Students who enjoy logic, technology, and devising out-of-the-box solutions may consider computer engineering careers. Professionals in the field build hardware and software for computer and network systems.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer and information technology (IT) professionals earned a median annual salary of $91,250 as of May 2020, more than twice the national average.
Computer engineers build tools for others and stay up to date on current practices. Most positions in the field require a bachelor's degree.
The following information covers what it takes to earn an online computer engineering degree, including admission requirements, courses, and possible careers.
What Is Computer Engineering?
The original computer engineers began work in 1939 when they built the first digital computer. The field did not emerge, though, until personal computers started appearing in private homes in the 1980s. As families, schools, and companies grew increasingly reliant on the technology, the need for software and hardware developers also increased.
Universities across the country then formed computer engineering programs. The first launched in 1996. Today, many schools offer degrees in computer engineering.
Computer science degrees typically appeal to persistent, competitive people who love solving problems. Coders and programmers may advance to computer engineers, but this career requires more than a love for coding. It also takes a blend of passion, creativity, and logic to succeed. Candidates may also need at least a bachelor's degree and relevant experience.
Computer engineering offers one of the fastest-growing and highest-paying career fields. The BLS projects 22% job growth for software developers between 2020-2030, three times more than the national average. These positions pay a median salary of $110,140.
Salaries depend on education, experience, location, and industry. Universities across the country offer computer engineering degrees that can prepare new graduates for work in many industries.
Why Get an Online Computer Engineering Degree?
Computer engineering offers an in-demand field that may appeal to people with a passion for problem-solving and developing new products. This degree can help prepare graduates for careers in the well-paying, fast-paced tech industry. Most tech jobs require a bachelor's degree to get started. Some roles, like coders, programmers, or computer specialists, may accept applicants from associate degree programs computer engineering bootcamps.
- High Salaries
- Prospective students looking for lucrative careers can consider computer engineering. According to the BLS, software developers earn a median annual salary of $110,140, well ahead of the national median of $41,950.
- Job Availability
- The BLS projects 667,600 new computer and information technology jobs between 2020 and 2030, making the sector among the fastest-growing in the nation. The projected job growth includes 409,500 software developer positions.
- Career Satisfaction
- According to a 2018 Machine Desig survey, 87% of computer engineers reported feeling happy in their work. Computer engineers constantly face new challenges. These professionals research and design new solutions, staying ahead of updates in the field.
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What To Expect From Bachelor's in Computer Engineering Programs
Prospective students may wonder: What can I do with a computer engineering degree after graduation?
Degree-holders can choose between developing software or hardware components. While computer hardware engineers may earn slightly more than software developers, they are less in demand, according to the BLS.
New computer engineers join a field that stretches back to 1939 when two inventors developed the first digital computer. Personal computers did not become common until the 1970s-1980s, however.
Today, computer engineering is a fast-growing, high-paying field. Typically, an undergraduate computer engineering degree requires 120 credits. Coursework comprises general education courses, electives, and technology-focused classes such as cybersecurity, programming languages, and full-stack development.
By taking 12-18 credits per term, a degree-seeker can finish in about four years. To accelerate this timeline, students can maximize credits during terms, transfer in credits, or take summer courses.
Although a computer engineering salary surpasses the median wage in the U.S., paying for school upfront can be challenging. Students may save money by attending public universities in their home states or completing two years of community college before enrolling in a bachelor's program.
Read More About Computer Engineering Programs
Each college has its own admission requirements. Many schools expect applicants to have significant math prerequisites. Prospective students should hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Some institutions set minimum GPA requirements, and several also require minimum SAT or ACT scores.
Schools consider applicants with academic backgrounds in math, technology, and computer science. Holding an associate degree in computer science or certification in a related field may also benefit applicants.
Prospective students should expect to submit an application along with a fee, transcripts from previous schools, and letters of recommendation. Most schools now use the Common App, which makes it easier to apply to several institutions at once.
