Online Computer Engineering Degrees by Program Level

Dec 10, 2019

Get info about online programs in computer engineering. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Online computer engineering degree programs can focus on software or hardware for diverse applications, and they include theoretical and practical coursework. Bachelor's degree programs are wider in scope and include foundational courses in computer science, though incoming students are expected to have a basic understanding of computer usage prior to enrolling. Online master's degree programs provide opportunities to focus on areas like software or network engineering, and applicants often must have an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited institution. Both types of programs can be completed fully online, with a bachelor's degree taking about four years and master's degrees requiring about two years.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering

A Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering prepares students to design and construct complex computer hardware systems and software programs. Skills learned in this program may be applied to home and office computer operating systems, defense and security systems, video games and network control systems. Students study basic electronics, programming, computer networks, electronics theory, circuit design and microprocessor design. Computer engineering technology is a closely related program that's also commonly offered online.

Program Information and Requirements

Students will need about four years to complete a bachelor's degree program. Students are expected to have a minimum level of technical competence that includes manipulating files and transferring them among machines, installing and running software and computer applications, and using common word processing and spreadsheet software. The curriculum blends traditional text and online presentations and students often access assignments and coursework through an electronic course management system.

Course Topics

Along with core courses in general education, students take beginning and advanced courses that include calculus and electronics. The program encompasses theoretical and practical applications of computer engineering.

Basics of Computer Networks

Students get a thorough introduction to network systems, including local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), transmission technologies, network security and protocols. This class also explores in-depth networking and Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP-IP).

Advanced Programming in C

This course teaches students the fundamentals of programming in the computer programming language C. Students study relevant topics, such as pointers, arrays, structured programming and file manipulation. The computer programming language C++ is also typically introduced.

Basics of Digital Design

Students gain advanced knowledge in modern digital design and explore digital and analog interfacing, synchronous sequential logic, asynchronous sequential logic and MSI (medium-scale integration) logic circuits. Students explore decoders and coders, shift registers, counter decoding and digital systems applications.

Master's Degree in Computer Engineering

Students enrolled in a Master of Science in Computer Engineering program may choose to concentrate in a certain area of computer engineering. Common areas of specialization include network engineering or software engineering. Prospective students are generally required to hold an undergraduate degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Occasionally, this degree may be offered as part of an electrical and computer engineering degree program.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's degree program often takes about two years or more to complete. Many programs offer students the choice of enrolling with either a thesis or non-thesis option. Students are usually able to complete this program completely online. They're also usually expected to be well-versed in typical computer hardware and software applications and their installation.

Course Topics

Courses at the master's level are increasingly advanced and build upon the principles learned at the undergraduate level. The curriculum is balanced between courses in theory and practical applications in the workplace.

Properties of Electromagnetic Fields

Students look at properties of electromagnetic fields and how they impact related facets of modern technologies. Topics of special interest include Maxwell's equations, transmission lines, waveguides and antennas.

Methods and Models of Computation

Students analyze and practice advanced algorithm design with the goal of identifying different classes of problems solvable by computers and algorithms. Some topics of interest include analysis and design of recursive and non-recursive algorithms for searching, set operations and sorting, greedy algorithm and complex programming.

Properties of the Laser

Students study operational procedures and physical characteristics of the laser. This in-depth course covers the history of laser invention, different types of modern lasers, stability of optical cavities, atomic and laser radiation, Gaussian beams, resonant cavities and laser oscillation. Students also discuss how lasers relate to computer engineering applications.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), students who graduate with computer engineering degrees may pursue a career like computer hardware engineer, a field expected to see a 6% rate of job growth between 2018-2028, which is about as fast as the average ( As of May 2018, the BLS reported that computer hardware engineers earned a median wage of $114,600 per year.

Additional career options include computer systems engineer and computer systems analyst in fields like the military, consulting, electronics and telecommunications. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may also be prepared for advanced academic study or professional certification.

Graduates of master's degree programs may also find employment in the fields of computer design, testing and manufacturing. They may also be prepared for advanced professional certification. Students interested in research careers may be interested in continuing with their graduate-level academic study and earning a doctoral degree in computer engineering.

Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer engineering are available to train students in programming, digital design, computation and more. Employment opportunities for graduates include computer hardware engineers and computer systems analysts.

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