Contrary to public opinion, even the cheapest online engineering degrees can set you up for a lucrative career in theoretical or applied engineering. They impart critical analysis and logical thinking skills while developing your decision-making skills. This skill set can be applied in a variety of engineering job types and is a must if you wish to become an engineer, either directly or by transitioning from another field.
If you are considering online colleges for your engineering degree, it is crucial to find out which schools are both affordable and provide quality education. To help streamline your research, this article highlights the most affordable online engineering degrees in the US. It also covers the factors to prioritize or look out for when selecting from the cheapest online schools for engineering.
Can I Get an Engineering Degree Online?
Yes, you can easily get an engineering degree online. Lots of colleges and universities have online or distance learning programs that support engineering degrees. You can also choose between studying 100 percent online or hybrid formats.
Some of the most common online engineering disciplines include computer and software engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, construction materials engineering and management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and civil engineering.
Why Should I Get an Engineering Degree Online?
You should get an online engineering degree because it will greatly reduce the cost of your education. Tuition is not cheap at most universities, but other costs like room and board can make it even more expensive. With online courses, you only need to cover the tuition cost and other education-related fees.
Aside from its affordability, an online engineering degree also offers the flexibility to balance other aspects of your life, such as work and family. Students can even choose to travel while continuing to study, as long as they have access to a working internet connection.
What Are the Most Affordable Online Engineering Degree Programs in the US?
Online courses have become more mainstream as most schools now do not distinguish them from regular in-person programs. For engineering degree programs, this is the same practice. Some of the cheapest online schools for engineering in the United States are Kennesaw State University, Florida International University, and Stony Brook University.
Cheapest Engineering Degree Programs Online That Will Help You Stand Out
- Online Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Kennesaw State University
- Online Associate in Engineering at Wilkes Community College
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering at Florida International University
- Online Master of Science in Engineering Management at University of North Carolina Charlotte
- Online Associate of Science in Engineering Management Technology at University of Arkansas Grantham
How Much Does an Online Engineering Degree Cost?
An online engineering degree costs between $288 to $688 per credit on average. Thus, depending on the length of their corresponding programs, students in online engineering programs can spend between $34,520 to $88,060 for their total tuition.
While online degree programs are generally affordable, there are also some other associated costs to consider. These include ACT or SAT costs, technology fees, application fees, and costs for course materials. In some cases, universities provide textbooks for students as part of the program, but in most cases, they need to be rented or purchased separately.
Will Getting an Engineering Degree Online Save Me Money?
Yes, getting an engineering degree online will save you money. For starters, tuition cost is often cheaper online than for in-person programs. Aside from the affordable tuition, you do not need to relocate or pay for room and board on-campus, which in turn can save you a fair amount.
Online Engineering Programs vs In-Person Engineering Programs
Both in-person and online options for engineering programs have the same weightage when it comes to future career opportunities. However, there are specific aspects to either, such as costs, accessibility, and networking possibilities, that you should consider before choosing the best one for your needs.
Benefits of an Online Engineering Degree
- Lower costs. One of the main benefits of an online engineering degree is the reduced tuition cost. As an online student, you can also avoid expenses associated with accommodation. Overall, while you still must pay tuition and some fees, the cost is still far lower than traditional in-person engineering degree programs.
- No long commute. Another notable benefit of an online engineering degree is the saved time. With online colleges, you do not have to travel long distances to attend classes. This not only saves you both time and money, but it also ensures that you’re not too tired to perform well academically.
- Modern learning environment. In the modern world today, online collaboration has become extremely commonplace. Online degrees offer an opportunity to try out this modern learning environment and develop the digital collaborative skills you will need for the future.
- Flexibility. For working professionals and parents, it is often difficult to meet the schedule of traditional degree programs. Online engineering degree programs give you the freedom to continue working and supporting yourself while you’re in school.
- Career advancement. As a working professional, an online engineering degree makes it possible for you to transition into one of the best-paying careers. On the other hand, if you are already in the engineering field, you can sharpen your skills or develop new ones to help you advance your career and increase your earning potential.
Benefits of In-Person Engineering Degree Programs
- Fewer distractions. While learning from your comfort zone can be flexible and fun, it can also be distracting, especially if you have a family. In-person engineering degree programs offer fewer distractions because classes take place in classrooms designated for education.
- Networking opportunities. It is easier to connect in person than to do so online. In-person engineering degree programs allow you to network and connect with people from different walks of life. Students often work together on projects and assignments, which can be an opportunity for them to get friendly with individuals that they will work with in the industry.
