Best software engineering universities in Canada 2020

Last Updated on May 31, 2022

Software engineers, sometimes called software developers, create software for computers and applications. If you’re an analytical thinker who enjoys solving problems and making digital products easier to use, you may find a career as a software engineer rewarding.

Software engineers commonly work in industries like computer systems design, manufacturing, software publishing, and management. Many software engineers work on teams in offices, but some are self-employed and work at home. Software engineering students and professionals benefit from strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Right here on infolearners, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on best software engineering universities in canada 2020, top software engineering universities in the world, systems developer vs. application developer, software engineer school online, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

What is software engineering?

Software engineering is the branch of computer science that deals with the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software applications. Software engineers apply engineering principles and knowledge of programming languages to build software solutions for end users.

Software engineer tasks and responsibilities

Successful engineers know how to use the right programming languages, platforms, and architectures to develop everything from computer games to network control systems. In addition to building their own systems, software engineers also test, improve, and maintain software built by other engineers. 

In this role, your day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Designing and maintaining software systems
  • Evaluating and testing new software programs
  • Optimizing software for speed and scalability
  • Writing and testing code
  • Consulting with clients, engineers, security specialists, and other stakeholders
  • Presenting new features to stakeholders and internal customers

Systems developer vs. application developer

Software engineers will usually fall into one of two categories, systems developers or application developers. 

As a systems developer (sometimes called a backend engineer), you’ll build things like computer systems and networks that front-end (user-facing) applications will need. You can do this by:

  • Ensuring that different types of software programs communicate with each other on one platform
  • Creating and enforcing IT standards within an infrastructure 
  • Maintaining documentation of IT systems 
  • Updating to new technologies as needed
  • Collaborating with development teams, senior systems architects, and data science professionals 

Working as an application developer is more client-focused. You may work on either the front or back end of the system, designing software that the end user will interact with. Tasks might include:

  • Developing applications for iOS, Android, Windows, or other operating systems
  • Conducting an analysis of requirements and tweaking software as needed
  • Releasing software updates
  • Working with graphic designers, customer service staff, project managers, and other customer-facing departments 

Why should I pursue a career as a software engineer?

If you enjoy solving problems and have strong analytical skills, a career as a software engineer can be both fun and challenging. And as technology continues to evolve, the need for software developers continues to grow (much faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

Choosing a career as a software engineer gives you opportunities to work in many different industries and fields, as nearly all businesses use software. Whether you enjoy finances, entertainment, sports, real estate, or some other industry, there’s a good chance there are jobs for software engineers. 

It’s also a career that allows flexibility in where you work. You may be able to work from home for companies in other states or even other countries. The important thing is that you’re able to meet deadlines and deliver a project on time.

Software engineer salary

Working as a software engineer can be challenging and engaging, and it also tends to pay well. The annual median salary for a software engineer in 2020 was $110,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs in software publishing tend to draw the biggest salaries. 

Career paths in software engineering

Once you become a software engineer, you can choose which path you want to take (applications or systems) and how far you want to progress with it. You can decide to advance toward a role as a senior software engineer, or you can continue gaining certifications and experience to advance to roles like project manager or systems manager. As a software engineer, you have both flexibility and mobility to create the career experience that is most appealing to you. 

How to become a software engineer 

Getting a job as a software engineer typically involves building the right technical and workplace skills. Some jobs might also require a certain degree or certification to validate your skills. Let’s take a closer look at some of the requirements for becoming a software engineer.

Software engineering skills

As a software developer, you’ll be designing software to help solve problems that real people face. This requires a combination of technical know-how and solid communication skills. If you’re considering this as a career, here are some skills you should focus on building:

  • Coding languages like Python, Java, C, C++, or Scala
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Database architecture
  • Agile and Scrum project management
  • Operating systems
  • Cloud computing
  • Version control
  • Design testing and debugging
  • Attention to detail

Software engineering certifications

By earning a certification, you can build new skills and validate those skills to potential employers. Some jobs might require a specific certification, so it’s a good idea to research some job listings of roles you’re interested in before preparing for a certification exam. Here are some common options:

  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)
  • Certified Software Engineer
  • C Certified Professional Programmer (CLP)
  • C++ Certified Professional Programmer (CPP)
  • AWS Certified Developer
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Best software engineering universities in Canada 2020

1. University of Toronto

Coming first on the list is the University of Toronto. Known for offering good courses in the field of technology, the U of T also makes available the study of software engineering. In this field, students are made to learn the basic parts of putting together computer software, software memory management as well as the proper functioning of the built software.

