Get Matched With Computer Engineering Programs

Are you interested in pursuing an online master’s degree in computer engineering? The best candidates for these programs are typically attracted to information technology jobs, have professional experience related to computer science, and/or possess the knowledge and skills necessary to understand highly technical and theoretical aspects of computer engineering. While most professions in this field only require bachelor’s degrees, graduates from master-level programs often qualify for more management employment opportunities and earn higher salaries.

There are numerous career options available to graduates, but most professionals who possess master’s degrees in computer engineering become computer network architects, computer system analysts, database administrators, or network and computer systems administrators. Computer engineering professionals are typically responsible for evaluating, designing, and maintaining computer hardware and software systems for their employers. They may also work to develop, test, and design various technologies including computer processors, circuit boards, and network systems. Other common tasks include resolving hardware and software problems, as well as addressing potential concerns.

Additionally, graduates can choose to continue their educations after earning master’s degrees in computer engineering. Many colleges and universities offer doctorate-level programs in relevant areas of study. Doctorate and PhD degrees can lead to some of the best and most financially rewarding employment opportunities in the field.

Requirements of a Master’s Degree?

Requirements of a Master’s Degree?

Master’s degrees are advanced academic programs comprised of graduate-level coursework. Curriculums vary, but most are designed to help students develop theoretical, analytical, and professional expertise in designated areas of study. Graduate students typically spend more time researching, analyzing data, and writing than undergraduate students do.

Most master’s degrees consist of between 30 and 60 credit hours of classes and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. However, those attending part-time may require up to four years to meet graduation requirements. Some colleges and universities offer accelerated programs that can be completed quicker. Most online programs in this field require about 30 credit hours and take 18 to 24 months to complete.

There are different types of master’s degrees. The two most common options are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). MA programs tend to explore humanities disciplines, while MS programs are often more science-based. Additionally, some disciplines have their own master’s programs. Examples include Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education (MEd), and Master of Public Administration (MPA).

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Top 25 Best Online Masters in Computer Engineering Programs

Where Do You Earn a Master’s Degree?

Master’s degrees in computer engineering are most commonly offered by traditional four-year colleges and universities. These institutions can range in size, and most strive to provide students with on-campus activities in addition to quality academics. Many also offer housing options, but many graduate students prefer to live off campus.

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In addition to traditional four-year institutions, there are some wholly online colleges and universities that offer computer engineering master’s degrees. These schools primarily cater to adult students interested in flexible part-time study.

It’s worth noting that community colleges cannot award master’s and doctorate degrees. In most cases, the highest level of education most community colleges can offer is an associate degree. Some select schools may be accredited in such a way that they can offer bachelor’s degrees, but this is relatively uncommon.

Online Vs. Traditional Education in Computer Engineering?

Many colleges and universities throughout the nation offer online computer engineering degrees. In general, the most important determining factor when choosing between traditional and distance learning options is personal preference. While there is no standardized curriculum for computer engineering degrees, most online programs cover the same or similar topics as those offered in person. As a result, students can typically make the decision based on their specific needs and interests.

Despite the similarities in coursework, there are still some significant differences between the two that prospective students should be aware of. One of the most important distinctions is that online learning offers more flexibility. This is particularly important for students with personal and professional obligations that limit their abilities to attend classes on college and university campuses. Additionally, some institutions have designed accelerated online programs to help students graduate and enter the workforce faster.

It's important to realize, however, that earning a computer engineering degree online does have some drawbacks. Distance learning does not offer as many opportunities to network with other professionals in the field and direct interaction with instructors can be limited. The inability to meet in person with professors can be particularly difficult for some students. Those enrolled in traditional courses also tend to have easier access to various academic resources and career services provided by higher learning institutions. While most colleges and universities have extensive libraries and job placement programs, they may not be as readily available to online students.

Another enrollment option potentially available to students is hybrid education. Hybrid degrees combine elements from both traditional and online learning. Program structures vary, but most strive to incorporate the flexibility of remote classes with residency sessions that allow students to interact directly with instructors and cohort members.

It’s worth noting that some subjects do not translate well into online degree programs. Computer engineering and other majors related to information technology, however, tend to complement this learning format.

What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s Degree?

Master’s candidates must complete a variety of institutional requirements before they can enroll in degree programs. In general, prospective students must have bachelor’s degrees in a related field prior to applying.

While enrollment standards vary, some of the most common prerequisites include:

  • Minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA)
  • Official undergraduate transcripts
  • Application packet and fees
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Applicants may also need to submit additional paperwork pertaining financial aid and healthcare. All graduate degree-seeking students should complete and submit FAFSAs in accordance with school regulations. Those with professional experience may also need to provide resumes and/or proof of credentials.

Once the college or university receives all necessary documentation, it’s also common for them to schedule interviews with applicants. This is, however, less common with online institutions.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree?