- Social skills development. One of the biggest benefits of in-person learning is the development of students’ social skills. Social interaction is a key aspect of education and makes a distinct difference in both the students’ learning capacities and their general education experiences. When students work in groups, they can troubleshoot problems together and thus improve the extent of their learned skill sets.
- Accessibility and support. Even though online learning is gaining popularity, for some students, face-to-face learning is the best method. They find it easier to express their concerns in this format. Instructors can also more easily identify when students have issues and help them to ensure that the entire class is on the same page.
- A full college experience. Some people want to experience college fully by taking part in club activities and social gatherings. These experiences cannot be availed online. Moreover, an in-person engineering degree also gives students a chance to experience different cultures by associating with their peers.
Online Engineering Degree Career Options
There are a lot of career options for online engineering degree graduates. The most common job opportunities for them are as software engineers or developers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers and architects, and industrial technology engineers and process designers.
Engineering Job Outlook
The job outlook in the engineering field is quite positive. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in architectural and engineering occupations is projected to grow by 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is on par with the average for all occupations.
In the field of engineering, the demand for experts is very high. This means that pursuing higher education or specialized job opportunities in engineering is a profitable investment. Currently, around 146,000 additional jobs have been projected with a higher demand for infrastructure development, oil and gas extraction, renewable energy, and robotics.
The average annual wage for engineering occupations in 2021 was $79,840, which is almost double the national median wage for all occupations at $45,760. However, this figure varies depending on specific engineering disciplines. For instance, according to BLS, electronics and electrical engineers earned a median annual salary of $101,780 in 2021, while computer hardware engineers earned $128,170.
Can I Enroll in an Online Engineering Program for Free?
Yes, you can enroll in an online engineering program for free if you qualify for financial aid. If that is not the case, then you must pay an additional enrollment fee. To be considered for aid, there are some requirements that you must first meet. Most schools offer scholarships to students with either financial needs or exceptional talent. Having a good academic record is also required in most cases.
If you do not qualify for financial aid, then you can consider signing up for free courses. Prominent national universities like Duke, MIT, and Harvard all have free platforms that feature specific course selections.
However, it is important to note that these courses do not amount to a degree. They merely help you learn some new skills and get introduced to engineering. Furthermore, numerous free bootcamps can help aspiring software engineers.
Cheapest Online Engineering Degree Programs
|School||Online Degree||Degree Tuition|
|Kennesaw State University||Online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology||$185.40/credit|
|Wilkes Community College||Online Associate in Engineering||$1,216/semester (in state); $4,288/semester (out of state)|
|Florida International University||Online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering||$228.81/credit (in state); $345.87/credit (out of state)|
|University of North Carolina Charlotte||Online Master of Science in Engineering Management||$280.34/credit (in state); $521.29/credit (out of state)|
|University of Arkansas Grantham||Online Associate of Science in Engineering Management Technology||$295/credit|
|Stony Brook University||Online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering||$295/credit (in state); $354/credit (out of state)|
|University of Arkansas||Online Master of Science in Engineering||$303.88/credit|
|Indiana State University||Online Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology||$4,726/semester (in state); $6,144/semester (out of state)|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Online Master of Engineering Management||$650/credit|
|University of Delaware||Online Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering||$979/credit|
Engineering Degrees Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Online Engineering Programs
We chose the most affordable engineering degree programs based on tuition and general cost information from the schools’ official websites, the US Department of Education’s database of accredited schools, and its College Scorecard tool.
The Cheapest Online Engineering Degree Programs: A Deep Dive
Common Online Engineering Degree Courses
Online colleges offer engineering students a wide range of courses because of how broad the field is. However, across all these engineering disciplines, some of the most common courses include control systems, C/C++ programming, electrical and mechanical systems, fluid physics, thermodynamics, and engineering mechanics.
This programming language course starts with an introduction to computer program design. Students learn the semantics and syntax of the C language family and are then introduced to elementary data structures such as stacks, queues, and lists. They also cover different techniques involved in making easily modifiable and maintainable code. The course also involves the use of software development tools.
This course aims to give students an understanding of control systems from the basics. It starts with basic control systems and moves on to mathematical modeling of more complex systems. Students learn to represent the physical systems in block diagrams and cover the basic characteristics of control system response. The course also covers the Routh-Hurwitz criterion used to analyze control systems as well as bode plot and root locus methods.
