Master of Science in Software Engineering

The School of Engineering offers a master's degree in software engineering (MSSE) as well as graduate-level certificate programs in select areas of software engineering. The MSSE program is intended to serve the needs of software application developers, web programmers, network and information security administrators, database administrators, and other information technology professionals. Students who do not meet a minimum experience level, or who have other skill deficiencies, will be required to take one or more bridge courses to strengthen their capacity to meet the MSSE curriculum demands.

The certificate programs allow software professionals to upgrade their skills in selected areas. Certificate program students enroll under "special student" status and participate in courses offered through the MSSE program, earning a Certificate of Completion. The certificate credits could count toward the MSSE degree should students choose to pursue it. Four certificate programs are available: Web Applications Development, Database Management, Information Security, and Network Technologies.

Program Overview

Engineering education programs seek to impart technical, mathematical, and engineering design knowledge that can be applied to the creative development of products, or solutions to problems, that are useful to society. The MSSE program emphasizes software as the product to be built, recognizing that social progress and the national economy depend on knowledge industries as well as on traditional manufacturing, and aims to meet the challenge of progressively increasing demand for the skills and competencies of software engineers.

A special feature of the MSSE program at Fairfield is a team-driven software engineering capstone course during which students experience the various phases of the software engineering development lifecycle while working on significant real-world software development projects chosen by the faculty. The criteria for the projects are that they are complex, allow the students to experience advanced software engineering topics, and are multi-semester long with students joining for two semesters each.

Learning Goals

Students in the MSSE program will be instructed to analyze, design, verify, validate, implement, apply, and maintain software systems. Specifically, the following methodologies and skills will be emphasized:

  • Requirements gathering methodologies
  • Object-oriented design and prototyping following agile and traditional software life cycles
  • Project management in software design and development
  • Software system implementation using various software development tools
  • Software testing and maintenance
  • Software documentation

In sum, students will acquire the skills and real-world knowledge to succeed in the software engineering field through an in-depth exposure to the software development methodologies and tools. A sequence of required courses and elective courses, and the final team-driven capstone project provide depth and breadth to the students' learning experiences.

In addition to required courses, those in specialization areas build strong in-depth technical knowledge and skills in the area of student's interest. Courses in other engineering and management fields are available as electives.


The students who enroll in the MSSE program are:

  • IT workers who, responding to the demands of their industry, need to acquire new skills and master new tools to effectively guide software development in their company
  • Technologists who wish to fulfill their needs for personal and professional growth
  • Engineers and scientists who aspire to a career change
  • Undergraduate students in software engineering, computer engineering, or computer science who seek the opportunity to continue their studies for an advanced engineering degree at Fairfield University

Students who wish to retrain to move from a different discipline into software engineering are welcome to enroll in the program.  They may expect to do as many as 9 credits of work to catch up in the field.  For example, students with no prior programming experience would be required to take programming language courses under advisement from the program director.  Students may also be encouraged to take additional non-credit courses during their graduate work as needed.  These additional prerequisites will be determined on an individual basis.

Software is ubiquitous in all modern technology, and software engineers with skills and knowledge of software design, development and management are a valuable resource, and very well-sought after.