Master of Science (M.S.) in Software Engineering

Software Engineering at Silicon Valley

The Master of Science in Software Engineering (MS-SE) is a unique program offered exclusively at CMU’s Silicon Valley campus. It emphasizes a rigorous foundation in the principles of software engineering within the context of ECE’s top-ranked Computer Engineering program. Students develop the understanding and skills needed to become the architects and project leaders building systems in which software plays a critical role. The course of study combines a deep core in software engineering principles and practices with application to a series of increasingly complex systems challenges drawn from the real world. 

CMU’s Silicon Valley campus provides an excellent setting for the MS-SE program. Our faculty cover a wide range of complementary research domains where software is pivotal — notably mobile computing, connected embedded systems, and related domains. This research provides a rich environment in which the Software Engineering program is taught.

Through our deep ties to local companies from startups to giants (like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, VMWare, IBM, Oracle, and Cisco), students engage in Silicon Valley culture through sponsored projects, internships, hackathons, and other events. This integrated curriculum helps graduates build a career path with lifelong networking opportunities.

Examples of courses available to students in the MS-SE program at the Silicon Valley

  • Foundations of Software Engineering
  • Software Architecture and Design
  • Software Validation, Verification, and Testing
  • Service-Oriented Computing
  • Mobile and Pervasive Computing
  • Connected Embedded Systems Architecture
  • Cloud Computing
  • Low-Power System-on-Chip Architecture
  • How to Write Fast Code
  • Numerical Methods for Engineering Design and Optimization
  • Statistical Discovery and Learning
  • Wireless Network Security
  • Mobile Hardware for Software Engineers
  • Mobile Security
  • Analytical Performance Modeling
  • Machine Learning
  • Requirements Analysis
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Degree Requirements

MS-SE is a full-time program available to qualified students who have earned an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. It typically takes three semesters to complete. Applications are accepted for Fall semester only. Summer semester courses may be limited so students are available to pursue competitive internships in the Silicon Valley area or elsewhere.

Course requirements

A minimum of 96 units are required to obtain the MS-SE degree.

Of the 96 units, 60 units must be from three areas:

  • Software Design and Engineering
  • Analysis
  • Systems

All required SE courses are full-semester courses of 12 units. MS-SE students must take at least one course from each of the three areas above. Students may count up to 12 units of a graduate project in lieu of a course.

The remaining 36 units are electives and may be selected from courses offered at or available to the Silicon Valley campus. The following departments have courses available to Silicon Valley students

  • ECE (18-500 or above)
  • Information Networking Institute
  • Integrated Innovation Institute (M.S. in Software Management)


Units must be taken at the Silicon Valley campus, either from faculty located at the campus or via courses broadcast from the Pittsburgh campus to Silicon Valley.

Transfer credit from previous universities or colleges

Only one graduate-level course, or the equivalent of 12 units, can be transferred from another university as credit toward the M.S. degree. As a guideline, three-credit courses from other universities equate to 9-unit CMU courses; a four-credit course equates to a 12-unit CMU course. The course being transferred can not have been counted towards another degree and a letter grade of "B" or better must have been received. To transfer credit from another university, a formal petition must be submitted to and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. No credit will be considered or granted prior to admission to the M.S. degree program.

Quality Point Average (QPA) requirement

To remain as a student in good standing, the student must maintain a 3.0 QPA in course units and a separate 3.0 QPA in project units. The letter grades "A," "B," or "C," represent 4.0, 3.0, and 2.0 points in the QPA calculation, respectively. Transfer credits are not included in the QPA calculations.

For the final degree requirements, the QPA is calculated using the highest, appropriate, scores of 96 units out of the first 120 course and project units attempted. The units used to calculate the QPA must satisfy the M.S. course requirement.

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