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The Best Colleges for Software Engineering in 2021

Software engineering is the heart of the tech industry. As the demand for software engineers increases, more colleges are incorporating software engineering degrees into their available options. Anyone looking to pick up these skills can choose from a list of the best colleges for software engineering.

Software engineering programs are typically part of the computer science department at a university. The best schools for software engineering have certain things in common, and employers tend to look out for them during the hiring process. In this article, you’ll learn what to look for when choosing from the best software engineering schools in 2021.

Top 10 Software Engineering Schools in 2021 at a Glance

The table below contains each university and its programs, tuition, and location. While tuition figures were obtained from each school’s website, they are subject to change.

School and Degrees State Tuition Notes
Auburn University
Bachelor of Software Engineering
(AL) $420 per credit hour
$1,260 per credit hour
In-state
Out-of-state
California Polytechnic State University
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
(CA) $10,194 per year*
$25,971 per year*
In-state
Out-of-state
Drexel University
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
Master of Science in Software Engineering
(PA) $18,405 per quarter
$1,342 per credit hour
Undergraduate
Graduate
Iowa State University
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
(IA) $4,021 per semester
$11,615 per semester
In-state
Out-of-state
Miami University
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
(OH) $16,224 per year
$36,650 per year
In-state
Out-of-state
Michigan Technological University
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
(MI) $16,130 per year
$36,432 per year
In-state
Out-of-state
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
(WI) $43,284 per year All students
Stevens Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
Master of Science in Software Engineering
(NJ) $27,390 per semester
$19,038 per semester
Undergraduate
Graduate
The University of Texas at Dallas
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
Master of Science in Software Engineering
(TX) $1,770 per credit
$4,703 per credit
$1,746 per credit
$2,532 per credit
Undergraduate, in-state
Undergraduate, out-of-state
Graduate, in-state
Graduate, out-of-state
University of California, Irvine
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
Master of Science in Software Engineering
(CA) $11,442 per year
$41,196 per year
$26,544 per year
All students, in-state
Undergraduate, out-of-state
Graduate, out-of-state

*Includes fees

Online vs In-Person Software Engineering Degrees

The popularity of online learning has picked up over the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While schools across major cities in the world are starting to resume traditional classes, there are still students who prefer to get their degrees online. This is because online learning is flexible, affordable, and still of high quality.

However, virtual classrooms don’t have all the features of a regular classroom. There are still some limitations attached to fully remote learning. Not everyone can focus on a screen for hours at a time without getting distracted. It takes focus and time management skills, which may be easier to develop in a traditional school structure.

Choosing the Best School for You

Cost and flexibility are among the top factors to consider when choosing a school for software engineering. These two variables are essential, but they aren’t the only ones that count. Read below to learn more about how to choose the best software engineering program for you.

Accreditation

There are two types of accreditation you should look out for when choosing a school: institutional and programmatic accreditation. The institutional accreditation covers the entire school, giving them the power to award degrees. The programmatic accreditation covers specific programs within faculties.

In this case, the software engineering program should be covered by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Curriculum

Software engineering is an ever-changing field. The curriculum must cover the most in-demand technologies in the industry. Most schools allow prospective students to have a glimpse of the curriculum before applying.

Look out for topics like data integration, programming, software evolution, distributed systems, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and Agile methodologies. These topics will teach you how to become a software engineer.

Cost and Financing

The overall cost of attendance might be more affordable for an online school than an in-person school. However, you should research thoroughly and determine which other fees you may have to pay besides tuition.

This will help you reach a more accurate estimate when looking for a financing option. It’s also important to find out if the school has any payment plans or scholarships that could benefit you. Check with an advisor before you apply.

The Best Software Engineering Schools in 2021

The Best Software Engineering Schools in 2021

Every school on the list below is accredited on an institutional and programmatic level. They have been evaluated based on the quality of programs, the reputation of the school, and student outcomes in the industry.

Auburn University

This Alabama-based university is a public land grant school with a graduation rate of 75 percent. The Bachelor of Software Engineering is part of the College of Engineering. It covers the fundamentals of computing, software modeling, and quality assurance engineering. You can also choose a computer science degree if you want an online program.

Auburn University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Software Engineering

California Polytechnic State University

Commonly called CalPoly, this San Luis Obispo-based school has an 83 percent graduation rate. The computer science and software engineering program is a great choice for aspiring software engineers. Some of the courses include project-oriented programming, data structures, and software design, development, and deployment.

