Bachelor's in Data Engineering Degrees
Last Reviewed/Updated: June 8, 2021
In order to be successful at analyzing big data, organizations need to have proper architecture to store various types of information so it can be processed and analyzed in a convenient way. Education in this discipline will focus on designing database systems that can handle high volumes of data. They can also become experts in using programming languages such as Python and Scala, and will be experienced in managing data sets with Hadoop, MapReduce, and Spark.
What are students considering data engineering?
Some organizations may interchange data science and data engineering, but these two categories have different characteristics and use big data in a different way. Data science is the process of analyzing the information to solve business problems or develop better strategical methods to eliminate fraud or forecast expected trends in the industry the professional is working in.
Data engineering careers are building the foundation for data science to take place. They not only create the platform for an organization, but they ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently. These experts will continue to improve the flow of information, and ensure that authorized employees and clients have access to this data sources while following ethical and legal guidelines.
ABET is the premier accrediting body for engineering
When reviewing engineering degrees, students should consider looking at programs that have been designated by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This is a nonprofit organization that highlights various computing and engineering technology degrees at multiple levels of higher education. Over 4,000 programs have been reviewed through voluntary request by over 800 institutions.
Online Programs for Bachelor's Degrees in Data Engineering
Obtaining data engineering education is not limited to the Data Science discipline. Students should explore other avenues such as Bachelor's degrees in Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Management Information Systems, and Business Administration. In some cases, these programs will have the potential for convenient online studying.
Prospective students should keep in mind that a Bachelor's degree will generally take four years to complete on a full-time basis. An online experience still requires full commitment to studying, but there is additional opportunity to pursue classes during summer terms when available or test out of general education if accepted.
Featured Online Data Science Programs
Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Engineering
Bachelor of Data Science Programs
Old Dominion University BS in Computer Engineering
The Batten College of Engineering and Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. 128 credit hours are needed to complete the program, which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Students will receive computer hardware and software expertise in addition to gaining soft skills in communication and collaboration through teamwork building.
What courses you might take
Specific subjects that students will explore in this discipline include computer hardware systems, data analytics engineering, software development, and cyber security. This program is available online and students must complete at least 30 credit hours through the ODU institution in order to receive the degree. Graduates from the program have gone into careers at Apple, Booz Allen Hamilton, and General Electric.
Option for minor
The upper division course requirements includes a minor in computer science and all prerequisites for the courses are mandatory. Examples of courses that students can take at this level include Operating Systems, Data Structures and Algorithms, Introduction to Software Engineering, and Linear Systems Analysis. Online courses will differ with scheduled lecture times and the flexibility to view content on-demand.
ODU utilizes both Blackboard and ProctorU for their learning management systems. Live lectures will typically be viewed through Zoom videoconferencing software or Webex, and students typically have the flexibility to view lectures on Android and iOS mobile devices. Technical requirements include having a modern computer system with Windows or Mac operating system and high-speed internet access.
Featured Online Data Science Programs
Colorado Technical University
Another online opportunity for data engineering is the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Software Systems Engineering. This requires 184 total credit hours to complete when adding general education, core concepts, and the specialization. As an alternative, there is also the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, also available online and at the Colorado Springs campus.
Students will explore a number of introductory courses when it comes to system security, database systems, operating systems, and information technology in general. General education will consist of college-level algebra and sociology, introduction to ethics, and various electives in humanities, social science, and United States history.
Length of time it takes to graduate is the typical four-year period for Bachelor’s degrees, but there are opportunities to finish at a faster pace. The CTU Fast Track program is a testing procedure that evaluates a student’s abilities and can receive credit for up to 30 percent of their curriculum. Students that pass the exam with over 70 percent will receive credit and it is free for all students to attempt.
Up to two Fast Track exams are recommended to be taken in a week due to the length of how long the exams take, which is three to five hours. There is a specific time that the exam will be taken, which is approved by a faculty member, and the student has only one attempt to pass the exam. Availability of Fast Track exams depends on the discipline selected by the student.
University of Michigan
There are two different types of Bachelor of Science in Data Science degrees, one of them being offered through the College of Engineering. The other is through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Differences between the two include the engineering version requiring more total credit hours (128) and it is easier to dual-major in with an additional engineering focus.
