10 Best Online Computer Engineering Degrees [2020 Guide]

If you want to be part of the future in a field with good pay, great potential and a chance to solve real-world problems, an online bachelor’s degree in computer engineering might be a good fit for you.

Online Computer Engineering

There is no question that we are living in a world that depends on computers more and more each day. Do you enjoy working on your computer?  If you are curious about what’s inside them and how they operate, a computer engineering degree is well worth exploring.

Best Online Computer Engineering Degrees

Companies such as Google and Amazon began with people who built their own computers in order to solve problems.  They weren’t sure where their imaginations would take them, but they knew their efforts would open doors to new worlds.

This quest for discovery continues today in the evolving fields of computer engineering listed here. Select the online engineering degree program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering Online

Computer engineers working together on a project

Computer engineers use their educations to research, design, build, test, install, audit and administer the computer systems that businesses use to meet their strategic goals. A typical online bachelor’s degree in computer engineering will include classes in the basic subjects that provide foundations in both computer science and engineering.

Graduates can fill positions in specialty areas including software development, hardware engineering and systems management. Online computer engineering majors receive broad knowledge in the core areas of math and science, which typically include classes in algorithms, chemistry, physics and biology.

Your engineering curriculum can also include the study of circuits, computer design, testing, and programming.  In order to provide a keener understanding of critical elements of study, courses will examine key concepts from the viewpoints of both hardware and software. Graduates are typically rewarded with salaries close to or exceeding six figures.

Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Online

Software Engineers working overtime in the office

You may not realize it, but many of your daily activities are made possible because of software engineers.

Do you text for food delivery, pay for purchases online or play popular computer games?  If so, you are using systems invented by people who have earned this highly demanded and lucrative degree.

Bachelor’s degrees in software engineering will teach you how to program, network, code and design programs.  They combine a foundation in computer science with training in the technical elements that allow you to solve problems through research, development and execution of workable solutions.

Your curriculum will likely combine foundational courses in math and science as well as engineering.

You will learn to concepts that allow you to develop code, apply interface experience, and keep up with new and emerging developments. Plus, with an online degree in software engineering you will be paid very well for your efforts and expertise.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science Online

Software Engineers working on their computer in the office

Can you imagine a world without computers?  Now, imagine yourself as part of this world! An online degree in computer science will give you an opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to solving the ever-changing problems that face nearly every industry.  It is a valuable ticket to a stimulating and profitable future.

Your studies will include courses about basic industry concepts such as coding, and computer technology– classes you will need to work in computer fields related to the design, implementation and evaluation of processes and systems.

Your degree may include course work in calculus, statistics, computer science theory, data management, and operating systems, among others.  It lays the groundwork for a myriad of possibilities for you and your future in computing.

After graduation, you will be ready to take your place in the vital and vibrant computing world.

Computer Engineering Careers and Salaries

Computer Engineering Careers and Salaries

The 21st century will no doubt be known as the “Century of Computers.” It is hard to think of a single person or business that does not rely on computers for some aspect of daily life. Think about it:

  • A computerized alarm clock wakes us up.
  • Our cars and mass transit systems rely on computers to take us where we need to go.
  • Our places of business use computers for everything from job performance to payroll.
  • Our leisure time depends on computers for pastimes from gaming to audio and video entertainment.
  • We go to sleep aided by soothing music from our devices.

For these reasons, a degree in computer engineering has limitless employment opportunities.

From manufacturing, to commerce, to amusement, to health and science and beyond, the academic preparation and training you will receive during your studies are keys to limitless opportunities for a stimulating and secure future.

Here are samples of job titles and average salaries for a variety of careers that are open to computer engineering graduates according to PayScale.

Careers Average Annual Salary
Software Engineering Manager $130,000
Principal Software Engineer $127,000
Systems Development Manager $121,000
Senior Software Engineer $112,000
Lead Software Engineer $109,000
Senior Software Developer $99,000
Firmware Engineer $84,000
Software Engineer $83,000
Embedded Software Engineer $80,000
Electrical Engineer $77,000

Another excellent resource for estimating your future salary as a computer engineer can be found in information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It lists information for both hardware and software engineers.

For hardware engineers (defined as employees who research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components), it estimates the median pay for new graduates with a bachelor’s degree as $117,000 per year, and projects a 6% growth for jobs from 2018-2028.

For software engineers (defined as those create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device), it estimates a 2018 median pay of $105,000 per year, with a 21% growth in job outlets from 2108 to 2018.

Computer Engineering Curriculum & Courses

Computer Engineer working online at home

Although each university creates its own path to graduation as a computer engineer, most of them will have a basically similar core.

