Master of Software Engineering From PSU

I’d been wanting to take some computer science courses for a while now because after being out of school for five years, I miss it. Besides, my employer pays for a bit of the education costs. But it’s hard to find graduate level courses that are convenient times and locations. I stumbled across the OMSE program (Oregon Master of Software Engineering) from someone’s blog post that was linked to from an Ignite Portland web page, and saw that they offer online class for most of the courses, and convenient evening times for the face to face classes. Bingo.

I’m taking the first course, OMSE 500, Principles of Software Engineering, right now. The course is an overview of the rest of the program, and it’s helping me realize that software engineering is quite a different topic from computer science. The course is all discussion based about topics such as project management, system architecture, development methodologies and other high view topics, but we never actually look at code. I’m not sure if I like that or not yet. I wonder sometimes if I would get burned out on code if I worked a normal week coding, and then had classes where all I did was code on top of that. On the other hand I feel like the OMSE courses will prepare me more to be a project manager than a better programmer.

What I like best about the course so far is getting a lot of perspective and stories from the fellow students. A prerequisite for taking the classes is that you’ve been working in software development for a few years, so it’s interesting to hear about the real world problems that people face as opposed to the type of fellow students I had when I was finishing my undergrad where almost nobody had any real experience outside of homework assignments. It really drives home the point that with software being as ubiquitous as it is now, some of the biggest challenges in developing it are managing how programmers work with each other since there’s not much that is done by a single person anymore.

I plan to at least get the certificate, which is 5 courses and should take me a little over a year. The full masters program is 13 or so courses, but I’m not sure yet that I wouldn’t rather focus on more computer science courses. The biggest downside to the program is that it’s expensive – over $1500 for 3 credits. I can’t imagine paying that if work didn’t chip in for most of it. I suppose they charge a little extra since most people enrolled have their employers paying for it.