Other benefits of pursuing the engineering version of the Data Science program includes access to the Engineering Resource Center, which helps with internship and job placement toward the end of the program and/or after graduation. All students receive a CAEN information technology account, which offers numerous engineering tools and cloud computing resources.
There are a number of advanced technical electives available for students to customize their data science education:
- Introduction to Machine Learning
- Data Mining
- Statistical Quality Control
- Linear Spaces and Matrix Theory
- Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
- Statistical Models and Methods for Financial Data
Applicants will need to submit their high school transcript (with college transcript for dual enrollees), evaluation by academic teacher, and SAT or ACT score along with an application with fee. Students will declare their major after completing a year of coursework at the university. This program is not available to pursue in an online environment, but individual courses may be available.
The School of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Computer Science with subject matter that includes engineering analysis. Students have the ability to double major and combine the Data Science focus with another major within engineering, but they cannot combine both the Data Science and Computer Sciences disciplines together due to the amount of overlap between courses.
Examples of differences for the pathways between Data Science and Computer Science include core courses – Programming Languages and Computation Theory are core requirements in the latter, but can be taken as electives in the former. Linear Algebra is required for Data Science majors, but only recommended for Computer Science majors. For Computer Science students, they will complete a capstone course in software engineering instead of data analytics.
For the Data Science discipline, a total of 38 courses are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements. Introductory and foundational courses are needed, along with six total courses in the humanities, social sciences, and arts categories. The concentration requires multiple computer science courses and five data science electives – three of them must be above the 100-course level.
There are ways to take both data science and computer science courses with this program. For example, a student can pursue a major in one discipline and still take additional courses in the other to customize their experience. For advanced education in just five years, students can opt for a Master’s degree in the alternative discipline after gaining a Bachelor’s degree.
University of Buffalo
The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with an ability to add a Data Science Microcredential to the program. With this addition, students will have the ability to collect and analyze data from a variety of sources and be able to implement these strategies into real-world situations. It also emphasizes soft skills in teamwork, communication, and collaboration.
Requirements for the program include completing the Introduction to Data Science and Communicating with Data courses with a grade of B or higher, and a capstone project to finish the microcredential. A data science internship is required and must span a 10-week time frame if fully employed. Completing the equivalent length of time in a part-time setting is also acceptable.
In order to gain admission into the data science portion of the program, students will need to meet the following prerequisites: English writing, social studies, college-level science and mathematics, and a foreign language. They must also have completed a high-level calculus course, computer programming course, and hold a minimum GPA of 2.5 or higher.
The Computer Engineering degree has a goal of giving students the ability to develop structures and solve various organizational problems with a blend of science, engineering, and mathematics. This is ideal for a data engineering career as students will work on topics such as computer architecture, data mining, machine learning, database retrieval, cyber security, and program algorithms.
Specific Coursework in Data Engineering
These courses explore the different types of database management systems and how structured data is implemented in them. This is valuable to organize data that is able to be recorded through specific algorithms, such as clicking on hyperlinks and credit card transactions through a store. Other topics that may be covered include types of unstructured data and the operating systems associated with utilizing database architecture.
Being able to successfully implement hardware and software for a data storage solution requires competence in what operating system is in use for the organization. Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Unix are common operating systems that will be used in data management, and availability for this education will differ based on the program selected.
Students will become familiar with the design structure of data storage solutions at an organization and the different vendors and operating systems that are utilized. Common database management systems at the enterprise level are Oracle DB and Microsoft SQL Server. In the case for Oracle, there are different versions based on the scale of data management that the organization needs.
Data engineers build and design the storage systems themselves, but the applications that are used within the operating system for computers and mobile devices are created by software engineers. Many programs with the computer engineering degree will have opportunities for students to gain these skills in creating websites or unique programs that aid in organizing and analyzing information.
In the engineering process of big data, it is important that data remains secured from unauthorized access or attempts to hack into the system. These courses will give fundamental information and technical skills to detect any unusual activity within the organization’s network. This can also set the foundation for individuals that are interested in a cyber security career or further education in that field.
Majoring vs. Minoring in Data Engineering
The difference between selecting a major or a minor in data engineering is the amount of coursework that students will complete in the specific topic. When selecting it as the major, courses in data architecture and database systems will represent up to one-third of the curriculum. The minor is a lighter course load with five or six courses within data engineering.
