Students who are interested in computer hardware engineering typically pursue a degree or certificate in computer engineering, electrical engineering, network engineering or another closely related field. Relevant programs are offered by two-year community colleges and four-year universities around the country.
Computer Hardware Engineering Schools
The following schools offer education in computer hardware engineering:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*|
|Asher College||Sacramento, CA||2-year, Private for-profit||Certificate, Associate's||$17,486|
|Community College of Rhode Island||Warwick, RI||2-year, Public||Associate's||$4,266 (in-state), $11,496 (out-of-state)|
|Illinois Institute of Technology||Chicago, IL||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate, Doctorate||$43,680|
|Lake Superior College||Duluth, MN||2-year, Public||Associate's||$5,126 (in-state), $9,543 (out-of-state)|
|Monroe Community College||Rochester, NY||2-year, Public||Associate's||$4,554 (in-state), $8,354 (out-of-state)|
|Oakland University||Rochester Hills, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$11,344 (in-state), $23,522 (out-of-state)|
|Rend Lake College||Ina, IL||2-year, Public||Associate's||$4,605 (in-state), $4,650 (out-of-state)|
|University of California - San Diego||La Jolla, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$13,530 (in-state), $38,238 (out-of-state)|
|Wichita State University||Wichita, KS||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$7,528 (in-state), $15,851 (out-of-state)|
|Boston University||Boston, MA||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$48,436|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
College Selection Criteria
Students interested in computer hardware engineering programs should consider the following:
- Students should look for programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
- Computer hardware engineers are required to be licensed if they offer services to the public, so aspiring engineers may want to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the licensure exam. It can also be helpful to find out about pass rates on voluntary certification exams.
- Companies look for students who are able to work well with other people; seek out opportunities to work in teams during internships and classes.
- When considering a research-focused computer or electrical engineering graduate program, it is important for prospective students to make sure that there are faculty members at the school with expertise and research interests in hardware engineering, as they may act as thesis or dissertation advisors.
Associate's Degree Programs
Associate's degree programs in computer engineering technology and closely related fields offer a basic introduction to the fundamental principles of the field. Students take introductory courses in engineering, electronics, computer science and mathematics, as well as general education courses. Upon graduation from one of these two-year programs, students may pursue entry-level IT jobs, or they may advance to bachelor's degree programs in a similar field.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
In Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Engineering programs, students begin with the same foundational coursework as that included within associate's degree programs, but they also have an additional two years of study to take more focused electives in topics such as networking, computer organization and microcontrollers. Prior to graduation, students are required to complete a capstone senior design project.
Master's Degree Programs
Master of Science (MS) in Computer Engineering programs provide advanced training in the design and implementation of computer hardware and software systems, through a combination of advanced coursework and hands-on thesis research. At some schools, students in computer engineering programs who are particularly interested in hardware engineering can declare a formal concentration in Hardware and Computer Architecture.
Doctoral Degree Programs
In PhD programs in computer and/or electrical engineering, students conduct advanced research in a particular topic of interest, such as computer hardware engineering. They may also gain pedagogical experience through teaching internships. Before they can graduate, PhD candidates must submit and defend a final dissertation.
Like associate's degree programs, undergraduate certificates in computer systems engineering provide a broad overview of the field. However, they are shorter, because they do not include general education coursework. There are also some schools that offer advanced certificate programs for trained hardware engineers who want to expand their knowledge in a particular area of specialization, such as embedded systems engineering or optical instrument design.
There are several program options available for students interested in computer hardware engineering. Students should make sure programs are accredited by ABET to ensure proper licensing.