Open the door to new opportunities with further tech training.

Share story

If you’ve ever considered returning to college to gain an advanced degree in a technology-related field, you may find the choices overwhelming. That’s because there’s a byte-boggling variety of programs available, ranging from a certificate in information security to a Ph.D. in computer science. Here’s a brief overview of five popular choices — and where to find them.

Master’s degree in computer science

The most popular graduate option, a master’s degree in computer science, is offered at a variety of Washington higher-ed institutions, including City University of Seattle, Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University and University of Washington, which also offers a Ph.D.

After graduation, master’s degree holders in computer science move into job titles such as senior software engineer, senior tech specialist and chief technology officer.

The degree covers a wide range of computer-related aspects. For example, at Seattle University, the Master of Science in Computer Science offers courses in artificial intelligence, database systems and software as a service.

At City University, the program includes courses on computer architecture, software engineering, information security and management of technology projects.

Many local advanced degree programs in computer science offer full-time and part-time options, as well online and hybrid (mixed online/classroom) options to accommodate professional students’ work schedules.

Software engineering

How does a $24,000 salary bump sound? That’s the average boost received by alumni of a nine-month graduate certificate in software design and development at UW-Bothell. The certificate can also lead to further study in UW-Bothell’s Master of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering, taught in the evenings for part-time or full-time students.

Washington State University’s online-only master’s degree in Software Engineering teaches the tools, methods and techniques for design, development, management and security of software products. The program offers full-time and part-time options.

Seattle U’s four-course graduate certificate in software engineering is designed “for students interested getting software engineering expertise without committing to a full master’s degree,” says Eric Larson, chair of Seattle U’s computer science department.


An information security degree can lead to a career as senior cybersecurity engineer, information security consultant or similar role — all of which are in high demand.

At City University, online Master of Science in Information Security students learn about information security’s technical, business and policy aspects. Then, they can choose to do in-depth study in one of two tracks: cybersecurity or information science.

UW-Tacoma offers a Master of Cybersecurity and Leadership, designed for professionals and military personnel who already have work experience. UW-Bothell offers a Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering, teaching wireless security, network security and cryptography, among other topics.

Tech-enhanced fields

Some graduate-level certificate and degree programs offer technological emphases within engineering, science, business and other fields.

For example, UW offers a graduate certificate in Computational Molecular Biology, open to doctoral students in participating departments and programs, including biochemistry, microbiology and computer science.

City University blends business and tech, offering an MBA with an emphasis in technology management, with courses in information security, managing technology projects and maintaining technology infrastructure.

A Master of the Arts in Management at Seattle Pacific University offers business education with a Christian perspective and a cybersecurity emphasis for working professionals who are security-oriented or hope to enter security.

User experience

Today’s designers of websites, apps and other products are striving to understand user needs, while developing products that meet or exceed those needs. These designers and developers specialize in user experience, or UX.

UW Professional and Continuing Education offers a noncredit three-course certificate program in UX and Visual Interface Design, which prepares students for careers as user researchers, UX designers and other in-demand careers.

Also at UW, the Human Centered Design and Engineering department offers a certificate and a master’s degree, teaching visual communication, web design, usability testing and other career-ready skills.

It’s also possible to get a Ph.D. in the same department, for those interested in the next generation of tech-related scholarship, research and education — proving that even if you’ve finished a master’s degree, there’s always more to learn.