Online Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering

Software engineering is a field that combines aspects of computer science, engineering, and mathematics. Software engineers design, maintain, and build the software and computer systems necessary to run a modern company. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of software engineering, an online master’s in software engineering may be particularly appealing to students with undergraduate backgrounds in engineering, computer science, information technology, or electrical engineering.

Students who earn an online master’s in software engineering will learn a wide range of practical and theoretical skills, including IT and database management, software development, systems testing, and software architecture. Earning a graduate degree in software engineering allows students the opportunity to earn tens of thousands of dollars more per year than peers who only have a bachelor’s degree. An online software engineering master’s degree also improves the range of job career prospects, helps students become more attractive jobs candidates, and allows for greater long term upward career mobility. Many online master’s programs feature capstone, thesis, or final project components that allow students to pursue subjects they’re passionate about.

Software engineers earn an average of $100,690 per year, with pay higher for master’s degree holders than BS graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is growing by 17% — a rate much faster than overall employment.

For code lovers and computer science graduates, an online master’s degree in computer engineering can be an affordable means to improve skills and credentials. Aside from its cheap price tag, online education also allows students a more flexible schedule and access to institutions that are geographically distant. This page lists some of the best accredited online master’s programs in software engineering that are not just affordable but deliver the best return on investment.

Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Software Engineering
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East Carolina University

Value Score 9.24
Average Tuition $4,434
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 59
Number of Online Programs 30

East Carolina University's master of science in software engineering program is an affordable graduate degree program that is priced the same for online learners as it is for in-state students. Online and on-campus students work together on collaborative assignments through the web-based platform. To apply to this flexible, cheap graduate program, students must submit scores from either the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). The vast majority of students in this master’s in software engineering program hold an undergraduate degree in computer science, information systems, or a related academic field. Students without an academic background in software engineering are accepted into the program on a case-by-case basis.

Those enrolled in this online master’s degree in software engineering program may specialize in one of three concentrations: software design and development, software project management and quality assurance, or software testing. In addition to the coursework in each degree concentration, all students study software engineering fundamentals such as software systems architecture, programming languages, and software project management.

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Texas Tech University

Value Score 8.29
Average Tuition $4,858
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36
Number of Online Programs 14

The flexibility of Texas Tech University’s online master’s degree in software engineering program makes it a particularly appealing option for distance learners. Those enrolled in the school's master of science in software engineering program can opt to take courses synchronously or asynchronously. Texas Tech's Whitacre College of Engineering streams live videos of lectures later posted online for students to view outside of class hours. In addition, instructors hold web-based discussions to give both on-campus and online students the chance to interact and collaborate outside of the classroom.

Regardless of whether students take their courses in real time or on their own schedule, all program participants must complete three core courses that cover software engineering project management, modeling and architecture, and verification. Once complete, students are given the opportunity to select from a range of electives to personalize their degree. The cost per credit for all of these courses is notably affordable for in-state students, while out-of-state students must pay almost double for tuition.

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Kennesaw State University

Value Score 7.55
Average Tuition $5,818
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100
Number of Online Programs 15

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Kennesaw State University offers a robust, affordable online master of science in software engineering program. Tuition for this distance learning degree program costs the same for in-state and out-of-state students. All online students forego fees associated with on-campus learning and pay tuition per credit hour. As such, for those looking into different online master's programs, pursuing software engineering at Kennesaw State University is a cheap and strategic option.

Those interested in this online software engineering master’s degree must enter the program having completed a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer science. Students with an undergraduate degree in a different academic discipline may be admitted, but must complete five graduate-level foundation classes before starting the graduate program. Kennesaw's software engineering degree consists of seven required core courses and three or four electives. In order to graduate, all students must complete a capstone project or thesis.

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North Dakota State University

Value Score 7.39
Average Tuition $5,440
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 27
Number of Online Programs 9

North Dakota State University's online master of software engineering degree consists of a 36-credit program geared toward working professionals. The program features a flexible completion timeline for students who want to continue working as they complete the program. The degree can be completed in one, two, or five years — all completely online. Particularly appealing to students currently working as software engineers, learners can receive credit toward assignments for completing relevant job activities.

Those enrolled in the degree program can expedite their learning process by taking a course exam in the first four weeks of a semester. Students who pass can skip the remainder of the class and earn credit for the course. This aspect of NDSU's online master’s degree in software engineering makes it a particularly affordable option for students who can complete their degree quickly, saving them both money and time.

