Complete Guide to an Online Computer Engineering Degree

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Quick Facts
Accreditation: ABET
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $23,779
Avg Salary: $93,217

Online computer engineering degrees are available at 37 accredited colleges and universities. Online computer engineering degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Computer engineering is a type of engineering that combines electronic engineering with computer science. Professionals work to create computer systems and other technological devices.

When seeking a degree in computer engineering, students should make sure that both the school they attend and the program they are interested in are accredited. The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology is the predominant accrediting body for computer engineering degrees. In combination with regional accreditation, ABET accreditation ensures that schools provide rigorous and relevant academic experiences in addition to providing transferrable credits and opportunities to qualify for federal financial aid.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Computer Engineering Degrees (37)

Online Computer Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information

Aspiring computer engineers can seek online education at a variety of different levels beginning with an online associate degree. Although an online associate degree is not sufficient to work as a computer engineer, graduates may be able to work as computer support specialists. They will also be prepared to move on to the next level of education.

An online associate degree can typically be earned in two years through 60 credit hours of coursework study. The next degree level is an online bachelor's degree, which students can complete in four years. After completing the required 120 credit hours for an online bachelor's degree, graduates may go on to work as computer hardware engineers at entry-level. An online master's program will prepare graduates for increased responsibilities within the industry. Students can usually graduate within two years of beginning an online master's program.

Individuals who desire an even more advanced study of the field can earn an online doctoral degree, which can take five to seven years to complete and includes a dissertation. An online doctoral degree may qualify graduates to work in advanced positions including software engineer, telecommunications director, VOIP engineer, and aerospace engineer. Doctoral degree holders may also work as professors at the university level. 

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Online Associate Degrees in Computer Engineering

An online associate degree may help launch the careers of aspiring computer engineers by introducing them to the basics of electrical and electronics design. By completing 60 to 67-credit hours of study students can graduate with their degree in two years. Required classes include pre calculus, engineering and ethics, programing essentials, digital electronics, fundamentals of DC circuits, fundamentals of AC circuits, and technical writing. General education courses will also need to be completed.

While an online associate degree is not sufficient enough to go on to work as a computer engineer, graduates may be able to find work as computer support specialists. Students will also be well prepared to move on to an online bachelor's degree program, which is the minimum education they will need to work as a computer engineer. Before beginning the application process for an online associate degree, applicants will need to ensure that they hold a high school diploma or a GED. Aspiring computer engineers can apply for admission into an online associate degree program at community colleges, universities, and technical colleges. 

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Engineering

People can pursue an online bachelor's level program in computer engineering at universities and vocational schools. An online bachelor's degree program in computer engineering is designed to equip students with the skills to develop software, design wireless networks, and design computer hardware. The classes required to obtain these skills include computer architecture, introduction to UNIX, operating systems, digital design, product design, introduction to website development, fundamentals of networking, differential equations, and solid state physics. Classes typically total at least 120 credit hours and will take students four years to complete.

Graduates may go on to work as computer hardware engineers where they will design and develop computing components to create fast and powerful computers that are in line with current industry standards. First time freshmen will need to submit their high school transcripts; if they did not graduate from high school, a GED will be required. Applicants who have attended any post secondary school will need to submit their college transcripts, which will then be reviewed for possible transfer credits. An admissions essay or statement of purpose is also a common requirement. 

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Online Master's Degrees in Computer Engineering

Online master's degree programs are designed to help students develop their project management and leadership skills that will prepare them for increased responsibility within the industry. Students can complete the required 30 to 48 credits in two years or less depending on the type of program. Some online programs are designed to be taken part-time, and these may take up to five years to finish. Core education courses include modern computer architecture, modern computer design, computer engineering capstone, computer systems security foundations, modern solid-state devices, modern electronic design, leadership and ethical decision-making, and systems engineering. Students will also participate in elective courses throughout their time of study. Some online programs may even offer internship opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience before graduation.

