If you want to become a software engineer, an associate degree can help you. These software engineering associate degree programs are ideal for recent high school graduates. You can get your associate degree and use those credits towards a bachelor’s degree or start looking for entry-level software engineering jobs.
This guide details the best Associate Degrees in Software Engineering. You’ll also find the top careers for Associate Degrees in Software Engineering, complete with the salary you can expect for each one. Let’s get started.
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineering is a computer science discipline that requires advanced skills in programming, information systems, and network security. Professionals in this field apply engineering approaches to develop software. They also know how to design, test, and evaluate software to fulfill their duties.
Where Can I Get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
The best colleges where you can get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering are community colleges and technical schools that teach in-demand technical skills and practical skills needed for a tech career. Looking up school reviews on reputable sites like Carma Karma will help prospective students find out where to get a software engineering degree and what programs are best for them.
What Schools Offer the Best Software Engineering Associate Degree Degrees?
- Dallas College
- Jackson College
- New England Institute of Technology
- Oakland Community College
- Tacoma Community College
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
The admission requirements for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering are typically a high school diploma, a GED, or an equivalent qualification. Students should be at least 18 years of age on the first day of class. Associate in Software Engineering requirements may include a minimum GPA requirement, but most community colleges and technical schools have an open admission policy.
Prospective software engineering students don’t need experience or prior qualifications to complete this degree program as these courses will teach students fundamental skills in computer science. However, prior knowledge of computer programming languages like Python or Java is often required for more advanced courses.
Requirements for an Associate in Software Engineering usually include submitting your official transcripts. Further requirements for Associate Degrees in Software Engineering may also include an interview to ensure you align with the school’s core principles. Overall, the admission requirements for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering are not very strict.
Software Engineering Associate Degree Admission Requirements
- High School Diploma or Equivalent. You must have a high school diploma or a GED to get accepted into a software engineering associate degree program. Most schools will require you to submit your official transcripts as part of the application process.
- GPA Requirements. Most community colleges and technical schools have an open admission policy with no GPA requirements. However, some schools may require students to have a minimum GPA, which is typically between 2.0 and 3.0.
- Age Requirements. You must be at least 18 years of age on the first day of class to apply for a place in a software engineering associate program.
- Application Form. Application forms are typically found on the school’s website, but some schools will let you apply in person or over the phone. You will supply basic personal information on your application form and some schools will require you to sign up for their online portal where you can pay your tuition and register for classes.
- Technical Skills. While software engineering associate degrees are open to everyone, you will need a basic level of technical and computer skills to complete the program. Students with no prior computer skills and knowledge will find a program like this nearly impossible to complete.
How to Get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering
The best way to get a software engineering associate degree is by submitting an application to your required program and meeting all the application requirements. You must then complete the minimum amount of credits and maintain a certain GPA. Most schools will expect students to maintain a GPA of between 2.0 and 3.0 to get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering.
Students must complete general education classes, such as English, math, and social sciences, as well elective classes that focus on core concepts of software engineering like networking, computer science, and coding.
You should have a basic understanding of computers and some familiarity with computer programming before starting a software engineering associate degree. You should have strong logical and critical-thinking skills and a strong background in math. Students can find an array of free programming courses online before beginning their associate degree.
How Many Credits Do You Need for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
You need at least 60 credits for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering. Some schools may require up to 70 credits to complete the program. Tuition is often broken down into a per-credit fee and students can decide how many credits they wish to enroll in per semester. It typically takes two years to complete a software engineering associate degree.
Software Engineering Degree Requirements
- Minimum of 60 credits
- GPA of about 2.0 or 3.0
- Completion of lower-level general education classes
- Completion of lower-level core classes
- Pick a focus or specialization subject
Best Software Engineering Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview
|Anne Arundel Community College||Associate of Science in Computer Science and Software Development||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Cincinnati State Technical and Community College||Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming and Database Management, Software Engineering Technology Major||Higher Learning Commission|
|Dakota State University||Associate of Science in Software Development||Higher Learning Commission|
|Dallas College||Associate of Science in Software Engineering||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges|
|Ivy Tech Community College||Associate of Applied Science in Software Development||Higher Learning Commission|
|Jackson College||Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering||Higher Learning Commission|
|Lake Washington Institute of Technology||Associate of Applied Science in Computing and Software Development||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities|
|New England Institute of Technology||Associate of Science in Software Engineering and Web Development||New England Commission of Higher Education|
|Oakland Community College||Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems, Software Engineering Option||Higher Learning Commission|
|Tacoma Community College||Associate of Science in Computer Engineering||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities|
Best Schools for Software Engineering: Top Software Engineering Associate Degree Programs
The best schools for software engineering associate degrees are community colleges and technical schools that offer in-demand technical skills training, career support, and in-person activities.
