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A degree in computer engineering focuses on computer hardware and software system development, testing, and design. Computer engineering is a good field for students interested in cybersecurity issues, computer system design, and embedded systems. Graduates often apply for jobs like security engineer, computer hardware engineer, and security analyst.

A degree in computer engineering can develop in-demand technical skills used in many industries. The tech field is growing rapidly, and demand for professionals with advanced IT skills, especially in the cybersecurity realm, is high.

This page dives into how and why to get a degree in computer engineering. We explain different degree types and potential careers for graduates. Explore our lists of the best schools for computer engineering for bachelor's and master's degrees.

Why Get a Degree in Computer Engineering?

A degree in computer engineering can prepare graduates for jobs like computer hardware engineer, security engineer, and computer programmer.

Computer and security jobs will likely remain important as technology becomes increasingly embedded in our everyday lives. Computer engineers work for computer companies, aerospace, electronic component manufacturers, and the biomedical industry.

Computer engineering professionals have analytical, critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. Below, we describe some benefits of earning a computer engineering degree.

  • High Wages: Computer engineers can earn higher-than-average wages. Payscale reports that in February 2022, computer engineers earned an average annual salary of $75,100.
  • Transferable Skills: Computer engineering majors develop coding, communication, problem-solving, and design skills. They become familiar with digital signal processing, operating systems, and debugging. A skilled computer engineering professional can land many different computer and IT jobs.
  • Diverse Job Opportunities: Computer engineering graduates can find jobs in nearly any industry.

Should You Get a Computer Engineering Degree or a Cybersecurity Degree?

Because the degree titles are similar, students may wonder if they should get a degree in computer engineering or a degree in cybersecurity. Both degrees can prepare students for high-earning, in-demand careers in the tech field. But, one degree may make more sense depending on career goals, interests, and personal strengths.

Computer engineering programs are very tech heavy. Students who want to develop advanced technical skills designing, testing, and analyzing computer hardware and software should pursue a computer engineering degree. Learners who want to design the physical systems that make computers run should aim for a computer engineering program.

Students less interested in technical skills might major instead in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity programs take a more interdisciplinary focus and require courses less technical than a standard computer engineering program. A cybersecurity certification or degree may suit students interested only in cybersecurity-related jobs.

What to Expect From Most Computer Engineering Programs

Most computer engineering programs, regardless of degree level, focus on the principles of computing, hardware and software development, and electrical engineering. As students pursue higher degrees in computer engineering, they explore more advanced topics.

Some of the best computer engineering colleges hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET credentials are voluntary and show that a program meets computer engineering industry quality standards.

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Types of Degrees in Computer Engineering

Computer engineering programs offer different levels of computer engineering degrees. The higher the level of degree, often the better the salary potential and available jobs. The right degree depends on career aims, plans for future education, and budget.

Below, we explain what to expect from an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctoral degree in computer engineering.

Associate Degree in Computer Engineering

Associate in computer engineering degrees provide a foundation in the basic skills and principles of computer engineering. Students explore electronic devices, computer networks, digital communication, and digital circuits design. Computer engineering associate degree programs are less common in this field.

Some associate degrees in computer engineering transfer to a four-year program. A typical program requires 61-65 semester credits and takes about two full-time years to complete. Students pursuing an associate degree take classes like engineering math applications, principles of electronics, microcontroller systems, and digital fundamentals.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering

Computer engineering bachelor's programs combine engineering, mathematics, and computer science with a focus on engineering principles and techniques. Students learn to design, test, and analyze computer hardware and software. Admission requirements may include a minimum GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation.

Schools offer computer engineering degrees by different names, including computer engineering technology, computer science and engineering, and electrical and computer engineering. A bachelor's degree in computer engineering requires around 120-128 semester credits and takes about four full-time years to complete.

A typical curriculum includes classes like advanced algorithm design, intelligent web systems, discrete mathematics for computer engineers, and advanced computer architecture.

Many bachelor's programs require a computer engineering capstone project. Some schools provide concentrations like cybersecurity or software engineering. Others offer computer engineering as a concentration of a computer science program.

Graduates with a computer engineering bachelor's degree can apply for jobs like computer hardware engineer, security engineer, and information security analyst.

Master's Degree in Computer Engineering

A master's degree in computer engineering picks up where undergraduate study leaves off, focusing on advanced aspects of computer science and electrical engineering. Learners explore topics like computer networks, signal processing, artificial intelligence, and software engineering.

