The 10 Best Online
Software Engineering Master's Degree Programs of 2021

Software engineers are among the most in-demand experts in the tech industry today. If you are already in the field and looking for a competitive advantage, getting an online software engineering master’s degree is a great option. This is the best way to become a software engineer.

In this piece, you will find a list of the best online Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering. You will find some of the benefits of a degree in software engineering as well as some of the highest-paying jobs for software engineers with a master’s degree.

At a Glance: The Top 10 Software Engineering Master's Degrees of 2021

The table below includes the school names, software engineering program names, and estimated tuition. The data on the following table was obtained directly from the website of each school. Note that tuition is subject to change.

School and Degree Tuition Notes
Brandeis University
Master of Software Engineering
$3,535 per course All students
California State University, Fullerton
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$2,082
per semester
All students
Drexel University
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$1,355 per credit All students
East Carolina University
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$289 per credit hour
$1,020 per credit hour
In-state
Out-of-state
Harvard University
Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies,
Software Engineering
$2,980 per course All students
Illinois Institute of Technology
Master of Computer Science,
Software Engineering
$1,614 per credit All students
Stevens Institute of Technology
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$19,038 per semester All full-time students
University of Southern California
Master of Science in Computer Science,
Software Engineering
$1,995 per unit All students
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Master of Science in Software Engineering
$100 per credit
$478 per credit
In-state
Out-of-state
West Virginia University
Master of Software Engineering
$630 per credit hour All Students

Why You Should Pursue a Software Engineering Master's Degree Online

An online master’s degree is as good as one obtained from a traditional school. The critical difference is that you can take online classes from any location as long as you have internet access. This flexibility allows you to work with the schedule you already have.

Some schools allow online students to opt for a self-paced curriculum, while others focus on live lessons. Learning from home also eliminates transportation and on-campus housing costs.

  • Getting your degree online offers scheduling flexibility.
  • You can access lower tuition costs without compromising quality. Most schools also offer financial aid options.
  • You will most likely spend less money overall because you can avoid transportation costs and other fees.

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

To get a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, you will need an undergraduate degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related field. While requirements for admission depend on the school, a master’s degree is meant for students who already have a background in software engineering.

Most online programs require you to have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or higher. If your GPA is too low, you may need to complete a pre-master’s before applying for a master’s degree. Without an undergraduate degree, you will need many years of relevant work experience to qualify.

Top 10 Online Software Engineering Master's Degrees: 2021 List

If you’re looking for more details about the best Master’s Degrees in Software Engineering, read the list below. It contains a summary of the top 10 schools and the program each one offers.

Brandeis University | Master of Software Engineering

This is an accredited university located in Waltham, Massachusetts. The current graduation rate at the school is 89 percent, and it has a part-time online software engineering master’s degree with flexible options.

The Master of Software Engineering degree offers concentrations in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and advanced aspects of software engineering. It would help if you have an undergraduate degree covering data structures, software engineering, and computer programming.

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

This public school is one of the best in the California school system for software engineering and other applied sciences. The graduation rate is 83 percent, and it is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The curriculum includes courses on software architectural design, project development, Agile development, and software engineering ethics. Note that the program is designed for professionals. Those without a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering may apply if they have equivalent work experience.

Drexel University | Master of Science in Software Engineering

Drexel University is a private school in Philadelphia. The tuition is relatively high, even for the online software engineering master’s degree. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and it has a graduation rate of 70 percent.

The software engineering syllabus follows a 10-week quarter system. Courses include network security, information visualization, machine learning, human-to-machine interaction, and more.

East Carolina University | Master of Science in Software Engineering

East Carolina University allows students to choose between online and in-person classes for the software engineering master’s degree. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The software engineering master’s degree was introduced in 2008. It gives professionals the skills they need to advance in their careers. Courses include object-oriented design, software project management, systems architecture, programming languages, and more.

Harvard University | Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Software Engineering

Harvard University is considered the best university in the United States. However, keep in mind that admission into graduate programs at Harvard is not easy. The New England Commission of Higher Education accredited school has an acceptance rate of less than five percent and a graduation rate of 97 percent.