While a software engineering bachelor’s degree is best for getting high-paying jobs and a more advanced skillset, the best schools for Associate Degrees in Software Engineering will give students a great start to their tech career or give them the required tools and knowledge to transfer for an advanced degree program.
If you want to learn the fundamental concepts of software engineering and experience on-campus life, these top software engineering associate degree programs are great options. Continue reading for details on the best software engineering associate degree programs.
What Is a Software Engineering Associate Degree?
An Associate Degree in Software Engineering is an entry-level degree requiring two years of study. A software engineering associate degree covers the content of the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. An Associate Degree in Software Engineering program is available to students with no prior qualifications.
Your core courses will cover foundational skills for software engineering. Many schools offer part-time or full-time study options, and after your program, you will have a lot of career paths to pursue if you don’t transfer to a bachelor’s program. You might also find a degree program that provides student resources like career support and tutoring.
How Important Is an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
It is very important to have an Associate Degree in Software Engineering because you can start working in the tech industry or transfer to a higher degree program. The main reasons why a software engineering associate degree is important are:
- Continuing education. It is important to get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering if you want a computer science or tech-related bachelor’s degree. An associate degree can be used as a pathway to a four-year program.
- Entry-level jobs. Software engineering associate degrees will prepare you for entry-level tech jobs in just two years.
- In-demand skills. Associate Degrees in Software Engineering provide students with in-demand skills and up-to-date curricula to prepare them to enter the workforce.
- Two-year program. An associate degree typically takes two years to complete compared to a bachelor’s degree which typically takes four years to complete.
What Types of Associate Degree Can You Get in Software Engineering?
You can get the following types of associate degrees in software engineering:
- Associate of Science in Software Engineering
- Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering
You should get an Associate of Science in Software Engineering if you plan on transferring to a bachelor’s program. While you can use an Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering to transfer to a four-year program, they are typically more career-focused and are aimed at students who want to enter the workforce straight after graduation.
Is It Better to Get an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering?
High school grads often wonder which is better, an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering. Both degrees will give students foundational knowledge of software engineering such as computer programming, databases, and web development as well as general education courses.
However, an Associate of Science is more focused on general education electives to ensure graduates can quickly transfer to a bachelor’s program. While students who earn an Associate of Science may be somewhat qualified for entry-level positions, the program is not focused on helping graduates find work.
An Associate of Applied Science will focus on in-demand skills, soft skills, and career services to ensure graduates are job-ready. Students who hold an Associate of Applied Science may transfer to a bachelor’s degree at any time, but they will often be required to complete additional general education credits to do so. Therefore, an Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering is better for getting a job.
An Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science, which is better? The answer entirely depends on your long-term goals. If you have no interest in higher education or continuing your studies, then an Associate of Applied Science is your best choice.
What Is the Difference Between a Software Engineering Associate Degree and a Software Engineering Certificate?
The main difference between a software engineering degree and a certificate in software engineering is that you can complete a certificate in software engineering in less time without the need for general elective credits. Just like associate degrees, these sub-baccalaureate software engineering programs are offered at community colleges and technical colleges.
When it comes to a software engineering certificate vs an associate degree, a certificate program holds less weight but will focus more on a specialized field or core subject. This makes it ideal for those who already have a degree and who want to quickly upskill and seek advanced career opportunities.
If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree, then an Associate in Software Engineering is the better option when compared to a software engineering certificate. If you are career-switching from another IT job with similar skillsets to software engineering, a certificate program in software engineering will be ideal to help you master the required skills you may already possess.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
A software engineering associate degree costs $3,621 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If you factor in living costs, an associate degree in software engineering costs you an average of about $11,391 per year.
Software Engineering Associate Degree Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Software Engineering Degree
When it comes to financial aid for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering, students have many options available to them. If you are wondering how to pay for an associate degree in software engineering, you are not alone.
You can use private student loans, scholarships, federal loans such as FAFSA, or even GI Bill benefits. With these financing options, you can look for either partial or full financial aid for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Software Engineering Associate Degree?