Along with a general application, prospective students must have three letters of recommendation written by a professional or academic reference that can attest to the student's likely success in the program. The applicant must also write a letter of intent to showcase his or her own personal goals. GRE test scores may be required for admission. 

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Computer Engineering

Graduates of an online doctoral program may be capable of going on to work in advanced positions for companies around the world. Such advanced positions include software engineer, technical analyst, telecommunications director, VOIP engineer, aerospace engineer, computer network architect, and the like. Graduates may also have the option of remaining in research or teaching at the university level as professors. This level of program can take anywhere between five to seven years to complete depending on if the student is enrolled full or part time, and how long they take to complete their research and dissertation. The courses that students will participate in include algorithm design and analysis, operating systems, principles of programming languages, human-computer interaction, bioinformatics, advanced compiler design, and principles of computer architecture. In some cases, students may also be required to participate in a quarter of teaching assistance.

In order to be admitted to an online doctoral program, applicants will need to turn in official transcripts from each university-level institution attended. A statement of purpose is also an important part of the selection process for online doctoral programs. The statement of purpose should describe the student's past experiences and accomplishments within the realm of computer science. Three letters of recommendation from either professional or educational references outlining the student's academic promise will also be required. Lastly a resume showcasing the applicant's professional experience will be necessary for admission. Aspiring doctoral students can pursue their degrees at universities and technical schools. 

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Online Certificate Degrees in Computer Engineering

Online certificate degrees in computer engineering and related disciplines are available at the undergraduate and graduate level and can be pursued at colleges and universities. This level of online program is typically made up of 18 semester hours of computer science and engineering systems study, but credit amount and length of time to completion will vary depending on the program. Required courses may include software development, introduction to theory of computing, data structures, microcontrollers, logic design, digital signal processing, and design of digital systems.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts or a GED for undergraduate certificates, and an undergraduate degree for graduate certificates. Some online graduate certificate programs will require additional application materials, such as letters of reference. Depending on the type of online certificate that is earned, the job opportunities available upon graduation will vary. For instance, an individual who earns an online undergraduate certificate may be equipped to go on to work as an entry-level computer support specialist. 

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The Importance of an Accredited Online Computer Engineering Degree

People pursuing an online degree should take accreditation into consideration before making their final commitment to an institution or program. Regional accreditation is when an independent organization evaluates a school by reviewing the curriculum, facilities, faculty, student resources, and testing procedures. These reviews allow students to have confidence that the program they are participating in will prepare them for their future as a professional within their field. Accreditation also plays a factor in the transfer process, as it will ensure that students who may need to transfer schools or who are pursuing the next degree level will be able to transfer their credits successfully. It is also a good idea to seek an accredited education due to the respect that employers have for it. Some employers may not even recognize a degree listed on a resume if it has not been received through an accredited school. 

Programmatic accreditation is another type of accreditation that students should keep in mind when selecting an online degree program. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the main accrediting body for computer engineering degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's level. Their quality criteria focuses on what the student learns and experiences throughout their program. ABET's voluntary peer-review process is sought out worldwide because the confidence it gives each student that they will be prepared for the global workforce is unmatched. Some employers may prefer to hire employees who have a degree from an ABET-accredited program. There are also online master's degree programs that require applicants to have an undergraduate degree from a program accredited by ABET. 

Careers in Computer Engineering

People with online computer engineering degrees who work as computer engineer's will have duties that revolve around creating new technologies and finding solutions to existing computer hardware-related problems. They work to improve on the technologies we already have, making them faster and more efficient. Computer engineers work in a variety of industries, such as banking, health care, retail, and gaming. Computer engineers might work on projects like increasing internet security, improving robotics technologies, or working with digital forensics. Computer engineers need at least a bachelor's degree. While Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts only a three percent increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024, there is a high earning potential for those interested in this career. Computer hardware engineers earned a median annual salary of $111,730 in 2015.


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