How to Choose a Hardware Engineering School, Course or Training Program

Prospective hardware engineers may consider bachelor's, master's or doctoral computer engineering programs, which can be found at 4-year colleges and universities. Some programs offer 5-year joint degrees.

Hardware engineering refers to computer engineering. Some programs may have overlap with electrical engineering, but those interested in a hardware engineering career may want to select a program with that specific focus.

Top 10 Computer Engineering Schools

These institutions offer computer engineering programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704 (Undergraduate); $46,400 (Graduate)
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320 (Undergraduate); $45,729 (Graduate)
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (In-state undergraduate); $38,139 (Out-of-state Undergraduate); $11,220 (In-state Graduate); $26,322 (Out-of-state Graduate)
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $50,665 (Undergraduate); $40,625 (Graduate)
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's $15,054 (In-state undergraduate); $30,214 (Out-of-state Undergraduate)
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,856 (In-state undergraduate); $43,476 (Out-of-state Undergraduate); $20,638 (In-state Graduate); $41,688 (Out-of-state Graduate)
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,204 (In-state undergraduate); $32,396 (Out-of-state Undergraduate)
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Doctoral $45,390 (Undergraduate); $43,710 (Graduate)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $49,116 (Undergraduate)
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $43,450 (Undergraduate); $43,450 (Graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in hardware engineering programs may want to keep these considerations in mind when selecting a program.

  • Since computer hardware engineering encompasses circuit boards, chips and other parts of the computer, students should look for schools that offer a variety of hands-on lab experiences they can use to determine the sector of the industry in which they wish to work.
  • A school's corporate relationships may help a student via internships and professional networking opportunities.
  • Post-graduate state licensure may require a degree from an Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited institution.
  • Some schools offer specific computer engineering programs, while others offer electronics and computer engineering degrees; it is important to review the program information to ensure it has the right focus for your career goals.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

Bachelor's degree programs include advanced math and physics sequences in addition to the computer engineering curricula. These programs may share courses with electrical engineering. Students may be required to complete a final design project. Some schools offer a 5-year joint bachelor's and master's degree option.

Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Master's programs generally require that students complete core courses, such as computer architecture, circuit design and computer hardware testing. Integrated circuits, signal processing and computer engineering are some of the concentrations that may be available. Students must complete research and a thesis or project to graduate. Some schools offer an accelerated professional master's program can be completed in one year and is intended for individuals seeking leadership positions.

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Engineering

Some Ph.D. programs have different tracks for bachelor's degree and master's degrees applicants. In addition to advanced coursework, students must pass oral and written examinations. Individuals must also conduct advanced research, often a continuation from a student's previous work, and write a doctoral dissertation or thesis to complete a program.

Computer hardware engineering programs are offered at many public and private institutions throughout the United States, although not all schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. Those interested in both levels of study may wish to pick a program that has undergraduate and graduate degrees.


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