Software engineers provide the crucial link between computer software and hardware that enable computers and applications to interact and function. They design and develop many different kinds of software, including computer operating systems - that's why many of the colleges featured here offer degrees in computer engineering rather that software engineering.
Software engineers must fully understand the principles of computer engineering, as they often are required to perform work in both disciplines - computer software programs and systems can't be properly developed without a fundamental understanding of the complex relationships between computer hardware and software.
Students interested in campus-based or online software engineering degrees can use the information compiled here to gain insight into 10 of the best colleges that offer computer and software computer engineering degree programs, as well as scholarship information, career outlooks, and professional certifications that often are required by prospective employers.
Best Colleges for Software Engineering Degree Programs
The colleges and universities below represent 10 of the top schools for software engineering degree programs. Students should review the institutions ranked here for program offerings and other key information about the 10 best software engineering degree programs from U.S. colleges and universities. We used many different data points provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and a unique methodology to generate this list. Read on to learn more about these featured institutions, or click the button below to learn more about how this list was created.
The top institution in these rankings is a public research university headquartered at the largest city in the state of Kansas.
The university offers several computer-related degree programs for students interested in careers as software engineers. The electrical engineering and computer science department at Wichita State University offers a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in computer engineering, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science.
The undergraduate program allows students to pursue many different electives that will hone their skills in computer networking and electrical engineering. In their senior year, students work with a team of peers to complete a real-world engineering project.
Several factors help Wichita State University head our list of top colleges for software engineering degree programs. It has the second-lowest cost of in-state tuition at $7,528, and the highest admission rate — 95 percent — of any institution in these rankings.
This public institution located at Ames created its software engineering bachelor's degree in 2007 as a bridge program between the college of engineering and college of liberal arts and sciences.
Students gain expertise in engineering, computer science and mathematics with the goal of designing, developing and evaluating software. Curriculum also provides fundamental education in the configuration and installation of computer systems, and building and developing the lifecycle of software systems. It's one of the fastest-growing majors at the university with enrollment of 573 students in spring of 2017.
Iowa State University ranks second here due to its high graduation and admissions rates and favorable cost of in-state tuition - $7,736 - as compared to other institutions in these rankings.
Missouri S&T is located at Rolla, a city midway between Springfield and St. Louis. The university has one of the oldest computer science programs in the U.S.
Study options for prospective software engineers includes bachelor's or master's degrees in electrical and computer engineering and engineering management and systems engineering. The computer engineering program emphasizes all aspects of computer hardware and software. Curriculum is designed to be a bridge between hardware and software so graduates are proficient in both aspects of the field.
The undergraduate degree requires a minimum of 128 credit hours for completion. Missouri S&T had the second-best admissions rate of any institution in our rankings at 88 percent, as well as the third-highest number of students enrolled in distance education programs.
With its proximity to the heart of Silicon Valley, it is little wonder the founding campus of the California State University System makes our rankings in the fourth spot. SJSU boasts the lowest cost of in-state tuition of any university in our top 10, and it also had the highest number of software engineering and related degree conferred to students.
San Jose State University offers both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in software engineering. The bachelor's degree pathway requires 120 credits to complete, while the master's degree requires an additional 30 credits. Curriculum in both programs includes instruction in enterprise software, software engineering and computer engineering. Companies throughout Silicon Valley seek out graduates of the university's software engineering and computer engineering programs.
This public research university in Fargo has an annual enrollment of more than 14,000 students.
NDSU offers an undergraduate program in computer engineering, and graduate programs in the following:
- Master of Software Engineering
- Master of Science in software engineering
- Ph.D. in software engineering.
The undergraduate program provides instruction in computer hardware, software and hardware-software integration. Graduate-level curriculum provides study in computer programming, as well as the techniques, methodologies and tools students need to manage the entire lifecycle of software programs and integrated software systems. The M.S. in software engineering is a coursework, examination and research program, while the other master's program focuses solely on coursework.
North Dakota State University had the second-highest admissions rate of any university in our top 10.
This public research university is headquartered at Richardson, which is about 20 miles north of downtown Dallas. The university is part of the University of Texas System and enrolls more than 27,600 students each year.
The university's department of computer of science offers Bachelor of Science degrees in both computer engineering and software engineering. Both programs are grounded in the fundamentals of mathematics, including calculus, discrete mathematics and linear algebra. Both programs also provide instruction in core computer science, programming methodologies, algorithms, operating systems and data structures. The software engineering program continues with further education in software validation, testing and architecture, and it culminates with a capstone project in software engineering techniques.
The university also offers a graduate program in software engineering and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in software engineering.
