Online Master’s Software Engineering

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated March 16, 2024

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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Software is becoming increasingly important in our daily lives and across many industries. However, as software systems improve in capability, they become more sophisticated, leading to delays, defects, and vulnerabilities. The online master’s software engineering degree equips students with the knowledge and abilities needed to address these concerns and enter new markets where software can make a difference. A software engineer’s average base pay is $89,068 per year, making this an excellent choice for establishing a secure and prosperous career. Continue reading to learn more about the online software engineering master’s degree, its courses, accreditation, funding possibilities, and more.


Best Online Master’s in Software

Several universities in the United States are well-known for their online master’s software engineering degrees. However, prospective students must evaluate the college’s quality by examining aspects such as infrastructure, accreditation, program structure, lab facilities, graduation rates, and so on. With these and other considerations in mind, FBD researched numerous top universities and compiled a list of the best online master’s software engineering degree programs in the United States: *

Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is an Alabama public land-grant research university. Auburn is Alabama’s second largest university, with over 24,500 undergraduate students and a total enrollment of over 31,000 students and 1,400+ faculty members. The university is one of the “R1: Doctoral Universities with Very High Research Activity.”
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Auburn University Auburn, Alabama 36849 $10,080 81%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Online Master’s in
Software Engineering Program

The online master’s in software engineering degree program is about 30 to 36 credits and addresses the requirement that software engineers have a breadth of expertise in a variety of software engineering areas. They are intended to provide a thorough overview of contemporary software topics and methodologies. Students have an option to move through the program with the other members of their cohort from beginning to end and opt for traditional brick-and-mortar or entirely online classes. The master’s in software engineering frequently has a capstone project or thesis requirement, depending on the college and program. Many colleges ask students to work on a software project to show the fundamental practices of software engineering. To do this, the students apply the knowledge they have learned from their earlier coursework.

The online master of software engineering program provides students with a curriculum jam-packed with cutting-edge knowledge that is useful in the real world. Some of the courses include:

Software Architecture

This course investigates the architectural concepts and practices of sophisticated, large-scale software systems. The macro-level system architecture is covered in detail, with an emphasis on approaches to interconnection and distribution of both current and emerging architectural systems (e.g., model-view-controller, service-oriented, agent-oriented), as well as micro-level architecture, which includes patterns, frameworks, and component-based software engineering.

Requirements Engineering

The process of requirements engineering (RE) is essential to creating software. This course covers the engineering and software requirement definition procedures in detail. With a focus on software-intensive systems, strategies, tools, notations, and methods for eliciting, analyzing, modeling, negotiating, validating, defining, testing, and managing requirements will be studied.

Software Engineering

This course addresses the theoretical underpinnings of software engineering as well as how they are used in the design of software-intensive systems. Software engineering process models, project management and planning, software architecture and design, verification and validation, prototyping, and usability are just a few topics covered throughout the entire software development life cycle.

Software Testing and Verification

This course covers the theories, methods, and practices of formal program verification and software testing. The concept of quality in software development and the product is defined in the course, along with creating a quality/test strategy. The course strongly emphasizes testing methods, from unit testing to regression testing.

Some of the other core and elective courses one can expect in the software engineering master’s program include but are not limited to:

  • Web Security and Privacy
  • Design Patterns
  • Human Factors
  • Software System Design
  • Software Project Management
  • Cloud Computing
  • Game Design & Development
  • Software Evaluation and Measurement
  • Software Architecture and Component-Based Design
  • Software and OS Security
  • Emerging Software Engineering Processes
  • Web Service Engineering
  • Software Testing, Quality Assurance, and Maintenance
  • Mobile App Development
  • Embedded Systems
  • Database Design Concepts
  • Software Requirements Analysis and Engineering
  • Software Engineering Ethics and Legal Issues
  • Pattern-Oriented Design
  • Real-Time Systems
  • User Interaction Engineering
  • Formal Methods in Software Engineering

Degree Types for Online Master’s in Software
Engineering Programs

A software engineering master’s is primarily of three types – the Master of Arts in Software Engineering, the Master of Science in Software Engineering, and the Master of Software Engineering, explained below:

Master of Arts in Software Engineering (MA Software Engineering)

Through classes in the humanities and liberal arts, the Master of Arts in Software Engineering degree, often known as the MA in Software Engineering, focuses on learning software technology and how it may be applied to various industry sectors. An MA software engineering qualifies graduates for senior teaching jobs at academic institutions, but students rarely choose this degree type.

