Applying to the Program

Q: How do I begin my application?

A: Please follow the MS Software Engineering application submission process. This web page will answer many of your questions about submitting an application. You should also review the information provided by Graduate Admissions at

Q: What are the application deadlines?

A: University admission deadlines are listed at

Q: Do you accept late applications?

A: At this time we do NOT accept late applications.

Q: What is the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluation (GAPE) office?

A: Applications are evaluated in a two-step process, first by the GAPE office then the department. The GAPE office administers all graduate admissions. It checks that your applications fulfill the minimum university criteria for admission. It checks your transcripts, degree certificates, TOEFL scores, visa status, and financial information. Currently, GAPE requires an evaluation of your transcripts by World Education Services (WES). Visit the GAPE web site for more information about WES evaluation for SJSU applications. 

Once Graduate Studies is satisfied that you are qualified to join the university, then it forwards your file to the department. This step is called "Referred to Department". During this step a Computer Engineering department advisor will evaluate your likelyhood of success in the MS Software Engineering program and make a decision about whether to extend admission to you.

Q: I have questions about providing documents (such as transcripts and degree certificates) and test scores (such as TOEFL and GRE scores). Whom do I contact?

A: Documents and test scores should be submitted directly to GAPE. Please see the GAPE web site more information. Please do NOT contact a Computer Engineering department advisor or staff member for help with document submission as they will not be able to help you. If you have issues or questions about submitting documents, please contact GAPE and not the MS Software Engineering Advisor.

Q: I have questions about the MS Software Engineering program. Whom do I contact?

A: Visit and look for the MSSE Advisor. The times and location for advising sessions will be listed. The advising sessions are walk-in, group sessions for current, newly admitted, and prospective students. You do NOT need an appointment. Attending an advising session as a prospective student will allow you to hear from current graduate students as well have questions answered by an advisor. 

Q: What are the application fees?

A: Please check with the application web site, Cal State Apply (, for university fees.

Q: Do I need to submit letters of recommendation with my application?

A: Letters of Recommendation should NOT be submitted unless requested by the MS Software Engineering graduate advisor.

Q: I need to know NOW whether you will accept me later, so that I can decide whether to work on undergraduate prerequisites, or whether I should try applying at a different university.

A: Unfortunately, we cannot give you a guarantee now that we will admit you later.

Q: I fulfill all requirements for admission. Am I guaranteed to be accepted?

A: Unfortunately, no. When there are more qualified applicants than we have space available in the program, we offer admission to those whom we consider the most promising applicants, until all space is filled. 

Q: What is an ABET accredited program?

A: ABET is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. It is the official accreditation board for Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science programs in the United States. You will find a list of accredited universities at the ABET web site.

Q: I do not have an Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Computer Engineering undergraduate degree but I do have an Engineering or Science degree. Can I be admitted conditionally classified?

A: Possibly, but you will be assigned prerequisite courses. The prerequisite courses you will be assigned are: CMPE 050 or CS 49J; CMPE 126 or CS 46B; CMPE 138; and CMPE 142.  You can choose to either take these courses or take a subject test. If you take the courses, you must achieve a B grade or better.  The equivalent of the first two prerequisites can be taken at a community college that provides courses that are listed (articulated) in If you take the classes in the Computer Engineering department, the conditions can be cleared with three courses specifically designed for graduate students.  See for more detail.

Q: Do I need to demonstrate English proficiency?

A: If you do not have a degree from a US university, you need to provide a minimum TOEFL score of 550 paper based, 213 computer based, or 80 Internet based. As an alternative, you can submit IELTS scores with a minimum of 7.0. This is a University requirement. Students that submit TOEFL scores lower than the minimum will be denied admission by GAPE and will not be considered for conditional admission. Living or working in the US is NOT a basis for waiving the TOEFL test. 

Q: Do I need to provide GRE scores to be accepted?

If you are a graduate of an ABET accredited program at a US university, you do not need to provide GRE scores. If you are not from an ABET accredited program and do not provide GRE scores, your application will be considered after all applications that provide these scores. There is a strong possibility that you will NOT be admitted. We use GRE scores to compare and rank candidates. In general, applications with GRE scores of Q+V < 294 or AW < 3.0 are denied. If you have at least five years of relevant software development professional experience, the GRE requirement can be waived. 

Q: What is the status of my application?

A: The status of your application can be found on Please do not contact a Computer Engineering department advisor or staff person to ask the status of your application.

Q: Did you recently change the admission requirements?

A: Admission to the MSSE program is a competitive process. We continually monitor the number of applicants and the number of spaces in the program. We periodically revise our guidelines to give students accurate guidance for submitting successful applications.

Q: What are my chances of being admitted?

A: Please note that I cannot predict your "chances" of being admitted to the program. However, you may find the following guidelines helpful. We are looking for students with a degrees in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Software Engineering. Degrees from an ABET accredited program is an admission plus. Applicants with degrees in other Engineering or Science disciplines are also considered. It is a plus for applicants to have professional experience in the software field. If you meet these criteria, we encourage you to apply.

Q: I took certification courses in (such as for CISCO, Novell, Unix, or NT) system administration. Can I use them instead of college courses as course equivalencies?

A: No.

Q: I took professional development classes (such as UC Extension). Can I use them instead of college courses as course equivalencies?

A: No.

