Software engineers work with computers, they write the code, design the algorithms, and make sure that programs meet the requirements of businesses and society. Software is used for finance, healthcare, gaming, entertainment, and more. Software engineers are important because many people need someone who can develop, maintain, and fix applications. As technology improves and becomes more sophisticated, the demand for software engineers is going to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for software developers will grow by almost 20% from 2014-2024. This will provide many opportunities for graduates with a master's in software engineering.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Most online master's in software engineering programs are designed for people with an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, information technology, or a related field. Some will admit students without a computer degree if they have a programming background. Work experience in the field can help with that, but it's not usually necessary.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?


To find the right program, it's important to ask yourself a few questions. Would you rather attend a tech school, a large public university, or a small liberal arts college? Do you desire a big class and a lot of personal interaction? Would you prefer a part-time program or one that requires a full-time commitment? Do you intend to work while you earn your degree? Your answer to these questions will help determine what you need most out of a program.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY SOFTWARE ENGINEERING DEGREE ONLINE?

One of the advantages of earning a master's in software engineering online is that it allows you to continue working full time. Many programs are asynchronous, allowing you to complete work on your own schedule. Most programs require you to log on a few times a week. A synchronous program requires you to log on at specific times, and this is commonly done in the evening to provide flexibility.

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 96%

One of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers an online master of science in software engineering through its extension school. Students explore new and emerging technologies and design, and learn to implement, analyze, and improve software.

Harvard's online software engineering degree includes 12 courses and 36 credits. The curriculum covers software testing, numerical analysis, and risk analysis in information security. Learners take data communications, software design, and theoretical foundations courses. They complete the majority of the program online, but also enroll in one in-person class. The university offers four on-campus options: a 15-week on-campus course; a semester-long online course with one intensive weekend on campus; a three- to seven-week on-campus summer course; or a three-week on-campus January course. The program offers two tracks: thesis or capstone. Thesis-track students work independently with a thesis adviser to conduct in-depth research on a software engineering topic. Those who choose the capstone track work on a group software engineering project.

Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and understand discrete mathematics and object-oriented programming using Java or C++. Prospective students without this background can complete Harvard's programming certificate first. To apply to the program, students must complete two Harvard courses: one in theoretical foundations and one in either web application development or systems programming. They must earn a grade of 'B' or better in each course. Harvard does not officially admit students to the software engineering MS program until they complete the two required courses.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $2,750/course
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Harvard's critical reading and writing skills test

Contact
Phone: (617) 495-4024
Email: inquiry@extension.harvard.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

Distance learners can earn a fully online software engineering degree that incorporates management skills, systems engineering, and customer collaboration from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Designed for professional engineers, the program prepares graduates for further study in Ph.D. programs in computer science and careers as industrial leaders in software engineering.

USC's 32-credit master of science in computer science includes a software engineering concentration and takes one and a half to two years to complete. Students must enroll in five required software engineering courses, one elective software engineering course, and two required general computer science courses. The curriculum emphasizes leadership and explores emerging issues, like rapid software evolution, agile methods, software-intensive systems of systems, and mobile network-centric architectures. Learners work on projects for real-world clients and take classes like analysis of algorithms, testing and analysis of software systems, and software management and economics. Pupils can also add an optional master's research thesis. They must earn a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to graduate.

Applicants to USC's computer science MS program must hold a bachelor's degree in computer science from a regionally-accredited university. They must also submit satisfactory GRE scores, official transcripts from all prior universities, and a resume. Applicants can voluntarily submit a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. At minimum, prospective learners must possess a substantial computing background. International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency. On-campus and online students in USC's computer science master's program pay the same per unit rate for tuition.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Computer Science
Available Concentrations: Software engineering
Tuition: $1,666/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 1.5-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (213) 740-4488
Email: DEN@Viterbi.usc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 90%

Students can pursue one of the best online software engineering degrees part-time at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The American Jewish community founded Brandeis in 1948 as a private research university. The school welcomes 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students from all backgrounds, and the software engineering program does not include any in-person requirements. Distance students learn about emerging technologies and best practices for software engineering. An advisory board of professional software engineers regularly reviews and makes recommendations about the program's curriculum.

