Computer Science Master's Degree - Software Systems

Software Systems

Online Program Overview

Degree Level
Master's Degree
Total Credits
Fully Online
Contact Us
Minimum GPA
Qualifying Exam
GRE Required

The Software Systems track is for students who want to pursue knowledge of software development and software systems methodologies and technologies. Software plays the key role in practical, real-world computing systems and applications. This track enables students to understand and master classic and current software systems, and provides the fundamentals for later self-study of future software systems.

"I have taken 2 computer science courses. It was well worth the effort. The courses were challenging and very interesting; definitely worth the money. Now, I am studying for the GRE so I can get accepted as a Columbia student."
Charles Frank, Charles Frank And Assoc., Inc.

Admissions Requirements

Degree required for admission: Most candidates have completed an undergraduate degree in computer science. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines and a record of excellence are encouraged to apply; these applicants are required to have completed at least six prerequisites: 4 computer science courses covering the foundations of the field and 2 math courses. 

Examples of computer science courses would be courses offered through an undergraduate computer science program: Intro to Computer Science (COMS W1004 or COMS W1007), Advanced Programming (COMS W3157), Data Structures and Algorithms (COMS W3134 or W3137), which is a prerequisite for most of our graduate-level courses, or/and Discrete Math (COMS W3203).  For the math prereqs, students are encouraged to take linear algebra and differential equations. 

Please note that these must be taken at a university (can be online) and must be grade- and credit-bearing.  MOOCs such as courses on Coursera and edX do NOT meet this requirement. These courses are not offered here at Columbia Video Network, but may be taken at another online institution or your local university.  Work experience does not waive this requirement.

GPA required: Most students admitted have earned a grade point average above 3.5 (out of 4.0); a GPA of at least 3.3 is required. 

GRE requirements: General test required. A subject GRE test is not required but may be helpful in strengthening your application. 

Competence in English: If you have not earned a degree from an undergraduate or graduate institution in which the instructional language was English, you may be required to take the TOEFL/IELTS.

Other application requirements: 3 recommendation letters, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement are required. All application requirements in the Graduate Application must be completed as specified in the application. For answers to your most common admissions questions, please review our FAQ page here.

Overall Requirements

Students must complete at least a total of 30 graduate points and must maintain at least 2.7 overall GPA in order to be eligible for the MS degree in Computer Science. 

Software Systems track requires:

1.     Required track courses: COMS W4115, COMS W4118 and COMS W4156.

2.     Four breadth courses, two of which can be covered by the track requirements, plus one course chosen from Theory and the other from AI and Apps.

3.     Two 4000-level elective track courses (6 points) selected from the list of section 3.

4.     Two 6000-level elective track courses (6 points) selected from the list of section 4.

5.    Three points of general elective graduate courses.

6.     Students using previously taken courses to waive one or more of the required track courses may complete the 30 graduate points by expanding their electives, selected either from the track or from other graduate courses; at most three points overall may be "non-technical" graduate courses. Imported courses cannot be used to fulfill the track electives.


Students must complete all core courses and selected electives for a total of 30 graduate points of academic work via CVN while maintaining a minimum grade point average of 2.7. All degree requirements must be completed within 5 years of the beginning of the first course credited toward the degree. This includes courses taken in the non-degree program.


Course List

For the most up to date course information, visit the CS Software Systems page.

Breadth Requirement

All students must complete the Breadth Requirement. Visit the breadth requirement page for a list of courses.

Required Track Courses

  • COMS W4115: Programming Languages and Translators

  • COMS W4118: Operating Systems 1

  • COMS W4156: Advanced Software Engineering

4000-Level Elective Track Courses

Students are required to complete at least two 4000-level courses (6 points) selected from the following list of track courses:

  • COMS W4111: Introduction to Databases

  • COMS W4112: Database System Implementation

  • COMS W4113: Fundamentals of Large-Scale Distributed Systems

  • COMS W4117: Compilers and Interpreters

  • COMS W4130: Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming

  • COMS W4170: User Interface Design

  • COMS W4181: Computer Security I

  • COMS W4186: Malware Analysis and Reverse Engineering

  • COMS W4187: Security Architecture and Engineering

  • COMS W4444: Programming and Problem Solving

  • COMS W4995: Visit the topics courses page to see which apply for this track

6000-Level Elective Track Courses

Students are required to complete at least two 6000-level courses (6 points) selected from the following list of track courses:

  • COMS E6111: Advanced Database Systems

  • COMS E6113: Topics in Database Systems

  • COMS E6114: Advanced Distributed Systems

  • COMS E6117: Topics in Programming Languages and Translators

  • COMS E6118: Operating Systems II

  • COMS E6121: Reliable Software

  • COMS E6156: Topics in Software Engineering

  • COMS E6424: Hardware Security

  • COMS E6901: Projects in Computer Science (advisor approval required)

  • COMS E6998: Visit the topics courses page to see which apply for this track

General Electives

Students are required to complete at least 3 additional graduate points at or above the 4000-level approved by the track advisor. 

At most three points overall of the 30 graduate points required for the MS degree may be "non-technical".

*Due to a significant overlap in course material, MS students not in the Machine Learning track can only take 1 of the following courses - COMS 4771, COMS 4721, ELEN 4903, IEOR 4525, STAT 4240, STAT 4400 - as part of their degree requirements. 

Important note: Not all COMS or SEAS courses qualify as "technical", a few are considered "non-technical" (most non-SEAS courses are considered "non-technical", but a few may be deemed "technical"). Please complete a non-tech approval form, get your advisor's approval, and forward it to CS Student Services. 

** Known non-technical CS courses **

  • COMS W4995 The Business of Software Delivery

  • CSOR E4995 Financial Software Systems

Tuition & Fees

2022 - 2023 Tuition & Fees

Please note that all tuition and fees are in U.S. dollars and are estimated. Tuition and most fees are prescribed by statute, and are subject to change at the discretion of the Trustees.

CVN Credit Tuition: $2,362 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Fee: $395 non-refundable fee per course
Transcript Fee: $105 non-refundable one-time fee
Tuition Deposit: $1000 (More information on our Resources page)

Estimated cost of one nondegree course: $7,586
Estimated total cost of certification (four courses): $30,029.00

Estimated total cost of MS (ten courses): $74,915.00
*Estimated total cost of DES (ten courses plus a minimum of 12 research credits): $104,049.00

Graduate Admission Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee
Certification Program Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee

Late Registration Fee: $100 non-refundable fee

CVN Withdrawal Fee: $75, plus prorated tuition and all non-refundable fees
For example: A three-credit course would be $7,086 + transcript fee $105 (one-time) + CVN fee $395 = $7,586

*Assumes DES student enrolls in two six-credit research courses.

For Drop/Withdrawal fees and dates, refer to the Academic Calendar for the current term.

Please note: CVN no longer offers courses for audit.


Payment should be mailed to:

Columbia University
Student Account Payments
P.O. Box 1385
New York, NY 10008-1385

Before you mail your check or money order, please take careful note of the following requirements to ensure the timely processing of your payment:


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