Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Interested in engineering and computer science? Computer engineering might be right for you. Check out the best HBCUs for computer engineering here.
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As the technology sector flourishes, the demand for computer engineers continues to rise. Computer engineers work in various subspecialties, such as software engineering, which CompTIA ranks as the most in-demand job as of September 2023.

While many universities offer computer engineering programs, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) offer increased value for traditionally underrepresented groups.

According to Congresswoman Alma Adams, HBCUs graduate 42% of Black engineers and nearly half of Black women engineers.

Students interested in joining the next generation of Black STEM professionals should consider attending an HBCU. This article reviews the best HBCUs for computer engineering programs.

What Is Computer Engineering?

Computer engineering sits at the crossroads of computer science and electrical engineering. It combines foundational elements of both fields to design, develop, and maintain computer hardware, networks, and software.

Because of this connection between computer engineering and other technical disciplines, many professionals pursue a master's degree in computer engineering after an undergraduate degree in another discipline.

Others combine interests and complete bridge programs (both a bachelor's and a master's degree) in computer science and another program.

Regardless of the degree type, computer engineering graduates can pursue careers as:

  • Hardware engineers
  • Computer network architects
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Computer and information research scientists

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Why Attend an HBCU for Computer Engineering?

HBCUs offer a unique learning experience for students in any discipline thanks to the following benefits.

Affordability

HBCUs prioritize affordability to help remove barriers that traditionally affect Black and other minority students. Compared to other institutions, HBCUs usually charge much lower tuition to ensure low-income, first-generation college students can access higher education. These schools commonly offer extensive financial aid packages to provide further support.

Celebration of Black Culture

While computer engineering programs typically include around 40 credits of general education requirements, the standard courses aim to provide a foundation in math, science, history, and English.

However, many HBCUs take it a step further by expanding the course options available to students. HBCUs also give students the opportunity to participate in programs like Google's Tech Exchange.

These programs go beyond the standard curriculum, offering specialized courses in applied computer science and problem-solving skills, fostering social capital and community among historically underrepresented groups such as Black, Latino/a, and Native students.

Community Focus

Historically Black institutions were established as early as 1837 to provide an education for formerly enslaved Afrcans who were denied admission to white universities.

HBCUs provided the Black community with access to high-quality education during segregation. While universities now admit people from any background, HBCUs continue to promote a sense of community and support — particularly for those of African descent and other people of color.

The best HBCU computer engineering programs often include community outreach programs to promote minority participation in STEM disciplines.

The 10 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

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#1 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

University of the District of Columbia

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Campus

UDC's program introduces learners to several computer engineering sub-disciplines with topics like cyber-physical systems and software engineering. In the final semesters, students complete a capstone project and choose specialized computer engineering and engineering electives. Potential topics include solar thermal energy systems, artificial intelligence, and mechatronics. 

Tuition ranges from $345-725 per credit, with the cheapest options available to D.C. and metro residents. Besides the affordable tuition, UDC offers a paid research assistant position and a Microsoft scholarship opportunity. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,292
Out-of-state
$12,144
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,234
Out-of-state
$17,748
Retention Rate
71%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,725
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#2 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Prairie View A & M University

  • Prairie View, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

PVAMU's computer engineering curriculum begins with math, chemistry, physics, and government courses. It then builds on that foundation with 27 core computer engineering courses that explore topics like network theory, microprocessor system design, and logic circuits. Students can customize their program with three technical electives before completing a two-semester capstone project on engineering design and professionalism.  

The College of Engineering also offers a five-year BS/MS program. Computer engineering students with a 3.0 minimum GPA can pair their undergraduate studies with a master's in electrical engineering. They can also apply for a $10,000 scholarship for the five-year track.  

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,253
Out-of-state
$22,552
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,096
Out-of-state
$14,316
Retention Rate
74%
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
9,248
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Hampton University

  • Hampton, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Hampton offers two ABET-accredited computer engineering options: a traditional and cybersecurity track. Both require 120 credits and include many of the same classes, but the cybersecurity track replaces some electives with courses like cyber-physical systems and network security. 

Regardless of the program track, students can take advantage of the flat-rate tuition and apply for need or merit-based scholarships. Engineering majors can also land paid research positions and contribute to Hampton's long history of interdisciplinary research.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$26,198
Out-of-state
$26,198
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,099
Out-of-state
$13,099
Retention Rate
72%
Acceptance Rate
36%
Students Enrolled
3,516
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Claflin University

  • Orangeburg, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Claflin University's program is for students planning to pursue a graduate degree or a career as a computer hardware architect. As such, the core curriculum covers essentials like data structures, embedded systems, and software engineering. Depending on their industry interests, students can choose more specialized electives in bioinformatics, digital forensics, data mining, and robotics. 

The university emphasizes leadership and inclusion, offering several opportunities to participate in community activities. Computer engineering students partner with groups like the National Society of Black Engineers to promote computing diversity and offer K-12 educational services.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$16,476
Out-of-state
$16,476
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,653
Out-of-state
$11,653
Retention Rate
70%
Acceptance Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
2,048
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students begin FAMU's computer engineering program with a year of "pre-engineering" requirements. They must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and earn at least a C- in foundational courses like calculus and physics. 

