Engineering is a profession in high demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in architecture and engineering occupations is projected to grow 4 percent by 2028, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.
While this growth may not seem impressive, consider this: a 4 percent growth will add about 113,300 jobs to the U.S. economy alone. That’s not all! The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average engineer earned $81,440 in May 2019—an impressive amount.
To pursue a career in one of these engineering fields, you need to have a college degree. Engineering jobs are highly technical in nature, and an academic credential is a good way to learn the skills you need to pursue this career path.
Online engineering degrees have become more common over the last few years. Although some programs may require an in-person element, many online engineering programs can be taken entirely online.
In this guide, we’re going to break down the top 10 online engineering degree programs. We’ll discuss the background of each school, the tuition for their engineering program, and how they structure their engineering degree courses.
Online Engineering Degree Rankings in 2020
There are many high-quality online programs that allow you to earn your engineering degree online. We have prepared a list of the top online engineering degrees out there which you can use to help you discover the right program for you.
The University of Arizona’s Engineering College offers 15 undergraduate degrees in engineering, many of which are available online. The school has a 90% first-year undergraduate retention rate and offers 40 clubs for students to attend.
At the University of Arizona, you can study engineering specialties ranging from systems engineering to cybersecurity online. For instance, as part of its online mechanical engineering program, you’ll learn everything you need to know to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. This course covers engineering mathematics, motion, balance laws of mechanics, and more.
Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering offers 19 online programs in subjects such as cybersecurity, civil engineering, and technical management. According to the University, top employers of its graduates include the U.S. Department of Defence, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin.
As a student at Johns Hopkins, you’ll use state-of-the-art technology and learning tools to help you build fundamental engineering skills while studying online. The school uses a structured, guided learning system to help students achieve mastery over the content taught in its courses. That’s not all: students are able to participate in project-based learning labs led by world-renowned engineers and applied scientists.
The University of Alabama offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering which is conducted primarily online. During your degree, you’ll be prepared to design complex systems and get involved in all aspects of manufacturing products.
In the program, you’ll learn about how to design electrical components and how to build larger machines using those components. You’ll build general engineering skills that can be applied to a range of industries, from textiles to steel and materials to power generation.
In addition, you will also have to take general education courses in subjects like calculus and English in order to graduate from this program.
Old Dominion University offers a range of online bachelor’s degrees in engineering, from computer engineering to civil engineering technology to modeling and simulation engineering.
As a student at Old Dominion, you’ll be able to access an expert coach who will be with you throughout your degree. These coaches each have decades of experience in distance learning, and so they know how best to support online learners. In addition, the school offers a mix of blended courses, portable media, live web classes, and self-driven courses, which combined provide a versatile and adaptable online experience.
Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offer 25 undergraduate programs in engineering disciplines, six of which are available online.
For instance, you can study Mechanical Engineering online at Arizona State. In this course, you’ll have an opportunity to study and solve real-world engineering problems. You’ll also learn the soft research skills that you’d need to understand engineering problems, break them down, and come up with actionable solutions.
As a student, you’ll not just be studying. The school offers a vast range of opportunities to help you become a more well-rounded individual and exercise your engineering skills. For instance, you could volunteer to mentor for a student organization, or participate in the engineering school’s student council. You could also work on outreach programs to help promote STEM subjects to younger kids.
The University of North Dakota, which was founded six years before the state of North Dakota was established, offers 37 engineering programs at the certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. levels. These include degrees in electrical, environmental, mechanical, and petroleum engineering.
For instance, in the school’s Bachelor’s of Electrical Engineering program, you’ll get hands-on experience working on complex electrical engineering problems. You’ll also learn leadership, teamwork, and lifelong learning skills along the way, which will help you more effectively tackle the problems you encounter in your career.
25% of students who attend the University of North Dakota do so completely online, but as an online student you’ll still have access to the campus and all of its resources and labs.
#7: Lamar University
Lamar University offers a 2+2 online course in Industrial Engineering. This course allows you to complete the final two years of an Industrial Engineering degree online, with minimal travel from home. All junior and senior classes are conducted online, and you will only have to attend a three-day manufacturing lab in-person to graduate from the program.
According to PayScale, Lamar University ranks fifth in terms of the return on investment for its engineering programs. In addition, as a student at Lamar, you’ll be able to experience learning options such as internships and study abroad opportunities, which will help you reinforce your skills and develop a broader understanding of both engineering and the world around you.
Stony Brook University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree program. This program allows you to complete a degree in electrical engineering while studying online and is perfect for professionals and students who are looking to pursue a career in engineering.
The school’s engineering course covers topics ranging from engineering ethics to technical communications for electrical engineers. You’ll also be able to choose from a range of technical electives such as digital signal processing to round out your degree and give you the opportunity to explore a specific technical subject in more depth.
Florida International University offers two online programs for people interested in studying engineering. Its Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering course is well suited for people who want to pursue a career in the hardware side of technology. This course trains you in hardware architecture, software engineering, and how hardware and software integrate together.
The school also offers a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, which is best if you’re interested in working on energy systems. This course offers training in areas such as nanotechnology, communications, bio-engineering, and computers.
