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Best online master's in computer engineering 2021: Top picks – ZDNet

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Computer engineers create many essential technological innovations, and a computer engineering master’s degree prepares graduates to lead in this field.
Contributing Writer
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.
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.
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.
Accreditation: The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
About the program: NC State’s online computer engineering master’s program focuses on VLSI systems and networking, along with computer architecture and systems.
Accreditation: North Carolina State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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.
Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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.
Accreditation: Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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. 
Accreditation: The University of Delaware is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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.
Accreditation: Iowa State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
About the program: USC’s 28-credit online computer engineering master’s program focuses on the areas of computer architecture, networks, VLSI, and foundations. 
Accreditation: The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).
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. 
Accreditation: The University of Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
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. 
Accreditation: Auburn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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.
Accreditation: The University of New Mexico is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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.  
Accreditation: Missouri University of Science and Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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.
Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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.  
Accreditation: Villanova University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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.
Accreditation: Stevens Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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.
Accreditation: The University of Michigan-Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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 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.
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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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