Best Online Software Engineering Degrees: Guide to Online Graduate Programs for 2022

Best Online Software Engineering Degrees: Guide to Online Graduate Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The continuous clamor for new software, ever-changing code, and difficulties in present-time computing may result in an increased demand for software engineers in the years to come. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 22% growth in software development jobs between 2019 and 2029 (BLS, 2021). This prediction exceeds the average 4% growth across all occupations.

An online software engineering degree graduate program can land you applications software development, software architecture, network security engineering, and user experience design jobs. Software engineers are provided with numerous opportunities in technology firms, organizations, and businesses across government, education, media, finance, and health care industries (Best Colleges, n.d.). The BLS reports that computer science graduates generated an average salary of $107,510 in 2019 (BLS, 2021).

In this article, you will discover the possible career paths, salary ranges, basic coursework, admission prerequisites, and more about the best online software engineering degrees.

Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Programs Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program
  5. How much does an online software engineering degree graduate program cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online software engineering degree graduate program?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program

Can you get a degree completely online?

Yes, it is possible considering the trend towards online education spurred by the pandemic. Even major universities like Harvard, the University of Southern California, and North Carolina State University are offering online master’s programs in software engineering today.

But are online programs better? For that, we recall the observation by lead author and Harvard associate professor Joshua Goodman in an article published in 2018 in Education Next, a peer-reviewed journal for the academe. In the article, Goodman and co-authors provided us a glimpse into the case of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing.

In 2014, the college, which is regularly ranked in the top 10 in the US, started enrolling students in a fully online version of its highly regarded Master of Science in Computer Science degree—the earliest educational model to combine the inexpensive nature of online education with a degree program from a highly ranked institution.

The online degree costs about $7,000, less than one-sixth of the $45,000 that out-of-state students pay to enroll in the same program in person. The classes were designed by faculty to mirror the in-person courses, are graded to the same standards, and lead to the identical degree without any ‘online’ distinction. It is now the nation’s largest master’s degree program in computer science.

For Georgia Tech, online coursework can significantly increase educational achievement across the board and widen access to students when executed effectively (Goodman, J., Melkers, J., & Pallais, A., 2018). Earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree online is undeniably possible.

An online degree can let you study and learn from the comfort of your home, during an office break, or while on a beach. Getting online degrees has been prevalent in the past, but it is now the preferred educational route, in view of the COVID-19 crisis. Also, an online software engineering degree program can give you the perfect balance between studies and other life priorities (My Degree Guide, n.d.).

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Employers take online degrees seriously. However, they only recognize Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited schools and programs. Thus, be sure to attend only an accredited program.

Source: Transparent Career

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

These past few years, traditional schools have started offering college degrees through virtual learning. At the same time, employers are also now supporting online education. With more schools offering online degrees, the respect for this new learning arrangement is also growing worldwide.

Online vs. Traditional Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program

A software engineering degree graduate program traverses the building blocks of helpful applications and developing computer software. The bigger scope of the job involves data system assessment, new software designing, network improvement, programming languages mastery, and more. The degree requires technical command and a wider vision (Online Schools Report, n.d.).

Sharon Andrews, an associate professor of software engineering at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, authored the 2021 book “The Evolution of eLearning Within a Software Engineering Graduate Program.” Here, she briefly discussed how classes in the software engineering program transformed from physical to online and hybrid sessions.

“Enrollment in the software engineering program has historically been divided between local area students who work full time and international students who live on or near campus. Local students enrolled in 100% online classes were invited to attend face-to-face sessions of an enrolled class since the classes were typically offered in multiple modes of instruction.

“Many students would attend class 4-5 times a semester to participate in discussion sessions, project demonstrations, or oral presentations. Since these students were designated as 100% online, all on-campus activities were optional.

“However, many students participated in quite a few of the sessions. As the program grew and began to get enrollment from students residing beyond a reasonable driving distance, 100% online became a popular choice.

“In the last few years, domestic enrollment of local students has increased and bimodal classes have been in increasing demand as well as 100% online.”


Regular degrees offer collaborative communication with professors and classmates in real-time, while online degrees offer virtual communication.


Regular degrees oblige students to attend classes regularly, while classes in online degrees can be attended asynchronously.

Software engineers enroll in online software engineering degree graduate programs for many reasons, one of them is flexibility. Online degree courses allow students to work and fulfill other personal and professional obligations. Some of these courses are also fully self-directed and do not oblige students to attend classes physically (Terry, 2020).

School Preferences

Some students want to attend faraway prestigious schools, while others cannot simply find any nearby schools offering their program of choice. Moreover, many students choose online degree programs because they want to study at their own pace or do not feel at ease attending traditional settings anymore.

Transferable Skills

Online schools teach transferable skills, such as time management. A skill in time management molds you to become a better employee or business owner. Time connects everyone; hence how you deal with it can make you stand out among others (University of the People, n.d.).

Technological Advantages

Unlike regular degrees that offer courses confined in four-walled classrooms, online degrees enable students to get used to technology. Being adept with technology will help you advance in your career, which is also why online coding classes have become popular among students.

Is an online degree cheaper?

In most cases, online degrees are cheaper. However, this instance may not always be the case for some online software engineering degree graduate programs due to factors such as the type of school, out-of-state tuition costs, area of specialty, and technologies that will be used during an entire program (Terry, 2020).

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

Online software engineering degrees typically observe the same extensive educational program as regular degrees and provide comparable academic experience. What students miss when taking online degrees are the social and interactive experiences with their classmates, networking opportunities, face-to-face communication with their professors, and firsthand learning insights. Nevertheless, online software engineering students will graduate with similar degrees and will be offered similar opportunities.