Admission requirements for computer engineering master's programs include a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related subject, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and letters of recommendation. Other requirements may include a resume and statement of purpose.

A computer engineering master's degree requires 32 semester credits and takes about two full-time years to complete. Some programs offer specializations like hardware and computer architecture and cybersecurity. Most computer engineering master's programs require a practicum thesis or project.

Graduates with a master's degree in computer engineering can apply for jobs like computer hardware engineer, computer or information systems manager, and computer and information research scientist.

Ph.D. in Computer Engineering

The best computer engineering programs that offer Phds prepare students for advanced leadership careers in the field. Graduates can pursue high-level careers in academia, research, and industry. Admission requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field.

A doctoral degree in computer engineering requires about 64-72 credits and takes 4-5 years to complete. Students take classes like network penetration and security, scalable software architectures, and Ph.D. research.

Computer engineering Ph.D. programs require a dissertation. Potential concentrations include parallel and distributed systems, embedded and cyber-physical systems, and computer architecture.

Jobs for Graduates of Computer Engineering Colleges

The best schools for computer engineering prepare graduates for computing, information technology, and cybersecurity jobs. Positions in this field include security engineer, computer hardware engineer, and security manager.

Other options are computer programmer and security analyst. Salary potential varies by career, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer hardware engineers earned a median annual salary of $119,560 in 2020.

Below, we explain what to expect from some popular careers for computer engineering majors, including frequent duties, advancement opportunities, and typical work environments.

Security Engineer

Security engineers often need at least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Security engineers create security systems to stop cyberattacks. They build firewalls, identify security weaknesses, and investigate attacks. They work with a team of other cybersecurity professionals.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): Not available
Average Annual Salary: $95,880

Security Manager

Security managers oversee their organizations' computer and digital security. Duties vary by employer and industry, but may include managing other IT personnel, implementing security measures, and keeping information safe. Security managers often need at least a bachelor's degree and significant relevant experience.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): Not available
Average Annual Salary: $116,420

Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers often work in research labs, creating and testing computer models. Typical tasks include modifying designs, updating equipment, and designing new hardware. Computer hardware engineers need a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. They also need good problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +2%
Median Annual Salary: $119,560

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write and test code and scripts that help devices function. They often work with software developers. Most computer programmers work for the computer systems design and related services industry. Programmers can become certified in specific programming languages to improve their career prospects.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): -10%
Median Annual Salary: $89,190

Security Analyst

Security analysts initiate security measures to protect their organizations' computer systems and networks. Typical duties include maintaining software, helping computer users, and researching IT security trends and developments. They also help create disaster recovery plans for their organizations.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +33%
Median Annual Salary: $103,590

Choosing the Best Computer Engineering Program for You

Finding the best schools for computer engineering takes research. Prospective students should weigh the following factors when finding a program:

  • Accreditation: Students should look for accredited institutions. Attending an institutionally accredited school makes it easier to qualify for financial aid, transfer credit to another school, and receive a high-quality education. Some computer engineering programs hold separate accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
  • Cost/Financial Aid: Consider the cost of tuition, fees, and other expenses. Ask your prospective school about the financial aid process, including what percentage of students receive aid and how much on average.
  • Program Length: Students who want to prioritize graduating quickly can look for accelerated programs. Learners who want to take their time can try to find schools that offer more flexibility.
  • University Resources/Career Services: What types of student resources does the school offer? Look for robust career development services, tutoring help, student clubs, and an IT help desk.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

Some schools offer computer engineering degree programs fully or partly online. Students in online programs take classes in real-time, asynchronously, or a combination of both.

Benefits of distance education include greater flexibility and convenience compared to traditional on-campus programs. People increasingly recognize the utility and quality of many online schools.

Computer engineering may be particularly suited to online learning, because students gain so much experience working with computers and in the digital environment. Learners should weigh the pros and cons of earning their degree in computer engineering online. Consider what matters most concerning personal learning style, budget, and student services.

Best Schools for Computer Engineering Bachelor's Degrees

Explore our ranking of the five best schools for computer engineering bachelor's degree of 2022. The link below explains how we rank schools for all degree levels.

#1 Online College in Colorado

United States Air Force Academy

School Information
Location USAF Academy, Colorado
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

Based in Colorado, the United States Air Force Academy is a public school. The school provides four-year programs in a variety of fields, including computer engineering. Bachelor's degree-holders can enroll in a master's program or enter the workforce. Undergraduate degree-seekers take general education courses and major classes.

