Top Online Degrees for Software Engineers in 2024

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Updated April 13, 2024

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Software engineers build computer systems, construct networks, and design applications for end users. These professionals need bachelor's or master's degrees to work in their field. Earning a software engineer degree online can prepare you to pursue hands-on roles as an engineer, project manager, or information systems manager — from the comfort of your home.

Many schools offer software engineer degrees online, making their programs more accessible to working professionals. Discover more about the top online software engineering degrees and how to get started in an exciting career with this helpful guide.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degrees

#1 Top Online Degrees for Software Engineers in 2024

Western Governors University

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online

Nineteen U.S. governors founded WGU in 1997 to provide students with more flexible access to education. The school uses a competency-based learning approach, allowing learners to advance through the program based on skill mastery rather than credit completion.

Online Software Engineering Degree

Before beginning the BS in software engineering at WGU, students must choose between Java or C# tracks. Both pathways cover data management, web development, and the business of IT fundamentals. The last few courses immerse learners in either C# or Java programming and software development, preparing them for a capstone project. 

Regardless of specialization, enrollees can earn three industry certifications at no extra cost: CompTIA's Project+, ITILⓇ Foundation Certification, and AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. WGU also offers a back-end developer (Java track) and a front-end developer certificate (Java and C# tracks).

Applying to WGU

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate and demonstrate program readiness with IT work experience or undergraduate transcripts. WGU also accepts high school transcripts showing a 2.75 minimum GPA and a B minimum in an advanced math course. A candidate then completes an online application and pays $65.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $3,985/six-month term
  • Required Credits: 119
  • Program Length: 40 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (self-paced) 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,162
Out-of-state
$7,162
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,500
Out-of-state
$7,500
Retention Rate
63%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
150,116
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Top Online Degrees for Software Engineers in 2024

University of Arizona

  • Tucson, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

UofA was founded in 1885, 27 years before Arizona became a state. The school has over 300 majors, 40,000 students, and 3,000 faculty members. 

BS in Software Engineering

At UofA, the bachelor's in software engineering program helps students develop skills to use throughout the software development cycle. Graduates should be able to analyze data, create engineering solutions, and work collectively. 

The software engineering program requires attendees to have a substantial understanding of math, including passing at least two calculus courses. Students will also take various computer courses, including computer programming, object-oriented modeling, and the software design process. Software engineering attendees work on projects every semester to develop real-world skills. Students may attend design competitions or pursue internships with the school's industry partners. 

Applying to UofA

Each undergraduate applicant must complete an online application, which costs $50 for in-state students and $80 for out-of-state learners. Prospective candidates must submit official transcripts and may include personal statements or standardized scores. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $600 per credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,990
Out-of-state
$33,739
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,106
Out-of-state
$32,290
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
48,274
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Top Online Degrees for Software Engineers in 2024

The Pennsylvania State University

  • University Park, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

PSU launched in 1855 as a college of agricultural science. Over the past 150 years, the school has expanded to 24 campuses with over 80,000 students and more than 1,000 student organizations.  

BS in Software Engineering 

PSU offers an online BS in software engineering program, which teaches attendees how to plan software designs, create software systems, and maintain systems to run efficiently. The curriculum offers opportunities for practical and classroom-based assignments. 

Attendees take math, statistics, and computer science courses. Senior students must complete group capstone projects to design and create software systems. Enrollees can take courses at their own pace. Accelerated learners can take six courses per semester to graduate in 2-3 years. 

Applying to PSU

Each candidate can complete PSU's application online, which costs $65 and does not require official transcripts until a student accepts the university's admission offer. PSU enrollees must have at least a 2.0 GPA and complete prerequisite courses before being admitted into the software engineering major. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), ABET
  • Tuition: $7,602 per semester
  • Required Credits: 126
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$15,400
Out-of-state
$25,084
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$23,189
Out-of-state
$39,248
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
88,914
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Top Online Degrees for Software Engineers in 2024

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online

Since its 1886 founding, ASU has grown from a four-classroom school to a four-campus university. ASU welcomed over 145,650 students in fall 2023 — and nearly half study online through the institution's digital immersion platform. 

Online Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

The BS in software engineering program at ASU begins with basic courses in programming, computer systems, and math. Students then build on those fundamentals in software systems and database management classes. They also complete a five-course software enterprise focus, which covers the software development cycle from design to process management.

