Online Software Engineering Degree Programs

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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 involved in 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 need to be completed by certain dates. At the same time, the actual learning component, whether it's reading material online or participating in group assignments and discussions, may provide more flexibility. 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 (even if that's at 3 a.m.!), 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

Filter by state :
DEGREE :
School City State Website Undergrad Graduate Grads
Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh

PA https://www.cmu.edu/ 136
California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton

CA www.fullerton.edu 74
Arizona State University-Skysong

Scottsdale

AZ www.asu.edu 67
University of Houston-Clear Lake

Houston

TX www.uhcl.edu 66
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw

GA www.kennesaw.edu 56
Stevens Institute of Technology

Hoboken

NJ www.stevens.edu 49
Drexel University

Philadelphia

PA www.drexel.edu 48
Rasmussen College-Florida

Ocala

FL rasmussen.edu 35
North Dakota State University-Main Campus

Fargo

ND www.ndsu.edu 25
Stratford University

Fairfax

VA www.stratford.edu 21
West Virginia University

Morgantown

WV www.wvu.edu 15
Southern Methodist University

Dallas

TX www.smu.edu 13
Mercer University

Macon

GA www.mercer.edu 11
Rasmussen College-Minnesota

St. Cloud

MN rasmussen.edu 10
East Carolina University

Greenville

NC www.ecu.edu 8
Rasmussen College-Illinois

Rockford

IL rasmussen.edu 8
Rasmussen College-North Dakota

Fargo

ND rasmussen.edu 7
Saint Cloud State University

Saint Cloud

MN www.stcloudstate.edu 7
San Diego State University

San Diego

CA www.sdsu.edu 6
St. Mary's University

San Antonio

TX www.stmarytx.edu 4
East Mississippi Community College

Scooba

MS www.eastms.edu 3
Montgomery County Community College

Blue Bell

PA www.mc3.edu 3
Virginia International University

Fairfax

VA www.viu.edu 3
Texas Tech University

Lubbock

TX www.ttu.edu 2
Rasmussen College-Wisconsin

Green Bay

WI rasmussen.edu 2
DeVry University-California

Pomona

CA www.devry.edu 1
DeVry University-Florida

Miramar

FL www.devry.edu 1
University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi

MD www.umgc.edu 1
DeVry University-Ohio

Columbus

OH www.devry.edu 1
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

University Park

PA worldcampus.psu.edu 1
Rasmussen College-Kansas

Topeka

KS rasmussen.edu 1
University of Southern California

Los Angeles

CA www.usc.edu 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 always could 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 be thinking about 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 of the needed materials before an upcoming deadline date. Many online software engineering schools do have more than one enrollment date during the year, so if you miss one deadline, you may be able to apply to make a start in the next program. There also may be additional steps 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 both bachelor's and master's level software engineering programs. There are more than 20 ABET-accredited software engineering programs 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 there are several related certifications available through the IEEE. These fall into content areas, such as Software Engineering Management and Software Engineering Process, as well as include credentialing, like for 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 couple of 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 knowledge foundational 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 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

1North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University has four options for students interested in pursuing graduate-level education in software engineering. This includes a graduate-level certificate in software engineering, a master's degree in software engineering, a master's of science in software engineering, and a PhD in software engineering. While the master's degree is coursework only, the master's of science includes a comprehensive exam and a research program. The PhD program requires 90 semester-hours of work.

Common admission requirements include a bachelor of science or equivalent degree from an educational institution of recognized standing, a grade point average of 2.7 or higher, and TOEFL scores for international students.

The graduate certificate is made up of 12 credits while the master’s of software engineering comprises 30 credits. The master of science degree consists of 33 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as software development processes, software design, introduction to database systems, software construction, software testing and debugging, and software requirements definition and analysis, among others.

  • Location: Fargo, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Depends on the program; the MS takes two years to complete
  • Estimated Tuition: North Dakota residents ($9,470); Minnesota residents ($10,607); Montana, South Dakota, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan residents ($11,364); other states ($14,205)

2Pennsylvania State University

Penn State University offers a master of 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, GPA of 3.0 or higher, official transcripts from each institution attended, official GRE test scores, 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $996 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 post-graduate certificate first, if they want to, before moving on to finish their full master's degree. Courses for either program are offered once a week, live, using the school's eCampus platform. Students also can choose a thesis option, which instead only requires 30 credits to complete their master's degree.

