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The Best Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering

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Software engineering degrees can lead to many professional opportunities working with technology.

Nearly all businesses and industries use computers in some way, so they need software developers and computer programmers to help ensure efficiency and security.

Students who earn a degree for software engineering enjoy strong job prospects. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects software developer positions to increase 21% between 2018-2028. These developers earn a median annual salary of over $100,000.

This guide ranks the top online bachelor's in software engineering degrees in the country. It also covers important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Top 10 Online Bachelors in Software Engineering Programs 2020

#1 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
#2 Washington State University - Everett Pullman, WA
#3 Champlain College Burlington, VT
#4 The College of St. Scholastica Duluth, MN
#5 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN
#6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#7 Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
#8 Upper Iowa University Fayette, IA
#9 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME
#10 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT

The Best Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Programs

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4

The College of St. Scholastica 

Duluth, MN

About this school

The College of St. Scholastica offers a fully online software engineering degree that prepares students for careers in web development, software engineering, and systems analysis. All distance learners pay a flat per-credit rate regardless of residency.

The 128-credit BS/BA in computer information systems with a concentration in software development builds communication, research, technology, and evaluation skills. Students design a plan of study tailored to their individual interests and career aspirations, but all students learn how to use technology to analyze and solve problems.

St. Scholastica accepts transfer credit for courses completed with a grade of 'C' or higher. The college also awards credit for prior life experience, including military service and on-the-job training. Students with an associate of arts degree from a community college that participates in the MNSCU Minnesota Transfer Curriculum satisfy most of the program's general education requirements.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
72%
5

Saint Cloud State University 

Saint Cloud, MN

About this school

St. Cloud State University's Computer Science and Information Technology Department offers a fully online software engineer degree-completion program designed for working adults. The degree prepares students for computing careers and graduate programs. Distance learners can enroll part or full time.

The project-driven curriculum explores topics like the software development lifecycles and best practices for designing and maintaining software systems. Program faculty include internationally known professors with experience researching topics like artificial intelligence and parallel computing.

The 122-credit bachelor of science in software engineering includes classes like introduction to computer security, software design, software project management, and object-oriented software development. Students also complete a year-long, two-part group project and research course.

Students need a minimum 2.5 GPA in all required software engineering courses to graduate. Software engineering majors can participate in SCSU's Student Organization for Software Engineering, Computer Science Club, and Video Game Development Club.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
6

Southern New Hampshire University 

Manchester, NH

About this school

Southern New Hampshire University's online BS in computer science with a focus in software engineering provides a comprehensive understanding of software engineering principles and practices. Students learn how to develop secure code, apply user and interface experience design techniques, and reverse engineer code.

The 120-credit, online software engineering degree requires classes like software security, mobile architecture and programming, full-stack development, and client/server development. Students culminate the degree with a portfolio that they can use to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to potential employers.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Military service members and their spouses receive discounted tuition. Online software engineering students have access to virtual computing tools, practical experiences, and networking opportunities. Applicants must submit transcripts.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
54%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
7

Arizona State University - Skysong 

Scottsdale, AZ

About this school

Arizona State University - Skysong's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering offers a flexible, online bachelor's in software engineering degree that combines engineering, project leadership, computing, and software construction concepts. The project-driven curriculum gives students teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills.

The 120-credit program requires software engineering classes like software design and process, software construction and translation, software project and process management, and principles of programming. Students culminate the degree with two computing capstone courses that synthesize the skills and knowledge gained throughout the program.

Faculty in the engineering school include a Nobel Laureate, members of the National Academy of Engineering, and members of the National Academy of Science. Graduates can pursue careers as computer programmers, computer software engineers, information technology managers, and computer science teachers.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also rank in the top 25% of their graduating high school class, hold a 3.0 GPA in required competency courses, or earn a minimum score of 22 on the ACT or 1120 on the SAT.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
48%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
8

Upper Iowa University 

Fayette, IA

About this school

Established in 1857, Upper Iowa University offers an online software engineering degree that integrates computer science, mathematics, and engineering concepts. Students can pursue a concentration in visualization or graphics and informatics. The BS in software engineering focuses on software development, validation, verification, quality, and processes.

Required courses include foundations of information systems, data structures and algorithms, database and information management, and informatics and knowledge engineering. Students learn how to analyze customer needs and build useful software systems. The program prepares graduates for careers as database analysts, software developers, network administrators, and security analysts.

The degree features eight-week terms that let students focus on just a few courses at a time. Distance learners have access to career development services, library resources, and tutoring and writing centers. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
43%
Percent Receiving Loans
73%
9

University of Maine at Augusta 

Augusta, ME

About this school

The University of Maine at Augusta offers one of the top online software engineering degrees in the country. The BS in computer information systems with a focus on software development examines hardware and operating systems, database design, and applications development.

