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Best Online Computer Engineering Degree Programs

Online computer engineering degree programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Learn about the different degree and career options, as well as what makes some of these degree programs the best.

Best Online Degree Programs in Computer Engineering

Some of the best online degree programs in computer engineering are available at the master's level and are typically flexible in nature for working professionals and other busy students. These programs may be considered some of the best for their various concentration areas, flexible formats, transfer policies, thesis or non-thesis options, and/or unique curriculum. Learn more about a handful of the top online degree programs in computer engineering here.

1. Iowa State University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Ames, IA$10,504

Iowa State University offers an online Master of Engineering (ME) in Computer Engineering that can be completed fully online. Students take one course a semester and can complete the degree in five years. It is designed for students with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and does not require a thesis or creative project. The program totals 30 credits and does allow up to eight transfer credits.

2. Missouri University of Science and Technology

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Rolla, MO$11,372

The Missouri University of Science and Technology has an online Master of Science (MS) in Computer Engineering program, and students interested in completing a distance learning doctorate in the field are encouraged to contact the department. The online MS degree totals 30 credits and offers a thesis and non-thesis option. Students in the program can specialize in the areas of electrical engineering, embedded computer systems, digital systems design, or systems, intelligence, and software engineering. Students may also choose to pursue a number of online graduate certificate programs in computer engineering that cover topics like network centric systems and computational intelligence.

3. Colorado State University - Fort Collins

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Collins, CO$12,495

Colorado State University - Fort Collins offers an online Master of Engineering (ME) with a specialization in computer engineering and an online MS in Computer Engineering. Both programs total 30 credits and can be completed in two years. The programs are designed for working professionals, and the curriculum is highly customizable to allow students to meet their personal career goals and interests. The program includes coursework only and does not require a final exam or thesis.

4. Texas A&M University - College Station

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
College Station, TX$9,812

Texas A&M University - College Station provides an online ME in Computer Engineering program that totals 30 credits. The program offers a non-thesis option and a thesis option that requires a final oral exam. Students are allowed to transfer up to six credits, and although it is not required, students may choose to participate in a seminar course. Online students have access to 24/7 technical assistance, and most courses do not require specific log-in times in order to allow students to work at their own pace.

5. University of Delaware

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Newark, DE$33,678

The University of Delaware has an online MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering degree program that can be completed in as little as two years. It is a non-thesis program that totals 30 credits and offers two start dates throughout the year for flexibility. Courses are seven weeks in length, and the curriculum focuses on cybersecurity strategies. The program is designed for students with a bachelor's degree in areas like mathematics, computer science, or mechanical, computer, or electrical engineering.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Florida International UniversityMiami, FL$11,097
7University of IdahoMoscow, ID$9,352
8University of FloridaGainesville, FL$12,737
9University of Michigan - DearbornDearborn, MI$12,920
10North Carolina State University at RaleighRaleigh, NC$11,495
11University of LouisvilleLouisville, KY$12,880
12University of New Mexico - Main CampusAlbuquerque, NM$6,258
13Stevens Institute of TechnologyHoboken, NJ$37,250
14Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, TX$47,024
15Villanova UniversityVillanova, PA$19,005
16Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago, IL$30,752
17Pennsylvania State University - World CampusUniversity Park, PA$21,772
18Upper Iowa UniversityFayette, IA$18,540
19New York UniversityNew York, NY$45,426
20University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA$45,561

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition is based on the 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Degree Programs in Computer Engineering

Online degree programs in computer engineering are most commonly available at the master's level, but there are some online bachelor's degree programs in the field available, too. Online doctoral degree programs in computer engineering are extremely rare, and online associate's degree programs are usually in closely related fields, such as computer science or electronics and computer engineering technology. Learn more about the more common online degree programs in computer engineering below.

Online Bachelor's

Online bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering or electrical and computer engineering are typically offered as Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. These programs may range from 126 to 190 credits, depending on the program, and can usually be completed fully online. Traditionally, bachelor's degree programs take four years to complete. Many of these programs offer multiple start dates for flexibility.

Students in online bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering generally take some general education courses and core courses and/or electives in engineering, math, programming, and more. Some programs may require a final capstone or senior design course, and some may have preparatory courses in areas like C++, calculus, and algebra that need to be completed before core courses. There are some programs that offer electives in various concentration areas, such as control systems, communications, and data system software.

Online Master's

Online master's degree programs in computer engineering or electrical and computer engineering may be offered as MS or ME degrees. Most of these degree programs require 30 credits and may allow students to transfer in some credit, but usually this is eight credits or less. These programs can usually be completed fully online and may take two to five years to complete, depending on the format of the program. These online degree programs also typically offer multiple start dates for flexibility.

The curriculum for online master's degree programs in computer engineering is generally composed of core courses in the subject, but some programs offer additional areas of concentration. These areas may include embedded computer systems, digital systems design, electrical engineering, and more. Many online master's degree programs are coursework-only or non-thesis degrees, but some programs give students the option of completing a thesis.