Degree and Concentration Options
Prospective learners can choose from a variety of bachelor's programs in computer engineering. Schools may offer a computer engineering major culminating in a bachelor of applied science (BAS), bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of business administration (BBA), or a bachelor of engineering (BEng).
Bachelor of Applied Science
This degree prepares students to enter a career directly after college. Typically, BAS students hold some experience in technology before enrolling.
Bachelor of Science
The standard undergraduate degree for math, science, and technology, the BS provides a combination of academic study, liberal arts courses, and science and technology classes. Students who plan to pursue a master's degree or a doctorate in the future should consider pursuing a BS.
Bachelor of Business Administration
Degree-seekers who plan to work in public agencies, private business, or nonprofit organizations can prepare for management roles with a BBA. The degree's curriculum includes a combination of liberal arts study, business courses, and computer technology classes.
Bachelor of Engineering
Similar to the BS, the BEng incorporates a theoretical background in computer science. This degree emphasizes the convergence of computer technology with the principles of design and mathematics inherent in engineering disciplines.
Comparing Computer Engineering to General Computer Science Degrees
What is the difference between computer science and computer engineering? Which degree is right for aspiring technology pros?
Computer science degrees prepare graduates to work with existing software or hardware. Computer engineering, by contrast, equips students to create new software or hardware.
Computer science alumni usually seek jobs in database administration, cybersecurity, or IT departments. Computer engineering graduates typically pursue careers as software developers or network architects.
Computer professionals in both fields may work on exciting frontiers of technology such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, or cryptocurrency. For example, an engineer might build a new bot for a computer scientist to program. The table below explains more:
|What Is the Difference Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering Degrees?|
|Bachelor's in Computer Engineering||Bachelor's in Computer Science|
|Academic Focus||Emphasizes designing interfaces and solving problems||Focuses on operating systems, databases, and maintenance|
|Specializations||May offer specializations in cybersecurity, robotics, or aerospace||Often provides similar specializations to computer engineering|
|Theory vs. Practice||Emphasizes practical hands-on work.||Leans toward theories and ideas that support and drive digital technology.|
|Career Focus||Graduates with a degree in computer engineering may pursue jobs as software or hardware engineers, designers, or network engineers. They often work in technology or telecom settings.||Computer science graduates typically seek jobs as web developers, project managers, or database administrators. They may work in organizations across an array of industries.|
|Prerequisites||Requires an academic background in higher mathematics, computer science theory, and programming||Similar prerequisites to computer engineering|
Popular Computer Engineering Courses
Most computer engineering programs include a series of general education courses, a core computer science curriculum, a concentration in engineering, and electives. Core courses usually blend data, programming languages, cybersecurity, and systems infrastructure with architecture and software development.
Nearly all programs include a hands-on educational component, such as an internship or real-world capstone requirement. While the specific curriculum varies between programs, degree-seekers generally take classes like these:
In this hands-on experience, students demonstrate in a real-world environment the computer engineering knowledge and skills they acquired during their program. Working with a team, learners develop a software package for a business, nonprofit, or university department. Throughout the capstone, students must demonstrate that they understand software development along with devising a viable solution.
This course introduces UNIX operating systems, with a focus on Linux. Enrollees learn to edit, compile, debug, and manipulate files using commands and end-user tools. Other topics include architecture, configuration, basic system administration, and a survey of major Linux distributions.
Through both traditional learning approaches and hands-on study, students in this course learn how internets and computer networks function. They explore networking from wiring and data transmission through the application software that powers networks. Course topics include architecture, protocol layering, application software, LANs and WANs, and data packet transmission.
Using programming language frameworks, learners create a full stack application that runs in the cloud. As part of the project, students also develop a database and a code to interface with their database's application. The last half of the course looks at cloud architecture.
Participants in this course learn about data system design, applications, queries, database architecture, and database management systems. Course content emphasizes relational technology, queries, and data normalization. Learners also engage in hands-on educational experiences to improve their knowledge of SQL language and database software management. The course assumes a basic knowledge of algorithms and data structures.
