An online master's degree in software engineering is a smart choice for anyone interested in computer science and program instrumentation. People with advanced knowledge in software engineering are in high demand, as the profession combines some of the most valuable knowledge sets in the world – computer science, information technology, and engineering. In fact, most of the top rated jobs in the United States are related to computers, engineering, or both.
If you're thinking about earning a degree in this field, even minimal research will reveal that your options are nearly endless. Deciding to go to school online expands your choices immensely, bringing schools clear across the country into easy reach. Of course, not all schools are created equal, and it can be quite a challenge to sort through all the data to find that perfect school that hits the sweet spot of affordability and quality.
Our hope is that the following ten schools fit the bill. Representing the ten most affordable programs in the country (according to the U.S. Department of Education's College Navigator database), they also rival the best online master's degrees in software engineering around. With tuition rates frequently falling below $10,000 a year, these schools attract applicants who are on a shoe-string budget. However, they also frequently entice serious students, who note the universities' reputable accreditations, distinguished faculty, and high national and regional rankings.
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10. West Virginia University
Online Software Engineering Master's Degree M.S.S.E.
WVU offers a completely online graduate degree in Software Engineering that caters to working professionals with its flexible rolling start dates. The faculty focus on providing advanced software engineering training to students already working in the field of information technology and those seeking career advancement. Students watch lectures online one evening per week, and the school archives lectures to ensure that everyone has ample opportunity to access the material. This affordable online program guarantees in-state tution rates for all students. West Virginia University was ranked #30 by Forbes as one of the nation's top "Best Buy Colleges."
Tuition: $7,218/yr (In-state) $20,286/yr (Out-of-state)
9. Kansas State University
Online Master of Software Engineering
Students around the world with a bachelor's degree in science or engineering may take advantage of Kansas State University's affordable online master's degree in Software Engineering, available entirely through distance education. Courses include Information Security, Software Analysis and Design, and Marketing Research, which yields graduates who are experts in both applied engineering and computer software design. This flexible program caters to working adults with families and permits students to work at their own pace and graduate in anywhere from two to six years. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university #20 among the best online graduate engineering degrees.
Tuition: $8,402/yr (In-state) $18,968/yr (Out-of-state)
8. Colorado Technical University
Online Master of Science in Computer Science – Software Engineering
CTU offers a flexible, affordable, and completely online master's degree in Software Engineering. Students may enroll throughout the year and can take courses in engineering, design, and process, culminating in a computer science capstone project. Graduates often seek employment as software developers, data analysts, engineers, programmers, and solutions architects. More than 90% of organizations employing CTU graduates state that they would hire other CTU graduates and that these employees are more than adequately prepared for their positions. Military Times has ranked Colorado Technical University among the "Best for Vets" two years in a row.
7. Stratford University
Master of Science in Software Engineering Online
This accredited online master's degree in Software Engineering equips students with the knowledge and practical skills to find employment as project managers and software engineers. Stratford understands that offering flexibility is the pathway to success and offers five start dates per year, the option to attend full-time or part-time, and courses in both five- and ten-week formats – all of which explain why the program has a 100% on-time graduation rate among full-time students. Leading faculty – who are experts in their industry – teach all of Stratford's courses. Stratford is a military-friendly school as well, with membership in the Services Members Opportunities College program and participation in the Yellow Ribbon program.
6. East Carolina University
Online Master of Science in Software Engineering (MSSE) Degree
East Carolina University's top online master's degree in software engineering is a great fit for those with a background in computer science who are interested in understanding the most up-to-date applications in the field. The program focuses on both practical application and theory, and students learn how to develop, design, maintain, and test state-of-the art software systems. Coursework in systems architecture, Java, project management, and object-oriented design prepares graduates with the cutting-edge skills necessary to be competitive in the industry. Forbes magazine has ranked ECU #121 among colleges in the southern United States.
Tuition: $4,223/yr (In-state) $16,540/yr (Out-of-state)
5. University of Houston Clear Lake
Online Software Engineering MS
Those interested in a degree declared by Money Magazine to be the highest in demand over the next decade may look to the University of Houston Clear Lake's master's degree in Software Engineering online. Students complete their coursework using Blackboard, and PhDs with extensive experience in the field teach courses with small class sizes. Students can specialize in Gaming and Robotics Software, Software Project Management, and Software Development. In addition to core courses, students enjoy electives such as Risk Management, Testing, and Service Oriented Architecture. Graduates emerge prepared for high-paying careers as engineers, analysts, designers, and project managers. Collegecompare.com ranked UHCL #4 on its list of best colleges in the state of Texas.
Tuition: $6,624/yr (In-state) $13,680/yr (Out-of-state)
4. University of Maryland University College
Online Master of Science in Information Technology: Software Engineering
The Software Engineering specialization at University of Maryland University College teaches software developers advanced design, software methodology, and coding techniques. This degree is designed to serve individuals who wish to remain current in their field and advance their careers. UMUC's Learning Experience Online program makes distance learning easier than ever by providing students access to features that promote success, including an interactive calendar to easily manage assignments, classroom connection from anywhere by smartphone, a progress tool that tracks grades, and access to professor feedback through audio messaging. Military Times has ranked UMUC #1 Best for Vets.
Tuition: $8,244/yr (In-state) $11,862/yr (Out-of-state)
3. Southern Polytechnic State University
Online Masters of Science in Software Engineering
SPSU's online master's degree in Software Engineering program gives students hands-on experience with the real-time strategies and procedures that will prepare them for high-level careers in the industry. In addition to required classes in software architecture, object-oriented analysis, design, and engineering, and four elective courses, students may choose between a software engineering capstone project or a thesis to complete their degree. Transition classes are available for those with a bachelor's degree in a field other than computer science or information technology. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Southern Polytechnic State University #85 among regional universities in the southern United States.
Tuition: $4,122/yr (In-state) $14,958/yr (Out-of-state)
2. North Dakota State University
Online Master of Software Engineering
NDSU offers a cheap online master's degree in software engineering degree that students may complete in as little as one year – which could cost as little as $5,100! The program focuses on preparing students for continued success by teaching the latest technologies with classes in developing, project planning, designing, and testing, culminating in an individual software development project. Students already working as software developers may fulfill certain course requirements with relevant work experience. Additionally, students may test out of certain classes during the first few weeks of the semester. NDSU is #7 among the top 50 affordable colleges in the Midwest, according to Great Value Colleges.
Tuition: $5,097/yr (In-state) $13,609/yr (Out-of-state)
1. Texas Tech University
Online Master of Science in Software Engineering
Texas Tech University's degree in Software Engineering is perfect for those with an undergraduate degree in computer science or computer engineering who are looking to advance their software maintenance and development skills. Leveling courses are available for students with bachelor's degrees in other related fields. This non-thesis program offers four yearly start dates and allows students to attend either full-time or part-time. Courses are taught asynchronously via the Blackboard system, granting students the freedom to complete their work on their own time. Distance learning students have access to technological support, library resources, educational workshops, and mental health screening. The Affordable Colleges Foundation ranked Texas Tech #6 in the United States for its affordability and economical online degrees, which of course extends to its incredibly affordable online master's degree in software engineering.
Tuition: $4,546/yr (In-state) $10,918/yr (Out-of-state)
Resource: Software Engineering Scholarships
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates' careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.