Software engineers use their knowledge of computer languages and coding to ensure that devices and programs operate as intended. In the United States, computer programmers earn a median annual salary of $79,840. Many positions in the field require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree or higher.
Choosing a Program
Software engineering majors and computer scientists receive a similar education during the first part of their bachelor's program. Foundational courses include computer programming, mathematics, and database fundamentals. In the final year, software engineering programs differentiate themselves by focusing on software and data storage. Most departments offer a course in project management, which prepares software engineers to work in groups to finish large-scale projects on a deadline.
Artificial intelligence (AI) represents one of the many exciting concentration options that you may pursue while earning your software development degree. Both private companies and government agencies need AI to perform complex tasks, such as predicting consumer behavior and catching criminals. Different schools offer different concentration options.
Many programs require a final capstone project or practicum during your senior year. A capstone experience usually requires students to create a specialized computer program. After graduation, you can present this work to potential employers as proof of your abilities.
For career information, skip down:
Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Programs
1 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Pennsylvania State University offers an online software engineering degree through its famous World Campus. All degree requirements can be met online with no on-campus obligations. The program leaves students with a thorough understanding of software engineering, combining classroom learning with hands-on design projects. The BS in software engineering curriculum covers topics like principles of engineering, computing skills, software construction, and project leadership. Students also learn the importance of teamwork and how to develop communication and problem-solving skills. Applicants with no previous college experience must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted into the program. Transfer students need a minimum 2.7 GPA.
To earn the software engineering degree learners must successfully complete 126 credits, 45 of which are general education credits. Courses cover subjects like probability, statistics, discrete mathematics, and selected issues in computer science. Students also learn about software security, object-oriented methodology, and computer networks. Distance learners complete a series of capstone courses in their senior year, including a design project sponsored by industry partners. This project requires collaboration with fellow students and provides experience in designing, planning, managing, and implementing a software system. Graduates of the program can find work as project managers, video game designers, software developers, and computer systems analysts.
Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The bachelor of science in software engineering program is separately accredited by the Engineering Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
2Washington State University–Everett
The online software engineering bachelor's degree at Washington State University-Everett gives students the skills needed to succeed in positions like software developer, software engineer, and project manager. An excellent option for transfer students from two-year schools, this bachelor's degree completion program can be completed in two years of full-time study. Students in the program take software engineering courses such as data structures, human-computer interaction, computational genomics, and mobile application development. Online software engineering students are eligible for the same financial aid opportunities offered to on-campus students, including departmental scholarships. Eligibility is determined based on GPA in software engineering-related courses.
WSU recommends getting a community college transfer degree. To be admitted to the program, students must fulfill WSU's general education requirements and have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Students also must have a ‘C' average in the pre-engineering program prerequisite courses, which include engineering physics with a lab; calculus I, II, and III; and linear algebra.
Washington State University-Everett is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). WSU's software engineering program is going to apply for accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as soon as the first students graduate from the program.
3 Champlain College
Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, offers a 100% online software development degree to distance learning students. Software development students develop skills like systems analysis, programming, business aptitude, and an understanding of different computer languages. The program also highlights communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Champlain's online software development program emphasizes hands-on learning: students use virtual labs to take tests and develop applications for mobile devices and websites. Learners also have the option to earn a certificate in areas of specialization such as Java programming, Visual C+, software development, or C++ programming.
Students can complete coursework when it is most convenient for them, making the program ideal for working professionals. Online students have a dedicated academic advisor whose job is to make sure they succeed in the program. Courses last seven weeks, making it possible for students to graduate more quickly than they would from a program using a traditional semester system. Transfer students may apply up to 90 prior credits towards the BS in software development. Students may also be eligible to receive academic credit for previous professional experience and training.
Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
4The College of St. Scholastica
Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the College of St. Scholastica is a private Benedictine Catholic institution. The school offers an online degree in computer information systems with a concentration in software development. Students may choose between a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Courses include database modeling, a systems development internship, and a capstone project. The software development concentration features coursework in artificial intelligence with robotics, client-side web development, and game design and 3D modeling. Graduates leave the program equipped to solve problems and apply new technologies within the context of software development. Career possibilities for graduates include a variety of IT-related positions, including software engineering, systems analysis, and web development.
The BA and BS can both be completed entirely online with no in-person obligations. Full-time students can finish the degree in two to three years, but students with transfer credit or prior learning experience can complete the program more quickly. Online tuition at St. Scholastica is calculated at a flat per-credit rate regardless of where students live. St. Scholastica practices rolling enrollment, meaning that students can apply to and begin the program any semester. The BA and BS both require successful completion of 128 credits. Transfer students who hold an associate degree from a Minnesota community college usually do not have to complete additional general education requirements, other than an additional writing class and a religious studies course.
The College of St. Scholastica is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
5 Arizona State University–ASU Online
Arizona State University's online software engineering degree blends software construction, project leadership, computing, and engineering. The software engineering program emphasizes hands-on projects, engaged learning, and professional skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and communication. Students learn components of mechanical and electrical engineering in the context of software. Software engineering courses cover topics such as engineering statistics, critical inquiry in engineering, and calculus for engineers. Graduates of the program most often find work as application software engineers doing everything from developing video games to working on security system administration.
