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Is an Online Software Engineering Degree for Me?

An online software engineering degree can be a benefit to anyone interested in pursuing higher education, whether that's at the undergraduate or graduate degree level. Some or all of the coursework in an online software engineering degree, whether for a bachelor's, master’s, or doctoral degree, may be available through distance-based learning and internet connectivity. Often, all students need is a laptop or personal computer to make a start in their instruction.

Online learning takes away the commitment of commuting to campus and generally allows you to do your coursework and homework assignments on a schedule that fits your needs.

Of course, like with any campus-based program, you'll have assignments due and papers that must be completed by certain dates. At the same time, the actual learning component may provide more flexibility, whether reading material online or participating in group assignments and discussions. This means that if you are employed full-time during the day or even at night, you may be able to squeeze in-class work on lunch breaks, after work, or on the weekends. Before signing up for online learning, be sure you are well-educated about your options.

Keep reading to discover more about online software engineering degrees.

List of Online Software Engineering Degree Programs

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School City State Website Undergrad Graduate Grads
Carnegie Mellon University


PA 136
California State University-Fullerton


CA 74
Arizona State University-Skysong


AZ 67
University of Houston-Clear Lake


TX 66
Kennesaw State University


GA 56
Stevens Institute of Technology


NJ 49
Drexel University


PA 48
Rasmussen College-Florida


FL 35
North Dakota State University-Main Campus


ND 25
Stratford University


VA 21
West Virginia University


WV 15
Southern Methodist University


TX 13
Mercer University


GA 11
Rasmussen College-Minnesota

St. Cloud

MN 10
East Carolina University


NC 8
Rasmussen College-Illinois


IL 8
Saint Cloud State University

Saint Cloud

MN 7
Rasmussen College-North Dakota


ND 7
San Diego State University

San Diego

CA 6
St. Mary's University

San Antonio

TX 4
Virginia International University


VA 3
Montgomery County Community College

Blue Bell

PA 3
East Mississippi Community College


MS 3
Rasmussen College-Wisconsin

Green Bay

WI 2
Texas Tech University


TX 2
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

University Park

PA 1
Rasmussen College-Kansas


KS 1
DeVry University-Ohio


OH 1
University of Maryland Global Campus


MD 1
DeVry University-Florida


FL 1
University of Southern California

Los Angeles

CA 1
DeVry University-California


CA 1

Admissions Requirements for Online Software
Engineering Programs (What to Expect)

Admission requirements for acceptance into online software engineering programs will vary. At the undergraduate level, the requirements may be general overall and applicable to many different fields of study, not just software engineering. However, a strong knowledge of math and technology could always be beneficial to succeeding in a software engineering program. Students looking at an undergraduate program in software engineering may also need to have a specific high school GPA and need to submit scores from the SAT, or even ACT.

At the graduate level, requirements often become more specific. For online software engineering programs, these could include a 3.0, or similar, grade point average (GPA), background knowledge in the field (usually through a related bachelor's degree), letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and even a statement of purpose. Some schools also may require students to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. (If this is the case at the school you are considering, you may want to consider preparing well in advance, as the GRE is typically a test that students study for).

The process usually begins by filling out an online application, for which there may be fees, and submitting all needed materials before an upcoming deadline. Many online software engineering schools have more than one enrollment date during the year, so if you miss one deadline, you may be able to apply to start the next program. Additional steps may also be needed for international students, including submitting materials earlier, so it is always best to be clear on expectations and requirements beforehand.

Software Engineering Program Accreditation

The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the main accrediting agency in the U.S. that accredits mostly bachelor's level software engineering programs. There are more than 40 ABET-accredited software engineering programs (online and on-campus) in the U.S. ABET reports that accreditation is important for several reasons, including that:

  • It allows students to be confident in their education
  • It demonstrates a school's commitment to providing quality education
  • It allows employers to know that they can put their trust in graduates of ABET-accredited programs

Licensing is not required for the software engineering field, although several related certifications are available through the IEEE. These fall into content areas, such as Software Engineering Management and Software Engineering Process, and include credentialing, such as Software Engineering Management Associate Engineer Certification. Organizations, like Cisco, also offer related software certifications.

Curriculum & Specialization in Software Engineering

Requirements for online software engineering programs will vary from school to school, but in general, will focus on building skills in software engineering including through different math and IT types of coursework.

