5 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Software Engineering

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Updated October 10, 2022

Bachelor's programs in software engineering teach students to create applications, networks, and more. To learn these skills, start by exploring our list of top programs.

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A bachelor's degree in software engineering can prepare students for tech field positions like software engineer. Software engineering programs focus on computer programming, engineering, and advanced math. They teach students to create, test, and assess computer software using engineering principles.

Enrollees pursue a software engineer degree online to qualify for software engineering jobs, increase their career opportunities and salary potential, or change fields.

Because software engineering is a very in-demand skill, graduates may benefit from positive career prospects. As with other specialized tech careers, the demand for software engineers outpaces the available candidate pool: CNBC reported in July 2022 that despite economic uncertainty, many companies are still in search of employees to fill open tech roles. This suggests the potential for low unemployment and high salaries for software engineers in the coming years.

Keep reading to learn more about why you should consider earning an online software engineering bachelor's degree. Explore our ranking of the best software engineering degree programs below.

Why Get an Online Software Engineering Bachelor's Degree?

A software engineer online degree can open the door to in-demand tech career opportunities that pay higher-than-average salaries. Many people who earn this degree become software engineers or software developers.

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.

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 1,622,200 people worked as software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers — a broad career category that includes software engineers. The agency projects this group of jobs will see 162,900 new openings each year from 2021 to 2031.

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education requirement for most software engineer positions. However, some employers hire professionals who complete programs like a software engineering bootcamp.

Bootcamps provide intensive, practical training with the goal of preparing participants to apply for entry-level tech jobs. Though a bachelor's degree takes longer and is usually more expensive than a bootcamp, these programs offer a more comprehensive curriculum and a broader educational experience than bootcamps.

Some software engineers pursue a master's degree to further increase their career opportunities and earning potential.

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

  • Higher-Than-Average Salaries

    Payscale reports the average annual salary for graduates with a software engineering bachelor's degree is $84,000 as of October 2022. The BLS reports the median annual salary for computer and IT occupations was $97,430 as of May 2021. Both of these are higher than the national median salary of $45,760.
  • In-Demand Skills

    Software engineering programs help students develop skills in areas like computer programming and coding, object-oriented design, logical thinking, and software testing — skills which can 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.

The Top Online Bachelor's in Software Engineering Schools

  1. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), home of the Nittany Lions, is located in University Park, Pennsylvania. Founded as a high school in 1855, this university has grown into a major research university attended by over 100,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate level. The school's world campus offers a fully online learning platform for students all over the world.

    Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

    With programmatic accreditation from ABET, this bachelor's in software engineering best suits students with a passion for programming, coding, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. This online program is offered through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the Behrend engineering school. Students complete this program fully online without any in-person requirements.

    Coursework covers a variety of subjects in software engineering, including probability and statistics, computer science, software design, and other modern utilizations of computer networks and security. The program consists of 126 credits, and most students graduate within four years. In their final year, students complete a capstone series, culminating in a collaborative design project.

    Applying to Penn State World Campus

    To apply, you must complete an undergraduate application, available on the program's website. Students should submit their applications and all accompanying materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, before the application deadline. Application windows open in fall, spring, and summer.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: MSCHE, ABET
    Tuition: $6,994/semester (59 credits or fewer); $7,549/semester (60 credits or more)
    Required Credits: 126 credits
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

  2. Arizona State University
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $14166

    With a primary location in Tempe, Arizona, and other satellite campuses in Phoenix, in Scottsdale, and online, this public research university boasts a student population of over 150,000 students. Represented by its mascot, the Sun Devil, Arizona State University (ASU) offers more than 350 degree options to students seeking education in a variety of fields.

    Online Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

    Graduates with a bachelor's degree in software engineering pursue careers in software and website development, application development, and database administration. This online software engineering degree includes classes in programming fundamentals, engineering calculus, operating systems and computer management, and mechanics. With a focus on creation and project completion, students at ASU are encouraged to learn by doing. The program culminates in a two-semester capstone project.

    The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offer this program, which holds programmatic accreditation from ABET. Graduates have found employment as computer programmers, information technology managers, software developers, and software engineers.

    Applying to ASU

    First-year applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA in all high school competency courses, including math, English, and social science. Learners may apply through the program's website.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: HLC, ABET
    Tuition: $6,849/semester (in state); $7,986/semester (out of state)
    Required Credits: 120 credits
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

  3. Champlain College
    Location

    Burlington, VT

    Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, is a private college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 80 fields of study. Students complete their education either on campus or online. Founded in 1843, this college remains fairly small, boasting a population of approximately 2,000 students.