Electrical and Mechanical Systems
Here, students learn a basic foundation on different physical systems. They learn methods for analysis, modeling, and designing systems with electrical and mechanical components. The course also covers circuits, electrical machines, transformers, and engineering systems, as well as gearboxes and other mechanical systems. Lastly, it introduces dynamics and vibrating systems as a foundation for other advanced courses in applied physics.
Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics
This course introduces students to the material properties of fluids within physical environments. Students first learn a strong base on the principles of fluid motion and fluid statics. The course then covers the Bernoulli equation, which explains the link between velocity and pressure and is involved in most fluid mechanical design. The thermodynamics part of the course covers gas laws, heat supply, enthalpy, and internal energy.
Another prominent course is engineering mechanics. This is a specialization atop the basic electrical and mechanical systems course but is quite often included in most non-life science engineering disciplines. The curriculum is often broken down into two core areas: dynamics and statistics. Students learn about the above concepts and their applications in vibration isolation systems, the motion of racing cars, car suspensions, and even missiles.
Can I Apply for Federal Aid to Finance My Online Engineering Degree?
Yes, you can finance your online engineering degree by applying for federal aid, as long as you are enrolled in an accredited program and school. There are a lot of financing options open to online students, such as federal and state grants, federal and private loans, and work-study programs. However, before applying, it is very important to go through the fine print to ensure that you qualify.
Options to Help Pay for an Online Engineering Degree
There are several options to cover your online engineering degree payment. The most common way is via scholarships offered by schools, institutions, and companies. Scholarships may be full or partial, depending on the institution. Students may even be allowed to combine scholarships to better cover the bulk of their costs. Below are other common alternatives that help pay for online engineering degrees.
Federal and State Grants
Both the federal and state governments offer grants to students enrolling in career schools or colleges. Since they are grants, students are not required to pay them back. Aside from the government, many private organizations, non-profits, career schools, and colleges can also provide aid in the form of grants.
To qualify for federal and state grants, you need to fill out a FAFSA form. This form is an official document that students can use to apply for grants. In most cases, schools, universities, and colleges provide this form alongside applications to make it easier for students to avail of financial aid.
Federal and Private Loans
Federal and private loans are also available for students who cannot afford college tuition. Federal student loans are often more accessible and have lower interest rates for repayment. They have different types, including direct unsubsidized loans, subsidized loans, and direct plus loans.
Private student loans are issued by non-bank and bank lending institutions. They often include higher interest rates and could take a longer time to pay off. Some private loans incur additional fees from application to origination and even late fees. However, if you can finance your way through a respectable degree with these loans, you will be in a decent position to pay them back because of improved earning opportunities.
Work-study programs make it possible for both graduate and undergraduate students to work part-time and earn money to cover their educational expenses. Students with financial needs can apply for work-study programs as they encourage community service work as well as other jobs related to the course of study of the student. Students could work as assistant teachers or other community-related roles to earn money for their school expenses.
Cheapest Engineering Degree Programs Online
The cheapest online engineering degree programs ensure a reduced tuition cost, despite including technology fees. This section will highlight five of the cheapest online engineering degrees, from associate to master’s degree levels.
Most Affordable Online Engineering Associate Degrees
- Wilkes Community College | Associate of Applied Science in Applied Engineering Technology. WCC offers a multidisciplinary Associate in Applied Engineering Technology degree that costs $1,216 per semester. The college also has a low student-to-faculty ratio, at 8:1, which makes it possible for instructors to offer personalized guidance to their students.
- University of Arkansas Grantham | Online Associate of Science in Engineering Management Technology. UAG’s online programs are not only cheap at $295 per credit, but they are also flexible. They use an asynchronous method of teaching which means that aside from projects or organized group seminars, students can fully choose when and where they study.
- Stark State College | Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science and Engineering. Stark State College was founded in 1960 and has an affordable tuition rate of $184.60 per credit. With its 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio and its ample practicals, students can balance independent applied studies with an individual-focused educational experience.
- East Coast Polytechnic Institute | Associate of Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology. East Coast Polytechnic Institute, otherwise known as ECPI University, also offers an affordable Associate Degree in Electronics Engineering. The tuition cost for associate degree students online is $8,712 for a year. It also has a low student-to-faculty ratio to help ensure a better graduation turnover.
- South College | Associate of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology. South College’s Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology is also quite affordable, starting at $310 per credit. It offers a thorough curriculum that involves programmable logic controllers, engineering principles, physics, computer-aided drafting, and computer programming.
