Best Online Master’s in Software Engineering Degrees

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Best Online Master's in Software Engineering Degrees Badge

An online master’s in software engineering is a flexible and smart solution for anyone looking for a graduate degree in computer science.

Whether you’re already working as a programmer or looking to make yourself more competitive in the marketplace, you know that having advanced degrees in software engineering will help you to stand apart from the pack.  

Computer science professions demand some of the best minds in the world, and account for some of the top rated jobs in the United States. 

Being a full-time student is demanding, especially for those already working.  For those students, an online master’s in software engineering could be the perfect program to increase knowledge, expand your skill set, and earn an advanced degree to really differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Software Engineering Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
3 Auburn University Auburn, AL
4 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
5 Boston University Boston, MA
6 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
7 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA
8 Brandeis University Waltham, MA
9 Depaul University Chicago, IL
10 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ

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Recommended Online Programs

What Kind of Online Degree Should You Get?

As more and more people begin to pursue college educations at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, all online degree programs are becoming more and more common.

That means the technology of delivering these online courses is also always improving, and today getting an online degree comes with many of the same resources that actually attending a physical campus does, including access to the materials in the school’s library for research, direct access to instructors for questions and concepts you’re having trouble with, and a unique connection to the community of other online students.

This is especially true at the graduate level, and online master’s programs are becoming very common, even at schools with little to no online undergraduate offerings.  Due to the research-intensive or field-focused nature of graduate and master’s programs, an online master’s degree begins to make a lot of sense.

This is especially true for a subject like software engineering, where course materials and even programming projects can be completed easily and seamlessly via cloud-based solutions, just as easily as they could be created on a physical on-campus PC. Looking for more online degree options? Check out our list of the top online universities.

How Much Money Do People Make with an Online Master’s in Software Engineering?

Software engineers are in high demand across many industries, and can be a very lucrative career – especially for a specialized programmer. For instance, according to O*Net Online, in 2015 the median annual salary of an application software engineer was $98,260, and the median salary of a systems software engineer was $105,570.

Another well known source for salary data, PayScale.com, reports that in general, software engineers who have a Master’s degree have annual salaries of around $79,000, compared with an annual salary of $68,424 of software engineers possessing only a Bachelor’s degree.  In addition, software engineer jobs often come with benefits like profit sharing, health benefits, and generous bonuses.

What Can You Do with an Online Master’s in Software Engineering?

Depending upon the specialization of your particular Master’s degree in Software Engineering, you can find work developing many different types of software, including business applications, computer games, or operating systems.

Software engineers are often hired as application developers to develop software solutions for a company’s needs.  It is also common to find work as a systems software engineer, overseeing a company or organization’s computer systems and its needs, including server software to ensure that all workstations are properly connected to the company’s servers, and to each other.

Your skills also will qualify you for research and development positions in universities and private or national labs, and for a wide variety of programming positions developing software and algorithms for everything from video poker to health insurance.

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

Every college and university is unique, but in general, most Master’s programs in Software Engineering require at a minimum a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, or a related degree.

Many schools have minimum GPA requirements for their program, and while some schools do require a General GRE score for admission, there are certainly exceptions to this rule, so it is a good idea to research schools before you decide whether to take the GRE or not.

What Are the Best Online Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering?

Below, you’ll find our ranking of the best online Master’s degrees in Software Engineering at US colleges and universities.  Many of these schools are known for their software engineering programs and are expanding into online offerings, while others are expanding into the realm of online learning with a focus on information technology.

Some offer online programs at the undergraduate level, but this is certainly not universal – so, if you’re looking for both undergraduate and graduate level programs, we’d refer you to our listing of the best online Bachelor’s degrees.

Our college rankings consider the way each of these schools approaches the Master’s degree in software engineering, and how well they serve their online students.  Our ranking system is based upon three important factors:  institutional excellence, student success (or ROI), and student satisfaction.

