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BS Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering is the application of technology in the synthesis of systems for control, computation and communication. Overlapping with computer science on one end (software systems) and with electrical engineering on the other (digital hardware), the emphasis of our program is on design rather than theory. The program’s emphasis on problem solving provides both excellent training for future engineers and a strong background for graduate study. Students begin their studies with courses in mathematics, physics and programming followed by courses in logic design, circuits and microprocessor systems. Students select one of five specialized tracks and then complete a capstone multi-disciplinary team project with students in other specialties or majors.

The Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for the computer engineering  B.S. degree are:

  • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering;

  • an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints;

  • an ability to function effectively on teams that establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, and analyze risk and uncertainty;

  • an ability to communicate effectively; and

  • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

From 10/1/1987 through 9/30/2016 the B.S. degree in computer engineering was accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.


Systems Programming

The systems programming concentration focuses on software systems: courses include operating systems, networks, compilers, software engineering, and advanced programming. Students finishing this concentration are very well prepared for building large software systems of all types. This concentration is the closest one to a computer science major-the main differences are that it does not require computer science theory courses, but because of the core computer engineering requirements, includes more hardware and electronics than a computer science bachelor's degree.

Computer Systems

The computer systems concentration provides a balance between software and hardware design. Students are prepared for a large variety of different design tasks, especially those requiring the integration of hardware, software and network systems.


The networks concentration focuses on communication between computers, covering network hardware, communication protocols, and algorithms. Students pursuing this concentration are well prepared for the design and analysis of wired and wireless network systems. Internship opportunities are available in UCSC's Network Management and Operations Lab, where UCSC students collaborate with Cisco Systems, Inc. on projects.

Digital Hardware

The digital hardware concentration focuses on hardware design and includes more electronics than the other concentrations. Students finishing this concentration are well prepared for building hardware systems. This concentration is the closest one to an electronics major; the main differences are that it does not require as much electronics theory or analog electronic design, but because of the core computer engineering requirements, requires more software skills.

B.S./M.S. Program

Many computer engineering students continue their education through the M.S. degree. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers an accelerated contiguous pathway B.S./M.S. program in computer engineering that enables eligible undergraduates to move without interruption to the graduate program. Interested computer engineering majors should contact their adviser for more details. The graduate programs of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering also offers both the standard M.S. and the Ph.D. degrees.

Every major must have a computer and science engineering faculty adviser, assigned by the SOE Undergraduate Advising Office, and with that adviser must formulate a program of proposed course work that meets the major or minor requirements. Students are advised to declare the major or minor as soon as they qualify because of the many requirements. The SOE Undergraduate Advising Office maintains curriculum charts which summarize the requirements from the catalog.