MSSE Student Handbook

The Master of Science in Software Engineering (MSSE) is a program administered by University of Minnesota Software Engineering Center (UMSEC). Academic oversight for the program is provided by the Software Engineering faculty of the Department of Computer Science. UMSEC and Computer Science are units within the Institute of Technology, the engineering and physical sciences college at the University of Minnesota.

This handbook contains details about academic policies, program services, and University resources. University dates and deadlines can be accessed through the One Stop website. Students are responsible for knowing the information contained in this handbook and should review it carefully. We welcome students' suggestions on making this handbook more relevant to them.

UMSEC staff members are here to help facilitate and enhance the MSSE students' learning experience. Please contact them for assistance. Be aware that changes to this handbook may occur without notice. Students are encouraged to review the handbook periodically to keep informed of such changes.

Student Handbook

Academic Holds

Students are responsible for removing any "holds" that the University has placed on their records. A hold will prevent program staff from registering a student for courses or make it difficult to obtain other University services. Students with holds on their records will not be allowed to attend classes and cannot graduate. All late fees accrued due to holds will be charged directly to the student. Visit One Stop for more information on holds or for details on how to view holds in your records

Attendance Policy

The MSSE program has a concise schedule and makes use of group work as an essential part of the learning. For that reason, students are expected to attend all scheduled classes. Class participation is an important aspect of SE courses - poor attendance may result in a poor course grade. No more than two absences are recommended per semester. It is suggested that students notify instructors and program support staff of planned and unplanned absences. Students should refer to their course syllabus or speak with their instructor with questions or issues related to attendance.

Academic Probation

It is important for students to progress successfully toward the completion of the Software Engineering program. Students will be placed on academic probation if any one of the following situations occurs:

  1. Receive a failing grade in a course.
  2. Accumulate three or more "incomplete" grades at any given time.
  3. Fall below the 2.8 grade point average (GPA) required to graduate.

A student placed on academic probation will receive a letter from the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) asking the student to submit a plan outlining the steps needed to improve his/her academic standing. Once the plan is accepted, the student must satisfy the arrangements made with the DGS in order to be removed from academic probation. Failure to take these steps may result in dismissal from the program.

Registration & Grades


Registration for all classes is coordinated by the SE program staff. Students must clear all holds in order to be registered by staff. Students should refer any questions about registration to SE program staff.


Core courses are graded on the A-F or S-N (Satisfactory / Not Satisfactory) scale and are based on a combination of exams, term papers, case analyses, class participation, team projects, and other assignments. Grading criteria are determined by the instructor and will be fully outlined in the individual course syllabus. Questions about grading policies should be directed to the instructor.

Any requests for grade changes must be brought to the attention of both the instructor and the program support staff. Any grade changes must be officially approved and resubmitted by the instructor. See "Incomplete Grades" for more information.

Grade Reporting

Final grades can be accessed by going to MyU.  If an early grade report or for a mid-term grade report is required by an employer, students may contact the UMSEC staff. Note that an early or mid-term grade report will be a real-time estimate of a final grade.

In addition, grades are reported on University of Minnesota transcripts. For details on how to view your unofficial transcript, visit the One Stop transcript page.

Degree Requirements

The MSSE program consists of 30 credits that are taken in a predetermined sequence. Of the 30 credits, 24 credits consist of core courses and the 6 remaining credits consist of two 3 credit electives selected by the student. Students must complete all courses needed to satisfy the SE degree requirements with a minimum overall GPA of 2.8. The lowest acceptable grade in any required course is a "C." The Graduate School only accepts grades of A-C when processing degree clearance forms. Any student earning less than a "C" in a course may be required to re-take the course at an additional cost. Students who have not earned at least a minimum grade in a course should see the DGS and/or the program support staff immediately to discuss options. Failure to maintain a 2.8 GPA during any term will put a student in jeopardy of being placed on academic probation and the possibility of being dismissed, according to the University of Minnesota Graduate School requirements.

