Students who want to advance their career as a software engineer and take on leadership positions in a constantly changing, dynamic field will want to earn an online master’s in software engineering.
This online program will not only equip them with advanced software development skills but also hone their knowledge and expertise in various software engineering subjects such as software testing, systems engineering, data science, software-intensive systems, and software modeling among others.
What’s a graduate degree in Software Engineering worth? Online master’s degrees in the field can produce experienced software professionals equipped with engineering management skills as well as software development skills. The Labor Statistics Bureau shows that software developers have a mean annual wage of $132,930.
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Many colleges and universities offer master’s in software engineering online, making it an ideal choice for software engineering professionals. Some software engineering programs require students to complete a project or thesis option. The former includes real client class projects. If you are one of the experienced software engineers who have an aptitude for reflective practice, then this software engineering program is for you.
The ever-growing prevalence and importance of various software systems in almost all aspects of today’s society also signal an expected demand for competent software engineering professionals to occupy various careers and fulfill crucial roles.
In order to excel in this ever-evolving field, students are well-served to gain access to the best graduate-level education they can, which equips them with crucial advanced skills relevant to software development and to industry leadership.
We’ve got you covered! Check out our list of 15 graduate schools with the best online Master’s in Software Engineering programs. Each graduate degree was selected based on these factors:
- Offers the Master’s in Software Engineering program entirely or mostly online, designed especially for professionals already working in the industry,
- Features a Software Engineering graduate curriculum that covers the core skills in software development, supplemented by coursework that develops crucial management and leadership-oriented skills, and crucially, anticipates emerging trends and technologies in the field,
- Prepares master’s degree students for Doctorate in Software Engineering programs, or qualifies them for higher-level or executive-level careers,
- Taught by faculty with professional industry expertise and experience,
- Features competitive tuition rates with a range of financial aid opportunities,
- Holds the relevant accreditation to prove that they meet academic standard requirements.
Visit our Methodology page for information.
Best Master’s in Software Engineering Online Programs
Texas Tech University
Broadway Lubbock, TX
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University is recognized as the largest higher education institution in the western two-thirds of Texas. It is currently home to more than 40,000 enrolled students and more than 1,900 faculty members. The university aims to provide the highest standards of academic excellence, fostering personal development and stimulating meaningful research.
- The MS in Software Engineering degree program offered at Texas Tech University provides graduate students with a solid foundation in complex software systems by utilizing traditional engineering process methods. This encompasses the definition, development, and maintenance of software systems.
- Students can expect to delve into advanced software engineering concepts, exploring quality assurance methodologies, software design, and software and system production practices.
- To get admitted into the program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field with a strong mathematics background.
- Some of the courses included in the rigorous program curriculum include Software Project Management, Software Modeling and Architecture, Software Verification and Validation, and Fault-Tolerance Computer Systems, among others.
Standout Features of Texas Tech University’s Online Master of Science in Software Engineering Program:
In this program, students have the choice between the thesis and non-thesis track. Students who opt for the thesis track should find a thesis advisor in an area of research that is compatible with their interests. Students may need to take certain courses to prepare for their thesis research.
Did You Know?
Tracing back its storied history, the university was once called the Texas Technological College, opening with six buildings and enrolling 914 students in 1925. In 1969, the college was formally renamed Texas Tech University by the action of the Texas State Legislature.
Today, Texas Tech University belongs to the top 20% of over 20,000 institutions worldwide.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University was established in 1867. This public higher learning institution has a total of 27,367 enrollments in 2022. West Virginia University is home to West Virginia University Online, aiming to provide quality and affordable education to students all over the globe. Students are assured of the quality of education at this university, with online programs that are an extension of the on-campus programs’ culture of excellence.
- Offered under the Lane Department of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, the MS in Software Engineering online program is hosted by Coursera’s learning platform.
- The online master’s program equips students with the expertise to better understand software applications and systems, including its holistic design, development, and management process.
- Students are expected to gain the necessary skills to create and implement software-based solutions along with the ability to identify and analyze both the user and client needs.
- To earn the program, students need to complete a total of 30 graduate credit hours, five courses of which are dedicated to the core of the program while another five are for the advanced electives.
