Software engineering students will learn to evaluate clients' software needs, upgrade existing programs, and collaborate with other engineers. Software engineering requires a unique blend of creativity and technical skills, and students should look for programs that encourage creative thinking through project-based or interdisciplinary classes. Prospective students should also take accreditation into account when choosing an online software engineering degree. Reviewing our top online colleges offering bachelor's degrees or our top online colleges offering master's degrees in software engineering lists may be helpful in choosing a school. In these two lists, programs are ranked by tuition rates and alumni salaries which were provided by PayScale.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degrees
Ranked based on affordability and earning potential, these 7 schools offer the best online bachelor's degrees in software engineering. Arizona State University is the #1 school, with an average alumni salary of $123,800 and an average annual tuition of only $15,900 for their BS in Software Engineering. Hodges University, ranked #2, offers an annual tuition of only $20,700.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
Arizona State University, spread across five campuses in and around the city of Phoenix, offers a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering that incorporates both classroom learning and student projects each semester. The curriculum focuses on computing, engineering, software construction, communication, critical thinking, and project leadership. The degree can be earned fully online, and learning is asynchronous. A total of 120 credits are required to complete the degree. Students can enroll in up to 19 credits for the spring and fall semesters and seven credits for summer sessions; this schedule makes degree completion possible in as little as three years. Previously earned credits can be transferred, but at least 30 must be earned at ASU. The program is comprised of 41 classes, with each class lasting 7.5-15 weeks. Two capstone projects are required toward the end of the program. A standard PC or laptop is recommended, as ASU’s online learning management system is not fully compatible with mobile devices. Student services for distance learners at ASU include academic support and advising, career development, and financial advising. Wellness support, such as holistic wellness, stress management, and conflict resolution are also available. Applicants with fewer than 12 college credits are considered freshmen. They must have graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class, have a minimum 3.0 GPA in competency classes, or have an ACT score of 22 (24 for non-residents) or an SAT score of 1120 (1180 for non-residents). ACT/SAT scores are required for both scholarship consideration and course placement.
#2 Hodges University
Annual Tuition: $20,700
Median Salary: $101,800
Locations: Naples (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
With campuses in Naples and Fort Myers, Florida, Hodges University offers a Bachelor of Science in Software Development. Students learn to develop user experiences for both online use and mobile applications, and they gain an in-depth understanding of complex software processes. Courses can be taken either fully online or through a blended format. Students can add program industry certifications such as Linux+, Network+, Security+, Network+, CCNA, and others. A total of 120 credits are required to complete the degree, at least 30 of which must be earned at HU. Students can expect to spend four years of full-time study in the program. Monthly course start dates are available. Learning is generally asynchronous, but real-time conferences may be part of the program as well. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas online management system and includes peer interaction, recorded lectures, instant messaging, and other tools for learning and interacting with fellow students and faculty. Online students at HU have access to academic advising, career services, counseling and advocacy, on-campus employer recruitment, online job boards, and more. An online orientation program is available to help students get acquainted with these services and many other aspects of Hodges University. Applicants must have a standard high school diploma or equivalent. They must submit transcripts – including SAT/ACT scores, financial aid documents, identification documents, and an admissions essay. Hodges University has a 96 percent admissions rate.
#3 Bellevue University
Annual Tuition: $13,600
Median Salary: $94,000
Locations: Bellevue (NE)
Bellevue University, a private institution located in Bellevue, Nebraska, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Software Development. In this cohort program, students obtain an in-depth understanding of software design, applications, and coding, and they learn to design, build, and maintain critical systems. The curriculum includes hands-on experience working with web applications, Java, SQL, and Ruby on Rails. The program is designed for computer programmers seeking to advance their career through a bachelor’s degree, or for those who need the credentials and experience to work as software engineers and developers. Class size is limited to 24, and students have 24/7 access to support tools and tech support. BU also offers online tutoring and writing assistance. Coursework can be completed fully online, and learning is asynchronous. A total of 127 credits are required to complete the degree: 36 in general education, 36 in the major, and 55 in electives. Student services available to online learners include academic advising, bookstore, career development services, tutoring and study skills program, test and writing centers, library access, interactive math and science labs, and more. Applicants to the program should have an associate degree or 60 college credits, with a minimum grade of C-. All transcripts should be provided. Students who do not meet this requirement can build credits at Bellevue University. Applicants who do not have college credits but have a year or more of computer programming experience may also be admitted.
