What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Computer Engineering Program?

There are many benefits to enrolling in an online program to earn a master’s degree in computer engineering, and students can expect to receive an education at the same level of quality as a traditional, on-campus program. Choosing a distance-learning program lets you enjoy the flexibility of online attendance, making it easy to work toward your degree while still fulfilling your personal or work obligations. When you factor in the ability to choose a school almost anywhere in the country without the need to relocate and the lower average cost of tuition, opting for an online program can seem like the easy choice. When looking at your options for an online master’s in computer engineering program, take the time to consider several to ensure you find the one that fits your lifestyle and career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Computer Engineering

Data Engineering Curriculum centers around the infrastructure needed to collect, analyze and manage big data. Data engineer for a government agency, nonprofit organization or private business
Software Engineering Focuses on the design and development of software applications, including maintenance, testing of the completed design and overall evaluation. Software engineer for a software or mobile app company
Computer Architecture Provides the knowledge needed to design and operate software and hardware systems together. Computer architect for an IT department with a government agency, organization or corporation
Embedded Systems Teaches students how to merge computer science and electrical engineering. Curriculum focuses on the development of hardware and software to be used in electrical control systems, remote controls, mobile communication devices and medical devices. Embedded systems engineer for an electronic device development company
Communications and Signal Processing Learn about the systems used to process and transmit data. Training involves identifying issues in efficiency and developing practical, real-world solutions. Communications and signal processor for a government agency or private business, usually in an IT department

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Computer Engineering

The curriculum offered in a graduate computer engineering program can vary between concentration options and educational institutions. The best program for you is one that best aligns with your career goals and personal obligations. It’s important to note that some distance-learning programs still require attendance at one or more classes on-campus. If you’re not willing to relocate, you may want to stick with exclusively online programs or those that are within your local area.

The differences in curriculum means your experience can be difficult to predict, but there are some courses that are commonly found in most programs. If you’re pursuing a master’s degree in computer engineering, you should expect to see variations of the following courses:

Cybersecurity Teaches students about the different threats to computer security, including hacking, routing attacks and weaknesses in TCP/IP protocols, and how to use available defense tools.
Computer Architecture Focuses on the inner workings of computer hardware and using that knowledge to improve hardware designs, increasing performance and capacity.
VLSI System Design Introduces students to the VLSI CAD software to aid in the development of schematics and integrating circuit functionality simulation while also covering CMOS processing technology, clocking strategies and MOS transistor theory.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering?

Most online programs for computer engineering master’s degrees are expected to take two years to complete with a normal, full-time course load. Part-time course loads lengthen that time but how much is determined by the number of credit hours completed each semester. Some schools offer accelerated programs that can fast-track a degree in 12 to 18 months. These schedules usually require a heavier course load and may be difficult for students with other obligations.

The delivery structure of curriculum can also affect the length of time it takes to complete a program. Courses that are offered asynchronously are more flexible, with multiple opportunities each year. Synchronous programs are more rigid and may only begin once or twice in a school year.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Computer Engineering Prepares For

Electrical and Computer Principles and Practices of Engineering License Completing a master’s degree in computer engineering lays the groundwork for licensing eligibility. Passing the exam offered by the NCEES is a requirement by many state engineering licensing boards.
Certified Data Management Professional Choosing a data engineering concentration for your computer engineering graduate program may prepare you for the CDMP exam. CDMP certification is offered by the Data Management Association International and is awarded to all database professionals who meet education and experience requirements and pass the CDMP knowledge exam.
Google Cloud Certified Professional Data Engineer A data engineering concentration could help students pass Google’s two-hour data engineer certification exam. Certification identifies data engineers who have demonstrated their competency in creating big data infrastructure and processing systems while maintaining security, reliability and compliance standards.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Computer Engineering

Choosing an accredited program is crucial to keeping your professional and educational options open. Without accreditation, courses you take may not be transferable, preventing you from pursuing a post-graduate degree at another institution. Some employers will not recognize a degree from an unaccredited school, and it may disqualify you receiving many professional licenses and certifications. Most importantly, accreditation shows the school has developed a program capable of providing you with an education that meets the quality standards necessary to perform your professional duties with competence.

