Engineering is a vast field with many exciting career possibilities. If you want to become an engineer, a bachelor of engineering is the first step toward that goal.
Keep in mind that engineering degrees are extremely rigorous. A typical full-time bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, though you could pace yourself and take an extra semester or an extra year to complete an engineering degree.
What Is Engineering?
Engineering is the science of designing and building structures and systems. Engineers design and develop technology to make life better for everyone. Their work can vary and that’s what breaks up the different subfields of engineering.
The different kinds of engineering that are usually offered as specializations in bachelor’s degree programs are:
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
These different subfields focus on a different aspect of engineering. For example, electrical engineering focuses on electric circuits and wiring while biomedical engineering focuses on developing life-saving medical technology.
These fields may seem pretty disparate but they hold the same engineering principals at their core. Let’s take a look at what’s included in an engineering major.
What Is an Engineering Major?
An engineering major will have several components, including general distribution liberal arts requirements, general engineering courses, and specialization requirements. Below is a sample of what you would likely see in an engineering program.
- Math and calculus
- Introduction to Engineering
- Introduction to Computing in Engineering
- Biology, Environmental Science, and/or Earth and Oceanographic Sciences
- Engineering Topics
- Engineering Science
- General Education Topics
- Concentration Requirements
- Systems Engineering
- Engineering Management
- Applied Science in Engineering
- Computer Science
Engineering Concentrations and Major Subfields
A Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering can take you in so many different directions. Below, we’ll break down some of the most common concentrations in the field of engineering and engineering degree programs.
Electrical engineering, which often includes electronic engineering, is a field that focuses on designing, building, and maintaining electrical control systems.
Computer Engineering concerns itself with designing and building computers and other similar technologies. It involves a lot of elements from electrical engineering and integrates it with computer science.
Chemical engineering is, no surprise, all about chemistry. Chemical engineers create new chemical solutions to produce something for consumption. They may also create other chemical agents, like drugs or chemical weapons.
At its core, biomedical engineering is when engineers apply engineering principles to biology and medicine. Biomedical engineers collaborate closely with healthcare professionals to research, develop, and roll out medical equipment to improve the medical field.
Mechanical engineering is an extremely broad discipline within engineering. This is because mechanical engineers can work in all kinds of industries, from automotive to electronics or manufacturing. Ultimately, mechanical engineering is most concerned with fully developing a product from idea to sale.
Best Bachelor of Science in Engineering Programs
There are many excellent on-campus and even online bachelor of engineering programs to choose from. You may be surprised to hear about the online option since engineering is a hands-on field. But online and computer technology makes virtual teaching and learning feasible in almost all fields and engineering is no exception.
Below is an unranked list of some top Bachelor of Science in Engineering programs, both on-campus and online.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering
Many students who pursue online bachelor’s degrees are working at the same time. This may be part-time or full-time work. Though working full time and completing a bachelor of engineering would be quite difficult and would take longer than four years, online education does make it possible.
With asynchronous classes, students can tune in to pre-recorded lectures on their own time and access classroom materials through the school’s online learning platform. Many online engineering programs are Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology programs.
It’s important to find out if the online program has any required in-person elements. Because engineering is so hands-on, some programs may have required lab work and group work beyond the Internet.
Below are some top online bachelor’s degree programs in engineering.
At Southern New Hampshire University, you can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering within its department for computer science. The degree builds a solid foundation in math and science and then applies it to important elements of computer science and software development.
Arizona State University has one of the largest online degree catalogs in the country. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Engineering Management. This program allows students with interests in engineering and business to mix the two fields together. Students develop advanced computational skills while also taking business and management courses.
This UNC campus in Charlotte offers many online degrees, including two engineering bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology-Electrical, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology-Fire Safety. Both programs are ideal for people who already have an associate degree in applied science and/or already work a job in a related field.
This university offers a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university has significant online support for students to make sure they succeed.
On-Campus Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering
Any university with a college of engineering will offer several different bachelor of engineering programs. Below are some of the consistently top-ranked engineering programs for undergraduates in a traditional classroom learning environment.
Illinois’ flagship university offers 15 different kinds of undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. At the undergrad level, the Grainger College of Engineering lets you choose from bioengineering, computer engineering, engineering physics, and nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering.
Purdue, located in Purdue, Indiana, offers 15 different undergraduate degrees in engineering. From the classics like mechanical, biomedical, and electrical to interdisciplinary programs like multidisciplinary engineering, materials engineering, and environmental and ecological engineering, this school has it all.
Georgia Tech, as it is better known, is a top engineering school and considered the best engineering school in the South. It offers 11 undergraduate majors in fields like aerospace, material science, and civil and environmental engineering. Students may also complete a 4+1 BS/MS program to earn their engineering master’s degree in just one additional year.
Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering offers a whopping 20 different undergraduate major options. Unlike many other schools, the University of Minnesota offers undergraduate majors in geo-engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and computer engineering.
Career Outlook as an Engineering Graduate
Your career outlook as an engineer is bright. As society’s needs continue to change, engineers will continue to be in demand to design and build the technology we need.
You will work on design details and solve engineering problems no matter where you work. But, depending on the degree you earned and your specialization, you will have different industries available to you, like automotive and manufacturing, for example.
Engineering is a well-compensated job in general. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an engineer makes an average of $91,010 per year. That said, pay will vary. For example, software, computer, and aerospace engineers make more than mechanical engineers.
Check out our guide to engineering careers to get a better sense of the comparison between the different specialties and job titles.
Should You Become an Engineer?
Kids who loved taking toys apart and putting them back together usually become scientists or engineers. Were you one of these kids? If not, do you love understanding how things work and how the world works as an adult? To be an engineer, you need to have the natural curiosity of a scientist and the discipline to take on a rigorous curriculum.
If you are excited about pursuing this multidimensional field, use this starter guide as an introduction to the many different kinds of bachelor of engineering degrees out there. Whether online or in-person, there’s a degree out there that will help you reach your career goals.