The University of North Carolina offers two online bachelor’s engineering degree programs: a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Fire Safety Technology.
In the school’s electrical engineering technology program, you’ll learn about linear circuits, control systems, power systems, and other aspects of engineering that will prepare you for a career as an engineer. For instance, you could use the skills you acquire to become a computer systems administrator, or an avionics control system administrator.
The school’s fire safety program is good for people who want to pursue a position in the fire service, or who want to work in a job related to fire protection. You’ll learn the leadership and management skills you need to work in fire safety, and develop a deep understanding of fire behavior and protecting against fire.
Online Engineering Degree Offerings
If you’ve ever been interested in a career in engineering—whether it is architecture, industrial engineering, or something else entirely—pursuing an engineering degree is a good investment to help you break into your dream career.
There are four different types of online engineering degrees that you can earn. These are as follows:
- Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
- Doctoral Degree
The advantage of attending an online engineering degree is the flexibility these programs offer. You can study on your own schedule, and from wherever you want. What’s more, because these programs are accredited, many of them offer financial aid which you can use to help cover the cost of tuition.
Online Engineering Associate Degree
Online associate degrees in engineering cover the process of developing, designing, and testing engineering components. This degree prepares graduates to pursue entry-level roles in engineering, such as an engineering technician.
This degree is usually more focused on theory, such as how to read and draw blueprints, but also offers some practical experience building electronic devices and components.
Online Engineering Associate Degree Admission Requirements
To be admitted into an associate’s degree program, you must have graduated from high school or hold a GED certificate. Most programs look for people with a strong background in science, mathematics, or computing, as many skills from these fields can be applied to engineering.
Online Engineering Associate Degree Curriculum
Engineering associate degree programs are focused on the fundamental theories that apply to engineering challenges. Here are some of the topics you can expect to learn more about in an online engineering degree:
- Manufacturing Products: In this part of the course, you’ll learn about how products come together from start to finish.
- Blueprints: You’ll learn how to read and interpret blueprints, and write your own blueprints for custom electronic components.
- Specialization: You will likely specialize in one particular area of engineering in your degree. This may include aerospace, civil engineering, environmental engineering, or mechanical engineering.
In an engineering degree, you may be given the opportunity to combine your classwork with in-person work at your school. This will allow you to apply the theory you have learned online, and gain more practical experience building engineering components.
Online Engineering Associate Degree Credit Requirements
Most associate degree programs require a commitment of two years of full-time study. To complete an associate engineering program, you will need between 60 and 64 hours, depending on the program in which you are enrolled.
Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree
Most engineering careers require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. For instance, if you want to become a civil or mechanical engineer, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or one of its specialties.
Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Admission Requirements
To be accepted into an online engineering degree program, you will need a high school diploma or a GED. You will also need to submit your SAT/ACT scores, and provide letters of recommendation as part of your application.
Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum
There are many different components to an online bachelor’s degree in engineering. You can expect to learn about the engineering process, how to build electronic components, and how various components come together to create advanced circuits.
The curriculum you study will also depend on your specialization area. For instance, if you are specializing in electrical engineering, your coursework will involve studying mathematics, physics, and computing; if you are interested in becoming a civil engineer, courses in mathematics, physics, and geology may be required.
In a bachelor’s program, you may be expected to visit campus to participate in a hands-on immersive engineering session. For instance, you may be able to study blueprints at home. However, when you start to build circuits from blueprints, you will need to do so in a structured engineering laboratory.
Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Credit Requirements
To graduate from an online bachelor’s degree in engineering, you must complete 120 credit hours in the requisite courses. This will take four years to accomplish.
Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering
Master’s degree programs are the next point of progression after a bachelor’s degree program. These programs explore topics covered in a bachelor’s program in more depth, and also cover elements of engineering management.
Master’s degree programs offer a combination of both practical and theoretical work, like bachelor’s degrees in engineering.
Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering Requirements
In order to enroll in an online master’s degree in engineering, you will need to have an accredited undergraduate degree in engineering or a related field. You may also need to submit a letter of recommendation and a personal statement.
Some programs have specific GPA requirements in place for applicants. Other programs require GRE scores to be submitted as part of your application.
Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering Curriculum
The curriculum for a master’s degree in engineering is usually focused on an area of specialization chosen by a student. For instance, you could choose to specialize in nuclear engineering, civil engineering, supply chain management, or another field.
As part of your coursework, you may be expected to complete an internship in your field of specialty. You will also have to produce a research-based thesis that explores a particular engineering topic that you have been studying in significant depth.
For instance, you could specialize in mechanical engineering, then write your thesis on a particular subset of this field, such as thermodynamics, manufacturing processes, or robotics.
Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering Credit Requirements
Most master’s programs in engineering take between one and two years to complete. You will be required to take between 10 and 15 courses to graduate from this program.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering
Doctoral degrees are well suited for engineers who are looking to research an area of engineering in more depth. These degrees are also valuable if you hope to enter into a research-related role in your career.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering Requirements
In order to qualify for admission into an online doctoral degree in engineering, you will need an accredited graduate degree in engineering or one of the many engineering specialties.
