Online Software Engineering Degree

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated March 16, 2024

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

On this page

Back to top

Software is becoming increasingly vital in our daily lives, as well as in every industry. However, as software systems get more capable, they become more complex, resulting in delays, flaws, and vulnerabilities. The online software engineering degree provides aspirants with the knowledge and skills required to address these issues and tap into new areas where software can be a game changer. The average base salary for a software engineer is $89,068 a year, making this an excellent degree to establish a stable and lucrative career. Read on to discover all about the online software engineering degree, its coursework, accreditation, financing options, and more.


Best Online Software Engineering
Degree Programs

Several universities across the country are known for their online software engineering degrees. However, it is critical for prospective students to assess the quality of the college by analyzing factors such as infrastructure, accreditation, program structure, lab facilities, graduation rates, etc. With these and other factors in mind, FBD has checked several top colleges and drawn up a list of the best online software engineering degree programs in the U.S.: *

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State or PSU), founded in 1855, is a public state-related land-grant research university. PSU offers undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education programs through resident instruction and online delivery.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Pennsylvania State University- World Campus 128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802 $14,338 NA

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Online Software
Engineering Degree Program

The online software engineering degree is a typically 4-year program where the concepts, methods, and equipment required for software analysis, design, testing, and maintenance are the primary topics emphasized. Students will use industry-standard software engineering tools for practical training during the courses. With this focus, students get a rigorous computer science degree while taking courses in system analysis and design, software testing, software design, and project management, among others. While many software engineering degree programs are on-campus, several schools offer the program online for working professionals who may not want to quit their jobs but acquire this degree. Towards the end of the program, it is not uncommon for students to undertake a capstone project, thesis, or internship work and hands-on training.

Apart from the core courses, students must also pick electives that align with their career choices. Here are examples of online software engineering degree courses one can expect:

Programming Languages

In this course, students will use a variety of programming languages to create useful programs that adhere to industry standards and good practices. The significance of creating code that is not just functional but also secure, effective, and professional will receive particular focus.

UI/UX Design and Development

With a focus on user-centric and modern design patterns and methodologies, students will examine User Interface (UI) and User eXperience (UX) design principles and development techniques in this course. To inform user experience design, they will learn how to conduct and analyze user testing and create visual prototypes and wireframes using a range of software tools.

Software Security

In this course, students will learn how to write secure code that complies with security testing methods by analyzing advanced security principles. They will learn why and how to use encryption technologies and strategies to communicate securely, in addition to researching and applying security principles via coding.

Emerging Systems Architectures & Technologies

In this course, students investigate cutting-edge systems, structures, and technologies. An extensive analysis of contemporary system architecture with a focus on performance and the software/hardware interface will be given. To better understand the principles, the focus is on studying fundamental challenges in architecture design and their influence on application performance.

Some of the other courses usually found across programs include:

  • Software Reverse Engineering
  • Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures
  • Principles of Programming
  • Software Enterprise: Design and Process
  • Computer Organization and Assembly Language Programming
  • Principles of Database Management
  • Computer Systems Fundamentals
  • Full Stack Development
  • Software Enterprise: Project and Process Management
  • Design and Analysis of Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Software Enterprise: Inception and Elaboration
  • Client/Server Development
  • Operating Systems and System Programming
  • Engineering Secure Software Systems
  • Mobile Architecture and Programming
  • Software Enterprise: Personal Process and Quality
  • Principles of Distributed Software Systems
  • Secure Coding
  • Software Enterprise: Construction and Transition

Read the Guide to Bachelor Programs for more information on undergraduate degrees.

Degree Types for Online Software
Engineering Degree Programs

Prospective students can choose from two types of software engineering to pursue their undergraduate studies – the Bachelor of Arts in Software Engineering and the Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering.

Bachelor of Arts in Software Engineering

The Bachelor of Arts in Software Engineering, also known as the BA in Software Engineering, teaches students the principles, techniques, and methodology of software engineering while exposing them to various other courses in liberal arts and humanities topics. Students will learn how software engineering relates to management, law, science, and business.

This degree is for students who are a bit inclined towards experimentation, research, and analysis.

Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

The Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering, or BS in Software Engineering, covers theories and focuses on research. Many students graduate with this bachelor’s degree and start working as software engineers immediately.

Bachelor of Software Engineering

The Bachelor of Software Engineering degree is the most practical in terms of software engineering applications. This degree trains professionals in computer science, software development, testing, system management, automation, and more. It focuses on the practical application of software engineering ideas and skills to real-world scenarios.

