Associates in Computer Engineering

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated March 16, 2024

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

On this page
Back to top

Computer engineering is a branch of engineering that combines electrical engineering and computer science. Computer engineers design devices, computer networks, and new technologies. They are interested in computer hardware and optimizing hardware for various applications by understanding how software interacts with hardware. Students who want a direct entry training program or are unable to begin with a four-year program can benefit from an associates in computer engineering degree program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects about 4,500 openings for computer hardware engineers each year, on average, between 2020 and 2030. This guide provides a step-by-step breakdown of the computer engineering associates degree program with essential information on curriculum, accreditation, careers, funding, and more.


Best Associates in Computer Engineering
Engineering Programs

Finding top associates in computer engineering degrees is not as easy as one would think it to be. When looking for them, prospective students must factor in the college’s infrastructure, availability of labs and technical facilities, the qualification and experience of the teaching staff, accreditation, graduation rates, and more. Based on these and various other factors, FBD teams have drawn up a list of some of the best associates degree in computer engineering programs in the U.S.: *

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Stevens Tech) is a public technical college founded in 1905 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The college offers about 22 academic programs at the undergraduate level to some 1,200 students.
Univ Address
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology 750 E King St, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Associates in Computer
Engineering Degree Program

Prospective students can typically pursue two educational paths at the associate degree level: Electronics and Computer Technology or Pre-Engineering with a Computer and Electrical Engineering emphasis. The associate degree in electronics and computer technology provides students with a career-focused curriculum that allows them to continue their studies at the bachelor’s degree level. With this degree, they can also pursue entry-level employment opportunities after graduation. On the other hand, a pre-engineering degree is intended for students who plan to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

Regardless of the option, the associate’s degree is intended to introduce students to fundamental computer engineering and electronics design principles, including programming, networking and communications, computer hardware and software, electronic systems, instrumentation, etc. These programs take two to three years to complete and typically require 65 to 72 credits, depending on the school and program.

As for coursework, students of this degree are expected to complete core cores and electives in computer-related topics and also take general education courses like English, Social Science, Humanities, Calculus, Math, Physics, etc. Here are some sample core courses one can expect from an associates in computer engineering program:

  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Programming Concepts and Methodologies for Engineers
  • Electrical Engineering Fundamentals
  • Discrete Structures for Computing
  • Data Structures
  • Computer Architecture
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Circuit Theory
  • Networking and Internet Technologies
  • Digital Electronics

Degree Types for Associates in
Computer Engineering

The two typical and most common associates in computer engineering degrees are the Associates of Science degree in Computer Engineering and the Associates of Applied Science degree in Computer Engineering. A third option, which is not so prevalent or popular, is the Associates of Arts in Computer Engineering.

Associate of Science in Computer Engineering

The Associate of Science in Engineering degree program or AS Computer Engineering approaches the subject through the lenses of science and math. Most of the teaching in this degree type is based on technological and scientific principles and is theoretical in structure.

Associate of Applied Science in Computer Engineering

The Associate of Applied Science in Computer Engineering or AAS Computer Engineering degree program provides practical training to students and prepares them to enter the workforce as soon as they graduate.

Associate of Arts in Computer Engineering

The Associate of Arts in Computer Engineering or AA Computer Engineering degree program fulfills the requirements for lower-division general education at a four-year university for students who plan to transfer to or pursue a bachelor’s degree later in life. This degree type leans on humanities and social science topics, apart from core topics in computer engineering.

Areas of Specialization in Associates in Computer
Engineering Programs

The best way to find a job that one truly enjoys is to select a niche and become an authority in it. Additionally, it is the best way to increase one’s pay and career prospects. At many schools, computer engineering is regarded as a specialization within computer science. Associates in computer engineering students may not have too many specialization options to choose from, considering it is an entry-level degree. Nevertheless, here is a list of available specializations in bachelor’s or graduate-level studies that present an idea of what students can expect should they choose to continue with their education:

Area of Specialization Description Career Options
Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and CyberneticsThis specialization focuses on developing algorithms that can learn, generalize, communicate, plan, and extrapolate in robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and interfaces. Students also learn how algorithms interact with humans and under what conditions an algorithm’s performance can be guaranteed.Various roles in robotics, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence
Cyberphysical SystemsThis specialization examines the interaction of computing and physical processes and the computer’s behavior in isolation. Control theory and systems, computer-aided verification and synthesis, complex networks, and programming models are all taught to students.Various roles in the computer hardware industry
Hardware SystemsThis area of expertise focuses on designing, developing, and analyzing computer hardware systems to make them durable, efficient, reliable, dependable, and secure.Various roles in the computer hardware industry
Networking, Mobile, and Distributed ComputingThis specialization investigates the mechanisms that enable a group of devices to sense their surroundings, collaborate, and make inferences about their surroundings. It also investigates efficient networking protocols important for transferring large amounts of data between Internet endpoints.Various roles in the networking and mobile computing industries
Big Data Analytics and SystemsThis specialization studies the fundamental theories, techniques, methodologies, and technologies for broad applications of big data. Students learn genomic data analysis, data mining, and computational genomics.Various roles in the data management and analytics companies

Some of the other specializations students can consider include but are not limited to:

  • Trust, Reliability, and Security
  • Embedded Systems
  • Foundations and Theory
  • Reconfigurable Computing
  • Human-Centered Computing
  • Computer Graphics and Visualization
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Interface Design
  • Bioinformatics
  • Computer and Network Security
  • Medical Image Computing
  • Software
  • Computational Geometry
  • Machine Learning
  • Modeling and Simulation

Why should I do an Associates in Computer
Engineering Degree?

There are many advantages of doing an online associate’s degree in computer engineering; relative information is available in the Guide to Associate Programs. The computer engineering associates program prepares students for careers as computer engineering technicians/technologists and in electronics-related occupations. It also offers supplemental training to people who are currently or have previously worked in these occupations. The program emphasizes the comprehension and application of hardware and software concepts, as well as troubleshooting techniques for digital, microprocessor, or computer-based systems. An integrated and theoretical approach is used to teach the assembly, installation, operation, maintenance, calibration, troubleshooting, repairing, and basic design of computer and medical systems.

With a plethora of industries requiring people with computer knowledge, computer engineering associate degrees are the gateway to starting one’s career in the field or pursuing further education. By the time they graduate, students of this degree program would have the ability to:

  • create engineering solutions that address specific needs while taking into account public health, safety, and welfare as well as local, national, international, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors by using the engineering design process;
  • effectively communicate technical information, concepts, and solutions to a variety of audiences using English and mathematical languages;
  • apply understanding of science and math to programs related to engineering;
  • create a system, part, program, or procedure to satisfy varied requirements;
  • effectively convey design concepts, solutions to engineering-related issues, or the findings of scientific experiments;
  • work well as a team to produce a well-rounded and polished work product; and
  • conduct scientific research, then evaluate and interpret the findings.

Free Courses for Associates in Computer
Engineering Students

Free courses related to computer engineering are available all over the internet. Although these free courses seldom lead to certification recognized by academic institutions or some employers, they provide additional insights on the subject and could be useful for research, assignments, or exams. Here are a few to explore:

Course Description Provided by
Topics Related to Computer EngineeringCoursera is a popular online learning website that offers many free computer engineering-related courses, such as Computer Architecture, Cyber-Physical Systems: Modeling and Simulation, etc.Coursera
Topics Related to Computer EngineeringMIT OpenCourseWare offers several free online courses from accomplished professors on topics such as Circuits and Electronics, Signals and Systems, Computation Structures, etc.MIT OpenCourseWare
Topics Related to Computer EngineeringUdemy is a go-to destination for those looking for free courses. The site offers free courses at various learning levels on topics such as Computer Fundamentals, Introduction to Networking, Computer Science Principles, etc.Udemy

How to get into the Associates in Computer Engineering
Degree Program?

Students in high school who want to enroll in an associate degree program in computer engineering must preferably have some background in computer science. Most schools require all official high school, General Education Development (GED), or home school transcripts or certificates before making admissions decisions. It is also common for students to be required to submit their ACT or SAT scores to each community college they are considering. Furthermore, demonstrating proficiency and readiness in English, Math, Computer Science, and Physics (at least a ‘c’) will be advantageous. The following are some typical computer engineering associates admissions requirements:

  • Admission or Application Form with its prescribed fee.
  • Official Academic Transcripts.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5 or more (higher grades in English and Math preferred).
  • SAT or ACT Score (required by some schools)
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose (required by some schools)
  • Proof of English Proficiency (if the native tongue is or education was not in English)

Note: For admission to any college program, on-campus and online applicants must submit the same documentation. Admission requirements differ depending on the school and program. It is always best for students to check with the admissions office at their preferred school for specific requirements.