The 121-credit program includes general education, elective, and major courses. Students also gain practical experience through a required internship. Learners study advanced Java programming, software quality assurance, applied linear algebra, and algorithms and data structures. Core courses include web application and development, programming fundamentals, introduction to data science, and introduction to information security.

Students gain technical, communication, analytical, and organizational skills. They learn to design web pages, evaluate software and systems, use technical vocabulary, and categorize data. The computer information systems program works with Project>Login, an initiative to expand the pool of IT and computing professionals across Maine.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
18%
Percent Receiving Loans
56%
10

Western Governors University 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

Western Governors University offers one of the best software engineering degrees for distance learners. The online bachelor of science in software development prepares students for careers as computer programmers, computer network architects, computer hardware engineers, and web developers.

The program offers two programming tracks: Java and C#. Both tracks give students fluency in a programming language. Learners seeking careers in large tech centers, like Seattle or Silicon Valley, typically choose the C# track.

Regardless of their track, all learners take core courses in information technology foundations, the business of information technology, web development applications, and data manipulation. Students culminate the degree with a capstone course that lets them apply classroom knowledge to a real-world problem.

The self-paced curriculum allows learners to work through each class on their own time, but they must complete at least 12 units during each six-month term. Students must pass a course assessment to move on to the next class.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
29%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
11

Middle Georgia State University 

Macon, GA

About this school

Middle Georgia State University offers a flexible, online software engineering degree accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Developed by the School of Computing, the curriculum explores digital forensics, cybersecurity, web applications development, and network administration. Students gain critical thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, and communication skills.

The 120-credit BS in information technology - software engineering includes classes in data structures and algorithm analysis, C++ programming, software testing and quality assurance, and systems programming. Students take seven-week classes taught by experienced professors.

The program is designated as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Department of Defence Cyber Crime Center and a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. Distance learners have access to academic advising, counseling services, library services, and student success centers.

Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must also meet the school's reading/writing and math criteria.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
18%
Percent Receiving Loans
51%
12

Bellevue University 

Bellevue, NE

About this school

Bellevue University offers an accelerated online software engineering degree that develops career-relevant coding and software design skills. Students learn to design and maintain software, upgrade computer applications, and manage and build relational database systems.

The 127-credit bachelor of science in software development explores topics like project management, networking, testing of applications and software, and information security. Core courses include structured system analysis and design, business system programming, web scripting, and management and design of database systems.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military and their spouses receive a tuition discount. Applicants need at least 60 transfer credits or one year of programming experience. The university only accepts transfer courses earned with a grade of 'C-' or better.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
0%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
13

University of Maryland University College 

Adelphi, MD

About this school

The University of Maryland University College offers an online BS in software development and security that teaches students how to use computer programming languages, implement software security systems, and enact best practices in software development.

The 120-credit program includes general education, major, minor, and elective courses. Required major classes include relational database concepts and applications, detecting software vulnerabilities, secure programming in the cloud, and current trends and projects in computer science. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security named UMGC a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward the degree. Distance learners may qualify for financial aid opportunities like loans, scholarships, and grants. UMGC also offers an interest-free monthly payment plan that lets students spread out their tuition payments over the entire semester.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
15%
Percent Receiving Loans
30%
14

Hodges University 

Naples, FL

About this school

The Fisher School of Technology at Hodges University offers a flexible, online software engineering degree designed for nontraditional students. Students learn to develop SaaS software, gaming software, applications, and internet-related software. New classes start every month, and distance learners take one course at a time. The program offers part- and full-time enrollment options.

The bachelor of science in software development includes classes in web design, organizational applications of social media and collaborative technologies, internet application programming and databases, and game programming. Software development majors learn multiple programming languages, including C++, SQL, CSS, and XML.

The program also explores topics like user experience, project management, app creation, and computer security. Learners culminate the degree with a systems analysis and solutions course. Students can optionally earn industry certifications in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Linux+, CompTIA Security+, or MOS while earning their degrees.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
22%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
16

Eastern Florida State College 

Cocoa, FL

About this school

Eastern Florida State College offers an online bachelor's in computer information systems technology with a software development specialization. The degree-completion program prepares students for careers as software developers, web developers, computer support specialists, and database administrators.

The 120-credit program covers modern programming languages, data structures, and organization of computer programs. Required core courses include information systems operations management, object-oriented programming, application development for mobile devices, and information systems analysis and design. Distance learners may qualify for financial aid. They can also choose to take some courses in person.