Areas of Specialization in Online Software
Engineering Degree Programs

A degree in software engineering is a specialization within the computer engineering degree field as well as the computer science program. Nevertheless, numerous subcategories of software engineering are available because a smooth process is crucial to software engineering to avoid bugs and produce the best possible code for software execution. As a result, while there are no specific concentrations from which one could choose, it is possible to opt for variations of the software engineering degree, some of which include:

Degree Variation Description Career Options
Software Quality Assurance & TestingThe process of quality assurance is an essential component of any software. Analysts conduct quality assurance testing in a variety of environments to identify unique occurrences and supply information to stakeholders regarding the product’s quality.Software tester, software quality assurance specialist
Web, Game, & Mobile Application DevelopmentDesigning and developing web applications and games and apps for mobile devices is increasingly in demand because of the varied audiences that use them.Web application designer, game developer, mobile app developer
Artificial IntelligenceAnother area experiencing significant demand is artificial intelligence (AI). Complex types of software design are frequently utilized by major corporations, the armed forces, and other government institutions like NASA.AI specialists, AI developers
Software Design and DevelopmentSoftware development defines and designs software architecture, its many components, user interfaces, etc. It also includes coding, testing, and debugging software.Software designer, software architect, software developer, programmer
Software Engineering Configuration ManagementSoftware updates and maintenance can get lost in a business, but they are necessary to prevent deprecation and security vulnerabilities. Configuration management ensures the software’s integrity over time.Software developer, software integrity checker, software security specialist
Software Design and DevelopmentSoftware development defines and designs software architecture, its many components, user interfaces, etc. It also includes coding, testing, and debugging software.Software designer, software architect, software developer, programmer

Why should I do an Online Software
Engineering Degree?

Computer program design, implementation, and maintenance are all part of software engineering. More than just knowledge of basic computer science principles and programming is needed to create contemporary software systems. It calls for expertise in software engineering, which is highly sought after in the software sector. Therefore, there is a rising demand for software engineers in almost all industries that make use of software for their products and services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that an estimated 667,600 computer and information technology occupations will be added between 2020 and 2030.

For those fascinated with computers and interested in finding solutions to real-world problems that can be addressed through software, the online software engineering degree is an excellent fit. This degree will teach students how to outline requirements and analyze them to create high-quality software. To do this and more, graduates of this program would have acquired the ability to:

  • demonstrate a capacity for efficient communication with a variety of audiences;
  • learn new information when necessary and apply it in appropriate ways;
  • design and carry out relevant experiments, analyze and interpret data, and draw engineering conclusions;
  • use engineering design to create solutions that fulfill requirements while taking into account global, cultural, environmental, social, and economic concerns, as well as safety, public health, and welfare;
  • work well in a group where the participants take on leadership roles, foster inclusivity and collaboration, set goals, organize tasks, and achieve objectives;
  • understand ethical and professional obligations in engineering settings to make defensible decisions that must consider the effects of engineering solutions in global, environmental, economic, and societal contexts; and
  • recognize, formulate, and resolve complex engineering issues using technical, scientific, and mathematical methods.

Free Courses for Online Software Engineering
Degree Students

Several popular online platforms offer reasonably priced or free courses that online software engineering degree students could use to gain better insights into a specific topic or help with their exams and assignments. Here are a few to explore:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Topics Related to Software EngineeringedX provides free courses from industry stalwarts such as IBM and Microsoft and popular universities such as Stanford and Harvard on topics such as digital design, dev-ops, programming, etc.edX
Topics Related to Software EngineeringThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers undergraduate and non-credit courses in various topics related to software engineering, including elements of software construction, computer system engineering, etc.MIT OpenCourseWare
Topics Related to Software EngineeringUdemy offers several courses on topics such as Apache airflow, Elasticsearch, algorithms, data structures, etc. While most are reasonably priced, some are free.Udemy

How to get into the Online Software
Engineering Degree Program?

Many colleges have tighter admission requirements for students pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in software engineering than for other students. Some institutions expect first-year students to finish in the top 25% of their class, while others do not. Candidates must have completed geometry, elementary analysis, algebra, calculus, physics, computer science, and higher-level math in high school. Aside from this, some of the typical online software engineering admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Admission or Application Form with its prescribed fee.
  • Official Academic Transcripts.
  • A High School Diploma or General Education Development (GED) Certificate.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.8 or more.
  • American College Testing (ACT) / Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Test Scores
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose (varies by school)
  • 1 to 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Proof of English Proficiency (if the native tongue is or education was not in English)

Note: Admission requirements differ by school and program. It is always advisable for students to check with the admissions office at their preferred school for specific requirements.

How Long does it take to complete the Online Software
Engineering Degree Program?