Faculty in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering have received numerous accolades. Within the past ten years, the department has received more than 55 young investigator awards, produced one Nobel laureate, and earned membership in the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences. The 120-credit degree requires successful completion of 41 courses, each of which lasts seven-and-a-half weeks. Transfer students can bring up to 90 credits with them. However, at least 30 credits must be completed at ASU. Students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Committee (HLC) of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The BS in software engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
6Brigham Young University–Idaho
Brigham Young University-Idaho is a private university affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The school's online software engineering degree prepares graduates to work in the computing field as software engineers, software developers, and computer systems designers. Required courses include object-oriented software development, data structures, fundamentals of digital systems, and computer security. Students also take an internship and complete a senior project in order to graduate. The BS in software engineering can be completed entirely online, with no in-person requirements. The 120-credit degree includes 40 credits of foundation courses, 54 credits of major courses, and 26 elective credits.
BYU-Idaho has a special learning model that emphasizes adapting learning activities to the online environment. Online courses feature significant interaction between students and teachers. To apply to the online software engineering program at BYU, students need to have completed BYU's PathwayConnect program with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Instead of PathwayConnect, students may complete 15 credits at BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, or LDS Business College with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must also adhere to the BYU-Idaho Honor Code.
Brigham Young University-Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
7 DePaul University
DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, offers an online bachelor of science in computer science with a concentration in software development. The program helps students understand how complex computer systems can best help people and improve businesses. Combining science, engineering, and mathematics, DePaul's online software development degree covers topics such as programming, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction. Computer science courses include automata theory and formal grammars, object-oriented software development, and concepts of programming languages.
Learners enrolled in DePaul's online courses view lecture recordings taken on campus. Recordings are available two hours after the on-campus session takes place, and videos are left online until one week after finals each term. Students can view the lectures whenever is most convenient, allowing them to continue working and taking care of other responsibilities. Most courses require in-person proctored exams. Students who live within 30 miles of Chicago must travel to the DePaul campus for testing. Distance learners who live further away make proctoring arrangements with their local library or college. Graduation from the program requires successful completion of 192 credits with a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.0. Students also must earn a ‘C-' or higher in all major classes.
DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8 Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, Western Governors University was founded by 19 U.S. governors who sought to create an innovative system of education. Today, the school offers a 100% online software development degree that gives students a strong background in applications, web development, and computer programming. WGU designed its software development degree with help from industry experts and major employers in the field of IT. As a result, the BS focuses on practical technical skills that software developers typically need to use on the job.
The online curriculum incorporates multiple certifications that are important in the IT industry, including CompTIA and CIW. The built-in certifications help students stand out to prospective employers. Students must complete 34 courses in order to graduate, with classes covering subjects such as user experience design, web development applications, and operating systems for programmers.
The majority of students complete the program in six months to two years. WGU's software development program utilizes competency-based education; students take an assessment in order to move on to the next course. This allows students who may already understand course material from years of using it on the job to move quickly on to the next class. This competency-based educational structure makes WGU's software programming degree an excellent choice for experienced IT professionals who are looking for a way to move forward in their careers.
Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
9 University of Maryland-University College
The online software development and security bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland University College is designed for individuals who have experience installing software and using computers. Students learn how to use programming languages and relational databases to plan, design, develop, and test software. The program also teaches current best practices for maintaining computer security, reducing risk, and identifying and responding to threats. Major courses include secure programming in the cloud, software security testing, database security, and mitigating software vulnerabilities.
Of the 120 credits required for graduation, at least 30 must be taken at UMUC. At least half of the credits for the major must be from graded coursework rather than credit by exam, portfolio, or prior learning experience. Transfer students may apply up to 90 prior credits towards the BS in software development and security. Online students have access to a variety of financial aid options, including a number of scholarships. The entire degree is available online, with some courses also available in a hybrid format. Graduates of the program are competent in many areas of IT, including security management, intrusion analysis, systems architecture, and programming.
University of Maryland University College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
10 Bellevue University
Bellevue University's online software development degree is designed both for working programmers who want to advance their careers as well as those who do not yet have development knowledge or skills. Students learn how to code, design, test, and analyze programs, as well as how to manage projects and secure information. The program combines theory with hands-on, practical skills.
Bellevue's online software development program uses an accelerated cohort model, in which a group of students go through the program taking the same courses together at the same time. The cohort model allows online students to feel a sense of community as they get to know their classmates. It also allows students to learn from each other. The entire cohort program lasts 72 weeks and requires the completion of 39 credits. Students in Bellevue's cohort program are automatically enrolled in the correct courses each term. Applicants must have 60 credits or an associate degree.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The online software development degree at Hodges University is career-oriented and focuses on helping students learn practical skills needed to thrive in the IT industry. The program includes numerous opportunities to earn industry-recognized certifications such as C++, MOS, A+, and ICCP. Students learn how to develop, support, and maintain computer information systems. Coursework covers topics such as project management, personal finance, enterprise applications, and systems analysis and solutions architecture.