The 30-credit master of software engineering from Brandeis includes six required courses and four electives and emphasizes collaborative team projects. The program explores issues like quality assessment, management, and design. Learners gain critical thinking, communication, and specialized technical skills through courses like release control and continuous integration/continuous delivery, software testing techniques, and functional programming with Java and Scala. Small classes of fewer than 20 students allow for a high level of interaction and engagement with the material. Learners get hands-on experience designing and building software solutions.

Applicants to Brandeis's software engineering program must take the following prerequisites to qualify for admission: introduction to data structures, introduction to software engineering, and introduction to a programming language. Prospective students can also meet this requirement by demonstrating equivalent work experience. The financially accessible program charges the same cost per credit for in-person and distance learners. Online students qualify for the same types of financial aid opportunities available to on-campus learners.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Software Engineering
Tuition: $1,179/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Contact
Phone: (781) 736-8787
Email: gps@brandeis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Stevens Institute of Technology

Hoboken, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology emphasizes collaboration and interdisciplinary work across departments. The private research university's online software engineering degree does not require any in-person sessions. Offered by the School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE), the university's master's of science of software engineering degree program attracts students from diverse academic backgrounds, including computer science, business, engineering, and liberal arts. The SSE focuses on critical research in areas like healthcare, defense, and urban resilience and benefits from $10 million in annual funding. The school also boasts the Systems Engineering Research Center, a collaboration between the Department of Defense and 22 other universities. Software engineering master's students often participate in faculty members' research projects.

The 30-credit curriculum includes courses such as software architecture and component-based design, agile methods for software development method, and cost estimation and measurement. All software engineering majors also complete two studio capstone courses, which allow them to solve a real-world software engineering problem. The program emphasizes hands-on group projects, and distance learners gain skills necessary to build software-intensive systems using emerging technologies. They leave the program well-versed in leadership concepts like project management, risk management, and software architecture. Graduates frequently take positions as software developers, software engineers, and systems architects at organizations like IBM, AT&T, and Lockheed Martin.

Applicants to the software engineering master's program must submit two letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, an application fee, and GRE scores. All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $1,652/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (201) 216-5000
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

The College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University - Fullerton (CSUF) offers a 30-credit online software engineering degree full-time students can complete in 22 months. The year-round program requires learners to complete two courses each semester. Designed for computer science professionals, the degree covers issues like software architectural design, software measurement, and software project management. The curriculum emphasizes software engineering theories, research, and practice.

Applicants to the master of science in software engineering program must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and possess professional or academic software engineering experience. Individuals with an undergraduate degree in a field other than computer science or engineering most hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also submit a resume that demonstrates they hold work experience equivalent to the material covered by an introductory software engineering course. CSUF requires applicants to submit college transcripts from previously attended schools. CSUF admits new online software engineering master's students each fall. The program adopts a cohort approach, with distance learners taking courses with the same classmates throughout the program.

Software engineering majors must complete 10 courses to earn a master's in software engineering. The curriculum includes classes such as software verification and validation, systems and software standards and requirements, and professional, ethical and legal issues for software engineers. Students can complete all required coursework online. The program offers an introductory orientation seminar before the start of classes and a midpoint symposium at CSUF, but learners unable to attend in-person can participate online.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $3,588/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 22 months

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum (3.0 minimum if undergraduate degree in a subject other than computer science or engineering)

Contact
Phone: (657) 278-5674
Email: mse@fullerton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago offers a one-year online master of telecommunications and software engineering. This program prepares students for careers in information technology and telecommunications, offered jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The 30-credit online software engineering degree includes courses like software project management, software systems architecture, and design optimization of computer networks. The program accepts up to nine transfer credits. Master's students must complete 15-16 required core credits, three software engineering credits, three to four telecommunication systems credits, three communications credits, and four to six elective credits. Graduating students can attend a commencement ceremony at the IIT campus in Chicago.

