Software engineering degrees are the most sought after programs these days by many graduates. This program develops a person in to an engineer who can apply scientific and mathematical principles in the computer software industry. The bachelor of software engineering degree programs provide the fundamentals of computers, communications and mathematics. These degree programs lay the foundation for a career as a professional computer engineer. Those with qualifications in mathematics and scientific fields can opt for this profession that is highly satisfying and profitable.

Software engineering degrees are the basic requirement to kick-start your career in the software engineering industry. It can be said that a bachelor of software engineering degree is a substantial foundation for graduates who aspire to become software engineers.


If you are interested in a software engineering degree, there are many options to choose from on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Depending on prior work and educational background, as well as professional aspirations, one degree will probably make more sense than the other. Let’s take a look at the software engineering degrees available.

Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees

For students fresh out of high school (or shifting over from another career) who want to maximize their professional potential in software engineering and give themselves the best chance of finding ideal post-graduate employment, the bachelor’s in software engineering is worth pursuing. In fact, most entry-level software engineering positions will require this four-year degree. Some more advanced positions may require a master’s degree in software engineering. In that case, a bachelor’s degree could be a prerequisite to admission.

Four of the typical classes that can be found at most software engineering bachelor’s degree programs are described below:OBJECT-ORIENTED SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

Students will take an advanced programming language in order to solve common computer problems and tasks.Skills Gained

  • Computer programming expressions
  • Understanding how fields and methods work
  • Programming logic


Students receive an overview of computer security. Ethical, legal and practical considerations will also be discussed.Skills Gained

  • Disaster and data loss recovery
  • User access methods
  • Fundamentals of cryptography


Techniques and methods for designing and developing software projects on schedule and on budget should be covered in this class.Skills Gained

  • Understanding project lifecycles
  • Project planning
  • Risk management


By applying the concepts of human communication methods, students should learn how to create user-friendly software that can communicate with people.Skills Gained

  • User interface design considerations
  • Tailoring software to human user specifics
  • Usability testing

Software Engineering PhD Degree

While PhD programs in software engineering do exist, they are far less common than the bachelor’s or master’s degree. Usually taking at least four years to complete, PhD software engineering degrees are often research-oriented, culminating with a dissertation. In addition, students will take focused classes on very specific areas of software engineering, such as robotics, distributed systems, software security and quantitative research methods. A PhD is usually necessary for those who desire a career in research or academia, such as teaching at a college or university.

By enrolling in a PhD software engineering program, students can tailor a curriculum that’s unique to them. As such, there are very few similar class schedules among students in the same program. However, the following courses would likely be helpful in the PhD course list:SOFTWARE MODELING AND DESIGN

Principles for developing large scale software systems.Skills Gained

  • Identification of design concepts to use when designing software
  • Familiarity with the Unified Modeling Language
  • Utilization of advanced object-oriented software architectures
  • Understanding of various design notation


Students will be taught how to take profitability and economic considerations into account when designing and managing softwareSkills Gained

  • Quantitative modeling of software lifecycle
  • Cost-benefit analysis during software design
  • Commonly used software evaluation metrics


Principles on how to create useful and effective web-based software and applications are taught in this classSkills Gained

  • Factors that make a useful interactive web application
  • Client-server programming methods
  • Understanding middleware


This course covers how the scientific process can be applied to software engineeringSkills Gained

  • Utilizing the scientific method to conduct empirical studies
  • Application of software engineering experimentation techniques
  • Present findings in effective and compelling manner

Software Engineering Master’s Degree

Depending on the program, a master’s degree in software engineering takes about two years to complete. Many programs are designed for students who are working full-time. The master’s degree not only provides additional knowledge of the software engineering field, but also offers education in management and leadership, so that graduates can take on more complex projects, be able to successfully coordinate those projects and work well with a team.

Students who enter a master’s degree program in software engineering can expect to cover classes such as these:MATHEMATICAL MODELING

Mathematical modeling Students are introduced to mathematical models, which have applications in understanding and predicting natural phenomenon and human nature.Skills Gained

  • Applying models to real world problems
  • Identification of a particular mathematical model for a given situation
  • Quantification of variables and intended results


Software design Students should expect to examine different programming languages and learn how their particular characteristics can be applied to software creation.Skills Gained

  • Reinforcement of object-oriented programming principles
  • Critically analyze existing computer code
  • Techniques to effectively and efficiently design programs


Tools and techniques for practical testing of software, as well as analyzing theoretical testing models, are the focus of this class.Skills Gained

  • How to troubleshoot
  • Methods of debugging
  • Analyzing and interpreting test results


Covers the fundamentals of software architecture paradigm and their application to the software development process.Skills Gained

  • Identify software architectural techniques
  • Analysis of software design
  • Tools used for software architecture design

Software Engineering Associate Degrees

An associate degree in software engineering takes about two years to complete. The associate degree can be a useful way for students who want a degree to take on an entry level software engineering position without spending the time and money getting a four-year degree. As an added bonus, some associate degrees can serve as stepping stones to getting a bachelor’s degree later on.