Most online software engineering degrees are completed in four years or less. However, several factors could influence how long it takes to complete the program. Those who take 12 credits per semester and 6 in the summer may finish sooner, while those who spread out their courses and take on lesser loads may take longer than the traditional four years. A bachelor’s degree in software engineering typically requires 120 to 130 credits. The number of credits required varies according to the program and concentration. Here’s a quick rundown of the duration of the program:

  • Time to complete full-time online software engineering degree program: about 4 Years.
  • Time to complete part-time online software engineering degree program: between 4 and 6 years.
  • Typical number of credits: 120 to 130 (average range; varies by program)

Accelerated Online Software Engineering
Degree Programs

It is uncommon to stumble upon a software engineering online degree that can be finished in less than the four years required. Nonetheless, some students adopt various methods to lessen the amount of time they spend in school. Transfer credits, work experience credits, expedited course schedules, and other strategies are widely utilized in accelerated software engineering degree programs to expedite and streamline the degree process. Those with an associate’s degree in software engineering, on the other hand, can quickly complete their bachelor’s degree in software engineering in around two years. Another option for reducing time spent in higher education is to enroll in a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree, which allows students to complete both in 5 years rather than the standard 6 years. This option is ideal for working adults who wish to advance their credentials rapidly and make more money while spending less time in school.

Accreditations for Online Software Engineering
Degree Programs

Accreditation is an important indicator of quality and value. It proves that the curriculum of a program complies with widely accepted criteria by academic institutions and the industry and generates graduates capable of achieving professional success. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may accredit software engineering colleges or programs (sometimes in addition to national/regional accreditation). To evaluate software engineering programs, the organization looks at curriculum, student outcomes, student performance, available facilities, instructor quality, and other resources.

Furthermore, colleges can be accredited nationally or regionally by independent agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regional accreditation is the most common type of accreditation granted by six bodies:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Students should check whether their chosen program is accredited by ABET, a regional or national accreditation authority, or both. Read the Guide to College Accreditation to learn more about accreditation.

How to Pay for an Online Software
Engineering Degree Program?

Pursuing an online software engineering degree is usually expensive. Online students pay a hefty tuition fee, which can be tens of thousands of dollars, but they save on campus-related costs like transportation, food, and housing. The following external funding opportunities may be of assistance to students with financial constraints:


Scholarships are pretty popular among students since they are relatively easy to find and do not need to be repaid. These honors are bestowed on students who have proven to be exceptionally meritorious in the classroom or extracurricular activities.


Like scholarships, grants do not have to be paid back. They are often granted to students who demonstrate a greater financial need than those who receive scholarships, typically awarded for academic achievement.

Work-Study Programs

Part-time employment through a work-study program helps students cover some educational costs. These jobs are connected to the student’s studies or extracurricular activities. The employment experience gained through work-study programs is also invaluable.

Student Loans

If a student needs more funding, they could apply for a student loan. The distribution of student loans involves several different banks, financial entities, and the federal government. It should be noted that the cost of college may significantly increase by taking out a loan because loans attract interest and have to be paid back on time. Understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans by reading about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students must complete to check if they can receive federal aid and get the best financial aid package possible. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Read about What is Financial Aid? and find out everything there is to know about college funding in the How to Pay for College guide.

Scholarships for Online Software Engineering
Degree Students

Financial aid in the form of scholarships is a great help toward paying for higher education. Free funds make it less difficult for students to put off getting loans and instead finish with zero debt. Scholarships are available to students from many different sources, including schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals. The following are a few to consider:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardApplication Deadline
Rice University ScholarshipsRice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering provides various honors and scholarships to meritorious students, including the Rice Engineering Alumni Scholarships, Chevron Scholarships, and others.VariesVaries
Google – Build Your FutureGoogle’s numerous scholarships help young computer scientists flourish in technology and become field leaders. Scholarships will be given to candidates based on their diversity impact, demonstrated leadership, and academic background.VariesVaries
Bay Atlantic University ScholarshipsEach year, Bay Atlantic University provides tuition aid and other awards to qualified students. These scholarships are just for tuition and cannot be used for student fees or living expenses.VariesTBA for 2024
AES Engineering ScholarshipsAES Engineering offers scholarships to talented students to assist them further their education in a variety of professions. They are given out based on the applicant’s character, as revealed through their essays.$500October 8, 2024

FAQs Related to the Online Software Engineering
Degree Program

What does a software engineer do?

The primary responsibility of a software engineer is to develop a software solution for a business issue. They understand how to create software systems and support all stages of the software development lifecycle while demonstrating problem-solving and project management skills.

Can I do a software engineering degree online?

What can you do with a software engineering degree?

What are the specializations in software engineering?

Is a software engineering degree worth it?

How hard is a degree in software engineering?

