Computer Engineering

Computer engineering (CE) is the application of engineering knowledge and skills to computer science problems. Compared to software engineers, the greater emphasis may be on computer machinery and hardware, but computer engineers are also heavily involved in the software side of the equation. These in-demand professionals straddle the worlds of computers and engineering. They are able to seek employment in numerous industries while benefiting from a relatively rosy career outlook.

Computer engineers study the theory and design of myriad hardware and software applications and methods of information processing. They are educated in digital and information architecture, massive data, and computational analysis. A computer engineer may be involved in designing tiny computer chips, managing global systems of distribution, prototyping new algorithms for search engines, or designing toaster ovens.

The wide-ranging skill set of a computer engineer necessitates a broad-based approach to education. It is recommended that computer engineers have at least a bachelor's degree, either in computer engineering or a related discipline like computer science or electrical engineering. At all postsecondary levels, the top computer engineering schools are accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

Degrees in Computer Engineering

Bachelor Degrees

An undergraduate education is considered the entry-level qualification for most computer engineers. Over two-thirds of computer engineers have a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The opportunity-rich field of computer engineering holds many career choices in software and hardware development for bachelor degree-holders. The best computer engineering schools provide students research participation opportunities that give a taste of things to come in grad school.

At the undergraduate level, students establish a twin foundation in computer science and engineering. They learn the basics of each dimension of computer engineering, including systems, networking, software, hardware, and usability. CE studies also overlap a great deal with electrical engineering.

Students that intend to go on to graduate school need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in the final semester of their senior undergraduate year.

Bachelor-level classes in Computer Engineering typically include:

  • Introduction to Electrical Engineering
  • Digital Systems Design
  • Signals and Systems I

What can you do with a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering?

  • Software Engineer
  • Application Test Engineer
  • Software Developer

Master Degrees

A master's degree in computer engineering extends one's expertise into a major CE specialization. This can serve a terminal function for fresh undergraduates, help working professionals up-skill, or act as a preparatory springboard towards later doctoral study. For the latter group, master's study provides the research experience on which many competitive doctoral programs place a premium.

Though most computer engineers have only a bachelor's, more than one-quarter have a terminal master's in the field, says the U.S. BLS. One advantage of having a master's in computer engineering is the qualification can net one higher pay or substitute for industry experience requirements on job applications. Additionally, the master's degree can contribute to promotional and leadership opportunities for experienced engineers.

Graduate school applicants will need a strong background in applied mathematics and engineering before they can take advanced engineering courses. Many bachelors pursue a core engineering degree like mechanical or electrical engineering to prepare for a dedicated 2-year master's degree in computer engineering.

Requirements for graduation from a computer engineering master's program may include a thesis, design project, or other final master's report. These elements are most directly useful for students enrolling in doctoral studies after attaining a master's credential.

Master-level CE coursework might include:

  • Computer Architecture & Compilers
  • Embedded Systems & Software
  • Design Automation & Microelectronic Design

What jobs are available to master degree-holders?

  • Computer Vision Engineer - Object Tracking
  • Computer Systems Security Engineer
  • Distributed Control Systems Engineer

Doctoral Work

Very few computer engineers hold a doctorate, according to federal government data. The degree is largely reserved for those who plan to work in higher education or enterprise research and development.

Major employers of CE Ph.D.s are found in government, industry, and academia. Faculty positions in academic settings, for instance, invariably want job prospects to demonstrate their competency for original research by earning a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering.

Prerequisites for doctoral work in computer engineering may include preliminary or qualifying examinations. Some programs want applicants to have either a master's degree or to be eligible for one to qualify for Ph.D. candidacy. Ph.D.s take approximately 3 to 5 years to complete, including coursework and a written research dissertation. Financial support is available for many doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in the form of scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships. Aid varies by institution.

Doctoral students work in research laboratories studying the ways computer technology can help solve key human problems. Major research areas in Computer Engineering include:

  • Databases & Information Management
  • Security & Cryptography
  • Artificial Intelligence

A Ph.D. in Computer Engineering can lead to a career in:

  • Principal Human Computer Interaction Scientist
  • University Research Scientist
  • NASA Systems Engineer

We found 166 schools offering "Computer Engineering" degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 166 Computer Engineering Colleges in the U.S.

