Making the decision to return to school to earn an Online Master’s in Software Engineering can be exciting, but this also brings up a wide range of questions that can feel overwhelming. Is an online master’s degree in software engineering worth it? We’ve designed this page to help guide prospective graduate students through the information they need to know to successfully decide upon and apply into a degree program that fits their goals. Whether you are currently working in a programming-related field, or if you’re still finishing a computer science-related bachelor’s degree, you can use this guide to start making some of the important decisions that can change the future of your career and academics.
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The financial obligation required to pursue a graduate-level program is often one of students’ largest concerns. We’ve selected a handful of the most affordable online master’s degrees in Software Engineering to make your search process more convenient.
The best online master’s in data science programs prepare graduates for successful careers, often offering some of the best outcomes in the industry. We rank the best online data science programs based on these outcomes, along with other factors including tuition rates, curriculum, accreditation, and renown.
Understanding an Online Master’s in Software Engineering Program
A master’s degree in Software Engineering is designed to prepare students to work in finance, gaming, healthcare, research, and numerous other industries. Most places of employment rely on some form of software to facilitate day-to-day operations. A degree in Software Engineering will teach you the ins and outs of designing and maintaining this kind of software.
Common Specializations for an Online Master’s in Software Engineering
Degree programs often have specializations students can choose to focus their coursework towards their desired career. Below are a few emphases students may choose to guide their academic and career prospects.
Area of Focus
Careers This Concentration Prepares For
This emphasis focuses entirely around instilling in students a refined understanding of software processes, development, implementation, and maintenance. Software Development careers exist in nearly every industry.
Computer Programmer; Web Developer; Network Engineer; Software Engineer
Some students are specifically interested in the video game or casino gaming industries. The skills these students develop will be similar to those of other software engineers but will focus more heavily on entertainment.
Game Designer; Game Programmer; Game Artist; Level Designer; Lead Animator
This specialization teaches students about how to architect large scale software applications keeping best standards and dependencies in mind. Architectures also include designing the software in a way that can be reused, scaled up/down, low footprint and fast execution.
Software Architects, Software Designers
Online Master’s in Software Engineering Admission Requirements
So how do you get into these programs? Typically each online master’s degree in Software Engineering will have its own entry requirements, so you’ll want to research different programs closely. Below are a few common entry requirements.
Coding Experience: Although not always required, some master’s degree programs in Software Engineering may be looking for applicants who already have some career experience under their belt.
Undergraduate Degree in Similar Field: Most students applying into one of these programs will be required to hold a corresponding bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have an undergraduate background in computer science or a similar field, consider reaching out to an academic advisor or admissions representative for a school you’re interested in attending to see if they have an alternative route into applying.
Letters of Recommendation: Many graduate programs are looking for students who can be vouched for by other professionals in the field. If an application is asking for letters of recommendation, consider reaching out to former professors who taught similar coursework, or perhaps employers in the same industry.
Curriculum for an Online Master of Software Engineering Program
Software Architecture: In this course, students will gain an understanding of programs and how they are built and managed while learning how to utilize and choose relevant software design patterns.
Software Development in C++: As one of the most widely-used programming languages, having an advanced understanding of C++ can help students get ahead in their education and career. This course helps students learn how C++ is used in the foundation of software development and how to apply it.
Web Development: This course looks into programming in the development and design of web creation and examines how we use the internet and how to properly engineer websites for growth and success.
Software Development Methodology: Software Development Methodology (SDM) is a course in which students are exposed to standard processes that are followed by technology companies when developing software. Students go through various stages of software development, such as designing, creating a minimum viable product (MVP), development, testing, deployment, and production support.
Modern Technologies: Many schools have added modern software engineering concepts such as cloud computing, data science, virtualization, etc. Depending on the school and specialization, students can expect to go through courses that deal with theoretical courses such as software foundations, software design fundamentals, etc.
Online Master’s in Software Engineering Program Length
Typically, the overall time frame for an academic program is dependent upon how quickly the student wants to finish their program. Many programs allow for both full-time or part-time scheduling, meaning students can choose whatever pacing best fits their extracurricular schedule.
The primary benefit of online learning is its flexibility. Online learners are able to worry less about in-person time obligations and more on the other busy aspects of their lives. With this flexibility, schools often allow students to choose the heaviness of their semesterly courseload. A student who is looking to finish a program quicker may finish in 1.5-2 years, while a different student may want to pace themselves and spread their curriculum out over the span of 2.5-3 years.