Institutional excellence is measured across a variety of data points including graduation rates, placement rates, test scores, and student-faculty ratio.  Student success, or return on investment, is determined by considering tuition costs and the availability of financial aid vs. expected salary and post-grad debt, and is based on data from the National Center from Education Statistics, PayScale, U.S. News, and other sources.

Finally, student satisfaction considers actual reviews from students in the program you’re interested in, sourced from a variety of websites and publications.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Universally hailed as one of the best schools in the world, Harvards graduate schools, and its online Masters in Software Engineering in particular, are unsurprisingly top-notch. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and its online Masters program in software engineering is offered through Harvards Extension School. In this program, students are given the tools they need to understand current technologies in databases, communication protocols, cloud computing, and more.

    Program Features

    The online Masters in Software Engineering is available for students who have experience in object-oriented programming languages such as C++ or Java, and a knowledge of discrete mathematics. A programming certificate is available for students who need to strengthen this background. Notable courses include:

    Theoretical Foundations Data Communications Cloud Computing Systems Programming Software Design

    Notables

    Students in Harvards online Masters program for software engineering have the option of pursuing a thesis or capstone tracked program. In the thesis track, students work with a thesis director on the faculty to perform research on a subject the student and thesis director choose. In the capstone track, students work to create a capstone project, taking an ambitious software engineering project from concept to completion. During the Masters program, students may also pursue graduate certificates in data science, cybersecurity, or web technologies.

  2. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Established in 1754 by King George II, Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university consistently ranked as one of the best schools in the country for nearly any subject. With more than 33,000 students across 20 colleges and schools, Columbia University is among the most prestigious and selective institutions in the country only 6% of applicants are accepted, according to recent data.

    Program Features

    Students in Columbia Universitys online Masters in Software Engineering will complete a series of required core courses, a selection of four breadth courses, and a number of electives while pursuing their online Masters degree. Students who have previously had courses or experience to waive one or more of the programs required courses may choose from additional elections, either from the Masters program track, or from other graduate courses.

    Programming Languages Translators Operating Systems Database System Implementation User Interface Design Security Architecture and Engineering

    Notables

    The Online Masters in Software Engineering at Columbia University is a highly focused track for students who want an exceptional education in software development and in software systems technologies and methodologies. Software, of course, plays a vital role in nearly every part of our lives in the highly connected and computer-driven world we live in, and this program empowers students with the understanding and mastery of both classic and current computer software environments, while also providing fundamentals to enable students to keep up with new developments through self-study techniques.

  3. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Auburn University was chartered in 1856 by the Alabama legislature as East Alabama Male College. Originally operating under the oversight and guidance of the United Methodist Church, this college grew and transformed over the years, eventually becoming Auburn University today. After the Civil War, the university was transferred to the control of the State of Alabama, and away from the United Methodist Church, which meant increased funding and a broader curriculum for the school.

    Program Features

    Students pursuing a Masters degree in Software Engineering will receive a non-thesis MSwE degree, with a course of study that spans many topics in computer science and software engineering. As a non-thesis program, the Master of Software Engineering degree culminates in a capstone software engineering design project.

    Web Application Development Object-Oriented Technologies Database Systems Theoretical Computer Science Network Design Analysis

    Notables

    Auburn University students are able to pursue the schools unique Master of Software Engineering degree entirely online. In the program, students learn all the necessary techniques and technology they need to succeed in todays demanding and competitive industries, learning skills from across the spectrum of software development. Students will receive instruction as to prototyping, troubleshooting, planning and building software in nearly any modern and classic language. The program is available entirely online, never requiring students to visit the Auburn campus.

  4. Lewis University
    Location

    Romeoville, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A Catholic University located in Romeoville, IL, Lewis University offers unique and distinctive programs of study at both the undergraduate and graduate level to over 7,000 students, including many adult and non-traditional students. Lewis Universitys programs include several online degrees and has developed a reputation for accessibility and convenience for a wide variety of students. Lewis University provides its students with highly customizable degree programs with an aim of creating programs which are immediately applicable to the industry.