The program applies a hands-on learning approach, requiring several individual and team projects. Before graduating, learners complete a two-course capstone project to showcase their learned skills.

Applying to ASU

First-year applicants must meet the minimum test score requirements (1210 for the SAT or 24 for the ACT), prove a 3.0 minimum high school GPA, or rank in the top 25% of their high school class. Transfer students need a 2.75 minimum undergraduate GPA. Each candidate must complete an online application and pay $70.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); ABET
  • Tuition: $563/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: Varies
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$12,984
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,774
Out-of-state
$9,774
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
57,848
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

How We Rank Colleges and Bootcamps

ComputerScience.org ranks computer science degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. We also rank bootcamps and certificate programs. Our top priority is making sure you find the best possible fit for your education. We use up-to-date national statistics and focus on factors like return on investment, academic quality, and affordability.

Take a closer look at our rankings on our rankings methodology page.

What to Expect From the Best Online Degrees in Software Engineering

Graduates of software engineer degree online programs can pursue careers in software engineering and development. Coursework typically covers computer programming languages, software design, security, and computer networks. Students learn to assess usability and apply engineering principles to software development.

Most online software engineering degrees take four years of full-time study to complete, and often take 120 credits. Common courses in these programs include introduction to coding languages, methods of software engineering, user experience design, and software development lifecycle.

Common Courses for Online Software Engineering Degrees

Most online bachelor's in software engineering programs require core, elective/concentration, and general education courses. Many also require capstone projects or courses. Core classes explore computer programming languages, discrete mathematics, software security, and the software development lifecycle.

Classes vary by program, but can include project management, programming principles, operating systems, and database management.

The following list details additional courses commonly found in online software engineering bachelor's programs.

  • UI/UX Design and Development: Students explore user experience and user interface design concepts and techniques. The class emphasizes user-centric designs, user testing, and visual prototypes. Learners design and develop user interfaces for cloud-based, mobile, and embedded systems.
  • Software Reverse Engineering: This course explores the basics of reverse engineering for software systems. Students learn to make new software products, recreate code for applications, and improve software component efficiency.
  • Secure Coding: This course introduces learners to common vulnerabilities in software development. Enrollees discover best practices for developing secure code to mitigate risks for software users.
  • Discrete Structures and Algorithms: Students explore logic and proofs alongside structures like graphs and trees to understand the parts of discrete structures. Topics include dynamic programming, binary search tree, priority queue, and hash tables.
  • Software Engineering Project: This course allows learners to put theory into practice. Depending on the program, this may be a group or individual project. Some schools connect learners with local companies to create projects relevant to real-world issues.

How Is an Online Degree Different From a Campus Program?

In computer-related majors, on-campus degrees translate well to online programs. Unlike other STEM subjects, such as chemistry or engineering, you don't need access to an on-campus lab to complete practical assignments.

The online learning environment offers benefits and drawbacks for software engineering majors. Online students often complete their coursework on their own schedules and in locations of their choice.

Distance learners can avoid relocation and long commutes to school, but may still commute somewhere if their home internet is not reliable.

On-campus students can benefit from face-to-face instruction and in-person relationships with peers and professors.

Online vs. On-Campus Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degrees
Online Program On-Campus Program
Cost $320-$664 $515-$890
Course Load 12-18 credits per semester 12-18 credits per semester
Accreditation Regional; ABET Regional; ABET
Program Length 4 years 4 years
Scheduling Blocks or Semesters Usually Semesters
Admissions Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
May require minimum GPA and/or ACT or SAT scores
High School Diploma or Equivalent
May require minimum GPA and/or ACT or SAT scores
Sources: Various programs

The chart above shows that on-campus and online programs are typically similar in time, cost, and accreditation. When deciding between an online or on-campus program, it's important to find the model that works for you. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need a flexible schedule, or do I work better with more structure?
  • Do I prefer mastering new concepts on my own, or do I enjoy the benefits of having an in-person instructor?
  • Can I locate the tools, technologies, and resources I need? Or do I need in-person access to laboratories, professors, librarians, and other campus-based staff members?

How Is a Bachelor's in Software Engineering Different From a Bootcamp?

Bootcamps offer intense, career-focused training in tech subjects like software engineering. A college or university, on the other hand, provides a four-year degree with courses in general education, computer science theory, and mathematics.

Bootcamp graduates can compete for technical positions right after graduation. They may, however, be limited in their career trajectories.