IIT accepts master's of telecommunications software engineering applicants who hold a bachelor's of science in computer science, electrical engineering, or computer engineering. Prospective students that do not meet these requirements must complete prerequisite courses like accelerated introduction to computer science, multivariate and vector calculus, and introduction to differential equations.

Online students receive support from the Office of Digital Learning, including help with learning management system technical issues, disability services, admission and enrollment questions, and test proctoring. IIT's library offers extensive electronic resources to distance learners. Online students pay the same tuition rate for courses as on-campus pupils. A pioneer in distance education, the institute began serving distance learners in the 1970s, when it offered live courses via television in Chicago. IIT holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Telecommunications and Software Engineering
Tuition: $1,530/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (312) 567-3009
Email: engineering@iit.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 21%

The University of Houston - Clear Lake (UHCL) in Texas offers ten graduate degrees and six graduate certificates to distance learners. Students can earn an online 36-credit master of science in software engineering from UHCL's College of Science and Engineering.

Many learners who earn a bachelor's degree in software engineering online pursue a master's in the field. Designed for individuals with a background in computer science, the program increases graduates' managerial skills and technical competency in software engineering fundamentals. The MS program takes 15 months to complete for students who take three courses each semester. UHCL software engineering graduates work in industries like government and defense, research and development, and tech.

The program's faculty members hold business and industry experience and bring real-world knowledge to the classroom. Students take core courses like software engineering life cycle, requirements engineering, and software construction. The curriculum also explores issues like risk management, project management, and software metrics. All distance learners must take a three-credit software engineering capstone during their graduating semester. Students must complete all foundation and prerequisite courses before enrolling in the capstone.

UHCL supports distance learners with academic advising, technical assistance, disability services, and counseling. Math and writing centers offer online tutoring, and the Student Success Center provides additional tutoring and academic coaching in other subjects. UHCL's Career Center includes an online career exploration tool, remote career appointments, resources on career planning and job hunting, and an online job board for students. The school also boasts extensive online library services and resources.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $1,670/course in-state; $3,215/course out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 15 months

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (281) 283-2500
Email: admissions@uhcl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Regis University

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

The Society of Jesus founded Regis University, a Catholic Jesuit institution, in 1877. The regionally-accredited university welcomes students from all faith backgrounds to help create a better society. The College of Computer and Information Science at Regis offers a 36-credit, online master of science in software engineering. Students learn how to develop software solutions relevant to many different industries. Graduates often find careers as software engineers, software developers, and web developers.

Distance learners can complete the entire online software engineering degree without ever visiting the Denver, Colorado, campus. The program features eight-week courses that start six times a year. The curriculum explores issues like architecture-centric design, web application development, and programming languages like CSS, Java, and HTML. Students take courses including information technology research methods, enterprise iOS software development, and web visualization frameworks. The program also requires learners to choose one of the following degree completion requirements: graduate thesis, graduate capstone, or software engineering practicum II. Online software engineering majors benefit from career support from the Center for Career and Professional Development, which offers career training, resources, and advice on conducting a successful job search. Distance learners receive other types of support, including access to library resources, academic advisors, and disability services.

Admissions requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and relevant work experience or a relevant bachelor's degree. Prospective students must submit an essay, resume, official transcripts, and application fee. Admissions counselors help learners navigate and complete the application process. All distance learners pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $780/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (800) 388-2366
Email: studentservices@regis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Distance learners can pursue one of the cheapest online software engineering degrees from East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina. The program emphasizes collaboration and encourages interaction between the school's online and on-campus students. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or MAT scores. The program recommends prospective students hold an undergraduate degree in a field like computer science, information systems, computer engineering, or electrical engineering. ECU considers applicants with other, nontechnical academic backgrounds on a case-by-case basis.

ECU's College of Engineering and Technology offers two pathways to a master of science in software engineering. Designed for students who hold a bachelor's in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information technology, or a related field, the traditional pathway requires 30 credits. ECU also offers a nontraditional pathway for students who hold a bachelor's degree in other quantitative analytical fields such as mathematics, engineering, statistics, or chemistry. The nontraditional pathway requires 38 credits. The nontraditional program requires two special prerequisite courses in the first semester of the program: programming and data structures foundations, and discrete structures and algorithmic foundations.

