What Are the Specializations Within Computer Engineering?

Choosing a specific area of interest and becoming an expert in it is the best way to find a job that you genuinely enjoy. It’s also the best way to get a higher paycheck: As a rule, specialized roles in computer engineering (and in all industries) earn more than more generalized positions.

In many academic programs, computer engineering is considered a concentration within computer science. While you’re considering where to specialize, you may want to take a look at our FAQs for some of the other important specializations in computer science, such as Big Data and Software Engineering.

If computer engineering is the field you’re most interested in, you can get a jump start on your school search with our rankings for the Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering Degrees and the Best Online Master’s in Computer Engineering Degrees.

The higher you go with your computer engineering education, the more options you’ll have for specialization. While certificates and bachelor’s degrees tend to have a fairly defined curriculum, by the master’s degree level, you’ll often have much more freedom to shape your degree path.

Take Boston University, for example. The Master of Science in Computer Engineering at this school provides four options for specialization.

Hardware and Computer Architecture

This concentration tends to highlight the engineering aspect of computer engineering. Professionals in this field will design and create physical computer equipment.

Sample course titles: Advanced Digital Design with Verilog and FPGA, Parallel Computer Architecture, Fault-Tolerant Computing, Modern Active Circuit Design, Introduction to Embedded Systems


Computer Communications and Networks

The Computer Communications and Networks concentration involves the design, monitoring, installation, and repair of network hardware and software.

Sample course titles: Stochastic Processes, Optimization Theory and Methods, Networking the Physical World, Randomized Network Algorithms, Mobile Ad Hoc Networking and Computing



Most similar to software engineering, this concentration emphasizes high-performance programming, advanced data structures, and software systems design.

Sample course titles: Enterprise Client-Server Software Systems Design, High-Performance Programming with Multicore and GPUs, Introduction to Embedded Systems, Advanced Software for Computer Engineers, Information-Theoretical Design of Algorithms


Cyber Security

Cyber security is concerned with protecting networks and digital data as well as physical servers and computers from damage, attack, and unauthorized access.

Sample course titles: Advanced Data Structures, Computer Communication Networks, Fundamentals of Cryptography, Advanced Cryptography, Computer Networks Security


Of course, these are not the only options for specialization within computer engineering. At other schools, you may also find concentrations such as:

  • Artificial intelligence and cybernetics
  • Big data analysis
  • Reconfigurable computing
  • Interface design
  • Embedded systems
  • Computational geometry
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Computer graphics and visualization
  • Human-centered computing
  • Bioinformatics
  • Machine learning
  • Medical image computing

The field of computer engineering is growing all the time. It’s possible, even likely, that new disciplines and specializations will be added to this list in the coming years. Because of this, it’s important to consider not only which specialization you choose, but also how you can adapt those skills to new and emerging technologies in the future.