From the apps on our phones to the security systems that protect our identities, software engineers are the designers of the digital world.
Online degree programs are flexible enough for any student to get started in this rapidly evolving field.
What kind of Software Engineering degree should you get?
Traditional, on-campus degree programs are a great fit for many students, but they’re not the only option.
If you have family or professional obligations that prevent you from attending an on-campus program, an online degree is the right choice. (If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree, take a look at our ranking for the Best Online Master’s in Software Engineering Degrees.)
How much money do people make with a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average software developer has an annual salary of $102,280. This means that a software developer could easily earn almost $50 an hour.
What can you do with a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 24 percent increase in software development jobs between 2016 and 2026. Based on this data, there will be no shortage of opportunities for college graduates with a degree in software engineering.
What are the requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering?
Each school will have its own set of admission requirements. A school might require you to have a certain GPA, or to earn a certain score on the SAT or ACT. Many schools, however, will look at your application in a holistic way, with no specific cutoffs.
Talk to an admissions counselor at the schools where you might apply. This will help you find out if there’s anything you need to do to make yourself the best possible candidate for a selective program.
What are the best online Bachelor’s degrees in Software Engineering?
We examine a number of key data points to generate our rankings, such as graduation rate, student satisfaction, tuition rates, financial aid packages, and expected early career salary for graduates. (Note that we’ve included both Software Engineering degrees and degrees in closely related fields, like Software Development.)
Based on this methodology, we've created the following ranking of the best online undergraduate programs in Software Engineering.
1. Arizona State University
Arizona State University is home to some of the most highly regarded engineering and computer science programs nationwide. The online undergraduate degrees at ASU are ranked fourth in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The University has also been ranked fifth nationally among institutions that produce the best-qualified graduates. The world-class academic opportunities at ASU include an outstanding undergraduate program in Software Engineering.
Presented by the acclaimed Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the online B.S. in Software Engineering from ASU includes 41 total classes. Each of these classes is seven and a half weeks long. The project-driven curriculum emphasizes engaged learning and a learn-by-doing approach. Core courses include:
- Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures
- Design and Analysis of Data Structures and Algorithms
- Principles of Distributed Software Systems
- Software Enterprise: Design and Process
Graduates of the program will be qualified to work in the development of video games and web applications, embedded systems, distributed applications, and more. ASU estimates that the tuition and fees for a full-time online student (with a course load of 12 semester hours) will pay $15,038 for one academic year. Extensive financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available to reduce the cost of attendance.
2. Champlain College
For the third year in a row, Champlain College was recently recognized as one of the most innovative schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The College is home to an extensive array of fully online degree programs, ranging from associate’s degrees to master’s degrees. These flexible online degree programs, designed for adult learners, are ideal for students seeking a career in a range of science and technology fields, including software development.
Students in the online Software Development program will have the opportunity to earn a professional certificate before they complete their degree requirements. Tracks are available leading to a certificate in C++ Programming, Java Programming, Software Development, and Visual C#. Required coursework for the Software Development degree includes:
- Information Systems Analysis and Design
- Enterprise Database Systems
- Usability in Website and Software Design
- Cloud Computing Security
The coursework for the program is asynchronous, so students will have 24/7 access to all assignments and class materials. Six start dates are available throughout the year. Champlain has a lenient credit transfer policy, allowing students to transfer in as many as 90 credits from another institution. Students will also have the opportunity to earn credit for professional training and on-the-job experience.
3. Brigham Young University–Idaho
Founded in 1888 in affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University–Idaho offers a strong blend of tradition and innovation. The University enrolls over 32,000 on-campus students and another 33,000 online students. The online undergraduate program in Software Engineering mirrors the outstanding academic rigor of the on-campus program.
Graduates of the B.S. in Software Engineering program will be prepared to work in software development and computer systems design as well as software engineering. The program allows students to practice the industry standard approach to the design, development, and implementation of computer systems. The degree track requires 40 credits in general education courses, 54 credits in major-specific courses, and 26 credits in electives. Major-specific requirements include coursework such as:
- Fundamentals of Digital Systems
- Software Design and Development
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Computer Security
A number of fully online certificate programs are available at BYU-Idaho. These certificates require only 14 or 15 credits and are available in fields such as Computer-Aided Design and Drafting, Data Analytics, Programming, Web Backend, Web Frontend, and Web Media. BYU-Idaho also offers fully online bachelor’s degrees in Computer Information Technology and in Web Design and Development.
