Top 100 Best Affordable Software Engineering Schools

Search Programs

Are you considering becoming a software engineer? Software engineering may be a good career choice if you are interested in using computer science to create your own apps or software that can be applied to a variety of issues in business, research, etc. Those who enter this field can generally expect continually growing job security, high salaries, and opportunities to explore a number of roles in an incredibly comprehensive profession.

Software engineers are primarily responsible for creating systems and software for companies and organization. Depending on their employers, this could mean anything from developing business applications and games to producing network control and operating systems. While job specifics vary, these professionals often design and test applications based on user needs. This requires working closely with users, as well as other developers to ensure results are satisfactory. They also regularly draw diagrams and models to help make the code creation easier. It’s also common for software engineers to recommend software upgrades for existing systems, as well as perform maintenance, updates, and repairs when necessary.

Choosing to pursue this career will require some level of higher education, which can be expensive. If you are interested in becoming a software engineer, finding an affordable academic program should be a top priority. Most employers expect candidates to have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field.

Search Programs

Top 100 Affordable Software Engineering College Rankings

Affordable software engineering school rankings can provide valuable insight when deciding which program is the best fit for your learning style and career goals. Results can help identify the options with the most value, as well the most regard by prospective employers. We are highly thorough, focusing our data collection on colleges and universities that specialize in affordable software engineering programs.

Our objective is to identify and organize the most relevant data points into a simple, easy-to-understand, and useful format because we understand the importance of finding the best program to meet your unique needs. This is why we place significant focus on information that will assist prospective students in making the best academic and professional decisions possible. Just some of the data points utilized to generate our rankings include the institution’s retention rate, cost of tuition, and graduating salary. Things like cost might be more highly weighted in decision making, but other data points are important as well.

Retention rates show the percentage of incoming, first-year students who choose to remain enrolled at a particular college or university the following year. This number is significant, as it generally provides insight into overall student satisfaction.

While the cost of tuition should never be the sole deciding factor in selecting an institution, it’s still an extremely important variable. This number can be used to determine which colleges and universities are within your price-range and are a good value.

Finding a balance between the upfront cost of higher education and future salary potential is important, especially for those who take our loans to pay for school. Identifying a graduating salary helps determine the ultimate return on investment. It can also assist in estimating how long it will take to get out of debt.


California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,941
    • Out-of-state: $18,821
  • Net Price: $4,683
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Total Enrollment: 17,977
  • Undergrad Students: 15,365
  • Graduate Students: 2,612
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Diplomas Awarded: N/A
  • California State University-Dominguez Hills

Brigham Young University-Idaho

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,300
    • Out-of-state: $4,300
  • Net Price: $6,871
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Total Enrollment: 39,145
  • Undergrad Students: 39,145
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 128
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho

Utah Valley University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,906
    • Out-of-state: $16,806
  • Net Price: $8,184
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 41,728
  • Undergrad Students: 41,186
  • Graduate Students: 542
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 15
  • Utah Valley University

California State University-Fullerton

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,953
    • Out-of-state: $18,833
  • Net Price: $8,322
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 40,445
  • Undergrad Students: 35,335
  • Graduate Students: 5,110
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 74
  • California State University-Fullerton

The University of West Florida

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,360
    • Out-of-state: $19,241
  • Net Price: $8,452
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,557
  • Undergrad Students: 9,521
  • Graduate Students: 3,036
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 32
  • The University of West Florida

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,450
    • Out-of-state: $24,516
  • Net Price: $8,758
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,177
  • Undergrad Students: 21,427
  • Graduate Students: 3,750
  • Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 40
  • The University of Texas at El Paso

University of Washington-Bothell

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,649
    • Out-of-state: $39,018
  • Net Price: $8,841
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,913
  • Undergrad Students: 5,350
  • Graduate Students: 563
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Diplomas Awarded: N/A
  • University of Washington-Bothell

California State University-Northridge

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,017
    • Out-of-state: $18,897
  • Net Price: $8,882
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 39,910
  • Undergrad Students: 34,799
  • Graduate Students: 5,111
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 11
  • California State University-Northridge

The University of Virginia's College at Wise

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $10,836
    • Out-of-state: $29,798
  • Net Price: $9,418
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,978
  • Undergrad Students: 1,978
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Northern Kentucky University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $10,296
    • Out-of-state: $20,256
  • Net Price: $9,664
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,664
  • Undergrad Students: 11,868
  • Graduate Students: 3,796
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: N/A
  • Northern Kentucky University
Full Ranking Report

Why a Degree from an Affordable Software Engineering School?

Paying to attend classes at a college or university can be a substantial financial investment. While applying for scholarships and grants may help to ease the burden, these types of assistance do not always account for all of the costs associated with earning a degree. Students can take out loans, but this only helps so much, as the money must still be paid back after graduation.

