Software engineering is one of the most exciting fields in the job market today.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for software engineers and developers are projected to increase 17% by 2024. That’s far faster than the predicted job growth rate for other professions. The median pay for software developers? A whopping $102,280 per year as of 2016.
Thanks to the significant projected growth, low rates of unemployment, and high average salary, U.S. News & World Report named Software Developer the number three Best STEM Job of 2017.
How do you get one of these lucrative, in-demand jobs? For most people, it starts with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or software development.
Luckily, bachelor’s degrees are more accessible than ever. Individuals who have family commitments, a full-time job, or other limitations now have the option to earn a bachelor’s degree entirely through online education.
Choosing an online bachelor’s degree program is no easy task. With hundreds of colleges and universities to choose from, it can be tough to know where to start. We’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you by compiling this ranking.
What are the best online bachelor's degree programs in software engineering?
We pull data from sources such as the IPEDS database, PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, and individual college websites. Each school is then ranked based on factors such as incoming student test scores, four-year graduation rate, institutional reputation, endowment size, and student-to-faculty ratio. All of these factors are considered in our assessment of institution excellence.
Then, we examine data points such as tuition costs, average financial aid awards, expected starting salary for graduates, and how much debt students carry at graduation. These factors are incorporated into our assessment of student success.
Both of these assessments are used to create a comprehensive overview of each school. Using this methodology, we’ve determined which colleges and universities offer the best online software engineering bachelor’s degrees in the nation.
1. Brigham Young University-Idaho
Founded in 1888 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University has grown into Idaho’s largest private institution of higher learning. The university retains a strong commitment to its Mormon identity and its high standards of scholarship. The Software Engineering program at BYU-Idaho, which is a subset of the B.S. Computer Science degree, was first launched in Fall 2014. Since then, it has earned a reputation as one of the most thorough and innovative programs of its kind.
The online B.S. in Software Engineering is designed to give students a strong foundation in the industry standards of software development. Software Engineering students are allowed to declare a minor, while Computer Science majors are not. All students of the B.S. Software Engineering degree will take the following core courses:
- Object-Oriented Software Development
- Technical Communication
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Computer Security
Because the Software Engineering program is entirely online, students will have the flexibility to enroll in classes year-round or take semesters off as needed. Classes are typically asynchronous, meaning that students have round-the-clock access to course material. In most courses, projects and tasks are assigned at the beginning of the week and due on every Friday or Saturday. BYU Online students are encouraged to interact frequently with peers and faculty, which helps to foster a sense of community and promotes student success.
2. Arizona State University
With a flagship campus in Tempe, Arizona State University is a worldwide force for research and innovation. As a top-ranked knowledge enterprise, ASU has highly awarded programs in a wide range of academic fields. U.S. News & World Report ranked ASU number four in the nation for Best Online Undergraduate Degrees. The online Software Engineering degree is just one of the many outstanding academic programs at ASU.
The Software Engineering program, offered through the renowned Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, emphasizes project-based instruction and a high degree of flexibility for students. The curriculum blends elements of computing, engineering, project leadership, and software construction. Software Engineering students at ASU will be required to take the following courses:
- Principles of Programming
- Introduction to Programming Languages
- Design and Analysis of Data Structures and Algorithms
- Software Enterprise: Testing and Quality
Most classes are based on a seven and a half week schedule. Forty-one total classes are available within the Software Engineering major. The undergraduate programs at Fulton Schools of Engineering are ranked in the top 25% nationwide. ASU Online offers six start dates throughout the year. The university enrolls over 30,000 students in distance learning programs alone. A remarkable 87 percent of ASU Online graduates have a job offer within just 90 days of graduation.
3. Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most innovative institutions in the South. The main campus is in Kennesaw, roughly 20 miles northwest of Atlanta, while a secondary campus is located in Marietta. These two campuses, along with the university’s robust distance learning program, serve a total of 35,000 students. Kennesaw State’s bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering is the only program of its kind offered by a public university in the state.
Students in the KSU Software Engineering track will gain invaluable, practical experience in the design and implementation of software solutions. Many classes are teamwork-based, requiring students to work together to deliver software systems that meet specific requirements. Upper-level courses are available in state-of-the-art practices and methodologies such as user interaction engineering, embedded systems, and component-based development. The core curriculum for this degree track includes:
- Introduction to Probability and Data Analysis
- Computer Organization, Architecture, and Communication
- Software Testing and Quality Assurance
- User-Centered Design
As of fall 2016, 279 students were enrolled in the B.S. Software Engineering program. Courses for this program are often available during the evenings as well as online. Kennesaw State also offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Game Design and Development. Georgia is among the top ten states in the country for highest paid software engineers.