Since computers in this modern age are built to work hand in hand with softwares (and they most likely will not work without it), as one of the top universities in Canada offering software engineering, the University of Toronto teaches students to know and understand the core areas of software programming, data security, and software structures, which make for a comprehensive software engineering program.

Upon graduation from this leading university in Canada for software engineering, graduates become potential employees at organizations like Microsoft, Intel, AMD, IBN, ARM, ATI, Oracle, Cisco, Sun, and a lot more.

2. University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is another leading Canadian university offering software engineering. At the University of British Columbia, students of software engineering are made to focus on the software-intensive systems. In alignment with the course of study, students also take expository classes in software design, software project development and management, user interface, and software quality.

Interestingly, software engineering graduates from this university in Canada offering software engineering usually come out fully equipped and enlightened in both the development and management of software. This skill helps them understand how computers and softwares work (as well as how to make them integrated into larger systems) thereby making them employable by top tech organizations.

3. University of Waterloo

The software engineering program at the University of Waterloo is way beyond just writing codes, students will also be taught how to perform other core programming functions like understanding digital hardware systems, analyzing architectural software, developing computer and human interfaces, and many more. Amazingly, they might not learn these in any other university in Canada offering software engineering.

Another great advantage of studying Software engineering at the University of Waterloo extends to the series of skill set students will be made to acquire during their course of study. It is crucial to note that this skillset is what makes them employable upon graduation. Some of these skills are:

  • Teamwork
  • Software analysis
  • Mobile development
  • Ability to create reliable and faster softwares

4. University of Alberta

Since the introduction of software engineering in the University of Alberta, it has been leading ways uniquely. The University of Alberta is one of the first set of Universities in Canada to teach Python (a very popular programming language). By deeply understanding the Python programming language, students quickly learn how to create meaningful and graphic programs.

What more should you expect from one of the best software engineering universities in Canada 2020? The University of Alberta’s computer engineering program develops students into professional software engineers who can develop useful software and applications, which are highly effective and user-friendly.

In the advanced software engineering course at the University of Alberta, students get hands-on and practical experience via the Community Service Learning course where they would be tasked to complete a software project for a client.

5. McGill University

Another institution among the top 10 Canadian Universities for software engineering is McGill University. Software engineering at McGill University entails a lot beyond coding, it includes the development and testing of complex software, managing computer softwares to perform certain tasks like scanning items at the store, booking an airline, keeping updated with an institution’s info, and more.

Unlike other universities in Canada offering software engineering, McGill University does not restrict students’ education to software engineering alone. While they study the function of softwares, students are also made to take general complementary courses in addition to software engineering and other technical courses. These courses are mostly in management studies, social sciences, and humanities, which make students develop an interest in other areas like economics, psychology, philosophy, management, business administration, or even politics.

6. Simon Fraser University

The software engineering program is offered in the school of computing science. Here, courses are offered at the Burnaby and Surrey campuses. Simon Fraser University delivers the program via a series of hands-on and practical learning experience. As one of the best universities in Canada offering software engineering, graduates of the school always end up with a solid understanding of how to develop software and manage it properly for access by others.

Other advantages of studying at Simon Fraser University include:

  • Students will be fully equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to gain employment in a high tech company both in Canada and abroad
  • Students would have enough work experience from internships and by studying under professionals in the field of software engineering
  • SFU is not just one of the universities in Canada offering software engineering, the institution is also located in a tech hub, which homes both local and international organizations in diverse areas of technology.

7. University of Montreal

Another institution coming in the league of the best software engineering universities in Canada is the University of Montréal. The program is built on the principles of computer science and provide students with a broad knowledge in the development and proper management of designed softwares.

Also, the program help students focus more on the practical aspects of software engineering as it is designed with more courses on software development and programming. There is also merit for students to have a first hand and detailed learning of the python language at the University of Montreal.

8. Queen’s University

The Queen’s University is one of the leading software engineering universities in Canada. The courses at Queen’s are designed to help students develop the necessary skills they would need for a fulfilling career in software engineering. Interestingly, these skills are a blend of computer science and software engineering.

Furthermore, students are made to understand how to interact and engage themselves with prospective employers via internships (this is designed as part of the curriculum). Also, the university creates connections with large tech companies across Canada like Asidua and Liberty IT. These two organizations often provide academic and career sponsorships for students (of Queen’s University). Adding to the fact that the institution has links with not less than 500 IT companies across the globe, one can easily understand why unemployment is never a thing to worry about as a graduate of Queen’s University.

