Best Online Master’s in Computer Engineering Programs
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Computer engineers are responsible for developing and building computer systems. They play a critical role in innovating digital technologies for applications in nearly every industry, including auto manufacturing, medicine, and cybersecurity. Computer engineers enjoy exceptionally lucrative career opportunities as part of the broader computer and IT industry.
A master's in computer engineering exceeds the minimum education requirement for this occupation. Professionals who complete this two-year graduate program may qualify for upward mobility in their current IT career and higher income. Many online masters' in computer engineering offer benefits including set or in-state tuition rates and accelerated completion times.
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Computer hardware engineers earned a median annual salary of $128,170 in May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with even higher salaries possible for graduates of a master-level engineering program.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Computer Engineering Program?
An online master's in computer engineering prepares graduates for advanced careers in computer science and IT. Schools most commonly offer this program as a master of science (MS) or a master of engineering (M.Eng.). Some universities offer computer engineering as a specialization of general or electronics engineering programs.
Colleges may offer the MS or M.Eng. in computer engineering through their IT, computer science, or engineering departments. Some schools now feature dedicated STEM departments to house programs like an online master's in computer engineering. Common concentrations of computer engineering include communication and signal processing, computer systems, and optics and photonics.
A typical master's in computer engineering requires completion of 30 credits. However, some programs maintain generous credit-transfer policies that enable students to take fewer courses and graduate in less than two years. Online programs also commonly offer accelerated schedules.
While individual requirements vary, most graduate-level computer engineering programs feature either a field component or independent research project, culminating in a capstone. Some programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Master's degrees may also offer a choice of a thesis or non-thesis curriculum.
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Popular Online Computer Engineering Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Computer Engineering Program?
This course delves into the advanced programming of web applications including databases. Examples include relational databases, virtual file systems, and client-server architecture. Students build skills in tools like SQL, HTML, and XML.
Computer engineers need a comprehensive understanding of the electronic components used to build computers. Topics emphasize solid material types and their electrical, optical, thermal, and mechanical characteristics.
Computer engineering professionals must keep up with the latest technological innovations and master the core elements of contemporary computers. Components include cache memory, control circuits, and analog-to-digital conversion systems.
Designing circuits is a critical part of computer engineering professions. Computer engineers need expert knowledge of digital integrated circuits to build central processing units and motherboards. This course covers topics including gain and bias considerations, frequency response, chip layout, and transistor design.
Final Project or Thesis
Most master's in computer engineering culminate in a capstone (for non-thesis programs), or a thesis requirement. Thesis and non-thesis programs typically include graduate-level research in a specialization of computer engineering, leading to a final project. To earn the degree, students must present their final project or defend their thesis during the final semester.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Computer Engineering Program?
Many schools uphold similar admission criteria for an online master's in computer engineering. Nearly all master-level computer engineering programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Schools more commonly require undergraduate majors in computer engineering or a related subject, though some programs accept any major in any field.
A program may include computer science or computer engineering prerequisites for students who earned a bachelor's degree in an unrelated major. Some schools conduct interviews and/or require students to attend orientation activities as part of the admissions process.
Prospective students must complete a formal application to verify their GPA and academic and professional experience. Applications may also outline a candidate's eligibility for financial aid based on their state of residence. Most colleges still accept applications by mail, though online applications are generally preferred by both schools and students.
Master's degrees in computer engineering commonly request Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, though some online programs do not include this application requirement. Schools vary the minimum scores accepted for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the GRE, which helps admissions officers assess a student's readiness for graduate-level computer science programs.
Letters of Recommendation
Online computer engineering programs commonly ask for several letters of recommendation with an admission application. Students should seek out letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors, advisors, or mentors, or former employers. Applicants should remember that their sources may be fulfilling multiple requests for letters of recommendation. They should give them at least four weeks ahead of the application deadline.
Resume and Work Experience
Admissions officers expect graduate degree applicants to possess some work experience. Students should highlight relevant work experience in computer engineering or a related field. They should also include any professional training or certifications, and exceptional soft skills especially in communication, problem-solving, or project management.
Essays enable applicants to set their intentions for a master's in computer engineering and express their professional goals in their own words. Admissions officers seek insight into each student's reasons for applying to a particular program through an applicant's personal statement. Students can also emphasize their exceptional writing skills in an admission essay.
Official transcripts are required of any formal master's degree program. Transcripts help admissions officers verify that applicants meet the necessary requirements, including completing a bachelor's degree and computer science prerequisites. Most schools enable students to arrange for transcripts to be mailed or emailed directly from their former college or university.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Computer Engineering Degree?
Naturally, many graduates of an online master's in computer engineering become computer engineers, who earned annual salaries of more than $128,000 in May 2021. Professionals with graduate-level computer engineering skills are in demand in a variety of fields and industries, especially scientific research and development, medicine and healthcare services, and electronics.
Earning a master's in computer engineering can lead to other lucrative computer and IT jobs, projecting faster-than-average job growth overall from 2020-2030, according to the BLS. In-demand careers include computer scientists and computer and information systems managers, with projected job growth of 22% and 11%, respectively, during this period.
Professionals with advanced expertise in computer engineering also command high salaries.
While computer and IT occupations generally pay higher-than-average wages, students trained in computer engineering can earn income ranging from $101,000-$160,000 in the occupations listed below.
Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers develop and design the many components of computer systems. Parts include circuit boards, routers, processors, and memory storage units. While a bachelor's degree is acceptable for entry-level jobs, many large companies prefer candidates with a master's in computer engineering or a similar field, or an MBA concentrated in IT.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $128,170
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer and information research scientists develop new computer languages and innovate new technologies like robotics, machine learning systems, and cloud computing. They collaborate with other leading-edge professionals in fields like science, business, and medicine. Most computer and information scientists hold at least a master's degree in computer engineering or a related field.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $131,490
Electrical or Electronics Engineer
Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, and test electrical and electronic equipment, including electric motors, navigation systems, portable music players, and GPS. Computer hardware engineering is considered a specialization of electronics engineering. A master's degree exceeds the entry-level education requirement and may qualify professionals for senior roles in these occupations.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $101,780
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Also known as IT managers or IT project managers, computer and information systems managers guide the computer-related affairs of an entire business or organization. They recommend and implement software, hardware, and technology to improve efficiency. Candidates with a master's degree may qualify for high-level jobs such as chief information officer or chief technology officer.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $159,010
Computer Network Architect
Also called network engineers, computer network architects develop and build networks to facilitate computerized data. Examples include intranets, local area networks, and wide area networks. They often collaborate with network administrators and managers to ensure the efficacy of computer systems. Many employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $120,520
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Earning a master's in computer engineering exceeds the minimum education requirement for many entry-level jobs, qualifying professionals for advanced computer science and IT positions. Graduates may go on to pursue a doctoral degree in computer engineering on the path toward becoming a postsecondary instructor in this subject.
Some students may earn an MBA to boost qualifications for executive-level IT jobs. Master's degree-holders can also pursue optional professional certification, such as a professional engineer (PE) license or credentials through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), to enhance job prospects.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Computer Engineering Program?
Costs vary when it comes to an online master's in computer engineering. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average graduate tuition cost $12,410 for public institutions per year and $26,597 for private institutions in 2019-2020. Traditional programs often assign tuition rates based on a student's state of residence, while online programs may offer universal set or in-state tuition rates.
Online programs are ideal for students seeking flexible learning options. Most schools deliver online courses through synchronous or asynchronous methods, requiring live participation or allowing self-paced study, respectively. Online programs also commonly offer full-time, part-time, and accelerated options, such as a dual degree resulting in both a BS and MS in computer engineering.
Students should consider their career goals when choosing an online master's in computer engineering. Most students work in computer engineering or a related field while earning a master's degree in this specialization. Employers often prefer candidates with experience. Furthermore, even online students sometimes prefer hybrid courses or require the use of technology services on campus.
Only accredited colleges or universities should make a student's short list of potential schools. The Department of Education awards institutional accreditation to high-performance schools that can endure the rigorous accreditation process. In addition to institutional accreditation, some graduate programs are also ABET-accredited, through ABET's Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission.
Student support services are critical to academic success, particularly for online learners. The best online masters' in computer engineering offer a diverse collection of support through services including tutoring, technology support, career development, and alumni connections. Some programs may also provide unique internships and mentorship opportunities.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Computer Engineering Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Computer Engineering Programs
Is a master's in computer engineering worth it?
Yes, a master's in computer engineering can lead to highly lucrative job opportunities. Students can often complete their master's degree online while accumulating valuable work experience in IT or computer programming.
Graduates of a master's-level computer engineering program meet the minimum education requirement for many computer science and IT management jobs. Online master's programs offer flexible, convenient learning options, many with benefits including set tuition rates, dual-degrees awarded, and accelerated completion times.
What can I do with a master's in computer engineering?
Graduates of master's in computer engineering commonly enter the computer science, electronics engineering, and IT management fields. Many graduates become computer hardware engineers or computer network architects.
Master's degree-holders qualify for senior roles in computer and information technology that require advanced technical and programming expertise. They meet or exceed the minimum education requirement for typical computer engineering positions. Graduates with business experience can also work their way up to careers as top executives including CIO or CTO.
Are computer engineering graduates in demand?
Yes, as computer and IT occupations are generally high-paying, high-growth careers. The BLS projects a faster-than-average job growth of 13% for computer and IT jobs from 2020-2030, including a variety of prospects for experienced computer engineers.
Specifically, the BLS projects a slower growth of 2% for computer hardware engineers from 2020-2030, while the BLS projects a 22% growth for computer scientists during the same time. Other in-demand opportunities include computer and information systems managers. Jobs for these managers are projected to grow 11% from 2020-2030.
How much money can I make with a master's in computer engineering?
Under the umbrella of generally high-paid computer and IT occupations, computer engineers' salaries typically start at more than $100,000. However, individual income may vary depending on a candidate's education, experience, and location.
Computer engineers commonly earn salaries between $101,000 and $160,000 for jobs including electrical or electronics engineer, or computer and information systems manager. The BLS reports that California, home of Silicon Valley, houses the highest national concentration of computer hardware engineers and pays them the highest wage, at nearly $170,000 a year.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in computer engineering?
With a median annual salary of more than $159,000, computer and information systems managers can earn one of the highest wages among graduates of a master's in computer engineering.
Graduates of a master's program may also qualify for senior roles in other IT occupations, potentially leading to higher salaries and additional benefits, such as stock options. Large companies may offer especially high salaries of nearly $180,000 to chief executives such as CIO or CTO, provided these professionals possess both engineering and management experience.
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