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University of Houston - Clear Lake

Value Score 6.32
Average Tuition $6,372
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 37
Number of Online Programs 8

Located half an hour from downtown Houston, the University of Houston — Clear Lake provides a variety of on-campus and online degree programs. Clear Lake's master of science in software engineering is a notably cheap graduate program for Texas residents, with tuition offered at a discounted rate to those living in-state. Cost aside, students from various geographic locations are encouraged to apply to the program — and especially those with an academic background and professional experience in the field of computer science.

This online master’s software engineering degree consists of 36 credits and can be completed in 15 to 24 months, depending on the student’s preferred pace. These 36 credits consist of courses specifically geared toward software engineering fundamentals and concepts applicable to the workforce. Some core courses include software construction, software architecture, and software engineering life cycle — all of which prepare students to excel as leaders in the software engineering area of their choice.

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California State University - Fullerton

Value Score 5.71
Average Tuition $6,738
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 34
Number of Online Programs 5

Of all master’s in software engineering programs to choose from, the master of science in software engineering at California State University - Fullerton offers unique course content focused on process-oriented methodologies. This professional master’s degree program is geared toward industry professionals who are looking to gain expertise in software development, maintenance, and management processes. Students complete coursework that focuses on these topics online, but they are also encouraged to attend a midpoint symposium at California State University — Fullerton. This symposium aims to assess student progress in the program.

This online software engineering master’s degree is most affordable for distance learners who are California residents, as in-state students receive a tuition break. Regardless of location, all online learners save money by avoiding the fees associated with on-campus education. The entire program consists of 30 credits that students are expected to complete over the course of 22 months. If students stick to this schedule, they can complete their entire master’s degree program in less than two years.

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University of Michigan - Dearborn

Value Score 5.21
Average Tuition $10,854
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 47
Number of Online Programs 10

The 30-credit master’s in software engineering degree offered by the University of Michigan - Dearborn is a interdisciplinary graduate program taught by the school’s Department of Computer and Information Science and its Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Collaboration between the two departments provides students with the chance to select from a wide range of courses to better specialize in specific subject areas within the field of software engineering. As they select courses, students satisfy the program’s curriculum requirements by choosing from a project or thesis option. Each option features a different combination of required core and elective courses.

Students enrolled in this online software engineering master’s degree program may complete courses on campus, online, or a combination of the two. The flexibility of this degree program draws a large number of applicants each year and those interested in applying must hold a bachelor’s degree in the computer science field with a grade point average of “B” or better.

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West Virginia University

Value Score 4.89
Average Tuition $8,568
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 29
Number of Online Programs 7

Located in Morgantown, West Virginia University’s online master’s degree in software engineering caters to working professionals in the software engineering field. The program is offered part-time in a hybrid format, where students attend weekly evening classes and complete their assignments online. This online graduate degree program costs the same for both in and out-of-state students ($569 per credit hour), making this software engineering master’s degree a cheap, financially strategic option for students living outside of West Virginia.

There are two ways that students can enroll in WVU's online master’s degree in software engineering program: as a “regular” graduate student or as a “provisional” graduate student. Regular graduate students must submit GRE scores, and hold at least a 3.0 GPA and an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field. Provisional graduate students can apply with any undergraduate degree as long as they have at least one year of experience in the software engineering industry.

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Drexel University

Value Score 4.60
Average Tuition $31,239
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 48
Number of Online Programs 30

Drexel University offers two master’s degree in software engineering program tracks — one in computer science, and the other in information science and technology. Both online master’s software engineering program options cost the same at $1,192 per credit, but differ in requirements students must meet in order to apply. The computer science track only accepts students with a four-year bachelor's degree in engineering or computer science, whereas the information science and technology track allows students with any undergraduate degree to apply as long as they’ve completed at least three math and engineering courses and have a deep understanding of a programming language such as Pascal, C, or Ada.

Once students are admitted into their respective program tracks, they are encouraged to complete classes in a series of four 10-week quarters per year. This way, participants can complete more courses in a short time period of time, providing students with the opportunity to graduate in an accelerated timeline.

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Mercer University

Value Score 3.62
Average Tuition $14,904
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 17
Number of Online Programs 4

At Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, online students can earn their master of science in engineering with a specialization in software engineering.This graduate studies track is one of seven engineering specializations that students may choose from, including biomedical, computer, electrical, environmental, mechanical, and engineering management. The breadth of offerings within Mercer University’s School of Engineering speaks to the school’s long-standing history as an expert in engineering education. Their online master’s software engineering degree in particular is designed to teach students how to conduct complex software development projects, use refactoring, and program proficiently in Java, C++, or C#.

Those interested in this technical program must submit GRE scores along with their application, which the school accepts twice a year (semester start dates are in spring and fall). Once enrolled, online students pay $882 per credit hour for tuition regardless of whether or not they reside within the state of Georgia.

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