Upon completion, they can transfer into the computer science major and begin exploring core concepts like advanced microprocessors and linear systems analysis. 

Students complete the program with a research-based capstone design project, highlighting FAMU's history as a research institution. Besides research, FAMU prioritizes affordability, with in-state tuition totaling just over $4,550 annually.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,152
Out-of-state
$14,524
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,019
Out-of-state
$22,108
Retention Rate
85%
Acceptance Rate
33%
Students Enrolled
9,184
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Johnson C Smith University

  • Charlotte, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

JCSU prioritizes experiential learning. Computer engineering students learn through hands-on activities like building microcontrollers and robots. As part of this experiential focus, they can land paid research positions or internships at organizations like NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institutes of Health.

The curriculum also reflects this experiential focus with two career preparation seminars, a senior capstone project, and a practicum elective. While not required, students can further supplement their degree with one of two minors: bioinformatics or cybersecurity. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$16,014
Out-of-state
$16,014
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$17,798
Out-of-state
$17,798
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
1,306
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

North Carolina A & T State University

  • Greensboro, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

N.C. A&T offers an affordable, ABET-accredited computer engineering program. North Carolina residents pay less than $150 per credit before added fees, totaling just over $18,100 in tuition for the entire 123-credit program. 

In alignment with ABET student outcomes, the curriculum prepares graduates to apply engineering concepts to create practical and ethical solutions to real-world problems. Most courses focus on electrical and computer engineering concepts, such as electric circuit analysis, microprocessors, and digital systems designs. In their final year, students select four technical electives and complete a senior design project. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,540
Out-of-state
$17,050
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$4,745
Out-of-state
$17,545
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
12,753
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Howard University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

This ABET-accredited computer engineering program includes a comprehensive curriculum. Classes cover everything from circuit theory and advanced digital systems to electromagnetics. Learners also explore VLSI design and complete a senior design project. 

HU offers two extra benefits: research opportunities and financial packages. With over a dozen on-campus research centers and labs, students can work with faculty to research topics like human-computer interaction and bioinformatics. They can also apply for one of the many departmental scholarships that award up to $41,500.  

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$26,464
Out-of-state
$26,464
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$32,248
Out-of-state
$32,248
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
39%
Students Enrolled
10,859
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#9 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Virginia State University

  • Petersburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

VSU encourages hands-on learning both in and outside the classroom. Many courses include a lab component, such as digital systems, microprocessors, digital signal processing and filter design, and embedded controllers. Computer engineering majors can also participate in summer internships and research projects. 

The school offers low tuition rates, totaling about $5,500 annually for Virginia residents. It also provides several scholarships to ensure affordability and accessibility. Students can apply for general support or program-specific financial aid like the Presidential STEM Scholarship. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,540
Out-of-state
$16,542
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,375
Out-of-state
$18,627
Retention Rate
62%
Acceptance Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
4,020
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Best HBCUs for Computer Engineering Programs

Jackson State University

  • Jackson, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

JSU's computer engineering degree program introduces students to both software and hardware computer systems. For example, the curriculum covers discrete structures, operating systems, electronics, microprocessors, and three technical electives. 

JSU offers competitive tuition rates at $345 per credit for those enrolled part-time, or $8,270 per year for full-time. Students can also apply for several scholarship opportunities, like the Presidential Academic Scholarship, which covers all student expenses for four years.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,270
Out-of-state
$8,270
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,270
Out-of-state
$8,270
Retention Rate
74%
Acceptance Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
6,921
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About HBCU Computer Engineering Programs

What HBCU has the best computer engineering program?

Many HBCUs offer highly competitive computer engineering programs with hands-on learning and real-world experiences. Each program offers unique courses and electives, so the best program depends more on the student's interests and career goals.

What's the difference between computer science and computer engineering?

Computer scientists focus more on software systems, while computer engineers work with hardware and machine design. However, an overlap often exists. Computer engineering students might take foundational computer science courses and learn basic programming and algorithm skills.

What's the difference between computer engineering and electronics engineering?

Electrical engineers deeply understand electrical systems and the physics behind them. They create and develop systems that depend on electricity, while computer engineers focus on computer system research and development — which often includes electrical hardware. Both specialties require skills in circuit design, signals and systems, and network theory, and some institutions offer bridge programs for students to complete degrees in both areas.

What skills do I need to succeed in computer engineering?

Like most other engineering or computer science careers, professionals need advanced problem-solving, analytical, and critical thinking skills. They also need creativity and research abilities to continually improve existing systems. Other must-have skills include adaptability and resilience to succeed in a rapidly evolving field.

What courses can I expect to take if I go to an HBCU for computer engineering?

Most HBCU computer engineering programs start with a foundation in physics, calculus, and chemistry. The core classes — including labs — typically cover circuit theory, signals and systems, cyber-physical systems, and microprocessors. Students can usually select a specialization track or choose several pre-approved cybersecurity, software engineering, or data mining electives. Most programs end with a capstone project.


Page last reviewed October 27, 2023.

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