4. Champlain College
A private college founded in 1878, Champlain cultivates a small but high-caliber student body. The main campus, located in Burlington, Vermont, overlooks Lake Champlain. The college has been ranked the Most Innovative School in the North, and named one of the “best and most interesting schools” by the 2017 Fiske Guide to Colleges. A global focus and a strong commitment to innovation are two hallmarks of the online bachelor’s degree in Software Development.
The online Software Development program allows students to build their technical skills as well as interpersonal and business abilities, ensuring that students graduate as well-rounded professionals. The degree track includes courses in numerous software languages, cybersecurity, systems analysis, and other highly practical skills for software engineers. Core courses for this program include:
- Information Systems Analysis and Design
- Essentials of Project Management
- Enterprise Database Systems
- Usability in Website and Software Design
Champlain College Online courses are built on a seven-week schedule (with a few 15-week exceptions). The faculty of the online courses are practitioners in their fields, with a strong working knowledge of the needs and standards of their industries. Coursework is generally asynchronous, so students can work through the content whenever their schedules allow. While earning a bachelor’s degree, students will also be able to earn a certificate in C++ Programming, Java Programming, Software Development, or Visual C#.
5. Western Governors University
The degrees at Western Governors University are specially designed for working adults. All of the university’s undergraduate programs are fully online and highly flexible. The Software Development program, like all WGU degree tracks, offers a highly practical curriculum. WGU’s trademark competency-based approach acknowledges professional experience and allows students to waive degree requirements for content they already know.
The B.S. Software Development program is ideal for individuals with a background in IT or software development who are looking to build on their technical skills and earn the necessary certifications to advance their career. This program incorporates numerous IT certifications that can be earned at the same time as the degree. Available certifications include CompTIA Project+, CIW Site Development Associate, CIW User Interface Designer, and more. Required coursework includes:
- Organizational Behavior and Leadership
- Scripting and Programming: Applications
- Data Management for Programmers
- Client-Server Application Development
Students of the Software Development program will be required to complete a capstone project. This culminating experience asks students to design a solution to a real problem in their workplace. WGU also offers fully online bachelor’s degrees in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, Data Management/Data Analytics, Information Technology (with and without a Network Administration concentration), Network Operations and Security, and Health Information Management.
6. Bellevue University
Along with the traditional programs on the Bellevue, Nebraska main campus, the extensive online programs of Bellevue University are committed to producing career-ready graduates. The school has been consistently recognized among the most military friendly and open access institutions of higher education. The Bachelor of Science in Software Development degree enables students to meet the dynamic and changing needs of the software engineering industry.
Students of the Bellevue Software Development program are often practicing software developers seeking to advance their career, or candidates who are looking to get the experience needed to break into the industry. The degree offers a way to formalize student knowledge and build expertise in key subject areas. Applied learning concepts are a central focus of the degree track. The program requires the following courses:
- Business Telecommunications
- Structured System Analysis and Design
- Server-Side Scripting with Ruby on Rails
- Management and Design of Database Systems
The Software Development degree track consists of 27 general education credit hours, 55 elective credit hours, and 36 major credit hours. Prior work experience or transfer credits may be applied to the required 36 credit hours within the major. Online students at Bellevue have access to live technical support seven days a week via phone, email, and an online response system. A library of tutorials and resources is available around the clock.
7. American InterContinental University
The goal of American InterContinental University’s distance learning program is to offer degrees that provide both the convenience of online education and the benefits of personalized attention from experienced faculty. The university meets this goal with 50 fully online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree. AIU’s online undergraduate programs have been ranked among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The B.S. Software Analysis and Development program exemplifies the outstanding reputation of AIU’s distance learning.
