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Best online computer engineering degrees 2021: Top picks

A computer engineering degree combines engineering principles with computer science to prepare students to work with computer hardware and software.

A computer engineering degree incorporates engineering principles and computer technology while building analytical, communication, and critical-thinking skills. By exploring computer software and hardware design and function, students develop the ability to create, test, and update operating components and systems. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architecture and engineering occupations are projected to add nearly 150,000 new jobs by 2030, while computer and information technology occupations are projected to grow by more than 660,000 new jobs. With knowledge and skills in both fields, computer engineering graduates are well-positioned to enter the workforce. 

We've ranked the top computer engineering bachelor's degrees for 2021. Scroll down to find out the online computer engineering program that's best for you.

The best online bachelor's in computer engineering degrees

ZDNet's ranking methodology takes numerous factors into consideration to determine the top online computer engineering degrees for 2021. By looking at cost, format, and curricula, we've identified the key takeaways from the best computer engineering programs to help you find the program that's right for you. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the program: As part of FIU's 128-credit-hour online bachelor's degree in computer engineering, students choose from elective coursework in concentration areas such as bio-engineering, integrated nano-technology, and computer architecture and microprocessor design.

Acceptance rate: 58%

Graduation rate: 64%

Annual net price: $7,296

Years to degree: Four

SAT range: 1110-1280

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available 

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Old Dominion University

Norfolk, Virginia

About the program: ODU offers a computer engineering program as well as an online electrical engineering technology bachelor's degree with a concentration in computer engineering technology.

Acceptance rate: 89%

Graduation rate: 58%

Annual net price: $16,493

Years to degree: Two to four

SAT range: 980-1180

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

3. National University

La Jolla, California

About the program: NU's online bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineering focuses on applying theories, principles, and practices of both disciplines to computer-based devices that influence everyday life.

Acceptance rate: 89%

Graduation rate: 34%

Annual net price: $66,600

Years to degree: Four

SAT range: 750-1175

Minimum GPA: 2.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: National University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

What to expect in an online bachelor's in computer engineering degree program

An online bachelor's degree in computer engineering includes four years of general education and major coursework. Students explore the fundamentals of computer science and engineering through lectures, coursework, and group learning activities. 

Active participation in online computer engineering degree classes fosters practical abilities. The hands-on nature of a computer engineering program allows learners to take part in group projects while developing communication, teamwork, and time management skills. 

Like any online degree, computer engineering programs require dedication, determination, and self-motivation. Through core classes, electives, and a culminating capstone project, learners acquire the knowledge needed to thrive in the field of computer engineering. 

Computer engineering courses

Coursework varies between each computer engineering program, but many core classes remain consistent across schools. Introductory courses in computer engineering and operating systems accompany classes in software and hardware interface, mathematics in computer engineering, and digital logic.

Introduction to computer engineering

During an introduction to computer engineering course, students learn basic hardware and software concepts. Topics induce combinational circuits and simplification, sequential logic, and assembly language programming. 

Principles and practices of operating systems

A course in the principles and practices of operating systems explores organizational aspects of operating systems such as structure, process management, and memory and virtual memory management. Learners gain understanding of the functionalities and characteristics of operating systems. 

Software and hardware interface essentials

By looking at the relationships between operating systems, software, and computer architecture, a course in software and hardware interface essentials includes lecture and practical components. Topics covered include representation, translation, and control flow. 

Mathematical foundations of computer engineering

With an emphasis on discrete mathematics, algorithms, and data structures, mathematics coursework in computer engineering trains students to apply math concepts to computer engineering problems. Additional topics may include linear algebra, number theory, and graph theory.

Computer engineering degree levels

Undergraduate and graduate computer engineering degrees prepare students for various roles in the field. Learners who want to enter computer engineering careers benefit from an associate degree or a bachelor's degree, while master's and doctoral programs benefit individuals with experience and training in computer engineering. 

Certificate in computer engineering

  • Length: One year or less
  • Cost: $500 to $5,000
  • Post-grad careers: Computer programmer, software engineer, multimedia programmer

An undergraduate certificate in computer engineering provides introductory information about hardware and software technologies, programming, and mathematics. Students learn about networking, embedded systems, and computer architecture as they develop problem-solving skills applicable to computer engineering challenges. 

Graduate certificates in computer engineering deepen understanding of topics such as machine learning, adaptive signal processing, and digital communications. 

Associate in computer engineering

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $8,000 to $20,000
  • Post-grad careers: Computer programmer, junior software developer, software tester

An associate degree in computer engineering introduces students to the principles and concepts of the discipline through two years of coursework. Learners study computer languages, software programming, engineering physics, and calculus, often with the intent of continuing onto a bachelor's degree.

Equipped with theoretical knowledge and practical skills, individuals with an associate degree in computer engineering can find entry-level positions across industrial and technological sectors. 

Bachelor's in computer engineering

  • Length: Four years
  • Cost: $12,000 to $100,000
  • Post-grad careers: Computer software engineer, data analyst, computer network architect

A bachelor's degree in computer engineering trains students in the theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline through four years of coursework. Learners study mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering in anticipation of advanced classes in software engineering and systems design. 

Many bachelor's in computer engineering integrate internships and capstone requirements. With an emphasis on practical learning, computer engineering bachelor's degrees equip students with the skills necessary to work as part of a team. 

Master's in computer engineering

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $18,000 to $46,000
  • Post-grad careers: Hardware design engineer, computer and information systems manager, computer network architect

Alongside coursework in hardware and computer architecture, computer communications and networks, and software design, students earning a master's degree in computer engineering usually complete a research thesis or practical requirement. 

Many computer engineering master's degrees allow learners to specialize in areas such as artificial intelligence, embedded systems, and interface design. With a master's degree, individuals can advance to leadership and executive positions in the field or continue onto a doctoral program. 

Doctorate in computer engineering

  • Length: Five to seven years
  • Cost: $25,000-$100,000
  • Post-grad careers: Computer engineering professor, chief technology officer, senior computer engineering researcher

Doctoral programs in computer engineering emphasize research, innovation, and leadership in the field. Students complete theoretical and didactic coursework in computer science, electrical engineering, and mathematics, alongside research courses. After qualifying exams, doctoral students write a dissertation on an area of computer engineering they'd like to research in depth.

With a doctorate in computer engineering, individuals can work at colleges and universities as instructors. Additional career options include leadership roles and entrepreneur opportunities.

In conclusion

Computer engineering degrees train students to meet the growing demand of an increasingly technology-driven world. If you want to learn more about programming, software and hardware design and development, and systems and network administration, a computer engineering degree is a great fit. Take a look at the rankings here to find which computer engineering degree is right for you.