Undergraduate Curriculum

Students in an undergraduate program in online software engineering can start building math, analytical, and engineering skills right along with their general education coursework. Within the first few years, they may learn about programming languages, software enterprise design and analysis, engineering statistics, and more. As they advance, they may learn more about web application programming and mobile systems, and even need to complete a capstone project.

Graduate Curriculum

Most graduate-level programs in online software engineering expect that students already have the core foundational knowledge to continue in their studies. Students typically gain theoretical and practical skills that are applicable in today's modern software environment and that could range from software construction and design to software project planning and estimation. They also might take classes that are related to database design concepts, software systems architecture, web security, and more.

Many master's degree programs require the completion of 11 to 12 graduate-level courses and also may necessitate students to take a comprehensive exam or complete some type of final project toward the end of their degree program. Some schools also may allow students to pursue software engineering concentrations, which may be found either at the full master's degree or certificate level. This could include a master's degree with a choice to take more classes in management rather than the technical side or vice versa, or even a master's level certificate that offers concentrations in areas, such as:

  • Software Construction
  • Software Design
  • Software Testing
  • Software Project Management

1Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online bachelor of science program in computer science with a concentration in software engineering. Students in this program will learn the fundamental principles and concepts of software engineering that can help give them the experience and skills they need to break into this exciting field.

The 120-credit curriculum of this program will include courses such as UI/UX design and development; emerging systems architectures & technologies; secure coding; software reverse engineering; fundamentals of programming; object-oriented programming; data structure and algorithms; database systems; operating platforms; software development lifecycle; and software security, among others.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as software engineers, systems architecture designers, UI/UX developers, full-stack developers, and secure software developers.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $330 per credit

2Pennsylvania State University

Penn State University offers a master’s in software engineering that is available 100 percent online. This online program is taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus. Penn State Online has been nationally recognized by U.S. & News World Report as being among the best schools offering graduate education programming online in engineering. Students in this program gain software development skills which can be used for implementing new technologies.

The program is 36 credits (11 classes) and can be completed in seven-week terms over two years. Accepted students progress along with their learning cohort from the start to finish of the program, and for their final course, complete a software project allowing them to incorporate the knowledge they have gained. Sample some of the coursework: Software construction; requirements engineering; software systems architecture; software system design; software project management; and software testing.

Applicants to the program must have a baccalaureate degree (or a comparable degree) from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, official transcripts from each institution attended, and official GRE test scores (will be considered if submitted, but are not required), a current resume, statement of intent, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.

Graduates of the program will be able to creatively and critically manage and plan the development of software-intensive systems using project management tools and methods. They will be able to communicate effectively and work collaboratively. Graduates will also be able to demonstrate mastery of methods and concepts to model, design, develop, and test software solutions using contemporary and legacy environments.

  • Location: University Park, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,017 per credit

3West Virginia University

The master of science in software engineering degree available at West Virginia University is offered through distance-based education and is 33 credits in all. Students can complete a graduate certificate first, if they want to, before finishing their full master's degree. Courses for either program are offered once a week, live, using the school's eCampus platform. Students can also choose a thesis option, which only requires 30 credits to complete their master's degree.

This master’s degree provides students with the expertise needed for a better understanding the holistic development, management, and design processes of software systems and applications. Students will learn to identify client and user needs and gain the necessary skills to implement or create software-based solutions. Some of the courses in the curriculum are software project management; software analysis and design; software verification and validation; software evolution; object-oriented design; and software reuse.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, computer engineering, or a closely related major, a minimum GPA of 3.0, official transcripts, a current resume, and proof of English language proficiency for international students, among others.

  • Location: Morgantown, WV
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $715 per credit

4Mercer University

Both a master’s in software engineering and software systems engineering is offered through distance learning at Mercer University, based out of Macon, Georgia. Students not only learn how to program proficiently in Java, C++, or C#, but also develop capabilities that include enterprise architectures, software architectures, software testing, and/or software security. Students learn to define, analyze, and solve complex problems and learn to communicate technical aspects of those solutions to technical audiences.

Both these programs are made up of 30 credits. The curriculum explores topics such as object-oriented design; advanced computational techniques; software tests; software architecture; software security; software risk management; and database design in software engineering.

The MSE in software engineering is for students with undergraduate degrees in engineering, while the master of science in software systems degree is designed for students with undergraduate degrees in subjects other than engineering, e.g., computer science.

  • Location: Macon, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $970 per credit

5University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus' master of science in information technology is a distance-learning program with numerous specializations, including one in software engineering. This specialization provides developers with advanced software design, coding, and methodology techniques. They learn about object-oriented and aspect-oriented programming and the techniques and principles for leading a software development team.