Ultimately, one of the best solutions is to find an affordable software engineering school. This is particularly relevant for students struggling with financial constraints. Whether you plan to pursue an associate degree or a doctorate, opting for a less expensive program is often optimal. Software engineering degrees allow for a lot of professional flexibility.

There are a variety of different career paths available to graduates, including:

  • Database Management
  • Network Systems
  • Computer Systems Management
  • Security
  • Web Development

Most colleges and universities allow bachelor’s and master’s degree students to select elective courses or concentration tracks that align with one of the above-mentioned career paths.

Depending on your selection, you will be qualified for the following jobs after graduation:

  • Software Engineer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Information Systems Manager
  • Web Developer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Software Developer

While it may be possible to find entry-level work in this field with an associate degree, achieving higher levels of education will make you more competitive. Identifying your ultimate career goals can help you determine which degree type will be necessary moving forward. After graduating, always verify you meet the posted education requirements prior to submitting an application for employment.

Choosing an Affordable Software Engineering College

When choosing an affordable software engineering program, there are several factors you should consider. Every college and university is different, so you will need to compare a number of important factors prior to making a final decision. Some of the most significant differences will likely relate to cost, location, accreditation, instruction methods, and graduation requirements.

  • Cost:
    As previously mentioned, earning a software engineering degree can be costly. Degree prices vary greatly, however, especially between public and private institutions. Assess your financial situation carefully before determining which academic institution best suits your needs. Keep available financial aid options in mind, as well as your living accommodations and the length of the program. All of these factors can impact the total estimated investment in your education.
  • Location:
    Where you plan to study can have a significant impact on your education and career. Many colleges and universities charge out-of-state students significantly more to enroll, possibly making the endeavor even more expensive. Local schools also tend to be more familiar with what nearby employers expect from graduates, which can impact employment possibilities. Usually, in-state, public institutions will have the lowest available tuition rate, not to mention you will be closer to home, which can help to mitigate other often unforeseen costs.
  • Accreditation:
    The accreditation status of colleges and universities is also important. Most institutions are accredited by a regional accrediting agency overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Individual departments can also choose to obtain specialized accreditation for academic programs offered. Schools without proper accreditation may not prepare you for employment. Additionally, they often offer less financial aid and make transferring credits more difficult. And, lastly, they do not allow students to take advantage of federal financial aid, which can make or break a student’s ability to attend an advanced program altogether.
  • Instruction Methods:
    Learning in a traditional classroom setting is no longer the only way to earn a degree. While many colleges and universities instruct students on campus, online software engineering programs are available as well. Instead of requiring students to attend courses in person, these institutions allow for more flexible distance learning options. Students can participate from anywhere in the world. Keep in mind, however, that online programs tend to be best suited for highly self-motived students who do not mind missing out on networking opportunities. Ultimately, you should choose the solution that suits your learning preferences and budget best.
  • Graduation Requirements:
    While software engineering requirements for graduation are often similar, no two institutions are exactly the same. Take time to review expectations before enrolling at the college or university. Most schools have their complete curriculums and course listings available to view online. Becoming familiar with this information also helps you ensure the program aligns well with your ultimate education and career goals.

Online Options

There are plenty of colleges and universities that offer online software engineering degrees. Regardless of the higher education level you aspire to, numerous options exist throughout the nation. Because distance learning programs are so plentiful, however, it is absolutely imperative that you consider cost, degree focus, accreditation, and program outcomes thoroughly when making your selection.

Online software engineering programs offer excellent flexibility for students with personal and professional obligations that limit their abilities to attend classes in person. Some institutions also offer accelerated programs that allow graduates to enter the workforce early. While a traditional bachelor’s degree typically requires four years of on-campus instruction, accelerated online programs can take as little as two years to complete. Faster graduation timeframes and scheduling flexibility make this type of degree an optimal solution.

It’s also important to choose an online college or university that offers students and recent graduates access to academic resources and career services.

Post graduate job placement assistance programs vary, but often include one or more of the following:

  • Interview Preparation
  • Resume Development
  • Career Coaching Services
  • Internship Opportunities
  • Job Fairs

Many institutions have job placement departments dedicated to career development, but not all of them are equipped to provide these benefits virtually. Always verify which, if any, of these tools will be available to online students prior to enrolling.

Ultimately, as long as the online software engineering program you select is appropriately accredited and offers a degree type you desire, this is a completely viable way to enter the field.

Are Software Engineering Programs in High Demand?

Overall, the outlook for software engineering professionals working in the United States is very promising. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow by 22% from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than the national average for all other professions. The primary explanation for the anticipated job growth in this sector is mostly due to an increasing need for efficient software programs and systems for personal and professional use.

It’s also worth noting that more and more medical insurance and reinsurance carriers are depending on innovative software to manage enrollment into new healthcare policies, as well as to manage existing policies digitally. As the use of these digital platforms and internal systems rises, the demand for qualified software engineering professionals will increase.

