Graduate Division

Software Engineering MS

Section 1


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.

What Sets Us Apart?

  • 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.

Quick Facts

Program Type

Academic Master's Program

Normative Time to Degree

2 years

Capstone Type

Thesis or Comprehensive Exam

Accordion Section

Admissions Requirements

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their prior academic record and letters of reference from people either in the student's academic history or work settings. Students applying to the program may have degrees in any field, though preference is generally given to those with a technical, social science, or design background and those with work experience. All applicants are evaluated on the materials submitted: letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and personal statement. Applicants are strongly encouraged to additionally submit either official GRE test scores or a relevant work portfolio. For more information, contact the ICS graduate counselor at 949-824-5156 or

A couple of important notes:

  • If you are a prospective M.S. student interested in being admitted to our programs, you must choose the Software Engineering M.S. program. We are unlikely to see your application if you choose the Computer Science M.S. program.
  • Because of strong demand, admission to our programs is highly competitive. We pay attention to all aspects of the application package, including personal statement, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

Financial Support

We unfortunately are not in a position to guarantee funding to our M.S. students. Quite a few of them, however, find a spot in a research laboratory or as a teaching assistant, providing them with funding that way. We also structure our course offerings in such a way that it generally is possible to graduate within four quarters.

Tuition & Fees

Graduate/Credential Student Fees 2019-20

  Fall 2019 Winter 2020 Spring 2020 Annual
Student Services Fee 376.00 376.00 376.00 1,128.00
Tuition 3,814.00 3,814.00 3,814.00 11,442.00
Assoc. Grad Students Fee 9.00 9.00 9.00 27.00
Student Center Fee 139.69 139.69 139.68 419.06
Bren Events Center Fee 23.00 23.00 23.00 69.00
Recreation Center Fee 88.00 88.00 88.00 264.00
Document Fee * 80.00 0.00 0.00 80.00
Student Health Insurance 1,459.18 1,459.18 1,459.18 4,377.54
Total California Resident $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.86 $ 17,726.60
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition 5,034.00 5,034.00 5,034.00 15,102.00
Total Nonresident $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.86 $ 32,828.60


Posted 12 July 2019 at

The tuition, fees, and charges posted to your billing statement or account are estimates based on currently approved amounts. These figures may not be final. Actual tuition, fees, and charges are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by increases or reductions in State funding, or other developments. Accordingly, final approved levels (and thus your final balance due) may differ from the amounts shown.

* The Document Fee provides lifetime access to official transcripts and academic verifications without a fee for in-person pickup or delivery by USPS. In addition, there is no fee for mailing the initial diploma. Effective Fall 2018, new undergraduate, professional, and graduate students are assessed the one-time document fee. Eligible students are able to use financial aid to cover the Document Fee.

Core Faculty

Rebecca W. Black, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Associate Professor of Informatics

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Ph.D. University of Melbourne, Chancellor's Professor of Informatics; Visual Studies (values in design, social studies of databases, science and technology studies)

Yunan Chen, Ph.D. Drexel University, Associate Professor of Informatics; Program in Public Health (medical informatics, human computer interaction)

Roderic N. Crooks, Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, Assistant Professor of Informatics (science and technology studies, education technology, critical data studies, data visualization, community archives)

James P. Dourish, Ph.D. University College London, Chancellor's Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Daniel H. Frost, M.S. University of California, Irvine, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science; Informatics (artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer graphics, teaching of programming)

Judith Gregory, Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, Associate Adjunct Professor of Informatics (values in design, translational biomedical informatics, participatory design, design and emotion)

Gillian Hayes, Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, Robert A. and Barbara L. Kleist Professor of Informatics; Education (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, educational technology, ubiquitous computing)

Mizuko Ito, Ph.D. Stanford University, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning and Professor in Residence of Anthropology; Education; Informatics (ethnography, game studies, youth culture, learning sciences, online communities)

James Jones, Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, Associate Professor of Informatics (software engineering, software testing and analysis, debugging and fault localization, static and dynamic analysis, software visualization)

David G. Kay, J.D. Loyola Marymount University, Senior Lecturer Emeritus of Informatics; Computer Science (computer law, computer science education)

Cory P. Knobel, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Assistant Adjunct Professor of Informatics (interactive and collaborative technology, values in design, modes of knowledge representation, philosophy of science and technology)

Alfred Kobsa, Ph.D. University of Vienna, Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (user modeling, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, interdisciplinary computer science)

Cristina V. Lopes, Ph.D. Northeastern University, Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (programming languages, acoustic communications, operating systems, software engineering)

Gloria J. Mark, Ph.D. Columbia University, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction)

Melissa Mazmanian, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Associate Professor of Informatics (computer-mediated communication, organization studies, information and communication technologies in practice, social response to emerging technologies, work/non-work negotiations in the information age)

Bonnie A. Nardi, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported collaborative work, human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communication, user studies methods, activity theory, cultural responses to technology development)

Emily Navarro, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Lecturer of Informatics

Gary Olson, Ph.D. Stanford University, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Judith Olson, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Professor Emeritus of Informatics; Paul Merage School of Business; Urban Planning and Public Policy (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Richard Pattis, M.S. Stanford University, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science; Informatics (MicroWorlds for teaching programming, debugging, computational tools for non-computer scientists)

David F. Redmiles, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported cooperative work, human computer interaction, software engineering, globally distributed development teams, user interfaces, software tools)

Debra J. Richardson, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (software engineering, program testing, life-cycle validation, software environments)

Katie Salen Tekinbaş, M.F.A. Rhode Island School of Design, Professor of Informatics (game design, connected learning design, human-computer interaction)

Kurt Squire, Ph.D. Indiana University, Professor of Informatics (video game design, games for learning, mobile technologies, civic engagement, place-based learning)

Constance Steinkuehler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Professor of Informatics (video games for impact, game-mediated cognition and learning, online social interaction, video games and policy)

Joshua Tanenbaum, M.A. Simon Fraser University, Assistant Professor of Informatics (digital games and narrative, tangible and wearable interaction, maker and DIY culture, nonverbal communication and virtual worlds)

Richard N. Taylor, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (software engineering, user interfaces, environments, team support)

Hadar Ziv, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Lecturer of Informatics (software testing, requirements engineering, Bayesian modeling)

André W. van der Hoek, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor of Informatics (software engineering)

Academic Data

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