Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

The MSE for recent grads is intended for entry-level developers with less than two years of experience, or equivalent internship/project experience, and has two areas of focus to choose from: scalable or embedded systems. Both the MSE-SS and MSE-ES tracks are 16-months long, on-campus, full-time, and require a summer internship.

The MSE for professionals is more suited for experienced software developers with at least two years of full-time professional experience. The program is 16-months long if taken full-time, on-campus, does not require an internship, has a multi-semester long real-world development project, and has a part-time option.

For students who want greater flexibility, there is an online, part-time program for professionals. Like the on-campus program, this option is more suited for experienced software developers with more than two years of full-time professional experience. The program is 24-months long, part-time, online, does not require an internship, and culminates in a thesis.

Students enter into one of the two fields of study determined by their prior academic coursework or area of interest: 1) scalable systems, including large-scale, intelligent systems, or 2) embedded systems, including Internet-of-Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems.

Students will have a slightly different plan of study depending on the field they choose to study. For example, a student in the MSE-SS track will take a devops course, while a student in the MSE-ES track will take a distributed systems course. In addition, you can expect that your practicum work will reflect your field of interest.

It all depends on the course and the program. At a minimum, you will need to set aside time each week to:

  • Attend course lectures (2-3 hours)
  • Read the course's text and other required readings (4-6 hours)
  • Complete homework assignments or other course activities  (4-6 hours)

In some courses, you will be asked to complete weekly assignments. If you have extensive experience in software development, you may find that you can complete course assignments in less time than students with less experience.

In other courses, you will complete two or three major projects; the expectation is that you will work on these projects throughout the course.

You can expect to spend 10-12 hours per week per course. If you take the recommended course load to complete your degree in 24 months, you can expect to spend roughly 20-24 hours per week on coursework. While online, part-time students may take longer than 24 months to compete their program, they must complete a minimum of 12-units per semester.
You must complete all degree requirements within seven years of entering the program.
The MSE Online program is a distance program intended for students who are working professionals in software engineering and who cannot geographically access campus.

Tuition for the software engineering professional program is comparable to other Carnegie Mellon graduate degree programs, and generally follows the suggested graduate tuition rates and expenses for the School of Computer Science.

Please refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid page for specific information on program costs.
Teaching Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA) positions are available to qualified students. First semester students are strongly discouraged from holding a job while they are adjusting to the program. Students who have completed a full semester and are interested in obtaining a TA or RA position should consult with the academic advisor to discuss an appropriate work load given their academic performance.
Yes, sponsor billing and third-party payments are accepted. If your company will pay your tuition directly to CMU on your behalf, you will need to complete and return a Sponsor Billing Authorization form to Student Financial Services. Please refer to the Student Financial Services website for forms and deadlines.

Full-time students pay a per-semester tuition rate. With that, there are no additional tuition fees for extra elective course that the student chooses to take. Keep in mind that the program's workload is rigorous and challenging, and that students are advised not to overload with supplemental elective work at the sacrifice of core and project effort. Please note that first-semester students are not allowed to overload under any circumstances.

Part-time students pay per registered course, and are advised to choose elective courses that not only fulfill their degree requirements, but serve to meet their personal and professional goals as well.

If you have successfully completed graduate-level courses in software engineering (or related areas such as computer science, information technology, or management), you may petition to apply the credits to your elective requirements. Transfer requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. No more than two courses will be accepted for transfer, and all core and project courses must be completed through the MSE Programs.

The majority of students in our programs don't cheat. Cheating is a choice. If you choose to cheat and are caught doing so, you can expect that the following things will happen:

  • You will be penalized on the assignment in question, and placed on probation.
  • If you are already on probation for any reason when the cheating incident is reported, you will be dismissed from the program. 
  • If the incident is the second time you’ve cheated, you will be dismissed from the program.
  • You may not be eligible to assume leadership positions (i.e., Studio Manager, MSELi) and you may not be eligible to serve as an MSE Teaching Assistant. 

All students should review and familiarize themselves with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

For the class of 2021, the starting salary range across all programs was $60-160,000.

A more detailed report of the employment data for our 2021 graduates [pdf] is available, and contains salary information as well as the top employers and job titles.

At this time we do not have data for the online program.

Earning a master's degree may enhance your application to many Carnegie Mellon doctoral programs, but will in no way assure admittance.

Yes. Each student in the program is assigned an academic advisor. The initial meeting takes place during orientation week. Ongoing advising sessions at regular intervals enable students to discuss personal and professional career objectives, and to map out academic plans to meet those goals. 

All students are assigned a Carnegie Mellon Andrew account when they enter the program. You will receive your user ID and temporary password prior to the start of your program.
All students must provide their own laptops or desktops for use while enrolled in the program. We will provide a list of recommended equipment and software to admitted students.
Students in our online program have access to all the same resources available to students on campus: career services, university libraries, computing services, an academic advisor, and program faculty.

At this time we are holding virtual information sessions for admitted students. We hope to resume in person visits to campus in the near future. In the meantime, you can take a tour of the MSE with Ashwin, a recent graduate of the program.

All campus candidates (MSE, MSE-SS, MSE-ES) who apply by December will start class in late August.

MSE Online candidates who apply by mid-October will start class in mid-January.

MSE Online candidates who apply in by the end of April will start class in late August.

Yes. All full-time students are welcome to work in a community study space within the department. Locked storage bins, in which you can keep your personal belongings, are assigned at the campus orientation. 

Breakout rooms are available to all project teams for client meetings, video conferencing, weekly mentoring sessions, practice presentations, and collaborative brainstorming sessions. These rooms are routinely reserved with the Studio Manager.

The MSE for Professionals degree will read:
Master of Software Engineering

The MSE Online degree will read:
Master of Science in Software Engineering

The MSE – ES degree will read:
Master of Software Engineering – Embedded Systems

The MSE – SS degree will read:
Master of Software Engineering – Scalable Systems