Before beginning the program, students complete a degree plan with an academic advisor. All software engineering majors take three core courses: software engineering foundations, software project management, and foundations of software testing. They also complete 21 elective credits with three options: coursework-only option, project option, or thesis option. Students must earn a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA to graduate with the software engineering MS.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $250/credit in-state; $895/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-38 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (252) 328-9600
Email: cetgrad@ecu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

The online software engineering degree from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, includes concentrations in software development, software architecture, real-time game systems, and entrepreneurship and technology leadership. DePaul offers the master of science in software engineering program asynchronously and entirely online, giving students the freedom to complete coursework around professional and personal commitments.

The 52-credit degree focuses on software engineering best practices, emerging technologies, and collaboration. The curriculum covers issues like software design and architecture, software project management, and software testing and quality assurance. Students also gain presentation and communication skills. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. All distance learners at DePaul pay the same tuition rate per credit, regardless of their residency status.

The National Science Foundation gave $4 million in grants to faculty members from the College of Computing and Digital Media during the last five years. Students often work on research projects and learn to use emerging technologies with faculty members. The program includes courses like discrete structures for computer science, object-oriented software development, and analytics and data mining in software engineering. Students must earn a grade of at least a 'C-' in all major courses and maintain a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA. Individuals with a 3.9 GPA or higher graduate with distinction.

Online learning at DePaul features flexible, 24/7 access to course materials. Students watch recorded lectures, which they can access until one week after finals week. Distance learners can also access technical support, academic advising, tutoring, and library resources.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Available Concentrations: Software development; software architecture; real-time game systems; entrepreneurship and technology leadership
Tuition: $865/credit
Credit Requirements: 52 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (312) 362-8714
Email: admission@cdm.depaul.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Distance learners can earn one of the best online software engineering degrees in 1-2 years from the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, Florida. The master of science in computer science program offers a software engineering specialization. Students learn about the software lifecycle, including development, design, testing, analysis, and process improvement. Graduates pursue further education or careers in software engineering and other computing fields.

The 30-credit curriculum requires core computer science courses such as advanced programming languages, advanced database systems, and advanced computer systems and networks. Learners gain fundamental computer science skills, like advanced computational methods, algorithmic programming, and software development. Software engineering concentration students take software design, software engineering practices and tools, and software engineering process.

Students choose either a thesis, up to 12 credits, or computer science project, up to six credits. Learners must earn a minimum "C" grade in all courses. UWF offers the degree completely online, combining synchronous and asynchronous instruction. The program strongly encourages students to watch lectures live, using the school's video conferencing tool. Distance learners can also participate in real-time discussions this way.

Admissions requirements for the online software engineering degree from UWF include an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE or MAT scores, a statement of intent, and three letters of recommendation. Admitted students typically hold an undergraduate degree in computer science, but their degree may come from other scientific fields.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Computer Science
Available Concentrations: Software engineering
Tuition: $385/credit in-state; $480/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (850) 474-2612
Email: treichherzer@uwf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

A private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University boasts more than 140 online degree and certificate programs. An early-adopter of distance education, Drexel began offering online learning opportunities in 1996. The university's 45-credit master of science in software engineering gives students foundational knowledge in software engineering, exploring topics like systems analytics, software design and architecture, and engineering management.

Full-time learners can complete Drexel's online software engineering degree in two years. The university offers the entire online degree asynchronously, allowing students the flexibility to continue working full-time while pursuing their degrees. Drexel's instructional design and multimedia services coordinate course design and multimedia development to make online learning engaging, high-quality, and interactive.

Distance learners receive extensive support, including academic and enrollment advising, 24/7 technical assistance, and access to the university's library, writing center, and career center. Online students also get the chance to participate in study abroad opportunities. All online software engineering students pay the same tuition rate; Drexel does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state learners.

Software engineering majors take courses in engineering and management, human-computer interaction, and web services and mobile architecture. The program consists of four, 10-week quarters each year, allowing students to take more courses in a shorter time-frame. Learners can transfer up to nine credits toward their MS in software engineering. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college, with a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last two years of undergraduate work.

