Master of Computer Science: Software Engineering Degree Overview

A master's degree program in computer science can train students in the development of new computer systems or the alteration of existing ones to solve complex problems. Explore the program, common courses and job outlook.

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Essential Information

Students pursuing a master's degree in computer science may engage in research courses in addition to the computer science coursework. This is especially for students pursuing a thesis option. Supporting coursework in computer ethics and theory is also typically required. Some programs may allow students to design their curriculum with the help of a faculty advisor.

Master's degree programs in computer science are typically completed in two years, requiring advanced coursework and research. Individuals are accepted to these programs based largely on their undergraduate performance. Some schools may even offer this degree online.

Applicants to these programs need a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related major. They will also need to meet GPA and GRE score requirements. Undergraduate research projects may be required for entry into some programs.


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  • Computer Engineering Technologies, General
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Systems
  • Software Engineering

Master's Degree in Computer Science

Programs typically include advanced coursework in programming languages and computer systems. Some computer science programs allow students who choose not to do a thesis to complete additional coursework and pass a comprehensive exam. The following list displays topics that may appear in a computer science master's program:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Software management
  • Algorithms
  • Software architecture
  • Computer modeling
  • Software engineering

Popular Career Options

Due to the growth of technology and data, individuals with a degree in computer science may find work in a variety of industries. Many computer science professionals work for industries in research and development or computer systems design, or work for the federal government. Some possible career options include:

  • Control system scientist
  • Scientific programmer analyst
  • Software developer
  • Data scientist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of all software developers is expected to increase by 17% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that the median salary for software developers working in systems software was $105,570 as of May 2015, while developers working in applications had a median salary of $98,260.

Continuing Education

Some computer science positions may require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), including the actual title of computer scientist. Typically, a Ph.D. in computer science involves the continuation of previous undergraduate or graduate research that results in a doctoral dissertation. While earning their Ph.D., students typically complete comprehensive exams, advanced coursework and student teaching.

Professional certifications in major versions of software or programming languages, such as UNIX or Java, may also be useful to aspiring computer scientists. These certifications typically involve passing an exam.

Students interested in computer science and wishing to work as various kinds of software developers can earn a master's degree in computer science. Graduates may pursue doctorate degrees or seek professional certifications to broaden their employment opportunities.

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