Get Matched With Software Development Programs

The demand is high for software developers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and it's expected to grow even more: as much as 24% from 2016 to 2026.

It takes exceptional IT skills, knowledge of fundamental concepts, and a creative mind for software design and development of apps that people can use to perform specific tasks on computers, tablets, cell phones, and other devices. Luckily, as with many master's degrees, these programs are now available online from several institutions, so students can attend online and earn their degree while they continue to work. While earning a Master of Science in Software Engineering, Software Development, or graduate certificates in the industry, software engineering students at the graduate level will learn a wide variety of concepts dealing with software programs in their core courses, such as:

  • Software design and development of software projects, software architecture, and software systems
  • Creating models and diagrams
  • Programming languages, including object-oriented languages made for software design and development
  • Mobile applications, online software application development, wearable technologies, and artificial intelligence
  • Software project management
  • Quality assurance
  • Analyzing customer’s needs
  • Testing software
  • Suggesting improvements
  • Instructing programmers who write software codes
  • Performing upgrades
  • Software maintenance to ensure it is working properly


  • High salary
  • Continuing access to financial aid even if you have no tuition support from your employer or if you attend an online program for a software engineering master
  • The ability to earn higher-level online certifications in the software engineering field to expand job options
  • The chance to earn more than someone without a graduate degree
  • The median annual earnings for someone who has completed a graduate program were $69,100 compared to $57,600 for an undergrauate degree
  • You learn about making new programs
  • You will have a great future
  • Software engineers, systems architects, software developers, and skilled software development professionals are in high demand
  • You will be prepared to advance and get your Ph.D.


  • It takes a long time to earn this degree
  • It is possible that you may get a lesser return on investment
  • There are many admission requirements, even for online students
  • You may have to take extra courses before entering into this program
  • You need high exam scores
  • You will have to have some experience
  • The program requires good math skills

Compare Popular Online Software Development Programs

Top 5 Best Online Masters in Software Development Programs

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $61,050
    • Out-of-State: $61,050
  • Net Price: $27,829
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 36,714
  • Undergrad Students: 18,459
  • Graduate Students: 18,255
  • Grads Salary: $82,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Boston University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,346
    • Out-of-State: $14,346
  • Net Price: $26,757
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 9,959
  • Undergrad Students: 5,809
  • Graduate Students: 4,150
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Maryville University of Saint Louis
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings

Troy University

Score: 68.41

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,550
    • Out-of-State: $17,100
  • Net Price: $13,187
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,156
  • Undergrad Students: 10,768
  • Graduate Students: 3,388
  • Grads Salary: $67,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Troy University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,655
    • Out-of-State: $10,655
  • Net Price: $21,939
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 101,816
  • Undergrad Students: 66,769
  • Graduate Students: 35,047
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Grand Canyon University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings

Purdue Global

Score: 61.45

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,472
    • Out-of-State: $10,524
  • Net Price: $6,785
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 17%
  • Graduation Rate: 20%
  • Total Enrollment: 45,125
  • Undergrad Students: 33,510
  • Graduate Students: 11,615
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 26:1
  • Purdue Global

Overview of a Master's in Software Development

What Software Development Master’s Degrees are Available Online?

  • Master of Science (MS)
    The Master of Science degree is very distinguished and a big honor to hold. This is a formal type of degree that provides technical instruction in a wide array of scientific fields such as medicine, physical science, mathematics, computer science, applied science/engineering, nursing, and social and behavioral science.
  • Master of Science in Information Technology
    A Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) is a type of postgraduate academic master's degree usually offered in a University's college of business, but is also sometimes integrated into Information Science & Technology colleges as well. These degrees are some of the ones that are most likely to be found online.
  • Master of Arts (MA)
    The master of arts gets its name from the Latin words, “Magister Artium“, it is a highly prestigious degree and one of the oldest postgraduates degree types available, offered in most humanities and arts subjects as well as some areas of social science. These degrees were originally academic teaching qualifications. Holding an MA would make you a master in the subject you chose at a level that would allow you to teach others.
  • Master of Software Engineering
    A Master of Program Information and Software Engineering typically indicates that you have gained the skills and knowledge to design, develop, maintain, evaluate, and test computer systems, computer applications, and other systems and devices.