When looking for your school’s accreditation, there are three agency types you should be aware of. National agencies give accreditation based on meeting general standards of education, such as the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Education, a well-respected national accrediting agency. There are six regional accrediting agencies, including the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, that only focus on schools within their regional boundaries. There are also industry-specific agencies that develop their guidelines based on the real-world application of the curriculum and how it fits with professional quality standards.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Computer Engineering Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

When it comes to technical career fields like engineering, education and experience are often the deciding factors for employment recruiters. Making the effort to earn your master’s degree in computer engineering gives you a competitive advantage over applicants who hold bachelor’s degrees. A graduate degree is also beneficial for job security. Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that professionals with graduate degrees have a lower unemployment rate than those with a bachelor’s degree. The extra negotiating power can also affect job satisfaction, giving you leverage to command better benefits and intangibles, such as increased vacation time, preferred work hours and choice of work environments.

Expected Salary

Career fields that attract graduate computer engineering degree-holders offer sizable salary potential for professionals. As the table below shows, most positions offer a starting wage of around $50,000 per year and can more than double with enough experience.

Database Engineer $54,476-$119,810
Software Engineer $59,844-$123,156
Computer Architect $73,294-$166,947
Systems Engineer $48,618-$107,073
Electronics Engineer $48,508-$117,457

Completing your online master’s in computer engineering program raises your earning potential significantly when compared to the wages of entry-level professionals with undergraduate degrees. The following chart shows the average salary growth when compared to experience levels.

Career Opportunities

With a number of specializations available, a master’s in computer engineering offers a variety of career tracks to choose from. Within these fields, a graduate degree also provides greater leverage in getting your preferred position with the benefits and perks you want.

Database Administrator A database administrator is responsible for organizing and storing date using specialized software. Access by authorized users is granted by the database administrator, who is also responsible for keeping the date secure from unauthorized use. $87,020 per year 11%
Electronics Engineers Electronics engineers handle the development of electronic devices, designing the components, systems and software needed to make them work and providing maintenance and testing procedures for each device. $97,970 per year 7%
Software Developer Software developers are responsible for designing and developing computer programs. This can include programs for a variety of devices and involves the testing, evaluation and maintenance of the program once it’s finished. $103,560 per year 24%
Computer Network Architect Computer network architects are responsible for the design and development of data communication networks of all sizes, using intranets, local area networks and wide area networks. This includes the research of new technologies, component upgrades when necessary and security considerations. $104,650 per year 6%

Professional Organizations

Computer engineer professionals have the option of joining one of the many professional organizations dedicated to their field, providing benefits like educational courses, networking opportunities, career-building tools and industry publications. Here are a few professional organizations that may be helpful to computer engineers.

Association for Computing Machinery: The ACM offers a range of benefits to members. Those who join can take advantage of networking opportunities at one of the hosted conferences and subscriptions to industry publications and can enroll in a number of training programs.

Society of Women Engineers: The SWE provides female engineers with the tools they need to build their engineering careers. Mentoring services, hosted networking events, industry publications and an advanced learning center are all available to members.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics and Engineers: The IEEE encourages members to network with other professionals through numerous local events, provides the opportunity to self-promote with a profile on their website, offers a range of industry publications through a digital library and maintains a large selection of educational and career enhancing programs.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Computer Engineering

Online programs are often cheaper when compared to their on-campus counterparts, but you may still find yourself unable to cover the tuition without assistance. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should always be your first option when looking for financial help with your college expenses so you can find out if you qualify for government grants and loans. There are also a number of scholarships you can apply for, or you can take out a personal loan if necessary. The resources below are just the start of your financial aid options.



Scholarships Details
AACE International Competitive Scholarships Award: $2,500

Deadline: March 5

Eligibility: Open to students enrolled in an accredited college or university, majoring in engineering with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

SMART Scholarship Award: Varies

Deadline: August 1

Eligibility: Open to computer engineering students, enrolled in an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and who are U.S. citizens, willing to commit to post-graduate employment with the Department of Defense.

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