Computer Network Engineering Degree Program Overviews

Computer network engineering concerns the theory and methods of linking computers, allowing them to share information with each other. Programs relevant to computer network engineering are widely available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in computer network engineering give students a foundation in developing computer networks for organizations. These skills are also covered at the bachelor's degree level, along with the theoretical concepts behind computer network engineering. Both types of degree programs offer classroom instruction supplemented by hands-on experience. To apply to an associate's degree program, students will be required to have a high school diploma or GED and to have a background in calculus, physics and computers. For the bachelor's degree, the same educational requirements apply but students will also need experience with a variety of software programs.

Master's degree programs in computer network engineering are usually designed for individuals with some professional experience in the field. Students get advanced training in topics such as network algorithms and coding theory. For entry into these programs, students will need a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field, along with GRE test scores and experience in computer engineering. In doctoral computer science programs, students explore advanced concepts and pursue their own research in the field. A dissertation is required for completion, and to qualify for the program students must have a firm understanding of computer science and engineering, as well as adequate GRE scores.

Associate of Applied Science in Computer Network Engineering

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree programs in computer network engineering technology. These degree programs emphasize the methods and technology used to install, operate and repair computer networks. In addition to standard classroom instruction, students often work directly with computer technology in realistic settings. There, they can learn how to set up, test and troubleshoot computer networks.

Computer network engineering technology AAS curricula emphasize methods used to maintain wired and wireless links between computers. Students also learn about computer hardware and about different types of software used to create networks. The list below includes some classes commonly offered:

  • Programming languages
  • Computer operating systems
  • Computer server administration
  • Web development
  • Systems design

Bachelor of Science in Computer Network Engineering Technology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in computer network engineering technology cover advanced topics related to creating and operating links between computers. During bachelor's degree programs in computer network engineering technology, professors teach students to create and service wired networks (where the computers are physically connected) and virtual networks (where there is no physical connection). Students usually complete a combination of classroom instruction and practical experience.

Students in computer network technology B.S. degree programs learn advanced methods used to create and maintain computer networks. Programs also instruct students on the theoretical concepts behind network design and the software used to store and transmit electronic information. Students often take the classes mentioned below:

  • Computer architecture
  • Microprocessor design
  • Database design
  • Computer operating systems
  • Electronic data transmission

Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Many Master of Science (M.S.) degree programs in computer engineering offer a specialization in computer network engineering. These degree programs teach both the techniques used in computer network engineering and the theories that motivate research in the field. Students learn advanced concepts related to database design and administration, virtual private network (VPN) design, wired computer networking and computer architecture.

Master's degree students learn about the technology and practices used to design advanced computer networks. Programs teach students about digital data transmission, wireless communications technology and signal processing. Programs usually offer classes on the following subjects:

  • Information theory
  • Digital image transmission
  • Methods of optimization
  • Coding theory
  • Network algorithms

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in computer science sometimes allow students to take courses in computer network engineering. These programs are usually part of the school's engineering department and take a multidisciplinary approach. Students learn advanced concepts used to design computer networks and facilitate further research in the field. Students complete an original dissertation demonstrating their understanding of computer science theory.

Students in Ph.D. programs in computer engineering often choose their own courses, perhaps in consultation with an advisor, after they complete a few core classes required of all students. Programs offer the courses mentioned below for students interested in computer network engineering:

  • Networking software testing and quality assurance
  • Computer network architecture
  • Computer network engineering research methodology
  • Computer network engineering statistical analysis
  • Advanced VPN design

Popular Career Options

People who enter the workforce after earning an AAS in Computer Network Engineering Technology qualify for entry-level positions installing, maintaining and repairing equipment. Graduates often choose the careers noted below:

  • Computer network administrator
  • Computer network repair technician
  • Computer network tester

Earning a B.S. degree in computer network engineering technology prepares graduates for careers troubleshooting hardware and software, managing electronic databases and maintaining computer networks. The following careers are popular options:

  • Information technology (IT) manager
  • Database administrator
  • IT consultant

People who study computer network engineering at the master's degree level often enter advanced careers in IT, consulting and software design. Private companies, governmental agencies and consulting organizations hire graduates from M.S. programs in computer network engineering. Some common career choices are listed below:

  • IT administration supervisor
  • VPN designer
  • Computer software programmer

People who earn a Ph.D. in computer network engineering often enter careers in research or academia. Graduates often work for software design companies, computer hardware manufacturers, universities or the government. The careers mentioned below are popular options:

  • University professor
  • Computer networking software designer
  • Computer networking hardware designer

With extensive program levels available, diverse concentrations, and a wide range of career options, computer network engineering programs can provide students with the training and skills required to meet their academic and career goals. While requirements vary according to degree level, programs in this field will require students to have some understanding of computers and related software before applying.

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