Top Master’s degrees in Software Engineering [2020]

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Duration of MS Programs in Software Engineering
MS in Software Engineering as a Differentiator
Types of Jobs for Software Engineers
Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)

Software engineers have been highly coveted by various organizations for quite a while now. While more and more students across the world choose to become software engineers, the demand for these individuals has not decreased.

As a software engineer, you will have to design, develop and implement software by applying engineering principles. You will be creating, testing and evaluating software such as network control systems, business applications, computer games, databases, and operating systems, among others.

A few of the most popular career options for software engineers include running computer networks, managing security measures for organizations, designing and developing software applications, creating video games, designing and developing computer systems, and developing internet applications.

To become a software engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science or a related field. Many employers prefer to hire an employee with a master’s degree in software engineering or a related field.

Eligibility for an MS Program in Software Engineering

While several universities across the world will most likely have their own eligibility requirements when admitting students to their masters’ programs in software engineering, quite a number will have similar expectations.

Perhaps the most common of all eligibility requirements for a master’s degree in software engineering is a bachelor’s degree that will adequately equip you to deal with the rigors of the master’s program. A B.Sc., B.Tech, or BE degree are usually acceptable prerequisites.

Additionally, most universities will expect you to have a minimum of 60% or a CGPA of around the same value or higher to consider your application to their program.

Most universities, especially in the US, will also require you to take special entrance exams such as the GRE. In addition to these several English-speaking countries will require your test scores in a specific English proficiency test such as IELTS, TOEFL, or PTS.

A majority of universities across the world will also require you to have completed 16 years of formal education. However, a few universities in the US have started to accept students with 15 years of formal education, provided the rest of their profile is strong enough.

It is worth noting that many schools in the US pay special attention to an applicant’s overall profile, so balancing academics with other activities will provide a boost to the quality of your application.

Skills required by a software engineer

  • Ability to Analyze Complex Technical Information
  • Analyze Business Requirements and Assess Impact With Existing Database Architecture
  • Analyze, Design and Implement Database Structures
  • Conduct Research
  • Consistently Seeking and Learning New Technology
  • Detail Oriented
  • Enhance the Functional and Technical Aspects of Products
  • Excellent Problem Solver
  • Experience Building Software Applications
  • Experience With JavaScript
  • Experience With Source Code and Version Repository
  • Experience Working With Linux/Unix, Perl, or Shell
  • Familiar with UI Toolkits and Frameworks
  • Hands-On SQL Experience
  • Java, Ruby, PHP or Python Experience
  • Lead and Deliver Complex Software Systems
  • Manage Multiple Projects in a Deadline-Driven Environment
  • Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, Web API Experience
  • Node.js Experience
  • Participate in Source Code and Design Reviews
  • Passion for Developing Engaging Consumer Experiences
  • Previous Experience Working Within an Agile Scrum Team
  • Provide Development and Testing Support for Other Engineers
  • Ruby on Rails Experience
  • Solid Knowledge of Java
  • Strong Oral and Written Communication
  • Strong Problem Solver
  • Thorough Understanding of Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, and Data Structures
  • Thrive in Dynamic, Fast-Paced Environments
  • Transform Requirements into Design Concepts and ERDs
  • Troubleshoot and Debug Issues
  • Understand Software Engineering Best Practices
  • Work Well Independently and Within a Team Setting
  • Work Within an Agile Scrum Team
  • Working Knowledge of C, C++, and C#
  • Write Clear and Detailed Technical Specifications and Documentation
  • Popular Programming Languages

A recent study indicated that companies want potential employees to know more than one programming language. According to the study, the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 list sought out software engineers with knowledge in four different programming languages on an average.

Some of the most popular programming languages are as follows:

  1. SQL
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. C#
  5. Python
  6. PHP
  7. IOS
  8. Ruby
  9. Scala
  10. LISP
  11. Perl
  12. MATLAB
  13. C++
  14. Groovy
  15. Shell
  16. TypeScript
  17. Visual Basic.Net
  18. Objective C
  19. Delphi/Object Pascal
  20. Assembly Language
  21. Swift
  22. Go
  23. R
  24. OCAML
  25. Haskell

Duration of MS Programs in Software Engineering

The duration of an MS program in software engineering varies according to the country in which the university is in. While a majority of programs in the UK span one year, there are universities that offer 2-year programs in software engineering.

In the US and Canada, the duration of MS programs in software engineering is 2 years. In Australia, like the UK, MS programs in software engineering can vary from 1 to 2 years, according to the university.

In Germany, MS programs in software engineering can range from 1 to 1.5 years. In most cases, students will have to spend 6 months working on a project to get hands-on experience. In New Zealand, MS programs in software engineering span a year.

