Carnegie Mellon University Masters in Software Engineering

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The Master of Software Engineering (MSE) at Carnegie Mellon University is a professional master's program founded in 1989 with the intent of developing technical leaders in software engineering practice. A joint effort between Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science and the Software Engineering Institute, the MSE has been on the forefront of software engineering education for over two decades.

At the heart of the MSE curriculum is the Studio Project, a capstone project that spans the entire duration of the 16-month degree. The Studio element is unique from most software engineering programs at other universities in that the project sponsors are real-world, external industry clients, and that the projects themselves are considerably larger in scope than typical capstone projects.

Carnegie Mellon partners with other universities and software engineering departments throughout the world including in Portugal, India, and Korea in an effort to enhance software engineering education at the global level. Through this partnership, the same methods and practices used at the Pittsburgh campus are transferred to international educational partners.


Centered around software engineering workshops conducted at the Software Engineering Institute, the degree program's original core concepts and curriculum were developed, much of which remains intact to this day. Throughout its twenty-year+ history, the program has evolved with respect to curriculum modifications and additions, as well as changes in faculty and staff. The original faculty included many educators who remain currently active, while others have retired or died. The latter notable individuals include Norm Gibbs and Jim 'Coach' Tomayko. Dr. Tomayko was responsible for the MSE Studio concept, and remained deeply committed to the MSE program throughout his career.

A hallmark of the MSE program is that it targets software practitioners, those who are already working in the field.[1]

Program directors[edit]

  • 2002–Present, Dr. David Garlan, Director, Masters Programs in Professional Software Engineering
  • 1989? - 2004, Dr. James E. Tomayko, Director, Master of Software Engineering Program
  •  ?? - ??, Dr. Mary Shaw, Director, Master of Software Engineering Program
  • 1989 - ??, Norman Gibbs, Director, Master of Software Engineering Program
  • 1996 - 2001, Dr. James E. Tomayko, Director of Software Engineering Distance Program
  • 2001 - 2008, Mel Rosso-Llopart, Director of Software Engineering Distance Program


The MSE program is a joint effort of the School of Computer Science and the Software Engineering Institute. The degree program is an intensive 16-month curriculum designed for professional software engineers. Class sizes are generally around 20 students. Applicants to the program must have a strong background in computer science, no less than two years of relevant industry experience with an average of five year's of experience.[2]

The MSE curriculum has three basic components:

  1. Core Courses develop foundational skills in the fundamentals of software engineering, with an emphasis on design, analysis, and the management of large-scale software systems.
  2. The Studio Project, a capstone project that spans the duration of the program, allows for students to plan and implement a significant software project for an external client. Inspired by the design projects in architecture programs, students work as members of a team under the guidance of faculty advisors (mentors), analyzing a problem, planning the software development effort, executing a solution, and evaluating their work.
  3. Electives allow students to develop deeper expertise in an area of speciality within the software engineering domain, or to pursue study in areas relevant to their personal and professional interests.

Core Courses[edit]

  1. Models of Software Systems
  2. Methods: Deciding What to Design
  3. Management of Software Development
  4. Analysis of Software Artifacts
  5. Architectures for Software Systems

Studio Project[edit]


Proposal based studio [4]

Partnership Program[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

  • James 'Coach' Tomayko
  • David Garlan
  • Mary Shaw
  • Anthony Lattanze
  • Mark Paulk
  • Dr. James D. Herbsleb
  • Dr. Nancy Mead


  1. ^ Nancy R. Mead: Software engineering education: How far we’ve come and how far we have to go
  2. ^ Garlan, David; Gluch, P. David; Tomayko, James E.: Agents of Change: Educating Software Engineering Leaders of Tomorrow, page 59-65. IEEE Software, November 1997.
  3. ^ James Tomayko. Teaching Software Development in a Studio Environment, Association for Computing Machinery, ACM 0-89791-377-9/91/0002-03000, September, 1991.
  4. ^ Root, D.; Rosso-Llopart, M.; Taran, G., Proposal Based Studio Projects: How to Avoid Producing "Cookie Cutter" Software Engineers, Software Engineering Education and Training, 2008. CSEET '08. IEEE 21st Conference on , vol., no., pp.145-151, 14–17 April 2008

External links[edit]