The program comprises 36 credits, out of which nine are for core courses and the remaining 27 are for specialization courses. Students with no recent programming coursework may be encouraged or required to take necessary computer programming courses before starting the program. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as computer systems architecture; information systems analysis, modeling, and design; information technology project management; modern software methodologies; relational database systems; and software design and implementation.

The major admission requirements for the program include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited degree-granting university or college, a completed application, official transcripts, and English language proficiency for international students.

The program teaches students about the basics of developing and testing software, designing software using UML models, writing software documents, analyzing, designing, and implementing information systems, planning projects, building teams, and creating and modifying effective control mechanisms.

  • Location: Adelphi, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Maryland, in-state ($524 per credit); out-of-state ($659 per credit)

6Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offers an online bachelor of science (BS) in software engineering, helping students acquire proficiency in modeling and coding while practicing creative problem-solving. Students in this program will complete software engineering projects during each semester of this program. The classes offered in this program will help students build skills in areas such as database management, programming fundamentals, physics & mechanics, calculus for engineers, and computer and operating system management.

To apply, students must possess a high school diploma, an ACT score of 22, or a SAT Reasoning score of 1,120 for Arizona residents, a completed online application, and a grade point average of 3.0 in competency courses.

The program consists of 120 credits, including courses such as object-oriented programming and data structures; principles of programming; computer organization and assembly language programming; computer systems fundamentals; principles of distributed software systems; and engineering secure software systems.

At the end of the program, graduates can take up roles such as software developers, computer programmers, web developers, software engineers, and computer software quality engineers.

Apart from the bachelor’s, ASU also offers an online master of science (BS) in software engineering with 30 credits.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); ABET
  • Expected Time to Completion: BS (Four years); MS (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: BS ($714 per credit); MS ($1,021 per credit)

7Drexel University

Drexel University’s online master of science in software engineering provides students with the foundational knowledge of key software engineering topics such as software architecture and design, systems analytics, and engineering management. This online program is ideal for software engineering working professionals interested in managerial and technical software work. The faculty of the program includes accomplished professionals and prepared educators in the software engineering field.

Applicants to the program must have a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, a completed application, official transcripts from all universities or colleges attended, one letter of recommendation, a 500-word essay, a current resume, and TOEFL scores for international students. GRE scores are not required for admission.

The program requires the successful completion of 45 credits. The curriculum consists of courses such as software design; software reliability and testing; software architecture; software project management; requirements engineering and management; distributed systems software; and security engineering.

Graduates of the program can take up roles such as applications developers, chief technology officers, computer and information systems managers, cybersecurity managers, software architects, and systems developers.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,396 per credit

8Brandeis University

Brandeis University offers a fully online master of software engineering program with a real-world curriculum regularly refreshed through rigorous reviews by industry leaders. Students learn to design, develop, validate and maintain software systems. They will learn to build software solutions using different languages, best practices, and technologies.

The major admission requirements include a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or equivalent, official transcripts from every college or university attended, a statement of goals, a current resume, one letter of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students. GRE or GMAT scores are not required for admission.

Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as expert software development in java; software development methodologies; software testing techniques; software engineering studio; software development in C++; python programming; and object-oriented design with UML.

Upon completion, graduates can apply software engineering best practices for designing, developing, operating, and maintaining software systems, communicating with team members, and building software solutions using different technologies. They can take up roles such as market solutions managers, software engineers, senior software engineers, systems engineers, section managers, systems specialists, and many more such roles.

  • Location: Waltham, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $3,660 per course

9East Carolina University

East Carolina University offers an online industry-recognized master of science in software engineering degree program, equipping graduates with the necessary skills to design, develop, test, and maintain reliable, high-quality software systems.

Admission requirements for the program include an undergraduate degree in software engineering, computer science, computer engineering, information systems, electrical engineering, or a related discipline, a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0, GRE test scores, and TOEFL scores for international students.

The program comprises 30 credits, including courses such as software engineering foundations; software project management; and foundations of software testing; among others.

East Carolina University also offers an on-campus bachelor of science degree in software engineering with 120 credits.

  • Location: Greenville, NC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($263.83 per credit); non-resident ($994.33 per credit)

10Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers an online master of science in software engineering, preparing students for a wide variety of careers in this software engineering field by exposing them to real-time procedures and strategies, which will ultimately give them a competitive edge in today’s market.