Specializations in Software Engineering

Software engineering is considered to be a specialization of computer science, however, many universities offer courses to further specialize in software engineering. Some of the specializations within software engineering include:

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Digital and Embedded Systems
  • Game and Entertainment
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Network-centric Systems

While the kind of courses offered in each MS program in software engineering will vary from university to university, a few likely options include:

  1. Design and Analysis of Information Systems
  2. Software Design
  3. Software Systems
  4. Formal Language Theory
  5. Database Management
  6. Human-Computer Interaction
  7. Computer Hardware and Networks
  8. Web Systems
  9. Software Architecture
  10. Enterprise Architecture
  11. Data Science
  12. Cybersecurity
  13. IT Infrastructure
  14. Systems Modeling
  15. Advanced Programming
  16. Distributed Applications Development
  17. Mobile Web Components
  18. Embedded Real-time Software Engineering
  19. Software Quality and Standards
  20. Networking Software
  21. Cloud Computing
  22. Enterprise Software Technologies
  23. Networking Software
  24. Virtualization

Best Universities for MS in Software Engineering

Computer Science Rank 2019 Computer Science Rank 2018 University Country/Region
1 3 University of Oxford United Kingdom
2 4 ETH Zurich Switzerland
3 1 Stanford University United States
4 5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
5 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
6 =6 Carnegie Mellon University United States
7 8 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
8 12 Princeton University United States
9 11 Harvard University United States
10 =6 California Institute of Technology United States
11 9 Imperial College London United Kingdom
12 NR University of California, Los Angeles United States
13 10 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
14 15 Cornell University United States
15 13 National University of Singapore Singapore
16 NR Yale University United States
17 14 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=18 26 University of Texas at Austin United States
=18 22 University of Toronto Canada
=20 20 Tsinghua University China
=20 19 Columbia University United States
22 17 University of Washington United States
23 18 UCL United Kingdom
24 NR New York University United States
25 21 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
26 16 Technical University of Munich Germany
27 NR University of Michigan United States
28 =28 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
29 31 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
30 24 University of California, San Diego United States
31 NR Johns Hopkins University United States
32 25 Peking University China
33 23 University of Pennsylvania United States
34 56 University of Montreal Canada
35 =28 University of British Columbia Canada
36 30 University of Southern California United States
37 38 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
38 77 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
39 27 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
40 35 The University of Tokyo Japan
41 33 University of Waterloo Canada
42 36 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
43 34 University of Chicago United States
44 32 University of Maryland, College Park United States
45 =45 Zhejiang University China
46 55 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
47 37 RWTH Aachen University Germany
48 47 LMU Munich Germany
49 =68 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
50 40 Seoul National University South Korea

Best Countries for Software Engineers to Live and Work

  • Switzerland
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • The Netherlands
  • Germany
  • USA
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Singapore
  • The UK

MS in Software Engineering as a Differentiator

Having a master’s degree in software engineering can significantly improve your career prospects. Here are some of the ways that an MS in software engineering can be a differentiator:

  • A master’s degree can play an important role in getting you a job with a company specializing in software development
  • Pursuing a master’s in software engineering can provide you with an excellent opportunity to learn the latest developments in software engineering programs
  • You will learn to design a software interface and determine the needs of a system
  • The coursework in a master’s program in software engineering will equip you to work in a range of fields
  • You will be able to develop leadership and problem-solving skills that are necessary for leadership positions
  • You can develop interdisciplinary skills such as cost analysis, critical thinking and project management
  • You will be equipped to work at any stage of the software engineering lifecycle. For instance, you could design interfaces, write algorithms, or determine system requirements, among other tasks
  • Certain positions are better filled by those holding masters’ degrees in software engineering. Not only do master’s degree holders have a better chance of being hired as project managers or lead software engineers, but they are also more coveted as embedded software engineers

Average Salaries of Software Engineers in Popular Cities

City – Average Salary per annum
New York – USD 96k
Washington D.C. – USD 84k
San Francisco – USD 112k
Chicago – USD 79k
Austin – USD 80k
Boston – USD 86k
San Diego – USD 84k
Seattle – USD 100k
London – £ 27K
Southampton – £ 26k
Edinburgh – £ 25k
Glasgow – £ 22k
Stockholm – USD 58k
Munich – € 53k
Berlin – € 51k
Frankfurt – € 50k
Dortmund – € 59k
Dusseldorf – € 52k
Stuttgart – € 51k
Amsterdam – € 46k
Rotterdam – € 44k
Eindhoven – € 42k
Toronto – CAD 72k
Ottawa – CAD 71k
Vancouver – CAD 73K
Montreal – CAD 68k
Halifax – CAD 68k
Sydney – AUD 82k
Melbourne – AUD 75k
Brisbane – AUD 71k
Canberra – AUD 75k
Perth – AUD 76k
Auckland – NZD 71K
Wellington – NZD 74k
Christchurch – NZD 64k

Job Functions

As mentioned earlier, software engineers are highly coveted by most organizations from a range of industries. A 2015 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that the demand for software engineers will increase by 17% between 2014 and 2024.

The demand for these engineers is unsurprising, considering the value they provide to an organization. These individuals combine theories and methods of mathematics, computer science and engineering to develop software applications, systems, and networks, and ensure that the software seamlessly integrates with existing technology.

