Top Five Accessible Master of Software Engineering Degrees

A graduate program that awards the Master of Software Engineering degree is not as easy to find as you might think. Many universities today make include software engineering as an area of concentration for the graduate degree in computer science or computer engineering. Software engineering remains an afterthought in many graduate level programs at the high profile schools, although many of those universities offer an undergraduate degree in the field. A degree devoted solely to software engineering is, at the graduate level, often made available only to working professionals. This list of resources for the degree is compiled from schools that have a respected school of computer science, have a manageable tuition structure and offer a terminal graduate degree in software engineering.

New Jersey Institute of Technology is the state’s principal academic institution for technology and management degrees. The NJIT offers masters degrees and doctoral programs in the principal engineering fields, architecture, and a wide range of IT programs. The Master of Science in Software Engineering is a comparatively new program offered by the Department of Computer Science designed to equip students with advanced knowledge of the concepts, techniques, skills and tools for developing modern large-scale software systems. This is clearly a business oriented degree.

University of Maryland offers the Master of Software Engineering as a collaboration between the College Park campus and the University’s professional education division, University College. The thirty six credit curriculum has several courses in project design and management, preparing students for supervisory roles in software and systems design. Electives include a course in Engineering Economics & Financial Analysis and an Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.

Arizona State University has one of the highest ranked computer and electrical engineering programs in the country. They are also proactive in the development of online degree options; the Master of Science in Software Engineering is available to Arizona students on campus and to students from across the country online. This program incorporates instruction for designing and developing software projects with the business and management skills needed to manage a team engaged in software systems development or redesign.

Santa Clara University turns out many of the computer science and computer engineering graduates that go to work in the Silicon Valley firms located throughout the region where the campus is located. The Master of Science in Software Engineering requires applicants to have an undergraduate degree in computer science or engineering; or to pass the computer science section of the GRE exam. This degree is oriented to the science and technology of software development with a minimum of the curriculum devoted to project management. The programming requirement in the program may be waived for professionals who have at least a year’s experience.

University of Minnesota offers a two year program for the Master of Science in Software Engineering that is designed for professionals who have work experience in software development or a related field. The course load is flexible enough to allow students to continue working, and classes are taught on alternating Fridays and Saturdays so that normal work hours are not significantly disrupted. There is an industrial seminar series incorporated into the curriculum that includes instruction in software re-engineering & maintenance, as well as a course on legal and intellectual property issues.

When is a Software Engineer Not a Software Engineer?

The title of “software engineer” has got to be among the most highly abused in the corporate high-tech world. It’s also one of the most popular.

And why not? It sounds a lot better than “computer programmer,” and it looks much better on one’s business card. Unfortunately, it’s often inaccurate. Engineering is, after all, the application of sound technical principles to develop systems that are robust, efficient and elegant. I’ve found that a great many software engineers can develop working programs, but do little or no real engineering design.

Does this sound harsh? Perhaps, but I’ve also found it hard to deny. I’ve encountered very few software engineers, for example, who have clean, crisp and readable coding styles–an essential element of elegant software design. I’ve also encountered a preponderance of cryptically written functions, clumsy software abstractions and bizarre spaghetti code. To my dismay, I’ve discovered that even among computer science graduates, many reduce object-oriented programming to the mere use of private data, public functions and object instantiations. It’s enough to break a teacher’s heart.

Now, I won’t go so far as to say that most programmers write spaghetti code. That would not be fair. However, I do think that relatively few programmers have a deep appreciation for the artistry of software development. That’s not to say that they’re ignorant of such things; not at all. Rather, it’s more that the engineering aspects of elegant code design are all too often neglected.

I think this happens because modern programming tools have made proper code design seem like a nuisance. In the early years of computing, people were forced to write out their software designs, pondering many fine details before they ever sat down in front of the computer. Nowadays, with our fast compilers and interactive debugging systems, programmers often find it more convenient to simply sit down and start coding, with just a modicum of software design. Mind you, I do understand that this is sometimes more efficient–when the programming task is fairly routine, for example. However, when such design-as-you-go software development becomes standard practice, then you have the makings of utter chaos.

In part, this problem is also rooted in the malleable nature of computer software. No self-respecting civil engineer would design a bridge by slapping girders together until he has something that works; after all, if the bridge collapses, it could take months to rebuild it. Similarly, no sensible architect would want to build a house without blueprints and floor plans. Yet it is commonplace for programmers to develop software using poorly chosen functions and only the sketchiest of designs. After all, if the software doesn’t work, they can always find the bug and fix it–at least, in theory. In practice, these bugs are often difficult to detect, and fixing them can require extensive surgery. The consequences of an ill-designed software program can be disastrous indeed.

For this reason, I believe that high-tech companies need to give software engineering the respect that it deserves. They need to develop a true culture of systematic software design, instead of merely settling for “whatever works.” A company that’s looking toward the future must pay proper devotion to the principles of software maintainability, proper documentation and elegant, robust design. It must also inculcate a culture of true software engineering among its employees. The failure to do so may work in the short-term, but it is a recipe for long-term disaster.

Computer Software Engineer Jobs In The UK

The field of Computer Software Engineering has become more popular among UK university graduates in recent years. Students are entering university with a more sophisticated knowledge of information technology than undergraduates from a generation ago. This knowledge is coupled with a realization that many of the best jobs available in the UK involve computer technology, creating a desire within university students for success in the IT world. However, as graduates leave the university setting for the professional world, they begin to realize that their dream of working as a computer software engineer may be difficult to achieve.

The rising number of computer jobs in the United Kingdom has been met with an exponential increase in applications over the last decade. Professionals interested in software engineering, IT graduates, and candidates on the international market make the application process a log-jam. Hiring managers often have to set high standards in order to reduce the numbers of applicants that proceed to the interview stage. As such, talented software engineers may not be able to distinguish themselves enough to land their dream job. By understanding what a software engineer does on a daily basis, a young applicant is better able to tailor their application to suit a specific position.

Computer software engineers essentially bridge the gap between designers and users or retailers of software. Engineers take concepts and designs as imagined at the beginning of the creative process, create specific processes to meet the individual needs of software systems, and troubleshoot production processes in order to meet customer demands. For instance, a computer software engineer may work on creating the software CDs and supporting materials that come with a new video game or business solution. The role of the middle man means that engineers need to meet regularly with both designers and users or supply chain professionals to ensure that everything gets done right the first time.

This brief summary of a software engineer’s job should allow a young professional to focus their CV and application in the right areas. An applicant may choose to highlight areas of troubleshooting, problem solving, or multitasking in their application. On their CV, a young professional can highlight aspects of their education or job experience that would be uniquely suited to computer software engineering. In the interview process for a role as a software engineer, an applicant who is well-prepared should be able to use their knowledge of software engineering to answer a hypothetical question. In the end, computer software engineering jobs require quick thinking and creativity. An applicant needs to demonstrate these skills in order to land their dream job.