Last Updated: January 1, 2017
From the vital job of protecting the network security of a large, thriving organization to designing your own video game that screams innovation and vision, a degree in software engineering is guaranteed to advance your career. In the next few years, the employment of software engineers is projected to increase by a huge 22 percent. Furthermore, those engineers will make, on average, an annual salary of $100,690, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And these numbers reflect just those engineers who have a Bachelor’s of Science degree. Both employment rate and salary go up exponentially for those with advanced degrees.
Online undergraduate programs in software engineering are an affordable, accessible, and flexible way to earn your BS in software engineering. If you find yourself in a situation that makes going back to school or enrolling for the first time either logistically or financially problematic, then getting an online degree can be a great option for you. Despite the stigma online programs once held, they have mostly shed those stereotypes and have increasingly solid reputations, in large part because online programs are developed and taught by the same faculty who teach the traditional, on-campus courses. And in most cases, the diploma looks exactly the same as those garnered by “traditional students,” yet it was obtained at half the price.
What Is the Best Online Bachelor’s of Science in Software Engineering Degree Program?
Below are the fifteen Best Online Bachelor’s in Software Engineering degree programs in the country. Here at College Choice we’ve collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of early career software engineering from online programs across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s fifteen best. We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation according to U.S. News & World Report, and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction. Then, we ordered them by weighting reputation and retention rates with tuition price and the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Best Online Bachelor’s in Software Engineering
Western Governors University
College Choice Score: 100
Tuition per Credit Hour: $240
Hands down, Western Governors University’s online Bachelor’s of Science in Software Development is the best in the country. With a 100 percent retention rate (a signal of student satisfaction) a respectable average early career salary for graduates, a low credit-hour cost, and a well-ranked program, WGU tops our list. Students study IT fundamentals, web development, networks and security, operating systems, data management, software applications, technical writing, scripting and programming, and leadership training. This program is also specifically modeled to be completed in step with the student’s ability and competencies. This means that as a WGU student you will progress through the program at your own pace.
Based in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, Western Governors University is both private and a non-profit university accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Schools. All of the nearly 80,000 WGU students are online, taking part in the competency-based learning model—that is, students proceed through their degree by demonstrating they have acquired certain knowledge, skill, or ability—in one of the four colleges: business, information technology, education, and the health professions. Known not only for its innovative teaching model, WGU’s tuition rates are among the most competitive in the country.
Brigham Young University - Idaho
College Choice Score: 96.25
Tuition per Credit Hour: $163
The online learning platform at Brigham Young University is huge, with a long history of serving its adult learners. Like many of their programs, their Bachelor’s of Science in Software Engineering can be taken entirely online and includes a course load that covers everything from the fundamentals of data structures and digital systems to more complex research, including advanced engineering, security, and technical communication. Electives cover business statistics, project management, mobile applications, database design, and more. There is no rush to complete the BYU degree, as they allow up to eight years to finish, but students also have the option to accelerate toward the graduation date by taking classes year around. This flexibility, paired with the lowest credit hour rate, makes Brigham Young’s software engineering programs one of the best.
Brigham Young University is mostly known for being owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—though, the online platform actually operates completely independent of the church—BYU also boasts a solid reputation among AWRU, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, QS World University Rankings, The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly, where it is ranked as among the best universities in the country and world. This is due in large part to the number of research initiatives taken on by BYU and subsequent awards earned. For example, BYU has graduated over forty Fulbright scholars, ten Rhodes scholars, and more. BYU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Kennesaw State University
College Choice Score: 89.5
Tuition per Credit Hour: $277
Specifically for students who already have an Associate of Applied Science degree from a member institution of the Technical College System of Georgia, this online Bachelor of Applied Science degree is in information technology, offered through its College of Computing & Software Engineering. Students at Kennesaw State University learn how to identify and evaluated current, trending, and emerging technologies; they are able to implement IT solutions in an organizational environment; and, perhaps most emphasized by the curriculum, they are able to select, design, integrate, and administer software solutions. KSU graduates have found work as computer simulation and game designers, computer programmers, e-commerce programmers, information security specialists, network specialists, computer information systems specialist, and more. Not only is this program offered completely online, students can also design a hybrid schedule and take some courses in the classroom.
Kennesaw State University, part of the University System of Georgia, is located in Kennesaw, Georgia and offers over fifty degrees in business, education, sports management, engineering, nursing, physical science, and criminal justice. The university, in attempts to make education accessible and affordable, is now received a reputation for being one of the best schools in the countries for vets, and, likewise, it is considered one of the top “up-and-coming” universities in the nation. Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 84.85
Tuition per Credit Hour: $633
Through the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University you can earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Software Engineering from a program that specifically stresses project-driven course work. ASU online students learn by doing through a discovery-based curriculum that combines engineering, computing, project leadership, and software construction to deliver an education that fully prepares its students to design and engineer innovative systems, including mechanical and electrical components. Thus, graduates of ASU’s program have found themselves creating innovative new video games, designing web applications, working with embedded systems developing distributed applications, managing teams of people, working in security, and more.