Withdrawing From the Program

To withdraw from the MSSE program, students are expected to notify program support staff and the DGS regarding their intent. The DGS may request a meeting with the student prior to approving the withdrawal. The student should submit a formal letter (hard copy or email) to the DGS indicating his/her intent to withdraw and a brief explanation of their reason for withdrawing. A copy of this letter must also be sent to program staff who will notify UMSEC administration.

Students who withdraw from the program should refer to One Stop for the current refund schedule.

Students who withdraw from the program and are later re-admitted to a different graduating class will be expected to pay the tuition rate in effect for that graduating class.

Transfer Credit Policy

Up to three graduate credits may be transferred into the MSSE program, on approval of the DGS. However, no reduction in the comprehensive fee will be granted for course work completed prior to enrollment in the program. Transfer credits will be entered into the student's Degree Program Form during the final semester, and will appear on the transcript as transfer credit. 

The student may elect to audit the course that is to be replaced by transfer credit by attending class sessions in order to review material, but receive no new grade or credit for the course.

If the student chooses to be entirely excused from attending a course for which transfer credit has been granted, he/she may then, on a voluntary basis, choose to take a comparable graduate-level course from a department at the University for which UMSEC will pay the tuition, as long as it is taken during a semester for which the student is already paying the MSSE comprehensive fee. An elective course taken outside UMSEC under this arrangement must meet certain content requirements and must be approved by the DGS prior to registration. Students should contact the program support staff for information on such registration.

The student will be responsible for textbooks and any other fees or costs associated with any non-UMSEC course that is taken.

Incomplete Grades

Details regarding current University polices on incomplete grades can be found at One Stop.

Student-Requested Incomplete Grade

To request an "incomplete", a student must contact the course instructor before the last day of class. An instructor may, but is not required to, assign an "I" grade when he/she determines that the student has a reasonable chance of successfully completing the course. Most instructors will require a written agreement outlining the steps that must be taken to receive a grade. An "incomplete" is indicated on the grade report and student transcript by the symbol "I". Instructors follow the grading provisions listed in their course syllabus distributed to all students at the beginning of the course. If permission is not requested or granted and the student has not completed the requirements of the course, instructors may assign a failing grade.

Non-Requested Incomplete Grades

Students may also receive an "I" grade from an instructor or the DGS without requesting it. If final tests or projects are not graded by the deadline date, the instructor may assign an "I" grade. This is an exceedingly rare occurrence.

Grading of Incompletes

For coursework registered under the A-F grade base, the final grade submitted must be A-F. If the original registration was under the S-N grade base, the final grade submitted must be S-N. "I" grades are not calculated into a student's GPA.

An "I" remains on the Graduate School transcript until the course instructor replaces it with a final grade. In the Graduate School, an "I" will not automatically change to a failing grade after a certain time period, as is the case with registrations in other colleges. Graduate School students are not permitted, under any circumstances, to retroactively withdraw from a course, including any course in which an "I" has been received.

If a student does not meet requirements for completing the course by the established time limit, the instructor can issue a grade based on what the student has completed, issue a failing grade, leave the "I", or renegotiate the timeline (and possibly the requirements) for course completion with the student.

If a timeline is renegotiated, the student must revise his/her written plan for removing the "I" to reflect the changed timelines. Signatures from the student and the instructor will be required on the revised plan. A copy of the revised plan must be given to the program associate to be placed in the student's official file. A copy will also be given to the student and the professor.

If a student meets the negotiated requirements to complete the course after the course instructor has left the University, the DGS may (but is not obligated to) evaluate the work and submit a grade.

Incomplete Grades and Payment Obligations

Students who ask an instructor to issue an "I" are still expected to meet all payment obligations. If a student's corporate tuition reimbursement policy requires the successful completion of an academic term and a transcript of grades from that term, an "I" on a transcript may prevent the student from receiving his or her corporate reimbursement. Nevertheless, students are expected to pay their fees according to the deadlines established by the University. Only under extraordinary circumstances (e.g., extended medical emergency) can exceptions be made.