There are many reasons to pursue a master’s degree. One of the greatest benefits is an increase in opportunities for career advancement. Graduates typically have a much easier time transitioning into senior-level positions, especially those that involve management and leadership. Individuals with graduate degrees are also more competitive when applying for employment. Many employers give preference to candidates with advanced degrees, even if they are not required. Additionally, this level of education can make it easier to move from one career to another.

Master’s degrees also increase earning potential. According to College Board, the median earnings for master’s degree graduates was $80,200 in 2019, while earnings for bachelor’s degree graduates was only $65,400. This is further supported by data provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the median annual wage for all occupations at the master’s degree levels was $76,800. This is significantly higher than the national median annual wage of $56,310.

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Other benefits of earning master’s degrees include enhanced skills in researching, writing, and analytics. These qualities are highly valuable in almost any industry, labeling graduates as assets to most workplaces. Additionally, those with master’s degrees tend to have excellent professional networks and a more current understanding of their given fields. Notably, graduate degrees often give doctoral candidates an advantage when pursuing further education.

Why a Graduate Degree in Computer Engineering?

Earning a degree in computer engineering can lead to a wide variety of different career paths. While those with bachelor’s degrees will qualify for many entry-level positions in the field, the highest-paying jobs with larger firms are typically reserved to professionals with advanced degrees.

As a result, graduates will be prepared to pursue employment in many high-demand areas, such as:

  • Computer and Information Research Science
  • Computer Hardware Engineering
  • Computer and Information Systems Management
  • Computer Network Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

It’s important to realize that the most specialized and lucrative employment opportunities in computer engineering require candidates to have master’s degrees. These degrees ensure professionals have the knowledge, skills, and training necessary to enter and/or advance to significant heights within the information technology field.

Additionally, earning a master’s degree is typically the first step toward pursuing doctoral studies. Those interested in becoming computer engineering professors in higher education and/or professional researchers will also need graduate degrees before applying for further education.

What’s Involved in a Computer Engineering Masters?

Most students enrolled in master’s degree programs in computer engineering already possess bachelor’s degrees. As a result, these programs typically provide only limited reviews of foundational coursework in the field and instead focus more on examining advanced subjects in greater depth. Curriculums often combine theoretical instruction in probability, wireless communication, and electromagnetism with practical skills development in circuitry, optics, and digital signals.

Common Courses

  • Next-Generation Telecommunication Technologies
  • Microprocessors for Robotic Systems
  • Principles of Microwave Circuits
  • Communication Systems Engineering
  • Computer Architecture
  • Electronic Materials
  • Laser Fundamentals
  • Intermediate Electromagnetics
  • Theory of Computer Hardware Testing
  • Wireless Communications
  • Computer Communication Networks
  • Randomized Network Algorithms

Some colleges and universities allow computer engineering graduate students to select formal concentrations. Choosing a specialization typically alters the course of study to align more with a certain element within the field. This allows students to personalize their learning to better fit their ultimate career goals.


  • Optics and Photonics
  • Communications and Networking
  • Electronics and the Solid State
  • Signal Processing
  • Systems and Control

What to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Program in Computer Engineering

There are several important factors you should be aware of when considering which computer engineering program is most appropriate for you. Some of the most significant differences students are likely to find when comparing and contrasting institutions include cost, location, and accreditation status.

The cost of enrolling in a computer engineering master’s degree program will vary from institution to institution. Prospective students are likely to find the most reasonable tuition rates at public colleges and universities. In-state residency status can also decrease expenses, as many schools charge students from out-of-state more per credit hour. Those enrolling in online programs should verify residency requirements and ensure there are no on-campus components required prior to enrolling in academic programs.


It’s also important to consider the accreditation status of the institution and its computer engineering degree program. Colleges and universities are not required to be accredited, but most reputable schools will have either regional or national accreditation. Regionally accredited institutions require their professors to have to have doctorate degrees, while nationally accredited institutions set their own education expectation for instructors. Additionally, only regional accrediting agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), setting them apart from national accrediting bodies. As a result, credits earned at regionally accredited colleges and universities tend to be easier to transfer to other entities than do credits earned at nationally accredited schools. Students should avoid enrolling with non-accredited institutions altogether, as they do not always properly prepare students for employment or offer financial aid.

In addition to being accredited by a national or regional agency, academic departments can receive field-specific accreditation. The most prominent specialized accreditation organizations for computer engineering are the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

Further Computer Engineering Education

After earning undergraduate degrees, students are not limited to earning master’s in computer engineering. Graduates may also want to consider enrolling in an MBA or one of many doctorate-level programs. It’s important to consider ultimate career goals and preferred professions when deciding which degrees to pursue.