Individuals without a computer science, math, or software engineering background may need to take prerequisite courses.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $1,265/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (877) 215-0009
Email: duonline@drexel.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Founded in 1923 as a public research university, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, serves more than 28,000 students. The regionally accredited university ranks among the top 120 schools to receive a "very high research activity" designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions.

Distance learners can earn an online software engineering degree from Texas Tech without ever setting foot on-campus. The asynchronous program lets students log on and complete their coursework at their convenience. The university uses high-quality, multimedia technologies to make the virtual classroom engaging. Online students complete the same curriculum and receive the same degree as on-campus learners.

The 30- to 36-credit master of science in software engineering gives students a foundational understanding of complex software systems, including development, maintenance, and definition using engineering process methods. Core courses include software project management, software verification and validation, and software modeling and architecture. The programs offers thesis and non-thesis tracks.

Software engineering majors must create individualized degree plans during their first semester in the program. Students who choose the thesis track must also submit their thesis title and thesis advisory committee as part of their degree plan in the first semester.

Applicants to Texas Tech's software engineering MS program must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores. Students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field may take undergraduate developmental courses, such as algorithm analysis, statistics, and computer architecture.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $515/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-36 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (806) 742-3527
Email: akbar.namin@ttu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

Lewis University

Romeoville, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Lewis University, a private Catholic and Lasallian university founded in 1932 in Romeoville, Illinois, offers liberal and professional education to 6,500 students. The school's programmatic offerings include more than a dozen graduate distance education degrees and certificates. Lewis' curriculum includes a 33-credit master of science in computer science with a software engineering concentration, available entirely online with no on-campus requirements.

Students learn to create secure software for mobile devices, the web, and other platforms. They explore issues like data storage system design, software solutions design and implementation, and software testing strategies. The program requires one core research class, six concentration courses, three elective classes, and one capstone. Available courses include software testing and quality assurance, software architecture and design, and object-oriented development.

All distance learners in the software engineering program pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence.

Software engineering master's applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, information systems, or a related field from a regionally accredited university. Individuals without this academic background can take up to 13 credits in developmental courses before pursuing the MS. Lewis prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA, but those with a lower GPA may receive provisional admission. Provisionally admitted students must complete their first nine credits in the program with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Applicants must also submit official academic transcripts, a resume, a two-page statement of purpose, an application fee, and two letters of recommendation.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Computer Science
Available Concentrations: Software engineering
Tuition: $800/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (866) 967-7046
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Distance learners at the University of Michigan - Dearborn can earn a 30-credit, fully online master of science in software engineering. The department of electrical and computer engineering and the department of computer and information science jointly offer the interdisciplinary program. The industry-informed curriculum focuses on software maintenance, testing problems, and evaluation problems. The software engineering master's represents one of more than 100 online undergraduate and graduate programs at UM-Dearborn.

Support services for distance learners include access to academic advising, tutoring, counseling, and library resources.

Students take five required core courses, including software engineering, software architecture and design patterns, and data analytics in software engineering. They get to choose which technical electives they take, with options in artificial intelligence, reconfigurable computing, and advanced data mining. The program offers two graduation requirement options: a six-credit thesis or a three-credit project.

UM-Dearborn encourages ambitious students planning to pursue doctoral studies or careers in research and development to elect the thesis option. Learners who choose the project option take an additional elective course.

Bachelor's degree in software engineering online graduates can apply for UM-Dearborn's distance education master's program. The university also welcomes applicants with backgrounds in computer engineering. The program prefers prospective learners to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, but those with lower GPAs may earn admission on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must also complete courses in a programming language, calculus I and II, and computer architecture.

Prerequisites include computer organization, data structures and algorithm analysis, and engineering probability and statistics.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $708/credit in-state; $885/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (313) 583-6436
Email: zwxu@umich.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

The 30- to 33-credit, 11-course part-time online software engineering degree from the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at West Virginia University (WVU) takes two years to complete. A land-grant institution located in Morgantown, West Virginia, WVU boasts several prestigious scholarships, plus 59 Fulbright scholars and 25 Rhodes scholars.