Bachelor's degree-seekers can add a minor or concentration to explore a niche area of their field. The institution maintains a 7-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which allows students individual time with faculty. Additionally, student organizations often host events on campus.

The institution offers affordable tuition rates, which help learners minimize student debt. The school reports an admission rate of 11% for undergraduate degree-seekers. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions department to learn about pursuing a bachelor's degree.

#2 Online College in New York

Union College

School Information
Location Schenectady, New York
Admission Rate 43%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A private school, Union College educates students from its campus in New York. The institution delivers four-year bachelor's programs for undergraduate degree-seekers, including a program in computer engineering. Graduates of bachelor's programs can apply to master's programs or enter the workforce. 

Bachelor's programs require general education and major credits. Undergraduate degree-seekers can add a minor or concentration to customize their curriculum. The school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 10-to-1 that gives students more time with faculty. To get the most out of their educational experience, degree-seekers can attend events and join student organizations.

The institution offers affordable tuition rates, which help learners minimize out-of-pocket expenses. The school charges in-state students $56,853 per year and out-of-state learners $56,853 per year. According to the school, 43% of applicants receive admission. The institution holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The admissions department can help prospective learners understand application requirements and financial aid opportunities.

#3 Online College in Indiana

Taylor University

School Information
Location Upland, Indiana
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 77%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Taylor University's bachelor's degree in computer engineering qualifies graduates for immediate employment in the field. Students can pursue Taylor University's on-campus programs in Upland, Indiana. While earning a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, enrollees complete a rigorous curriculum comprising core and specialized coursework.

Learners pursuing the bachelor's degree take general education courses, along with core and upper-division major classes. Degree-seekers can select field-specific electives to tailor the curriculum to their career goals. Many students also complete an internship or capstone project to prepare for the workforce.

An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines. Undergraduates typically require four years to earn their bachelor's degree if enrolled full time.

Taylor University Facts:

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 99%

Students Awarded Loans: 42%

Number of Bachelor's Programs: 75

Number of Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

#4 Online College in North Carolina

Elon University

School Information
Location Elon, North Carolina
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

North Carolina-based Elon University provides a comprehensive catalog of 92 academic programs, including a bachelor's program in engineering. Undergraduate students can pursue a bachelor's degree in a variety of subjects. General education requirements for bachelor's degree-seekers include classes in areas such as English and mathematics. 

After completing general education classes, students take upper-division courses focused on their field of study. While completing a bachelor's program, students gain transferable critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Full-time students complete the degree in four years on average. Part-time students may need more than four years to complete a bachelor's program.

The institution reports that 69% of learners receive financial aid and 28% take out loans. The institution accepts 78% of applicants.

#5 Online College in Iowa

Dordt University

School Information
Location Sioux Center, Iowa
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 75%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

After completing the bachelor's degree in engineering with a computer emphasis, Dordt University graduates qualify for entry-level positions in computer engineering. Students can pursue Dordt University's on-campus programs in Sioux Center, Iowa. The engineering program features a rigorous curriculum and meets high academic standards.

While pursuing the bachelor's degree, learners complete general education requirements and field-specific classes. Degree-seekers gain foundational computer engineering knowledge during major coursework and develop specialized skills through electives. Undergraduates can participate in internships to bolster their resume and impress prospective employers.

Prospective applicants can contact the program for more information about admission requirements and deadlines. Undergraduate students usually earn their bachelor's in four years of full-time study.

Dordt University Numbers:

Percentage of Learners Awarded Financial Aid: 100%

Percentage of Learners Awarded Student Loans: 54%

Number of Bachelor's Programs: 109

Applies Transfer Credits: No

Best Schools for Computer Engineering Master's Degrees

Learn about the five best schools for computer engineering master's degrees in 2022. Find out how we rank schools at our methodology page.

#1 Online College in Ohio

Air Force Institute of Technology-Graduate School of Engineering & Management

School Information
Location Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Air Force Institute of Technology-Graduate School of Engineering & Management educates undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers from its campus in  Ohio. Master's students can pursue 3 of the institution's 19 master's programs online. Online and on-campus master's degree-seekers benefit from the school's top-ranked graduate programs.

The institution offers a master's degree in computer engineering for learners seeking advanced courses in the field. Enrollees in the master's program complete core and specialized coursework meeting high academic standards. Experiential learning opportunities help graduate students gain practical skills and prepare to impress employers after graduation. Faculty advisors support graduate students during the course of their master's studies. The computer engineering degree can qualify graduates for promotions or raises.