Computer developer vs. software engineer – what is the difference?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an Online
Software Engineering Degree

An online software engineering degree can open doors to a variety of career paths in IT, such as those of computer programmers, network architects, information technology managers, computer systems analysts, and systems administrators. Computer and software jobs are not just found in Silicon Valley but all over the United States in any tech company or business. In addition to traditional tech fields, jobs in finance, manufacturing, insurance, education, healthcare, and other industries often require software expertise. Some of the common job titles include but are not limited to:

  • Sales Engineer
  • User Interface Designer
  • Software Developer (Embedded, Web, And Mobile)
  • Computer Systems Administrator
  • Project Manager
  • Video Game Designer
  • Software Testing Engineer
  • Computer Systems Analyst

According to Payscale, a software engineer’s annual base salary is $89,068 on average. The list below details some typical job roles software engineers may be eligible for. It is noteworthy that specific roles may require experience, additional qualifications, and, in some cases, certification.

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and TestersSoftware developers design computer applications that enable users to perform specific tasks, as well as the underlying systems that power devices or control networks. Analysts and testers in software quality assurance design and execute software tests to identify problems and learn how the software works.Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills, detail-oriented, creativity$110,14022% (much faster than average)
Computer Systems AnalystsComputer systems analysts, also known as systems architects, analyze the current computer systems and processes used by an organization and develop new ones. These analysts make the company more productive in the process.Communication skills, business skills, analytical skills, organizational skills, creativity, detail-oriented$99,2707$ (as fast as average)
Computer and Information Systems ManagersComputer and information systems managers, also known as information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct an organization’s computer-related activities. They help determine an organization’s information technology goals and oversee putting those goals into action through computer systems.Organizational skills, communication skills, analytical skills, business skills, decision-making skills, leadership skills$159,01011% (faster than average)
Information Security AnalystsInformation security analysts design and implement security safeguards for a company’s computer networks and systems. They develop security standards and check for vulnerabilities in computer and network systems.Creative skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills, detail-oriented$102,60033% (much faster than average)
Computer and Information Research ScientistsComputer and information scientists devise novel applications for new and existing technology. They research and solve complex computing problems in science, medicine, business, and other fields.Logical thinking, problem-solving skills, math skills, analytical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, detail-oriented$131,49022% (much faster than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Software
Engineering Degree Students

Software engineering degrees are a good starting point, but professional certifications provide depth and breadth to one’s knowledge. Such advanced certifications in software engineering are meant to attest to one’s mastery of a particular subfield of software engineering. Many corporations and professional organizations provide certifications at the general, vendor-specific, and vendor-neutral (third-party) levels to those with a bachelor’s degree. In certain circumstances, additional qualifications and some work experience may be required to be eligible for certification. Here are a few instances:

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)

Leading application security talents are recognized by the CSSLP certification. It demonstrates to potential employers one possesses the in-depth technical expertise required for authentication, authorization, and auditing throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) utilizing best practices, guidelines, procedures, and policies published by the cybersecurity specialists at (ISC)².

Professional Software Developer Certification

Professional Software Developer Certification requires passing the IEEE Computer Society (CS) Online Exam, which covers four subject areas: software requirements, software design, software construction, and software testing.

Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) Certifications

The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) provides certifications on various topics at different levels of expertise and experience. Some certifications include:

In almost all instances, licensing is not required to work as a software engineer.

Additional Resources for Online Software Engineering
Degree Students

Relationships with peers in the scientific and technical communities are essential for success in these disciplines. Professional organizations’ activities include sponsoring conferences, publishing journals, and offering editorial services. They assist members in obtaining jobs and advancing their careers by establishing educational and professional standards. Online software engineering degree students and graduates would be wise to interact with such organizations to get a better understanding of the field. Here are a few to look into:

IEEE Computer Society (CS)

The IEEE Computer Society (CS) brings together computer engineers, scientists, academics, and industry professionals from all fields of computing to drive global technological advancement. Through conferences, publications, and programs, IEEE CS empowers, shapes, and directs the future of its members and the industry as a whole, creating new opportunities to better serve the world.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing organization, offers resources that help to advance computing as a science and a career. ACM maintains the leading Digital Library in the computing field and provides cutting-edge publications, conferences, and career tools to its members and the computing profession.

Association for Women in Computing (AWC)

One of the first professional organizations for women in computing was the Association for Women in Computing (AWC). AWC is dedicated to advancing women in computing careers. Its members include programmers, operators, system analysts, Internet specialists, technical writers, trainers, and consultants.

Computing Research Association (CRA)

More than 200 North American computer science and engineering departments, labs, and institutes in industry, government, and academia are members of the Computing Research Association (CRA). CRA works with these organizations to represent the computing research community and influence change.

Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) is a non-profit scientific society dedicated to the study of computer thought and intelligent behavior. AAAI promotes AI research and application. It also aims to increase public awareness of AI, teach and train AI practitioners, and advise research planners and funders on the utility and potential of AI.

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.