The Software Analysis and Development degree program is designed to teach students industry best practices in software design, testing, and analysis. This Bachelor in Information Technology (BSIT) degree incorporates core coursework in a broad range of computer science and information technology topics. The specialization in Software Analysis and Development requires courses such as:
- System Architecture and Integration
- Software Quality Control and Testing
- Software Development for Mobile Devices
- Distributed Systems Design and Development
The BSIT degree track is also available with specializations in Information Assurance and Security, Digital Investigations, Technology Management, and Network Administration. These specialization tracks are designed to be reflective of industry needs. They allow students to take over half of their bachelor’s degree courses in their area of interest. American InterContinental’s BSIT degree is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
8. Full Sail University
Well-known for innovative programs that highlight industry experience and creative problem solving, Full Sail University offers degrees in entertainment, media, arts, and technology. These programs have been highly recognized by a number of publications, including Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Undergraduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2017.” Full Sail University offers several technology-related undergraduate degrees fully online, including a Bachelor of Science in Mobile Development and a Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Development.
The progressive degree programs at Full Sail University give students the critical thinking skills and adaptability to evolve along with advances in virtual technology. The Mobile Development degree and Web Design and Development degree both typically require 29 months to complete when taken online. (The programs are 20 months for on-campus students.) Required coursework for the Web Design and Development B.S. degree include:
- Advanced Server-Side Languages
- Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries
- Scalable Data Infrastructures
- Interfaces and Usability
Although it’s only offered on campus, a Bachelor of Science in Software Development degree is also available through Full Sail University. Qualified online students may be eligible for the Momentum Scholarship, which can provide up to $20,000 to cover the cost of an undergraduate degree. Financial aid is also available to qualifying students.
9. Herzing University-Atlanta
“Career-focused, convenient, and caring” are the three pillars of Herzing University’s philosophy. The school, which has 10 campuses across seven states, provides a wealth of academic support services and career resources for its students. Herzing University was recently named to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs” list for the fifth consecutive year. The Software Development degree track is offered both online and in-person through the Atlanta, Brookfield, Madison, and Toledo campuses.
The Herzing University Software Development program is available as an Associate of Science degree or a Bachelor of Science degree. Either an internship or a capstone project is required of all B.S. Software Development candidates. In addition to standard software development topics, the program also emphasizes communication skills for technical and nontechnical audiences, and the assessment of security needs and solutions for software. Within this program, core curriculum includes:
- Database Concepts and Applications
- Computer Architecture and Troubleshooting
- Introduction to Computer Security
- Business Systems Analysis
The B.S. in Software Development can prepare students for a large number of certifications, including Oracle Certified JAVA Programmer, CIW Database Design Specialist, MTA: Security Fundamentals, and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (among many others). Students of Herzing University-Atlanta may also pursue a Bachelor of Science in Software Development with a Concentration in Computer Programming. This program focuses specifically on the design, implementation, and support of computer applications.
10. Southern New Hampshire University
The main campus of Southern New Hampshire University is located in Manchester, with additional satellite campuses in New Brunswick. Roughly 3,000 students attend these regional campuses. The online programs of SNHU, however, enroll over 80,000 distance learning students. SNHU is exemplary in its commitment to meeting the needs of each individual student through their extensive support resources. Students of software development can take advantage of these resources through the online B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering.
The hands-on curriculum of the Software Engineering concentration provides students with experience in many industry standard practices and methodologies. Students will learn to program in C++, Java, and Python. Aspiring software engineers will work with professional-quality tools such as Eclipse, Netbeans, and OpenGL to develop and test software. The required coursework in this degree track includes classes such as:
- Computational Graphics and Visualization
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Collaboration and Team Projects
- Fundamentals of Data Mining
The B.S. in Computer Science is also available with a concentration in Information Security. Additionally, SNHU offers excellent online degree programs in Data Analytics, Game Programming and Development, and Information Technologies (with available concentrations in Cyber Security, Database Administration, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, Web Design and Development, and numerous other areas).
11. Colorado Technical University
Since 1965, Colorado Technical University has offered outstanding degree programs with a strong emphasis on affordability and accessibility. The university has won acclaim for its commitment to the military, and has awarded over $7.3 million in scholarships to Wounded Warriors and their families. CTU’s cutting-edge online programs in healthcare, technology, business, engineering, and criminal justice have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The Software Systems Engineering program is one of the many examples of CTU’s academic rigor and commitment to accessibility.
The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) with Software Systems Engineering specialization provides students with the skills and experiences needed for a successful career. This degree is available exclusively online. The curriculum builds from general education courses to broad topics in IT to courses within the software engineering specialization. These specialization courses include:
- User Interface Design
- Data Structures
- Software Project Management
- Human Elements in Projects and Organizations
The BSIT degree track is also available with concentrations in Data Management, Security, Network Management, Software Application Programming, and Web Development. The program is designed to be a standard four-year (48-month) bachelor’s degree track. Graduates of the Colorado Technical University BSIT program have gone on to careers as computer systems analysts, computer network architects, telecommunications engineering specialists, and more.
