Best Online Software Engineering Bachelor's Degree Programs

Online bachelor's degree programs in software engineering or computer science can help prepare students for a range of careers in the field. Find out what makes some of these programs great, plus get degree information, and ways to choose the right school. Schools offering Software Development & Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Software Engineering

There are many online bachelor's degree programs in software engineering, computer science or closely related fields that can help prepare students for a career as a software engineer. These programs may be considered the best because of their available concentrations, affordability, and/or hands-on learning opportunities.

1. Old Dominion University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Norfolk, VA$10,56093%

Old Dominion University offers both an online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science and a BS in Computer Engineering that can help prepare students for a career as a software developer. The online BS in Computer Science can be taken as a full program or a degree completion program and costs $356 per credit hour for in-state students. The full program requires 120 credits, includes hands-on laboratory experiences, and allows students to access course materials at any time. Some courses may be scheduled, while other online courses can be self-paced.

2. Purdue University Fort Wayne

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Fort Wayne, IN$8,45090%

Purdue University Fort Wayne has a BS in Information Systems degree that has had all of its courses approved for online teaching. The degree totals 120 credits and requires students to complete a minor, certificate, or depth area in subjects like computer science or computer networking. The program not only covers topics information systems but how this technology is incorporated into organizations and corporations. The program has an international cooperation agreement with several schools in China and South Korea for international students to complete their degrees.

3. Austin Peay State University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Clarksville, TN$8,15999%

Austin Peay State University offers an online BS in Computer Information Science or Computer Information Technology. Students in either program can choose from online concentrations in database administration, systems development, internet and web technology, or information assurance and security. The programs also offer online minors in mobile software technology, web technology, or information assurance and security. Students have access to free software, can take classes all year, and the program accepts military credit.

4. Troy University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Troy, AL$8,90894%

Troy University provides an online BS in Applied Computer Science that can be completed fully online and requires 120 credits at $338 per credit hour. Students complete 9-week terms and have the option to participate in a computer science internship and/or study abroad experience. Outside of major requirements, students must also complete an orientation and take courses in subjects like calculus, discrete math, and computer concepts.

5. Dakota State University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Madison, SD$9,27695%

Dakota State University has an online BS in Computer Science and online BS in Computer Information Systems, but the computer science program is probably a better fit for aspiring software engineers. The computer science program offers a concentration in software engineering or artificial intelligence/machine learning and gives students access to a wide range of software programs, including Linux, DSUnix, and Solaris. Students also study a diverse array of topics, from algorithms and programming languages to operating systems and data structures.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
6Milligan CollegeMilligan College, TN$33,700100%
7University of MaryBismarck, ND$18,44498%
8California State University-Monterey BaySeaside, CA$7,14385%
9Oral Roberts UniversityTulsa, OK$27,72890%
10Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton, FL$4,83181%
11Middle Georgia State UniversityMacon, GA$3,92490%
12SUNY at AlbanyAlbany, NY$10,01183%
13Arizona State University-SkysongScottsdale, AZ$10,31782%
14Mercy CollegeDobbs Ferry, NY$19,04297%
15Upper Iowa UniversityFayette, IA$30,450 99%
16Southeastern Oklahoma State UniversityDurant, OK$6,75095%
17Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale, FL$30,900100%
18Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH$31,13675%
19Dickinson State UniversityDickinson, ND$6,76891%
20Azusa Pacific UniversityAzusa, CA$38,880 98%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Software Engineering

Online bachelor's degree programs in software engineering and computer science are typically offered as BS degrees. Most of these programs are full-time and typically require 120 credits, but some may require up to 126 credits. Some degree programs in computer science may offer additional areas of specialization, such as software engineering, artificial intelligence, systems development, or internet and web technology. Some programs may also allow online students to pursue a minor online.

Online courses for these degree programs may range from 7.5 to 9 weeks in length. Some programs may have scheduled meeting times, while others allow students to complete work on their own time. While most of these degree programs can be completed fully online, many still include hands-on learning experiences with current technologies in the field through projects and assignments. Read on to learn more about the curriculum for online programs in software engineering.

Common Courses for Software Engineering Programs

Many of these degree programs include courses that incorporate project leadership, computing, engineering concepts, and system analysis to help prepare students for a future career in the field. Most of these programs give students exposure to current technologies in the field, such as Linux, Eclipse, Open GL, Irix, and more. Some online programs in software engineering may require a final capstone experience and might include courses in topics like:

  • Programming languages: In courses like these, students have the chance to learn a variety of programming languages, including C++, Java, and Python.
  • Discrete math: Discrete math teaches students to apply logic, proofs, relations, sets, counting, and probability to computer science functions.
  • Software engineering/development: Students in these courses learn to plan, develop and test software. This typically includes instruction in abstraction, decomposition and code revision.

