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Accredited software engineering programs at the degree level maintain the highest academic standards and meet industry expectations. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, is the largest organization that certifies postsecondary programs in the engineering sector. Enrolling in an ABET-accredited degree can help you stand out from other job candidates and land a lucrative job in software engineering after graduation.
The rise of digital education in software engineering means some ABET-accredited programs have online components, following either a fully online or a hybrid structure. Although fully online programs are more limited, it is possible to complete all or part of your software engineering degree online. Digital education can be ideal if you have work or family commitments or want to avoid traveling to or living on a college campus.
Exploring the Essence of a Software Engineering Degree
Software engineering is a field of computer science that uses programming languages and various engineering principles to design, test, and maintain software applications. These applications include computer games, operation systems, and network control systems.
A degree can improve your career prospects if you want to become a software engineer, especially if an industry-recognized organization accredits it. Software engineering programs are available at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, with ABET mostly accrediting the former.
Some core components of software engineering programs include software design, databases, programming languages, and information systems. During your degree, you’ll learn a broad range of skills that help you get a job in this competitive industry.
In recent years, some software engineering degrees have moved online. Studying a program online can be cheaper than completing an in-person degree because you won’t have to pay for college housing or commute to campus. Plus, you can balance your studies with a full-time job.
While ABET says that many of the programs it accredits have online components, its list of degrees that are fully online is limited. For most ABET-accredited degree programs with online elements, you’ll likely need to attend some in-person classes and study other parts of your degree at home.
The Importance of Accreditation for Software Engineering Programs
ABET accreditation ensures that a software engineering program’s curriculum meets specific quality standards and teaches you the skills you need to get a job in this field. Employers will also value a qualification from an ABET-accredited school, increasing your chances of finding work. Over 200,000 students graduate annually from ABET-accredited programs, and millions of people have earned accredited degrees since the organization started in 1932.
Receiving accreditation from ABET is a long process and involves multiple steps. First, a school must complete a readiness review and collect student work samples, textbooks, sample assignments, and other documents. After submitting a request for evaluation, the college completes a self-study report and participates in webinars. Representatives from ABET visit the school, interview students and faculty members, and make an accreditation decision. The entire process takes nearly two years. Colleges must fulfill all the criteria, whether they want a traditional or online program to receive accreditation.
You can find a list of ABET-accredited software engineering programs on the organization’s website.
ABET isn’t the only agency that evaluates and influences engineering degrees. For instance, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) provides curriculum recommendations for software engineering programs worldwide. The Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB) coordinates volunteers who evaluate schools wanting to receive ABET accreditation.
Why Pursue an Accredited Software Engineering Degree Program?
With so many software engineering programs, knowing which one to choose can be challenging. However, applying for this degree can help you kick-start your career and make you more attractive to prospective employers. Studying an accredited program online might also be a good idea if you value flexibility.
Accredited programs, such as those ABET authorizes, can improve your career prospects. That’s because these degrees satisfy the latest standards in the software engineering industry, making it easier to find a job at home or abroad. For example, ABET accreditation is recognized worldwide, and many international agencies base their accrediting systems on the organization’s model.
Accredited programs also maintain the highest levels of educational quality and can establish eligibility for federal student loans, grants, scholarships, and other types of financial aid.
Advantages of Studying Online
As previously mentioned, few accredited software engineering programs are entirely online. Some offer a hybrid learning model, where you attend some classes in person at a college campus and complete other work online.
Studying all or part of your software engineering degree online has many benefits, with flexibility being one of the biggest advantages. With an accredited online program, you can earn a bachelor’s or master’s while balancing family, work, or travel commitments. You could complete assignments in the evening if you have a full-time job or structure your studies around family holidays and routine events.
These programs can also increase accessibility for students with mobility difficulties. For instance, someone who uses a wheelchair can access course materials at home instead of trying to navigate buildings on a college campus.
The adoption of emerging technologies in online software engineering programs is another advantage. You may be able to download different software onto your computer and complete programming tasks without visiting campus, or submit assignments and access resources via a digital learning management system. Other technologies you may use during an accredited online or hybrid degree program include webinars, video tutorials, online forums, and emails.
Understanding the Financial Commitment: Costs of an Accredited Software Engineering Degree
The price of an accredited software engineering degree varies depending on the institution and type of program. Average total tuition and fees may be between $37,000 and $91,000 for bachelor’s degree students, according to U.S. News & World Report. Other customary costs may include books, course materials, and additional college fees.
An online degree can cost less than one you take on campus, but its fees depend on the school, program, and other factors. One of the most noticeable differences is that on-campus degrees must factor in commuting or housing costs, which can significantly increase your expenses.