Common Courses for Online Computer Engineering Programs

Although the specific course titles vary by institution and degree level, both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in computer engineering cover a range of topics in the field that help prepare students for a future career. Some common course topics for online undergraduate and/or online graduate degree programs in computer engineering include:

  • Computer Networks- Courses in computer networks are typically offered at the master's level and explore topics in computer and communication network architecture. Students may discuss such topics as LANs, error control, flow control, routing, and mobile networks. These courses usually have prerequisites in areas like programming, communications, or operating systems.
  • Signal Processing- Signal processing courses are also generally offered at the master's level, and there may be multiple courses that discuss topics like math for signal processing, digital signal processing, or signal processing for power systems. Digital signal processing courses may be more common and cover theories and concepts of discrete time signals and systems.
  • Computer Architecture- Computer architecture courses may be available at the bachelor's and master's levels, with undergraduate courses covering foundational concepts in the field and graduate courses discussing advanced topics in the field. Undergraduates in these courses may discuss topics in assembly language, logic circuit design, and other fundamental computational design techniques, while graduate students may examine topics in warehouse scale systems, advanced memory and storage architectures, and interconnection networks.
  • Systems Design- Undergraduate students may take foundational courses that explore topics like digital systems design, while graduate students in computer engineering programs may take more specific courses in systems design, such as hardware/software design of embedded systems. In general, these courses provide students with experience working with computer hardware and help teach various design techniques.
  • Mathematics- While master's degree students in computer engineering are likely to take many courses that incorporate mathematics and mathematical methods, bachelor's degree students are usually required to take multiple courses in various areas of mathematics. Students in these bachelor's degree programs may take courses in subjects like algebra, calculus, discrete mathematics, and/or statistics.

How to Choose an Online Program in Computer Engineering

Students interested in earning an online degree in computer engineering must first determine what level of degree they wish to pursue. Online master's degree programs in computer engineering require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, and many require that this degree be in an engineering-related field.

Students should also consider the format of a program and find one that fits their schedules and career goals. For example, some master's degree programs allow students to take one course per semester and/or offer additional areas of concentration. Bachelor's degree programs may also allow students to specialize their degree through electives.

At the graduate level, students should also think about whether or not they would like to complete a thesis. At the undergraduate level, students should research any capstone or senior design requirements. Below, we explore a couple other important factors when choosing an online program in computer engineering.

Accreditation

Online students should always look for an accredited program and/or institution to ensure that academic standards of quality have been met. Many institutions that offer online programs in computer engineering are accredited by regional accreditation bodies, like the Higher Learning Commission. Some online computer engineering degree programs, especially at the bachelor's level, may also be accredited by engineering-specific organizations, such as the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

An important consideration for online students is the cost of the degree program and availability of financial aid and/or scholarships. While tuition rates vary greatly by institution, a student's residency status (in-state vs. out-of-state) and/or degree-level, some online bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering range from about $230 per credit hour to about $600 per unit. Online master's degree programs may cost around $700 per credit hour. Online students may save money concerning the cost of living on campus, but these students also need to consider any additional fees and/or expenses for technology requirements. For example, some online degree programs have an additional course fee that may range from $70 to $500.

To help decrease the out-of-pocket expenses, students may look for an online program in computer engineering that accepts financial aid, offers scholarships, and/or provides other tuition discounts. Most programs accept loans and/or grants that students have qualified for after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and some programs may provide tuition discounts for military students. Students may also save some money by transferring in credits.

Some schools offer program-specific scholarships. For example, Iowa State University offers scholarships to electrical, computer, and software engineering undergraduates each year through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as a few graduate fellowships. Students may also be able to compete for a number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) scholarships offered by various organizations, such as the Department of Defense SMART scholarship and STEM scholarship programs.

Career Options for Computer Engineering

Graduates with a degree in computer engineering may pursue careers as computer engineers and can work in a wide range of industries. For example, computer engineers are needed in areas like:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Government
  • Power and energy
  • Health sciences
  • Communication systems

Other job titles that graduates with a degree in the field may pursue include:

  • Product designer
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Software developer
  • Computer systems administrator

Computer Hardware Engineer

A bachelor's degree is typically needed for a career as a computer hardware engineer. Specialized positions or larger organizations may require a master's degree, typically in computer engineering or a related field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018 these professionals made a median salary of $114,600 and had a job outlook (projected growth) of 6% from 2018 to 2028, which is as fast as average. Computer hardware engineers are responsible for designing and testing computer systems as well as updating current systems as needed.

Software Developer

Software developers need to have at least a bachelor's degree. The BLS reported that these professionals made a median salary of $105,590 in 2018. The job outlook for these developers was 21% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the national average. Software developers may specialize in applications or systems, but in general work to help computers and devices function properly by developing and coding software.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators usually hold at least a bachelor's degree and had a median salary of $82,050 in 2018, per the BLS. These administrators had a job outlook of 5%, which is as fast as the national average, from 2018 to 2028. Network and computer systems administrators organize and oversee the maintenance of an organization's servers, network hardware, and network software.

Licensure and Certification

Licensure and certification are not typically required for computer engineering positions, such as computer hardware engineers and software developers. However, professionals in some positions, such as network and computer systems administrators, can pursue professional certification in specific products that they use. These certifications might be required by employers and are usually offered by vendors to help candidates demonstrate proficiency in the field. A few examples of possible certifications for computer engineering professionals include:

  • Microsoft Certified Associate (MCA)- These certifications are available in several different areas, including Azure IoT and Microsoft 365 development. They are mid-level certifications that require an exam and can qualify candidates to pursue expert-level credentials.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)- CISSP is designed for professionals engineering and managing information security systems and requires knowledge in eight areas, including risk management, security architecture, and security testing. This credential is recognized on a global scale.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)- The CCNA requires a 120-minute exam and is a lower-level certification. This certification is designed to ensure professionals can resolve common network issues.