Standout Features of West Virginia University’s Online Master of Science in Software Engineering Program:
This software engineering degree expects students to master the application of software engineering practices to solve complex problems, often involving the analysis and assessment of needs and the implementation of improvements. Some of the core courses in the comprehensive curriculum include Software Project Management, Software Analysis and Design, Software Verification and Validation, and Software Evolution.
Did You Know?
West Virginia University is known for its excellent and experienced faculty. In fact, 19 of them have been named Carnegie Foundation Professors of the Year. About 66% of the full-time instructors at WVU hold the highest academic degree in their chosen field. The university also received the R1: Doctoral Universities; it is a designation that the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education gave, reinforcing its high research activity.
California State University, Fullerton
Serving an intellectual or cultural center for Southern California, California State University in Fullerton recorded a total of 40,386 enrollments in the fall of 2022. It is home to more than eight colleges, including the Arts, Communications, Education, Business and Economics, Engineering and Computer Science, Health and Human Development, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, among others.
- Designed for software engineering professionals, the Master of Science in Software Engineering offered at California State University in Fullerton can provide graduate students with skills to succeed in the field.
- The rigorous curriculum explores software architectural design, software process assessment, software process methods, software project management and software engineering ethics, among many others.
- The online program in software engineering is offered 100% online with an asynchronous course delivery.
Standout Features of California State University, Fullerton’s Online Master of Science in Software Engineering Program:
The master’s programs sometimes open a free summer coding Bootcamp. This aims to give students the opportunity to enhance their coding skills, making it ideal for beginners who want to sharpen their coding abilities. It also includes technical coding interview practices to help graduate students prepare for job interviews in the ever-evolving tech industry.
Did You Know?
California State University, Fullerton features a strategic plan that encompasses a thoughtful yet ambitious road map in an effort to address challenges and opportunities while enhancing endeavors. The plan reaffirms California State University, Fullerton’s educational mission and position as a first-choice institution.
University of Maryland
The University of Maryland stayed true to its mission of offering quality education to students all over the world since the establishment of the global campus. The open university primarily serves working adults, military servicemen and servicewomen, and veterans all over the country and beyond. This provides students with affordable and open access to high-quality higher education.
- Students who want to acquire hands-on experience and advance their career in the field may want to consider earning the Master of Science in Information Technology with a Software Engineering concentration.
- This online master’s in software engineering features a comprehensive curriculum designed by industry leaders, preparing students for in-demand careers in information technology.
- The Council of Graduate Schools has recognized this graduate-level program as a Professional Science Master’s degree.
- Students in the software engineering concentration can expect to cover topics such as advanced software implementation and modern software methodologies.
Standout Features of the University of Maryland’s Online MS in Information Technology: Software Engineering Program:
Students who earned an undergraduate degree at UMGV with a major in management information systems may take advantage of the accelerated pathway. This means they can reduce their total coursework for the master’s degree in information technology by up to six credits.
Did You Know?
Opening its doors in 1947, the University of Maryland Global Campus was initially put up as the College of Special and Continuation Studies. In 1949, UMGC sent faculty overseas to educate active-duty military personnel based in Europe, making it the first university to do so. The advent of online learning in the 1990s gave the university the opportunity to offer online courses, allowing it to grow as one of the largest providers of online education in the country.
UMGC has a streamlined admissions process. This means students are not required to submit SAT or GRE scores. Students can also take advantage of multiple start dates throughout the year, allowing them to get started on their advanced education whenever they are ready.
Home to more than 17 schools and colleges, Boston University currently enrolls more than 36,000 students from over 130 countries. Students can pick among more than 300 programs of study across three campuses. Many of the degree programs are offered online.
- The Master of Science in Software Development degree was founded on the principle that developers must be experienced in understanding current requirements in diverse fields while also being fully competent to deliver reliable and secure software.
- Students in this online program are expected to acquire advanced knowledge of computer language theory, databases, networks, security, and software design.
- They are also expected to gain the competence integral to investigate emerging new software technologies, approaches, and applications.
Standout Features of Boston University’s Online Master of Science in Software Development Program:
The program requires 32 credits. This includes courses such as Information Structures with Python, Data Structures and Algorithms, Software Design and Patterns, Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks, Software Engineering, and Information Systems Analysis and Design, among others.
