Why This Matters


    More than 316,000 software developers are needed over the next decade to develop innovative software for a wide range of needs, from consumer electronics to health care policy enrollments.


    The demand for new approaches to computing technology, increased information security, and organizational systems to collect and store big data will create an estimated job growth of 11% in the fields of computer and information technology.


    With an average hourly wage of $51.69, the typical salary for software developers is more than two and a half times that of the average U.S. worker.

Our Research

This list covers graduate programs in software engineering that teach advanced principles of software engineering. Degrees offered include Master of Software Engineering, Master of Science in Software Development, and Master of Science in Systems Engineering. Programs on this list offer a combination of on-campus, online, and hybrid learning formats.

Accreditation is given to software engineering programs that uphold a high academic standard. The schools on our list receive either national or regional accreditation based on the quality of their curricula. The leading national accreditor for master’s programs in software engineering is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Programs on our list are also accredited by organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 60 hours to write this article
  • 201 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 232 education programs we compared

The Top 41 Master’s in Software Engineering Degree Programs

Best Master's in Software Engineering Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When choosing to study for a master’s degree in software engineering, you should also consider the master of computer science degree. Computer science programs focus on the relationship between data and computers and demonstrate how to write software and develop websites and applications. Software engineering programs share a similar curriculum but with a focus on programming languages and electrical engineering. Computer science incorporates specialized fields such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning and relies heavily on math and logic. Software engineering programs specialize in software testing, design, and development.

Certifications in software engineering can help give graduates a competitive advantage and may also increase their earning potential. Most certifications in the field of information technology require students to pass an exam to demonstrate their knowledge of each specialization. Certifications to consider include Microsoft Technology Associate Developer, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, and Citrix-Certified Associate-Virtualization.

The job outlook for software engineers is very positive, with a growth rate that is significantly higher than the national average. This demand is partly due to the need for new software that can keep up with mobile technology advancements.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching master’s programs in software engineering:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Students who wish to pursue a master’s degree in software engineering must hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as software engineering or computer science. Many programs will require a minimum GPA, and some may require professional work experience.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Master’s programs in software engineering require 18 to 24 months to complete. Many programs are designed for students who are also working full-time. The schools on our list require between 30 and 54 credits to graduate.

Research application requirements and deadlines for the programs to which you are applying. Visit the school’s website to find detailed application and admissions information.

Consider how you will fund the cost of your master’s degree. You could be eligible for scholarships and grants to reduce tuition fees. Some employers might also partially or fully cover the cost of your graduate education.