Arizona State University is known for many things: being one of the largest universities in the country with an enrollment of over 80,000 students, for its commitment to sustainability efforts, and for its large online learning platform that seeks to give students a nearly identical learning experience to one they would receive on campus. ASU is also nationally and globally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, the Wall Street Journal, and more. Arizona State is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 82
Tuition per Credit Hour: $320
Software development in distributed systems, mobile application design, interactive scripting, cyberlaw and ethics, human factors in information technology, and object-oriented analysis and design are just some of the unique classes you will get to take as a Southern New Hampshire University online student. This Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technologies degree offers a software development concentration that trains students on developing effective systems design and maintenance solutions as well as preparing them to be leaders in global, social, and ethical settings. Furthermore, students gain the skills to be able to communicate effectively, as they are taught how to utilize oral, print, and multimedia strategies in connecting with diverse audiences.
Nestled between Manchester and Hooksett in New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University offers many areas of study to its nearly 65,000 students, only a small portion of whom study on campus while the 60,000 online students study from afar. SNHU is comprised of five colleges and schools and partners closely with many national and global organizations in an effort to promote student networking and relationship as well as innovation. The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
College Choice Score: 79.75
Tuition per Credit Hour: $410
Through Bellevue University’s online Bachelor’s of Science in Software Development, students learn how to not just develop software applications and web-based applications, but also how to effectively apply analysis and design concepts to best strategize business performance and relationships. The Bellevue program accomplishes this through a curriculum that stresses successful writing and verbal communications skills, leadership and management, and critical thinking through courses such as project management, server scripting, programming, advanced networking, and web scripting, among others. Additionally, Bellevue University requires three very unique courses that sets its students apart from the crowd: American vision and values, tradition and change, and freedom and responsibility.
Bellevue University is based in Bellevue, Nebraska and is home to approximately 7,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students. The university offers numerous degrees at all academic levels and is known for its accelerated, cohort-based, and online classes. In fact, its online colleges and degrees are considered among the top ten best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Bellevue is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 79.08
Tuition per Credit Hour: $641
At Champlain College you earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Software Development degree and, if you so choose, add a certification of specialization to further hone your skills and to make your resume stand out. Those specializations are in java programming, C++ programming, and visual C#, in addition to a general software development concentration. Whichever route you take, this 100 percent online degree from Champlain will train you on a variety of software languages, help you gain practical experience (specifically in cybersecurity and mobile devices), and develop your programming, systems analysis, interpersonal, and business skills. Finally, at Champlain you can expect a dynamic learning experience, as they emphasize hands-on learning through the utilization of cloud-based virtual laboratories.
Located in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, Champlain College is a private college of approximately 2,000 undergraduates. Despite its size, Champlain offers degrees in nearly 100 areas of study, from digital forensics to electronic game programming. Champlain differentiates itself through its unique, “upside down” approach to education, meaning students are allowed to take in-depth and higher-level courses in their first few semesters, as a way to acquaint themselves with their majors. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Champlain is a highly ranked university with many awards and accolades to its name.
University of Maryland University College
College Choice Score: 70
Tuition per Credit Hour: $391
If you’re looking for a degree that specifically trains students on issues of security, the Bachelor’s of Science in Software Development and Security degree through the online learning platform at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) will fully prepare you. UMUC online students are taught how to plan and manage all phases of a secure software development project while also being able to identify and respond to threats and attacks to minimize risk and protect privacy. This program is ideal for those seeking jobs as security analysts, security managers, application and software architects, information security officers, programmers, or security and code auditors.
The University of Maryland University College is a public institution based in Adelphi, Maryland that serves nearly 100,000 students worldwide through its distance learning program. With 120 programs of study across all academic levels, UMUC online is one of the largest providers of distance education in the nation, and it offers specific programming and support to active and former military, making a name for itself as one of the country’s “Best for Vets” colleges. UMUC, a member of the University System of Maryland, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Colorado Technical University
College Choice Score: 66.88
Tuition per Credit Hour: $325
The online Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology degree program at Colorado State University allows students to specifically specialize in Software Systems Engineering. Students are guided through software design and development, database systems, and they are taught at least one programming language. The CTU curriculum includes courses such as structured query language, website development, programming logic, spreadsheet applications, systems design and integration, and more. All classes are offered online, but CTU gives students the option of creating a hybrid learning experience by attending some classes on campus. Graduates of this program have gone on to work as application developers, network security engineers, software developers, systems analysts, and test engineers.
Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Colorado Technical University offers dozens of bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in business, technology, engineering, criminal justice, finance, health, and computer science. Most of CTU students (over 90 percent) are online learners and the online programs—especially its IT, criminal justice, and business programs—offered by CTU are consistently ranked as among the best by U.S. News & World Report.
Full Sail University
College Choice Score: 65
Tuition per Credit Hour: $467
Full Sail University offers a fully online Bachelor’s of Science in Software Development degree that stresses an analytical as well as practical approach to understanding how technology, especially software, affects our daily lived experiences. Students are guided through the ins and outs of design, development, and implementation of software, including its uses for business solutions, entertainment outlets, and for analyzing consumer markets. Classes are completely online, but Full Sail makes sure its students are well-supported by connecting them with other students, faculty and staff, and by pairing them with career development advisors and services. Finally, in addition to offering competitive tuition rates, Full Sail makes scholarship and financial aid opportunities available to their students.
Based in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University is a for-profit institution of higher learning accredited by the Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Over 15,000 students study at Full Sail, working towards degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Full Sail specializes in accelerated programs, allowing students to attain their degrees in up to half the amount of time of typical programs, and they have been offering online education for many years. Full Sail University offers degrees in everything from art and design to music, recording, technology, gaming, and media.
College Choice Score: 63.75
Tuition per Credit Hour: $345
The online undergraduate software development program at Herzing University prepares its students to become programmers, software or internet developers, database or website developers, or web page coordinators. Whatever your vocational goal, this degree can help you get there. The curriculum covers everything from computer networks and object-oriented programming to business systems analysis, mobile applications development, database administration, and system scripting, among others. Also, Herzing gives its students the opportunity to specialize in one of two areas: computer applications or computer systems. It is important to note that Herzing requires both a senior capstone project as well as an internship
Herzing University strives to provide accessible and flexible education to working adults through its career-focused education model. Across all academic levels, Herzing awards degrees in many areas, but is most known for its programs in public safety, business, information technology, legal studies, healthcare, and nursing. Herzing University—based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but with eleven campuses throughout the country—is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
College Choice Score: 61
Tuition per Credit Hour: $265
Online software engineering classes at Grantham University include programming essentials, circuits lab, digital electronics, advanced microprocessors, electronics theory, and computer networks, in addition to core education courses and fundamental development and engineering classes. If you’re looking for a program that supplements its software development education with courses covering hardware development, then this degree may be for you; this Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Engineering Technology degree trains students on designing and evaluating both hardware and software systems. Upon graduation you will be ready for an array of careers, as you will be able to apply the knowledge, techniques, skills, and strategies gained at Grantham to define and overcome any technical problems you’ll face in your career.
Specializing specifically in online education, Grantham University is a for-profit university accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Grantham offers nearly fifty online degree programs, notably in the fields of business, the arts and sciences, engineering, computer science, nursing, and the health sciences. Over 17,000 students attend Grantham, a majority of whom are undergraduates who come from all fifty states and over 100 countries worldwide. Similarly, many students are active and retired military, as Grantham has a reputation for being a good school for vets.
Eastern Florida State College
College Choice Score: 60
Tuition per Credit Hour: $318
Graduates from Eastern Florida State College’s (EFSC) online Bachelor’s of Science in Program and Software Development have found work as computer support specialists, software developers, database administrators, and web developers. This is because EFSC’s program stresses the importance of data structures and modern programming languages, which is in huge demand in today’s job market. The curriculum, designed for working students, takes those students through operational management and decision making to software design, internet programming, emerging information technologies, and web and mobile applications. EFSC also expects its students to complete an internship and the capstone course, Network Management for Information Professionals.
Eastern Florida State College is a member institution of the Florida College system and is a public, state school with four campuses located throughout the state. It has connections to the aerospace program at the Kennedy Space Center and is known for its technical and STEM related programs. With over 100 degree and certificate programs, including those with special emphasis on professional and technical education, EFSC enrolls over 25,000 students, many of whom take part in the school’s online education program. Eastern Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 58.25
Tuition per Credit Hour: $319
At Strayer University you can earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Systems degree with a concentration in software engineering management that is completely online. Key courses at Strayer include project design, agile project management, software architecture, systems analysis, networking security, and IT project management. This program ensures you will be able to analyze and explain software methodologies, demonstrate an ability to design and implement a system process model, and that you will be able to compare various testing approaches to software development. And you will be fully prepared by Strayer to take the CompTia Network and ISC2 Certification exams, making this an affordable, flexible, and practical education choice for advancing your career.
A for-profit higher education institution owned and operated by the Strayer Education organization, Strayer University provides online education to approximately 40,000 students. Strayer also has nearly eighty campuses nationwide, through which it works specifically with working adults who want to enhance their careers by advancing their education. Strayer University’s most popular programs are accounting, criminal justice, health services administration, information technology, business administration, education, and public administration, and they are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.