Did You Know?
Boston University’s online programs make the most out of computers, harnessing their power as a unique educational tool that can engage students’ full learning potential. Online students at Boston University can take advantage of the Student & Faculty Support within the Distance Education office. This ensures they can receive prompt and attentive assistance throughout their whole online learning experience.
Arizona State University
Committed to making higher education accessible, Arizona State University offers online programs under ASU Online. The digital learning experience is backed by world-class faculty and instructional design, making it one of the best choices for students who want to advance in their careers.
- Arizona State University offers the MS in Engineering Science – Software Engineering concentration to help students build their technology skills and prepare them for leadership roles.
- Students can expect to utilize agile methodologies and formal capability maturity model integration approaches.
- Other broad skills they can build upon include artificial intelligence, big data processing, cloud computing, software architecture and design, and software integration, among others.
Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online MS in Engineering Science – Concentration in Software Engineering Program:
The software engineering concentration emphasizes important elements in the field, including software development methodologies, processes, and techniques. Some of the courses included are Software Verification, Validation, and Testing, Software Engineering Principles and Techniques, Artificial Neural Computation, and Coding and Applications, among others.
Did You Know?
The online courses offered at Arizona State University Online are high-quality. Students can expect immersive learning and constant innovation, making their online learning experience an integral step toward a successful career.
Washington State University
Washington State University has been offering quality higher education since its establishment in 1890. It is among the first public universities to embrace distance learning education by offering online degree programs in 1997. In 2012, the WSU Global Campus was founded, making it the fifth campus in the university system.
- Washington State University’s Master of Science in Software Engineering online program is designed to help interested students, especially software engineering professionals, advance their careers in the field.
- Students are expected to acquire knowledge and skills that are highly applicable to real-world work settings, including how to implement high-quality software, provide innovative solutions, and take on leadership roles, whether in government or private institutions.
- Some of the skills they can develop in the program include software design and development, software validation, and management.
Standout Features of Washington State University’s Online Master of Science in Software Engineering Program:
The online Master’s in Software Engineering program is designed and created with insights from an industry advisory board. This includes representatives from pioneering companies such as Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Ivycorp, and EMC Isilon.
Did You Know?
A leader in online education, Washington State University Global Campus currently offers 21 undergraduate degrees and 13 graduate degrees that are fully available online.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The university in its current form came about in 1967 when the original Carnegie Institute of Technology (established in 1900) merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, (established in 1913). Carnegie Mellon University is currently composed of 7 colleges and schools and has around over 15,800 students. It is also classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.
- Carnegie Mellon University offers the Master of Software Engineering program that is aimed at the career advancement of actively practicing professionals, consisting of advanced skills together with leadership and management skills.
- The program is offered as an online, part-time program, and is typically 24 months long. The program consists of synchronous meetings and asynchronous coursework.
- The program is designed for experienced software professionals. As such, students must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or an engineering-related discipline, as well as experience in full-time software development positions. Students must also ideally be working on active software development projects.
Standout Features of Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Software Engineering Degree Program:
On top of the top-notch curriculum and teaching offered by Carnegie Mellon University, students also have access to various career services, and crucially, the extensive network of alumni that continually work with the university as collaborators and partners. Students also have the chance to participate in industry field trips, as well as relevant conferences and workshops.
Did You Know?
One of Carnegie Mellon University’s international efforts includes Carnegie Mellon University Africa, a global campus located in Kigali. Established in 2011, it offers graduate-level education in a number of engineering-related disciplines.
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is part of the University of California system and is its founding institution, having been established in 1868. At present, UC Berkeley is composed of 14 colleges and schools, with a population of over 45,300 students. UC Berkeley is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” It is one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities (AAU).
- The University of California, Berkeley’s Master of Molecular Science and Software Engineering program is a unique program that focuses on applying computation and machine learning concepts to problems in the field of molecular sciences and beyond.
- The program’s courses are offered online, except for two on-campus boot camps. Students can complete the program in around 9 months on a full-time enrollment, or around 2 years on a part-time enrollment.
- The program covers computational molecular science and focuses on software engineering, advanced machine learning, complex mathematical modeling and simulations, and high-performance computing.