This master’s degree provides students with the expertise needed for better understanding the holistic development, management, and design processes of software systems and applications. Students will learn to identify client and user needs and will also gain the necessary skills for implementing or creating 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $671 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 to develop capabilities that include enterprise architectures, software architectures, software testing, and/or software security. Students through these programs 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: $938 per credit

5University of Maryland University College

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

The program comprises 36 credits, out of which nine credits are for core courses while the remaining 27 are for specialization courses. Students who have not had any 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Maryland, in-state ($480 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, ACT score of 22, or 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 developer, computer programmer, web developer, software engineer, and computer software quality engineer.

Apart from the bachelors, ASU also offers an online master of science (BS) in engineering in software engineering consisting of 30 credits.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: ABET
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years (BS); two years (MS)
  • Estimated Tuition: $688 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 4-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, a completed application, GRE test scores, official transcripts from all universities or college attended, one letter of recommendation, a 500-word essay, a current resume, and TOEFL scores for international students.

The program requires 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 developer, chief technology officer, computer and information systems manager, cybersecurity manager, software architect, and systems developer.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,342 per credit

8Brandeis University

Brandeis University offers a fully online master of software engineering program which involves a real-world curriculum that is 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.

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 will be able to apply software engineering best practices for designing, developing, operating, and maintaining software systems, communicate with team members, and build software solutions using different technologies. They can take up roles such as market solutions manager, software engineer, senior software engineer, systems engineer, section manager, systems specialist, and many more such roles.

  • Location: Waltham, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $3,535 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 needed for designing, developing, testing, and maintaining 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 a bachelor of science degree in software engineering with consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: Greenville, NC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: BS (four years); MS (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state (undergraduate $166.41 per credit and graduate $249.26 per credit); out-of-state (undergraduate $716.31 per credit and graduate $893.82 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $383.00 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, giving you the chance to meet with other students in your learning cohort or to 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 engineer 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 in being able to travel to school and having 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

Michael S. Brown, PhD University of Maryland, Global Campus

Michael Brown is a collegiate professor and program director of software engineering at the University of Maryland, Global Campus. His PhD is from Nova Southeastern University and he became part of UMGC staff in 2012, following more than 20 years of employment in the information technology field, including for NASA and Sun Microsystems." he completed his MS and BS from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Brown teaches courses such as software verification and validation, usability engineering, software engineering project, essentials of computer programming, and software design and implementation. He has published in journals such as the Journal of Software Engineering Practice, Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics, and Applied Artificial Intelligence.

Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova, PhD West Virginia University

Dr. Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova is a professor in West Virginia University's College of engineering and mineral resources. 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 and performance software risk assessment, fault-tolerant computing and dependable systems, and computer security and survivability.

Dr. Goseva-Popstojanova teaches 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.

Jun Kong, PhD North Dakota State University

Dr. Jun Kong is an associate professor in software engineering at North Dakota State University. His research efforts are focused on human-computer interaction, software engineering, and pervasive computing. His research has been published in journals such as Information Sciences, Journal of Systems and Software, and Journal of Hydrology. He earned his PhD from The University of Texas at Dallas, MS from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and a BS from Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Phillip A. Laplante, PhD Pennsylania State University

Dr. Philip Laplante is a professor in software and systems engineering 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 requirements engineering, software engineering, and software quality and management. Additionally, he has published more than 250 scholarly papers as well as 37 books. He teaches 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 IEEE Educational Activities Meritorious Service Award, and the Data Management International (DAMA) – Award for Academic Achievement. He holds his PhD, MEng, and BS from Stevens Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of Colorado.

Paul E. MacNeil, PhD Mercer University

Dr. Paul MacNeil is an associate professor and software engineering program director for the college of engineering at Mercer University. He has worked at the university since 1990. His teaching and research interests include applied computational intelligence and software engineering. He also has worked in aerospace and for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his PhD and MS at the University of Arizona and a BS at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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