College graduates may find that their skills and knowledge can lead to opportunities for leadership, research, or teaching. Bootcamps and colleges offer networking opportunities and career guidance resources, but colleges typically offer more options to connect with peers and instructors.

Typical Costs for Online Software Engineering Degrees

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average annual net price of college attendance for full-time undergraduate students in the 2020-2021 academic year stood at $14,700 at public institutions and $28,400 for private nonprofit schools. While these figures are helpful, a broad average only tells part of the story.

Many factors can affect a school's sticker price, including its prestige, location, and private vs. public status. State residents can often benefit from in-state tuition prices. Sometimes, schools offer the same tuition for out-of-state students as in-state learners.

Online and on-campus students can apply for scholarships, grants, private loans, federal loans, or other forms of financial aid such as employer reimbursement. As you calculate your costs, remember to include the price of technology, subscriptions, and travel the school may require.

Why Get a Bachelor's in Software Engineering Degree Online?

An online degree in software engineering can open the door to in-demand tech career opportunities with higher-than-average salaries, including software engineer and software developer roles.

Other career options in software engineering include web developer, computer and information systems manager, and computer and information research scientist. Some of these positions may require additional education.

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education requirement for most software engineer positions. Some software engineers pursue master's degrees — online or in person — to increase their career opportunities and earning potential. However, some employers hire professionals who complete programs like software engineering bootcamps.

Bootcamps provide intensive, practical training with the goal of preparing participants for entry-level tech jobs. A bachelor's in software engineering degree takes longer and is usually more expensive than a bootcamp but offers a more comprehensive curriculum and a broader educational experience than bootcamps.

Benefits of completing a bachelor's degree in software engineering online include the following:

  • Higher-Than-Average Salaries: As of April 2024, Payscale reports an average annual salary of $88,000 for graduates with software engineering bachelor's degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary for software developer and related occupations of $132,270 as of May 2023. Both of these are higher than the national median salary of $46,310.
  • In-Demand Skills: Software engineering programs develop skills in areas like computer programming and coding, object-oriented design, logical thinking, and software testing — abilities that can help land them careers in the field.
  • Specialized Jobs: An online bachelor's degree in software engineering prepares graduates for jobs like software developer, software engineer, computer hardware engineer, and information security analyst.

Explore Computer Science Careers

Choosing the Best Online Software Engineering Degree for You

Our ranking of the best online software engineering degree programs is a great place to start your search for the right school. Below, we cover additional factors to consider when researching software engineer degrees with online delivery.

  • Accreditation: Schools earn accreditation by undergoing a third-party evaluation process that considers academics, faculty qualifications, campus facilities, and student services. Institutional accreditation allows students to apply for federal financial aid and often facilitates credit transfer to other accredited institutions. The best online bachelor's in software engineering programs also hold programmatic accreditation from ABET.
  • Career Services: A university's career services can help students find jobs and internships by offering resume-writing workshops, mock interviews, and access to job databases.
  • Available Courses: Research course offerings at prospective schools to determine whether programs offer classes or degree concentrations that align with your professional goals.

By using Common App, you can apply to more than 1,000 colleges and universities with a single application. While you do not have to use this application, its consistency allows you to submit the same application to multiple institutions of your choice.

More Options to Learn Software Engineering

Software Engineering Certificate Programs

Software Engineering Certificate Programs

Associate Degrees in Software Engineering

Associate Degrees in Software Engineering

Master's Degrees in Software Engineering

Master's Degrees in Software Engineering

Doctoral Degrees in Software Engineering

Doctoral Degrees in Software Engineering

Questions About Online Degrees for Software Engineers

Can you work as a software engineer with an online degree?

Yes — online software engineering bachelor's degrees can prepare you to pursue employment as an entry-level software engineer. Many schools use online delivery for added convenience and flexibility.

How long does it take to get a software engineering degree online?

Typically, enrollees need four years of full-time study to complete a software engineer degree online. Some schools may offer accelerated degrees that allow you to finish in less time.

Are online software engineering bachelor's degrees hard?

As with any course of study, an online software engineering degree poses challenges and requires hard work, time, and practice. Because of the field's technical skills, learners who enjoy concepts like mathematics, logic, and programming languages may excel in these programs.

Do a lot of software engineers get degrees online?

Online software engineering degrees and bootcamps have become more common in recent years. Employers increasingly recognize that online education can provide the same level of rigor as in-person learning.

Page last reviewed December 4, 2023.

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