Standout Features of the University of California, Berkeley’s Online Master of Molecular Science and Software Engineering Degree Program:
UC Berkeley’s MSSE program is one of the most unique and specialized programs of its kind in the country, with its unique design that brings a set of advanced computation and data science skills into the field of molecular sciences, as well as a number of related advanced computational science fields in Biochemistry, Material Science, Nanotechnology, and more.
Did You Know?
Throughout the years, a large number of important scientific discoveries have been made by researchers and faculty members at UC Berkeley. This includes discoveries in the computer sciences, such as early research into microprocessor designs anchored on Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC); GIMP, which is an open-source raster/photo editing software; and the Tcl programming language.
Drexel University is a private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It began life in 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, founded by Anthony J. Drexel, a philanthropist and financier, eventually becoming Drexel University in 1970. Drexel University is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”, and has over 24,000 students.
- Drexel University offers an MS in Software Engineering, which features an interdisciplinary design that can be applied to a wide range of careers in the industry.
- The program is fully online and consists of a total of 45 credit hours. Core courses cover software testing and reliability, software architecture, software design, as well as software project management.
- The program is recommended for professionals working in the software engineering field, however, it is still open to those coming from outside this.
- Those who do not have prior undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Mathematics may be required to take additional prerequisites outside of the program’s curriculum.
Standout Features of Drexel University’s Master of Science in Software Engineering Degree Program:
Drexel University designed this program with industry relevance at heart, as a response to the projected demand for competent professionals. The program also features a comprehensive design, as it encompasses not only the technical aspect of software engineering but also the behavioral and managerial aspects as well.
Did You Know?
Drexel University also offers a related Online MS in Computer Science, as well as Online Graduate Certificates in Software Engineering Management, Software Architecture, and Computing Systems Security & Privacy.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California is a private research university located in Los Angeles, California. It was established in 1880, making it the oldest private research university in California. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity and became part of the Association of American Universities in 1969. At present, USC has around 24 colleges and schools, and a population of over 49,000 students.
- The University of Southern California offers a Master of Science in Computer Science degree program with a concentration on Software Engineering, designed to develop highly competent, sought-after professionals ready for non-outsourceable careers in the industry.
- The program is offered both on-campus and online and typically lasts 1.5-2 years on a full-time enrollment, or 2.5-3 years on a part-time enrollment.
- The program covers not only skills in software development, but also management skills, customer collaboration, and systems engineering skills to develop highly competent, sought-after professionals.
Standout Features of the University of Southern California’s Master of Science in Computer Science (Software Engineering) Degree Program:
USC’s MS in Computer Science features a future-ready design and integrates a number of emerging technologies & trends such as software-intensive systems, COTS integration, high assurance, rapid software development, agile methods, as well as mobile and distributed network-centric architectures. This program also features real client class projects.
Did You Know?
USC also offers a pure Master of Science in Computer Science, as well as MS in Computer Science degrees that are concentrated on Data Science, Computer Security, and a program tailored for Scientists and Engineers who have a limited background in computer science.
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University is a public, land-grant, research university with its main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1855 as the Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania and was elevated to state university status in 1953. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”, and has a population of almost 90,000 students.
- Pennsylvania State University offers a Master of Software Engineering program, a nationally-recognized program that covers crucial cutting-edge skills in creating, improving, and maintaining a range of software systems.
- The program consists of 12 courses for a total of 36 credit hours and follows a cohort-based model.
- The program is designed with a comprehensive coverage of modern software concepts and techniques and includes the areas of software analysis, design and architecture, data storage and retrieval, and software verification.
Standout Features of Pennsylvania State University’s Master of Software Engineering Degree Program:
The program’s cohort-based design offers students a unique collaborative learning environment, which is designed to mimic the remote-based work environment typical of today’s global marketplace.
Did You Know?
Penn State is one of the country’s “Public Ivies”, universities that are regarded as the state equals of the Ivy League. Penn State also has high research participation, being part of the sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant research consortia.
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University is a public research university in Greenville, North Carolina. It was founded in 1907 as the East Carolina Teachers Training School, chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly. It gradually expanded and eventually gained its current name in 1967. ECU is currently composed of 14 schools, and is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”. ECU is North Carolina’s 4th-largest university, with a population of around 28,000 students.