    Program Features

    Lewis University offers a Master of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering which is available entirely online. This program is customized based on students areas of interest, but potential projects in the concentration will include a wide variety of software applications, and instruction ranges from development to documentation to testing and troubleshooting techniques used industry-wide by software developers.

    Computer Graphics Data Visualization Object-Oriented Design Pervasive Application Development Software Vulnerabilities and Defenses

    Notables

    Lewis Universitys MS in Computer Science program offers several concentrations, including Software Engineering, and is available entirely online. In this program, students develop software for a variety of platforms, including mobile devices, the web, and several operating systems. Students gain experience designing data storage systems, incorporate security protocols and protections, and learn to properly model, test, and document software for collaborative development. Students at Lewis are instructed by faculty with experience in the industry, and leave the program as a formidable software developer ready to keep up with todays trends in enterprise level applications.

  5. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Boston University has been classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a research university featuring very high research activity. As a member of the Boston Consortium for Higher Education, Boston University lives up to this reputation as one of the most prestigious and important research universities in the nation. In 1867 the school moved to Boston from its original home in New Jersey, and it remains there today.

    Program Features

    Boston University offers an all-online Master of Science in Software Development degree at its Metropolitan College, or MET for short. The MSSD degree is designed to meet the growing demand for highly proficient software developers across all sectors of industry, and across many different computing platforms and programming languages, including methods for developing mobile and cloud-based software solutions. The MSSD is available part-time in evenings on campus for students who wish to attend the school physically in addition to fully online.

    Information Structures with Python Data Structures and Algorithms Information Systems Design Analysis Server-Side Web Development Mobile Application Development

    Notables

    Students at Boston University enjoy unique access to the schools custom designed Master of Science in Software Engineering degree, in which students receive intensive instruction across multiple programming languages, many frameworks, and many theoretical environments allowing them to apply their skills to such modern and innovative fields as mobile development and cloud computing. With a focus on the latest trends in software developments, students who complete Boston Universitys MSSD program will be ready to hit the ground running as they enter the workforce. Online students never need to visit the Boston University campus to complete this degree.

  6. Carnegie Mellon University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1900 by American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the school that would become Carnegie Mellon University was initially built on the hope to create opportunities for the children of nearby mill workers in Pittsburgh. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged from the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University. Today, the university has a student body of more than 13,000 students.

    Program Features

    Students at Carnegie Mellon are able to pursue a MS in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. In this program, students receive instruction as to developing large software applications from the conceptual phase through development, testing, and deployment. Students in this program not only learn relevant programming and technical skills, but also the management savvy and interpersonal skills they need to work on a team. The Masters program is available entirely online, never requiring a student to visit the Carnegie Mellon Campus.

    Software Architecture Project Management Technical Planning Risk Management Software Assurance

    Notables

    Online students at Carnegie Mellon have unique choices for their software engineering masters degree: a Master of Software Engineering, or MSE, MS in Information Technology with a Software Engineering Concentration, or the MSIT degree with a concentration in Software Engineering Management. These programs are available entirely online and can be completed in short or longer time frames from 12 months of full-time study for the MSIT-Software Engineering degree to 3 years of part-time study for the MSIT-Software Engineering Management. These programs emphasize managerial and technical leadership, making them an excellent option for working professionals looking to take their tech career to the next level.

  7. California State University-Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Originally opened in 1959 as Orange County State College, California State University Fullerton was the 12th school in the state of California authorized to grant degrees. Its original purpose was to provide higher education opportunities to an under-served area of the state. Over the following years the school underwent many changes and evolutions as the state worked to streamline its college and university system, eventually becoming California State University Fullerton in 1972.

    Program Features

    The MS program in software engineering offered entirely online at California State University Fullerton provides opportunities for professional developers or others working in the computer science field to take their careers tot he next level. Consistently ranked among the best software engineering programs nationwide, CSU Fullertons MS in software engineering is known for its dedication to student services and the expertise of its faculty.

