A computer engineering degree is a natural fit for online learning. From anywhere in the world, students can take advantage of internet connectivity to learn software and hardware development from instructors and professors with real world experience.
Online learning offers a tremendous opportunity for students who want to learn computer engineering but may not have the ability to live near a campus or attend classes at regularly scheduled times. The flexibility of online learning is ideal for non-traditional students who plan to continue to work full-time during school, who have families that they do not want to uproot, and for students in the military who can be forced to move at a moment's notice.
If any of these apply to you, and you have a dedicated interest in computer engineering, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
Applying to an online computer engineering program is similar to applying to an on-campus program. For the few undergraduate programs available, students should expect to fill out an online application and submit high school transcripts along with standardized testing scores (SAT or ACT) and a personal statement. Students who did not graduate from high school in the U.S. or another English speaking country will also likely be required to submit test scores from the TOEFL.
Graduate programs will have a slightly different admissions process. In addition to an online application and transcripts from an undergraduate program, some programs have a minimum GPA that they require. Most graduate computer engineering programs also require students to submit GRE scores, in addition to letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors. A short essay or letter of intent may also be required.
Both undergraduate and graduate programs in computer engineering can be accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission sector of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, also known as the EAC of ABET. Seeking out an online program with this type of accreditation is the best way to ensure that the online program has the rigorous academic standards.
While specific classes will vary from one school to another, the basic computer engineering curriculum is markedly similar.
Unlike some other undergraduate majors, computer engineering programs often require that students begin taking specific computer engineering courses in their first year of attendance. These basic courses will introduce them to the foundations of computer engineering, such as electronics and circuitry, as well as the basics of computer languages. Students should also expect to take a range of courses in math, as well as sciences like physics and chemistry. As semesters progress, undergraduate computer engineering students will continue to take more advanced engineering courses.
Since graduate students will be expected to have a solid foundation in computer engineering already, courses will be more advanced and highly relevant to real-world applications. These courses may include topics such as algorithms and optimization, network architecture, and even artificial intelligence.
Specialization is less common for undergraduates, but most graduate programs require students to choose an area of concentration for their research and thesis. Some common specializations include:
The University of Southern California - Viterbi School of Engineering
The University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering offers a master of science (MS) degree in computer engineering with courses available entirely online through their Distance Education Network (DEN). The program includes coursework focusing on designing, developing, testing and evaluating computer components, networks, and systems—all with the aim of achieving higher performance in computing. The program is taught by the University's on-campus electrical and computer engineering faculty.
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related discipline from an accredited institution, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, official transcripts, satisfactory and valid test scores, a current resume, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS.
Made up of 28 credit-hours, this program involves courses such as computer systems organization, internet and cloud computing, computer systems architecture, an introduction to computer networks, broadband network architectures, and mixed-signal integrated circuit design.
Dr. Ramesh Govindan serves as the Northrop Grumman chair in engineering at the University of Southern California. He teaches classes on electrical engineering and computer science. His research interests include the routing of large networks, studying the structural properties of the internet, and the programming systems in wireless networks. He teaches classes such as advanced operating systems and computer communications.
Dr. Govindan has won numerous awards such as the Indian Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Applied Networking Research Prize. He completed his BTech degree at the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras, and his MS and PhD degrees at the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Aleksandra Korolova is the WiSE Gabilan assistant professor of computer science at the University of Southern California. Prior to joining the academic ranks of USC, Dr. Korolova gained experience at top technology companies including Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Microsoft. Her research develops technologies and algorithms that enable data-driven innovation, while also keeping fairness and privacy intact.
Dr. Korolova has been published in prominent journals such as the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality. She also has won many awards such as the Google Security and Privacy Research Award and the Stanford University Arthur L. Samuel Thesis Award. She completed her PhD and MS at Stanford University, and her BS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Auburn university offers a master of science program in computer science and software engineering. This program can be completed online as well as on-campus. Students are able to specialize in areas such as computer networks, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, human/computer interaction, databases and data science, and machine learning.
In order to be accepted into the program, students must hold a bachelor's degree in computer science and software engineering or equivalent from an institution of recognized standing, with undergraduate experience in areas of computer science or computer engineering. GRE scores are not required of online students, but international students must submit TOEFL scores.