Computer Engineering Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 10090

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
2
University of California - Berkeley
Berkeley, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 31277

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
3
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA  |  Total Enrollment: 8514

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's
4
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Champaign, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 38465

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
5
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 49996

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
5
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI  |  Total Enrollment: 38103

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
5
Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus
Atlanta, GA  |  Total Enrollment: 14805

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's
5
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 12043

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
9
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 6547

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's
10
Purdue University - Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN  |  Total Enrollment: 39667

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree

Browse All 166 Colleges With Computer Engineering Programs


Title City State Enrollment
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus Tempe AZ 44126
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
Bellarmine University Louisville KY 2848
Boston University Boston MA 28318
Bucknell University Lewisburg PA 3592
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo CA 16877
California State University - Chico Chico CA 15912
California State University - Fresno Fresno CA 19056
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento CA 25714
Capitol College Laurel MD 787
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland OH 9304
Catholic University of America Washington DC 5493
Christopher Newport University Newport News VA 5314
Clarkson University Potsdam NY 2877
Clemson University Clemson SC 17465
Cogswell Polytechnical College Sunnyvale CA 426
Colorado Technical University Greenwood Village CO 383
Colorado Technical University Colorado Springs CO 1851
Drexel University Philadelphia PA 13128
Eastern Nazarene College Quincy MA 1381
Elizabethtown College Elizabethtown PA 1825
Fairfield University Fairfield CT 5188
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee FL 12126
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton FL 21046
Florida Institute of Technology - Melbourne Melbourne FL 4248
Florida International University Miami FL 31945
Gannon University Erie PA 3377
George Mason University Fairfax VA 23408
George Washington University Washington DC 20527
Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus Atlanta GA 14805
Graceland University - Lamoni Lamoni IA 3211
Herzing College Melbourne FL 161
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago IL 6003
Iowa State University Ames IA 26845
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore MD 17774
Johnson C Smith University Charlotte NC 1576
Kansas State University Manhattan KS 21929
Kettering University Flint MI 3331
Kilian Community College Sioux Falls SD 212
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge LA 31527
Manhattan College Bronx NY 3070
Marlboro College Marlboro VT 416
Marquette University Milwaukee WI 10892
Michigan State University East Lansing MI 43366
Michigan Technological University Houghton MI 6336
Milwaukee School of Engineering Milwaukee WI 2620
Mississippi State University Mississippi State MS 16561
Moraine Park Technical College Fond Du Lac WI 6921
New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark NJ 8820
North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh NC 28619
Northeastern University Boston MA 23897
Northern New Mexico College Espanola NM 681
Northwestern Polytechnic University Fremont CA No Data
Northwestern University Evanston IL 16952
Oakland University Rochester Hills MI 15235
Ohio Northern University Ada OH 3227
Old Dominion University Norfolk VA 18969
Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Tech Beaverton OR 580
Oregon State University Corvallis OR 16758
Pacific Lutheran University Tacoma WA 3515
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus University Park PA 40571
Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Erie - Behrend College Erie PA 3791
Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Great Valley Malvern PA 1613
Polytechnic University Brooklyn NY 3059
Portland State University Portland OR 18889
Princeton University Princeton NJ 6547
Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette IN 39667
Rensselaer Hartford Graduate Center Inc Hartford CT 1807
Robert Morris University Moon Township PA 4620
Rose - Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute IN 1725
Saint Louis University - Main Campus Saint Louis MO 13847
Salt Lake Community College Salt Lake City UT 21596
San Diego State University San Diego CA 31609
San Jose State University San Jose CA 26698
Santa Clara University Santa Clara CA 7356
Seattle University Seattle WA 5852
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City SD 2307
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale IL 22552
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Edwardsville IL 12193
Southern Methodist University Dallas TX 10064
St Marys University San Antonio TX 4137
Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken NJ 4121
Stony Brook University Stony Brook NY 19924
Suny at Buffalo Buffalo NY 24830
Tennessee Technological University Cookeville TN 8410
Texas A & M University College Station TX 44026
Texas Tech University Lubbock TX 24558
The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington TX 20424
The University of Texas at Dallas Richardson TX 10945
The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso TX 15224
Tufts University Medford MA 9106
Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans LA 11652
University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville AL 6563
University of Arizona Tucson AZ 34488
University of Arkansas Main Campus Fayetteville AR 15346
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport CT 2973
University of California - Davis Davis CA 26094
University of California - Irvine Irvine CA 20211
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 36890
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