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Best 8 Online Software Engineering Bachelor Degree Programs in 2021

May 5, 2021 | Staff Writers

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From file transfers and operating systems design to personal finance, gaming, simulation, AI, entertainment and everything in between, software engineers have flexed their computing and analytical muscles. And there’s no sign of slowing down.

In fact, the demand for software engineers is projected to increase by 22% over the next decade — nearly three times the rate for all occupations nationwide. Industries like medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing are hungry to fill nearly a half million new jobs by 2029.

How much money will you make as a software engineer?

Depending on what type of job and the industry, software engineers can make an average of $86K a year — some areas of the country as high as $134 — with entry level take homes in the mid-$70s. Positions like computer programmer, professor, software quality engineer, IT manager, blogger, computational linguist, game tester, patent agent, robotics technologist, or toy designer can be had with software engineering knowledge.

What skills do you need?

Like most other engineers, software engineers troubleshoot and have a logical, analytical and creative approach to problems. They can look at the whole picture, but have an astute attention for detail. They’re collaborators and communicators, love to continually learn, and have the end user always in their sights. Technically, software engineers are program language wizzes (Java, Python, C++, Ruby, Swift, or Objective-C), software testing and debugging aficionados, have object-oriented design experience, and an understanding of data structures and algorithms, as well as web technologies and APIs.

Although some software engineers can gain traction with a bootcamp certificate, freelance experience, or self-study, most industries prefer at least a bachelor’s. But you don’t have to be on-campus — or full-time — to take advantage of this ever-expanding career. As from-home jobs become more prevalent, so does the idea of getting a degree from the comfort of your home.

Where can you find the best online software engineering bachelor degree programs?

We sorted through almost 100 institutions to find ones that offered a bachelor’s in software engineering, filtered out those that weren’t regionally accredited (the highest level of accreditation) or had an online option, then ranked the remaining by lowest tuition (see Our Ranking Methodology for complete details). We highlighted ones that had an additional stamp from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Why is our list so short?

Our list discerns between a bachelor’s in software engineering and a bachelor’s in software development. What’s the difference? Often used interchangeably, the distinction is as simple as their name implies — developers are the creators, designing a piece of the pie that performs a specific function. They often have autonomy in how they can accomplish it, working directly with clients and vendors to understand their needs.

Software engineers on the other hand, are leaders of the entire project cycle — connecting client’s wants and desires with the right hardware and software environment for their application to function. They take what the developers have done and devise the tools to make the code work — looking at IT architecture, large scale data stores and cloud-based systems, and building data pipelines. If a developer creates an app for a mobile device, the engineer constructs the tools the developers need for their app to run.

So this is by no means the complete list of institutions that offer an online bachelor’s in software engineering. But these eight met our high level of scrutiny and provide the best education for your dollar. Take a look below.

Best 8 Online Software Engineering Bachelor Degree Programs

1. Florida International University

With Florida International University’s online bachelor’s in computer engineering, students learn through lectures, real-time feedback, and collaboration with other classmates. The 128-credit degree includes gen ed requirements (which can be offset with an AA degree from another Florida public institution) in classes like writing, humanities, calculus, physics, chemistry, social science, and public speaking. The core curriculum focuses on electrical and computer engineering in areas like applied software techniques, linear systems, logic design, and computer design, with electives in at least two concentrations — bio-engineering, communications, control systems, integrated nano-technology, power/energy, computer architecture and microprocessor design, data system software, embedded system software, networking and security, cyber security, or entrepreneurship.

  • Total Tuition: $29,288
  • Credits: 128
  • Additional Accreditation: the BS in Computer Engineering program is accredited through the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET

2. Saint Cloud State University

One of Minnesota’s online software engineering bachelor’s degree programs on our list, Saint Cloud State University emphasizes the industry’s best practices with a project-driven curriculum focusing on technologies, methodologies, paradigms, and patterns. Offered face-to-face as well as online, students pursuing the software engineering degree will be introduced to a little bit of everything — including game design, mobile and web applications development, data analytics, and software cybersecurity. In addition to electives like CPU architecture, computer graphics, data mining, reverse engineering, resource planning systems, and computer animation, undergrads are required to take a full-year set of research courses, along with a 450-hour internship. SCSU also offers a professional science masters in software engineering.

