportunities for you.
  • Figure out how you’re going to pay for your degree. Will your employer provide tuition reimbursement assistance? Will you be eligible for financial aid or merit-based scholarships? See what’s available and how much it will defray your cost of attendance.

The High Value of Accreditation

Any degree takes a great deal of effort to complete. One way to make sure this effort is worthwhile is to confirm that the educational institution is accredited. Accreditation ensures that the institution granting the degree meets certain educational standards.

Accreditation usually takes place at the geographic or program level. At the program level, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the preeminent engineering program accrediting body. However, very few online software engineering programs are accredited by ABET. Instead, the schools offering the online degree or certificate in software engineering are more often accredited at the regional or national level.

To determine which regional or national organization has accredited a given software engineering program, check out the US Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Beginning the Enrollment Process: Master’s Degree

The application process can take several months and require many steps. The below chart will discuss what some of these steps are and when you should take them. Because a master’s degree is the most common, we’ve focused on applying to an online master’s degree program.

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Earn a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science or a related field.

5 or more years
Step 2

Gain real world experience by working in the software engineering industry.

1 or more years
Step 3

Take the GRE

About 1 year
Step 4

Complete and submit admission applications

Varies, but usually about 6 to 9 months

Step 5

Finish filling out the FAFSA so that financial aid determinations can be made by the government or school.

About 9 months

Perhaps you know which degree you want and even have that dream school you’re eyeing. How can you make sure you get accepted, or at the very least make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting in?

  • Study hard for the GRE, assuming the schools you’re applying to recommend or require it.
  • Join and get involved in a professional organization such as IEEE and the IAENG Society of Software Engineering.
  • Take computer programming and advanced math classes (like Calculus) in high school.
  • Get a software engineering or computer science bachelor’s degree.
  • Gain real world software engineering experience.
  • Get published in a software or computer engineering oriented publication.

Possible Careers for Software Engineering Students

Those who graduate with a degree in software engineering don’t necessarily have to become a software engineer. The skills and knowledge gained during the degree pursuit lend themselves well to other, related professions. Here are just a few.

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work with organizations, businesses and even government entities to help them work more efficiently with their computer and information systems.

Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers design and develop the physical hardware and ensure it will work with a variety of computer software.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design computer networks using the parameters and instructions provide by their customers.

Computer Programmer

Using the directions from software developers, computer programmers actually write the computer code to create the software.

Database Administrator

Database administrators store, manage, secure and organize data using specialized database software.

Software Engineering Certifications


There are dozens, if not hundreds, of certifications available for computer engineers. Some of the certifications are application or programming code specific while others are more general. Below is a list of several of the more widely known certifications.

Technology Degrees in Related Subjects

Getting a software engineering degree or certificate isn’t the only way to work with a computer or software. These degrees might make a great alternative to those who don’t necessarily want to move into software engineering, but do prefer to work in a related field.

Online Data Science Degrees:

Most commonly found at the master’s level, the data science degree takes ideas from many different areas, such as statistics, data mining and computer science. The data science degree teaches students the theories, principles and concepts that allow them to find useful information and compile applicable conclusions from various sources of data.

Online Computer Programming Degrees:

Generally obtained at the undergraduate level, a computer programming degree will teach students the basics of computer coding. Students can expect to learn the fundamental concepts of programming as well as how to code in a variety of programming languages.

Online Web Development Degrees:

Largely studied at the bachelor’s level, a web development degree will allow graduates to learn the ins and outs of creating content for the Internet. From the basics of common programming languages to concepts and ideas for creating the most compelling web content, a web development degree will teach students how to be a part of this growing industry.

Software Engineering Resource List