Most Affordable Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees
- University of North Carolina, Charlotte | Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. UNC Charlotte offers an online Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology. The program’s instruction is asynchronous, and students benefit from flexible time zone learning and online participation. Even better, it costs only $188.48 per credit for in-state students to pursue.
- Kennesaw State University | Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology. KSU offers a solid Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering Technology as part of its online offerings. The program is asynchronous, and fees are drastically reduced for online students. For instance, online undergraduate students only have to pay $185.40 per credit hour.
- Florida International University | Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. FIU is known for its long list of online programs. It also offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, which is among the most affordable in the higher education industry for the range of its curriculum. It costs in-state students only $228.81 per credit even though it offers students a choice among ten different specializations.
- Stony Brook University | Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. SBU’s online programs are well-known for being flexible and affordable. Its online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering uses an asynchronous learning system with pre-recorded lectures to give students the freedom they need as distance learners. Moreover, the tuition is very reasonable at $5,227.40 for a full year.
- Trine University | Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology. This program from Trine University costs students no more than $399 per credit hour. It also offers a dual degree in combination with its Master of Science in Engineering Management that can reduce the cost of your higher education drastically.
Most Affordable Online Engineering Master’s Degrees
- University of North Carolina Charlotte | Online Master of Science in Engineering Management. UNC Charlotte stands out among graduate programs because it offers both synchronous and asynchronous learning for students to choose from. This university is an excellent choice for distance learners, with tuition rates as low as $280.34 per credit hour for graduate students.
- University of Arkansas | Online Master of Science in Engineering. The University of Arkansas also offers affordable asynchronous classes that follow the same curriculum as the on-campus program. At $303.88 per credit hour for both in-state and out-of-state students, it allows working professionals to study at their own time without driving a hole into their pockets.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Online Master of Science in Engineering Management. UNL offers an interactive online Master of Science in Engineering Management program. Despite it being asynchronous, students still have the opportunity to interact via group assignments. Fees for online students cost $650 per credit inclusive of the extraneous fees.
- Louisiana Tech University | Master of Science in Engineering and Technology Management. This online master’s degree program at Louisiana Tech University is completely asynchronous. Moreover, it also provides computer labs on the campus for students who need to use a computer. This program comes in two concentrations, namely Engineering Management and Technology Management.
- University of South Florida | Master of Science in Engineering Management. The University of South Florida offers one of the best online graduate engineering programs in the region. Aside from affordability, at $6,508.45 per semester for in-state students, the program offers a multidisciplinary approach to engineering management alongside six different specializations.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Most In-Demand Engineering Jobs With an Online Engineering Degree
|Engineering Job||Required Education||Job Outlook|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians||Associate Degree in Engineering Technology||9% growth|
|Aerospace Engineers||Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering or related STEM field||8% growth|
|Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers||Bachelor’s Degree in Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, or related life science STEM field||6% growth|
|Agricultural Engineers||Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural or Biological Engineering||5% growth|
|Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians||Associate Degree in Civil Engineering Technology||2% growth|
Best Jobs With an Online Engineering Degree Explained
The best jobs you can get with an online engineering degree are in the fields of aerospace engineering, agricultural engineering, civil engineering technology, and bioengineering. Some of these roles are available for students with an associate degree whereas others need advanced degrees, such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
Is an Online Engineering Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online engineering degree is worth it because it offers the same training you will receive in a physical program at a more affordable price. Online students receive the same qualifications as their face-to-face counterparts.
The flexibility of online programs is another very strong perk. As a working professional or parent, an online engineering degree allows you to learn new skills or advance your career without compromising your current responsibilities.
Additional Reading About Engineering
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Cheapest Online Engineering Degrees FAQ
Yes, you can easily get an engineering degree online. Lots of universities and colleges offer online programs for students who want to learn remotely. These programs can be either synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the universities’ style of instruction. Either way, students can customize their learning to access a more suitable schedule.
The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology from Kennesaw State University is one of the cheapest online engineering degrees today. The cost is reduced to less than $200 per credit for all online students. For instance, in-state students only need to pay $185.40 per credit. The school also offers financial aid to ease the students’ burden of payment.
Yes, you can be an engineer without a degree. But the level of difficulty in doing so depends on the field of engineering you choose. Fields like software engineering are more flexible and do not require a degree. You can attend a coding bootcamp and still become a software engineer. Physical engineering disciplines like mechanical or civil engineering, on the other hand, tend to be more strict with degree requirements.
It takes four years on average to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering online. However, this varies for other levels of education. For instance, an associate degree takes a year and a few months to complete while a master’s degree can be completed in two years depending on the school.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.