M.S. Software Engineering

Software engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to development, operation, and maintenance of software; that is, the application of engineering to software. It is an interdisciplinary field of study that bridges the boundaries of computer science, engineering, mathematics, and behavioral science.

The M.S. Software Engineering (MSSE) program at UC Irvine is a heavily research-oriented program aimed at students with a computer science (or related) bachelor’s degree, who may or may not have been out in the workforce already, and who seek to build a strong background in software engineering. In particular, this program is aimed toward students who seek to develop a deeper understanding of the processes, tools, and techniques involved in the creation of dependable, large-scale software systems. While not all M.S. students will choose to do a Ph.D. following their Master’s, the research focus of this program makes it ideal for those considering a Ph.D. (such as our Ph.D. Software Engineering program).

For students interested in pursuing a professionally-oriented degree, working directly with industry mentors and clients on software engineering projects, and looking to find a position or advance their career within a corporate context, we encourage you to consider our MSWE program.

The MSSE program is designed around a set of core courses that introduces the fundamentals of software engineering, followed by a broader range of courses through which students can choose to focus their learning. Students could choose to augment their core with more computer science-oriented courses (e.g., network and distributed systems security, next generation search systems), data science courses (e.g., machine learning, data mining), end-user oriented courses (e.g., user interface design and evaluation, ubiquitous computing and interaction), or advanced software engineering courses (e.g., software architecture, software analysis and testing).

Throughout, students are exposed to the theory, tools, methods, approaches and practicalities of software engineering. Many of the courses include project work, often performed in teams, and frequently culminating in a system, prototype or conceptual design.

The students are required to complete and defend an M.S. thesis under the direction of a faculty advisor. For at least three quarters, the student will join a research group, contribute to a research project, and write a thesis summarizing the outcome of their research. With no fewer than seven faculty members running software engineering research groups, you will have a diverse range of projects from which to choose. The M.S. thesis provides an excellent experience for students interested in continuing toward a Ph.D. program or to pursue a career as a researcher in corporate or government laboratories.

Why study at UC Irvine?

  • Excellence. You will be part of a world-class group of faculty and students who have an outstanding track record of delivering innovative, relevant education.
  • Placement. We prepare our students for rich, fulfilling careers; they frequently move on quickly from early jobs as programmers and software engineers to positions of technical and managerial leadership.
  • Support. You join a team that strongly believes that working together is essential to learning. Whether in the classroom, in your M.S. research, or simply as part of a hallway conversation, we encourage you to speak up, join the discussion and contribute.
  • Connections. Our alumni have gone on to study in some of the most prestigious Ph.D. programs, work for well-known, innovative corporations, and found successful startups. We stay in touch with them, and can help connect you with for internships that complement your studies.
  • Diversity. UCI was founded with a focus on diversity of thought, experiences, and ideas. Our department faculty represent a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds and have in-depth collaborations across campus.


We are always looking for talented students to join! To learn more about our courses and accomplishments, we encourage you to explore this website, as well as the sites of the many research labs and centers in the department. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via our vice chair for graduate affairs or by e-mailing one of the software engineering faculty directly.

Detailed requirements

Please see the catalogue for a detailed description of the requirements of the software engineering M.S. program.