What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Software Engineering Program?

In an online master’s in software engineering program, you can expect the same academic quality as on-campus programs. They’re an excellent option for professionals already working in the field, as the lack of commute gives you more time to keep up with all your job responsibilities. When choosing an online master’s program in software engineering, compare the cost, curriculum, and other details to find the best match for your personal needs and professional development.

Available concentrations

Software engineering is often offered as a concentration within a master’s in engineering or computer science program. When software engineering is presented as its own master’s program, you may find concentrations available like the ones listed below.

  • Back-End Web Development: Focuses on building and maintaining the technology needed to run the administrator side of a website.
  • Web Technologies: Covers the tools and techniques to build dynamic, database-driven web applications and websites.
  • Data Science: Explores how to analyze data and apply statistical methods to marketing, finance, and product design disciplines.
  • Cybersecurity: Examines the measures you must take to protect a computer or computer system from unauthorized access and cyber threats.

Common degree curriculum

This degree program prepares you to tackle complex software and systems challenges, including all aspects of software development, and advanced knowledge in technical planning, risk management, project management, and software architecture. 

While the exact curriculum depends on which school you attend and whether you select a concentration, most programs have specific core courses in common, including:

  • Web Development: Explore programming for web design and development and how writing code can shape the future of the internet.
  • Software Architecture: Learn how to select appropriate software design patterns and when to use various types of programming.
  • Web Security and Privacy: Explore the latest techniques in cybersecurity and how to protect computer systems against threats effectively.
  • Software Verification and Validation: Learn how to improve software development processes using various verification and validation theories and practices.
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues for Software Engineers: Examine computer privacy, intellectual property laws, and professional codes of ethics.
  • Managing Software Development: Develop the skills required to lead a team and manage resources for a software development project.

Certification and license preparation

You can become certified in various programming languages and software programs. Such certifications will help you bolster your resume, impress hiring managers, and advance your career. Your online master’s in software engineering can prepare you for any of the following certifications, which are among the most valuable for workers in this field:

  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional: This vendor-neutral credential is globally recognized and relevant to numerous programming and development projects.
  • Oracle Certification: Any professional certification from Oracle can help improve your employment prospects. Oracle offers certification exams in various subject areas, including servers, storage, customer experience, and enterprise resource planning.
  • C/C++ Certifications: The C++ Institute and Pearson VUE offer numerous professional certifications for the popular C and C++ programming languages. 

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may have trouble accessing financial aid or transferring credits to another institution if needed. Ideally, your program will also be approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology — this organization holds software engineering programs to an exceptionally high standard.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in software engineering programs typically require 30 to 36 credits, which should take about two years to finish as a full-time student. If you attend school part-time, expect the program to take three to four years. If your program requires a thesis, this will also increase the time it takes to earn your degree. Some programs offer accelerated six-week or eight-week term formats that let you finish sooner.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Software Engineering Graduates

This degree is one of the best for those concerned about job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the total number of jobs is projected to increase by just 3% over the next decade, most occupations related to software engineering are expected to grow at a double-digit rate. That means there will be plenty of employment opportunities available once you graduate.

A master’s in software engineering is also excellent for those who want to earn a high income. Indeed, most jobs in this field offer six-figure salaries.

However, you should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher salaries. For example, the average salary for software developers in California is over twice that in North Dakota.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)

Software Developer

Software developers create computer programs, develop applications, and work on the underlying systems that run devices or control networks.

$124,200

25%

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect computer systems from hacking and other cyber threats.

$112,000 

32%

Computer/Information Research Scientist

In this role, you would focus on designing new approaches to computing technology and finding innovative uses for existing technology.

$136,620

23%

Professional organizations

Affiliation with professional associations looks good on your resume, and membership offers numerous other benefits. Many of these organizations provide continuing education opportunities and publications that will help you keep current on industry updates, which is especially important in the rapidly changing field of software and computer technology. Below are some of the most notable professional organizations for software engineering professionals.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Software Engineering Degree

Online degree programs are cheaper than on-campus programs, but you may still need financial assistance. Begin your search by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access grants and loans offered through the federal government. Many educational institutions also use the FAFSA to establish your eligibility for financial aid. Software engineering graduate students may also find numerous private scholarship opportunities as well.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

With all the different options available, each with its own eligibility requirements and application deadlines, you may find it difficult to make sense of your financial aid situation. The following resources will help you figure out exactly how you should finance your online master’s in software engineering:

Online Master’s Degree Scholarship Database

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.