In your online studies, expect to find the following foundational and more advanced classes in your major:

  • Calculus: Calculus is a math class that teaches you to find and apply information about the changes between values that have the same function.
  • Physics: Physics is a science class that focuses on the mechanics and composition of matter and energy and will include information about heat, light, sound, atomic structure, electricity and magnetism.
  • Applied Algorithms for Engineering: This class will explain how the formal language of algorithms allows engineers to perform specific tasks related to calculating, data processing, reasoning and other tasks.
  • Computer Organization or Computer Architecture: This fundamental course will explain how to understand and design a computer’s building blocks and comprehend how they work together to create all types of computer systems.
  • Digital-Logic Design: This useful class explains how engineers use number values to design every computer, cell phone, and personal electronic device.
  • Programming Languages: In order to program computers, engineers must learn to speak their language by grasping a variety of skills that include designing data bases and adjusting language for tasks such as web programming, business communication, networking, and digital design.
  • Computer Networking: Computers “speak” to each other through local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) both of which will be explained in this class that will also cover how to connect various hardware systems and obtain Internet access for them.
  • Systems Design: A course in systems design concentrates on computer architecture and the components and interfaces that engineers must skillfully design in order to scale, maintain and create reliable technology.
  • Introduction to Data Structures: In order to perform basic computer functions such as testing and debugging, you must understand, develop and apply the material covered in this class, which includes information about basic data structures such as lists, stacks, queues, and hash tables.
  • Probability Theory in Computer and Electrical Engineering: The probability theory you will learn to create and apply in this class is important because all computer and electrical engineers will have to assess the risks that they might encounter in order to make critical decisions in their design and application work.

Remember, colleges and universities customize their required and elective courses to meet the changing needs of their students.

Admission Requirements

Computer Engineering students studying together in class

In order to get accepted into an online computer engineering degree program a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED) are most often a compulsory requirement. Beyond that, schools vary widely on other qualifications, but may include:

  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) that will vary by institution.
  • Official transcripts for all previous academic work, including complete transcripts for transfer students who will typically need competitive GPAs.
  • Recent SAT or ACT scores.
  • Minimum age requirements that might be set at 20.
  • English proficiency for foreign applicants.
  • Completion of course prerequisites in classes such as statistics and pre-calculus.
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form that is required for financial aid.
  • Documentation of professional training if applying for credit for experience in related field.
  • Essays related to relevant life experience.

Remember to read and the specific admission requirements for each institution you want to attend.  They are all different and have varying deadlines you do not want to miss.

Accreditation

Online Computer Engineering Degrees Accreditation

Accreditation is an oversight function operated by the U.S. Department of Education and/or various regional or national organizations to assure that higher education programs meet acceptable quality standards in such areas as faculty, facilities and curriculum.

These accrediting agencies create evaluation criteria and conduct in-person inspections of universities and colleges to determine whether those criteria are met. Schools and programs that pass this careful review are deemed “accredited.”

In addition to general educational establishments, schools that educate in professional specialties may also seek accreditation from specialized professional organizations.

Computer engineering programs often earn accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which is designed to evaluate and approve collegiate programs that properly prepare students to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Be sure to look for proof of the valued “accredited” status in descriptive material before applying to any college or university.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for computer engineering students

College is expensive.  Many students like you are no doubt a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by the process that will determine whether and how much financial aid and/or scholarships for which you will qualify.

To assist with your application, the federal government has created the online, interactive and helpful Free Application for Financial Aid Form (FAFSA) to assist you, whether or not you have a school counselor available to help.

A bit of research and a keen awareness of deadlines will alert you to opportunities for state, college, work-study, loans and private and nonprofit grants and scholarships. The FAFSA is very important because many colleges review FAFSA applications when they review aid application.

Whether you planned ahead with a college savings or not, you can learn more about financial aid and scholarships on the FAFSA website.

What Can You Do with a Computer Engineering Degree?

Hardware Engineer testing computer parts in a laboratory

So much! This degree is in great demand as the hunger for computer-related products and services continues to escalate with each new invention and discovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes opportunities and sample salaries for both hardware and software engineers:

  • Hardware engineers will research, design, develop, and test computer systems components.
  • Software engineers create applications and systems that operate computer and related devices.

Both are growing fields and both welcome qualified graduates to well-paying entry-level positions.

What’s the Difference Between Computer Engineering vs. Software Engineering?

Software Engineers working in data room

Initially, the courses you take in your online program are likely to be a bit different from each other. These courses will help you determine which field you like better and where your interests lie.

Review course catalogues carefully so you obtain the complete picture of what courses you will be required to take as you move through the program. In general, though, computer engineering will bring you knowledge about both computer software and hardware properties and the applications of each.

In hardware classes, you will be taught about designing and building computer systems and how software and hardware interact.

On the other hand, software engineering is defined as a combination of engineering and computer science. It is normally placed in a university’s engineering department and is primarily concerned with programming as well as designing, developing, creating and maintaining software and its related systems.

It is less focused on hardware than computer engineering and focuses more on computer systems and how software interacts with hardware.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Engineering Degree Online?

Computer Engineering Degree student studying online

The answer to this question depends on whether you become a full-time or part-time student. Most online computer engineering degree programs require between 120 and 127 units for graduation.

Since the majority of courses grant three to four units, it will take four years to graduate if you take a full load of 15 units per semester at schools that are on a semester program.

You will enroll in fewer units at schools that are on the quarter system. Also, credits may be earned in summer school, so if you attend year-round, you can speed up your time to graduation.

Are There Any Affordable Online Degrees in Computer Engineering?