How to Choose an Online Program in Software Engineering

When selecting the online bachelor's degree program in software engineering, it's important for students to first consider their career goals and interests. Students who are sure they want to become a software engineer or specific type of software engineer should look for a bachelor's program specifically in software engineering. Students who may want more flexibility in their careers may want to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science. These degrees give a broader overview of the field and can be applied to many different careers and still may offer a concentration specifically in software engineering.

Students may also wish to research the format of online programs in software engineering to find one that best fits their schedule. Some of these programs are designed for working adults and may be self-paced. Others may have scheduled classes where students log in at a predetermined time.

The availability of hands-on training with software and programming languages may also be an important benefit to look for in a program. While several programs offer exposure to current technologies, students may want to research which technologies and/or how much hands-on experience they will receive. Below, we discuss important considerations for choosing an online bachelor's in software engineering in more detail.


Students should strongly consider attending a program in software engineering or computer science that is accredited. Accreditation shows that the school or program has met set standards for quality and many financial aid options (loans, grants, and scholarships) may only be available to students in an accredited program.

There are national and regional accrediting bodies, as well as accrediting organizations for some specific fields or majors. For software engineering, many programs fall under the institution's overall accreditation from a national or regional accrediting body, like the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). However, students who specifically want to study software engineering may look for software engineering programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET).

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Students should consider their budget, program costs, and availability of financial aid when choosing an online bachelor's degree in software engineering. Tuition varies by school, but may cost anywhere from $320 to $630 a credit hour, depending on factors like residency and if you are a full-time or part-time student. Some schools do offer discounts or additional credits for military students and/or spouses. Students may also need to consider any additional cost of meeting an institution's technical requirements for online learning, like reliable internet and computers with advanced specs.

To help offset the costs, most schools accept financial aid and/or scholarships that students may have earned. Typically, financial aid like grants and loans require students to first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what opportunities they qualify for. Outside of grants and loans, students can compete for scholarships that may be offered by schools or other organizations at the national or local levels. For example, some schools, as well as corporations in the field (such as Boeing and Cerner Corporation) may offer scholarships specifically for computer science and engineering students.

Career Options for Graduates of Software Engineering

Due to the broad nature of the field, graduates of software engineering or computer science degree programs can choose from a variety of career options. Students with a degree in computer science probably have the most flexibility, as the broad scope of the degree can help prepare for a variety of careers. Graduates with a bachelor's in computer science may still pursue a career as a software engineer, as well as roles like:

  • Computer programmer
  • Systems administrator
  • Technology entrepreneur
  • Web developer
  • Computer systems analyst

Students in computer science degree programs with a specialization in software engineering or a bachelor's degree specifically in software engineering are usually best trained to pursue a career as a software engineer. However, there are still several different job titles within the field of software engineering, including:

  • Computer software quality engineer
  • User interface designer
  • Video game designer
  • Full stack developer
  • Front-end developer
  • Back-end developer

Career Information for Software Developers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that most software developers work full-time in an office setting, and some of these professionals may be allowed to work from home. Software developers often work in teams on different projects and need to communicate and work with other computer specialists as well. Some job duties for software developers include:

  • Designing and testing software to meet a project or organization's needs
  • Identifying upgrades for existing programs
  • Performing regular software maintenance and testing
  • Analyzing and correcting any problems
  • Maintaining documentation of systems for future reference

The BLS also notes that there are two primary kinds of software developers: applications software developers and systems software developers. Applications software developers work primarily with computer applications that can be sold to the general public and/or be utilized by an organization, such as word processors or databases. Systems software developers help design the interfaces and operating systems that keep computers working.

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for applications software developers in 2018 was $108,080. The industry with the highest level of employment of these professionals in the same year was computer systems design and related services, where these developers made an average salary of $106,830. Applications software developers who worked as/for independent artists, writers, and performers made the highest average salary of $271,150. The BLS reported that the job outlook for applications software developers from 2018 to 2028 was 26%.

The BLS also recorded the average salary for systems software developers in 2018. These developers made a mean salary of $114,000 with computer systems design and related services also boasting the highest level of employment. Systems software developers in computer systems design and related services made an average salary of $112,810, but those in advertising, public relations, and related services made the highest average of $131,410. Per the BLS, the job outlook from 2018 to 2028 for systems software developers was 10%.

Professional Certification/Licensure

According to the BLS, software developers typically only need a bachelor's degree and strong programming skills. While professional certification is not usually required, some of these professionals may choose to earn certification in a specific programming language, programming product, or another software program to be competitive and/or demonstrate proficiency. Usually, these certifications are offered through software vendors and may require an exam. For example, some software developers may choose to become certified in Java SE Programming. This requires developers to complete an exam through Oracle and demonstrates proficiency in the field.

Other examples of optional certifications are offered through the Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW); these are designed for software developers interested in working specifically on web-based projects. The organization offers courses and certifications in areas like web design, web and mobile design, web development, and web security. The courses are designed to help prepare students for the certification exam and include pre-assessments, videos, quizzes, and practice exams all while giving students hands-on experience with labs and exercises.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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