Master of Science in Software Engineering (MS in Software Engineering)

The Master of Science in Software Engineering, often known as the MS in Software Engineering, is a more scientific approach to software engineering that entails theory study and research. An MS software engineering gives hands-on experience in the field and prepares graduates for higher-level roles in the industry.

Master of Software Engineering

A Master of Software Engineering degree focuses on the development of practical skills. This degree is designed to educate students for careers in computer science, automation, digitalization, programming, and more while focusing on the practical application of software engineering ideas and skills to real-world scenarios.

Areas of Specialization in Online Master’s
in Software Engineering

A degree in software engineering is a specialization within the field of computer engineering and the computer science program. Nonetheless, numerous software engineering subcategories exist because a smooth process is critical to software engineering to avoid bugs and produce the best possible code for software execution. As a result, while there are no specific concentrations to choose from, it is possible to pursue variations of the software engineering degree, such as:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence is another area that is in high demand (AI). Major corporations, defense organizations, and other government institutions, such as NASA, frequently use complex types of software design.AI specialists, AI developers
Software Quality Assurance & TestingThe quality assurance process is an essential component of any software. Analysts perform quality assurance testing in a variety of settings to identify unusual occurrences and provide information to stakeholders about the product’s quality.Software tester, software quality assurance specialist
Software Design and DevelopmentSoftware development is the process of defining and designing software architecture, its various components, user interfaces, and so on. It also includes software coding, testing, and debugging.Software designer, software architect, software developer, programmer
Web, Game, & Mobile Application DevelopmentBecause of the diverse audiences who use them, designing and developing web applications, games, and apps for mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular.Web application designer, game developer, mobile app developer
Software Engineering Configuration ManagementIn any business, software updates and maintenance can be overlooked, but they are necessary to avoid deprecation and security vulnerabilities. Configuration management ensures the software’s long-term integrity.Software developer, software integrity checker, software security specialist

Why should I do an Online Master’s in
Software Engineering?

Professionals who want to learn how to create software products and services through software analysis, design and architecture, system verification, and data storage and retrieval should consider the online master of software engineering program. Additionally, those who want to stay innovative and promote improvements in the worldwide environment would find this program enriching and rewarding.

As a graduate, one can use one’s expertise in software development to implement new technologies in one of the industries with the fastest growth rates in business and government. The job market for the online software engineering master’s graduate (computer and information technology) has the potential to grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030, making the degree worth pursuing.

Among the many skills the program offers, students would acquire the ability to:

  • utilize modern engineering ideas, processes, and technologies to approach difficult engineering challenges and activities;
  • identify an issue, weigh various approaches, and employ software engineering principles to create a workable solution;
  • use scientific and mathematical methods to address issues in software engineering;
  • recognize the acceptable ethical, financial, and environmental ramifications of their activity;
  • successfully advance in the engineering field and maintain a lifelong learning process in engineering or other professional fields;
  • show leadership and the capacity to collaborate with others in a setting that includes engineering, scientific, and business disciplines;
  • efficiently convey ideas both orally and in writing.
  • demonstrate a thorough understanding of software engineering practice, from conception to analysis, design, validation, and deployment;
  • create issues, plan experiments, gather data, check it, validate it, analyze it, and interpret it to create a dependable system, part, or procedure that satisfies requirements; and
  • apply the methods, abilities, and cutting-edge tools for software engineering required for reliable and robust practice.