For admission to the program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 2.75, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a current resume.

The program consists of 30 credits, including courses such as requirements engineering; software project planning and management; software architecture; software testing and verification; web service engineering; and software evaluation and measurement, among others.

Students in this program will be learning about designing and building high-quality software and will be exposed to real-world procedures and strategies that will give them a competitive edge in the market.

  • Location: Kennesaw, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $383 per credit

Campus Visitation Requirements for Online Software Engineering Programs

Many of the programs offering online software engineering degrees do not require campus visits throughout the year as online programs in other fields, like nursing, may do. That said, there may still be some on-campus attendance required for the program that you enroll in, allowing you to meet with other students in your learning cohort or become more familiar with the overall program or the instructors who will be teaching.

On-campus visitation also may be necessary for thesis requirements or to complete a comprehensive final exam that has to be passed before a degree can be granted. Again, these visitation requirements will vary from school to school, but it may be in your best interest to be clear on these upfronts.

Other Considerations for Selecting
the Right Software Engineering Program

When it comes to selecting the online software engineering program that is right for you, there can be any number of factors impacting your decision. These can range from overall cost to the time needed to complete the program, whether part-time enrollment is available, and even whether a school accepts transfer credits.

Another consideration may be whether on-campus visits are required and, if yes, what your availability is to travel to school and have the funds to do so. The quality and reputation of the program also are important, as are the overall skills and depth of knowledge of the professors. You may want to ask about the success stories of graduates and how many students who enroll in the program complete it to be able to more appropriately assess a program.

Influential Software Engineering Professors

Srividya Bansal, PhD Arizona State University

Dr. Srividya Bansal has been working as an associate professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence at Arizona State University since 2010. She completed her PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas, an MS in computer science from Texas Tech University, and a Btech in computer science and engineering from the National Institute of Technology in India. She teaches or has taught courses such as internet computing; service-oriented architecture; software engineering; web applications and technologies; and advanced programming, among others.

Dr. Bansal’s research focuses on semantic computing, delivery models for software engineering education, big data integration, web service description, discovery, and composition. Her research has been published in prominent journals such as the International Journal of Big Data and the Journal of Web Services Research.

Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova, PhD West Virginia University

Dr. Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova is a professor in West Virginia University's Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. She received her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. Her research interests include software reliability engineering, fault-tolerant computing and dependable systems, cybersecurity, data analytics, and software engineering.

Dr. Goseva-Popstojanova teaches or has taught courses such as empirical methods in software engineering and computer science, distributed systems, software performance engineering, and data analytics with applications in software engineering. She also has published her research in prominent journals such as Information and Software Technology, and The Computer Journal.

Mark Hills, PhD East Carolina University

Dr. Mark Hills is an associate professor in the department of computer science at East Carolina University. Dr. Hills is broadly interested in the fields of software engineering and programming languages. His research efforts are also focused on empirical software engineering, static and dynamic program analysis, repository mining, analytics, automated refactoring, program verification, and programming language semantics. He teaches or has taught courses such as software construction; cloud computing; mobile computing; software engineering; cyber-physical systems; software systems modeling and analysis; and software engineering foundations.

Dr. Hills completed his PhD in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a BS in computer science from Western Illinois University.

Phillip A. Laplante, PhD Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Philip Laplante is a software and systems engineering professor at Penn State University. He has led an effort since 2010 to establish a national licensing exam for software engineers and has interests that include computer and systems security and privacy, artificial intelligence, safety-critical and infrastructure systems, and systems testing and assurance. Additionally, he has published more than 300 articles as well as 37 books. He teaches or has taught courses such as computer architecture; software project management; advanced software engineering; software testing; requirements engineering; and advanced software studio.

Dr. Laplante has received many awards, such as the Data Management International (DAMA) – Award for Academic Achievement and the IEEE Reliability Society Engineer of the Year. He holds his PhD, MEng, and BS from the Stevens Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of Colorado.

Aline Yurik, PhD Brandeis University

Teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in software engineering, information technology, and computer science for more than two decades, she is the program chair for the master of software engineering program at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. Apart from teaching, she works in the information technology and software industry as a director of software engineering. Her area of expertise is the business transformation for a digital enterprise, focusing on core business processes, portals, and transactions.

Dr. Yurik teaches design, programming, information technology strategy, health information technology, and architecture courses. She holds a PhD in computer science, an MS in information technology, an MA in computer science, and a BA in computer science, all from Brandeis University.

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