Best Computer Software Engineering colleges in the U.S. 2023

Written by James Mielke

As businesses and industries become more reliant on software-based systems, software engineers inevitably play vital roles throughout the public and private sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software-based careers are projected to grow by as much as 22% over the next decade, making software engineering degrees and popular academic option among students.

And while a growing field is one indicator of a quality choice for a college degree, the salaries for software-based careers are equally enticing—BLS reveals a median salary of over $110,000 annually for software developers, testers, and quality assurance analysts. 

Throughout the following page, we spot both online and on-campus software engineering degrees, various certifications and licensures, and the career options for software engineering degree graduates. Keep reading to learn more about this growing, lucrative field.

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Best Computer Software Engineering colleges in the U.S. for 2023

Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University plays home to their Software Engineering Institute, offering standout specializations in areas like cloud computing, cyber workforce development, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence engineering. Carnegie Mellon offers various undergraduate and graduate software engineering degrees including a Master's in Software Engineering and an MBA with a software engineering concentration.

The University of Southern California is a Los Angeles based institution that offers two computer software engineering programs at the graduate level. With more than 40,000 students, this elite west coast school provides students with the theoretical and technical skills they need to expand career options.

Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara University is a private Jesuit institution established in 1851. Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara has an enrollment of around 9,000 students and offers undergraduate and graduate programs where students can hone their computer science and software engineering skills.

Brigham Young University offers 1 Computer Software Engineering degree programs. It's a very large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a midsize city. In 2020, 5 Computer Software Engineering students graduated with students earning 5 Bachelor's degrees.

Established in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research institution with more than 25,000 students. This Boston-based school offers a Master's in Software Engineering, and graduate students also have access to more than 15 graduate certificates that cover topics like data analytics, energy systems management, and software engineering systems.

Stevens Institute of Technology offers 5 Computer Software Engineering degree programs. It's a medium sized, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large suburb. In 2020, 70 Computer Software Engineering students graduated with students earning 43 Master's degrees, 16 Bachelor's degrees, and 11 Certificates.

Villanova University
Villanova, PA

Villanova University is a private Catholic research institution that was established in 1842. This Pennsylvania-based university offers a master's in software engineering and a computer science bachelor's where students can specialize in software engineering. Both programs hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers 1 Computer Software Engineering degree programs. It's a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 22 Computer Software Engineering students graduated with students earning 22 Master's degrees.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to various computer software engineering tracks at the graduate level. Based in Dallas and founded in 1911, SMU has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students. In addition to master's and doctoral programs in software engineering, undergraduate students can supplement their computer science degrees with software-based classes.

Home to a range of STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degrees, Michigan Technological University (MTU) enrolls more than 7,000 students annually. Founded in 1885, MTU is based in the state's Upper Peninsula and offers a BS Degree in Software Engineering. This program takes a collaborative, team-based approach and holds ABET accreditation.

What is Computer Software Engineering?

Software engineering degrees traditionally offer students the skills to create various software, systems, and tech-based applications. Considering that software is somehow associated with almost every element of our lives, software engineering graduates can establish themselves in many careers.

Students pursuing a career in software engineering traditionally complete an undergraduate degree in software engineering or computer sciences. In addition to honing essential tech-based skills, software engineering students often shape their degrees to mirror their professional interests. This can include professional areas like manufacturing, management, or cybersecurity.

Most students tackling a software engineering degree rely on strong skills in math and science while also possessing equally strong problem-solving and analytical attributes. Software engineers often work in collaborative environments alongside various programmers and sales professionals.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Software Engineering

Students pursuing an undergraduate software engineering degree typically complete about 120 credits before graduation. These degree-seekers complete a mix of general education requirements along with a substantial curriculum of software engineering classes. Alongside core classes, students often have the opportunity to select an academic concentration in areas such as software design, project management, web design, and information technology.

Prospective students must hold a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to an online application, applicants typically submit official high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining academic and career goals. While it's becoming less common, some schools may require SAT/ACT scores.

Master's Degree in Computer Software Engineering

Students completing a Master's in Software Engineering hone the technical and leadership skills they need to pursue various managerial roles. While most Master's in Software Engineering Degrees take about two years to complete, some programs offer an accelerated option where students graduate in as few as 15 months. 

Enrolling master's students traditionally have a strong background in software engineering or computer science and complete core classes such as software systems engineering, software security technologies, and software engineering processes. Additionally, graduate students also tackle specialized coursework in areas like software architecture, project management, and data analysis.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with a cumulative GPA of around 3.0 for many programs. Applicants also submit a professional resume, letters of recommendation, and a graduate essay outlining their interest in the program.

Certification and Licensure in Computer Software Engineering

While software engineers are not required to complete, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has created a licensure process for software engineers. That said, hiring employers typically look towards academic performance and professional experience as indicators of professional performance. While not required, software engineering graduates can secure licensure to enhance their credentials and job options.

Electrical engineering degree graduates can also complete various graduate certificate programs to enhance their skills and professional marketability. Often provided as an online option, common certificate courses cover topics like C++ programming, user interface design, and blockchain applications.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Computer Software Engineering?

Students completing their software engineering degrees often take advantage of widely marketable skills that often translate into generous salaries. Graduates often secure positions as software developers, digital designers, and computer systems analysts. Additionally, graduates often find themselves in various fields such as healthcare, finance, energy, and telecommunications.

While an undergraduate software engineering degree is often your ticket to a lucrative position in a growing field, working professionals continually enhance their career options and earning potential through graduate-level coursework and professional certifications. These professional development opportunities span from coding boot camps to various developer certifications and can dramatically enhance your marketable skills.

Earning an Online Computer Software Engineering Degree

Specific program requirements can vary between online software engineering degrees, so applicants should reach out to program officials to see if there are any in-person requirements. Online software engineering degrees provide students with a flexible and affordable option ideal for working professionals. 

Depending on the program, students can anticipate synchronous (real-time) and/or asynchronous (at your own pace) coursework. Online programs also rely on digital platforms that facilitate class discussions and group work while providing students with easy access to all course materials. The best online programs offer coursework identical to on-campus options while supplying students with a similar list of student services and resources.

Computer Software Engineering FAQ

  • Is software engineering a good degree?
    • Whether on-campus or online, graduate or undergraduate, a software engineering degree can lead to a professional toolkit of widely marketable skills utilized in nearly every industry imaginable. Software engineering students hone various technical skills throughout their coursework while working in a collaborative, project-based environment. From finance to healthcare, these industries rely on effective software engineers to accomplish their business goals.
  • What can I do with a software engineering degree?
    • Upon graduation, software engineering students commonly tackle careers as software engineers, web developers, and cybersecurity professionals. Software engineering students traditionally have access to a wide variety of careers and can enhance their professional opportunities through various certificate programs and graduate-level coursework. Experienced professionals often take on leadership and managerial roles within their field.
  • How much money can I make with a software engineering degree?
    • While salaries vary between specific jobs and industries, software engineering degree graduates can anticipate higher-than-average pay in a growing field. Experienced professionals in leadership roles often make the most, but the median salary for software developers exceeds $110,000 per year.

List of all Computer Software Engineering colleges in the U.S.

School Average Tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
Carnegie Mellon University Logo Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
11 : 1 13,519
University of Southern California Logo University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
22 : 1 46,287
Santa Clara University Logo Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA
15 : 1 8,616
Brigham Young University Logo Brigham Young University Provo, UT
29 : 1 36,461
Northeastern University Logo Northeastern University Boston, MA
16 : 1 22,905