Get a Computer Engineering Degree Online: What to Expect


Factors ranging from flexibility to potential cost savings may entice you to pursue computer engineering studies online.

But searching for programs online can be overwhelming, so knowing what to expect before enrolling will allow you to focus on making the best choice.

This page will guide you through online computer engineering degrees, from course difficulty to expense.

What is a computer engineering degree?

Online computer engineering courses teach students to combine electrical engineering and computer science. The degree integrates hardware and software and develops critical thinking skills.

As an online computer engineering major, you can expect to learn advanced math; computing; and software, hardware and electrical engineering.

TO SEE: Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: What Should I Study?

Computer engineering degrees are available at all levels. You can get a certificate, a master’s degree in computer engineering, or even a doctorate.

Computer engineering sub-disciplines include:

  • cyber security
  • Software development
  • Hardware and computing architecture
  • Communications and computer networks

This degree can prepare you for careers as a hardware engineer, computer programmer, or software developer.

Use our handy guide to the best online computer engineering degrees to find a program that best suits your goals.

What to expect from computer engineering courses

Certificate programs last from two to twelve months and teach only the essentials.

Associate’s programs are one to two years long and bachelor’s programs are three to four years long. These program levels teach the fundamentals of the discipline and prepare students for entry-level computer engineering jobs.

If you are interested in continuing education for more career opportunities, a master’s or doctoral program may be for you. Master’s programs last from one to three years and doctoral programs from three to six years.

Each program is also different in terms of rigor and the courses and specializations offered.

You will take basic computer courses as well as electives that interest you.

Computer engineering undergraduates should expect to first take courses in fundamentals such as math, circuit analysis, and computer programming languages.

Essential courses like engineering ethics and business communication prepare you for real-world scenarios you might encounter in your career.

Once you have mastered the core courses, you can take electives in your areas of interest, such as:

  • IT security
  • Advanced digital design
  • computer architecture
  • Design of digital integrated circuits

Classes will be a mix of theory and practice.

Computer engineering degree programs emphasize both theory and practical skills.

It is important for students to understand the theory behind computer engineering skills. Knowing both what to do and why it works makes you a more complete professional.

These foundational skills also allow you to complete virtual lab work and home lab kits essential to your program.

Close-up of a hand placing a computer component.

Expect to spend time on computer engineering projects.

As a computer engineering major, you can expect to participate in group projects or lab sessions, both individually and in groups.

Hybrid programs require students to spend time on campus, often to complete projects.

Others allow complete virtual realization.

Many programs require students to complete a major project before graduation to showcase all of your newly acquired knowledge. This capstone project challenges students to solve a substantial problem or design an original computer model.

You may want to learn and practice skills outside of your degree courses.

You can benefit from learning and practicing computer engineering skills outside of class.

Although not a requirement, some students choose to prepare for this field by honing their math and science skills or practicing coding problems before applying to programs.

Hoping to continue working while earning an online degree? Be sure to research the commitment required by your specific program outside of class.

Students may be required by their program to complete an internship program. Technical internships provide hands-on experience to prepare students and can help job prospects after graduation.

Many schools offer help in finding an internship program that matches your interests. You can “test” your career before officially starting it.

How hard is a computer engineering degree?

Computer engineering degrees are rigorous due to their challenging math courses and programming language requirements, but they are not impossible.

Students who are already interested in the source material may find their courses easier than students who are just starting out. Online degree programs require self-motivation and dedication to stay on top of your course load.

Don’t be discouraged by the thought of getting your computer engineering degree if you don’t have a background in computer science. Even inexperienced students can do very well.

These courses are always doable if you stay motivated to graduate and start your new career.

How much will I spend as a computer engineering student?

Tuition fees vary by program, school, and location. Some schools charge a flat fee for all students, but many colleges and universities charge higher tuition fees for international students.

According to the NCESthe average cost of public tuition was $13,900 and $27,200 at private institutions in 2019-20.

Students can expect to spend money on textbooks, classroom materials, and other necessary technology.

If you’re looking to cut costs, look for online schools that provide computers for students.

In conclusion

Computer engineering degrees are a valuable resource with growing demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are expected to increase by more than 660,000 new jobs by 2030.

Success in pursuing an online computer engineering degree depends on skills, motivation, and professional goals. If you’re curious about earning this degree, start researching a program to find the one that’s right for you.

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