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Degree Overview: Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.) Degree in Software Engineering

Majors Overview September 6, 2015

This article talks about Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.) degree programs in Software Engineering and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.) Programs in Software Engineering

Students who want to learn how to develop new computer systems or to alter existing ones in order to resolve complex problems could benefit from enrolling into a master’s degree program in computer science. They may apply these skills to several computer specialties, including database administration or security. Various concentration areas, such as software engineering, are offered in many programs. This degree is offered online by many schools.

Apart from computer science coursework, research courses are also included in master’s programs, particularly when a student pursues a thesis option. Typical requirements include supporting coursework in computer ethics and theory. In some programs, students may be allowed to tailor their coursework with assistance from a faculty advisor.

Students typically take two years to complete master’s degree programs in computer science, which require advanced coursework and research. Their undergraduate performance often determines whether students gain admission to their program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related major, apart from meeting standards for grade point average and submitting Graduate Record Examination scores. Schools may give preference to incoming students involved in extracurricular activities, like undergraduate research projects.


Program coursework typically includes advanced courses in computer systems and programming languages. Students enrolled in some computer science programs are allowed to choose additional coursework and pass a comprehensive exam. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Software architecture
•Software management
•Artificial intelligence
•Software Engineering
•Computer modeling

Career Choices

Thanks to the growth of technology and data, program graduates may seek careers in various industries. Many computer science professionals seek employment in computer systems design or research and development, or with the federal government. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Scientific programmer analyst
•Data scientist
•Control system scientist
•Software developer

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, software developers are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth of 22% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2013, software developers working in systems software brought in an average annual wage of $101,410, while developers working in applications earned $92,660 per annum, on average.

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates seeking certain computer science positions, including the specific title of computer scientist, may enroll into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. Typically, coursework in a Ph.D. in Computer Science is a continuation of previous graduate or undergraduate research resulting in a doctoral dissertation. The Ph.D. program typically requires the completion of comprehensive exams, student teaching, and advanced coursework. Students would also benefit from gaining professional certifications in major versions of programming languages or software, such as Java or UNIX, which many obtain through the passage of an exam.

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