#4 Southern New Hampshire University Online
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Median Salary: $88,700
Locations: Manchester (NH)
Located in the town of Hooksett, Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in software engineering. Students learn UX/UI design and development, coding, software reverse engineering, and more. Courses cover computer languages such as Java, Python, MongoDB, and C++ as well as how to work with platforms like Linux, Windows, and various mobile systems. The program offers flexible term starts with six 8-week sessions per year. Learning is fully online and asynchronous, so students can access coursework whenever and wherever it is convenient for them. However, weekly deadlines are part of the curriculum. Online learning includes papers, individual and group projects, presentations, labs, and more. Online students are assigned an academic advisor who acquaints them with the university and the available resources that will be most helpful to their area of study. A total of 121 credits are required to complete the degree, and up to 90 credits can be transferred from a previously-obtained associate degree. The software engineering concentration is comprised of four courses for a total of 12 credits. Those applying for an undergraduate program at SNHU need to submit a transcript release form any schools they have attended, and an attestation stating that they have a high school diploma or GED. There are no minimum GPA requirements; higher GPAs may make scholarships more accessible, while lower GPAs may mean the student is admitted on a provisional basis or placed in smaller classes with more support.
#5 Champlain College
Annual Tuition: $9,540
Median Salary: $87,400
Locations: Burlington (VT)
Champlain College offers an online Bachelor of Science in Software Development. The program is designed for working adults who wish to augment their skills and knowledge in software development in order to move forward at their current place of employment or seek new employment opportunities. The degree covers a wide range of software, technical programs, and programming languages. Students can earn a certificate in one of four specializations: Java programming, Visual C#, C++ programming, or software development. Both part-time and full-time study options are available. The degree program has three semesters per year, with two 7-week terms per semester. No residency is required; all coursework is completed online, and students have 24/7 access to course materials. Students should plan to spend one to 17 hours per course per week. A total of 120 credits are required to complete the degree, with up to 90 credits from prior coursework transferrable. All students are assigned an academic advisor who assists with course choices, tutoring, career development, library services, the online classroom environment, and more. Real-time tutoring is available 24/7, and on-demand tutorials are available in a number of subjects. Applicants must have either an associate degree or a high school diploma or equivalent. Champlain College is a test-optional institution, but students may submit SAT/ACT scores if they wish. Homeschooled students and first-time applicants need to provide high school transcripts. Those who have taken AP courses with exams may be able to apply them for credits toward their degree.
#6 Saint Leo University Online
Annual Tuition: $11,100
Median Salary: $86,900
Locations: St. Leo (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering at Saint Leo University teaches students the skills needed for software development at an institution designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Administration (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The curriculum includes 120 hours of coursework in C++, Java, and Python programming, operating systems, mobile application development, and IT and project management. Students receive a foundational education in computer hardware, networks, databases, and architecture. Students of the online Software Engineering Degree program practice and refine the skills and techniques learned through coursework through virtual access to Saint Leo’s cybersecurity lab. Each eight-week class is completed entirely online, with course content typically consisting of required readings, class discussions, research and writing assignments, and quizzes and exams. Online students have access to a number of virtual support services, including tutoring, library resources, and 24/7 technical support. Applicants are required to submit high school and any post-secondary education transcripts to be considered for admission, which is offered on a rolling basis six times a year.