It takes two years to get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering. This typically equates to between 60 and 67 credits per semester which include general education classes and core electives.
Some programs may require students to complete an internship or a capstone project. The number of credits you take each semester will determine the Associate Degree in Software Engineering length of study.
How Hard Is It to Get an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
An Associate Degree in Software Engineering is hard to get because students are required to learn strong technical skills and use advanced logic, critical thinking, and analytical skills to complete the program.
A software engineering associate degree is so hard because students must also complete general electives in math, English, and social sciences. They must do this while maintaining a GPA of between 2.0 and 3.0 depending on the school.
Why Should You Get a Software Engineering Associate Degree?
The benefits of getting an Associate Degree in Software Engineering are that you will learn the required skills for various entry-level jobs or obtain the credits to transfer to a bachelor’s degree. The benefits of an Associate Degree in Software Engineering are:
- Affordability. Associate Degrees in Software Engineering are considerably cheaper than bachelor’s degree programs.
- Transferable Skills. Students who earn an Associate in Software Engineering will learn a wide variety of technical and personal skills that will help them in a wide range of jobs.
- Continued Education. An associate degree is the first step to completing a bachelor’s degree.
- Flexible Learning. Software engineering associate degree programs are often offered with flexible learning options such as in-person, online, or hybrid. Some schools may even offer part-time programs to allow students to study in the evenings.
- Financial Aid. Community college and technical college tuition can be financed using FAFSA or scholarships.
The benefits of getting a second Associate Degree in Software Engineering are up-to-date skills and learning new technologies. Software engineering requires advanced knowledge of programming languages and computer science fundamentals.
With tech constantly evolving, new languages are being created and current languages are being updated. A second associate degree will ensure students have advanced knowledge of these emerging technologies.
What Courses Do You Need to Take in an Associate Degree Program in Software Engineering?
The required courses for a software engineering associate degree teach students strong foundational computer science and programming skills. Associate Degrees in Software Engineering courses often employ hands-on training to ensure students are efficiently trained. It is recommended that prospective students consult their Associate Degree in Software Engineering course list for detailed information on the subjects offered.
Web Applications Development
This class will cover the basics of web development such as interface principles, design, HTML, and CSS. The best courses for software engineering associate degrees will encourage students to use hands-on and collaborative learning by building their web applications.
Courses required for software engineering associate degrees will often include data structures. Understanding how to design, analyze, and implement data structures is key for software engineering jobs and best practices.
Information Systems Analysis and Design
Students will learn the fundamental skills required for systems analysis and design as well as communication skills needed to ensure the success of IT businesses. This is an ideal course for students interested in computer architecture or technical managerial roles.
This class will teach students the fundamental principles of operating system design and structure. Topics typically include Windows, macOS, and Linux. Students might learn about the history of different operating systems and how they have advanced and changed over the years.
Continuing Education Paths for Software Engineering Associate Degree Graduates
The best path to take with a software engineering associate degree is to transfer your earned credits to a bachelor’s program in a related field. Alternatively, graduates can get an entry-level job to gain experience and build their professional portfolio. The right path after an Associate Degree in Software Engineering for you will ultimately depend on your career and educational goals.
Related Software Engineering Degrees
What to Look For in the Best Software Engineering Associate Degree Programs
The best software engineering associate degree programs have classes that cover all the technical skills and prerequisites needed to transfer to a bachelor’s program. However, what to look for in a college for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering will depend on your goals. If you plan to enter the workforce straight away, you will want a program that teaches soft skills and offers top career services as well as technical skills.
Community colleges and technical schools will offer a wide range of programming formats, such as online, in-person, or hybrid learning. Some of the best schools will allow students to study full-time or part-time. Part-time learning is ideal for working professionals.
While associate degree programs are more affordable than bachelor’s programs, they still come at a high expense. Prices will vary from school to school so research is important if you are on a budget. You can also apply for scholarships and financial aid.
Students interested in entry-level jobs after graduation should look for a school with reputable and extensive career services. These services may include career coaching, resume writing, portfolio building, and mock interviews.
Students who want to continue with higher education will want to do it as quickly as possible. Career-focused classes such as soft skills learning or even internship programs will not be of much benefit. Some schools may offer accelerated programs to help students learn only what they need to transfer and earn accelerated computer engineering degrees.
Students must choose a school that has been accredited. This will ensure they can trust the program to teach the best curricula that is up-to-date and approved by a higher board of education. Furthermore, accredited schools look more impressive on a resume.
