Software engineering is a staple field in the technology industry, which explains the popularity of software engineering degree programs. However, getting a degree in software engineering can be expensive. Luckily, there are many options for you to get the cheapest online software engineering degree, so you can get the education you need without breaking the bank.
In this article, you will find a comprehensive list of the most affordable online software engineering degrees. It includes information on the benefits of getting your software engineering degree online, the cheapest online schools for software engineering, and the career opportunities that await you after graduation.
Can I Get a Software Engineering Degree Online?
Yes, you can get a software engineering degree online. Software engineering, like other information technology degrees, can be studied online with relative ease since you don’t need access to special labs or facilities. Most of the classes and hands-on projects you will need to complete can be done with your personal computer and submitted over the Internet.
Why Should I Get a Software Engineering Degree Online?
You should get a software engineering degree online because it is more flexible, affordable, and versatile compared to a traditional in-person degree. The cheapest online schools for software engineering tend to have a lower cost of attendance than traditional degrees in software engineering.
Some online software engineering degrees are self-paced, which means you can decide when to learn. A self-paced schedule is best suited to someone with a high degree of self-motivation and good time management skills. If that’s you, you should have no problem managing your course load remotely.
What Are the Most Affordable Online Software Engineering Degree Programs in the US?
The most affordable online software engineering programs in the US include associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to deepen your software engineering and programming skills, you can find an affordable program to meet your career goals. The five cheapest schools by cost per credit are listed below.
Cheapest Software Engineering Degree Programs Online That Will Help You Stand Out
- Associate Degree–IT Software Developer at Northcentral Technical College
- Associate Degree–IT Software Developer at Chippewa Valley Technical College
- MS in Software Engineering at East Carolina University
- BS in Software Development and Security at University of Maryland Global Campus
- BS in Computer Science–Software Engineering at Southern New Hampshire University
How Much Does an Online Software Development Degree Cost?
An online software development degree costs between $141 and $863.90 per credit, depending on the school, type of degree, and whether or not you are a resident of the school’s state. Associate degrees are often the most affordable option since they require fewer credits to complete than a bachelor’s degree and are less advanced than a master’s degree.
Tuition rates are not the only thing you should factor into your education cost estimate. While off-campus programs will save you money when it comes to housing and transportation, you will still need to pay various student fees and secure the necessary books and supplies to complete your education.
Will Getting a Software Engineering Degree Online Save Me Money?
Yes, getting a software engineering degree online will save you money if you choose an affordable school. While the cost per credit for online degrees is often the same as the cost for in-person programs, the overall cost of attendance is significantly lower. You do not need to pay for campus accommodation, meal plans, or transportation.
Online Software Engineering Programs vs In-Person Software Engineering Programs
Online software engineering programs hold the same weight in the job market as traditional in-person programs. Additionally, most diplomas don’t say whether you studied on-campus or online, so it’s down to your personal preference. Learning the benefits of each option will help you pick the right learning format for your situation and learning style.
Benefits of an Online Software Engineering Degree
- Flexibility. The flexibility that comes with online learning is one of the most obvious benefits of studying online. You can learn from the comfort of your home, on vacation, during your lunch break at work, at a local cafe, or anywhere else you want. All you need to take online courses is a computer and an internet connection.
- Cost saving. The cheapest online software engineering degrees feature low tuition rates, and some even have tuition discounts for online students. The overall cost of attendance is also lower than traditional degrees since you don’t need to pay for accommodation or transportation.
- Digital communication and collaboration. You will become a more effective digital communicator when you get an online degree. Digital communication skills are among the most sought-after types of soft skills in the technological workforce today. You will learn how to collaborate in a remote environment.
- Time management and self-discipline skills. There are many distractions that come with studying in online degree programs, especially if you take classes at home. Without the structure that comes with a traditional school, you will need to master time management and self-discipline in order to successfully secure your degree.
- Custom curriculum. Some of the most affordable online software engineering degrees allow you to curate your curriculum based on your interests. The flexibility and convenience of these programs also give you the freedom to supplement your coursework with external programs or pursue your other interests.