#7 Park University
Annual Tuition: $12,450
Median Salary: $83,400
Locations: Parkville (MO)
Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Information and Computer Science at Park University receive a foundational education in the discipline complemented with advanced instruction in their area of specialty. The Software Development concentration includes instruction in both the theoretical concepts and the practical applications of web programming, user interface design, computer systems analysts, and data structures. Though not required, participation in an internship is strongly encouraged and is facilitated through the university’s Career Development Center. Applicants are required to submit an official high school or, if applicable, college transcript reflecting a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in all college-level coursework. Each term of the 120-credit hour program runs eight weeks, and all course content is delivered and completed through the Canvas online learning platform. Coursework is facilitated asynchronously with no set log in times, though most courses set specific due dates for assignments, discussions, quizzes, and other components of the class. Online students are provided a number of support services and resources, including virtual tutoring and mentoring, writing support, online inter-library loan checkout, virtual database access, and 24/7 technical support.
Online Software Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information
Online degree programs in software engineering are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Associate programs are two-year degrees that give individuals a basic foundation in software engineering skills, preparing graduates to enter baccalaureate programs or gain entry-level positions.
Bachelor's degree programs will prepare students to find work as a software engineer in the fields of software application engineering, computer system administration, security systems, video game creation, and many others, while master's degree programs are available for professionals who want to update their skill set or move into more project management or managerial roles.
Online doctoral degrees in software engineering will prepare professionals to conduct advanced research or teach at the university level. Graduate certificates in software engineering are also available, and can help students decide whether to pursue a full master's degree.
Certificate coursework can usually be applied toward master's degree's completion requirements at a later date or can be used to learn specific skills to assist with finding more job opportunities.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Software Engineering
A bachelor's degree in software engineering is the typical minimum requirement for finding work in the field. Individuals with this degree can work in areas such as software application engineering, computer system administration, security systems, video game creation, and many other related fields. The bachelor's degree takes an average of four years, or 120 semester credit hours to finish. An online bachelor's in software engineering can be earned through colleges, universities, and technical schools. Coursework for the software engineering bachelor's degree includes classes in web engineering, computer security, human-computer interaction, technical communication, and data structures. It is also not uncommon for students to be required to complete an internship and/or some kind of senior project in order to graduate. The usual requirement for enrolling in a bachelor's degree is a high school diploma or equivalent.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Software Engineering Degree
When choosing an online degree program, students should take into consideration whether or not a school or program is accredited. Accreditation means that an outside, independent organization has looked at the curriculum offered by a school and determined that it meets certain high standards for quality. Regional accreditation is when a particular group oversees the accreditation process for schools within a certain group of states.
There are also accrediting agencies that offer accreditation to specific programs within a school. For instance, the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) provides accreditation for computing, engineering technology, applied science, and engineering degree programs across the country. ABET accreditation is voluntary, and schools that receive this endorsement have to undergo a rigorous examination process. The accreditation is only for specific programs, not the entire school. Individuals who wish to pursue an online degree program in software engineering may want to concentrate their search on programs that are ABET-accredited in order to ensure competitiveness in the job market.
Requirements for a Career in Software Engineering
As we live in a society where technology is so prevalent and necessary to our everyday lives, there is a lot of demand for software engineers. Becoming a software engineer requires specialized training, although licensing is not common in the field. Typically, a bachelor's degree is required to find work as an actual software engineer, though other types of computing jobs can be found with less formal education. Students who know that they want to pursue a software engineering career after college should earn their degree in software engineering, information technology, computer science, or a related field. Learning to program is also an important skill for software engineers to develop. While in school, students will want to try and complete an internship in order to gain valuable work experience and make professional contacts. Sometimes, it will be necessary to also earn a master's degree in order to be hired for certain jobs. However, this isn't usually the case, and a master's degree will only need to be earned if an individual wants to further advance their skill set and career. While many institutions offer certifications for software engineers and developers, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the Software Engineering Institute", these are also usually not necessary for success in the field.
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