Master of Science in Software Engineering: Online Degree

Find out about online master's degree programs in software engineering. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

While a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient to get a job in software engineering, a master's degree may help with career advancement. It is possible to complete the coursework for a master's degree in software engineering entirely online, but students may be required to complete a practicum, either through their current jobs or on campus. Applicants may need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area. Some schools require industry experience, and prior computer languages and other software engineering courses.

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

Master's Degrees in Software Engineering

Master's degree programs, such as the Master of Science in Software Engineering or Master of Software Engineering, are designed for the working professional. Some schools require industry experience as part of the admissions requirements. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area is also a common entry requirement.

Computer languages and other software engineering courses may be prerequisites and, in some cases, leveling courses are offered. The goal of these programs is to give students the latest software developing and programming techniques and prepare them to become innovators for the future of software.

Information and Requirements

These programs can be found through 100% online formats. Students can earn their degrees through full or part-time study options that allow for flexible completion time. Programs can be completed in as few as 16 months, while some schools have maximum time allowances.

A practicum may also be required which students can complete either on-campus or at their place of work. Courses can be enjoyed through asynchronous systems that allow the student to view lectures and reading materials at their convenience or through synchronous delivery that allows students to participate in classes as though they were in a traditional setting.

Common Courses

Because the field of software engineering progresses so swiftly, some schools offer a plan of study that evolves to keep pace with the discipline rather than requiring students to adhere to a static curriculum. Commonly offered courses include studies similar to the following:

Software System Modeling

This course will teach the student how to understand standard software models and why specific models are chosen for different system applications. Students completing this course should be able to understand, select and describe proper system models for projects and refine processes appropriately.

Software Development

Team leadership is taught through this course that presents the different aspects of project management. Students learn to develop projects by including factors such as team composition priorities, conflict resolution skills and time organization.

Software Development Management

Large project development phases are examined in this course. On completion, a student should understand topics such as environments, life-cycles, configuration controls and quality assurance.


Career Information

A systems software engineer can find entry-level work with a bachelor's degree, but some employers prefer a master's for more complicated projects. Experience is valued and students can gain practical field knowledge through internship programs while still in school.

Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that computer software engineers would see a 17% employment opportunity increase between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the BLS reported that all computer software engineers earned a median salary of $100,690.

Continuing Education Information

Students can gain additional training by pursuing voluntary credentials. For example, the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) offers professional certification in areas that include computer security, software development, measurement and analysis, software architecture and process improvement. Additional training can be found through the SEI's online courses in related areas, such as software product lines.

Online master's degree programs in software engineering typically offer courses in software modeling, development and development management, and some may require students to complete practica. Graduates may find work as software engineers, and additional training and certification is available.

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