4. Kennesaw State University
Serving a student body of more than 35,000, Kennesaw State University offers over 150 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. The University has received widespread recognition as a leader in 21st-century teaching and learning. Students can engage with cutting-edge computer science and technology through Kennesaw’s distance learning programs.
KSU offers a number of degree programs relating to software engineering, including a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. This program is offered fully online, in a hybrid format, and in person. Within the B.S. in Information Technology, students can choose from one of four concentrations: Enterprise Systems, Information Assurance and Security, Health Information Technology, and Mobile and Web Development. Requirements for all Information Technology students include:
- Database Systems
- OS Concepts
- Data Communication and Networks
Kennesaw uses Desire2Learn (D2L) Brightspace as the learning management system for its online courses. KSU also offers an online track leading to a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology. This degree is designed for students who have earned an Associate of Applied Science in computing from a school in the Technical College System of Georgia. A distinctive program called the Cybersecurity eMajor is also available to online undergraduate students.
5. Eastern Florida State College
Well-known for affordability and high graduation rates, Eastern Florida State College has roots that go back more than half a century. EFSC is located in the heart of Florida’s Space Coast, with campuses in Cocoa, Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Titusville. The undergraduate programs at EFSC include Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in a variety of disciplines, with majors available in accounting, human resources, applied health sciences, and computer information systems technology.
The B.A.S. in Computer Information Systems Technology is available in five different tracks: Cybersecurity, Data Science, Networking Systems, Project Management, and Programming Development/Software Development. The Programming Development/Software Development track is available fully online. This specialization track requires classes such as:
- Software Integration, Configuration, and Testing
- Database Design and Architecture
- Application Development for Mobile Devices
- Emerging Information Technologies
Graduates of the B.A.S. program will be prepared to enter the workforce in a mid-level management position. To apply for the program, students must have already completed (or must be in the last semester before completing) an Associate of Science degree. Applications from students who earned an Associate of Arts degree will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
6. Bellevue University
College Factual and Washington Monthly have both recognized Bellevue University as one of the best colleges in the nation for adult learners and returning students. The University has also earned distinction as a top institution for community college transfer students and military members and veterans. The Bachelor of Science in Software Development from Bellevue teaches students to hone their writing and communication skills, apply analysis and design concepts to real-world scenarios, and develop professional-quality software and web-based applications.
Students will have the opportunity to apply previous experience and college credits from other institutions toward their B.S. in Software Development degree. The degree track includes 55 credit hours in elective courses and 36 credit hours in major-specific courses. Required coursework for Software Development majors includes:
- Structured System Analysis and Design
- Server-Side Scripting with Ruby on Rails
- Management and Design of Database Systems
- Advanced Networking Using Java
The Software Development degree is a cohort-based program. All Bellevue students, regardless of major, will complete the Kirkpatrick Signature Series. This core curriculum includes nine credit hours in three classes: American Vision and Values, Tradition and Change, and Freedom and Responsibility. The cost per credit hour for the Software Development program, as of the 2017-2018 school year, is $410.
7. Full Sail University
Full Sail University is known as a place “where imagination meets technology.” While Full Sail has a campus in suburban Orlando, Florida, the school has been widely lauded for its extensive distance learning programs. A leader in creative education, Full Sail offers degree programs in art and design, media and communications, film and television, business, sports, music, and technology. The flexible, innovative curriculum model of Full Sail University lends itself especially well to the study of software development and design.
At Full Sail, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Development or in Mobile Development. Both of these programs are offered on campus as well as fully online. The online track for these degrees can be completed in 29 months. Coursework for the B.S. in Web Design and Development includes:
- Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries
- Advanced Scalable Data Infrastructures
- Applied Design Tools and Interfaces
- Advanced Server-Side Languages
Full Sail University also offers a Bachelor of Science in Software Development, in Simulation and Visualization, and in Cloud Technologies. These programs are available in-person through the Winter Park, Florida campus. Online students may qualify for the Momentum Scholarship, which awards up to $20,000 to eligible recipients.
