Online Colleges for Computer and Software Engineering

Article Sources


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition," Computer Hardware Engineers, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm#tab-1
  2. Grantham University, Online Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology Associate of Science Degree, 2013, http://www.grantham.edu/online-degree/associate-of-science-in-electronics-and-computer-engineering-technology/
  3. Northeastern University, Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology in Computer Engineering Technology, 2013, http://www.cps.neu.edu/degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelors-degrees/bachelors-computer-engineering-technology.php
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Software Developers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), July 18, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Software Developers, Applications," Occupational Employment and Wages, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151132.htm
  6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Software Developers, Systems Software," Occupational Employment and Wages, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151133.htm

Computer software engineers, sometimes called software developers, design the computer programs used by millions around the world each day. Some create applications that allow people to perform particular tasks on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Others create larger systems that control networks or allow devices to function. Software engineering requires a blend of creativity and technical know-how, and relies on precision to function correctly.

Software developers design programs behind medical devices, aircraft, nuclear power plants, and roller coasters, where a minor error could mean the difference between life and death. On the other hand, developers are also behind our favorite video games like "Call of Duty" and "Guitar Hero," and mobile apps like "Angry Birds" and "Words With Friends." Where you choose to take your career in software engineering is up to you, but earning a college degree is usually a good place to start.

What to Expect From Accredited Online Programs in Computer & Software Programming

Most software developers have at least a bachelor's degree in the field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). There are a number of online colleges offering degrees in computer engineering at the bachelor's level. There are also many online master's programs available for those who already have a bachelor's degree and are looking to refine their skills or make a transition into the field. Those wishing to enter programs for online degrees in computer software engineering should have a strong background in math and a basic familiarity with computers. Software engineering programs generally cover advanced programming languages, systems programming, machine organization and software design. A good program should cover a wide variety of topics to prepare students for multiple possible career trajectories. See online colleges for IT for more career paths.

Life of a Computer Engineer Major

If you're interested in learning about computers and their components, you may want to earn an online computer engineering degree. Top colleges for computer engineering prepare students to research, design, develop, and test computer equipment in a variety of professional and business settings. Upon graduation, computer engineers perform a wide range of technology-related tasks including designing computer hardware, testing designs for functionality, and overseeing the manufacturing process (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer engineers are also in charge of ensuring that their hardware designs are compatible with the latest technological advances (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).

Online Associate Programs: Class Overview

Associate degree students will learn the fundamentals of computer engineering in addition to the technical skills and techniques required for successful computer hardware development. Students will learn about computer programming basics, digital electronics and analog electronics, and DC/AC circuit principles and design. Online computer and software engineering classes could prepare you for aspects of a career in computer engineering.

The following table provides an in-depth look at concepts associate degree students typically study in online computer and software engineering classes:

Digital Electronics

Learn the basics of digital electronics, including logic gates, number systems and codes, TTL circuits, and registers and counters.

Programming Basics

Learn how to harness the power of programming languages. Learn how to use diagramming, charting methods, arrays, menus, and flow charts.

Computer Engineering Ethics

Gain an overview of best practices for professionalism, ethics, and decision-making within the field of computer engineering.


Study diode theory and circuits, semiconductors, AC models, and voltage amplifiers and their functions.

Technical Writing

Examine basic writing concepts with an emphasis on the technical skills required for effective communication.

*Grantham University, Online Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology Associate of Science Degree

Online Bachelor's Programs: Class Overview

If you're interested in pursuing a four-year degree in computer engineering, you may want to consider earning a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, many employers in this field prefer to hire individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited school (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). During online computer and software engineering classes, you'll learn to identify and solve a wide range of engineering problems, select and apply specific knowledge and techniques to engineering technology activities, and function as a member of or leader of a technical team.

The following table provides an in-depth look at concepts that bachelor's degree students will learn in online computer and software engineering classes:

Data Analysis

Learn to apply modern data analysis concepts to computer engineering design, development, and manufacturing.

Computer Hardware Basics

Learn about the fundamentals of computer hardware, with an emphasis on topics such as computer organization, microcomputer systems, machine language, and assembly coding.

Engineering Graphics

Study techniques for graphic creation including orthographic, isometric, oblique, perspective drawing and two-dimensional computer drawing, and freehand/instrument sketching.

Software Engineering

Examine modern software engineering concepts and theories.

Java Programming

Learn how to write, debug, and execute Java programs. In addition, students will study the creation of Java applets and applications.

*Northeastern University, Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology in Computer Engineering Technology

Job Outlook for Computer Engineering Program Graduates 

According to the BLS, job opportunities for software developers are projected to increase by 30 percent nationally between 2010 and 2020, a growth rate far above average. An increasing demand for software programs and systems across industries means that the need for software developers should continue to grow. There are a few major reasons behind the increasing demand for new software and developers. First, as mobile devices continue to expand their reach and become more technologically sophisticated, the demand for new software to accompany them will increase. In addition, the health care industry has begun to dramatically expand its use of computer software and systems, and a greater focus on cybersecurity has created a demand for more advanced security software (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

Salary figures for software developers are divided into two subcategories of the field: applications software developers earned a median national annual wage of $90,060 in May 2012, according to BLS data, while systems software developers earned $99,000 in median pay (bls.gov/oes, 2013).

While career opportunities for software engineers are expected to be abundant and the salary numbers are enticing, the field requires hard work and long hours. According to the BLS, nearly one-fourth worked more than 40 hours per week as of 2010. In addition, even after earning their degrees software developers are responsible for staying up-to-date on the latest programming tools and languages, and other technological developments in the field. For those with an interest in computers who want a career that combines their creativity and technical knowledge, it could be an excellent time to enter the field of computer software engineering and development.

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