What Is the Most Affordable Software Engineering Associate Degree?
The most affordable Associate Degree in Software Engineering is the Associate of Science in Software Engineering offered by Dallas College. Public community colleges tend to offer some of the most affordable Associate Degrees in Software Engineering. These schools include:
- Tacoma Community College
- Lake Washington Institute of Technology
- Ivy Tech Community College
Salary and Job Outlook for Software Engineering Associate Degree Graduates
Software engineering associate degree jobs are high paying and in-demand, especially when it comes to upper-level positions. Your Associate Degree in Software Engineering salary can be increased by gaining experience and learning additional tech skills. For example, you could enroll in a top coding bootcamp.
How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Software Engineering Associate Degree?
It is quite easy to get a job with a software engineering associate degree because these jobs are high in demand. An Associate of Applied Science in Software Engineering will give you the required skills to quickly land an entry-level tech job.
If you are a recent graduate wondering how hard it is to get a job with an Associate Degree in Software Engineering, then you don’t need to worry. This degree will also ensure you learn the required soft skills and have access to career services to help you find the best entry-level job.
What’s the Average Software Engineering Associate Degree Salary?
The average salary for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering graduate is $58,000, according to PayScale. This typical annual salary for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering can be further increased by gaining more experience, getting a certification, or earning a bachelor’s degree.
What Types of Jobs Can You Get With a Software Engineering Associate Degree?
The jobs you can get with a software engineering associate degree include software developer, software engineer, project leader, and various other tech-related jobs. The highest paying software engineering jobs for associate degree holders are IT project leaders and software development managers.
Software Engineering Degree Jobs
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Computer Programmer
- Web Developer
- Computer Research Assistant
- Junior Software Developer
Potential Careers With a Software Engineering Degree
How Much Money Can You Make With an Associate Degree in Software Engineering?
You can make between $28,000 and $158,000 with an Associate Degree in Software Engineering. While entry-level software engineering jobs pay well, you will need to gain further experience within your field and get higher qualifications if you want to earn a higher median salary.
Highest-Paying Software Engineering Associate Degree Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview
|Software Engineering Associate Degree Jobs||Average Salary|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$93,730|
|Computer Research Assistant||$69,000|
|Junior Software Developer||$63,523|
|Junior Software Engineer||$62,474|
|Junior Application Developer||$59,290|
|Computer Support Specialist||$55,510|
|Junior Software Tester||$48,548|
Best Jobs for Software Engineering Associate Degree Grads
The best jobs for software engineering associate degree grads are computer programming and computer development jobs. The best jobs for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering will also depend on your chosen area of specialization. For example, if you choose a software design-focused path, you should consider looking for entry-level web designer jobs.
An Associate Degree in Software Engineering will allow you to work for tech firms or as a freelancer. Big companies often employ both in-house software engineering associate degree grads as well as freelancers when they need to complete large-scale projects.
*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Software Developers, Software Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers
**Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Web Developers and Digital Designers
Best Jobs According to Your Major
Is an Associate Degree in Software Engineering Worth It?
Yes, an Associate Degree in Software Engineering is worth it if you want to break into a software engineering entry-level job. Students learn foundational concepts for software engineering while gaining hands-on experience. Many schools also have transfer programs so you can progress into a four-year degree. This makes an Associate Degree in Software Engineering worth it if you are on a limited budget.
Technology has become more important than ever before, so an Associate Degree in Software Engineering will ensure you have plenty of career opportunities. It is easier for unqualified students to enter the software engineering job market when they start with an associate degree. Software engineering associate degree holders may also consider the best software engineering bachelor’s programs.
Additional Reading About Software Engineering
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Software Engineering Associate Degree FAQ
Yes, you can become a software engineer with an associate degree. These degrees will get you an entry-level role even if you don’t have prior experience. You can also use the credits toward a four-year degree in software engineering or a related field, such as a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.
The average annual salary for people with an Associate Degree in Software Engineering is $58,000, according to PayScale. This average salary is slightly higher than the average salary for other tech professions.
Yes, an Associate Degree in Software Engineering is worth it. You can earn this degree in about two years. Then you can either work in this field while you earn your bachelor’s, or work your way up through the ranks with only your associate degree.
You only need a high school diploma or equivalent for an Associate Degree in Software Engineering. This is a great entry-level degree because you don’t have to have any other experience to start the program.
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