Students with financial need can fund their education through federal grants and loans. Student support services, including academic advising and career counseling, help learners succeed academically and professionally. An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines.

#2 Online College in Massachusetts

Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students can pursue Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network's master's programs in Boston, Massachusetts. Graduate degree-seekers can pursue master's programs such as the master of science in electrical and computer engineering. The software engineering program features a rigorous curriculum, helping enrollees develop foundational knowledge in the field.

While completing core coursework, master's students gain transferable skills they can apply to a variety of positions in software engineering. As an accredited institution, the school delivers programs that prepare learners to succeed in professional positions or doctoral programs. 

The school offers support services, including academic advising and career counseling, for graduate students. The software engineering master's degree can qualify graduates for promotions to leadership positions.

The institution holds accreditation, which means degree-seekers can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid.

Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network Facts:

Number of Master's Programs: 47

Number of Master's Programs Online: 26

Graduate Tuition In-State: $24,933

Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $24,933

Transfer Credits Allowed: No

#3 Online College in California

University of California-Los Angeles

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 12%
Graduation Rate 92%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Learners attending University of California-Los Angeles can earn a master's in computer engineering. The degree, offered through the public institution located in Los Angeles, California, provides a flexible, advanced course of study. Graduates often benefit from increased computer engineering career opportunities after earning their master's degree.

The computer engineering program features a rigorous curriculum and meets high academic standards for graduate studies. Electives and experiential learning opportunities allow students to prepare for niche careers in the field. Master's-level learners can access support services such as faculty mentorship and career counseling.

Most graduate students can finish the master's program in 1-2 years of full-time study. Degree-seekers with financial need can fund their education through federal grants and loans.

University of California-Los Angeles At a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 107

Online Master's Programs: 1

Students Receiving Aid: 61%

Students Receiving Loans: 29%

Applies Transfer Credits: No

#4 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A private institution, University of Southern California delivers academic programs from its campus in Los Angeles, California. The school offers a top-ranked master's degree in computer engineering for graduate degree-seekers. The computer engineering program's rigorous curriculum fosters specialized and transferable skills, which enrollees can apply to practical learning experiences.

Master's students gain specialized knowledge during advanced computer engineering classes. As an accredited institution, the school delivers high-quality master's programs that prepare learners to secure advanced positions. Master's students can access support services such as academic advising, career-planning resources, and faculty mentorship. Graduates often benefit from increased computer engineering career opportunities after earning their master's degree.

Degree-seekers at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, scholarships, and other funding sources. Of the school's graduate students, 69% obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.

University of Southern California At a Glance:

Number of Master's Programs: 199

Online Master's Options: 55

Average Cost Per Credit: $1,948

Graduate Tuition In-State: $46,272

Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $46,272

Transfer Credits Permitted: No

#5 Online College in Illinois

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Based in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University educates degree-seekers through in-person and flexible online programs. The private institution delivers a total of 147 master's programs. Master's degree-seekers benefit from the school's top-ranked graduate programs.

Learners can pursue the master's degree in computer engineering to gain advanced knowledge in the field. Enrollees complete a rigorous curriculum and gain field-specific training. Students pursue experiential learning opportunities and choose electives to customize the degree. While completing their master's program, graduate students work with experienced faculty advisors. After earning the master's degree in computer engineering, graduates can apply for positions in the field or advance their current career.

Students at the accredited institution can qualify for federal grants and loans. Learners enrolled in the school's master's programs can access support services such as academic advising and career counseling. An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines.

Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Engineering

Are the best computer engineering programs hard to get into?

Admission requirements for the best schools for computer engineering can be quite rigorous. Specific admission criteria vary by degree level and program, but may include a minimum GPA, standardized test scores, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

Is computer engineering a good career?

Getting a computer engineering degree can lead to high salaries and large numbers of job opportunities in the in-demand tech field. Computer engineering skills are versatile and can translate well to many careers.

What college has the best computer engineering program?

Consult our ranked list above for the best schools for computer engineering. The right program for you will vary depending on your specific interests, academic requirements, budget, and life circumstances.

Should I go to college for computer engineering or cybersecurity?

Computer engineering and cybersecurity programs can both prepare students for promising tech careers. Which type of degree to pursue depends on your career goals, personal strengths, and future education plans.


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