Other Types of Online Master’s in Software Engineering Programs
Free or Low-Cost Master’s in Software Engineering Programs
Graduate students continue to seek out affordable options for college, but did you know that there are some software engineering programs that are free? While there are no full master’s programs in software engineering that are free and accredited by reputable institutions, there are some programs that allow students to watch lectures from past sessions and free courses from reputable schools. Students will not get a masters diploma in software engineering, but they can learn on par with master’s students at other online master’s institutions. While these courses are free to watch and learn, some of these courses will award a certificate for a small fee. Explore the following programs below:
Online Master’s in Software Engineering: No GRE Requirement
Many online master’s degree programs in software engineering do not require applicant’s scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Explore the following schools to learn more about online master’s degrees in software engineering that don’t require the GRE:
Accelerated programs are a great option for students who need to earn their online degree quickly, whether due to professional obligations or other time commitments. To learn more about accelerated graduate programs for software engineering students, explore the following schools to learn more:
Master’s In Software Engineering For Non-Engineers
A graduate program focused on engineering is still possible for students who didn’t earn their undergraduate degree in an engineering-specific field. Some schools accept students who have unrelated undergraduate degrees or may require a few prerequisite courses to meet their admissions requirements. Explore a few of these schools and learn more about these programs below:
How to Pay for a Master’s in Software Engineering Degree
Understanding how to pay for your graduate degree can feel overwhelming, but there are many different options students can take advantage of to help fund their education.
Internships allow graduate students to begin applying their academic expertise in a professional setting, all while still pursuing their degree. Not only do many internships pay students for their time and work, but some programs allow students to transfer their professional experience into college credits that can be put towards their degree, which then reduces the time and cost of the degree.
Fellowships allow students to be fully immersed in a professional environment while being paid for their work. Fellowships also let students network with professionals in the field and gain direct, hands-on experience that can be applied to their career after graduation.
All students should have a basic understanding of the financial aid available to them before committing to the cost of graduate school. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, and student loans, but it’s important to contact your school of interest to learn more about the specific financial aid offerings for students.
Scholarships for students pursuing Software Engineering Degrees
Generation Google Scholarship: Generation Google Scholarship is a scholarship administered by tech giant Google. The goal of this scholarship is to help aspiring computer scientists excel in technology and become leaders in the field. The program is open to qualified students who are part of historically underrepresented groups. Eligibility criteria include – Students be currently enrolled in an accredited university in the U.S and be studying computer science or closely related technical field. Award Amount: $5,000 Deadline: Varies
Women Who Code Scholarships: Women Who Code is a non-profit organization to empower women in technology. Bloc is an online education company with intensive mentor-led programs for aspiring developers and designers. Bloc and Women Who Code sponsor and administer a scholarship program for women who can code via boot camp. The scholarship is awarded every month. Award Amount: $1,000 Deadline: Last day of every month
Rural Technology Fund Scholarship (RTF): Rural Technology Fund (RTF) is an organization that recognizes that there is a “digital divide” between rural and non-rural areas. And RTF wants to help rural students recognize opportunities in technology careers and gain the education necessary to work in the computer industry. Among other activities, RTF administers a scholarship for students from rural communities anywhere in the U.S. Applicants for this scholarship must be planning to enroll in a computer technology-related field, with a focus on cybersecurity. Award Amount: $1,000 Deadline: April 15
Society of Women Engineers (SWE): SWE is an organization that acts as a catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology. SWE administers scholarships to support women pursuing bachelor’s and master’s programs. There are several scholarships available for women that are pursuing master’s degrees in software engineering. Visit this website to find out details about various scholarships that are available. Award Amount: Varies by scholarship Deadline: Varies by scholarship
Resources for Online Master’s in Software Engineering Students
Before graduating and earning a master’s degree in software engineering, students should take advantage of professional organizations and resources to help them connect with others in their field, access helpful and relevant data and information, and apply what they learn to their degree and career down the road. These organizations can provide software engineering students with career development, networking, and other valuable resources.
INFORMS: INFORMS allows research and analytics professionals to connect with other research and analytics professionals. Members receive access to professional development opportunities, industry tools, and an extensive professional network.
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