How much does an online software engineering degree graduate program cost?

Software engineering students in traditional graduate-level programs pay an average annual tuition of $5,000 to 25,000 (Master’s Portal, 2020). For online graduate programs, the average tuition ranges from $230 to $1,000 per credit and from $7,000 to $38,000 in overall tuition (Terry, 2020). A huge range between programs costs apparently exists; thus it is important that you are comfortable with the expenses that you will be shelling out before enrolling in an online program.

Is an online software engineering degree graduate program worth it?

An online software engineering degree graduate program needs early investment in the form of time, tuition, and effort. In the long run, the job growth and salary potential for software engineers holding a master’s or PhD degree make this program worth every minute, cent, and energy. Many software engineers who took continuing education generate six-digit income and are offered a variety of choices in their careers.

Whether you are only a student, already working in the field, or finding ways to make yourself more competitive in the industry, earning an online graduate degree in software engineering will certainly give you an edge (College Choice, 2021).

What are the requirements of an online software engineering degree graduate program?

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science or or master’s degree in any related field taken from an accredited college or university
  • 30-36 credits for a master’s degree; 75 credits for a PhD degree
  • 2.0 GPA or higher in specific courses, such as introduction to software engineering, database management, and statistics
  • Relevant work experience

General Requirements

  • General Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores
  • Personal essay
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resume
  • Statement of intent
  • Interviews

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

Most schools offering online education require students to meet minimum laptop or computer requirements, subscribe to a stable internet connection, and be LMS-savvy.

Courses to Expect in Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program

An online software engineering degree graduate program offers a vast selection of courses. You can pursue courses depending on your interests, specialization, and professional goals. The course requirements vary from program to program, but the most popular courses in an online software engineering degree graduate program are Software Engineering Methods, Software Architecture Design, Object-Oriented Design, Python and JavaScript Web Programming, and Big Data Analytics.

Common Courses in Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program

  • Software Engineering Methods. Software Engineering Methods studies the typical work challenges of software engineers. Students will be taught how individuals and teams need to cope with changes. This course involves teamwork tasks to analyze problems and come up with solutions.
  • Software Architecture Design. Software Architecture Design teaches skills that software engineers need. This course focuses on designing and developing reliable software architecture for business-scale systems. Students are taught about architectural modeling concepts, architectural analysis approaches, and micro- and macro-architectural patterns. It also involves several group tasks.
  • Object-Oriented Design. Object-Oriented Design discusses current design and analysis methods that emphasize united modeling language and analyzing problem space. These concepts will help students think of solutions to possible design problems in the field. This course is also studied by students taking computer programming degrees.
  • Python and JavaScript Web Programming. Python and JavaScript Web Programming covers web applications design and execution using Python, JavaScript, and SQL, and more frameworks. The course includes lessons on database design, security, and user experience optimization. It develops the skills needed for creating and deploying internet applications.
  • Big Data Analytics. Big Data Analytics aids students in learning Spark 2 and other major big data systems and innovations. The course teaches how social media lead to the gathering, storage, and sharing of browsing data, email messages, photographs, videos, and other details. It teaches how to organize big data well and create huge data pipelines.

Source: Accredited Schools Online, 2021

Things to Look for in an Online Graduate Degree Program for Software Engineering

Faculty Credentials/Diversity

Check out the biographies of the faculty members and deans. Ensure that they have earned appropriate degrees. Note their specializations, too.


Postsecondary institutes can be accredited by different organizations. To be accredited, a school must comply with certain standards imposed by the accrediting body. These standards can include graduation rates, faculty experience, and curriculum.


Consider the program offerings of a school. Make sure that their focus areas can help you thrive in your career.

Hidden Costs

Besides tuition, which is recognized as the biggest cost in any program, students are also required to pay other fees. Ask your potential school for its full list of specific program costs.

Financial Aid

Consider all costs affecting the overall program tuition. Some schools offer discounts to distance in-state learners, while others impose technology fees.

Career Services

Schools offering software engineering degree programs usually offer a wide alumni network, training sessions, and partnerships with technology firms.

On-Site Requirements

Identify on-site requirements and see if you can meet them. If you do not want to take any tests, choose programs that do not require GRE.

Other Considerations

Look for online programs that offer flexibility. Many programs let students choose the number of courses that suit their availability, enabling full-time and part-time students to enroll.

A Hassle-Free Learning Experience With an Online Software Engineering Degree Graduate Program

The consistent innovations in computers and technology make software engineering an even more interesting path. These developments also mean that software engineers need to keep up by upskilling themselves. While a bachelor’s degree in software engineering already provides you with a strong foundation for the field, it may not be enough. Most software engineers these days feel that they want to learn more, gain more skills, and improve what they already have without compromising their jobs and time spent with family. This is where an online master’s or doctorate degree program for software engineering comes into the picture. Through online programs like this, you can both learn and work anywhere, anytime. (Best Computer Science Schools, n.d.).



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  9. Master’s Portal. (December 17, 2020). Tuition Fees for Master’s Degres in the USA – Average Costs for Popular SubjectsMaster’s Portal.
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  11. Online Schools Report. (n.d.). Best Online Master’s Degrees in Software EngineeringOnline Schools Report.
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  13. Top Management Degrees. (2021, April 12). Top Online Master’s in Engineering Management ProgramsTop Management Degrees.
  14. University of the People. (n.d.). 5 Reasons for Choosing an Online Software Engineering DegreeUniversity of the People.


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