Benefits of In-Person Software Engineering Degree Programs
- Structured learning environment. Attending classes at the same time in a physical location provides a structured learning environment. This structure may make it easier for people, especially younger students, to complete their education.
- Extracurricular activities. College isn’t just about learning software engineering or any other subject. On-campus students enjoy extracurricular activities like sports, fraternities, clubs, and sororities that round out their college experience. If you are a social butterfly, you will benefit from attending an in-person software engineering program.
- Face-to-face communication skills. Attending classes on campus means that you will have one-on-one conversations with your peers, instructors, advisors, and others in your school. This will help you improve your face-to-face communication skills.
- Limited distractions. Each time you are in a classroom, your goals will be clear and shared with those around you. You will not be easily distracted by social media, and the people in the classroom, library, or computer lab with you will also be immersed in their studies.
- Efficient project collaboration. Software engineering is a field that requires collaboration between different members of a project team. By attending in-person classes, you can work on group projects directly with your teammates and get first-hand experience in teamwork and project management.
Online Software Engineering Degree Career Options
With an online software engineering degree, you can pursue many rewarding career paths that are in high demand in the US and internationally. Some of these job titles include software engineer, web developer, computer programmer, quality assurance tester, cybersecurity engineer, user experience, and designer.
Software Engineering Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the demand for software engineers will rise 22 percent between 2020 and 2030. To put this into perspective, the projected job growth for all jobs in the United States within the same time period is eight percent.
The most in-demand software engineering job titles are software developers, web developers, programmers, and software testers. The demand for these jobs is expected to rise by 19 percent between 2020 and 2030, while the demand for all other computing occupations is expected to rise by 13 percent.
Software Engineering Salary
BLS reports that the average annual salary for software engineers in the United States is $110,140. This translates to about $52.95 per hour for hourly positions. You can expect your annual salary to vary based on your education level, years of experience in the field, where you’re located, your specialization, and your job description.
Can I Enroll in an Online Software Engineering Program for Free?
Yes, you can enroll in an online software engineering program for free if you meet the eligibility requirements for scholarships and grants. There are non-profit organizations that sponsor tech education for people in certain demographics with the goal of diversifying the field. Federal and state governments also offer financial aid to qualifying students.
Women in tech, gender non-conforming individuals, people of color, people with great academic track records who are struggling financially, and other underrepresented communities are more likely to qualify for free software engineering education online.
Cheapest Online Software Engineering Degree Programs
|School||Online Degree||Degree Tuition|
|Northcentral Technical College||Associate Degree–IT Software Developer||$143.45/credit (in state); $215.18/credit (out of state)|
|Chippewa Valley Technical College||Associate Degree–IT Software Developer||$143.45/credit (in state); $215.18/credit (out of state)|
|East Carolina University||MS in Software Engineering||$263.83/credit (in state); $994.33/credit (out of state)|
|University of Maryland Global Campus||BS in Software Development and Security||$312/credit (in state); $499/credit (out of state)|
|Southern New Hampshire University||BS in Computer Science–Software Engineering||$320/credit|
|Kennesaw State University||MS in Software Engineering||$383/credit|
|Bellevue University||BS in Software Development||$440/credit|
|Kansas State University||Master of Software Engineering||$863.90/credit|
|Western Governors University||BS in Software Development||$3,920/semester|
|Texas Technological College||MS in Software Engineering||$8,653/year (in state); $16,180/year (out of state)|
Software Engineering Degrees Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Online Software Engineering Programs
We chose the most affordable software engineering degree programs based on tuition and general costs information from the schools’ official websites, the US Department of Education’s database of accredited schools, and the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard tool.
The Cheapest Online Software Engineering Degree Programs: A Deep Dive
Common Online Software Engineering Degree Courses
The most common software engineering degree courses are programming, data structures, web application development, software security, and fundamentals of computer science. The difficulty level of each course will vary based on the degree program and how far along you have come in your education.