8. American InterContinental University
Emphasizing adaptability and affordability, American InterContinental University offers a suite of highly respected online degrees. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked AIU’s online undergraduate programs among the best in the nation. Career-centric degree programs and personalized support services make American InterContinental University an ideal choice for students of business, criminal justice, education, healthcare management, media production, and technology.
AIU's degree track culminates in a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Software Analysis and Development. The program is offered fully online and on campus in Houston. Students will gain a strong foundation of knowledge common to all IT professionals, and they will also engage deeply with the design and implementation of software. The curriculum for this program may include courses such as the following:
- Distributed Systems Design and Development
- Applications of Discrete Mathematics and Statistics in IT
- Human/Computer Interfaces and Interactions
- Software Quality Control and Testing
The IT program at AIU includes a capstone project. For the Software Analysis and Development track, this project will encourage students to apply their knowledge of hardware, systems, applications, and security management. AIU allows students to transfer in up to 75 percent of their credits toward their degree.
9. Herzing University
Herzing University is a unique model of modern higher education. The University operates 10 campuses in seven different states, and also offers an extensive array of online programs for students located anywhere in the country. Herzing was founded in 1965 as a computer training institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Half a century later, Herzing continues to provide outstanding academic opportunities in a variety of computer science and technology disciplines.
Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Software Development program will be qualified to enter the workforce in a variety of entry-level positions, or to pursue graduate-level study and research. The online B.S. in Software Development has an optional concentration in Computer Programming. Both with and without the optional concentration, the program requires 36 months to complete. Available elective courses for Software Development students include:
- Research Methods and Decision Making
- Business Systems Analysis and Design
- Client-Side Website Development
- System Administration Scripting
Students in the Software Development program will have the opportunity to prepare for a wide variety of industry credentials. At graduation, students may become certified as an Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate, CIW Site Development Associate, C++ Certified Associate Programmer, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, among many more possibilities.
10. Western Governors University
In 1995, 19 U.S. governors created Western Governors University to lead the way into 21st-century education. Ever since its founding, WGU has been focused on exceptional distance learning. Today, the University enrolls over 86,000 students all over the United States and in military installations throughout the world. WGU offers affordable, flexible, student-centered programs in teacher education, business, the health professions, and information technology.
The intensive curriculum for the B.S. in Software Development includes industry certifications with no extra time or cost. Students will graduate with credentials in CompTIA Project+, CIW User Interface Designer, and more. Other key subject areas include scripting and programming, operating systems, and leadership and management. The Software Development degree track features courses such as:
- User Experience Design
- Structured Query Language
- Mobile Application Development
- Network and Security—Foundations
Unlike most universities, which charge per credit hour, the tuition model for WGU is based on a flat rate per six-month term. Students are welcome to take as many credits as they would like within each term. Currently, the cost for one term at WGU is $3,190. Eighty-three percent of WGU students are able to complete the Software Development degree program within one and four terms (six months to two years).
11. Colorado Technical University
The online bachelor’s degree programs at Colorado Technical University have been ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The University has also earned recognition from the IMS Global Learning Consortium and Eduventures Advisory Service for Higher Education Leaders as a pioneer in distance education. CTU offers an acclaimed Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a number of flexible specialization tracks.
All Information Technology students at CTU will gain a foundational understanding of topics such as networking, programming logic, and computer security. Aspiring software engineers can enroll in the Software Systems Engineering track within the Information Technology program. Through this concentration, students will study and engage with software design and development, database systems, and at least one programming language. Required coursework for the Software Systems Engineering track includes:
- User Interface Design
- Object-Oriented Methods
- The Software Engineering Profession
- Human Elements in Projects and Organizations
In addition to the Software Systems Engineering track, the Information Technology degree from CTU is also available with specializations in Data Management, Network Management, Security, Software Application Programming, and Web Development. All of these specialization tracks are available online, and some are available on campus as well.
