Discover on-campus software engineering programs at each academic level: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degree programs. We’ve even covered certificates. Along the way, you’ll learn exactly what to expect, from admissions & curriculum details to the benefits of adding a degree to your résumé. (For virtual learning opportunities, explore our separate section on online software engineering degrees).
Ready to choose an on-campus software engineering program? Let’s dive in!
Associate Degrees in Software Engineering & Development
An associate’s in software engineering is an entry-level degree spanning two years of study, usually following high school. It’s comparable to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. In fact, if you decide to continue your education, you can apply most—if not all—of your associate degree credits toward a bachelor’s in software engineering.
So what are your options? Most software-related associate degree programs are in software development or computer programming, which will teach you foundational skills needed for software careers. A few colleges & universities offer associate degrees in software engineering; you may wish to consider one of those if you’re intent on becoming a software engineer.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Software Engineering
Although many software engineers get their start by studying computer science, software development, or related STEM fields, there are now hundreds of bachelor’s in software engineering programs available around the country. Complete this four-year degree and you’ll develop a well-rounded software engineering skill set, with the option to specialize in sub-fields like software development, design, or mobile applications.
It’s a great starter qualification for the job market. Most aspiring software engineers begin their careers by completing a bachelor’s degree. The rigorous curriculum prepares you for the various challenges you’ll face on the job, from developing and carrying out project plans to designing test cases & adopting Agile software development methods.
Certificate in Software Engineering Programs
Graduate certificates in software engineering are designed to help you build professional credentials and boost specific skill sets. These efficient programs are offered by universities around the country. Most certificates require you to complete five courses of graduate-level study and a final exam within one academic year.
Graduate certificates are less intense than an MS in software engineering, but they still provide specialized skills for current software engineers interested in career advancement. You can usually apply certificate credits toward a master’s degree if you decide to take that step in the future. In the meantime, they offer an affordable alternative.
Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering
Don’t take graduate education lightly—earning a master’s in software engineering requires 1-3 years of hard work and sufficient finances. But advancing your software education to the graduate level will give you a chance to distinguish yourself from your peers. Although a master’s degree is not a “must-have” for success in the field, an advanced software engineering degree can open many industry doors and increase your earnings.
MS degrees in software engineering often focus on areas of particular interest, from the obvious (e.g. advanced programming methods) to the not-so-obvious. You may have the opportunity to explore in-depth specialties such as software architecture, embedded software engineering, software engineering for business, and more.
PhD in Software Engineering Programs
When you apply for a software engineering PhD program, you are making a bold statement. A PhD is the highest academic credential that software engineers can pursue. It’s a rigorous 4-5 year process that involves preliminary exams, intense & original research in a relatively new field, and a lengthy dissertation. Complete a doctorate and you’ll be seen as an expert in your field.
But is this path right for you? Before you commit to a doctoral program, we recommend you examine our guide. PhD in software engineering programs are often the choice of aspiring university professors, start-up founders, software engineering consultants, or top-level researchers who work in major tech companies & governmental bodies. If these job titles tally with your career goals, use our listings to find educational opportunities near you.