How Long does it take to complete the Associates Degree in
Computer Engineering Program?

Most of the time, at least 60 to 65 credits are needed for an associate’s degree in computer engineering. An AS in computer engineering can be finished in as little as 18 months or as much as 24 months (sometimes even longer). Working adults may be able to participate in a flexible program that can be finished in up to three years. But the time it takes to get an online associate degree in computer engineering will depend on the chosen community college and degree type. One must take all the prerequisite classes for the major, and one’s time in school is likely to be longer if the degree program requires general education courses in addition to core classes. To sum up, this is how long it usually takes to get an associate’s degree in computer engineering:

  • Time to complete full-time associates degree in computer engineering program: about 2 Years.
  • Time to complete part-time associates degree in computer engineering program: between 2 and 3 years.

Accelerated Associates in Computer
Engineering Programs

Many colleges allow students to enroll part-time for an online associate’s degree in computer engineering. Still, very few will enable them to complete the program in less than two years. Depending on their specialty, coursework, and institution, students may, at best, be able to complete their studies two to three months earlier than expected. However, some colleges offer accelerated degrees with a slight twist: they allow students to complete their associate’s program and then transfer most or all their credits into a bachelor’s program, reducing the overall duration of their bachelor’s degree.

Accreditations for Associates in Computer
Engineering Programs

A key sign of quality and worth is accreditation. It proves that a program’s curriculum complies with generally accepted standards and yields graduates who can achieve professional success. In the computer engineering space, colleges or programs may be accredited (sometimes in addition to national/regional accreditation) by the Accreditation Board for Computer Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET is the primary accrediting body for computer engineering programs. The organization evaluates computer engineering programs based on a variety of criteria, including curriculum, student outcomes, student performance, facilities, faculty, and resources.

To ensure quality, students should ensure that their chosen program is accredited by ABET, a regional or national accreditation authority, or both. Read the Guide to College Accreditation for more information on accreditation.

Additionally, colleges can be nationally or regionally accredited by independent agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regionally accreditation is the most common form of accreditation in the U.S. and is awarded by six bodies:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

How to Pay for an Associates in Computer
Engineering Program?

Compared to a four-year university degree, an online associate degree in computer engineering from a community college is less expensive. Nonetheless, some students may find the cost of tuition and other educational expenses prohibitive. A variety of outside funding options are available for such students, some of which are:


A popular option for students, scholarships are easy to find and do not require repayment. Deserving and meritorious students who have excelled academically are awarded scholarships.


A grant is a form of financial award that does not need to be repaid. Although the academic progress and strengths of applicants are considered while awarding them, grants are usually awarded based on the applicant’s financial need.

Student Loans

A student loan is another option for students looking for outside funding. Education loans are available from a wide range of financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and the government. Because of the high interest rate on student loans, the overall cost of education will be more expensive than usual. Read about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans to understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans.


The Free Application For Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students must complete to check if they are eligible for aid and receive the best financial aid package possible. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Read about What is Financial Aid? and find out everything there is to know about college funding in the How to Pay for College guide.

FAQs Related to the Associate Degree in
Engineering Programs

What is an associate degree in computer engineering?

An associates in computer engineering is a 65- to 72-credit degree program that introduces students to fundamental principles in computer engineering and electronics design, including computer hardware and software, programming, electronic systems, communications and networking, instrumentation, electronic systems, and maintenance and repair.

Can you be a computer hardware engineer with an associate’s degree?

What can you do with an associates in computer engineering?

Where can you get an associates degree in computer engineering?

Is an associates degree in computer engineering worth anything?

Is a diploma in computer engineering equivalent to associate degree?