  • Total Tuition: $35,276
  • Credits: 122
  • Additional Accreditation: n/a

3. University of Maryland Global Campus

Third on our list of online software engineering bachelors degree programs, the University of Maryland’s version is under the software development and security umbrella. This four-year degree prepares students for leadership roles in a diversity of settings, including application and software architecture, engineering, programming, and system architecture. With input from employers, industry experts, and scholars, the 33-credit core courses include subjects like relational database concepts and applications, security testing, current trends, and mitigating software vulnerabilities. Undergrads can also participate in the Computing Club to gain marketable experience, as well as Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international honor society for computing and information.

  • Total Tuition: $36,000
  • Credits: 120
  • Additional Accreditation: n/a

4. Saint Leo University

With its online software engineering bachelors degree programs, Saint Leo University offers small class sizes for more one-on-one instruction.  The 120-credit curriculum prepares graduates to specify, design, implement, and evaluate computer-based systems, components, or programs; develop and maintain complex, scalable software systems; and analyze, verify, and provide quality assurance. Core courses include C++, Python, and Java programming, system administration, IT and project management, database concepts, along with a software engineering capstone. The Florida-based school also offers optional internships, virtual access to a cybersecurity lab, as well as club and international honor society membership.

  • Total Tuition: $45,600
  • Credits: 120
  • Additional Accreditation: n/a

5. College of Saint Scholastica

College of Saint Scholatica is our other Minnesota-based institution on our list offering a software engineering-related bachelor’s degree online. Their Computer Information Systems program offers four concentration areas — software development, business analysis, math, or health informatics — with the opportunity to create a custom concentration. The over 100-year-old institution uses programmer and software engineer interchangeably as a possible career opportunity for their 128-credit, two to three year program that includes a capstone project and systems development internship. Students learn through multimedia presentations, discussion boards, full-feature video and audio conferencing, and small classrooms, guided by a personal advisor.

  • Total Tuition: $50,560
  • Credits: 128
  • Additional Accreditation: n/a

6. Strayer University

Although the bachelor’s at Strayer University is called an information technology degree, it provides students the skills to troubleshoot and design, deploy, and demonstrate critical thinking for networking, security, programming, and technology infrastructures. Undergrads can choose from a multitude of concentrations — from cybersecurity to software development — in this accelerated online program. Using documentary-style videos, the 40, 11-week course degree will teach students to understand the software development cycle and how to apply engineering techniques to solve a proposed business problem using C++, Java, Python, or other programming languages. Strayer also offers the opportunity for students to get a class for free for every three they pass.

  • Total Tuition: $59,200
  • Credits: 40 (courses)
  • Additional Accreditation: n/a

7. Pennsylvania State University  

Students in Pennsylvania State University’s online software engineering bachelors programs learn through self-study and peer-to-peer interaction in classroom study, software development experience, and design projects. The asynchronous curriculum (no specific online class time) includes topics like discrete mathematics, probability and stats, computer programming, software design, computer networks, and security in an interactive, collaborative distance-learning environment. In the capstone course, teams will design, plan, manage, and implement a software system with a real industry client. The Big Ten school also offers a complementary online 36-credit masters in software engineering that can be completed in two years.

  • Total Tuition: $75,576
  • Credits: 126
  • Additional Accreditation: Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET

8. Arizona State University — Tempe

With software engineering projects during each semester of the program, students at Arizona State University Tempe will gain hands-on experience and develop teamwork acumens. The 120-credit curriculum builds skills in calculus, computer and operating system management, database management, physics and mechanics, and programming fundamentals. Courses like programming languages, database management, engineering secure software systems, and a two-semester capstone project, along with electives in web and mobile application, embedded systems, and game engine architecture provide a comprehensive study of the industry. ASU also offers an Earned Admission Pathway for those who don’t meet the minimum requirements. These students can enroll in online courses for later admission after achieving at least a 2.75 GPA. 

  • Total Tuition: $82,560
  • Credits: 120
  • Additional Accreditation: Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET

Our Ranking Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator, we searched the database for software engineering bachelor degree programs.

From the 99 we found, we removed any institutions that weren’t regionally accredited, were TBD, didn’t have an online bachelor’s in software engineering, or their last accreditation was before February 17, 2021. We ranked the remaining eight by lowest in-state tuition costs (minus fees, etc.).

Have Problems With Your Ranking?

If you’re employed by one of the schools listed and disagree with the information we’ve provided, please feel free to contact us and we’ll make the correction.

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