Core courses in different programming languages are the backbone of every software engineering degree program. Programming involves a series of processes and actions carried out by developers to create and maintain software. This huge subject is covered in fundamentals of programming as well as intermediate and advanced programming classes.
Databases and Structures
The right software engineering degree will teach you about the role of data structures and databases in software development. You are most likely to come across this subject when you are learning about the backend, also known as server-side development.
Web Application Development
One thing that all software engineering degree programs cover is web application development. You will learn how to build websites and other web-based applications during your degree, even if your end goal is not to become an application developer.
Every software engineer needs to learn about software security, since security threats are ever-present in the field. A course dedicated to software and cyber security will teach you how to protect software from internal or external threats.
Fundamentals of Computer Science
Since software development is a branch of computer science, most programs will include foundational courses in computer science. Some schools also offer software engineering as a specialization track in a computer science degree program.
Can I Apply for Federal Aid to Finance My Online Software Engineering Degree?
Yes, you can apply for federal aid to finance your online software engineering degree. There are different types of aid available, including need-based and performance-based aid, so you should see which programs you qualify for. You can visit the official federal financial aid website for more information.
Options to Help Pay for an Online Software Engineering Degree
The most popular ways to pay for online software engineering degrees are federal or state grants, federal or private loans, and work-study programs. The fastest way to finance college is to pay tuition costs out of pocket. However, most people cannot afford to pay tuition up front, so they have to explore financial aid options.
Federal and State Grants
Federal grants and state grants are funds provided by the government to students who have exceptional ideas and research proposals. When you are awarded a grant to pay for your education or research, you do not need to pay it back.
The most popular government grants are the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Pell Grants, and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
Federal and Private Loans
If you are not eligible for grants and scholarships, student loans are an option. Whether you take a loan from the government or a private lender, you will need to repay it with interest as soon as you start working. The interest rates are typically higher for private loans compared to federal loans, and federal loans do come with the possibility of loan forgiveness depending on your career path.
Most universities host work-study programs for students who want to support themselves financially while in school. You can work as a research assistant, lecturer’s assistant, or project coordinator. While work-study programs are great for earning money to pay for school, they are more accessible to students enrolled in on-campus programs.
Cheapest Software Engineering Degree Programs Online
The cheapest software engineering degree programs online include associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. The one you choose will depend on your current level of education and your future education and career goals.
Most Affordable Online Software Engineering Associate Degrees
- Northcentral Technical College | Associate Degree, IT Software Developer. With just $143.45 per credit in state or $215.80 per credit out of state, you can secure an online associate degree in software engineering from this school. The degree gives you the core knowledge you need to land an entry-level job in the field.
- Chippewa Valley Technical College | Associate Degree, IT Software Developer. Chippewa Valley Technical College offers a job-specific curriculum for aspiring software engineers. The cost per credit is $143.45 for in-state students and $215.80 for out-of-state students. International students may pay slightly more, and there are mandatory fees for all students.
- St. Petersburg College | AS in Computer Programming and Analysis. This program is great for aspiring software engineers, computer programmers, and other information technology careers. Courses cost between $111.75 to $122.70 per credit for in-state students and $386.90 to $425.79 for out-of-state students.
- Champlain College | Associate Degree in Software Engineering. Champlain College is a world-renowned school for online education in software engineering and many other fields. The 60-credit program costs $328 per credit, with discounts available for military personnel. You may proceed to a bachelor’s degree or start working right after completing this program.
- Wayne Community College | AAS in Software Development. This is one of the many flexible online programs offered by Wayne Community College. It costs about $76 per credit if you are an in-state student taking fewer than 16 credits per semester. Out-of-state students pay $268.00 per credit.
Most Affordable Online Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees
- Southern New Hampshire University | BS in Computer Science – Software Engineering. SNHU allows you to get a 120-credit bachelor’s degree at a rate of $320 per credit hour. The degree is offered in computer science with a concentration in software engineering, so it provides more versatility than a degree in just software engineering.