Serving working software engineering professionals, the master of science in software engineering requires no campus visits. Real-time evening classes each week include live discussions with instructors and classmates. West Virginia residents and nonresidents pay the same tuition rates, and may qualify for the same types of financial aid as on-campus students.

The program offers a 30-credit thesis option and a 33-credit nonthesis option. The curriculum includes courses like software analysis and design, introduction to object-oriented design, and validation and verification.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's in computer science, software engineering, computer engineering, or another related field. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA and satisfactory GRE scores. Individuals with degrees in other fields who hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and one year of experience in the software industry, may receive provisional acceptance to begin taking core classes. The program does not require provisional students to take the GRE.

Provisional learners receive acceptance as regular students once they earn at least a "B" grade in their first four core courses, and submit a resume and three letters of recommendation. Admitted students start the program in the spring, fall, or summer.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $20,955
Credit Requirements: 30-33 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (800) 253-2762
Email: wvuonline@mail.wvu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

Mercer University

Macon, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Founded by Baptists in 1833, Mercer University in Macon, Georgia started as a preparatory school for boys. Though no longer affiliated with a specific denomination, Mercer now offers a liberal arts education emphasizing intellectual and religious freedom with values based in its Baptist heritage. The university offers more than 65 distance and continuing education programs for busy, nontraditional students.

Mercer's online software engineering degree provides learners with the skills to identify, analyze, and create solutions for complicated software problems. The curriculum covers issues like the software lifecycle, software architecture, agile software development processes, and software design using refactoring. Students gain relevant technical skills valuable to major employers in the software industry.

The School of Engineering offers masters of science in engineering in software engineering and software systems, boasting dedicated faculty with substantial professional experience in specialized fields. The Mercer Engineering Corporate Partners program offers networking opportunities to students, to help them find internship and job opportunities with engineering-related companies.

The software engineering master's program at Mercer requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and satisfactory GRE scores for admission. Applicants must also submit two or three letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and an application fee. The school prefers prospective students with undergraduate degrees from programs that hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The university may award conditional or provisional admission to learners who do not meet this qualification.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Engineering in Software Engineering; MS in Software Systems
Tuition: $900/credit

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (478) 301-2185
Email: macneil_pe@mercer.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

North Dakota State University-Main Campus

Fargo, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

The Department of Computer Science at North Dakota State University - Main Campus (NDSU) boasts one of the cheapest online software engineering degrees. The program provides a foundational understanding of computer programming while exploring the entire software lifecycle. Students learn to develop, operate, maintain, and analyze software systems.

Distance learners can complete the 36-credit master's in software engineering program in one, two, or five years, depending on how many credits they take each term. Working software professionals often pursue the degree part-time while continuing full-time employment. Students can earn the entire degree without traveling to NDSU's campus in Fargo, North Dakota. Software engineering majors who believe they already understand the material can test out of any course within the first four weeks of the semester.

The program requires learners to complete 12 required courses with a "B" grade or better. The degree does not include elective coursework. Students complete an individual study software development project over the course of two semesters. Other required classes include software project planning and estimation, development of distributed systems, and an introduction to database systems. This coursework-only degree does not require a comprehensive exam or thesis.

Before enrolling in core courses, students must complete software development processes, a three-credit prerequisite course.

Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA to receive regular program admission, or a minimum 2.7 GPA plus professional experience for conditional admission. The online master's in software engineering program does not require the GRE. Application deadlines fall in February, for fall admission, and September, for spring admission.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Software Engineering
Tuition: $400/credit in-state; $505/credit, Minnesota residents; $595/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1, 2, or 5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (701) 231-8562
Email: gradinfo@cs.ndsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

The College of Engineering at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, offers a master of software engineering program, which applies engineering principles to computer software development. K-State holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Learners can complete the 33-credit degree entirely online without any campus visits. International students must contact the Department of Computing and Information Sciences before enrolling in classes.

All software engineering majors pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence.