How Much Will a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering Cost?
Higher education can be costly, but through careful planning, a degree does not have to break the bank. In general, public in-state institutions charge less than private, for-profit, and out-of-state public school programs.
Prestigious private schools may charge high tuition because their brand holds value in the marketplace. But these same institutions can also give generous financial aid packages to qualifying candidates. For many aspiring computer engineers, though, a publicly supported school with an online program can provide a valuable education at a surprisingly affordable price tag.
Degree-seekers rarely pay the whole cost of their education out of pocket anyway. The U.S. government provides grants and work-study programs, state governments often maintain grant programs, and private donors award scholarships.
Many companies help their employees cover the cost of higher education in exchange for a work commitment. Some schools also offer academic scholarships or grants for students from underrepresented groups.
Jobs for Bachelor's in Computer Engineering Graduates
A computer systems engineer degree can prepare learners to enter a variety of tech careers. The computer and IT sector include some of today's fastest-growing, highest-paying, and most in-demand occupations. According to the BLS, jobs in this sector pay a median salary of $91,250 as of May 2020, more than twice the national average for all occupations.
Nearly all of these occupations require new professionals to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Advancement in computer engineering often means accruing rigorous certifications or going back to school for a master's degree in the field.
These professionals create and test computer and software code. Computer programmers translate a software designer or computer engineer's design into code that creates a functional product. They also test code for bugs or errors. The BLS projects a sharp decrease in jobs for computer programmers in the U.S. due to competition from qualified professionals in developing countries.
Companies hire database administrators to organize and store their data safely. These professionals work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, retail, and insurance. Database administrators may specialize in building and maintaining system architecture, or they may focus on the applications that work with the databases.
Computer Network Architect
Sometimes called IT network architects or enterprise architects, these professionals develop data communication networks including intranets, local area networks, and wide area networks. Computer network architects may need certification or education in specific software. In many cases, earning an MBA can help them advance in their careers.
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Choosing the Right Computer Engineering Program
Aspiring computer engineers should think carefully about choosing the right program. Online rankings can provide a helpful start to learners who are exploring computer engineering degrees. But prospective students should also consider other factors:
- Attending an accredited school can help students access financial aid packages, transfer credits between institutions, and ensure course content viability. Many of the top computer engineering degree programs also hold programmatic accreditation from ABET.
- Alumni Network
- A school's alumni community can offer valuable connections in the work world to graduating seniors. Prospective enrollees should consider the size, strength, and organization of the alumni at any school they consider.
- Cost and Financial Aid
- Prices for online computer engineering degrees vary from school to school. Top programs typically charge top prices. However, attending an in-state school and maximizing financial aid options can help make higher education more affordable.
- Graduate Program Options
- Does the school under consideration offer a graduate program? Colleges that invest in graduate computer engineering education may provide more options, future growth opportunities, and stronger support than their peers.
- What does the school's admission committee require? Prospective students need to know if they meet minimum academic and professional standards before applying.
Why You Should Get Your Degree Online
For many technology-focused degrees such as computer engineering, online programs are the norm. The vast majority of learners in the major complete their studies online or in hybrid formats.
The National Center for Education Statistics states that roughly 35% of college enrollees took one or distance education classes before 2020. Once the pandemic began, though, nearly every student became an online or hybrid learner, and online education continues to increase in popularity.
Online learning offers many benefits, including accessibility, flexibility, and freedom from the time and expense of commuting to campus. Some online students can combine full-time employment with their studies, reducing the opportunity costs of earning a computer engineering degree.
Prospective students who struggle with time management or who flourish in a face-to-face environment may want to consider a traditional program. But for self-disciplined learners who thrive on flexibility, an online computer engineering degree can offer the best of all worlds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Computer Engineering Degrees
Can I get a computer engineering degree online?
Many colleges and universities offer computer engineering degrees online. As a technology-centric major, computer engineering provides an ideal focus for remote education.