The non-thesis option is made up of 33 credit-hours, while the thesis option consists of 30 credit-hours. Courses in the program include advanced algorithms, advanced operating systems, advanced computer architecture, and research and thesis.
Dr. Sanjeev Baskiyar is a professor of computer science and software engineering at Auburn University. His research interests include computer architecture, distributed computing and task scheduling. He has taught courses in the areas of real-time and embedded computing, operating systems, computer architecture, microprocessor programming and interfacing and VLSI Design. His work has appeared in eminent journals such as Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, and Cluster Computing. He holds his PhD and MS from University of Minnesota and his BS from Indian Institute of Science.
Dr. Cheryl Seals is an associate professor at Auburn in the computer science and software engineering department. While her main academic research interests are focused on human computer interaction, user interface design, usability evaluation and educational gaming technologies, she also devotes considerable effort to improving computer science education across the full spectrum of educational levels and fostering interest in STEM careers among young students. She teaches classes on human computer interaction, computer ethics, intelligent and interactive systems, computer game design and development, and machine intelligence.
Dr. Seals has been published in top-notch journals such as the Journal of Research in Rural Education and the Journal of Transformative Education. She earned her PhD and MS in computer science from Virginia Tech, and a BS from Grambling State University.
Through their distance learning program, the University of Florida offers a number of master's-level online computer engineering programs, including degrees in electrical and computer engineering and computer engineering, with optional specializations in communication, bioinformatics, and semiconductor device technology. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida offers the master of engineering (MEng), master of science (MS), and doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees.
Admission requirements to these graduate programs include a minimum GRE verbal score of 140 and a minimum GRE analytical writing score of 3.5. If English proficiency proof is required, a minimum TOEFL score of 80 or a minimum IELTS score of 6 is required. Also, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 is specified for master’s applicants, and a 3.5 of 4.0 for PhD applicants.
For the master’s degree, a minimum of 30 credit-hours must be completed. For the PhD degree, at least 90 credit-hours beyond the bachelor’s degree are required. Courses in these programs might include image processing and computer vision, reconfigurable computing, the principles of computer system design, computer architecture, wireless communication, and the fundamentals of machine learning.
Dr. Ann Gordon-Ross is an associate professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering at the University of Florida. Her research interests include reconfigurable computing, low-power design, platform design, hardware design, real-time systems, and dynamic optimization. She teaches courses such as computer architecture and the embedded systems seminar.
Dr. Gordon-Ross has been published in influential journals such as The Journal of Supercomputing and the Journal of Aerospace Information Systems. She has received several laurels for her work including the NSF CAREER Award and Best Paper Award. She earned her PhD and BS from University of California-Riverside.
The University of Michigan offers an online master of science in engineering degree focused on computer engineering. The program is specifically tailored to working students with courses offered both online and in the evening for those who choose the on-campus option. In-person courses are held at the Dearborn campus.
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in computer or electrical engineering and an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Standardized test scores (e.g., GRE) are not required. Applicants whose undergraduate degree is in a field other than the subjects mentioned above may also be granted admission, but they will be required to take courses in electrical or computer engineering.
The curriculum consists of 30 credit-hours and explores topics such as embedded systems, computer networks, computer architecture, cloud computing, advanced computer architecture, and computer networks.
Students in the program build a strong foundation in the theoretical techniques and principles from engineering, mathematics, and science. They also develop an ability to use modern engineering processes, software, diagnostic tools, and devices for advanced engineering design and development.
Dr. Yi Lu Murphey is a professor in the ECE department (Electrical and Computer Engineering) at University of Michigan-Dearborn. She also serves as the director of the Intelligent Systems Lab and associate dean for graduate education and research.
Dr. Murphy has contributed to numerous impactful publications, including the International Journal of Knowledge Engineering and Data Mining and the SAE International Journal of Transportation Safety. She has particular interest in robotic vision, machine learning, intelligent vehicle power management, and other fields within engineering. Some of the courses she teaches include intelligent systems, computer networks and data communications, virtual reality in engineering, and advanced operating systems. She completed her PhD from University of Michigan, and MS from Wayne State University.
The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is one of the top-ranked computer engineering programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Georgia Tech offers an online master of science degree program in electrical and computer engineering, allowing dedicated students to earn this valuable degree from anywhere in the world. The online students have access to the same wide range of services as on-campus students.