K-State's online software engineering degree explores topics like software verification, design, and production. The curriculum includes 15 core credits, six specialty credits, six technical electives, and six for the master of software engineering project. In the project course, students create and present software portfolios. Online courses incorporate readings, discussion boards, lectures, and videos. Learners must earn a "B" grade or better in all core and specialty courses, and maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA to graduate.

Spring and fall semesters last 16 weeks, with an eight- to 12-week summer session.

Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related field. The program considers applicants without this academic background as long as their undergraduate education included coursework like discrete mathematics or symbolic logic. Applicants must also take undergraduate coursework in data structures, software engineering, programming and algorithms or hold equivalent professional experience. Prospective students without this academic background can take prerequisite courses before applying to strengthen their application and chances of acceptance.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Software Engineering
Tuition: $860/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (785) 532-5575
Email: global@k-state.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, Kennesaw State University (KSU) serves more than 35,000 students from 92 countries across the world. One of the 50 largest schools in the U.S., KSU offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate programs, including a fully online master of science in software engineering. The program does not require any in-person sessions, so students can complete all coursework online. In-state and out-of-state distance learners pay the same flat, per-credit tuition rate at KSU.

The 36-credit software engineering MS requires seven core classes, a capstone experience, and three or four electives. The program offers a thesis or project option. Students who choose the thesis option complete three electives and two semesters of thesis work. The project option requires four electives and a capstone project. Required core courses include emerging software engineering processes, software project planning and management, and software testing and verification.

The program prefers applicants to hold a minimum 2.75 GPA, but admits prospective students who do not meet this criteria on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in computing or a related field. Graduates of online software engineering bachelor's degree programs qualify for admission. KSU's software engineering master's program does not require the GRE.

Students with an undergraduate degree in a field unrelated to computing may need to complete up to five graduate-level prerequisite foundational courses, like foundation of programming and computer architectures, before starting major coursework. Prospective learners must also submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Software Engineering
Tuition: $383/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum (preferred)

Contact
Phone: (470) 578-3811
Email: pspoleti@kennesaw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online master's in software engineering programs are offered in full-time and part-time formats. Some programs focus on a particular area, including software architecture, game systems, entrepreneurship, and health care. Others might combine a master's in software engineering with an MBA. Students can also find broad programs that cover many aspects of the field.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

While programs differ, most have similar curriculums. Whether or not a student has chosen a specialization can affect the curriculum, but the courses listed below are common among many programs.

  • Software Development in C++: C++ is one of the most common programming languages used, and the more fluent programmers are the more effective they'll be using it to design new applications. This course examines how C++ is used to create the building blocks of software.
  • Web Development: This class explores the use of programming in web design and development. It looks at the way we use the internet and how writing code can shape its future.
  • Software Architecture: Students learn how programs are put together and when to use what type of programming. Software architecture teaches students how to select and use appropriate software design patterns.
  • Web Security and Privacy: This class teaches the latest techniques in cybersecurity. Students learn how to effectively defend themselves and companies from attacks.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING?

The time it takes to earn an online master's in software engineering differs between programs. Most online master's in software engineering programs require 36-38 credits, which take about two years for full-time students to earn; part-time students will take about three to four years. Some programs are offered in an accelerated, six or eight-week term, format. Others are asynchronous and individually paced, meaning that students move at their own speed. Cohort-based programs group students into teams that progress through the program at the same pace. Other factors that affect the length of a program are concentrations, double majors, and extra certifications. Course availability is also an issue; some small schools might only offer required courses once a year.

Make sure the program you enroll in accredited by a legitimate credentialing agency. Accreditation ensures that the online master's in software engineering program meets certain standards and is widely accepted. There are many accrediting organizations at the national and regional levels.

Most of the nation's better schools are regionally accredited by organizations like the New England Association of Colleges and Schools or the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools. National organizations, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, tend to accredit programs and schools of a certain type, such as vocational or technical schools. It's common for agencies to accredit specific disciplines as well. The best software master's programs online are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The Department of Education (DOE) provides oversight on accreditation, reviewing and renewing accrediting agencies and providing students with a database of information. The DOE is assisted in this role by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a national advocacy organization that represents 3,000 member colleges and universities. The council serves as an accrediting watchdog. CHEA does research, studies issues affecting accreditation, and makes recommendations to the DOE to ensure that accrediting standards are upheld.