12. Grantham University
Grantham University is celebrated for affordability while maintaining a high caliber of academic standards. Military Advanced Education and Transition has named Grantham to its list of Top Military Friendly Schools for 10 consecutive years. Many of the qualities that make Grantham ideal for military members, such as flexibility, convenience, and a commitment to student success, also make this University an excellent choice for other non-traditional learners. Students at Grantham have a number of options in science and technology fields, including a versatile program in computer science.
Grantham’s B.S. in Computer Science prepares graduates to work in web administration, search marketing, information management, and software development. The degree track is designed to be completed in 38 months. Program start dates are available monthly. Students in the Computer Science program will complete courses such as the following:
- Advanced Programming in C++
- Systems Analysis and Design
- Server-Side Web Development
- Security Trends and Legal Issues
Grantham also offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security and in Computer Engineering Technology. For the 2017-2018 school year, the cost for online undergraduate programs is $265 per credit hour. This cost is lower for veterans, military members, and members of a military family.
13. Southern New Hampshire University
U.S. News & World Report ranks Southern New Hampshire University the Most Innovative University in the North. SNHU boasts numerous other impressive accolades, including the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology from the United States Distance Learning Association. These accolades are evidence of the culture of excellence at SNHU. The B.S. in Information Technologies for Software Development exemplifies all that SNHU has to offer.
The curriculum for the Software Development program features a unique combination of computer science courses and business-related courses. Through this program, graduates will be prepared with both the technical skills and the career skills needed to be successful as a software developer. The degree track requires a total of 120 credit hours. Core curriculum for the Software Development specialization includes:
- Business Systems Analysis and Design
- Human Factors in Information Technology
- Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
- Cyberlaw and Ethics
SNHU has a generous transfer policy: Students may transfer in up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree. The Information Technologies degree is also available with a number of additional specializations, including Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Geographic Information Systems, Information Technology Management, Network and Telecommunications, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, and Web Design and Development.
14. University of Maryland University College
With over 20 campus locations in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, the University of Maryland University College is a highly respected institution of higher learning. Through UMUC’s extensive online and hybrid programs, students can earn one of more than 90 degrees, specializations, and certificates. The Software Development and Security program teaches in-demand skills and industry-standard best practices, empowering graduates to succeed in the modern workplace.
Students of the Software Development and Security program will study relational databases and multiple programming languages. The program features an emphasis on industry and government best practices for security and risk management. The curriculum for the degree track was developed with input from leading scholars, industry experts, and employers in the field of software development. Major-specific courses for this program include:
- Relational Database Concepts and Applications
- Building Secure Web Applications
- Secure Programming in the Cloud
- Mitigating Software Vulnerabilities
Over 100 scholarships are available to students attending UMUC online. Students who have earned an associate’s degree from a Maryland community college can receive the Completion Scholarship. This scholarship reduces the tuition rate by $100 per credit hour. Other bachelor’s degree programs are available in Digital Media and Web Technology, Computer Networks and Cybersecurity, and a number of related fields.
15. Strayer University
For 125 years, Strayer University has provided innovative and engaging academic opportunities across a comprehensive array of fields. From its roots as a traditional university, Strayer now offers solutions for 21st-century learners, including highly flexible degree programs that allow students to attend class from their smartphone. Strayer offers a unique program in Software Engineering Management for undergraduate students.
The Software Engineering Management track requires a total of 40 courses. This program is a specialization within the Bachelor of Science in Information Systems. (Other specializations are available in Enterprise Data Management, Computer Forensic Management, Homeland Security Management, and many other areas.) Candidates for the B.S. in Information Systems with a concentration in Software Engineering Management will complete coursework such as:
- Software Architecture Techniques
- Systems Analysis and Development
- Introduction to Relational Database Management Systems
- Information Technology Audit and Control
Graduates of the Software Engineering Management program will be prepared to sit for the CompTIA Network and ISC2 Certification exams. Strayer operates over 70 campus locations in the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the Southern United States. Even for fully online programs, students are welcomed and encouraged to visit a local campus to meet with faculty members, academic advisors, or their personal success coach.