Computer Engineering student studying online at home

Tuition costs vary depending on whether you will be attending a public or private college and whether you are a resident of the state in which your college is located.  Many, but not all schools, charge more for out-of-state students.

Also, there may be additional fees, so be sure to read tuition descriptions carefully. While things change very rapidly, tuition currently ranges from about $275 to $370 per unit.

The total tuition for four years will likely be between $32,000 and $47,000, but remember that financial aid, work-study and scholarships are designed to defray the cost of attending.

Is a Computer Engineering Degree Worth It?

Computer Engineers working together on a project

Yes, a computer engineering degree is worth it. Software engineers earn an average salary of $100,690 with an estimated annual 21% growth rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hardware engineers earn an average salary of $81,999 and have an estimated job growth rate of 6% per year from 2020 to 2028.

A degree in computer engineering can help you launch a career in this cutting-edge industry. Common computer engineering positions include hardware engineer, software engineer, computer programmer, web developer, computer network architects, or systems engineer.

Although you should care about the financial benefits of your degree, it is just as important to make a career choice based on your interests and passions. If you love computers, puzzles, math and problem solving, computer engineering can definitely keep you intellectually gratified while paying you an excellent salary.

So yes, if you love it, it’s well worth it! But it is also important to remember that advanced degrees might be required for the highest paying jobs.

Universities Offering Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer computer engineering bachelor’s degree online.

#1  Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University first started educating students in 1886 as a public institute of higher learning. Students who study at ASU earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in many different disciplines, and graduates are prepared for leadership opportunities and creative resolutions to real-world issues.

Students in both the virtual and campus programs are well prepared for successful careers.

  • BS in Software Engineering

Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#2  Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Computer engineering, software development, and mathematics are some of the study areas offered at Colorado Technical University for students looking to gain a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. This private school commenced in 1965 and works with students throughout the globe.

With educational opportunities offered online and in-person, CTU has something for everyone.

  • BS in Computer Engineering

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Florida International University

Florida International University campus

Teaching students the value of creative thinking, teamwork, and technical innovations, Old Dominion University has been educating the public since its establishment in 1930. Offering face-to-face and virtual learning opportunities, ODU helps students from all walks of life acquire a higher learning degree in various academic areas.

Popular degrees include BA in computer science, engineering, and software development.

  • BS in Computer Engineering

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#4  Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

Teaching students the value of creative thinking, teamwork, and technical innovations, Old Dominion University has been educating the public since its establishment in 1930. Offering face-to-face and virtual learning opportunities, ODU helps students from all walks of life acquire a higher learning degree in various academic areas.

Popular degrees include BA in computer science, engineering, and software development.

  • BS in Computer Engineering

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#5  Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

Helping students maneuver the world of technology, business, education, and more since 1998, Pennsylvania State University World Campus allows students to study from anyplace to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree.

This military-friendly public school has hundreds of study areas that enable students to acquire a bachelor’s degree or higher through online learning.

  • BS in Software Engineering

Penn State World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#6  Regent University

Regent University campus

Helping students build a strong foundation in academic excellence since its founding in 1977, Regent University is a private institution with a religious background with a variety of academic study areas.

Students at Regent University use both in-person and online platforms to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in subjects such as science, engineering, math, and technology.

  • BS in Computer Engineering

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.

#7  Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Helping to prepare students for a future in an increasingly technological society since founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University offers an affordable private education.

Online and campus-based learning platforms are available to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in many program areas, including business, computer engineering, and software development.

  • BS in Computer Science – Software Engineering

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#8  University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

Helping students break down barriers in the career world since opening its doors for public education in 1885, the University of Arizona has an array of academic study areas leading to a bachelor’s, graduate’s, or professional degrees.

Learners at UA have access to programs developed to enhance digital learning and help them succeed in the business world.

  • BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#9  Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University campus

Blending practical applications with program knowledge since opening in 1857, Upper Iowa University allows students to attend classes through distance learning and campus-based programs that help students gain an undergraduate or graduate degree.

UIA works with students throughout the globe to provide private educational services in a variety of academic areas.

  • Bachelor’s in Software Engineering

Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#10  Washington State University

Washington State University campus

Students looking to make a leap in their education often turn towards Washington State University for a public education option from a school that has been leading the industry since its founding in 1890.

WSU has hundreds of programs that lead to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees and allows students access to industry-specific research and growth.

  • BS in Software Engineering

Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering Online

Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering student studying online in a library

Investing your time and energy in a computer engineering degree is without a doubt an excellent investment.

It is more affordable than personal attendance and studying online means you avoid the additional costs of room and board. In addition to being cost effective, you will have a degree in one of most demanded, most respected, and most lucrative fields in this day and age.

You will work in a stimulating environment, have welcoming colleagues, and be given creative opportunities. Welcome to the future. With a computer engineering degree, it is yours for the taking.

Maureen Rubin
WRITTEN BY
Maureen Rubin
Maureen has a Juris Doctor, Master's in Public Relations, and a Bachelor's in Journalism. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and enjoyed a career working in public information at nonprofits, and in Congress & the White House. She welcomes an opportunity to share educational or uplifting information with readers.