You will also be required to provide your official college transcripts, a resume, and GRE test scores. Your application should also provide letters of recommendation from prior teachers or research assistants.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering Curriculum
Students in an online doctoral degree in engineering specialize in a particular subtopic in engineering which they explore in-depth for the duration of the degree. For instance, a nuclear engineer may focus on a particular discipline related to energy transfers in nuclear materials, whereas a mechanical engineer could focus on a topic like logistics engineering.
To graduate from a doctoral degree, you must write a dissertation. This is a document where you outline the findings from your research and prepared with support from a member of a school’s faculty. The dissertation must then be defended in front of a dissertation committee, who will analyze and scrutinize the research paper.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering Credit Requirements
The number of credit hours required by a doctoral program varies between programs. Many programs require at least 90 hours of academic credit beyond a bachelor’s degree, or 60 hours beyond a master’s degree.
What Can You Do With an Online Engineering Degree?
Graduates of an online engineering degree have no shortage of career options. Indeed, because these programs explore a wide range of disciplines, and support specialization, there are a wide range of paths that you can pursue after graduating.
Here are a few jobs that you could pursue after graduating from an engineering degree program:
- Software Engineer: While there are discussions about whether or not software engineers belong in the same category as other engineers, they do apply engineering concepts in their tasks, particularly to develop software solutions. The position requires extensive knowledge on technology.
- Chemical Engineer: Chemical engineers examine and design the machinery which turns raw materials into products such as food, plastics, and fuel.
- Electrical Engineer: Electrical engineers design, develop, and monitor engineering systems. Electrical engineers can be employed in a number of different sectors, from construction to healthcare.
For instance, an electrical engineer in healthcare may be responsible for designing ventilation systems, whereas an electrical engineer in communications may develop wireless connectivity devices.
- Aerospace Engineer: Aerospace engineers apply technological and engineering principles to develop, research, and design civil and military aircraft, satellites, and other vehicles that operate in the air or in space.
- Mechanical Engineer: Mechanical engineers develop solutions to improve mechanical processes. Similar to electrical engineers, they can work in a wide range of sectors, such as manufacturing, energy, and water.
- Materials Engineer: Materials engineers use their skills to produce specifications for, design, and apply materials. These workers are typically employed in the metal and materials production industry, by utility companies, and by research and development organizations.
- Civil Engineer: Civil engineers design, create, and connect the world through building infrastructure. For instance, civil engineers construct offices, houses, roads, bridges, schools, waterways, and more.
Career Prospects for Engineering Degree Graduates
Qualified engineers are highly sought after in the job market. This means that they have strong career prospects.
The exact salary you will earn depends on a number of factors. For instance, the area in which you specialize will impact your salary, and so will the place in which you decide to work. With that said, no matter where you work or what area you specialize in, you’ll still be able to command a strong and steady salary as an engineer.
To help you better understand what salaries you could earn as an online engineering degree graduate, consider these average salaries for top engineering jobs, collected from Glassdoor:
- Software Engineer: $92,046
- Chemical Engineer: $71,930
- Electrical Engineer: $77,946
- Aerospace Engineer: $79,714
- Mechanical Engineer: $70,964
- Materials Engineer: $68,327
- Civil Engineer: $76,540
As you can tell, jobs in engineering offer strong salaries. When you first start your career in engineering, you can expect to earn salaries closer to the average salaries listed above. Your salary may be slightly lower on account of your lack of experience.
After you gain more experience working in engineering, your salary prospects will improve. Senior civil engineers, for instance, earn an average of $95,154; the average salary for a civil engineer, on the other hand, is $76,540.
Do I Need an Engineering Degree?
Enrolling in an engineering degree is a costly endeavor, both in terms of the time you will dedicate to studying and the money that you will spend on the program. So, it’s important that before you commit to any program, you have taken the time to think about whether you really need an engineering degree.
If you want to pursue a career in engineering, having a degree is almost a necessity. Indeed, most jobs in civil engineering, chemical engineering, and other engineering-related fields are highly technical, and so they require a degree. Entry-level jobs typically look for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but if you hope to advance up to more senior roles in your career, having a master’s or doctoral degree can be helpful.
With that said, there are apprenticeship programs available where you can learn the basics of a specific field in engineering. These are practical programs where you will both work as an engineer and study engineering at the same time. Apprentices usually take on an operator role, and may go on to study at college after their apprenticeship is complete.
In addition, if you want to become a software engineer—someone who uses computers and programming to solve problems—then you may not need an engineering degree. Indeed, you could pursue a computer science degree instead, or teach yourself how to code. There are also a number of coding bootcamps out there that teach practical software engineering skills in a short period of time, which may be an option worth considering.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as an engineer, obtaining a degree in engineering is a valuable investment. Engineering degree programs teach you the theory behind engineering and will help you acquire the practical skills you need to navigate various different engineering challenges.
Although online engineering degrees are primarily conducted remotely, you may be expected to attend your college’s laboratory at times throughout the year. This is because some practical elements of engineering degree courses need to be completed in a lab environment, under the supervision of teachers and professors.
The ‘20s could just be the decade in which you go from where you are today to being a professional engineer.