Free Courses for Online Master’s Software
Engineering Students

Although free courses rarely lead to certification recognized by academic institutions or employers, they provide additional information and knowledge on software engineering topics and may be helpful for research, assignments, or exams. Here are a few to consider:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Topics Related to Software EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) OpenCourseWare offers graduate-level courses and non-credit courses in various topics related to software engineering, including computer algorithms in systems engineering, program analysis, network and computer security, etc.MIT OpenCourseWare
Topics Related to Software EngineeringUdemy offers several courses on topics such as object-oriented design and architecture, data structures and algorithms, software architecture and design, etc. While most are reasonably priced, some are free.Udemy
Topics Related to Software EngineeringedX provides free courses from popular companies and universities such as IBM, Microsoft, Stanford, and Harvard on topics such as java programming, database queries, human-computer interaction, etc.edX

How to get into the Online Master’s in
Software Engineering Program?

Most online master’s software engineering degree programs need an undergraduate degree in a software or computer-science-related discipline, as well as a GRE or, in some circumstances, a GMAT score. A good background in Math, Physics, and Computer Science is clearly advantageous. Some schools may additionally require a good GPA and letters of recommendation. Because the specific requirements for one’s selected college may differ, it is always a good idea to double-check with the admissions office for the most up-to-date information. Some of the usual online master’s software engineering admissions requirements include:

Online Application & Application Fee

Completing an online application and paying the prescribed application fee.

Academic Transcripts

An official copy of academic transcripts from each college/university attended.

Undergraduate Degree + Grade Point Average

An undergraduate degree and Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or more.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Scores

An official copy of GRE or GMAT scores no older than 5 years.

Graduate Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

The latest résumé or CV that provides personal information and work experience.

Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose

A statement outlining how the program relates to the applicant’s career goals.

Letters of Recommendation

At least 2 letters of recommendation from those who can provide a thorough evaluation of the applicant’s abilities at the graduate level. 

Proof of English Proficiency

A document proving proficiency in English (if the native tongue is or education was not in English).

Online Master’s Software Engineering
No GRE Programs

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) tests a student’s capacity to finish graduate coursework independently. While there is a trend in numerous programs to make GRE results optional, it has not yet reached software engineering. As a result, finding a school that offers a master’s degree in software engineering without a GRE program is practically hard. An institution may leave out the GRE requirement in selective circumstances, but it will be more selective and have higher requirements for minimum undergraduate GPA, work experience, recommendation letters, and other criteria.

How Long does it take to complete the Online Master’s
Software Engineering Program?

Working full-time on an online master’s software engineering degree program will nearly always take roughly two years. Part-time students will need at least two to three years to complete their courses. However, the length of time required to graduate is determined by the courses and electives chosen, the concentration area, and whether or not one’s classes meet at the same time or at various times (synchronous or asynchronous). A thesis, capstone project, or internship can also influence the length of a program. A master’s degree in software engineering that requires 30 to 36 credits usually takes the following amount of time:

  • Time to complete a full-time online master’s in software engineering: about 2 years
  • Time to complete a part-time online master’s in software engineering: between 2 and 4 years

Accelerated Online Master’s Software
Engineering Programs

Only a few colleges offer accelerated master’s software engineering degree programs for working professionals who must manage school and work, as well as students who desire to complete their studies as soon as feasible. Such accelerated programs often combine a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, allowing students to complete both in 5 years instead of the standard 6 years. It should be noted, however, that enrolling in such programs would necessitate a significant investment of time and effort on the part of students.

Accreditations for Online Master’s Software
Engineering Programs

Accreditation is an important indicator of worth and quality. It demonstrates that a program’s curriculum adheres to high academic and industry standards and produces graduates capable of achieving professional success. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may accredit software engineering colleges or programs (occasionally in addition to national or regional accreditation). ABET is the leading organization that accredits software engineering schools by evaluating a variety of characteristics such as curriculum, student outcomes, student performance, labs and facilities, faculty qualification and experience, and other resources.