Incomplete Grades and Degree Clearance

Students will not receive their Master of Science in Software Engineering degree and diploma until a final grade on all required courses is received. Consequently, the date on the student's diploma will reflect the date that course requirements are completed.

Removing Incomplete Grades After Leaving the Program

To remove an "I" after leaving the program, students must maintain active status in the Graduate School. This requires that students be registered in the Graduate School every fall and spring semester. For example, students expected to have graduated spring semester will have until the beginning of the following fall semester to finish "I" coursework. Students can maintain active status indefinitely by contacting program support staff prior to the beginning of each semester, although there is an overall 7-year limit for completion of graduate work from the date of first registration.

If students allow active status to lapse, they will be required to reapply to the Graduate School, paying the re-admission fee, prior to completing any "I" coursework.

Before reactivating their admission status, former students should contact the MSSE program associate at 612-625-1381 for guidance on the becoming reactivated into the program. In addition, reactivating students will be asked to speak with program support staff and/or the DGS to discuss the student's plans and to determine how those plans may be facilitated.


Course Assignments

Students are responsible for all class-related requirements and assignments. Instructors may assign term papers, case analyses, team projects, or problem sets to be completed individually or in study groups. Unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor, it is the student's responsibility to observe all due dates and submit assignments to instructors on time. It is also the student's responsibility to inform the instructor if a due date will not be met or if special arrangements are needed to take an exam.

Course Concerns

If a concern arises about a particular course, students are to first discuss their concern with the instructor. If the concern is not resolved satisfactorily or more immediate attention is needed, the student may bring it to the attention of the DGS or program support staff.

Course, Schedule, and Faculty Changes

A list of courses for the program can be found on the MSSE website under Prospective Students >Curriculum. Course offerings, class schedules, and assigned faculty are subject to change without notice. Current students will be provided with a link to current semester course schedules.

School Closings

As with all University of Minnesota weather-related closures, the Executive Vice President's office determines whether classes, on weekdays or weekends, will be canceled. For the most up-to-date information, students and faculty are encourage to sign up for SAFE-U . In addition, official school closings will be announced on the University of Minnesota general information line: 612-625-5000, and on the University website.

Student Conduct

Code of Conduct

All SE students are enrolled in the University of Minnesota and, therefore, are expected to abide by the University's code of student conduct. Also see code of conduct procedures for additional details.

Professional Decorum

All students are expected to behave as scholars at a leading institute of technology. On class days this includes arriving on time, limiting personal conversations during class, and not leaving the classroom before the end of the lecture. Disruptive students will be warned and may be dismissed from the classroom. Likewise, students are expected to follow the appropriate channels for problem resolution and interact with faculty and staff in a professional and respectful manner. Refer to "Course Concerns" for more information.

Payment Schedule

When students are admitted to the program, they will receive a schedule detailing the due dates for payments.  The comprehensive fee for each academic year is payable in two installments. The Fall semester payment is due in September and the Spring semester payment is due in January. The University will provide invoices to students 4-6 weeks prior to the due dates. Refer to the One Stop payment schedule for current year payment dates.

Financial Aid

Many students in UMSEC's program apply for and receive financial aid from the University. Students interested in pursuing this option should contact Scholarships and Financial Aid (612-624-1111) for more information and to receive the necessary forms. Students should identify themselves as a graduate student and specify the specific graduate program you are enrolled in.

Please note: When applying for financial aid, students are required to disclose on the application form any outside assistance-including employer support-that they will receive while enrolled as a student. In order not to jeopardize their ability to receive financial aid, it is important that students accurately reflect this outside assistance on their application.

Financial aid that is awarded to a student by the University is NOT automatically transferred to UMSEC. Rather, the student will receive the award amount (less any origination fees) from the University in the form of a check mailed to the student's home address. The student is responsible for depositing that check and mailing a new payment within 1 week of receipt.