Some of the typical functions of a software engineer include:

  1. Analyzing the needs of users to develop existing or new software to be more relevant
  2. Recommending improvements to existing software
  3. Designing various software components and developing them to work in conjunction with each other
  4. Analyzing and maintaining software on a regular basis to ensure that they function efficiently.
  5. Creating several platform versions of the same software
  6. Creating documentation to help other engineers create software or efficiently use existing software
  7. Working with team members or other software engineers to achieve company goals

Types of Jobs for Software Engineers

Front-end Developer

As a front-end developer, you will require sufficient knowledge of visual user interfaces. CSS, HTML, and JavaScript are just a few of the UI (user interface) frameworks you should know.

As part of the job, you will be responsible for developing all the visual elements that a user interacts with, in a software application.

Back-end Developer

If you decide to become a back-end developer, you will need sufficient knowledge and know-how of functional core logic, design, implementation, performance and the scalability of software.

As a back-end developer, good languages to know include Python, C++, C, Java, Ruby, Perl, Scala, and Go.

Full-stack Developer

As a full-stack developer, you will require the skills of both front-end and back-end developers. By performing a combination of these tasks, you will be able to create a completely functional application by yourself.

Middle-Tier Developer

As a middle-tier developer, you should be able to write non-UI code that runs in a browser. You will be expected to perform a little bit of front-end and back-end programming.

Web Developer

If developing websites sounds exciting to you, the ‘web developer’ career is the path for you. To begin with, you will need to know HTML and CSS.

Desktop Developer

As a desktop developer, you will work on software applications that run on desktop operating systems like Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.

Knowledge of GUI Toolkits such as XAML, Gtk, Cocoa, and WinForms is essential.

Mobile Developer

If writing code for applications on smartphones and tablets sounds appealing to you, becoming a mobile developer is an excellent option for you.

You will need to know the ins and outs of mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. You should be able to write software on these operating systems and have a sound understanding of the development environment.
Knowledge of Swift, Objective-C, and Java are recommended.

Graphics Developer

If you aspire to become a graphics developer, you should be able to write software for lighting, shading, shadowing, rendering, and culling, among others.

Common industries of employment for graphics developers include video production and gaming.

As a graphics developer, you should know programming languages like Assembly, C++, and C, and be comfortable using frameworks such as Unity 3D, DirectX, OpenGL, and WebGL.

Game Developer

As a game developer, a combination of various developing skills is recommended. In addition to being able to write programs, these developers usually have skills such as designing and creating interactive and engaging experiences.

You should be comfortable using frameworks like Unity 3D, OpenGL, WebGL, and DirextX. Popular programming languages among game developers include Java, C++ and C. HTML5, JavaScript, Java and Swift are the most popular platforms today.

Data Scientist

As a data scientist, you will write software programs that analyze data. If machine learning, predictive modeling, statistical analysis, and data visualization sound appealing to you, consider this as a career option.

You should know languages such as Python, R, and SQL as these are commonly used by data scientists today.

Big Data Developer

As a big data developer, you will need to use frameworks and distributed storage systems. Hadoop, Spark, and MapReduce are worth learning. Also, knowing languages such as R, Python, Java, and SQL is a good idea.

Your job would involve writing software programs that center on the storage and retrieval of large quantities of data in systems. These systems include relational databases, data warehouses, data management systems, and extract transform load (ETL), among others.

DevOps Developer

If you are interested in becoming a DevOps developer, you will need a working understanding of technologies that will help you create, deploy, integrate and administer distributed systems and back-end software.

Some of these technologies include the HashiCorp stack, Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins, and Apache Mesos.

CRM Developer

As a CRM developer, you will have to work on systems that collect consumer data. The focus of a CRM developer is to improve a customer’s satisfaction and to drive sales. So, as a CRM developer, you will do this by developing and enhancing tools used by account managers, sales representatives, and customer support representatives.

As a CRM developer, knowing SAP, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Sharepoint, and Salesforce, is recommended.

Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)

As a Software Development Engineer in Test, you will have to write software that determines how good a software system is. Creating tools, tests, and systems to ensure that processes and products run optimally will be your goal.

Some of the languages that are good to know for these type of developers include Selenium, Python, and Ruby.

Embedded Developer

As mentioned earlier, embedded developers are highly sought after by many companies across the world. As an embedded developer you will work on real-time systems, iOT devices, microcontrollers, electronic interfaces, hardware drivers, serial data transmission, set-top boxes, and other consumer devices, among others.

Knowledge of languages such as C, C++, Assembly, Java or proprietary technologies, frameworks, and toolkits, is recommended.

WordPress Developer

Increasingly popular, as a WordPress developer, your job will involve creating and customizing plugins and themes for WordPress. Additionally, you will also serve as the administrator for WordPress sites.

In addition to understanding the intricacies of the WordPress system, you should also learn PHP, JavaScript, and HTML.

Security Developer

As a security developer, you will create systems and procedures to test the security of a system and repair faults in security.

Having a deep understanding of languages like Ruby and Python coupled with the ability to decipher patterns in the attacking of software systems is essential.


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