2019 Best Online Master's in Software Engineering Programs

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Ranked here are the top six universities offering the best online master's programs in software engineering, based on affordability and median reported alumni salaries. Students may obtain a Master of Science in Computer Science - Software Engineering at #1-ranked University of Southern California, which has tuition of $37,427 and a median reported alumni salary of $151,900. Ranked #4 is The University of Texas at Austin, with the lowest tuition at $17,000 per year.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 University of Southern California $37,427 $151,900
#2 #2 Villanova University $20,925 $147,900
#3 #3 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities $26,412 $144,000
#4 #4 The University of Texas at Austin $17,000 $134,400
#5 #5 Southern Methodist University $20,250 $129,600
#6 #6 Boston University $21,120 $125,200
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.
  • Annual Tuition: $37,427
  • Median Salary: $151,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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The University of Southern California is consistently ranked among the top universities in the country and is considered one of California's premier institutions. Their alumni network includes many international business leaders, entrepreneurs, and tech giants. Noted for the invention of several software and hardware technologies, the Viterbi School of Engineering is home to the university's computer science programs, which also include distance learning options for prospective students around the world. Web-based portal USC Online includes a Master of Science in Computer Science, Software Engineering that requires a minimum of 32 units (USC's credit hours) for completion. The program takes less than two years on a full-time basis and no more than three-and-a-half years on a self-paced, part-time enrollment.

  • Annual Tuition: $20,925
  • Median Salary: $147,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Founded in 1842, Villanova University is a private, Catholic university situated in the suburbs of Philadelphia where it remains one of the oldest religiously-affiliated universities in the area. A highly selective university, Villanova is known for fostering efficient students in the world of engineering through its top-ranked College of Engineering, which caters to traditional, on-campus students and nontraditional, online students. Its distance learning program opens its doors to select students across the world, and includes an online Master of Science in Computer Engineering. This degree can be earned in three years of part-time study or two years of full-time study. The program is a minimum of 30 credit hours or ten courses and students may choose a thesis or non-thesis track. Tuition for this degree is $1,395 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $26,412
  • Median Salary: $144,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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With an average tuition rate of $17,000 per academic year (after aid), the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is an affordable public research university. They have a population of approximately 52,000 students on campus and through their online portal, UMN Online. Through its College of Science and Engineering’s UNIT Distributed Learning center, prospective distance learning students can complete a Master's in Computer Science fully online. The 31-credit hour program requires a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and is a coursework-only degree plan, meaning it is less research-oriented.  They understand students in the program are balancing professional life and student work, and provide flexibility for students to learn at their own pace. Upon completion, students are well-prepared to enter the high-tech world of modern media.

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  • Annual Tuition: $17,000
  • Median Salary: $134,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Texas at Austin is one of the top 30 public universities in the nation with a selective graduate admissions process that requires students to have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and proficiency in their chosen field of study. They offer an online Master of Software Engineering degree to interested distance learners. The two-year program is tailored for professionals and allows them to garner the skills necessary to excel in their career without sacrificing their work life. The program teaches students emerging systems and how to construct, analyze, and deploy software platforms. It offers distance learners the same top-ranked Cockrell School of Engineering education that is found on campus.

  • Annual Tuition: $20,250
  • Median Salary: $129,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Despite its name, Southern Methodist University is a nonsectarian, private university located in Dallas with satellite campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. With seven academic schools offering a variety of distance learning programs, the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering offers students, both on-campus and off, a Master's in Software Engineering program that is among the best in the nation. The online program presents a balanced approach to distance-learning students with coursework designed around the Department of Defense’s Software Engineering Institute, which has created guidelines for this fast-growing career path to help create a more formulaic foundation. SMU's online programs are an especially good option for military personnel stationed around the world.

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  • Annual Tuition: $21,120
  • Median Salary: $125,200
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NECHE
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Boston University is a non-profit, private university with over 33,000 students in the heart of Boston. The university was founded in 1839 and has historically been affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Boston University provides opportunities for distance learners with a number of degree options.  Among their offerings is a Master's in Software Engineering with a concentration in Software Development. The 32-credit online degree program provides a comprehensive overview of general software programming in addition to a focus on development issues, management systems and planning. Boston University's distance learning Software Development program, which remains among the only one of its kind in the country, offers competitive tuition rates that equal a fraction of the traditional cost for the same, great education.

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Online Master's in Software Engineering Overview

Prospective master's students in software engineering typically must have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as mathematics, engineering, physics, or computer science. However, a student may be able to gain admittance to a master's program with an unrelated bachelor's degree if they have appropriate experience. These programs usually take around two years to complete and require an average of 30-36 semester credit hours.

A student enrolled in an online master's program in software engineering can expect to take such classes as pattern oriented design, enterprise integration, web security and privacy, computer systems architecture, and software systems engineering processes. Upon completing a master's program, an individual will be prepared for management positions and be equipped with the ability to lead various types of projects. A master's degree is also beneficial because it helps professionals keep their skills up-to-date.

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