For current information on refunds and the refund schedule, refer to One Stop Tuition Refunds.

Past Due Accounts

Unless special arrangements have been made with UMSEC, students will not be registered for new courses unless their account is paid in full. Non-payment by the stated deadlines may warrant a student's dismissal from the program.

The University will make a reasonable attempt to collect payments from students. If this proves unsuccessful, student accounts may be turned over to the University's collections office, which is authorized to pursue collections on a legal basis.

Feedback and Program Concerns

Student - Director of Graduate Studies Meetings

Students will meet, as a group, with the DGS at least once per semester. Individual meetings may be arranged, as needed, by contacting the DGS or program support staff. More immediate concerns can also be addressed via phone or email with the DGS or program support staff.

Student Surveys

Feedback regarding students' experiences in the classroom is greatly appreciated and needed in order to maintain top-quality educational standards. Students will be asked to complete course evaluations at the end of each term. It is important that each student completes the anonymous evaluations. The results of these evaluations are compiled and sent to the instructors. Copies of the evaluation results are also sent to the DGS and to UMSEC administrators for review.

Students will also periodically receive a survey regarding services provided by UMSEC staff.

As with on-the-job performance reviews, it is important that criticism be given in a respectful and constructive manner. Please provide suggestions for corrective action and course, program, or service improvements whenever possible.

Verbal feedback to the DGS and to program support staff is appreciated throughout the semester as well. 

Program Concerns

If a concern arises about the academic program, students should bring it to the attention of the DGS. Specific course concerns should be brought to the attention of the instructor. If, after a meeting with the DGS, the issue has not been dealt with satisfactorily, students should contact the UMSEC administration.

Student Grievance Procedures Academic Grievances - An All-University Student Academic Grievance Policy exists to resolve "complaints brought by students regarding the University's provision of education and academic services affecting their role as students."  Students may refer to the policy for addressing student academic complaints for more information.

Sexual Harassment - The University is committed to taking prompt and effective steps intended to end sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, and related retaliation, prevent their recurrence and, as appropriate, remedy their effects. Students may refer to the University's sexual harassment policy for more information. 

Crime statistics and campus safety information can be found on the University of Minnesota Police website.


Commencement Attendance Eligibility

Commencement attendance will be limited to those students who have completed all the required courses through fall semester of their second year, who are currently enrolled in spring semester classes, and who have no more than one "I" ("incomplete") grade on their academic record.

Commencement Ceremony and Graduation Celebrations

Eligible SE participants may join in the Graduate School commencement ceremony that recognizes all M.S. and Ph.D. graduates. The graduation ceremony is held in early May. Program staff will help students prepare for participation in this ceremony.

A graduation reception is held immediately after the commencement ceremony. The graduating class, their guests, and faculty are invited. Program staff will provide graduating students with the details of this event early in the spring semester.


Program staff will assist second-year students in preparing their final degree clearance documents. These forms are necessary to ensure that students receive their diplomas. Students receive a diploma - Master of Science in Software Engineering from the University of Minnesota - three to four months after completing all program requirements. Students may refer to the One Stop website for additional information regarding your diploma.

Note:  A diploma will not be issued until full payment is received. The student's official graduation date will reflect the date the University receives final payment.

Delayed-Graduation Registration Policy

If students do not graduate at the end of their fourth semester, they may wish to continue to register in the Graduate School every fall and spring semester to maintain an active student file. The Graduate School will deactivate the file of any student who fails to do so. Deactivated students may not file for graduation or or have an "I" grade changed to a final grade). In order to file for graduation, a deactivated student must request re-admission to the Graduate School and pay all required fees.

Please note, UMSEC staff will not automatically register delayed-graduation students each fall and spring. Students who wish to maintain an active student file must contact the program associate prior to each fall and spring semester for assistance.