Best Online Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering 2021: Top Picks

What is software engineering? The field applies engineering principles to the process of designing and developing software. Software engineers work closely with programmers, QA testers, and software developers to create new software programs and improve existing software. A graduate certificate in software engineering prepares professionals for careers in this exciting field.

Our list ranks the best software engineering graduate certificate programs that offer an online learning format. Many students prefer online programs for their flexibility and convenience. Prospective learners can use the following rankings to find the one that best fits their schedule and career goals.

The Best Online Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering

Our list uses ZDNet’s ranking methodology to assess software engineering graduate certificate programs. We only rank accredited universities. In this specialized field, only a few universities offer online registration options for software engineers.

Unless otherwise noted, data is from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia

About the program: Designed for learners without a background in software engineering, the Software Engineering Graduate Certificate program trains students in computer programming, data structures, and computational thinking.

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 48%
  • Avg. annual net price: $ 17,221
  • Years until the end: Less than a year
  • SAT range: 1050-1230
  • Minimum GPA: Not accessible to the public
  • Registration periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. St. Mary’s University

San Antonio, Texas

About the program: The Online Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering consists of four courses that students choose from a catalog of graduate options. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or a closely related field.

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Avg. annual net price: $ 19,276
  • Years until the end: less than a year
  • SAT range: 1040-1220
  • Minimum GPA: Not accessible to the public
  • Registration periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: St. Mary’s University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

What to Expect in an Online Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering Degree Program

An online graduate certificate in software engineering provides advanced training for students with a bachelor’s degree. During the certificate program, learners strengthen their skills in programming, problem solving, and software project management. Instructors use project-based assignments to develop hands-on, out-of-the-box abilities. Learners can create a portfolio to showcase their technical knowledge.

People who are wondering how to become a software engineer can get a graduate certificate in software engineering. Professionals debating other technology careers, such as software engineering or web developer careers, may benefit from a different certificate. Depending on the program, applicants may need training in software engineering.

Graduate Certificate in Software Engineering

During a graduate certificate in software engineering, learners take specialist courses in project management, quality assurance, software architecture, and computer systems management. Many programs offer the following common courses.

Advanced software engineering

Graduate students explore the technical and managerial principles of software development. The course emphasizes the software development lifecycle, including design, implementation, and testing. Learners also develop leadership skills for software engineering settings.

Software project management

Project managers play a key role in the software development project. Learners examine effective approaches to scheduling, planning, and risk management. The course also covers short and long term project management.

Software quality assurance

The course offers advanced techniques and tools to verify software and ensure its quality. Learners explore process assurance, quality metrics, and configuration management. The class reinforces problem analysis skills.

IT systems management

Students examine the principles of management of information and computer systems. Topics may include emerging technologies, research and development management, and technology leadership decision making. The course prepares graduates for supervisory responsibilities.

Software Engineering Degree Levels

Learners interested in software engineering pursue educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each of the following software engineering programs emphasizes different skills and prepares graduates for different career paths. Prospective students should think about which option best fits their professional goals.

Software Engineering Certificate

  • Length: One year
  • Cost: $ 3,000 – $ 15,000
  • Postgraduate careers: Software engineer, software developer, software architect

A software engineering certificate provides short-term training in software engineering and development. Many colleges offer certificate programs in software engineering at the undergraduate or graduate level. Undergraduate programs cover introductory topics, while graduate programs offer advanced courses for learners with a bachelor’s degree.

During a certificate program, students follow a focused curriculum. Certificates do not require a general education course. The degree prepares graduates for technology careers.

Software Engineering Associate

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $ 3,000 to $ 10,000
  • Postgraduate careers: Computer programmer, IT support specialist, web developer

An associate’s degree in software engineering introduces learners to fundamental concepts of computer science, software engineering, and computer engineering. Students gain a theoretical and practical understanding of programming languages. They also explore operating systems, software development, and network architecture.

Many software engineering careers require a bachelor’s degree. After earning a two-year associate’s degree, graduates can enter the workforce or take a four-year program to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor of Software Engineering

  • Length: Four years
  • Cost: $ 35,000- $ 90,000
  • Postgraduate careers: Software engineer, software developer, software architect

A bachelor’s degree in software engineering trains students for entry-level positions as software engineers and software developers. During the major, students strengthen their programming skills while studying the principles of computer engineering. In addition to computer science and computer engineering courses, learners take math and science courses.

The degree develops strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Students complete projects and other experiential learning opportunities to prepare for careers in software engineering.

Master in Software Engineering

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $ 10,000 to $ 40,000
  • Postgraduate careers: Software engineer, senior software engineer, senior software developer

A master’s degree in software engineering provides advanced training in software development, architecture and engineering. During a master’s program in software engineering, learners specialize their skills through courses in software planning, project management, and software architecture.

Masters students carry out projects to strengthen their skills. Some programs also include internship opportunities. With an emphasis on practical applications, a master’s degree in software engineering prepares professionals for career advancement and supervisory roles.

Doctorate in Software Engineering

  • Length: Three to five years
  • Cost: $ 30,000 to $ 60,000
  • Postgraduate careers: Senior Software Engineer, Director of Software Engineering, Professor of Software Engineering

A doctorate in software engineering represents the terminal degree in the field. Doctoral programs strengthen research and analytical skills through advanced courses in software project management, analytical research methods, and software development. Learners complete a research-based thesis project to complete the degree.

With a doctorate, software engineers pursue leading roles in their field, especially as senior software engineers or directors of software engineering. The degree also prepares graduates for research and academic positions, such as professor of software engineering.

In conclusion

A graduate certificate in software engineering helps professionals advance their technological careers or seize new opportunities in the technological field. Most certificate programs take less than a year. Prospective students should apply to the programs listed above to learn more about software engineering admission requirements, courses, and financial aid opportunities.


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Gordon K. Morehouse