Prospective students need an associate of science or associate of arts from a regionally accredited institution to qualify for admission to the program. Students starting the program with an AA may need to complete additional technical electives.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
47%
Percent Receiving Loans
21%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Bachelors in Software Engineering Programs Ranking Guidelines

What Is an Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degree?

Bachelor's degrees in software engineering train students in programming languages, computer networks, coding, security, and software design. The curriculum builds the technical skills necessary to find and implement solutions to technological problems. Degree-seekers also learn to consider aesthetic factors, usability, and purpose when designing project-specific software and programs.

Bachelor's degrees in software engineering train students in programming languages, computer networks, coding, security, and software design.

Students with problem-solving, communication, and analytical thinking skills thrive in software engineering programs. They also need a love of learning, since the development of new technologies makes software engineering a constantly changing field.

Choosing an Online Program

When researching prospective online bachelor's in software engineering degrees, students should consider factors like cost, concentration options, and course delivery formats. For instance, some programs offer synchronous courses, which require set meeting times, while others use an asynchronous format, which allows students to access course material at any time. Learners who work full time may prefer the flexibility of asynchronous courses.

How To Choose Your Major

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Software Engineering Program?

Courses vary by program, but bachelor's in software engineering students typically study network security, computer architecture, and software. They may also complete projects related to programming or software development. In addition to major coursework, students complete general education and elective courses.

Software Engineering Curriculum

  • Principles of Programming: This software engineering class explores foundational programming concepts, including programming languages, memory management, parameter passing, and algorithm development. Courses often focus on object-oriented programming and train students to identify and fix software issues.
  • User Interface Design: In this course, students learn to create efficient and user-friendly interfaces, with attention to visual elements like typography and color. Students may build trial versions and test products for usability and safety.
  • Data Analytics: This course examines how to gather, interpret, organize, and analyze data. Learners study concepts like user approval, efficiency, and risk management, which can help them build and improve software.

Software Engineering Professional Organizations

Software engineering students and professionals should take advantage of professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits like networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. Organizations may also offer exclusive job boards, professional discounts, and access to industry publications.

IAENG Society of Software Engineering

Established in 1968, this nonprofit organization has over 140,000 members. Members can access online journals, workshops, and international conferences that relate to computer science. The website also offers resources on topics like data mining, ethics, and scholarships.

IEEE Computer Society

Members of IEEE have access to over 780,000 articles through the group's digital library as well as domestic and international conferences. They can also pursue certifications for associate software developers, professional software developers, and professional software engineering masters.

Association for Software Engineering Excellence

This association hosts meetings, conferences, and symposiums that may count toward continuing education hours. The group is affiliated with the Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN), which offers additional conferences and is linked to organizations like the American Society for Quality and the International Standards Organization.

Software Engineering Careers

Graduates with a bachelor's in software engineering degree can pursue careers in any field that uses software or computer systems. Software engineering programs also build problem-solving, data management, and communication skills applicable to non-technical roles, like human resource manager, executive, or marketing specialist. Students should note, though, that these careers may require additional credentials, such as advanced degrees, certifications, or professional experience.

Software Developers

Software developers create software and build network systems for companies. They may write software, suggest improvements for current technologies, and perform maintenance operations to keep programs running smoothly. These professionals need a bachelor's degree in software engineering or a related area and strong problem-solving and communication skills.

Median Annual Salary

$105,590

Projected Growth Rate

21%

Computer Hardware Engineers

These engineers create hardware like routers, circuit boards, and processors. They must test these projects for efficiency and make changes when necessary. They also consult software developers and adjust organizational technology choices as new software surfaces. Professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree and strong critical thinking, programming, and communication skills.

Median Annual Salary

$117,220

Projected Growth Rate

6%

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write computer code using programming languages like Java and C++. They test programs and correct codes if problems surface. They may also perform software development tasks. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in software engineering or a related field. Companies may also look for work experience and certifications in programming languages or products. Programmers need strong problem-solving and troubleshooting skills.

Median Annual Salary

$86,550

Projected Growth Rate

-7%

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Bachelor's in Software Engineering Program?

Most bachelor's in software engineering programs take four years of full-time study to complete, though some programs offer accelerated timelines.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Software Engineering?

Graduates can pursue roles as software developers, computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and video game designers.

How Much Do You Make in Software Engineering?

Salaries vary by location, experience, and industry, but the BLS reports that software developers and computer hardware engineers both make median salaries of over $100,000 per year.

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering involves creating and altering computer software to perform specific actions or fulfill specific purposes, such as database management or communication. These professionals must ensure their final products are user-friendly and secure.

What Is a Bachelor's in Software Engineering?

A bachelor's in software engineering is a four-year degree that teaches students how to create and test software and computer programs across different industries. Students gain technological, problem-solving, and mathematical skills.

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