Is computer engineering hard to study?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an Associates in
Computer Engineering Degree

An associates degree in computer engineering may appeal to those looking for a 4-year degree or an entry-level tech job. When an associate degree is combined with optional computing and technology certifications, its value usually increases even further. The tech sector has traditionally valued a candidate’s abilities and relevant experience. However, a candidate’s commitment to the field and level of knowledge can be indicated by their education. Many entry-level tech careers are open to job seekers with an associates degree in computer engineering, such as Web Developer, Information Security Analyst, Systems Analyst, Hardware Engineering, Computer Programmer, etc.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although employment of computer hardware engineers is projected to grow by only 2% from 2020 to 2030, about 4,500 openings will be available each year. Listed below are examples of computer engineering jobs, median annual salaries, and job growth, as reported by the BLS. However, it must be noted that these jobs would almost certainly require additional educational qualifications and certifications. Still, they are a good indicator of what one can expect in the computer engineering field.

Occupation Job DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Network and Computer Systems AdministratorsNetwork and Computer Systems Administrators oversee the day-to-day operation of computer networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, which include LANs, WANs, network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.Analytical skills, problem-solving skills, multitasking skills, communication skills$80,6005% (slower than average)
Computer Hardware EngineersComputer hardware engineers are responsible for the research, design, development, and testing of computer systems and components such as circuit boards, processors, memory modules, routers, and networking devices.Critical-thinking skills, analytical skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills$128,1702% (slower than average)
Computer Systems AnalystsComputer systems analysts, also known as systems architects, investigate and design improvements to an organization’s existing computer systems and procedures. As a result, these analysts contribute to the overall efficiency of the organization.Communication skills, analytical skills, organizational skills, business skills, creativity, detail-oriented


7% (as fast as average)
Computer Support SpecialistsComputer support specialists help computer users and businesses. These professionals either maintain computer networks or provide direct technical assistance to computer users.Customer-service skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, listening skills$57,9109% (as fast as average)
Computer Network ArchitectsComputer network architects plan and construct data communication networks such as LANs or local area networks, WANs or wide area networks, and intranets. They upgrade the hardware and software needed to support computer networks.Leadership skills, organizational skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills, detail-oriented$120,5205% (slower than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Associates in
Computer Engineering Students

Professional credentials in computer engineering complement and expand the knowledge and abilities acquired through degree programs. Advanced credentials are intended to show technical competence in a particular area of the computer engineering profession. Although, in most instances, certification would require an educational qualification beyond the associates degree, here are a few that students with other certifications or adequate work experience may be able to take up:

ARM Accredited Engineer (AAE)

The ARM Accredited Engineer (AAE) credential demonstrates an individual’s broader understanding of ARM architecture. This industry-recognized certification covers software development tools as well as software-related aspects of the ARMv7 Architecture, with a particular emphasis on Cortex-A and Cortex-R profiles. Over half of the AAE syllabus is devoted to software development, debugging, and optimization.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification validates an individual’s ability to navigate the ever-changing IT landscape. This certification validates one’s ability to manage and optimize today’s most advanced networks. The CCNA exam covers security basics, networking basics, automation, IP services, and programmability.

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft offers about 21 certifications in Azure, Database Management, Windows, Dynamics 365, and more at the beginner level, which is suitable for associates degree graduates.

Additional Resources for Associates in Computer
Engineering Students

A professional association or organization can offer training, conferences, networking opportunities, job leads, research in the field, and other resources. Students pursuing degrees in computer engineering should check and preferably enroll in these organizations, which will prove to be highly beneficial to them in the long run. The following organizations might be useful to aspiring computer engineers:

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) is an inclusive, nontechnical organization that caters to the interests of licensed professional engineers. NSPE offers its members access to seminars, conferences, publications, and licensure.

Association of Computer Engineers and Technicians (ACET)

The Association of Computer Engineers and Technicians (ACET) is a UK-based non-profit organization that promotes professional standards within the IT industry. With over 14,000 members worldwide, ACET offers its members a wide range of services, from accounting and training programs to product discounts and invoicing.

International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology (IACSIT)

The International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology (IACSIT) is a registered international scientific association of distinguished scholars promoting computer science and Information technology developments. IACSIT holds keynotes & conferences, provides news, and assists in education and research.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA)

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Head Association (ECEDHA) is the top academic organization of its kind, representing all significant electrical engineering, computer engineering, and associated programs at universities throughout North America.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest not-for-profit technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology to benefit humanity. IEEE offers its members conferences, publications, education & career advice, and more.

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.