The field of software engineering can be daunting, especially when you’re knowledge of the field is limited. Through a software engineering degree program, you’ll develop all of the knowledge and skills you’ll need to confidently enter the workplace.
This article will explore what is a software engineering degree, what software engineering programs you should consider, and what software engineering jobs you can expect to qualify for once you’ve earned your degree. You’ll also find information on software engineering specializations, payment options to fund your degree program, and ways to find internships while you’re studying.
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineering is a branch of engineering focused on developing and constructing various software products and programs. Software engineers also work on software design and software solutions. Software engineering is essentially the foundation of digital operations, proving relevant in every industry.
Software Engineering Quick Facts: Job Outlook and Average Salaries
- Software developers have a projected job growth rate of 22 percent from 2020 to 2030.
- Software developers have a median salary of $110,140 per year.
- The average base salary of a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering degree holder is $84,000 per year.
Is Software Engineering Hard?
Yes, software engineering is hard. It can be a complex topic to learn because it encompasses many areas, such as programming, algorithms, and data structure. Software engineers endure rigorous training to develop and maintain the complex knowledge and skills needed for their various tasks.
Is Software Engineering a Good Major?
Yes, software engineering is a good major. Software engineering graduates develop excellent technical and critical thinking skills. They also enjoy high pay and a great job outlook. Graduating from a software engineering program sets you up for a great career in an ever-booming job market.
Why Should You Get a Degree in Software Engineering?
You should get a degree in software engineering because it qualifies you for a fulfilling and lucrative career in software engineering. Below, we list and elaborate on why you should get a degree in software engineering.
- It provides the opportunity to enter a field with a great job outlook. After graduating with a degree in software engineering, you can expect to easily land a software engineering job and won’t have to worry about your career losing relevance.
- It prepares you for a wide range of roles and specializations. A software engineering degree program allows you to choose from a wide range of roles and specializations within the field. It also allows you to choose the industry you want to work in.
- It qualifies you for a very flexible profession. Many software engineers have the opportunity to work remotely or on-site. Whether in the healthcare, finance, or government field, you are given a higher level of flexibility than most other professions.
- It allows you to earn a high salary. Even in entry-level software engineering jobs, your annual wage is very competitive. As you gain experience, your salary as a software engineer significantly increases.
- It opens up opportunities for education and career advancement. As the software engineering field is constantly evolving and advancing, you’ll never run out of opportunities to further your education or career.
Software Engineering Major: What Degree Can You Get in Software Engineering?
The degrees you can get in software engineering include an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree. Although some people decide to pursue a Doctoral Degree in Software Engineering, it’s quite uncommon because experience can qualify you for most of the same roles that a PhD can.
Types of Associate Degrees in Software Engineering
The types of Associate Degrees in Software Engineering are an associate of science, associate of applied science, and associate of engineering. Below, we discuss these degrees and some of the common courses in their curricula.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Software Engineering
The types of software engineering bachelor’s degrees are a bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, and bachelor of engineering. While all three types of degrees prepare students for careers in software engineering, they each differ slightly in terms of focus and intent. Below, we’ll explore the core differences between these three options.
Types of Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering
There are three types of Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering, including a master of arts, master of science, and master of engineering. Each of these degrees allows graduates to contribute highly specialized skills to the industry. Below are some of the key differences between these three types of degrees.
What Will You Learn in a Software Engineering Degree Program?
In a software engineering degree program, you will study topics such as algorithms, software architecture, discrete math, and programming languages. Depending on the scope, degree type, and your chosen concentration, you may also take courses related to social sciences, business skills, and management tactics.
Another factor that affects topics you’ll learn is the level of degree you pursue. The scope and depth of topics covered in an associate degree program will be vastly different from those discussed in a master’s degree program. You’ll encounter more introductory and foundational courses in software engineering at lower degree levels, whereas higher degree levels will include more research and hands-on practice.
Popular Specializations for Software Engineering Degrees
Some of the most popular specializations you can choose from include data science, cyber security, and machine learning. While there are many other concentrations you can choose for your degree, those are some of the most popular and applicable across many different industries.
The 5 Most Popular Software Engineering Concentrations
- Data Science
- Cyber Security
- Machine Learning
- Cloud Computing
- Network-Centric Systems
Common Software Engineering Courses Across All Specializations
Aside from specializations, there are common software engineering courses you can expect to take during your degree program. While these required courses listed below may vary in terms of specific curriculum or course title, they all cover foundational aspects of software engineering.
- Object Oriented Software Design. An object oriented software design course ensures that students understand how to implement object oriented modeling through the software systems development process. Students enrolled in this course are generally required to already have object oriented programming backgrounds and experience with data structures.