Whether you have an undergraduate degree or not, you need to pass two mandatory courses before applying for the master’s program. The curriculum covers databases, web frameworks, software design, and other in-demand technologies.

Illinois Institute of Technology | Master of Computer Science, Software Engineering

This institute of technology is one of the oldest in Illinois, and it has an acceptance rate of 60 percent. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Note that this is not a specific software engineering degree, but a Master’s Degree in Computer Science with a software engineering specialization.

You will learn all the core courses of software engineering like object-oriented design, software testing, and software project management. Students may choose between the Master of Science in Computer Science and the Professional Master of Computer Science.

Stevens Institute of Technology | Master of Science in Software Engineering

Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, this private school is another excellent option for an online software engineering degree. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and it has a graduation rate of 83 percent.

The online software development program is just as good as the traditional option. Students learn about software architecture, Agile methodologies, software engineering, software project management, and cost estimation. Students with a bachelor’s degree must present their transcript and GRE test score and pay $60 for registration.

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

Since it was founded in 1880, this school has maintained a standard of high-quality education. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and it has a graduation rate of 92 percent. Just like the Illinois Institute of Technology, USC offers software engineering as a specialization in computer science.

During the program, you will learn software architecture, software testing, algorithms, and computer science fundamentals. You will need to pass all 32 units to receive the degree.

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

This Texas-based university has been around since 1971. It has a high acceptance rate of about 74 percent. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Apart from software engineering, you will also pick up management, collaboration, and many other transferable skills during the program. You will need to submit your undergraduate transcript, resume, GRE score, and letter of recommendation from a professor or professional colleague during application.

West Virginia University | Master of Software Engineering

WVU is one of the most accessible public schools for admissions in the United States, with an admissions rate of 84 percent per session. It has branches in different parts of the world, but the main campus is in Morgantown, West Virginia. This university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

During the software engineering master’s degree program, you will learn advanced software development, software project management, and everything you need to know to provide functional software-based solutions across industries.

Choosing the Right Online Software Engineering Master's Degree Program

Whether you’re looking for an in-person or online software engineering degree, you need to consider certain factors to ensure that you are making the right choice for your future. While cost is important, you should also compare curriculums, accreditation, and program reputation.

Curriculum

The curriculum strength matters because it is the first step to getting a quality education. Some schools allow students to customize their education track. Even when you customize your curriculum, make sure that the school makes room for theoretical and practical lessons.

Accreditation

The online university has to be accredited by a regulatory body. If the school only offers online courses, it should be accredited by the Distance Education & Training Council (DETC).

Accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS) are also among the best for online schools.

Program Reputation

Universities tend to have a reputation for efficiency in specific programs. For instance, a school with excellent liberal arts programs that lack in applied sciences is not the best choice for a software engineering degree. Do some research to get a feel for the way your program is regarded in the industry.

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

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

With a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, you can become a senior software developer, senior software engineer, or senior game developer. You could also become a web developer or enter more broad computer science fields.

Senior Software Developer

Average Salary: $111,003

Senior software developers are those in managerial positions. They take the lead during software development projects and ensure that other developers follow predetermined specifications.

Senior Software Engineer

Average Salary: $119,651

If you already have years of software engineering experience, a master’s degree can allow you to become a senior software engineer who takes the lead during significant development projects.

Senior Game Developer

Average Salary: $113,296

These experts build gaming interfaces along with a team of junior developers and designers. However, they take the lead and are often responsible for communicating a client’s needs to the rest of the team.

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

According to PayScale, developers with a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering earn an average of $86,919 annually. The salary can vary depending on the location, job description, years of experience, and company.

Is an Online Software Engineering Master's Degree Worth it in 2021?

Yes, an online master’s degree is worth it in 2021 for anyone who wants to specialize in software engineering. A Master’s Degree in Software Engineering also increases your chances of getting managerial positions in the tech industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for software engineer jobs will surge by 22 percent by 2029. This is 18 percent above the national average. So, you can get your Master’s Degree in Software Engineering and be sure that your career will stay relevant.

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