12. Grantham University
Based in Lenexa, Kansas, Grantham University offers fully online degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. The university is committed to serving its highly diverse student body of non-traditional students and working adults. Grantham has been widely celebrated as one of the best universities in the nation for military members and veterans. Through its state-of-the-art technology degrees, Grantham provides a highly accessible pathway to a career in software engineering.
Grantham offers a number of software and computer science degrees at the undergraduate level. Available Bachelor of Science degrees include Computer Engineering Technology, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, and Information Systems. Coursework for the Computer Science degree includes topics such as web administration, search marketing, and information management as well as software development. Specific courses in this degree track include:
- System Analysis and Design
- Computer Networks
- Database Design
- .NET Implementation
13. University of Maryland-University College
The University of Maryland-University College serves over 80,000 students worldwide. UMUC’s extensive distance education programs cover a range of emerging fields, including cybersecurity, data analytics, and biotechnology. A degree from UMUC earns respect from employers and opens up a range of career possibilities. The professional opportunities are especially exciting for graduates of the online Software Development and Security program.
The curriculum of the UMUC Software Development and Security bachelor’s degree was designed with input from scholars and employers as well as industry experts. As a result, students can be confident that they’re getting exactly the skills and experience they need for a successful career. All courses for the program are available fully online. Some may also be available in a hybrid format. Required coursework for this degree includes:
- Relational Database Concepts and Applications
- Secure Programming in the Cloud
- Mitigating Software Vulnerabilities
- Current Trends and Projects in Computer Science
UMUC offers more than 100 scholarships to qualified online students, including the Completion Scholarship. This scholarship can reduce the cost of the program from $289 to just $189 per credit for Maryland residents. Financial aid and an interest-free monthly payment plan are also available. In addition to Software Development, UMUC grants bachelor’s degrees in Information Systems Management, Digital Media and Web Technology, Cybersecurity Management and Policy, and Computer Networks and Cybersecurity.
14. Strayer University-Virginia
The Arlington, Virginia campus of Strayer University serves students in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and far beyond. Strayer’s online programs offer the robust resources of a major university, including success coaches and career support services. The fully online technology degrees offered through the Virginia campus are worthy options for undergraduate students seeking a career in software engineering.
Strayer University-Virginia offers bachelor’s degrees in Information Systems and Information Technology. The Information Systems degree has specializations available in Computer Forensics, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Data, Homeland Security, IT Projects, Technology, Geographic Information Systems, and Software Engineering. All of these program feature an emphasis on management. Required courses for the Software Engineering concentration include:
- Project Requirements and Design
- Software Architecture Techniques
- Software Engineering
- Agile Project Management
Strayer University online degrees are presented through iCampus, the university’s proprietary learning portal. These online courses are unique in the sense that they are available in both an asynchronous and synchronous format. This means that students can choose courses that have no specific sign-on times, where they are free to work through content and assignments whenever their schedule allows. They can also choose classes with designated sign-on times, so that they can hear real-time audio from their professors, engage with “virtual blackboards,” and interact with classmates through live text messaging.
15. Eastern Florida State College
Eastern Florida State College was founded in 1960 as Brevard Junior College. Today, EFSC has grown into a full-fledged, four-year college offering a suite of associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and professional certificates. The college ranks 28th in the nation for awarding associate’s degrees in technology fields. The excellent Bachelor of Applied Science program is one of EFSC’s best and most innovative online degree tracks.
The B.A.S. with a Program and Software Development concentration is designed to propel students to a career as a software developer, computer support specialist, database administrator, or web developer. Other tracks within the B.A.S. degree include Computer Project Management, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Networking Systems. Core curriculum for the Program and Software Development specialization include:
- Software Integration, Configuration, and Testing
- Database Design and Architecture
- Application Development for Mobile Devices
- Emerging Information Technologies
In addition to online courses, the EFSC program also offers day, evening, and blended courses at the Cocoa and Melbourne campuses in Brevard County. The Computer Information Systems degree, including the Program and Software Development track, is designed to allow students to enter the workforce in a mid-level management position. Graduates of the program will be prepared with the skills and knowledge to work in business, industry, technical, or healthcare services.