- Western Governors University | BS in Software Development. Unlike other online schools that charge per credit hour, WGU charges per semester. The best part about WGU is its open admission policy, which gives everyone with a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate the opportunity to learn.
- University of Maryland Global Campus | BS in Software Development and Security. Tuition for the Bachelor of Science in Software Development and Security costs about $312 per credit for in-state students and $499 per credit for students who aren’t Maryland residents. It is an accelerated bachelor’s degree program that can be completed in less than four years.
- Bellevue University | BS in Software Development. At Bellevue University, you only need to pay $440 per credit hour. Other fees will be attached to your education, but the school also provides financial aid to eligible students who cannot afford to pay out of pocket.
- Saint Leo University | BS in Software Engineering. Saint Leo University is a private, non-profit school that was founded in 1889. The school offers an online software engineering degree as one of its 75 online programs. The tuition per credit is about $380.
Most Affordable Online Software Engineering Master’s Degrees
- East Carolina University | MS in Software Engineering. As far as Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering go, this is one of the most affordable options you will find online. It costs $263.83 per credit for in-state students. However, the cost for out-of-state students is rather high at $994.33 per credit.
- Texas Technological College | MS in Software Engineering. Texas Technological College charges tuition per year, with in-state students paying $8,653 and out-of-state students paying $16,180. The 30-credit program can be completed at a flexible pace and student outcomes are rather impressive.
- Kennesaw State University | MS in Software Engineering. Kennesaw State University charges just $383 per credit for your online Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, no matter your residency. The program has more flexible admission requirements than similar degree programs and can be completed in one year or less.
- Kansas State University | Master of Software Engineering. Kansas State University offers a comprehensive master’s degree program that costs about $863.90 per credit for both in-state and out-of-state students. There are financial aid opportunities that can reduce the total cost of attendance, not just the program tuition.
- Stratford University | MS in Software Engineering. Founded in 1976, Stratford University is a Virginia-based higher learning institution that offers several online degrees. You can secure this online master’s degree in as little as 15 months. The program costs about $495 per credit hour.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Most In-Demand Software Engineering Jobs With an Online Software Engineering Degree
|Software Engineering Job||Required Education||Job Outlook|
|Software Development||Bachelor’s degree||22%|
|Software Quality Assurance Testing||Bachelor’s degree||22%|
|Software Systems Engineer||Bachelor’s degree||22%|
|Database Administration||Bachelor’s degree||8%|
|Front End Web Development||Bachelor’s degree||13%|
Best Jobs With an Online Software Engineering Degree Explained
The highest paying job titles for someone with a software engineering degree are software developers, software quality assurance testers, software systems engineers, front end web developers, and database administrators. You can learn more about these career paths below.
Is an Online Software Engineering Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online software engineering degree is worth it for anyone who intends to build a solid and long-lasting tech career. Online software engineering degrees offer the same courses and standard of education as in-person degrees. They simply provide more flexibility and affordability.
While there are other non-traditional ways to learn software engineering online, a degree allows you to get a well-rounded education. There are general education requirements, job-specific training, and electives. You can even opt for a dual degree, which will be much easier to complete at online colleges.
Additional Reading About Software Engineering
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Cheapest Online Software Engineering Degrees FAQ
The best degree for a software engineer is an Associate, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degree in Software Engineering. A degree in computer science is a close second. Another option that could work is a degree in information technology that offers a concentration in software engineering.
The best countries for software engineers are the United States, Switzerland, Australia, South Korea, Israel, China, Japan, and Singapore. While software engineers can work anywhere, these countries offer the most favorable conditions for them to thrive.
Yes, a software engineering degree is a four-year degree if you choose to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, at the undergraduate level, there are associate degrees and accelerated bachelor’s degrees that may take only two to three years to complete. Master’s degree programs in software engineering tend to run for 12 to 18 months.
No, you do not need a computer science degree to become a software engineer. However, it is highly recommended that you get a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering if you want to get the most out of your career. Degree holders may have access to more job opportunities than software engineers without degrees.
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