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The Best Online Software Engineering Master’s Programs of 2021

The primary consideration you need to make before pursuing a Master’s in Software Engineering is whether an online program will be worth it. Graduate degrees are not cheap. In 2018-19, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the annual cost of tuition and fees for the average graduate program was $19,314.

This article will help you decide whether the best online software engineering master’s degrees are worth your time and money. We break down the benefits, requirements, and career expectations for those who pursue a Master’s in Software Engineering. Read on to see how earning an online master’s can advance your tech career.

Top 10 Online Software Engineering Master’s Degrees of 2021 at a Glance

All of the following universities and colleges have physical locations in the United States. Most of these institutions offer an online Master’s in Software Engineering specifically. The other online graduate programs featured here touch on the subject of software engineering by way of an online Master’s Degree in Computer Science.

All of the details on costs are sourced from the schools’ websites. These are subject to change.

School and Degree Tuition Notes
Boston University Metropolitan College
Master of Science in Software Development
$29,280 per semester
$505 – $940 per credit hour
Full-time students
Part-time students
Brandeis University
Master of Software Engineering (MSE)
$3,535 per course All students
California State University, Fullerton
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$14,077 for full program
$25,957 for full program
Resident
Non-resident
Drexel University
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$1,342 per credit 25% discount for members of the military
East Carolina University
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$264 per credit hour
$994 per credit hour
Resident
Non-resident
Harvard University
Master of Liberal Arts in Software Engineering
$35,760 for full program All students
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$9,798 per year*
$19,077 per year*
Full-time resident
Full-time non-resident
University of Southern California
Master of Science in Computer Science,
Concentration in Software Engineering
$2,035 per unit All students
Stevens Institute of Technology
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$39,556 per year* Estimated cost for a full-time student
University of West Florida
Master of Science in Computer Science,
Concentration in Software Engineering
$425 per credit hour All students

*Includes fees

Benefits of an Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree

Pursuing an online Master’s Degree in Software Engineering can offer many benefits. If you’ve already attended an online software engineering undergraduate program and wish to expand your education, an online master’s program is a great way to achieve this.

Additionally, a master’s degree may open many doors for new opportunities in different fields. Earning a master’s degree can enhance your job prospects and even help you earn a promotion.

The benefits of pursuing a master’s degree online are listed below.

  • If you live or work in another state or country, you can still enroll.
  • You will not have to alter your existing schedule.
  • You will save a considerable amount on transportation, board, and other traditional university expenses.

What Are the Requirements for an Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree?

Most Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering will require you to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering, Computing, or Computer Science. Those three programs are listed specifically because of the strong mathematics component, which you need to succeed in a graduate program.

Most master’s degree programs will require you to have a GPA of at least 2.5. The most competitive programs require a 3.0 GPA.

If you do not come from a technical background, you can still enroll in a master’s program following the completion of two or three mandatory courses. These courses are meant to test your aptitude and give you the necessary foundation.

Choosing the Right Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree Program

As comprehensive as software engineering programs are, you still want to choose the program best suited to your needs and interests. When deciding which program to pursue, you may want to consider the questions below.

Do You Want to Go Into Academia?

For those who want a career in research, a master’s degree is often a stepping stone to a PhD. Some of the advanced classes in a software engineering master’s program will prepare you to conduct original research, write a dissertation, and contribute new knowledge to the field. If you see yourself in academia, choose a program that emphasizes these skills.

Are You Looking for a Promotion?

If you are earning a graduate degree, this can help set you up for promotion. You should research all the curricula and compare course offerings. The master’s program whose coursework is most in line with your career goals is the one for you.

Are you Transitioning Into Tech?

Perhaps you are working in another field altogether but are attempting to make a transition to find new employment opportunities. Most degree programs offer courses that will help facilitate this transition. If you’re considering this route, it may be a good idea to first build a foundation in software engineering by attending one of the best coding bootcamps.

Best Online Software Engineering Master’s Degrees in 2021

Best Online Software Engineering Master’s Degrees in 2021

Most of the schools on our list allow you to complete your Master’s Degree in Software Engineering online or in person. The list includes Master of Science (MS) degrees, Master of Liberal Arts degrees, and Master of Software Engineering (MSE) degrees. Some of the MS degrees are for computer science, but with a software engineering concentration.

Boston University Metropolitan College | Master of Science in Software Development

You need 32 credits and between 16 to 24 months to complete this software development program. The timing largely hinges on whether you are part-time or full-time. To be eligible to apply, you need a bachelor’s degree. It can be in any field as long as it is from an accredited school.

If you do not have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field, you will have to complete about eight credits’ worth of core courses. This alternative pathway means you can learn software development at an advanced level without an extensive background in computer science.

