Online Software Engineering Degree: An Overview
The computer and technology industry is booming in the U.S. In 2017, growth in the information technology industry outpaced all other industries on the stock market. In 2014, the high-tech industry accounted for approximately 12 percent of total employment in the U.S. and nearly 23 percent of the country’s economic output.
One in-demand and high-paying profession in the technology industry is software engineer. Software engineers apply methods of engineering, including structure and design, to the process of developing software. They analyze the needs of clients and users and then plan how to structure software that meets those needs.
Although they may write code, software engineers often spend more time solving programming problems and designing software systems. Most software engineering and computer-related positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. As a result, students interested in computing and software may consider pursuing a software engineering degree online.
An online software engineering program offers flexibility for students who are also working professionals. Web-based programs typically follow the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to similar advancement opportunities for graduates. The online format is also ideal for students who must tackle additional commitments – such as child or family care – on top of their work and class schedules.
How long does it take to earn an online software engineering bachelor’s degree?
Online software engineering bachelor’s degrees generally require 116 to 126 credits. Full-time students can typically complete the degree in four years.
How much does an online software engineering bachelor’s degree cost?
The cost of a software engineering online bachelor’s degree depends on several factors. State residency is an important consideration, since many colleges and universities charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. However, some schools charge flat tuition for online students regardless of residency. Technology fees are another key factor; these fees often apply to online students but not their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Per-credit costs for an online software engineering degree typically range from $320 to $720. Students should expect to pay between $37,000 and $91,000 in total tuition.
Choosing an accredited online software engineering degree program
Accreditation status is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. Colleges and universities in the U.S. receive accreditation from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education; the accreditation process involves an extensive review of a school’s educational programs and student services.
A school’s accreditation impacts course credit transferability, as well as student eligibility for federal financial aid, so students should ensure the school offering the program has earned national or regional accreditation.ADVERTISEMENT
Students pursuing a software engineering bachelor’s degree online typically complete coursework in programming, operating systems and software design. Over the course of the program, students commonly learn how to design a piece of software, code it, test it and validate it. This knowledge may be applied during a capstone project, in which students typically create a complete piece of software. Often, students also complete coursework in calculus, physics and discrete mathematics.
One common course in online software engineering undergraduate programs is database management. In this course, students learn how to store and manage data, learn about query languages such as SQL and learn how to model and structure data.
Students interested in gaming, virtual reality or graphic design may want to take courses focused on visualization and graphics. Students may also learn about hardware and software used for computational graphics and create their own graphics.
Most online software engineering bachelor’s degree programs require a capstone project. Students draw on the knowledge and skills they have gained through previous coursework to design and carry out a comprehensive project related to their field of study. The capstone project is normally completed during the latter stages of the program.
Professional Associations in Software Engineering
Professional associations provide a wide range of valuable resources for students earning a software engineering degree online, as well as for recent graduates. Benefits of membership typically include access to online journals and trade publications, professional development opportunities, job listings and in-person networking events. Three professional associations for software engineering students are outlined below. IEEE Computer Society: The IEEE Computer Society serves more than 60,000 members, including IT experts, students and leaders in the field of software engineering. The organization sponsors more than 200 events each year and publishes 17 journals and 13 magazines. Association of Software Professionals: Focused on the business side of software development, the ASP helps its members gain marketing skills and professional contacts. Membership benefits include access to discussion boards and the ASPects newsletter, which contains information on how to sell software products.Association for Computing Machinery: Founded in 1947, ACM offers $1.5 million in scholarships each year to its student members from more than 500 colleges and universities. The association has 37 special-interest groups, including a group for software engineering and a group for artificial intelligence. ACM has a global focus, with more than half of its 100,000 members residing outside of the U.S.
- Programming languages
- Software verification, validation and testing
- Operating systems and networks
- Human-computer interaction
- Visualization and graphics
- Discrete mathematics for computer science
Job Outlook and Salaries for Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job openings for computer and information technology occupations will grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, nearly twice as fast as the national average for all occupations. This equates to more than 557,000 new technology jobs.
The median salary for computing professionals is $82,860, which is more than double the national median salary of $37,040 for all occupations. Many of these positions, including software developer and database administrator, require at least a bachelor’s degree.
What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering?
Although Silicon Valley is famous for its high concentration of technology jobs, there are computer and software positions available all over the U.S. Graduates with a software engineering online bachelor’s degree may apply for a number of jobs in the technology industry, including computer systems analyst, computer systems administrator and computer network architect. Not all software professionals work in the technology industry; there are also software-related jobs in finance and insurance, manufacturing and other sectors. Computer programmer: Programmers write code in computer languages such as C++ and Java. They test their code to ensure that it works as designed. If a program is faulty, programmers investigate the code to find and fix the errors. Programmers also update existing software and make modifications. Information technology manager: Information technology managers help organizations establish policies and procedures for data storage and access as well as supervise infrastructure use and team members who work with issues related to networks, security and software. They may also hire and train IT staff members.Software developer: Like programmers, developers create software. However, developers are generally more involved in the design process. In some companies, developers write code themselves, while in others they create plans for programmers to implement. They perform regular testing and maintenance to ensure software continues to run smoothly. Developers usually have a bachelor’s degree.Software engineer: Software engineers coordinate with designers, developers, clients and coders to develop software. They consider the specific functions the software must perform and plan out any tasks necessary to complete those functions. Most software engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science or a related field.
Licensure and certification
Although a license is not required in all states, there are many optional certifications that software engineering students can pursue. Students may demonstrate proficiency in certain programming languages, such as Java or C++, by earning certification in those languages.
Companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and IBM offer additional certifications to software engineers and developers. Software engineers interested in databases may earn certifications such as MySQL database administration, MySQL database developer or Microsoft certified database administrator.