Additionally, computer security is becoming more important to in today’s society. As concerns over possible threats grow, companies and organizations are expected to invest even more money into securing and protecting their computer networks. These entities are expected to hire a significant number of qualified professionals to create, maintain, and troubleshoot their electronic infrastructures.

As a result of this projected growth, many colleges and universities are offering additional instruction in this field. It’s easier than ever to find qualify programs for prospective software engineers.

What Can You Do with a Software Engineering Degree?

What you can do with a degree in software engineering will greatly depend upon the level of education you achieve. Because options are varied, there are a number of potential careers to choose from within this field.

Software engineers will have the ability to work in a variety of industries including telecommunications, healthcare, finance, and insurance. Most are employed by computer systems design and services companies, although there are jobs available in manufacturing, software publishing, and enterprise management.

The most obvious career pathway is to become a software engineer. Software engineers are responsible for developing the ways that software functions. They often work with other designers, programmers, and coders to map out the various tasks the software must be able to complete. These professionals are work with sales teams and department managers to ensure that the final product meets the needs of users.

A similar, but distinct option is to pursue a career as a software developer. While this job shares many of the same principles, there are a few distinctions that merit mentioning. Whereas software engineers work with many other professionals, software developers tend to be more solitary. Their focus it on writing a complete program, instead of specific components of the hardware system like most software engineers. Ultimately, software developers can perform all the tasks software engineers can, but on a more limited scale.

Other career options include computer programmer, information systems manager, and web developer. Regardless of the job selected, professionals in this field tend to gain a number of easily transferrable skills, making them highly marketable in the technology sector.

These in-demand skills include:

  • Computer Science Principles
  • Software Design
  • Software System Applications
  • Communication
  • Management
  • Creativity
  • Problem-Solving
  • Attention to Detail

Software Engineering Graduates Earn More After College

Overall, the earning potential for software engineers is above average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers was $110,140 in 2020, which is higher than the median annual wage of $37,690 as reported for all occupations. Even the lowest 10% of employees in the field earned around $65,210, while the highest 10% earned more than $170,100.

According to PayScale, the average salary for entry-level software engineers with a single year of experience is $77,000. This figure is still well above the median annual wage and will tend to rise as more experience is attained. After 20 or more years of working in this position, the average salary becomes $115,000.

Salary is also often dependent upon location. Some states pay software engineers more than others. Prospects for professionals in this field are best in California, Washington, and New York. Large cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington are particularly promising. Chicago, Illinois, however, is home to some of the lowest salaries in the industry.

Professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees are likely to make more money than those with an associate degree. According to PayScale, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering can expect to make approximately $60,000 after graduation. Obtaining a Master of Science (MS) in software engineering increases the average salary to $108,289.


  • What are the admission requirements for software engineering students?

    Most colleges and universities have predetermined admission requirements for prospective students. Every institution is different, making it important to review prerequisites carefully prior to submitting an application.

    Specific requirements may vary, but you can usually expect to provide some variation of the following:

    • Official High School Transcripts or College Transcripts
    • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Application and Fees
    • Letters of Recommendation
    • Personal Statement or Supplemental Essay
    • Academic Work Samples
    • Scores from College Entrance Exams (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT etc.)
  • How long will it take to complete a software engineering degree?

    The length of time needed to complete a software engineering degree will vary depending on the program level. While upper-level degrees tend to take longer, they often result in higher earning potentials, which may make the time commitment more worthwhile.

    Associate degrees in software engineering consist of approximately 60 credit hours and typically take full-time students about two years to complete. This option is not ideal for individuals interested in mid-level or management positions, however, as most employers expect candidates to have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

    Most software engineers have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. These programs typically consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. It’s worth noting that some colleges and universities offer accelerated online programs that may be finished in as little as two years.

    Master’s degree programs are also available, consisting of approximately 60 credit hours. These typically take full-time students two years to complete, although some may require more or less time.

    It is possible to shorten the amount of time to graduation by transferring course credit from one institution to another. This is most often seen with students who took advanced placement (AP) classes in high school and passed the corresponding examinations. Additionally, associate degree-holders can transfer credits to four-year institutions when enrolling in a bachelor’s degree. This can often decrease their graduation timeframe by up to two years.

  • What type of accreditation should prospective software engineering students look for?

    As previously mentioned, it’s important to consider a college or university’s accreditation status when looking for a software engineering program. Without proper accreditation, there is no way to ensure the institution meets established academic and professional standards. Only accredited programs can guarantee students will be adequately prepared for work within the field after graduation.

    In addition to being accredited by a national or regional agencies, departments can receive field- or program-specific accreditation as well. In this case, the most prominent specialized accreditation organization is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET also accredits programs via the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC).

Search Programs