As there are not many Bachelor’s degree with a discipline in data engineering itself, students will typically declare for data science, computer science, information technology, or a related field. For data engineering courses, students will either select a concentration that is offered in the program or electives will be chosen that reflect topics in big data architecture, operating systems, and database management.
In similar fashion, pursuing a minor in data engineering is also uncommon, but available in some locations. This data engineering minor can be valuable with computer engineering degrees in order to add courses in database management, predictive modeling, and machine learning. Minors will sometimes have a few required courses will leaving the remainder of the requirement open to electives.
If a minor is not available that is related to data engineering, students can complement their education with data engineering courses through the electives required to complete the curriculum. Schools will have different offerings and there could be some limitations. It is recommended that prospective students complete a full schedule to determine if they will get the education required for the type of engineering career they are looking to get into.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Online Format for Data Engineering Programs
Many Bachelor’s degrees that are available online offer part-time and full-time enrollment for students. This provides even more flexibility by taking courses in a different pace that suits any schedule. For example, students may consider accelerating the program by adding courses during the summer months and graduate in under four years, which is the typical time frame for the completion of this degree.
It is recommended that students pursue a Bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis as it would take longer to obtain the degree in a part-time format and tuition would be more expensive. Students that elect for part-time enrollment should expect to complete the program in at least five to six years unless they have enough graduate-level credits to eliminate some of the general education requirements.
Community College Opportunities
There are limitations to the availability of part-time programs in data engineering when pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. One alternative is looking at education that is close to a prospective students’ residency at two-year colleges. This can provide general education credits in mathematics and social sciences, and potentially introductory coursework in engineering practices.
Students will need to ensure that this credit satisfies what the four-year institution requires. Some courses may not be eligible for credit if the content does not specifically match what the university requires or if the credit has not been earned at an accredited institution.
Some universities work with local two-year institutions and high schools to create an opportunity for students to transfer early credits into the undergraduate program. Instead of being reviewed by the college a student is applying to, this credit is automatically accepted. Students will work with a program advisor or guidance counselor in order to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree at an accelerated pace.
Students may have the ability to enter into a blend of online and on-campus coursework that offers flexibility in their studies. When an institution offers a program that is identical in both formats, they will frequently allow students to take courses interchangeably. This allows students to choose which courses to take in a particular format.
There are many benefits when considering the hybrid format if it is available through the institution. Students that want a primary education on campus may not be able to pursue specific courses if they do not fit in their lecture schedule, or they may have other work obligations that interfere with availability. Pursuing some online coursework gives the student freedom to pick the courses they desire.
As innovative technology grows, the difference between an education that is earned on campus and at the convenience of a student’s home is shrinking. Both formats have the same resources, and in some cases, online availability of reaching out to other students on discussion boards or instant messaging faculty members provides better avenues of communication to receive help in studies.
Admission Requirements for Bachelor’s Degree in Data Engineering
Bachelor’s degrees typically require the completion of a high school degree with impressive graduation merit and strong standardized testing scores. Alternative options, such as obtaining a GED or having applicable work experience, may also be accepted. Colleges will have different requirements based on what type of discipline is selected, and prospective students must determine if they have the prerequisites required to enter the program.
Some programs will provide an easy admission process for candidates with high academic merit. If they have finished with very strong SAT or ACT scores, achieved a 3.5 GPA during their studies in high school, or they graduated in the top part of their class, this may be all that is needed to be accepted into the program.
Additional documentation for admission consideration include a high school transcript that designates at least a 2.0 GPA or equivalent. In some cases, colleges will accept applicants on a conditional basis if they have other strong aptitudes. For example, students may hold a lower GPA than required, but they have shown outstanding professional work or completed volunteer activity outside of the classroom.
Personal essays and recommendations from professors at high schools and colleges may also be required by the institution. Essays will typically be brief with around 500 words, but they will need to be thorough in explaining future goals in a data engineering career or they may need to describe how they would handle specific situations. There may also be a requirement to interview with a faculty member in the application process.
There are different requirements for students getting out of high school and those transferring from a prior college institution. Some admission documents and grade requirements may be omitted as the student has already been accepted into an undergraduate program. Typically, a candidate will not have to submit high school transcripts if they have completed over a quarter of a Bachelor’s degree at a different college.