Online degrees save on these costly expenses. Whatever route you choose, you can always apply for financial aid such as scholarships and grants to reduce the amount you pay for your studies.
Curriculum Deep Dive: What To Expect From an Accredited Software Engineering Program
What you learn in a software engineering program depends on the institution. However, ABET will generally influence the curriculum at an accredited school, ensuring you develop the right industry skills.
Core courses at ABET-authorized colleges include programming fundamentals, data structures, operating systems, and database management systems. You might also learn about programming language theories, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.
As well as core courses, you often have the chance to study electives that interest you. This course structure can help you break into a specific branch of software engineering and improve your job prospects.
Gaining Entry: Admission Requirements for Accredited Software Engineering Programs
The college you’re interested in will list prerequisites for its accredited software engineering program on its website. Typically, you need some academic qualifications or work experience to get a placement in one of these degree programs. However, requirements will depend on the type of program and institution.
For a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, you’ll likely need a high-school diploma or equivalent qualification. For a master’s, you should have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or a related subject. Program administrators might also evaluate your grade point average (GPA) from college and only admit you to the program if you have a specific score.
Along with educational experience, letters of recommendation from a tutor or employer may help you get a placement in an accredited software engineering program. These documents can tell your chosen college about any academic achievements or work experiences you have that make you a suitable candidate.
Career Pathways With an Accredited Software Engineering Degree
Graduating from an accredited software engineering program will provide many career options in the tech industry. You might want to become an applications developer and write software programs for mobile devices. Or, you could become a cybersecurity analyst and help organizations protect their data from hackers.
Other popular jobs with software engineering graduates include IT consultants, web developers, and multimedia programmers. Alternatively, you could embark on a career as a computer software engineer and use scientific and mathematical principles to create different types of software programs.
Many successful people started their careers by completing programs similar to software engineering. Max Levchin, who created the company that became PayPal, studied for a bachelor’s in computer science.
Earnings and Opportunities: Salary and Job Outlook for Software Engineers
The average annual base salary for a software engineer in the United States was about $93,000 per year in 2023, according to research from Payscale. Annual wages for this position range from $68,000 to $135,000, so how much you make will depend on your experience and location.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t publish specific data about predicted job growth in software engineering. However, the overall employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers — similar occupations to software engineers — is projected to increase by 25% from 2022 to 2032. That’s a much faster growth rate than the average for all jobs (3%).
Funding Your Future: Scholarships and Financial Aid for Aspiring Software Engineers
Sometimes, you might benefit from financial support when completing your accredited software engineering degree. Scholarships and grants can be an invaluable way to fund your education. Many colleges and organizations offer these incentives to those who demonstrate excellent academic achievement or come from a lower-income household.
You can learn about programs for software engineering students at your chosen college’s financial aid office or through the Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool. Some of the most popular software engineering scholarships include the Generation Google Scholarship and the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship.
Accredited Software Engineering Degree FAQ
How much money can you make with a software engineering degree?
The average annual base salary for a software engineer in the United States is $93,000 per year, with typical salaries ranging from $68,000 to $135,000. The amount you earn after graduating from a software engineering program depends on your experience and location.
How long will it take to get your degree in software engineering?
It usually takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and two years to finish a master’s when studying full time. Many colleges now offer you the chance to get a degree while studying part time, which is a good idea if you want to balance work with study.
Is it worth the time and effort to get a software engineering degree?
Earning a software engineering degree, either at the bachelor’s or master’s levels, requires dedication and a lot of work. However, you could improve your chances of landing a high-paying job in this sector and find a rewarding role that interests you. The long-term job outlook for careers similar to software engineering is positive, meaning you could have plenty of employment opportunities when you graduate.
Can you get a software engineering degree online?
Many colleges let you complete a software engineering degree entirely online, meaning you don’t need to attend a college campus in person. However, online ABET-accredited software engineering programs are more limited, and you might need to combine online learning with in-person classes.
What types of careers do software engineering graduates pursue?
Many career options are available to graduates with a software engineering degree. These careers range from entry-level positions to executive roles. Some of the most popular jobs in this sector include software engineers, cybersecurity analysts, web developers, multimedia programmers, and IT consultants.
Advance Your Software Engineering Career Prospects
Accredited software engineering programs maintain educational quality and meet industry standards, helping you increase your career prospects after graduation. Many colleges include online components in these degrees and give you the flexibility to complete all or part of your studies online.
Consider your finances, lifestyle, and learning preferences when choosing different schools. That can provide you with a more enjoyable college experience. Also, see if you’re eligible for scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid to reduce the cost of your studies.