California Polytechnic State University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

Drexel University

Drexel University was founded in 1891, and it now has a graduation rate of 70 percent. Drexel University offers computer software engineering programs as a bachelor’s and master’s degree. The bachelor’s degree is interdisciplinary, and students can take business, social studies, and humanities electives.

Drexel University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
  • Master of Science in Software Engineering

Iowa State University

This is a 163-year-old university located in the heart of Iowa. It has a 75 percent graduation rate. It offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering that covers the core principles of computer science. The current job placement rate of students in this program is 96 percent within the first six months after graduation.

Iowa State University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

Miami University

Miami University has a graduation rate of 78 percent and is one of the oldest schools in the country. The software engineering school gives students the option to choose between 99 to 105 credits during the program. It is an interdisciplinary degree that combines modern software engineering technologies with natural science, economics, and statistics.

Miami University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

Michigan Technological University

This is a public research institute with a graduation rate of 67 percent. The software engineering program emphasizes a project-based approach to learning. Apart from regular coursework, students get hands-on experience in labs and participate in senior design or enterprise programs. This can help you build your portfolio.

Michigan Technological University Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering

As the name implies, this school is your one-stop venue for engineering degree programs. It was founded in 1903, and about 96 percent of all graduates from the software engineering program get jobs in the industry shortly after. Some of the courses include mobile application development, software requirements, and ethics.

Milwaukee School of Engineering Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

Stevens Institute of Technology

This is a New Jersey-based higher institute with an 83 percent graduation rate and that was founded in 1870. The tech institute has undergraduate and graduate programs in software engineering. The bachelor’s program is designed to prepare students who have no prior knowledge of software engineering for the industry.

Stevens Institute of Technology Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
  • Master of Science in Software Engineering

The University of Texas at Dallas

UT Dallas is another great option for software engineering training with a multi-campus system developed in 1961. The Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering is an extension of the computer science department in the school. Students are expected to take core computer science courses along with software engineering courses.

The University of Texas at Dallas Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
  • Master of Science in Software Engineering

University of California, Irvine

California is one of the best places to start a career in software engineering. Attending this school might make it easier for you when it’s time to transition after graduation. The University of California, Irvine, was founded in 1965, and it has a graduation rate of 87 percent. You can get a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

University of California, Irvine Software Engineering Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
  • Master of Science in Software Engineering

What Can You Do With a
Software Engineering Degree?

With a degree in software engineering, you can work as a system engineer, IT security specialist, software engineer, full stack developer, data scientist, web developer, or mobile app developer. You can also work as an independent software developer who creates computer-based products for companies across industries.

These are just a few of the numerous positions you can get with a degree in software engineering. The best part is that you can work across borders, not just within the United States.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn With a Degree in Software Engineering?

In the United States, software engineers earn an average of $99,729 per year, according to ZipRecruiter. This can be broken down into $48 hourly, $1,918 weekly, and $8,311 monthly. ZipRecruiter saw annual salaries as low as $44,500 and as high as $154,500.

Several variables affect the annual salaries of software engineers, including location, job title, years of experience, and job description. For example, the highest earnings in the United States are software engineers in San Jose, CA, Oakland, CA, and Tanaina, AK, according to ZipRecruiter.

44500
Min salary
99729
Average salary
154500
Top salary

Top Software Engineering Degree Careers

Profession Minimum Education Average Salary
Software Architect Bachelor’s Degree $132,506
Cloud Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $128,837
Cyber Security Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $120,708
Data Scientist Bachelor’s Degree $119,413
Database Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $107,844
Full Stack Developer Bachelor’s Degree $102,744
IT Security Specialist Bachelor’s Degree $97,655
System Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $92,508
Web Developer Lead Bachelor’s Degree $79,706
App Developer Bachelor’s Degree $75,782

Does It Matter What College I Go to for Software Engineering?

Yes, the college you attend for software engineering matters. Not every college has a strong software engineering curriculum, and they don’t all pull the same weight in the tech industry. Whether you’re opting for a stand-alone software engineering degree or you’re specializing, make sure that the college is accredited.

Should You Pursue a Degree in Software Engineering?

Yes, you should pursue a degree in software engineering. It is the ideal choice if you’ve made up your mind about building a software engineering career and want a well-rounded education. You’ll also be able to opt for interdisciplinary studies during your education.

If you already have a college degree and you want to switch to software engineering, a bootcamp might be a more viable option. Coding bootcamps offer subject-specific training at an accelerated pace. However, a software engineering degree is a better option in the long term. You should get your degree from one of the best software engineering schools.

Find a training program that will help you start your tech career journey.

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