Q: What is a typical set of computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering courses that you might expect of an applicant?

A: Here are some typical courses. This is not a complete list, but it should give you a flavor of the kind of courses that are typically a part of a BSSE, BSCmpE, or BSCS degree.

  • Data Structures

  • Java Programming

  • Database Management Systems

  • Computer Networks

  • Software Engineering

  • Operating Systems

  • Software Engineering

  • Computer Architecture

  • Computability Theory

  • Computer Graphics

  • Graphical User Interface Programming

  • Object-Oriented Programming

  • Compiler Design

  • Analysis of Algorithms

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Parallel Processing

  • Information Theory

  • Coding Theory

  • Cryptography and Computer Security

  • OO Analysis and Design

Q: I have already taken some graduate level computer related courses at another institution. Can I transfer them into the SJSU MSSE program once I am admitted?

A: Seecredit tranfer page.

Q: I already took some graduate courses at SJSU before I was admitted to the MSSE program. Can those courses count towards graduation? 

A: Yes, but there are restrictions:

  1. You can transfer at most 9 units (3 courses). At least 21 units (7 courses) must be taken after admission to the MSSE program.

  2. These courses must not have counted towards any prior degree ("no double dipping")

  3. The courses must be less than 7 years old.

You can petition for transferring the courses by submitting a request for transfer to the Computer Engineering office using Request Form 3.3 at You will also need the form at

Q: I concluded that I need to take quite a few courses to prepare myself for admission to the MSSE program. Can I be conditionally admitted and take the courses as an MSSE student?

A: We may admit students on a conditional basis if the number of fully qualified applicants is less than the available space in the MSSE program. 

Q: I will be completing my undergraduate degree in the same semester in which I submit an application. Is that ok?

A: For students in the US, yes. Be sure to clearly indicate that you expect to earn your BS in the current semester. Completing the degree will be a condition for admission. For international students, the GAPE office wants to see a degree certificate, so you will need to complete your undergraduate degree before you apply. Note that the date that the degree is conferred must be before the first day of classes in the graduate program.

Note that for Indian students, the MS Software Engineering program has an expedited admissions process, and can evaluate an application for admission (and the necessary I-20) as soon as the 7th semester mark-sheet is available.

Q: I do not have a 4-year Bachelor degree. Can I be admitted to the MSSE program?

A: A 4-year Bachelor degree is a minimum requirement for admission to the graduate school. Note that two degrees in the same subject area can be used to meet the minimum degree requirement. For example an applicant from India can use a three-year bachelors degree plus a masters degree to meet the requirement. The degrees must have been completed.

Q: I don't have a four-year degree or my undergraduate degree is not in Engineering or the Sciences. What can I do to become eligble to application to the the MS Software Engineering program?

If you do not meet the minimum degree requirements, you should consider a Second Baccalaureate (aka, Post Bac) degree in Software Engineering. Unfortunately, SJSU does not currently admit students pursuing a Second Baccalaureate degree at this time. You may find the equivalent at other universities.

Q: The California State University policy states that in unusual cases, the department may make exceptions to the 4-year Bachelor degree requirement. Does your department make these exceptions?

A: Very rarely. We may make an exception if you can demonstrate a strong background in a computer related field.

Q: My application was rejected, but I disagree. Can I appeal?

A: GAPE does provide an appeal process. However, if you were denied admission due to lack of space, your application rejection is not appealable.

Q: My application was rejected. Can I find out why?

A: No. We rank applications, and pick the highest ranking ones. For privacy reasons, it is not possible for you to compare your application against others.

If you were not accepted, then that does not mean that we find you unqualified. It usually means that we have had more applicants than we were able to accommodate, and that you did not rank among the top ones.

Q: My application was rejected. Can I join the program on a part-time or conditional basis?

A: No. There is no separate part-time program. If we had been able to accept you on a conditional basis, then we would have done so. If your application was rejected, your only recourse is to reapply.

Q: My application was rejected by the GAPE office. Can you intervene on my behalf?

A: No. The GAPE office determines whether you fulfill the minimum entrance requirements to join a graduate program at San Jose State University. If the GAPE office determines that you did not meet those requirements, or that you did not submit required documents in a timely manner, the computer engineering department cannot intervene.

Q: My application for a previous semester was rejected, but I would like to be reconsidered for the next semester. Can I submit additional materials without reapplying?

A: No. Your previous application is no longer active. You need to reapply by submitting a new application via Cal State Apply ( The GAPE office retains documents from prior applications for one year. If you submit a new application within one year, you probably will not need to submit documents again. Check with theGAPE office to see if your old materials are still available.

Q: My application was rejected, and I would like to reapply. What can I do to improve my chances?

A: Here are some suggestions:

  • Improve your GRE test scores.

  • Complete an undergraduate computer-related degree such as Software Engineering.

  • Submit letters of recommendation that show exceptional promise

Submit other evidence of exceptional promise such as publications, open-source software contributions, patents, etc.

Q: I have an undergraduate degree but it did not provide the programming, math, science, or engineering skills I need for the MS Software Engineering program. What are my options?

A: Unfortunately, your options are limited. SJSU no longer admits students for Second Bachelors (AKA, post bac) degrees. Your best option is to acquire the skills you need at another university. Being admitted conditionally classified to the MS Software Engineering program is not an option.