Which degree is best for computer engineering?
Computer engineering degrees are as distinct as the schools that offer them. Some aspiring technology professionals earn a bachelor's in computer engineering. Others major in IT, data science, or software engineering.
Can I be a software engineer with a computer engineering degree?
Both disciplines involve similar technical skills, but some employers require software engineers to hold specific credentials and backgrounds. A computer engineer focused on hardware might need to complete more software programming coursework before becoming a software engineer, for example.
What degree do you need to become a computer systems engineer?
Almost all computer engineering occupations require a minimum of a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs. Computer engineers who want to pursue a career in research need at least a master's degree.
What is a computer engineering salary?
The BLS reports the median annual salary for computer and IT occupations was $91,250 as of 2020. Software developers earned $110,140 in comparison..
Top Two Program Rankings
This guide highlights our top two online bachelor's degrees in computer engineering for 2022. Find out about our methods for ranking programs at the link below.
Read our ranking methodology
Florida International University
A public research institution in Miami, Florida International University (FIU) serves almost 54,000 students. One of the largest universities in the U.S., FIU offers online and in-person undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
FIU's College of Engineering and Computing offers an ABET-accredited BS in computer engineering. The 128-credit program explores computer networking, software engineering, instrumentation, and signal and image processing. Students develop reasoning, communication, and problem-solving skills. The online curriculum includes lectures, group projects, and live instructor feedback.
This program prepares learners to pursue positions like electronic drafter, computer science teacher, and computer support specialist. Graduates work for companies like Boeing and Intel.
Course topics include applied software techniques, discrete mathematics, and computer design. Electives explore areas like cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, and bioengineering. Students learn from full-time faculty members with doctoral degrees in computer and electrical engineering.
Applying to FIU
First-year applicants must complete an online application and pay an application fee. The program requires official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.
Program at a Glance
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
- Tuition: $229/credit (in state); $346/credit (out of state)
- Program Length: 128 credits
- Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
- Percentage Awarded Loans: 29%
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona in Tucson offers more than 300 majors. A land-grant university and Hispanic-serving institution, Arizona enrolls more than 46,000 students.
Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
U of A's online BS in electrical and computer engineering helps prepare graduates for careers in industries like aerospace, healthcare, and information technology. Students can customize their curriculum with electives. Areas of interest may include software design, power systems, and robotics.
The College of Engineering offers classes like device electronics, computer programming for engineering applications, and circuit theory. The four-year, 128-credit degree includes hands-on experience through company partnerships and faculty research. Students enjoy one-on-one interaction with instructors.
Applying to U of A
Admission requirements include an online application and transcripts. Evaluation criteria for the College of Engineering include GPA, math and science grades, and rigor of high school classes.
Program at a Glance
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
- Tuition: $600/credit
- Program Length: 4 years
- Delivery Format: 100% online
- Percentage Awarded Loans: 36%
Is an online computer engineering degree worth IT? ›
Yes, a computer engineering degree is worth it to many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 11% job growth in computer and information technology occupations over the next 10 years.Which bachelor degree is best for computer engineering? ›
1. Information Technology and Information Systems. This is definitely the top computer degree choice if your goal is to excel in dealing with end-user computing, systems administration, and/or systems engineering because it covers all those aspects.Is a Bachelors in computer engineering worth IT? ›
The average income of computer engineers has reached $87,530 in 2021, ranging from $77,911 to $97,159. Principal and senior software engineers, those often owning at least one computer engineering degree, can even earn $170K.Can you learn computer engineering online? ›
Online computer engineering bachelor's degrees generally require 120-128 credit hours and at least four years of full-time study. Some fully online programs feature eight-week courses that allow students to take more credits per year and finish more quickly.What is the lowest salary of a computer engineer? ›
An Entry Level Computer Engineer with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹4.8 Lakhs per year.What GPA do you need to be a computer engineer? ›
Undergraduate Degree Required
Bachelor's degree in physical or mathematics sciences with a bachelor's cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Students from other related fields may be required to take preparatory courses before or after starting the program.