    Online Bachelor's Degree in Software Development

    This online software engineering degree emphasizes interactive learning by putting concepts into practice and pushing students to implement creative solutions to real-world problems. Students gain technical skills through classes such as webpage development, information systems analysis, C++ programming, and networking fundamentals.

    Online students have free access to Champlain's Fast Start Formula Career Course, taught by leading software executive career coach, Jen Morris. This specialized course heightens graduates' career mobility by linking them to potential employers early in their academic career and teaching the skills necessary to enter the workforce.

    Graduates with this bachelor's in software engineering from Champlain work in various fields, including finance, computer engineering, computer systems design, and software publishing.

    Applying to Champlain

    To apply, students create an online profile and complete an application, available on the course website. Prospective students must submit high school transcripts and transcripts from any previously attended institution of higher education. Transfer students may apply up to 90 credits from another school toward this degree.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Private
    Accreditation: NHCHE
    Tuition: $318/credit
    Required Credits: 120 credits
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

  4. Husson University
    Location

    Bangor, ME

    Originally founded as a school of business in 1898 and transitioning to a college in 1953, Husson became a university in 2008. This private university offers undergraduate and graduate programs to approximately 3,500 students.

    Bachelor of Science in Integrated Technology - Software Development

    This bachelor's degree in software engineering is available entirely online and may be completed at an accelerated rate. Most students graduate in 1-2 years. Learners can specialize their bachelor's in software engineering with a concentration in software development.

    Students learn to code and create programs and software. They also learn to identify software issues, analyze data, manage projects, and communicate with clients. Coursework includes systems analysis and design, database design, and interpersonal communications. The curriculum also requires some general education credits, including business ethics and college writing.

    Applying to Husson

    Husson accepts the Common App, but students may also apply with the school's own online application. Applicants must submit a high school transcript, SAT or ACT test scores, and a letter of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Private
    Accreditation: NHCHE
    Tuition: $386/credit
    Required Credits: 121-124 credits
    Program Length: 1-2 years
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

  5. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    Located between Hooksett and Manchester in New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private university with a student population of approximately 90,000 undergraduate and graduate learners. As more of its programs move online, SNHU is becoming one of the country's fastest-growing universities.

    Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Software Engineering Concentration

    Students in this software engineering degree program learn to develop software, create secure code, reverse-engineer code, and delve into the up-and-coming field of systems of architecture.

    Faculty work in software development and engineering, bringing years of experience and networking opportunities for students and graduates.

    Coursework focuses on degree-specific classes and general education. Courses cover software security, full-stack development, programming languages, and server development. Classes are available fully online with no set meeting times or on-campus requirements. Students may participate in special activities and groups hosted by the school, including meetings for Women in Cybersecurity, National Cyber League competitions, and the Association for Computing Machinery.

    Applying to SNHU

    SNHU accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Most students learn their admissions status within days of application. Students may apply through SNHU's online portal at no cost. No test scores are mandatory for admission to SNHU.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Private
    Accreditation: NHCHE
    Tuition: $320/credit
    Required Credits: 120-132 credits
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

What To Expect From Bachelor's in Software Engineering Programs

Graduates with an online bachelor's in software engineering can pursue careers in software engineering and development. Online software engineering programs cover topics like 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 require about 120 credits. Common courses in these programs include introduction to computer programming languages, methods of software engineering, user experience design, and software development lifecycle.

Admission Requirements

Online software engineering bachelor's degree programs usually require a high school diploma or equivalent. Applicants must typically submit materials like letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, a resume, and an essay. Some schools also require a minimum GPA.

Many online bachelor's in software engineering programs allow applicants to use Common App. Common App lets prospective students apply to multiple schools by filling out one general application. Most programs do not require experience with software engineering, though applicants with a software engineering associate degree or certificate may be eligible for transfer credits, which can shorten their degree completion time.

Degree Options

Students seeking an online bachelor's in software engineering can choose from various degree types, including a bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of business administration (BBA), or bachelor of applied science (BAS). Below, we explain the differences between these options.

BS in Software Engineering

An online BS in software engineering provides students a general computer science foundation with a focus on software engineering principles and skills. Potential careers for graduates include software engineer, software developer, and computer hardware engineer.

BBA in Software Engineering

An online BBA in software engineering combines business fundamentals with software engineering topics. Graduates typically qualify for the same types of jobs as those with a BS in software engineering, along with entry-level business positions.

