Online Software Engineering Degrees by Program Level

Dec 02, 2019

Research online software engineering courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in software engineering are rare. However, several colleges and universities offer fully online bachelor's programs, which include general education and major courses in addition to multidisciplinary training in things such as networking, databases, and IT project management.

For graduate students, master's programs also exist in an online format. They often take two years of full-time study and consist solely of core courses in software architecture and design. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, and some programs require a specific major in an information technology or computer science field as well as relevant professional experience.

Students in an online program will need specialized software to successfully complete the programs. Often, a microphone and/or webcam are also required.

Associate's Degree

This program teaches students the fundamental concepts of computer science and software development. Covered subjects include C++, Java HMTL, C and Visual Basic. Students also learn problem solving skills that help them to work as part of a team as well as individually when creating and testing new hardware and software technologies.


The average length of time needed to complete an associate's degree in software engineering ranges from 45-72 credit hours. Course material is often structured asynchronously; however, many courses typically have mandated due dates and exam times.

Students need access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Because some course material is delivered via streaming video and downloadable lectures, the computer must have audio and video capabilities. Due to the nature of the program, some additional programs may be required, such as Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft DirectX End and Java.


In addition to core computer science and programming courses, some associate's degree programs also have general education requirements in English, mathematics and the humanities.

Computer Information Applications

Trains students in the application of computer science concepts relevant to business network systems. While utilizing microcomputers, students will become familiar with word processing, spreadsheet software and database systems.


Uses the Java programming language to write computer programs. Introduces data abstraction, classes, graphics and applets.

Database Applications

Prepares students to identify, analyze and repair potential issues that arise in a business's information retrieval system. Students use programs such as Microsoft Access to write, retrieve, analyze, update and store digital information.

Bachelor's Degree

Alongside programs in software engineering, students can also find programs in computer science or information technology with a concentration in software engineering. They train students in fundamental computer science concepts, including systems design, program writing, database structure, network design, web technology and systems maintenance. Upon completion of this program, students should be prepared to analyze, create and maintain software and network systems.


Typical length ranges from 120-140 credit hours. Many institutions offer training seminars and orientation sessions to prepare students for the online learning environment. Some courses offer live discussion forums where students can communicate with instructors and peers in real time. These courses require students to have a microphone and webcam.


This degree program includes general education requirements that students must complete along with advanced coursework in software engineering or related areas.

Software Engineering

Generally lasts two semesters. Trains students in introductory software engineering concepts, which include the planning, designing, creation, documentation and testing of software programs. Focuses on creating collaborative and sustainable software products.

Systems Analysis

This two-semester course introduces students to the traditional life cycle of computer systems and the prototype development designed to improve those technology systems. Topics include object-oriented analysis, agile analysis, prototype creation, standards of quality and systems configuration management.

Programming Fundamentals

Teaches how to use algorithms and logic to write computer programs specifically for business-oriented technology systems. Data classification, controls, functional decomposition, arrays and files are all procedural programming techniques that are taught in this course..

Master's Degree

An online Master of Science in Software Engineering program is primarily designed for working professionals in computer science fields who want to extend their educational knowledge to advance their careers. It emphasizes group collaboration, research, critical thinking, problem solving, software implementation, analysis, communication and legal issues. Students must have a bachelor's degree in a related field prior to enrollment, and in some cases, students need two years of computer-related professional work.


The M.S. in Software Engineering requires 30-36 credit hours, depending on prior education. It is widely available completely online and takes about two years for completion. Course material is accessed through websites, downloadable lectures and streaming video, with communication to instructors and peers occurring via online discussion forums and message boards.

Some courses require a scanner in order to create digital images of printed material. It is also recommended that students have access to a graphics-capable printer.


Due to the technical nature of this degree program, students must complete or test out of some prerequisite courses, depending on the student's undergraduate degree.

Software Verification

Introduces evaluation techniques that ensure development of satisfactory products. These methods include observation, analysis, CleanRoom and functional test cases. Students also use boundary value analysis and equivalence classes to assess the degree of coverage to analyze performance data.

Software Measurement

Covers current methods for measuring software performance. The focus of these measurement practices includes specifications, designs, code, implementation, testing and analysis. Outlines systematic measurement protocols that students utilize to maximize software efficiency.

Legal Issues in Software Engineering

Students in this course are introduced to the professional, ethical and legal parameters that influence software engineers. Topics in this course include industry codes of ethics, computer privacy laws and intellectual property laws.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), associate's degree holders in software engineering can find employment as computer support specialists ( The BLS also reported that in 2018, the median annual wages for this occupation were $53,470, with the employment rate expected to rise by 21% between 2018 and 2028.

A bachelor's degree qualifies graduates to gain employment as a computer software developer. The BLS reported that employment in this occupation is expected to rise 21% between 2018 and 2028 ( The BLS stated the median annual wage for this occupation was $105,590 in 2018.

Online programs in software engineering are rare at the associate's degree level, but are more common at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs develop students' skills in programming and software development in preparation for work as computer support specialists or computer software developers.

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