Classes typically found in software engineering associate degree programs include:DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

This course covers how database management systems work, as well as how to design, create and implement systems within an organization to meet their specific needs.Skills Gained

  • Gaining familiarity in commonly used database management systems
  • Learning the principles of relational, hierarchical and object-oriented databases
  • Understanding the current trends in data management, such as data mining and business analytics


The architectural design of web applications, as well as programming languages and technologies to help build web applications, are reviewed in this class.Skills Gained

  • Designing a web application
  • Implementation and testing client and server solutions
  • Learning user-interface principles


Foundational concepts, as well as fundamental principles of operating system design and operation, are examined in this class.Skills Gained

  • Commonly used operating system programming languages
  • Computer architecture design considerations
  • File management techniques


Teaches students the basic principles of networks, and the role software plays in their functionality and application.Skills Gained

  • Network security protocols
  • Types of networks
  • Network design considerations

bachelor of software engineering

Bachelor of Software Engineering Honours [BSE(Hons.)] is an undergraduate academic degree (Bachelor’s Degree) awarded for completing a program of study in the field of software development for computers in information technology.

Software Engineering is the systematic development and application of techniques which lead to the creation of correct and reliable computer software.”

A three/four year degree

The course syllabus of software engineering has been heavily debated and still is. Institutions will often offer slightly differing course structures, many may have a stronger focus on mathematical foundations for example.

Students of a four-year software engineering course will typically have a similar first year of study as students of Computer Science, including classes such as:

The first year is designed to build up a solid base of knowledge essential to any computing degree. The following years offer students more flexibility, allowing them to choose their classes from a range of related subjects. It is only in the later years that the course really differs from other Computer Science degrees. Students usually take a work placement between years 3 and 4, greatly expanding their skills and allowing them an insight into the current industry.

In following years a software engineering student will often have a much stronger focus on Software systems and data management. The inclusion of human factors in a software engineering degree has been heavily debated, arguing that products of software engineers often are too difficult to use by consumers.

Sample B.S. in Software Engineering Degree Information from the University of Virginia – Wise
Core SWE Requirements:

  • Introduction to Software Engineering
  • Software Requirements & Modeling
  • Software Design & Construction
  • Software Testing, Verification, and Validation
  • Software Quality Assurance
  • Software Project Management
  • Software Configuration Management

CS Requirements:

  • Fundamentals of Programming
  • Data Structures
  • Introduction to Algorithms
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Architecture
  • Programming Languages
  • Human – Computer Interaction
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Database Designing

Math Requirements:

  • Probability & Statistics
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Calculus III
  • Linear Algebra
  • Boolean Algebra

General skills acquired through a Bachelor’s degree course in Software Engineering

Employers generally seek applicants with strong programming, systems analysis and business skills.

“A large difference exists between the software engineering skills taught at a typical university or college and the skills that are desired of a software engineer by a typical software development organization. At the heart of this difference seems to be the way software engineering is typically introduced to students: general theory is presented in a series of lectures and put into (limited) practice in an associated class project.”

software engineer salary

The average salary for a Triplebyte certified Software Engineer in the US is $151,663.
Ranging from $130,000 at the 25th percentile to $170,000 at the 75th percentile. Top earners, the top 10%, earn more than $195,000 per year. Create a free Triplebyte profile to see current roles (with salary ranges) that match your skills and experience.

how to become a software engineer

Becoming a software engineer typically encompasses six key steps: 

  1. Planning your career path
  2. Obtaining an education
  3. Gaining experience
  4. Getting certified
  5. Building your portfolio
  6. Applying for jobs

While the upskilling process requires strong commitment and patience, the career rewards it provides are well worth the effort. Read on to learn how to become a software engineer in 2022!

1. Planning Your Career Path

Though many software engineering (or coding) skills are transferable between roles, aspiring software engineers should have a career trajectory in mind. After all, the term “coding” can encompass a variety of different positions; understanding the distinction between software engineering and related fields such as web programming is crucial during the initial career planning stage.

As the name suggests, software engineering generally refers to the creation and implementation of computer software and utility programs. Software engineers use their comprehensive knowledge of computer science and mathematics to develop software products that suit users’ digital needs. Web developers, on the other hand, focus primarily on coding websites. These professionals are tasked with creating and maintaining everything from layouts and functions to navigation and overall usability. 

Once you have a clear idea of your intended career path, you can start navigating it. With that in mind, now let’s continue our discussion on how to become a software engineer. 

2. Obtaining an Education

Generally speaking, there are three main paths aspiring software engineers can take to pursue their education: coding bootcamps, college, and self-directed learning. The option you choose will be contingent on your preferences as a learner and your lifestyle circumstances (such as schedule conflicts, intended timelines, financial resources, etc.). 