Tuition Costs for Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Engineering
For the length of a typical Bachelor’s degree program, which requires around 40 courses to fulfill most curriculum requirements, estimated tuition can hit $10,000 on an annual basis at most institutions. Old Dominion University’s online computer engineering program totals $46,080 over the four-year program when adding up all 128 credit hours. This can jump to over $52,000 for out-of-state students.
How to Decrease University Costs
Students have many opportunities to lower the high costs of an undergraduate program and not fully relying on financial aid for their education. Individuals looking for a program should initially check to see if there are any convenient options in the state they are a resident in. Many public institutions will add an out-of-state tuition fee for their studies, which is an unnecessary addition if there is a program that satisfies a student’s needs in their own state.
Instead of applying to a four-year university immediately after high school graduation, it may be cheaper to join a community college to pursue general education and potentially pass out of foundational coursework in computer engineering. Course availability will depend on what the community college or related two-year university offers, but they are more widely available in areas that may not be within a reasonable distance of a bigger institution.
Bachelor’s degrees with online programs may also be cheaper than the traditional format. Universities may cut costs for individuals as they cannot offer as many resources when compared to students that are learning on campus. Students will also avoid paying for housing costs and meal plans as they will be studying from the convenience of their own home, but they should consider any on-campus residencies that may be required.
Vendor certifications as a data engineering expert can also be considered in lieu of a full Bachelor’s degree. Through Coursera, a Data Engineering with Google Cloud Professional Certificate is available, where students can gain the needed skill set in designing and maintaining a Google Cloud platform. This takes about four months to complete with four hours of coursework per week, and it is available fully online.
Internship Requirements for Data Engineering
Based on the program that the student chooses to pursue for their data engineering education, there may be a requirement to complete an internship. This applies to Bachelor’s degrees with disciplines in data science or computer engineering. Internships help students apply what they have learned in designing information systems and implementing the latest innovations in hardware and software solutions when it comes to mining and analyzing data.
Even if an internship is not required, students should still consider the choice if it is an elective opportunity or pursue an internship shortly after graduation. Since data engineers are in demand around the world, obtaining an internship could lead to eventual full-time employment with the organization. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, software and application developers will see job opportunities rise by 26 percent between 2018-28.
College Resources for Career Success
If the internship does not lead to a new full-time position, there is still an ability to network with other employees or connecting with alumni that have graduated from the program. Many institutions provide student resources where they can get in touch with others that have began a career in data engineering. If an institution has a good reputation with successful workers in the industry, that bodes well for recent graduates looking for employment.
Students should take advantage of career preparation courses if available at the university. This can provide help in completing a resume or building a work portfolio that stands out from other candidates applying for the same job. They may also have workshops in improving interviewing skills and what to expect, and potential career pathways that students may not have considered within data engineering.
When presenting skills in data engineering, it is helpful to demonstrate competence in information systems and the various database management solutions such as Oracle and SQL Server. While Python is helpful to have in many data science positions, those entering engineering should also have familiarity with Java and Scala as this is what is used in Apache Hadoop and Spark.
Career Opportunities with Bachelor’s Degree in Data Engineering
Jobs within data engineering will focus on information system and application development. They will be the architect around how data is collected and distributed throughout an organization. Not only are they responsible for the storage of this information, but they will create applications for other employees that need to access this information.
Security is also a major part of the engineering process, ensuring that access is limited to sensitive information and they are able to detect any potential intrusions. Engineers can typically identify any loopholes or potential problem areas within the system, and they must also have the skills necessary to thwart any serious issues. Students should consider any cyber security concentrations if they are looking to get into this type of engineering field.
In the same field, data engineers may also create the applications themselves for both professionals and clients to access information. Mobile technology innovations make it imperative for companies to have applications that best represent their industry. As an example, a fast food restaurant should make it easy for their consumers to access recent purchases or look at deals currently available.
Data engineers are typically not synonymous with hardware engineering, but there is some similarity. Creating a system that is able to distribute information within an organization and have database management capabilities requires hardware capable of doing this task. Some data engineers may be responsible for creating applications that access this information.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals within systems software make an average of $110,000 on an annual salary. This estimate jumps to over $161,000 within the top 10 percent across the United States. Two of the top positions within this line of work are the manufacturing and engineering processes of software development.