9. University of Calgary

One of the top universities offering software engineering in Canada is the University of Calgary. At this institution, students are put through a lot of design work, research, and much other practical learning to gain foundational knowledge and experience relevant for success in the field of software engineering.

During the course of this learning, most of the learning usually occurs via tutorials and classes. Other times, students acquire knowledge through assignments, which sometimes entail the designing of softwares and other computer-related projects

10. University of Ontario Institute of Technology

The last, not the least, on this list of the best software engineering schools in Canada is the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The software engineering program at this university program is duly designed in a way that helps students focus on the design of packages, development of softwares as well as analysis and testing of secure and reliable software systems.

In addition, the software engineering program from this institution makes use of both the engineering and computer science approach to take students through the wall for four years. Surprisingly, there are co-op placements and internship schemes, which give students more exposure and on the job experience.

Lastly, the women studying software engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology provide a multi-year program for women. This program helps them gain more experience and exposure in their career; thereby leading to a transition into a successful engineering career.

Top software engineering universities in the world

1. University of Oxford

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The University of Oxford is an English institution for higher education, autonomously operating at Oxford, England. The university was established during the 12th century, having academic studies in theology, law, medicine, and the liberal arts.

The University of Oxford currently offers a wide array of educational and research fields, including software engineering. The software engineering program started in the 1980s in the Computing Laboratory, now the Department of Computer Science.

The DCS focused on the merger of theory and practice, further improving the study. The software engineering discipline in the department has continued to improve as the years go on. The department’s drive has kept the University of Oxford among the top software engineering schools in the world.

2. Stanford University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

Stanford University was founded in the US in 1885 and officially opened its gates in 1891. The university intended to create a non-sectarian, co-educational, and affordable academic institution.

Stanford consistently encouraged the study and research of various fields and disciplines such as software engineering. The Stanford School of Engineering established itself in 1925 and, over the years, has pushed forth technological innovations that improved the industry in the country.

The School of Engineering has consistently put Stanford on the global rankings by acquiring numerous awards and honors spanning nine decades. Stanford University remains at the top bracket of software engineering universities worldwide.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology officially incorporated and established itself in 1861. “Mens et manus” (“mind and hand”) is the private university’s motto as a reminder of MIT’s focus on combining academic theories and practical applicability.

As one of the best software engineering schools, MIT is fully committed to making the world better through education, research, and innovation. The Department of Electric Engineering was formed in the fall of 1902 then renamed the Department of Electric Engineering and Computer Science in 1975. MIT

The DEECS made vital, lasting contributions to software engineering that placed MIT at the top of global rankings. Its graduates remained some of the best software engineering professionals in the field.

4. University of Cambridge

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The University of Cambridge established itself in 1209 in Cambridge, England. As decades went by, developments in the creation of new colleges specializing in ground-breaking studies and the rise of notable scholars from obscurity have allowed the recognition of the university as one of the premier educational institutions in the country.

The Department of Computer Science and Technology was founded in 1937. The department continued to train world-class computer science experts and further improved its facilities to elevate its research – making it one of the best software engineering schools.

DCST includes software engineering in its plethora of research disciplines. The department gave considerable contributions to the field throughout its years of existence. The efforts of its students and faculty have put Cambridge in the yearly worldwide rankings and international awards.

5. ETH Zürich

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

ETH Zürich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, has remained at the forefront of modern technological studies in Switzerland. The national university focuses its efforts on training its faculty and students to advance Swiss industrialization further.

The year 1984 marks the start of the establishment of the Department of Computer Science. The DCC continued to improve the discipline by producing better software engineers and teachers and adding innovations to the field. Such efforts have allowed the consistent presence of ETH Zürich in worldwide awardees and top brackets of global university rankings.

6. Carnegie Mellon University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

Hailing from humble beginnings, American self-made steel magnate Andrew Carnegie founded Carnegie Mellon University in 1900. Initially named the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Carnegie Tech educated the working-class men and women of Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Tech later merged with Mellon Institute, which further improved the studies of the sciences in the institution. Carnegie’s Computer Science Department is one of the best software engineering schools and has consistently led in software engineering and produced top-notch graduates since its establishment in 1956.

The Computer Science Department’s track record shows numerous grants and awards for its contributions to the advancement of the discipline. Evidence of the efforts of its students, faculty, and researchers, Carnegie has remained at the uppermost part of university rankings for software engineering institutions.

7. Harvard University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

Harvard University established itself in 1636 and was given its current name in 1638 in honor of its benefactor, John Harvard. Due to its extensive history, numerous notable alumni and societal contributions trace back to its more than four decades of knowledge production and application

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