The focus of the MSE program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is to teach the advanced state-of-the-art technologies in software development with hands-on experience and to apply the knowledge to some challenging real-world problems. The program will guide the students to acquire both technical skills and software project management skills that are required to lead and to carry out software development projects.

The MSE program is slightly different from the traditional Master's program in Computer Science. It specializes in software engineering theory and practice. It includes a limited subset of applications such as Databases and Computer Networks.

Graduates with an MSE degree are prepared to:

  • design and analyze software systems
  • efficiently conduct quality assurance
  • be project leaders
  • prepare cost estimations and feasibility analysis for software projects
  • conduct testing and verification

Graduates are employed as:

  • software engineers
  • software designers
  • software developers
  • testing engineers
  • quality assurance personnel

Program Prerequisites

Students desiring to be admitted into the MSE program must have taken courses on the following topics or must have knowledge in these areas (evidence or supporting materials required):

  • A modern programming language such as C, C++, C#, Java (UW-L equivalents: C-S 220 or C-S 224)
  • Data Structures and Algorithms that include abstract data types such as List, Stack, Queue, Tree and Graph (UW-L equivalent: C-S 340)
  • Discrete Mathematics that includes topics on Set Theory, Predicate Logic, Functions and Relations (UW-L equivalent: MTH 225)

Students who lack any of these prerequisites must take additional courses (not counted for credit towards the MSE program) to meet the program prerequisites requirement. A cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.85 / 4.0 is required in these courses.

Admission Requirements

The student must have a bachelor’s degree in any other discipline with an overall GPA of at least 2.85 / 4.0 or a GPA of at least 3.0 / 4.0 in the last half of all undergraduate work, and must at least have 2 years of working experience in software development. In this case, the student must provide at least 2 references from the workplace; the referees should be able to comment on the knowledge and skills of the student in software development. References can be submitted to the Computer Science Department directly or to the Admission Office with your graduate application materials.

The student must have a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering or an equivalent major, with an overall undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.85 / 4.0 or a GPA of at least 3.0 / 4.0 in the last half of all undergraduate work or a GPA of at least 3.0 / 4.0 for no fewer than 12 semester credits of graduate study at another accredited graduate institution.

How to Apply

U.S. Residents | International Students: Complete the online graduate application form which is available at

All questions regarding the university application should be directed to Admissions, or (608) 785-8939.

International Students: Additional information regarding International admissions can be found on the Admissions website now:

An application packet should consist of the following:

  • a completed UWL Application for Graduate Admission
  • official transcripts of all undergraduate/graduate coursework completed
  • two recommendation letters from the workplace if undergraduate degree is in another discipline
  • letter of intent for those individuals seeking financial assistantships
  • non-refundable fee listed on UWL application

Questions pertaining specifically to the MSE program should be directed to Kasi Periyasamy, MSE Program Director, (608) 785-6823 or the CS Department at (608) 785-6805.

GRE scores are not required. However, it is strongly recommended that the student submit GRE scores, if they have them, along with the application. Do not send your application or transcripts to the academic department or program director.

The Admissions Office will forward graduate application materials to the Computer Science Department for acceptance or denial to the MSE program. Once a decision has been made, the materials will be returned to the originating office who will send a letter indicating the MSE admissions committee decision. Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing once all required application materials have been received in the admissions office.


Students in the program should complete 24 credits of coursework and 12 credits of a capstone project. The coursework consists of 5 core courses and 3 elective courses. It is recommended that as many required courses be completed as possible before the elective courses and a capstone project. Any questions should be directed to the MSE program director.

Required Courses

  • CS 744 Management Issues in Software Engineering
  • CS 743 Software Verification and Validation
  • CS 742 Formal Methods in Software Development
  • CS 741 Software Engineering Principles
  • CS 546 Object-Oriented Software Development

Elective Courses

  • CS 752 Independent Study
  • CS 751 Seminar in Software Engineering
  • CS 750 Topics in Software Engineering
  • CS 571 Data Communications
  • CS 570 Parallel and Distributed Computing
  • CS 564 Advanced Database Management Systems
  • CS 556 Secure Software Development
  • CS 555 Fundamentals of Information Security
  • CS 554 Digital Image Processing
  • CS 553 Introduction to the Theory of Computation
  • CS 552 Artificial Intelligence and Pattern Recognition
  • CS 551 User Interface Design
  • CS 549 Advances in Software Engineering
  • CS 543 Topics in Operating Systems
  • CS 542 Structure of Compilers
  • CS 541 Operating System Concepts
  • CS 531 Introduction to Robotics
  • CS 521 Programming Language Principles
  • CS 519 Independent Study
  • CS 510 Free and Open Source Software Development
  • CS 502 Web Application Development

Capstone Project Work

  • CS 798 Software Development Project
Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated May 3, 2019
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