If you enjoy working with computers—designing, developing, and testing software and applications—you might be interested in a career in software engineering. Going into this field can be very rewarding if you’re looking for a technology-based role that has job stability due to high projected growth. 

Advanced degrees such as a master’s in software engineering can boost your job prospects and earning potential. Read on to find out more about online master’s in software engineering degree programs. 

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering involves using computer languages to build applications and programs that can perform the tasks people need them to do. As a software engineer, you’ll use your programming knowledge to not only create software and applications but also to keep them functioning smoothly by fixing errors and releasing any necessary patches or updates.

While you can usually get a job in this field with a bachelor’s degree, earning a master’s degree in software engineering will make you more attractive to employers. With this degree, you’ll be qualified to take on a variety of job titles. The most common one is software engineer, but you’ll also have the right education for the following roles:

  • Database administrator
  • Computer and information systems manager
  • Web developer
  • Chief technology officer
  • Cybersecurity manager
  • Computer network architect

So, is getting a master’s degree in software engineering worth it? If you want a good chance at a variety of computer-based positions in growing fields, the answer is yes.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering? 

If you’re not sure if a Master’s in Software Engineering is the right educational path for you, consider a few ways to tell if it is. First, you should have an interest and a knack for using computer languages to direct software and applications to perform certain tasks. After all, this is what you’ll likely be doing most of your workday, so make sure you’re comfortable with coding.

Another reason to get a master’s degree in software engineering is that it’s a growing field. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that software developer jobs are expected to grow by 22% between 2020 and 2030. That’s much faster than the average expected job growth of 8% for most other fields. So if you’re not sure what makes a master’s degree in software engineering worth it, the growth of this job title—and the associated job security—is a big draw for many people looking for a career in technology.

Finally, software engineers tend to be highly paid. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for this job and related roles was $110,140 as of May 2020. That’s much higher than the average wage in the U.S., and there are opportunities to get an even higher salary. For instance, specializing in certain software engineering areas—such as manufacturing and software publishing—can increase your annual wage to about $120,000. 

How Much Does a Master’s in Software Engineering Cost?

Now that you know the average master’s degree in software engineering salary expectations, you might be wondering how much such a degree costs. The answer depends on where you go to school. While some universities can charge up to $60,000 for this degree, the average cost is much more affordable, as it’s closer to $30,000. And you can bring this price down further with some online options.  

Additionally, many online programs allow you to do the work at your pace, even on nights and weekends, which is helpful if you have a job that takes up your mornings and afternoons on weekdays. Finally, the tuition for online degrees is sometimes less expensive than comparable on-campus degrees, especially if you live out of state, as some colleges give online students the in-state tuition rate. A typical range for online master’s in software engineering degree programs is $7,000 to $35,000.

10 Master’s Degree in Software Engineering Online Degree Programs 

If you’re thinking about getting a Master of Science in Software Engineering online, there are dozens of trusted colleges that offer a great education while charging affordable tuition. Whether you have a related bachelor’s degree already or are looking for a program that offers a master’s degree for non-engineers, there’s likely a school that’s right for you. Take a look at 10 online master’s in software engineering degree programs.

Arizona State University – Master of Science in Engineering (Software Engineering)

Annual Tuition: $8,249

Pre-requisites: Bachelor of Science in computer engineering or related field; 3.0 GPA

Bellevue University – Master of Science in Computer Information Systems – Software Development

Annual Tuition: $11,250

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree; 2.5 GPA; completion of MA 215 Applied Statistics and CIS 245 Introduction to Programming or CSD 320 Programming in Java

California State University Fullerton – Master of Science in Software Engineering

Annual Tuition: $7,050

Pre-requisites: BA or BS in software engineering or related major; 2.6 GPA

Columbus State University – Master of Science in Applied Computer Science – Software Development

Annual Tuition: $6,000

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field; 2.75 GPA or GRE score of 290 or above; resume showing academic achievements or professional experience in software engineering

Middle Georgia State University – Master of Science in Information Technology – Software Development

Annual Tuition: $3,871

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree in IT, CS, MIS, or related field; 2.75 GPA or 2.5 GPA with work experience

North Dakota State University – Master of Software Engineering

Annual Tuition: $6,688

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree; 3.0 GPA; ability to design a program with many interacting classes that total at least 100 executable statements

Strayer University – Master of Science in Information Systems – Software Engineer Management

Annual Tuition: $6,780

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree; 2.5 GPA

Texas Tech University – Master of Science in Software Engineering

Annual Tuition: $9,732

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or similar field

University of Houston Clear Lake – Master of Science in Software Engineering

Annual Tuition: $10,600

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree; 3.0 GPA; completion of courses in Java and C++

University of West Florida – Master of Science in Computer Science – Software Engineering

Annual Tuition: $4,536

Pre-requisites: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field; 3.0 GPA; GRE scores; work experience preferred

Common Courses in Software Engineering Master’s Programs

No matter where you get a master’s degree in software engineering, there are certain courses you’ll likely have to take. After all, every school strives to teach at least the basics of software engineering, along with some additional skills you’ll need when you enter the workforce in this role.

Some of the most common courses you’ll see include the following:

  • Software systems engineering
  • Software architecture
  • Software engineering processes
  • Software risk management
  • Software security technologies
  • Quality assurance and testing for software
  • Software project management

FAQs About Master’s in Software Engineering Degrees and Programs

How much do Master’s in Software Engineering graduates typically earn in salary?

The BLS reported that the median annual salary for software developers and related job titles was $110,140 as of May 2020. It can vary from about $65,000 to $170,000 per year, with entry-level jobs likely to pay toward the former amount and advanced jobs paying closer to the latter.

What is the job outlook for Master’s of Software Engineering graduates?

According to the BLS, the job outlook for this field is very strong, with a projected growth rate of 22% between 2020 and 2030. This may equate to about 189,000 job openings every year for software developers.

Are there specializations associated with a master’s degree in software engineering?

If you decide to get this degree, you can specialize depending on where your interests lie. For example, you can focus on designing applications that the public will use, including games and software. You can also become a systems software developer, in which you create operating systems. Other specializations include working on geographic information systems, embedded systems, and network systems.

How long does it take to get a master’s degree in software engineering?

Graduate school takes about two years on average to finish. So, how long does it take to get a master’s degree in software engineering? Two years is about average for this degree, too. But you can reduce that amount of time by taking more classes than average.

In fact, it’s possible to find 1-year master’s programs, especially if you go to school online. If you need to work full-time while earning your degree, you can go to school part-time and graduate within about three years. Online programs often allow you to go at your own pace, taking more or fewer credit hours as needed until you graduate with your degree.

Sources:

BLS  – Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

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