- Principal Software Engineer. ...
- Software Architect. ...
- Computer Scientist. ...
- IT Project Manager. ...
- Site Reliability Engineer. ...
- Data Engineer. ...
- IT Security Consultant. ...
- DevOps Engineer.
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $398,500 and as low as $30,000, the majority of Computer Engineer salaries currently range between $60,000 (25th percentile) to $100,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $128,500 annually across the United States.Are computer engineers still in demand? ›
Computer and Information Research Scientists: The BLS projects this career field will grow 21% between 2021 and 2031. Computer and information research scientists often hold a master's degree or doctorate in a computer engineering-related field.Which pays more computer science or computer engineering? ›
A computer scientist, for instance, can earn an average base salary of $81,037 per year, while a computer engineer may earn an average of $75,097. One of the best things about computer science and computer engineering is that both open doors to diverse career paths.
Is it hard to get a job as a computer engineer? ›
If you're looking to become a software engineer, it can be hard to land your first job. Many factors go into getting an interview—and even more come into play when you're trying to land the job offer itself. The good news is that there are ways you can increase your chances of success.Do computer engineers do a lot of math? ›
The answer is Yes. Computer engineers have applied mathematical skills to digital processing and analysis. Basically, math is almost one of the mandatory requirements for them. So, if you want to be an engineer, a master's in algorithms is essential.How do I become a computer engineer without going to college? ›
- Perfect Your Prerequisites.
- Refine Your Coding Skills.
- Practice With Coding Projects.
- Network or Find a Mentor.
- Build a Portfolio.
- Consider Related Jobs.
- Practice Your Interview Skills.
- Work Towards the Job You Want.
Earning a degree in computer science can create many opportunities for high-paying, in-demand jobs that don't include significant coding skills. There are many opportunities in this field if your interests and skills better align with customer- or client-facing positions, such as sales and service.Can I be a self taught computer engineer? ›
Do you need a degree to be a software engineer? You absolutely do not need a degree to be a software developer. Plenty of people have achieved it all on their own, through self-teaching and networking. (Coding bootcamps are also a good option if you have the time and budget — here are 18 of the best ones.)Which engineering has highest salary but easy? ›
Petroleum Engineer tops our list of the highest paying engineering jobs. The primary responsibility of petroleum engineers is to design and develop ways to extract natural resources oil and gas from Earth. They work in offices or at excavation sites.How many years does it take to be a computer engineer? ›
Undergraduate programs in computer engineering take four years to complete. Graduate degrees usually take 2-3 years, and industry certificates can be completed in a matter of months.Is being a computer engineer a stressful job? ›
While working as a computer engineer might be stressful at times and in specific settings, the job itself is not all that terrible. Every work has some amount of stress; therefore, you cannot avoid it.Which online course is best for computer engineering? ›
- Devmountain — Java Software Engineering — Most Affordable.
- DigitalCrafts — Web Development Bootcamp — Most Comprehensive Curriculum.
- Ironhack — Web Development — Shortest Course.
- Codesmith — Computer Science Bootcamp — Best Free Learning Resources.
Online colleges are becoming more popular, but prospective students may still worry about their credibility. We're here to set the record straight: An online degree holds just as much weight as a traditional degree. In fact, data shows that most employers don't even differentiate between the two types of degrees.
Is an online degree as good as a regular degree? ›
Because of accreditation standards and processes, graduates of online degree programs receive the same rigorous level of education as traditional degree program students. The degree is the achievement earned.Can you be a computer engineer from home? ›
Can Software Engineers Work Remotely? Of all jobs, software engineering is one of the most conducive careers for working at home. Software engineering work from home can be accomplished with the right skill sets and equipment.Is computer engineering still in demand? ›
Whether you choose to stay here or abroad though, computer engineering graduates can rest assured that there will be no shortage of jobs that require their unique skills.