Best online master’s in computer engineering 2021: Top picks

    Computer engineers develop, improve, and implement the technologies that have become essential to the success of so many organizations. A computer engineering master’s degree positions you for many of the most desirable positions in the field.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the addition of more than 650,000 computer and information technology occupations between 2020 and 2030. With a computer engineering master’s, you can qualify for research, hardware or software development, networking, data, and security positions.

    On this page, we look at the best schools offering a master’s in computer engineering. We also examine what a program might look like and what other degree options are available to you.

    The best online computer engineering master’s degrees

    To develop the ranked list below, we rely on publicly available national, school, and program data. ZDNet’s ranking methodology includes a proprietary formula, carefully curated information, and insight from industry and educational experts.

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    1. University of Florida

    Gainesville, Florida

    About the program: UF’s 30-credit online master’s in electrical and computer engineering includes courses in advanced systems programming, virtual computers, and reconfigurable computing.

    • Acceptance rate: 32%
    • Graduation rate: Not publicly available
    • Avg. annual net price: $7,492
    • Time to completion: One to two years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0 preferred
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    2. North Carolina State University

    Raleigh, North Carolina

    About the program: NC State’s online computer engineering master’s program focuses on VLSI systems and networking, along with computer architecture and systems.

    • Acceptance rate: 45%
    • Graduation rate: 79%
    • Avg. annual net price: $16,458
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.25
    • Enrollment periods per year: Two
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: North Carolina State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    3. Florida International University

    Miami, Florida

    About the program: FIU’s 30-credit online computer engineering master’s program features a specialization in network security. The program offers courses in forensics, ethical hacking, malware analysis, and network security.

    • Acceptance rate: 58%
    • Graduation rate: 64%
    • Avg. annual net price: $7,296
    • Time to completion: 10+ months
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    4. Texas A&M University

    College Station, Texas

    About the program: Texas A&M’s online computer engineering master’s offers courses in advanced computer architecture, machine learning engineering, and computer communications and networking.

    • Acceptance rate: 58%
    • Graduation rate: 82%
    • Avg. annual net price: $19,057
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Two
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    5. University of Delaware

    Newark, Delaware

    About the program: UD’s 30-credit online master’s in electrical and computer engineering offers training in applied cryptography, search and data mining, and digital signal processing.

    • Acceptance rate: 71%
    • Graduation rate: 80%
    • Avg. annual net price: $17,220
    • Time to completion: Two
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: 2.7
    • Enrollment periods per year: Five
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Delaware is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    6. Iowa State University

    Ames, Iowa

    About the program: Iowa State’s 33-credit online master’s in computer science and software engineering provides concentrations in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, computer networks, and databases and data science.

    • Acceptance rate: 92%
    • Graduation rate: 73%
    • Avg. annual net price: $15,496
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Iowa State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    7. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, California

    About the program: USC’s 28-credit online computer engineering master’s program focuses on the areas of computer architecture, networks, VLSI, and foundations.

    • Acceptance rate: 11%
    • Graduation rate: 92%
    • Avg. annual net price: $29,528
    • Time to completion: 18 months to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: 2+
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

    8. University of Idaho

    Moscow, Idaho

    About the program: U of I’s online computer engineering master’s program features concentrations in digital hardware design, computer systems, and digital systems design.

    • Acceptance rate: 78%
    • Graduation rate: 57%
    • Avg. annual net price: $14,132
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

    9. Auburn University

    Auburn, Alabama

    About the program: Auburn’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering offers a few online master’s programs, including computer science and software engineering, cybersecurity engineering, and data science and engineering.

    • Acceptance rate: 81%
    • Graduation rate: 76%
    • Avg. annual net price: $24,104
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 2.75
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Auburn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    10. University of New Mexico

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    About the program: UNM’s 31-credit online computer engineering master’s program features a specialization in the internet of things. The program includes required courses in machine learning and advanced networking.

    • Acceptance rate: 94%
    • Graduation rate: 50%
    • Avg. annual net price: $14,446
    • Time to completion: 18 months to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: 400 GRE verbal and 650 quantitative
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: The University of New Mexico is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    11. Missouri University of Science and Technology

    Rolla, Missouri

    About the program: Missouri S&T’s 30-credit online computer engineering master’s program features emphasis tracks in computational intelligence, computer architecture, and networking and security.

    • Acceptance rate: 79%
    • Graduation rate: 68%
    • Avg. annual net price: $14,262
    • Time to completion: Two to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Missouri University of Science and Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    12. Colorado State University

    Fort Collins, Colorado

    About the program: CSU’s 30-credit online computer engineering master’s program focuses on internet protocols, network programming, computer system design, and mobile and computer architecture.

    • Acceptance rate: 81%
    • Graduation rate: 69%
    • Avg. annual net price: $18,668
    • Time to completion: Two
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Two
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    13. Villanova University

    Villanova, Pennsylvania

    About the program: A Catholic university,Villanova runs a 30-credit online computer engineering master’s program. The training covers courses in computer communication networks, embedded systems architecture, and UNIX programming.

    • Acceptance rate: 28%
    • Graduation rate: 90%
    • Avg. annual net price: $41,027
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: 3.0
    • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Villanova University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    14. Stevens Institute of Technology

    Hoboken, New Jersey

    About the program: Stevens’ online computer engineering master’s program offers concentrations in artificial intelligence, embedded systems, software and data engineering, and networks and security. Students can also choose a thesis or a project track.