Each route comes with its own set of pros and cons, so consider them carefully before enrolling in an academic course!

Now, let’s assess the educational options which may help you become a software developer from scratch.

Coding bootcamp

By attending a coding bootcamp, you’ll have the opportunity to gain a set of job-ready programming skills through an accelerated curriculum. Software engineering is challenging to learn from scratch — but with a bootcamp, even industry newcomers can build a strong knowledge base and ready themselves for an entry-level role quickly if they are willing to put in the time, hard work, and dedication. 

Coding bootcamps may be worth it for those who don’t have the time or resources to attend a four-year degree program. These courses last just three to six months, depending on whether you opt for a part- or full-time schedule, and are often cheaper than multi-year degree programs. Bootcamps are also highly flexible; many offer virtual, in-person, and weekend options to suit working professionals’ scheduling needs. 

That said, because bootcamps tend to focus on web-based coding rather than software engineering, a coding bootcamp may not be the best choice for someone who wants to land a job in the latter field as soon as they complete their formal education. 

But if you want to develop your coding fundamentals and start gaining work experience as soon as possible, you should still consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp geared toward helping you become a full stack developer. Such a course will provide you with a “full stack” of back end (server-side) and front end (client-side) programming skills. Having this foundation will better equip you to hit the ground running as an entry-level professional and start accumulating real job experience — which you can then use to springboard into software engineering.

College education

College is far and away the most popular educational route among developers today. In 2020, Stack Overflow found that nearly 75 percent of surveyed developers had achieved at least the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher, remaining consistent with numbers observed in previous years. 

Four-year degree programs are popular for a reason: they cover computer science theory and practice, provide communal learning environments, offer access to supportive instructors, and facilitate networking opportunities. These university degree programs are also usually well-regarded by employers. 

However, a college education can be less economical than a bootcamp, and a degree isn’t strictly necessary to become a software engineer, though you’ll often have to work harder to achieve your goals. The same survey also found that just over 20 percent of professional developers did not have an undergraduate degree. Roughly 16 percent of surveyed developers also described college degrees as “not at all important” or “not necessary.” 

In summary — while college can be a fantastic option for those who have the time and resources to attend, it is not a be-all-end-all academic requirement for everyone wondering how to become a software engineer. 

Self-directed learning

There is also a range of self-directed learning opportunities to explore for those who prefer less formal academic options. For instance, learners can pick up necessary coding skills via free educational websites like Khan Academy and freeCodeCamp. In addition to being cost-effective, these classes are designed to suit self-guided instruction and scheduling, making them highly personalized by default. 

But the flexibilities provided by self-directed learning come at a cost. Those who choose to learn independently don’t have the accountability a set schedule or formal instructor offers; rather they are responsible for keeping themselves on track and productive. While this approach may work well for some, those who are less self-motivated may find themselves falling behind on their upskilling timetable.

3. Gaining Experience

Your skills training shouldn’t start and end with formal classes! Aspiring software engineers will want to accrue hands-on experience through volunteer work, personal projects, internships, and other practical work opportunities. Practicing your coding skills outside of the classroom will allow you to pad out your resume, add items to your professional portfolio, and otherwise improve your standing during the job search.

Not sure where to start? If you’re attending a college program or bootcamp, you may want to reach out to your institution’s alumni affairs office to see if they can connect you with any open internship or placement opportunities. Alternatively, you can check out a few of the resources below for inspiration!

Additional Resources

4. Getting Certified 

Want to maximize your chances of being chosen by employers? You may want to consider earning a certification. Certificates are valuable in today’s professional climate, as they quickly confirm your experience to employers seeking top-level candidates. Being certified may help you rise above other applicants when potential employers sift through resumes. 

Below, we’ve listed a few certifications that might benefit an entry-level software engineer. 

Additional Resources

5. Building Your Portfolio

A coding portfolio is a crucial asset for all aspiring software engineers seeking employment. This comprehensive body of work is often the first impression job recruiters have of you. It is a great way to showcase your past projects, too; these can convey your versatility and general know-how as a work-ready software engineer.  

As an interested candidate, your job is to provide as much evidence of your abilities as possible — so take time to build out your portfolio accordingly! When summarizing projects, be sure to include detailed descriptions of all technologies utilized, roles you served, and any other relevant information about your process and ideology. 

Additional Resources:

6. Applying For Jobs

Once you’ve sought out proper training and certification, dabbled in projects, and prepared a layered portfolio, you’ll be ready to apply for software engineering positions. Start by mapping out your career goals, pinpointing jobs you would prefer based on your experiences to date; this will help you narrow down compatible opportunities early into your application process. Update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other relevant application materials to ensure that potential employers have an up-to-date snapshot of your skills and capabilities. 

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