- Fundamentals of Software Engineering. This course introduces the software engineering field as a whole. Topics include the software life-cycle, best practices and process, programming, and software engineering tools.
- Software Quality Assurance and Maintenance. This course teaches students how to identify, test, assess, and address issues in software. They’ll also learn the processes and methods for maintaining, updating, and securing software.
- Database Systems. In this course, students are generally expected to have experience in object oriented programming, algorithms, and data structures as they’ll be using that knowledge to conduct research on standard relational databases. They’ll study everything from concurrency control to the optimization of linear recursions.
- Programming Languages and Compilers. There are several variations of this course, depending on the degree level you’re taking it at. Lower-level degree programs will offer this course to teach students fundamental programming concepts. Graduate-level programs will cover advanced topics, such as aspect oriented programming, lexical analysis, and syntactic translation.
Best Minors for Software Engineering Students
The best software engineering minors are those that can add practicality to your skillset. Choosing a minor is your chance to learn something that slightly differs from your main track. Some students choose minors that are relevant to their major, while others use this opportunity to develop unrelated skills or knowledge. Below are some of the best software engineering minors.
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The 5 Best Software Engineering Minors
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
Best Major for Your Chosen Career Path
How to Choose the Right Software Engineering Degree Program for You
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right software engineering degree program for you. Some of the things you should take into account are the accreditation status, curriculum, concentration options, graduation rate, and cost, all of which we’ll discuss below.
Best Software Engineering Colleges and Universities: Where to Find the Top Software Engineering Degree Programs
There is a plethora of excellent colleges and universities that offer top-notch software engineering degree programs. However, in terms of affordability, quality, reputation, and curricular content, the programs listed below are some of the best ones you should consider at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels.
- Anne Arundel Community College
- Ivy Tech Community College
- Dakota State University
- Lake Washington Institute of Technology
- New England Institute of Technology
- Milwaukee School of Engineering
- Fresno Pacific University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Auburn University
- Drexel University
- Auburn University
- Drexel University
- Stratford University
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Rochester Institute of Technology
Best College and University Software Engineering Schools
How Can I Pay for a Software Engineering Degree Program?
You can pay for a software engineering degree program in a variety of ways, including financial aid, work-study programs, scholarships, loans, and grants. Below, we’ll discuss these options in detail.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
FAFSA is one of the most important forms you need to fill out as a college student. This completely free application assesses your eligibility for government financial aid, which can significantly, if not fully, cover your tuition. Upon completing the application, the information is also shared with your school where the admissions office will ensure you’re awarded the amount you qualify for. None of the money you receive through financial aid needs to be repaid.
Work-study programs let you work part-time during the school year and possibly full-time over the summer. In addition, most schools have a careers department where they’ve established partnerships with a variety of companies and organizations. This arrangement allows the partners to offer students part-time positions that are relevant to the fields they’re studying.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to lessen the financial burden of tuition, especially because they don’t need to be paid back. Scholarships are offered both internally and externally in a plethora of categories, including academic merit, athletic ability, minority membership, exceptional circumstances, and much more. Students can apply for as many scholarships as they want and receive as many as they win.
Student loans are one of the most popular ways to pay for school, particularly for students who don’t qualify for financial aid and didn’t win scholarships. Although it’s a popular option, student loans should be one of the last methods you consider, as all loans must be paid back and with interest. Federal loans tend to have the lowest interest rates. However, you can apply for private loans, too.
Grants, like scholarships and financial aid, are free money awarded to qualifying applicants. Unlike scholarships that tend to solely invest in your education, grants can be applied to a broader range of needs, including housing, bills, food, and other personal needs. While you can and should apply for both private and public grants, your chances of qualifying for a government grant are much higher, especially because they’re distributed more generously.
Software Engineering Scholarships
Software engineering scholarships are one of the best ways to fund your software engineering education. You can apply for as many as you want and none of the money you receive has to be repaid. Below are some of the best software engineering scholarships you should apply for.
Most Popular Scholarships by Specialization
Student Loans for Software Engineering Majors
You can choose between a federal or private loan. Federal loans usually offer repayment plans, have the lowest interest rates, and offer higher borrowing limits than private loans. While this financing option should be one of the last you resort to, it has allowed millions of students to go to college. Below is more information on student loans.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Software Engineering Associate Degrees?
The average student loan for software engineering associate degrees was about $18,550 from 2015 to 2016, according to NCES. The average federal loan was about $18,060 in the same year range, while the average private loan was $9,950.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees?
The average student loan for a software engineering bachelor’s degree program was around $29,910 from 2015 to 2016, according to NCES. The average federal loan was about $27,050, while the average private loan for a bachelor’s degree was about $18,700.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Software Engineering Master’s Degrees?