    • Acceptance rate: 40%
    • Graduation rate: 83%
    • Avg. annual net price: $37,588
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Stevens Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    15. University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Dearborn, Michigan

    About the program: UM-Dearborn’s 30-credit online computer engineering master’s program features concentrations in computer architecture and design, intelligent systems, network and communications, and multimedia engineering.

    • Acceptance rate: 62%
    • Graduation rate: 55%
    • Avg. annual net price: $11,473
    • Time to completion: One to three years
    • GRE/GMAT: Not required
    • Minimum GPA: 3.0
    • Enrollment periods per year: Three
    • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Michigan-Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    What to expect in an online computer engineering master’s degree program

    A computer engineering master’s program can look very different depending on your school and study choices. These highly technical programs often provide you with knowledge of engineering principles and computer science fundamentals, but many programs offer concentration options as well.

    In addition to hardware and software engineering, you can specialize in computer architecture, networking, and data science. Your choice of focus and electives can also impact the skills available, such as programming, design, and cybersecurity.

    To find success in a computer science degree, you should possess a solid information technology foundation. While online learners complete the same training as on-campus students, they may need more self-motivation and commitment to complete their independent studies.

    Computer engineering master’s courses

    Computer engineering master’s programs combine various disciplines, including computer and electrical engineering and computer science. The training provides students with research and practical skills, along with specialized database, networking, programming, and systems skills.

    The large program scope can lead to a diverse curriculum with many course and specialization options available. The following list provides details on some of the most popular courses offered at this level.

    Advanced networking

    In this course, students learn how to design, build, and manage large-scale and enterprise networks. They learn to plan, configure routers, and set up access controls, along with managing wireless networks.

    Network security

    This course teaches students the most popular security protocols and types of malicious software and activities. The training may include cryptography, firewalls, virtual private networks, and organizational policy.

    Advanced data structures

    Students in this course examine algorithm design and applications for problem-solving purposes. The training explores programming techniques, algorithm analysis, and dynamic program design.

    Systems design

    In this course, students learn how to design information systems and how all the various components work together. The training may include programmable logic, internal and system architecture, and digital signal processors.

    Computer engineering degree levels

    The degree level you choose can influence the type of courses you take and the postgraduate opportunities you have available to you. In this section, we explore what each degree level might look like so that you can identify which degree level best serves your interests and goals.

    Certificate in computer engineering

    • Length: 2-12 months
    • Cost: Varies
    • Post-grad careers: Computer systems administrator, computer support specialist, and computer programmer

    A computer engineering certificate may provide many different levels of training. These programs can feature introductory courses for aspiring entry-level professionals or specialized training for those looking to advance their careers.

    Undergraduate certificate training may cover the fundamentals and principles of computer engineering, exploring the basics of databases, computer systems, and networking. Graduate certificates may feature courses, such as advanced database and network security, architecture, and data science.

    Associate in computer engineering

    Post-grad careers: Computer support specialist, computer programmer, and computer systems administrator

    Associate programs in computer engineering focus on the fundamentals, including both software and hardware engineering. With the foundations gained in this program, graduates can pursue entry-level computer and information technology careers.

    Associate programs also provide students with solid footing in computer technologies, data, and formal analysis. While this knowledge and skill set can apply to various careers, they also allow graduates to enter bachelor’s programs more easily.

    Bachelor’s in computer engineering

    • Length: Three to four years
    • Cost: $28,123/year in 2018-19
    • Post-grad careers: Computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and software developer

    A computer engineering degree at the bachelor’s level covers a great deal of ground. Students learn the fundamentals and in many fields, including software and hardware engineering and systems design and development. They can also delve into advanced topics in database and data science, networking, and security.

    Bachelor’s programs often provide substantial theoretical and practical training. The broad and applicable training qualifies graduates for many computer and information technology careers. Graduates can also continue their training in specialized educational paths.

    Master’s in computer engineering

    • Length: One to three years
    • Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20
    • Post-grad careers: Information research scientist, computer and information systems manager, and computer network architect

    A master’s in computer engineering can cover an array of topics and disciplines. Programs may take a broad approach and prepare graduates for many postgraduate paths, whereas others offer more specialized training.

    Students may train in systems architecture, networking and security, data science, and advanced hardware and software design. With this degree, graduates can qualify for most computer and information technology positions.

    Doctorate in computer engineering

    • Length: Three to six years
    • Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20
    • Post-grad careers: Postsecondary teacher, top executive, and information research scientist

    A doctorate in computer engineering represents the highest degree level in this field. Graduates can access most of the advanced positions in the computer and information technology industry. They can also pursue postsecondary teaching and research and development careers.

    The programs at this level include extensive research, analytical, and practical training. Students may specialize in many different disciplines, including data science and machine learning. Most learners aim to drive innovation in the field or develop new applications for industries and organizations.

    In conclusion

    Computer engineers are responsible for many technological advancements, creating, implementing, and maintaining them for various organizations. Professionals with a computer engineering master’s, including any of those listed above, have access to the best training in the country and many of the top information technology careers.

    For more information, reach out to the schools and program departments directly.

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