A list of accredited schools is available through the DOE and the CHEA.

MASTER'S IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING CAREERS

Software engineers are in demand in fields beyond technology. Graduates are prepared for work in the government, air and space, biomedicine, communications, high finance, mobile computing, and film and TV. Software engineers graduate with project management, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills, in addition to their programming expertise. This skillset enables some students to start their own business.

1. Software Developer: Software developers write and maintain the applications that are used every day in business and popular culture. Some work for massive conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies.
2. Computer Programmer: Computer programmers make sure applications work with the computers they were designed for. They spend a lot of their time writing code and engineering systems.
3. Computer and Information Research Scientists: Computer and information research scientists find solutions to problems in technology and innovate and create new uses for software and computing.
4. Biomedical Engineer: Biomedical engineers work with technology in a healthcare setting, designing the future of medicine. This career demands innovation. Many graduates help design artificial organs and maintain biomedical equipment.
5. Game Engineer: Workers will spend much of their time developing code bases for video games and development tools. They work in the video game industry with artists and story developers to create the next big game systems.

Median Salary and Growth Rate by Career

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2014-24)
Software Developer $102,280 17%
Computer Programmer $79,840 -8%
Computer and Information Research Scientist $111,840 11%
Biomedical Engineer $85,620 23%
Game Engineer $85,000 N/A

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensure and Certification

A master's degree in software engineering is usually enough for most employers, but certification can lead to higher earnings and more opportunities. Adding a certificate in cybersecurity from (ISC)2 or a software developer master certification from the IEEE Computer Society would enhance the profile of any engineer.

  • Software Developer Master Certification: Sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, this certificate is proof of the highest level of achievement in software engineering. It requires graduates to pass a 180 minute exam and two three-hour applied coding exams.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): The CISSP is becoming the industry standard for cybersecurity certification. The exam tests competency in eight fields, including secure software development.
  • Proprietary Certification: Many of the large tech companies, like Microsoft and Amazon, have certification programs for their own software. Microsoft Technology Associate Developer certification includes software development with mobile applications and gaming.

JOB PLACEMENT

A 2015 study by Georgetown University has shown that starting salaries for programmers with a master's degree can be as much as $17,000 higher than those with an undergraduate degree. At that rate, a master's can pay for itself in no time. Many employers are actively seeking software engineers with graduate diplomas. Graduates have many career opportunities, as software engineers are needed in most industries.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Joining one of the major computer science professional organizations has many benefits, including continuing education, credentialing, networking, and career services. Many organizations host conferences where you can meet and share information with other software engineers, providing many opportunities to grow your knowledge.

Paying for an online master's in software engineering can be a challenge, but one of the bonuses of a web-based education is that it's often slightly less expensive than its brick-and-mortar alternative. Students can sometimes earn their degrees faster online and often benefit from in-state tuition, even when they live out of state. The same financial aid, scholarship, and work-study programs that on-campus students enjoy are available to distance learners. By completing the FAFSA form, students will learn about what's available to them through federal aid and how to obtain the funds. Students in the field of computer science can also find help from many tech companies. Google, Apple, and Xerox offer scholarships to female and minority students.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's Programs in Software Engineering of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
3 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
4 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
5 California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA
6 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
7 University of Houston - Clear Lake Houston, TX
8 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
10 Arizona State University - Tempe Tempe, AZ
11 Mercer University Macon, GA
12 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
13 University of Michigan - Dearborn Dearborn, MI
14 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
15 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL
Best Online Master's Programs in Software Engineering of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
3 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
4 University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston, TX
5 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA
6 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
7 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
8 North Dakota State University-Main Campus Fargo, ND
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
10 Mercer University Macon, GA
Best Online Master's Programs in Software Engineering of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Carnegiae Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
2 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
3 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
4 California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA
5 Mercer University Macon, GA
6 North Dakota State University Fargo, ND
7 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
8 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
9 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
10 University of Michigan - Dearborn Dearborn, MI