Brandeis University | Master of Software Engineering

You can enroll in this online master’s program as a part-time student. To complete it, you need 30 credits. These credits are made up of core courses alongside four electives based on your desired career path.

The foundational courses cover software development in Java, object oriented design with UML, and software development methodologies. This program also teaches DevOps and software testing techniques.

California State University, Fullerton | Master of Science in Software Engineering

Before you can enroll in this program, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree program in software engineering. You need a GPA of 2.5 if you have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. If you have an undergraduate degree in something else, you will need a 3.0 GPA to enroll in the master’s program.

The program should take you two years to complete. You will learn about systems and software standards, software verification and validation, software maintenance, and advanced software processes. The courses also cover software design and architecture, software management, and the legal side of software engineering.

Drexel University | Master’s of Science in Software Engineering

When you enroll in the master’s program at Drexel University, you can set your sights on mastering the behavioral and managerial aspects of the field. To be admitted into this program, you will need a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Computing or a related subject. You will need a cumulative 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate studies.

You will learn about software design, software reliability and testing, software architecture, requirements engineering, and project management. Project management is one of the unique things that sets this degree apart from a Master’s in Computer Science.

East Carolina University | Master of Science in Software Engineering

This program can be completed on campus or online. Once you have completed this program, you will have gained a comprehensive understanding of software systems.

You will learn how to design, maintain, and test software systems. You do not need to have a background in computer science, software engineering, or information systems to enroll in this program. However, you still need to demonstrate your competence in these areas before you can enroll.

Harvard University | Master of Liberal Arts in Software Engineering

Before you enroll in this program, you will be required to take a theoretical foundations course and a systems programming course. These courses confirm that you are a suitable candidate.

Through this degree, you will learn all about databases, communication protocols, cloud computing, and web frameworks.

University of Houston-Clear Lake | Master of Science in Software Engineering

To complete this program, you must complete 30 credit hours. Depending on how you pace yourself through these courses, you could finish in about 15 months. To enroll, you are expected to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a related field. You also need a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be accepted.

By the end of the program, you will know your way around requirements engineering, software construction, software architecture, software processes, and the software engineering life cycle.

University of Southern California | Master of Science in Computer Science, Concentration in Software Engineering

This computer science degree places emphasis on the software engineering side of computer science. Though this degree is named for computer science, it still covers the fundamentals needed to pursue a career in software engineering.

To complete this program, you need a minimum of 32 credit hours. The core software engineering courses will make up 12 of those credit hours.

Stevens Institute of Technology | Master of Science in Software Engineering

This program is offered online, on campus, or through corporate programs. This makes it very flexible for busier students.

You will learn about the software engineering life cycle, system design, testing, and maintenance. Once you have completed this program, you should be able to build and maintain secure software systems.

University of West Florida | Master of Science in Computer Science, Concentration in Software Engineering

This program teaches you how to work with advanced algorithms, as well as parallel and distributed programming. However, you are expected to have earned a bachelor’s degree in a related field with a GPA of 3.0.

The program is most suitable for people who are already working in the field. However, there are opportunities for people wishing to transition into computing and software engineering. These students will need to complete additional coursework before being admitted into this program.

What Can You Do With an Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree?

In studying software engineering, you will be exposed to employment opportunities in financial services, government, healthcare, information and computer systems, manufacturing, and media. All of these industries require the skills of a software engineer.

If you earn a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, you will find opportunities for promotion to management. You can also pursue a future in academia. In this role, you could teach software processes to budding application developers, web developers, and software engineers.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn With an Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree?

With a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, you could earn about $140,969 per year as a software engineering manager, according to PayScale. But there are many other high-paying opportunities for someone with a software engineering master’s degree. The next section surveys the top jobs, using salary data from PayScale.

103000
Min salary
141000
Average salary
179000
Top salary

Top Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree Careers

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Profession Approx. Average Salary
Software Engineering Manager $140,969
Principal Software Engineer $140,207
Lead Software Engineer $119,475
Senior Software Engineer $119,346
Software Development Engineer $111,417
Senior Full Stack Software Developer $103,844
Data Engineer $92,530
Software Engineer $87,373
Software Developer $72,542
Associate Software Engineer $71,670

Is an Online Software Engineering Master’s Degree Worth It in 2021?

Yes. Software engineering jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is faster than the projected growth for almost all other jobs. The earning potential is outstanding, and the expected increase in employment opportunities is icing on the cake.

Simply put, a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering will improve your employment prospects. Just know that many career opportunities are available to people with only a bachelor’s, so you should only pursue a master’s degree if it suits your needs and interests.

Find a training program that will help you start your tech career journey.

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