Of the 80 software development credits required, 20 are from the computer information technology core, 40 are from the software development core, 12 are from the business core, and eight are from the software development specialty area. In order to graduate, students need to have a cumulative minimum 2.0 GPA. Transfer students must complete the final 32 credits at Hodges University. Ideal applicants know how to code, enjoy figuring out new technologies, understand software maintenance, and communicate effectively with others.
Hodges University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
12 Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
The bachelor's degree in computer science with a concentration in software engineering at Southern New Hampshire University helps students learn the fundamentals of software engineering, with particular attention paid to mobile software development, testing, programming security, developing code, and learning emerging technologies. Graduates of the program possess a variety of skills necessary to succeed as a software engineer, including critical thinking, communication, professionalism, a security mindset, and technical abilities. The program teaches students practical skills such as using C++, Python, and Java, and testing tools like Netbeans and Eclipse.
Students must complete 45 general education credits and seven computer science core classes. Afterwards, learners enroll in major courses like fundamentals of data mining, discrete mathematics, collaboration and team projects, and introduction to the Linux operating system. In the final term, distance learners complete a computer science capstone project.
Distance learners can study at their own pace, taking as many or few courses as they want per semester. Classes are structured in six eight-week terms. SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits towards the BS. Individually-assigned career and academic counselors provide support to online students for the duration of their enrollment in the program. The flat-rate tuition is the same for all students regardless of residency status. U.S. service members receive a 30% tuition reduction.
Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
West Haven, Utah
Located in West Haven, Utah, Independence University delivers career-focused programs that give students the skills they need to succeed on the job, with no unnecessary electives required. IU's BS in software and mobile applications development prepares students for positions such as web developer, software engineer, software developer, or IT entrepreneur. Students learn the fundamentals of software development, including mobile app development, programming, and human-computer interaction. The BS requires 180 credits in courses like user interaction design, .NET programming, software testing, and networking concepts.
The 36-month program is offered 100% online, with no in-person requirements. Classes start every month. Students may transfer in up to 75% of the required credits for the bachelor's degree, with the remainder completed at IU. Distance learners benefit from Independence's commitment to making sure online students get the individualized academic support and services they need to succeed. Financial advisors explain the cost of tuition and any financial aid you may qualify for, including grants, scholarships, and student loans. IU also offers discounted tuition to members of the military and their families.
Independence University is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
14Middle Georgia State University
Middle Georgia State University offers distance learning programs that can be earned entirely online with no campus visits. The school's bachelor of science in information technology features six concentrations, one of which is software engineering. Other concentrations include cyber security, network technology, and web applications development. Software engineering students complete coursework in Java programming, algorithm analysis, legal and ethical issues in IT, and a senior capstone. Students leave the program with an understanding of the fundamentals of software engineering and the IT industry.
Tuition is the same for all online students regardless of residency status. Additionally, distance learners qualify for a number of financial aid opportunities at MGSU, including scholarships, student loans, and grants. There are three semesters each year, and students can take up to 18 credits each term. Students may earn up to 40 credits by demonstrating competence through CLEP and DSST exams. The online BS in IT is comprised of 120 credits.
Middle Georgia State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The information technology bachelor's program is also accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
15 University of Maine at Augusta
Distance learners pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer information systems at the University of Maine at Augusta may choose from five different specializations, including a concentration in software development. Key topics include systems analysis and design, business fundamentals, interpersonal skills, software development, and project management. The software development concentration teaches students how to develop software solutions using algorithmic thinking. Courses include data visualization, database management systems, and management information systems.
UMA's students gain professional experience through a required internship and the school's e-portfolio system. The majority of new students at UMA are transfer students, and the school has a generous transfer credit policy. UMA maintains a special transfer agreement with the Maine Community College System. Applicants generally need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
University of Maine at Augusta is regionally accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Careers
Depending on your interests and specialization, there are many career paths you may pursue as a software engineer. With experience, you may rise to a managerial position. The careers below represent only a few of the doors that a degree in software engineering can open for you.
Computer and Information Systems Managers: After gaining significant experience, software engineers can eventually rise to positions in management. Computer and information systems managers help their company or organization meet its information technology needs. Some of their job duties include running cost-benefit analyses of new computer hardware, updating computer security measures, and overseeing IT staff.
- Median Annual Salary: $135,800
- Projected Growth Rate: 12%
Computer Network Architects: Computer networks play a vital role in any modern company or organization. Computer network architects help determine the company's networking needs before creating an IT plan. They also maintain their network's software and hardware.
- Median Annual Salary: $101,210
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Database Administrators: These administrators protect their company or organization's electronic data. Typical job duties include updating databases, adding authorized users, and maintaining security software. They may work with physical hardware or software such as applications.
- Median Annual Salary: $84,950
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics