Software plays a pivotal role in almost all aspects of our life, including transportation, communication, economy, and healthcare. We put trust in software to accomplish complex and vital tasks for us, such as managing our finances, sharing our family and friends memories, diagnosing diseases, flying airplanes or driving cars. These systems manipulate and generate an unprecedented amount of data.

In such a scenario, the software cannot be understood without its data and data becomes valuable only thanks to the software analyzing it.

Why enroll in the Master in Software and Data Engineering (MSDE) at USI?

Top qualification

MSDE is a unique opportunity for students to become highly qualified, software and data engineers able to effectively deal with the increasing complexity of modern software systems and with the gigantic amount of data they generate and manipulate.

Renowned professors

Courses are taught by internationally renowned academics. Since it opened in 2004, the USI Faculty of Informatics has been climbing to the top positions in the lineup for European universities for what concerns Software Engineering research. It now ranks 2nd in Europe, and 15th worldwide.

Importance of data and software

Nowadays software cannot be understood without its data and data becomes valuable only thanks to the software analyzing it. This is why only an integrated study program in both software and data engineering represents cutting-edge knowledge and skills relevant for the development, maintenance, and evolution of next-generation ultra-large software systems living in a world of data.

Small classes

We love teaching and care about teaching! The low Student/Professor ratio gives the possibility to study in a friendly and stimulating environment in which Professors and Assistants spend time with their Students.

Study program

The Master in Software and Data Engineering has been designed to provide students with a strong set of skills needed to become highly specialized software and data engineers.

The study programme comprises 120 ECTS over four semesters (two years) and it is compounded of four modules: Software Engineering, Data Engineering, Electives, and the Master Thesis.

The Software Engineering module embraces 36 ECTS and provides students with a deep knowledge of state-of-the-art techniques used to deal with the implementation, evolution, and maintenance of complex software systems. Topics related to this module are software design, software quality and testing, software architecture, software performance, and software analytics. While half of the module is dedicated to classical software engineering topics, the other half is focused on how analytics can be applied to reflect and improve the software process itself.

The Data Engineering module includes three courses (18 ECTS) teaching students techniques and tools to design and modeling data (1st semester), to convert data into information (2nd semester), and to transform information into knowledge useful for supporting decision-making activities (3rd semester).

The topics studied in the Software and the Data Engineering modules are continuously integrated into the whole course of study. This is done by devoting 18 ECTS to deal with both Software and Data Engineering topics with project-based learning.

The Electives module includes 12 ECTS, that students can freely select from a given list of courses offered at the USI Faculty of Informatics based on his/her personal preference.

Finally, the remaining 36 ECTS (the whole 4th semester plus 6 ECTS of the 3rd semester) are dedicated to the Master Thesis. Students will use the 6 ECTS of the 3rd semester to visit the research groups of the Software Institute of the Faculty of Informatics and to prepare a thesis proposal. Then, they will work full time on the thesis in the 4th semester in the research group of their choice.

At the end of the study programme, students will be awarded a Master of Science in Software and Data Engineering. They are expected to possess all the skills needed to pursue a successful career as software engineers and/or data engineers as well as in the context of academic research in software-related fields.

MSDE structure


The Master in Software and Data Engineering features courses taught by internationally renowned professors, being leading researchers at the USI Software Institute.

The teaching philosophy implemented throughout the Master aims at preparing and facilitating the student’s process of self-learning and self-acquisition of valuable knowledge and skills. Students master core design thinking processes, learning how to analyze a problem, define different solution strategies, analyze trade-offs and take a suitable design decision taking into account relevant constraints. Students learn valuable lessons while facing real-world datasets to be explored and prove themselves by building the software to do so.

All courses promote a mix of theory with practice, featuring a hands-on, learning-by-doing approach, with short-/long-term projects in which students apply what they study to concrete problems and datasets taken from the real world. Students are also expected to substantially improve their collaboration, presentation and communication skills, thanks to the public project presentations planned for most of the courses.


Bachelor’s Degree in Informatics or equivalent
Students without a strong background in software engineering may be required to attend some additional courses.

C1 level English
Applicants who are not native English speakers or whose first degree was not taught in English must supply an internationally recognized certificate to demonstrate a C1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR). If your current level is B2 you may still apply on condition that you achieve C1 within a predefined period.

The C1 level on the CEFR corresponds to the following scores in internationally acknowledge exams:

IELTS TOEFL Cambridge English TOEIC
7.0 Internet-based: 100
  • CAE (Advanced certificate), grade C or above
  • BEC (Business English), grade C or above
  • Listening & Reading: 945
  • Speaking: 180
  • Writing: 180

Career prospects

Software lives in a world of data. Data is the new oil. Data is the new natural resource to be mined and exploited using the software.

Data analytics software provides actionable insights on the basis of continuous improvement and decision-making processes. Such insights can be found by exploring large quantities of data, by asking the right questions and knowing how to reliably and efficiently find the appropriate answers.

Students graduating in this Master will be highly specialized software and data engineers, able to fully understand and manage the complexity of modern software systems and of the sea of data surrounding them. Such a unique profile balancing both software and data engineering skills is significantly different from other Master Programs in Data Science that are appearing elsewhere in Switzerland and throughout Europe.

Mastering how to effectively use software to deal with the data deluge is a key capability for any organization undergoing digital transformation efforts. Also, the demand for software and data engineers is currently very high and it is expected to grow even more in the near future.

Besides the expected high employability in industry, graduates will also represent the perfect candidate for pursuing a Ph.D. degree at USI in one of the research groups of the Software Institute.

Fees & grants


Tuition fees for the Master’s degrees amount to CHF 4,000 per semester.

Applicants whose official residence was in Switzerland (including Liechtenstein and Campione d’Italia) at the time of the final high school exam (Maturità) pay a reduced semester fee of CHF 2,000.

Tuition fees are payable at the beginning of each term, by the deadline indicated on the invoice; fee payment is an essential condition for matriculating or renewing one’s enrolment.


For the academic year 2017/2018, the Foundation for the Lugano Faculties of the Università della Svizzera italiana will award a total of 60 one-off study grants of the amount of CHF 4’000 each. The merit-based grants are given to the students admitted to the first year of a USI Master programme starting in September 2017.

Università della Svizzera italiana organize a contest for 10 study grants for students admitted to the first year of one of the Master programs offered by the Faculty of Informatics for the academic year 2017/2018.

Other study grants are available.

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Last updated May 7, 2019
This course is Campus based
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4 semesters
16,000 CHF
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April 30 2018 for students who need a visa; June 30, 2018 for other students.
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