Master of Software Engineering Reference Curriculum

Complex software systems affect nearly every aspect of our lives, in areas such as defense, government, energy, communication, transportation, manufacturing, and finance. Protecting these systems against vulnerabilities and attacks is critical, so there is a growing demand for skilled professionals who can build security and correct functionality into software and systems under development. Yet there are few graduate software assurance programs or tracks that focus on developing assured software and, consequently, not enough professionals to meet the growing demand.

The Master of Software Assurance (MSwA) Reference Curriculum provides guidelines for a well-rounded education on key security and assurance topics, including assurance across lifecycles, risk management, assurance assessment, assurance management, system security assurance, system functionality assurance, and system operational assurance.

Highlights of the curriculum include

  • educational outcomes for students who graduate from a program based on the curriculum
  • prerequisites expected of students entering an MSwA program
  • curriculum architecture for both a standalone degree program and track
  • a core body of knowledge that includes the fundamental topics to be taught in the curriculum
  • implementation guidelines for educational institutions interested in establishing a program or track based on the curriculum

The IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have recognized the Master of Software Assurance (MSwA) Reference Curriculum as appropriate for a master's program in software assurance. This formal recognition signifies to the educational community that the MSwA Reference Curriculum is suitable for creating graduate programs or tracks in software assurance. The IEEE-CS and ACM have developed several computing curricula and are community leaders in curricula development. This MSwA curriculum includes focused curriculum recommendations for software assurance—the first curriculum developed for this specific field.

Download the MSwA Curriculum Overview presentation to faculty.


Resources are available to faculty who wish to build their courseware and curricula from our research and materials.