Cal Poly SLO is located in California's stunning Central Coast region. The university's department of computer science and software engineering offers Bachelor of Science degrees in both computer engineering and software engineering.
The software engineering program began in 2003 and was the first of its kind in California. The program emphasizes computer science fundamentals, as well as technical and team management skills. Students learn not only the technical challenges of large-scale systems development but the people skills necessary to work as part of a collaborative group of engineers and developers.
Cal Poly SLO had the second-highest graduation rate of any college in our top 10. However, competition for admissions is extremely fierce - the university had the lowest admissions rate of any institution in our rankings.
The University of California's newest member institution is located in the heart of the state's Central Valley region. Just under 8,000 students were enrolled at the university for the 2017-2018 academic year.
University of California at Merced offers an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering that provides a well-rounded educational path for prospective software engineers. Curriculum provides students with education in the fundamentals of computing and mathematics. Graduates of the program are expected to be able to design, implement and evaluate computer systems, processes and software programs, as well as work collaboratively with a professional team.
The university lands in the eighth spot in these rankings based on a solid graduation rate and acceptable 18:1 student to faculty ratio.
Our ninth institution is a public research university overlooking Portage Lake in the city of Houghton, which is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula region.
Michigan Technological University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering that requires 128 total credits to complete. Students with an eye toward becoming project managers can pursue an enterprise concentration that develops their business and leadership skills. The computer engineering program focuses on end-to-end design and integration of computer hardware and software. Graduates of the program have a 98 percent job placement rate within six months of their completion date.
Michigan Technological University also offers master's and doctoral degrees in computer engineering. The university admits as many as 75 percent of all applicants. It also had the lowest student to faculty ratio of any institution featured here at 12:1.
Rounding out our featured list of colleges with on-campus and online software engineering degrees is this public research university located at La Jolla. More than 36,400 students enrolled at UC San Diego in fall of 2017.
The university's Jacobs School of Engineering was created in 1965. Software engineers can pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in electrical and computer engineering. The programs are built upon the fundamentals of applied mathematics and engineering physics. Curriculum includes a number of hands-on software systems courses, such as rapid hardware and software design.
University of California at San Diego had the highest graduation rate of any college in these rankings at 87 percent.
Software Engineering Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Students who complete software engineering degree programs have a well-rounded education in computer hardware, software construction and project leadership. They also typically gain skills in computer programming and learn one or more programming languages. A bachelor's degree typically is the minimum educational obtainment, though many students pursue master's or even doctoral degrees in software engineering. Below is a snapshot of common career paths for students who enroll in software engineering degree programs.
Career Outlook for Software Engineering Majors
The explosion of the smartphone, among other factors, is one reason why employment for software developers is expected to rise by 24 percent through 2026. That's more than three times the national average for all occupations.
The growing trend of consumer products such as household electronics incorporating software into their operating functions will create additional demand for software developers. Job prospects will be best for software engineers who know multiple computer languages and have professional certifications.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Software Developers, Applications||$108,080||903,160||25.6%|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$152,860||391,430||11.3%|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||$114,000||405,330||10.1%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$87,070||366,250||4.7%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Software Engineering
Federal financial aid is just one avenue students can seek to help pay for tuition costs. There are many software engineering scholarships as well. San Jose State University's Alumni Association offers many different scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers also offers a variety of scholarships and grants for students. Many tech corporations, such as Microsoft and Google, offer various technical scholarships as well.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Computer Engineering, Wichita State University, http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/home/major.asp?u=eecs&m_sysid=56
- Software engineering, Iowa State University, http://www.se.iastate.edu/about-se
- Computer Engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology, http://ece.mst.edu/media/academic/ece/documents/academicprograms/factsheetsforcpeee/BS%20CpE-Brochure_July%202014_Complete.pdf
- Software Engineering, San Jose State University, http://info.sjsu.edu/web-dbgen/catalog/departments/CMPE-section-2.html
- Software Engineering, North Dakota State University, https://bulletin.ndsu.edu/graduate/programs/software-engineering/
- Undergraduate studies, Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Dallas, http://cs.utdallas.edu/education/undergraduate/
- B.S. in Software Engineering, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, https://csc.calpoly.edu/programs/
- Computer Science and Engineering, University of California-Merced, https://engineering.ucmerced.edu/academics/undergraduate-programs/computer-sciences-and-engineering-cse
- Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, http://www.mtu.edu/ece/undergraduate/computer/
- Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego, http://ece.ucsd.edu/faculty-research/ece-research-areas/computer-engineering
- Software Developer, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-2
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.