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a minimum grade point average of 3.25, official transcripts from each institution attended, TOEFL scores (for international applicants), three references, personal statements, professional resume, and standardized test scores (most commonly GRE or GMAT).
Made up of 30 credit-hours, courses in the program include computer-aided design, computational statistics, high performance computing, computational fluid dyn, digital communications, and wireless networks.
Dr. Elliot Moore is an associate professor of digital signal processing at Georgia Tech. Prior to becoming a professor at the same university, he was a recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award and a National Science Foundation Fellow.
Dr. Moore's research interests include voice analysis, speech feature extraction, and voice synthesis. He has published his research in respected journals such as Internal Medicine Journal, the British Journal of Surgery, and the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. He completed his PhD, MS, and BS in electrical and computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
John Hopkins University offers an online master of science in electrical and computer engineering. This program prepares students to develop systems for computation, communication, information transformation, measurement, power generation, and control. The program offers the following focus areas:
Admission requirements include an ABET-accredited degree in electrical and/or computer engineering, a grade point average of at least 3.0, and transcripts from all college studies, among others.
The program includes courses such as an introduction to wireless technology, computer architecture, embedded microprocessor systems, high-speed digital design and signal integrity, FPGA design using VHDL, analog electronic circuit design, and introduction to electric power systems.
The program helps students develop the ability to apply advanced theories in computer and electrical engineering, conduct simulations and experiments, and use advanced mathematical techniques.
Colorado State University offers two degree options within the computer engineering program:
Both the programs can be completed entirely online. These are coursework-only degrees that focus on hardware and software applications. There is also an emphasis on network programming, computer system design, internet protocol, and mobile architecture.
Admission requirements for the programs include an ABET-accredited bachelor of science degree in engineering, computer science, physics, or related field (including coursework in calculus), a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, GRE test scores, a current resume, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and international students must have passing scores in any one of the English proficiency exams (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE).
Made up of 30 credit-hours, the program curriculum includes courses such as digital control and digital filters, computer organization and architecture, computer networks, digital signal processing, signal processing for power systems, and electrical power engineering.
Students learn about technology capabilities and current industry trends, identify and solve engineering challenges, create simulations and prototypes, and gain an understanding of the economic and societal impact of their work.
It is important to note that engineering schools do not uniformly report campus visitation requirements for online learning programs. Program requirements could change from year to year, depending on courses and professors.
However, in general, there are no campus visit requirements for these programs and the degrees earned are exactly the same as those bestowed upon campus-based students. Some programs, particularly those graduate degree programs that include a thesis, do have campus visitation requirements for defending said thesis and for the oral exam portion of their degree. This is true, for instance, at Auburn.
Students should be sure to thoroughly investigate any campus visitation requirements for programs to which they apply, especially if those requirements could present an obstacle for ultimately completing the degree program.
Choosing the right computer engineering program is no small decision. The school you choose can have a big impact on the career opportunities you have. For example, students who wish to apply their computer engineering education to the automotive industry would be hard-pressed to find a better choice than the University of Michigan—a school that is already deeply entrenched in the auto businesses.
When earning a degree online, professors become even more important. Students should be sure to seek out programs where professors have similar interests to them and are willing to help them throughout the program.
Dr. Shrikanth (Shri) S. Narayanan is the Andrew J. Viterbi Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California where he holds an impressive range of positions including Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Professor of Linguistics, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Professor of Pediatrics. In addition, Dr. Narayanan is a Director at both the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab and the Ming Hsieh Institute.
Dr. Jose A.B. Fortes is a Professor and AT&T Eminent Scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida. Dr. Fortes has written or coauthored more than 200 technical papers as well as conducting research funded by the Office of Naval Research, the AT&T Foundation, IBM, General Electric, Intel, Northrop-Grumman, and NASA.
Dr. Adnan K. Shaout is a Professor and Fulbright Scholar in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Michigan at Dearborn. Dr. Shaout's current research interests include areas of applications of fuzzy set theory, software engineering, cloud computing, embedded systems, and intelligent systems.
Dr. Linda M. Wills is an Associate Professor of both VLSI Systems and Digital Design, and Computer Systems and Software at Georgia Tech. Dr .Wills received her PhD (in addition to other degrees) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her distinguished career she has received numerous awards, including the National Science Foundation Career Award, the Hesburgh Award Teaching Fellowship, and the Demetrius T. Paris Professorship.
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