Admission Requirements for Software Development Masters

To enroll in a degree program in software development, you would first need to hold a bachelor's in software development or a related field and have at least 30 credits. In addition, you may also need a 3.0 or higher GPA or good GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and some schools may also require a statement of purpose. You will definitely need to have good math skills that include a solid understanding of calculus as well as a strong knowledge of computer languages. If you don’t, you may be required to take some extra courses in order to study for this degree. Each school and degree program will have different requirements, so you’ll need to be sure and check with the college or university you are interested in attending. Students attending online will have the same requirements for admission documents as those attending on campus.

How long does it take to earn a Software Development Master’s Online?

Getting an online master’s in software development can take as long as any other master’s degree program, which is typically two years. However, if you decide to study part-time online, then you can expect to earn your degree in four to six years, depending on the amount of time you put into your studies. If you want to speed things up, then you might want to consider enrolling in a fast-track online program where earning a degree can be accomplished much more quickly. Some online degree programs can be completed within a year.

Find Your Online Software Development Program

Potential Careers in Software Development with a Master’s

  • Software Developer
    Software developers design new software applications that allow consumers and businesses to use mobile devices and computers effectively, as well as create computer systems that control integrated networks. Highly skilled developers have a bachelor’s degree at minimum and strong programming skills.
    Median Annual Salary: $71,900
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
    Computer and information research scientists find and investigate innovative technology solutions to challenges in government, business, healthcare, science, and other fields. This position is growing fast and typically requires at least a master's degree in software engineering or a related field.
    Median Annual Salary: $115,700
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
    Computer and information systems managers, also known as IT project managers, assist and assess the technology goals and needs of an organization or specific departments. They may manage an IT team of assistants who are responsible for implementing a computer system. At least a bachelor's degree is required, although a master's degree with some work experience is desired.
    Median Annual Salary: $83,800
  • Computer Network Architect
    A computer network architect constructs and designs data communication networks, such as local area networks and intranets that connect people within an organization or a business. Typically, a bachelor's degree is required with some work experience; however, a master’s is preferred.
    Median Annual Salary: $121,800
  • Information Security Analysts
    Information security analysts plan and put in place security measures for networks and organizational computer systems. To be a competitive candidate for this position you will need to obtain a master's degree with a cybersecurity concentration.
    Median Annual Salary: $72,700

Options to Advance

You already are making a big move toward advancement by earning a master’s degree. With a master’s, you can get a job in management or even become a CEO of an organization. If you are not already earning a salary in the mid-sixties or more, then you might want to consider looking for a better position, because you'll be worth much more when holding a master’s degree.

Another way to advance is to enroll in a doctorate education level program where you can earn your PhD, which is the highest level as far as degrees are concerned. Once you earn your PhD, you can go anywhere, just make sure you shoot for the top; become a professor or get into research, which also pays very well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to have a software development or engineering undergraduate degree to earn a master’s in this field?

Generally, the answer to this question is no. Most schools that offer degrees at this level in this field will not require you to have a specific undergraduate degree. However, they may want you to have a related degree such as computer science, information assurance, cyber security, etc. The reason that some programs do not want to provide admission to those who do not have certain degrees is that master’s programs cannot teach you the basics. If you cannot program already, a master’s program will not be long enough to teach you the basics of programming and provide you with in-depth knowledge of software development. It simply is not feasible.

Will I need to complete the GRE?

This also depends on what program you choose. However, fewer and fewer master’s programs overall are requiring these standardized tests and there is little reason for it to be required in this field. It is much more important that you know the basics of programming and computer science rather than that you pass a standardized test.

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