BAS in Software Engineering

An online BAS in software engineering may require more applied science courses than the BS. These programs' curricula often focus more on software engineering skills than on general computer science theory.

In addition to these options, some schools may offer software engineering as a concentration within their bachelor's in computer science or bachelor's in business programs.

Online Bachelor's Degree Courses for Software Engineering

Most online bachelor's in software engineering programs require core, elective/concentration, and general education courses. Many also require project/capstone courses. Core courses often cover topics like computer programming languages, discrete mathematics, software security, and the software development lifecycle.

Classes vary by program, but the following list outlines courses commonly found in online software engineering bachelor's programs.

  • Introduction to Computer Programming Languages: This core class provides a foundation in computer programming languages like Java, C++, and Python. Students learn to create secure, efficient code.
  • Software Engineering Project: This course allows learners to put theory into practice through work on a software engineering project. Depending on the program, this may be a group or individual project. In some cases, learners may work with a local company to create a project relevant to real-world issues.
  • UI/UX Design and Development: Students in this course investigate 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 the efficiency of software components.
  • Software Development Lifecycle: This class covers the stages of the software development lifecycle and software development best practices. Students also learn to evaluate the effect of documentation, communication, and ethics on the software development lifecycle.

How Much Will an Online Software Engineering Degree Cost?

The cost of an online bachelor's in software engineering varies. Factors include student enrollment status, delivery format, and whether a school is public or private. In-state students at public schools often pay lower tuition rates than out-of-state public school students. Additionally, private schools typically charge higher tuition rates than public schools.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports public, four-year institutions charged in-state students an average of $9,375 in tuition and fees in the 2020-21 academic year. That same year, private schools charged $32,825 on average.

Jobs for Bachelor's in Software Engineering Graduates

An online bachelor's in software engineering can qualify graduates for in-demand careers such as software developer, software engineer, computer hardware engineer, or information security analyst.

These jobs typically pay higher-than-average salaries: For example, according to the BLS, software developers earned a median annual salary of $109,020 as of May 2021, while computer hardware engineers made a median annual salary of $128,170.

With additional experience and education, professionals can also qualify for more advanced roles. For example, a master's degree in software engineering can help workers land managerial roles. Below, we describe potential careers for graduates with online software engineering bachelor's degrees.

Software Developers

Software developers make computer applications and systems. Many software developers work in computer systems design, manufacturing, software publishing, and management. Some of these professionals work as employees for companies, while others are self-employed or contractors.

  • Median Annual Salary: $109,020
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +25%

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers develop computer systems and their components. Typical job tasks include testing computer hardware, updating computer equipment, coordinating the manufacturing process, and modifying designs. Computer hardware engineers typically need at least a bachelor's degree.

  • Median Annual Salary: $128,170
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +5%

Software Engineers

Software engineers apply engineering principles to the software development process. They collaborate with other engineers, systems analysts, and programmers. They typically use programming languages like Java, C#, C++, and Python.

  • Median Annual Salary: $109,020
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +25%

Information Security Analysts

The BLS projects much-faster-than-average job growth for information security analysts from 2021 to 2031. Information security analysts organize security measures for computer systems and networks. They need strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree.

  • Median Annual Salary: $102,600
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +35%

Choosing the Right Online Software Engineering Degree

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 choosing an online bachelor's in software engineering degree.

  • Accreditation: Schools earn accreditation by undergoing a third-party evaluation process that considers academics, faculty qualifications, campus facilities, and student services. Regional accreditation allows students to apply for federal financial aid and often facilitates credit transfer to other regionally accredited institutions. Many of 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.

Why Study to Be a Software Engineer Online?

Earning a software engineering degree online can offer enrollees flexibility, convenience, and accessibility. Many distance education programs include asynchronous classes, which let students complete assignments on more flexible schedules. This allows them to balance their studies with other obligations.

Online students can attend top programs around the country without relocating. Some public schools allow online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Other institutions may offer lower tuition rates for online learners specifically.

Software engineering degree programs are often well-suited to the online learning experience because students need to master the digital environment to succeed in the software engineering field.

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

FAQ About Online Degrees and Future Software Engineers

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

Yes, an online software engineering bachelor's degree can prepare you to apply for jobs as an entry-level software engineer. Many schools offer online degrees, which can provide convenience and flexibility to learners.

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 students 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 an online software engineering degree program.

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.

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