    Systems and Software Standards Software Maintenance Software Design and Architecture Software Project Management Ethics in Software Development

    Notables

    The online MS in software engineering at CSU Fullerton takes a slightly different approach to student learning. It offers eight strands of instruction: critical thinking, research, assessment and appraisal, software processes, communication, collaboration, comprehension, and legal and ethical issues. Students in this program receive a very unique and broad-reaching level of instruction and work together in teams to complete large projects which advance in stages as the group works toward completing their degrees. The MS in Software Engineering at CSU Fullerton can be completed over a span of 22 months, and is available, of course, entirely online.

  8. Brandeis University
    Location

    Waltham, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Occupying what was once the Middlesex University, a medical university that closed due to financial issues, Brandeis University was founded by the local Jewish community, and is named after the first Jewish US Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis. Founded on the belief that students would never be accepted or denied admission based upon race, gender, or creed, but rather on their level of intelligence and dedication to academics.

    Program Features

    The Software Engineering program at the Brandeis GPS, or school of Graduate and Professional Studies, students can learn alongside other professionals seeking to advance their careers. The program prepares students to apply current best practices in software engineering from design and developing to ongoing operations and maintenance. Students are instructed in the use of many different technologies and within the context of various organizational structures.

    Object-oriented Design with UML Software Development Methodologies Software Testing Techniques Ruby Programming Mobile Applications and Responsive Web Design

    Notables

    The MS of Software Engineering program at Brandeis university is a unique program tailored to working professionals and adults seeking continuing education in their field. Students in the program will focus on applying best practices in software engineering to take a project from concept to completion and beyond. Collaboration and communication in a team environment is encouraged and necessary for the course of study, and the program is available entirely online, with no need to students to visit the Brandeis campus.

  9. Depaul University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private university founded in 1898, DePaul University is a popular school featuring five campuses in and around the Chicago, IL area. With a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,407, and several individual colleges including the School for New Learning, which is targeted to adult students, and the CDM Schools, the College of Computing and Digital Media, home of the online Masters in Software Engineering.

    Program Features

    The Masters degree in software engineering on offer at DePaul University provides students with a skill set which is widely applicable, in high demand, and lucrative. The discipline of software engineering is broken down into methodologies, processes, techniques, and tools necessary to develop very high-quality software systems in an efficient and cost-effective manner, making DePaul graduates excellent candidates for software engineering jobs.

    Entrepreneurship Technology Leadership Real-Time Game Systems Software Architecture Software Development

    Notables

    The Software Engineering online Masters program at DePaul emphasizes the best practices in software engineering and focuses on emerging technologies and their applications across several industries. With concentrations available in game systems, software architecture, and technology leadership, students in the online Masters in Software Engineering program can prepare themselves for the job they truly want while learning all aspects of software engineering, including testing, architecture, UI design, and more. The program also places strong emphasis on the development of communication and cooperation skills in a collaborative team-based development environment.

  10. Arizona State University-Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Arizona State University opened in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School, and since then has grown massively. With its main campus in Tempe, Arizona, Arizona State University has expanded to five additional campuses around the greater Phoenix metro, and online students who have the freedom to attend from anywhere. In 2014, Arizona State University adopted the New American University education model, and has grown rapidly as a result.

    Program Features

    The MS in Software Engineering at Arizona State University is focused on developing advanced skills and abilities for software design and implementation. Students apply engineering principles to programming, and learn operation principles, design methodologies, and testing and maintenance best practices in order to ensure that they are perfectly prepared to be a formidable force in the world of software development.

    Advanced Data Structures Algorithm Analysis Emerging Language and Programming Paradigms Inception and Elaboration Project and Process Management

    Notables

    Students at Arizona State University interested in an online masters degree in software engineering will pursue a MS in Engineering with a Software Engineering concentration. This is unique in that the program begins with engineering foundations, and applies those methods to software engineering. By examining actual case studies and working with real world problems, students will be able to enter the very competitive software engineering industry with applicable skills and real world experience. The program is available entirely online, with no need to visit the campus.

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