Independent organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) accredit colleges on a national or regional level. The most prevalent type of accreditation in the U.S. is regional accreditation granted by six organizations:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Students should confirm that the program they have chosen is accredited by ABET, a regional or national accreditation body, or both to guarantee quality. More information on accreditation is available in the Guide to College Accreditation.

How to Pay for an Online Master’s in Software
Engineering Program?

Getting an online master’s software engineering degree can be extremely pricey. According to data compiled by Education Data, the typical cost of a master’s degree in the U.S. is $66,340. Although many potential online students would save money on housing, food, and transportation, the high tuition fees remains a significant obstacle for many. However, students pursuing a master’s degree in software engineering online can be funded and may qualify for the following types of external funding:


Scholarships are popular among students since they do not require repayment and are relatively easy to come by. Candidates are chosen primarily based on their academic performance, and scholarships are given to individuals who have demonstrated both academic and personal excellence.


Grants, like scholarships, do not require repayment. The financial necessity of the applicant is usually given more weight than their academic record. The grant money can be used for tuition or other educational expenses.

Work-Study Programs

Students can earn some money for their tuition through work-study programs. Most of these professions are related in some way to a student’s academic or extracurricular pursuits. Work-study program participants learn vital skills and acquire work experience as well.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate teaching and research assistantships are available for students who want to work closely with professors in these capacities. In exchange for their time and effort, graduate assistants may be compensated monetarily or have some or all of their tuition covered.

Student Loans

Borrowing money in the form of a student loan is one option for covering the costs of higher education. Banks, other financial institutions, and the federal government all offer student loans. It is important to remember that interest is charged on loans; thus, borrowing money will increase the overall price of schooling. Understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans by reading about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans.


The Free Application For Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students must complete to determine if they are eligible for aid. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Read about What is Financial Aid? and find out everything there is to know about college funding in the How to Pay for College guide.

Scholarships for Online Master’s in Software
Engineering Students

Scholarships are the most effective means of covering the high cost of higher education. Since these funds are essentially free, fewer students will need to take on debt to finance their education. Scholarships are available to students from a wide variety of sources, including schools, non-profits, businesses, and individuals. Here are a few examples:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardDeadline
Google – Build Your FutureGoogle’s multiple scholarships enable young computer scientists to flourish in technology and become industry leaders. Scholarships will be awarded based on each applicant’s contribution to diversity, leadership experience, and academic credentials.VariesVaries
George E. Kohrman ScholarshipThe George E. Kohrman Scholarship is offered to Western Michigan University seniors studying in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.$1,500Closed for 2023 | TBA for 2024
APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women and Underrepresented MinoritiesTwo research internship programs are co-sponsored by the American Physical Society and IBM to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue graduate degrees in science and engineering.NAJanuary 31, annually

FAQs Related to the Online Master’s in
Software Engineering Program

What are the best software engineering online master’s?

The top software engineering master’s programs are accredited, offer specializations and program customization, and provide students with hands-on experience through lab or research work or internships. This page features some of the best online master’s software engineering degrees.

What can you do after a master’s in software engineering?

How many years is a master’s in software engineering degree?

How much does a master’s in software engineering cost?

Can I take a non-thesis master’s in software engineering online?

Is a master’s degree in software engineering worth it?

Master of Computer Engineering vs. Master of Software Engineering – what is the difference?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an Online
Master’s Software Engineering Degree

A master’s in software engineering degree can help graduates land high-level positions in the IT industry. It opens doors to high-paying careers in software design, project management, coding, information research, and more. Getting positions in management and specialized projections are possible too, and are generally available in tech-dependent sectors and industries. Some of the common job titles include but are not limited to:

  • Software Architect
  • Information Research Specialist
  • Computer Coder/Programmer
  • Computer and Information Research Scientist
  • Network Architect
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Senior Java Developer
  • Cloud Computing Specialist
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Senior Software Developer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 667,600 computer and information technology jobs are projected to be added between 2020 and 2030, making a huge potential for software engineering master’s graduates. Here are some examples of jobs in the field, as well as their median annual salaries and projected job growth:

Occupation Job Description Skills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030)
Computer and Information Research ScientistsComputer and information scientists create new applications for existing and emerging technology. They research and develop solutions to complex computing problems in science, medicine, business, and other fields.Logical thinking, problem-solving skills, math skills, analytical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, detail-oriented$131,49022% (much faster than average)
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and TestersSoftware developers create computer programs that allow users to complete specific tasks, as well as the underlying systems that power devices or control networks. Software quality assurance analysts and testers design and execute software tests to identify problems and learn how the software works.Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills, detail-oriented, creativity$110,14022% (much faster than average)
Computer and Information Systems ManagersComputer and information systems managers, also known as information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities within an organization. They help determine an organization’s information technology goals and are in charge of putting those goals into action through computer systems.Organizational skills, communication skills, analytical skills, business skills, decision-making skills, leadership skills$159,01011% (faster than average)
Computer ProgrammersComputer programmers write, modify, and test scripts and code that allow computers and software to function properly. They convert software developers’ and engineers’ designs into computer-readable instructions.Communication skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, detail-oriented$93,000-10% (decline)
Information Security AnalystsInformation security analysts design and implement security safeguards for a company’s computer networks and systems. They create security standards and test computer and network systems for vulnerabilities.Creative skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills, detail-oriented$102,60033% (much faster than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Master’s
in Software Engineering Students

Acquiring a professional certification in software engineering is a great way to round out one’s education and show employers that one has what it takes to do the job. The purpose of specialized advanced certifications is to attest to one’s technical competence in a subfield of software engineering. Many businesses and organizations provide master’s degree holders general, vendor-specific, and vendor-neutral (third-party) certifications. However, in certain circumstances, further qualifications and work experience may be necessary. Some instances are as follows:

Professional Software Developer Certification

The Professional Software Developer Certification tests a candidate’s knowledge and expertise in four subject areas: software requirements, software design, software construction, and software testing. Passing the IEEE Computer Society (CS) Online Exam is required for certification.

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)

The Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) certification recognizes top application security professionals. It proves to potential employers that the candidate has the in-depth technical skills required for authentication, authorization, and auditing across the software development lifecycle (SDLC) using best practices, standards, procedures, and policies published by (ISC)².

Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) Certifications

The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) provides several certifications on various topics at different levels of expertise and experience. Some certifications include:

In almost all instances, licensing is not required to work as a software engineer.

Additional Resources for Online Master’s in
Software Engineering Students

Peer relationships in the scientific and technical communities are critical for success in these fields. Professional organizations’ activities include conference sponsorship, journal publication, and editorial services. They help members get jobs and advance in their careers by setting educational and professional standards. Students and graduates of online master’s software engineering degrees would be wise to interact with such organizations to gain a better understanding of the field. Here are a few to consider:

Association for Women in Computing (AWC)

The Association for Women in Computing was one of the first professional organizations for women in computing (AWC). AWC is committed to advancing women in computer science careers. Programmers, operators, system analysts, Internet specialists, technical writers, trainers, and consultants are among its members.

Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) is a non-profit scientific organization dedicated to researching computer thought and intelligent behavior. AAAI promotes artificial intelligence research and application. It also aims to raise public awareness of artificial intelligence (AI), teach and train AI practitioners, and advise research planners and funders on the utility and potential of AI.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing organization, provides resources that aid in advancing computing as a science and a profession. ACM maintains the computing field’s leading Digital Library and provides cutting-edge publications, conferences, and career tools to its members and the computing profession.

IEEE Computer Society (CS)

To drive global technological advancement, the IEEE Computer Society (CS) brings together computer engineers, scientists, academics, and industry professionals from all fields of computing. IEEE CS empowers, shapes, and directs the future of its members and the industry as a whole through conferences, publications, and programs, creating new opportunities to better serve the world.

Computing Research Association (CRA)

The Computing Research Association (CRM) comprises over 200 North American computer science and engineering departments, labs, and institutes from industry, government, and academia. CRA collaborates with these organizations to represent computing research and influence change.

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.