A master’s in business administration (MBA) is one of the most popular degree options in the United States. This is because there are a variety of benefits associated with completing this type of program including increased employment prospects, salary potential, marketability, advancement options, and job security.

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Most master’s degrees in business administration range from 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Accelerated programs do exist, especially online, and can allow graduates to enter the workforce sooner. While program specifics vary, most focus instruction on topics related to business and finance.

Graduates often qualify for employment as information technology managers, financial managers, industrial production managers, and management analysts. MBAs also serve those interested in establishing their own computer engineering businesses very well.

Doctorate or PhD

PhD and doctoral degrees in computer engineering are ideal for students and professionals who want to make valuable contributions to the field. Completing this type of program can lead to work in supervisory and executive roles within the technology sector. Those interested in pursuing careers in post-secondary education or as entrepreneurs will also benefit from earning a doctorate or PhD.

Doctorate degrees in computer engineering typically consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students three to six years to complete. Some programs may take longer, however, especially because students are expected to completed independent research studies and defend dissertations prior to graduating.


Graduates may also benefit from pursuing various professional certifications related to computer engineering. While most employers do not require staff to have specific certifications, additional credentials can help professionals achieve their personal and career goals more effectively.

Earning and maintaining credentials ensures up-to-date relevancy in the field, which is particularly important because technology is constantly changing. Obtaining certifications is also a good way to specialize knowledge and skills, increasing competitiveness for preferred employment opportunities. Additionally, professional credentials can lead to higher pay and more promotions.

Most certification programs are run by private companies that have set varying requirements for completion. Most can, however, be earned online. Some popular options for computer engineering professionals include the Cisco Networking Certification, VMware Certification, and Project Management Institute Certification.

Potential Computer Engineering Careers for Graduates

Master’s degrees in computer engineering can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in the field. Computer and information technology occupations are available in numerous industries including technology, telecommunications, healthcare, finance, and insurance. Most computer engineering professionals work for computer system design companies, but jobs are also available in semiconductor manufacturing, life sciences research, and equipment production. The federal government also employs workers in this field.

While salaries and daily duties will vary, some of the most common professions available to graduates with master’s in computer engineering degrees include:

  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Systems Manager
  • Information Systems Manager
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Computer and Information Research Scientist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Database Administrator
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator
  • Computer Hardware Engineer:
    Computer hardware engineers are responsible for designing computer systems and their various components such as circuit bards, processors, and routers. They often conduct research and device-testing. According to PayScale, computer hardware engineers make an average base salary of $85,850 per year.

  • Computer Systems Analyst:
    Computer system analysts are responsible for designing computer systems capable of processing data for their employers. They often research technologies and select the hardware/software for installation. According to PayScale, computer systems analysts make an average base salary of $71,900 per year.

  • Network Architect:
    Network architects are responsible for designing and implementing systems for data communications networks. They often work to improve information security, accessibility, usage, and organization. According to PayScale, network architects make an average base salary of $121,700 per year.

  • Electrical Engineer:
    Electrical engineers are responsible for designing and testing navigation, communication, and broadcast systems. Computer engineering is often considered a subset of electrical engineering. According to PayScale, electrical engineers make an average base salary of $77,950 per year.

  • Database Administrator:
    Database administrators are responsible for overseeing existing computer systems and ensuring that data is secure and easy to access. They often manage data transfers and fix internal system issues. According to PayScale, database administrators make an average base salary of $74,000 per year.

Salary Expectations

Overall, the earning potential for master’s in computer engineering degree graduates is very promising. According to PayScale, the average base salary for people who possess Master of Science (MS) in Computer Engineering degrees is $103,000 annually. Individuals with Master of Engineering (ME) in Computer Engineering fair slightly better, with an average base salary of $108,000 a year. Both are significantly higher than the mean national annual wage of $56,310, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Exact earnings will depend on the job title of the worker, with computer and information research scientists, network architects, information security analysts, and software developers making the most.

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It's also important to note that earning potential often increase as professionals gain experience in the field. Early career employees tend to make less than those with 20 or more years of experience. Additionally, some states pay professionals in this field more than others. Computer hardware engineers have the best prospects in California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, and Maryland. States offering the most competitive wages in this field, however, include Washington, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York.


Overall, the outlook for professionals in computer and information technology occupations is also promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this sector as a whole is projected to grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the national average for all professions and will result in about 667,600 new job openings each year. Again, however, expectations vary depending on the profession. The projected growth for computer hardware engineers during the same timeframe is only 2%, while computer and information research scientists can expect a 22% increase.

The primary explanation for the anticipated job growth in this sector is mostly due to the replacement of workers transferring to different occupations or exiting the labor force. Rapid growth in data collection for businesses will also lead to an increased need for professionals in this field. Additionally, more jobs will likely result as the number of devices with computer chips embedded in them rises.

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