Although diplomas and entry-level certificates in software engineering aren't available, relevant degrees are offered from the associate's through doctoral levels. Undergraduate degree programs emphasize the basic technical knowledge needed to design software to meet the needs of the users, usually businesses and organizations. Undergraduate students get hands-on experience through labs and projects. Students at the master's level focus on engineering theory and research. Doctoral programs are rare and generally prepare students for careers in research or teaching at the university level. A high school diploma or GED is required for entry into an undergraduate program, and a bachelor's degree is a typical requirement for a master's degree program.
Associate of Science in Computer Software Engineering
Associate of Science (A.S.) programs in computer software engineering are rare, but the programs offered heavily emphasize software engineering instead of other types of computer engineering. Students learn the technical concepts used to research and create a variety of applications for business and personal use. Programs often feature access to current computer technology, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in software engineering using professional-grade equipment.
Computer software engineering classes offered in A.S. programs provide the technical knowledge necessary to design and implement computer programs used to create websites, manage data and complete other functions. The topics noted below are often covered:
- Computer programming
- Finite mathematics
- Systems technology
- Systems administration
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Many Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in computer engineering offer a specialization in software engineering. These interdisciplinary programs combine engineering instruction with classes on computer science and software engineering. Students learn the theories behind computer and software design and complete projects that allow them to develop technical skills.
B.S. programs in computer engineering often allow people to specialize in software engineering, computer architecture, network engineering or robotics. Students complete group projects to hone their practical skills. Students often learn about the subjects listed below:
- Software specifications
- Software design
- Data structures
- Software programming
- Computer system architecture
Master of Science in Computer Engineering
Master of Science (M.S.) programs in computer engineering usually allow students to specialize in software engineering, computer network design or hardware architecture. Programs emphasize research skills along with computer engineering theory and practical skills. Students with a software specialization complete a related thesis project prior to graduation.
Students in computer engineering M.S. programs usually take a relatively narrow range of courses in order to learn about their chosen specialty. Many programs require students to meet with an academic advisor to select the proper depth and breadth of material for their coursework. Students interested in software engineering usually learn about the topics listed below:
- Performance modeling
- Systems engineering
- Distributed systems
- Operating system design
- Secure computer networking
Popular Career Options
People who earn an associate's degree in computer software engineering have the skills necessary for several entry-level positions in information technology (IT) and other technological fields. Many graduates choose the following careers:
- IT manager
- Software engineering assistant
- Software publishing assistant
Earning a B.S. in Computer Engineering provides graduates with knowledge relevant to several careers. Graduates often work for software publishers, computer manufacturers or governmental agencies. The careers noted below are popular options:
- Software engineering technologist
- Software publisher
- Computer programmer
An M.S. in Computer Engineering prepares graduates for careers creating, modifying, upgrading and implementing software used in business, word processing, banking, database management and a number of other fields. Graduates are qualified to work in the careers mentioned below:
- Business software design
- Personal computer software design
- Video game design
Continuing Education Information
A limited number of programs offer doctoral-level coursework in computer software engineering through Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in computer science or computer engineering. Most Ph.D. graduates enter careers in research or academia. Since software engineering is constantly evolving, many professionals in the field complete continuing education; businesses will sometimes host these training sessions to update the skills of their employees.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reported that software developers typically make a median annual salary of $105,570. The BLS also reported that, between 2014-2024, software developers were expected to see a 17% increase in employment rate.
Students can complete degree programs in computer engineering, which is similar to computer software engineering, at the undergraduate and graduate levels to prepare for careers in information technology, software publishing, and more. Students get to experience hands-on training with professional-grade equipment and complete courses like software design, software programming, and systems engineering.