Software engineers earn degrees online

Students who plan to earn a master’s degree in software engineering at Cal State Fullerton might not have to come to school at all.

The Department of Computer Science introduced an online program last semester that specializes in software engineering. The Master of Science in the software engineering program enables students to fulfill all degree requirements anywhere, from their workplaces to their homes.

The online program, called MSE, “prepares individuals for careers as software engineers and software process managers in industry and government agencies,” according to the program’s Web site.

Chang-Hyun Jo, a CSUF professor and faculty member of the software engineering program, said the primary targets of this program are professionals who have sufficient working experience in the field of computer science, as well as undergraduate students.

Instead of sitting in chairs and taking notes in the classroom, MSE students make use of audio lectures on Blackboard, a site used by faculty and students where assignments, notes and syllabi can be posted. Blackboard also serves as a place for discussion among online students.

“In today’s IT market, the ability to architect and manage a successful project is very important, so I feel I am receiving the right type of training for today’s demanding market,” said Brook Gonsowski, an MSE student who waited almost two years for the program to begin. “It has been worth it.”

Currently, 45 students are enrolled in the program with another 45 students expected to join in the fall.

Although the number of current and prospective students sounds favorable for the future of the program, there are resource issues stemming from the program’s annual budget.

“We don’t have enough funds,” said Jo, about the prospects of MSE. “It directly affects the number of instructors and course materials.”

Bing Cong, a CSUF computer science professor who is also the coordinator of MSE, said the program is in the progress of developing its standard content, exemplified by the introduction of a reusable video lecture in an effort to overcome the budget issue.

The work group, composed of eight faculty members, designed everything for the program, such as the renewal of audio lectures, a time-consuming process that required them to work even during the weekends.

Faculty members said their efforts will pay off for students living under severe time constraints.

“I would be very happy about that,” said Tim Bradley, who just enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in the software engineering program. “This is a time-convenient program and would be helpful for a student like me.”

About Noboru Okuyama