- East Carolina University offers a Master of Science in Software Engineering program, designed to prepare students for a range of software-related careers through a curriculum that includes key hard and soft skills.
- The program contains a total of 30 credit hours, with 9 credit hours of core courses, and 21 credit hours of electives.
- The program’s electives include courses on machine learning, database management, network security, and more.
Standout Features of East Carolina University’s Master of Science in Software Engineering Degree Program:
Unlike many other master’s in software engineering programs, ECU’s MS in Software Engineering program is also offered with a nontraditional entry pathway, designed for those coming from a background in engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, or similar analytic and quantitative disciplines.
Did You Know?
East Carolina University offers degree programs related to software engineering: the Master of Science in Computer Science (offered online) and the Master of Science in Data Science (offered online and on-campus) degree programs.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public research university with two campuses in the cities of Kennesaw and Marietta, both part of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. It is relatively young, having been founded in 1963 by the Georgia Board of Regents, on the back of post-World War II economic expansion in the state. KSU is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”, and is divided into 13 colleges that together host a population of over 41,000 students.
- Kennesaw State University offers a Master of Science in Software Engineering program, designed to give students a competitive edge in the industry through a wide range of crucial skills and strategies.
- The program contains a total of 30 credit hours and can be completed in around 2 years. The program is offered on-campus, fully online, or in a hybrid format.
- The program’s courses include software project planning & management, software architecture, and software testing & verification. Students can choose to complete either a capstone project or a thesis option.
Standout Features of Kennesaw State University’s Master of Science in Software Engineering Degree Program:
KSU offers students from non-computing & non-software engineering undergraduate degree programs an entry into the MS program by completing a set of foundation courses. Likewise, graduates of software engineering bachelor’s degree programs with professional experience may be able to receive exemptions for certain courses, potentially letting them finish the program faster.
Did You Know?
New York, New York
Pace University is a private university located in New York City, with additional campuses in White Plains and Pleasantville, both within Westchester County. It was established in 1906 by the brothers Charles A. Pace and Homer St. Clair Pace and was originally a business school. Over the succeeding decades it gradually grew, and finally earned approval for its university status in 1973. Pace University currently consists of around 9 schools and has a population of over 13,000 students.
- Pace University offers a Master of Science in Software Development and Engineering, designed to develop students’ body of technical knowledge, through a curriculum that balances the theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline.
- The program contains a total of 36 credit hours and incorporates science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. The program has a two-year completion timeline.
- The program’s curriculum is centered on the following themes: System & Software Design, Software Management & Evolution, and Managing Team Resources.
- Pace University also offers two Advanced Certificates in Software Development & Engineering, and Secure Software & Information Engineering, either as part of the larger MS program or as standalone certificates.
Standout Features of Pace University’s Master of Science in Software Development and Engineering Degree Program:
Pace University designed this program to be anchored on the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK). This STEM-designated degree program also serves as a preparation for students to sit in the IEEE Certification Exam.
Did You Know?
Earlier in its history, Pace University underwent a period of having locations outside of New York, most of which were eventually divested to focus attention on the original Manhattan-area campus. One of these locations was the Pace Institute in Washington DC, which eventually became Benjamin Franklin University, now a part of The George Washington University.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to complete an online master’s in software engineering program?
Usually, online programs in software engineering require the completion of 30 credit hours or more. This can take students 24 months to complete.
What are the common admission requirements to earn a master’s in software engineering degree?
Most universities require students to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, software engineering, or related field. They may also be required to submit their updated resume, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Online learners who do not have sufficient background in the discipline may need to complete additional prerequisite courses.
- The continued rise in the prevalence of software and software-based technologies means that there is an expected demand for competent professionals skilled in key software engineering skills.
- Master’s in Software Engineering programs are focused on the design, development, implementation and testing aspects of software systems, and are anchored on the engineering design process.
- Most master’s in software engineering degrees go beyond teaching technical skills, and also include key management and leadership skills. While an undergraduate degree in software engineering is considered a requirement for admission, some programs also welcome those coming from a wider range of backgrounds related to computing, analytical, and quantitative disciplines.