The average student loan for a software engineering master’s degree program was around $50,290 from 2015 to 2015, according to NCES. The average federal loan for a master’s degree was $42,330 during the same time period, while private loans ranged from $56,350 to $62,010, on average.
How to Get Into the Best Schools for Software Engineering
To get into the best schools for software engineering, you should work hard to maintain a high GPA, get good standardized test scores, request strong letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or employers, and thoroughly prepare for each stage of the admission process. Below are five of our top tips for getting into the best programs at software engineering schools.
Top 5 Tips to Get Into the Best Programs at Software Engineering Schools
- Maintain a high GPA, starting from the beginning of high school.
- Write an impactful essay or personal statement that will illustrate your suitability for the school.
- Get strong letters of recommendation from reputable sources, such as your school counselor, teacher, or employer.
- Study hard for the SAT and ACT to ensure you get good grades on these standardized tests.
- Express your interest in the school and dedication to your software engineering education by participating in relevant events and programs that can be added to a resume.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
How Can You Get a Software Engineering Internship While in College?
You can get a software engineering internship while in college by networking, making use of your college’s career services, and browsing job boards. Below, we’ll explain these tips in detail.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Software Engineering Degree?
The jobs you can get with a software engineering degree include web developer, software engineer, technical consultant, and data scientist, to name a few. With an associate degree, you can qualify for entry-level jobs within the software engineering field. Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree for positions like software engineer and security analyst. With a master’s degree, you can land management positions.
Software Engineering Degree Salary Outlook
The software engineering degree salary outlook is quite impressive, depending on the level of education you pursue. Below are the average salaries for each degree level. It’s worth noting that in addition to your level of education, your salary will vary depending on your location, workplace, professional certifications, and hands-on experience.
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Software Engineering Associate Degree||$58,000|
|Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degree||$84,000|
|Software Engineering Master’s Degree||$111,000|
Software Engineering Degree Jobs and Career Outlook: What Can You Do With a Software Engineering Degree?
With a software engineering degree, you can qualify for a wide variety of roles in the tech field. Higher levels of education qualify you for higher positions and pay. Below are some of the jobs you can expect to qualify for upon completing the different degrees.
Top Software Engineering Associate Degree Jobs
- Information Technician
- Software Developer
- Data Entry Clerk
- Network Support Consultant
- Systems Analyst
Top Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Jobs
- Software Engineer
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Software Architect
- Database Administrator
- Machine Learning Engineer
Top Software Engineering Master’s Degree Jobs
- Senior Software Engineer
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
- Cyber Security Manager
- Chief Technology Officer
- Data Scientist
Highest-Paying Software Engineering Jobs
|Highest-Paying Software Engineering Jobs||Entry-Level Salary (0-12 Months)||Early-Career Salary(1-4 Years)||Mid-Career Salary (5-9 Years)||Experienced Salary (10-19 Years)|
|Principal Software Engineer||$109,960||$116,903||$132,585||$143,817|
|Software Development Manager||$101,844||$103,005||$119,192||$131,005|
|Machine Learning Engineer||$94,609||$111,966||$140,673||$147,181|
|Lead Software Engineer||$94,258||$99,216||$119,075||$127,817|
Professional Software Engineering Organizations and Resources
While studying or working in the software engineering field, you should make use of professional software engineering organizations and resources. Below are some of the best software engineering organizations and resources you can explore.
Software Engineering in 10 Years: Is Getting a Software Engineering Degree Worth It?
Yes, getting a software engineering degree is worth it. Software engineering, in 10 years, is only going to increase in relevance, demand, and reward. Getting your software engineering degree ensures you’re guaranteed a profession that is stable, compensates well, and makes vital contributions to every industry and sector. As you gain experience, you’ll qualify for higher positions within the field, leading to higher salaries and various responsibilities.
Additional Reading About Software Engineering
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Software Engineering Degree FAQ
Yes, a degree in software engineering is heavy on math. However, it does depends on your specialization and level of degree. The higher level of degree you pursue, the higher level of math you’ll need to learn.
The amount of time it takes to become a software engineer depends on the learning path you choose. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is necessary for a software engineering career. A Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering takes about four years to complete. If you pursue a master’s degree, it will take about six years from start to finish.
A degree in software engineering can make you rich, depending on the level of your degree, your location, and the company you work for. California, Washington, and New York are the highest-paying states for software engineers. Additionally, while a bachelor’s degree will qualify you for most software engineering jobs, a master’s degree will significantly increase your salary.
No, you don’t necessarily need a degree to be a software engineer. However, it’s important to note that most employers do require candidates for software engineering positions to possess bachelor’s degrees in relevant fields. Although you can find positions that don’t require a degree, it will be much more difficult and they won’t pay as much.
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