Online Degrees in Engineering
Degrees in Engineering: Individuals that enjoy the mechanics of how things work may find that an online degree in engineering is a good fit for them. Accredited online programs offer a variety of engineering degrees to match a wide range of interests, including civil engineering, computer engineering, electronic engineering, and industrial engineering. An associate's degree in any of these concentrations can provide graduates with the credentials to get a good entry-level job, while those that go on to obtain a bachelor's degree will receive a well-rounded education in the forms of the natural sciences, liberal arts, and engineering core courses.
Adult learners and professionals wishing to complete a degree are best suited to online programs. An online degree from an accredited engineering program will ensure flexible study options and up-to-date course materials, readying students for successful careers beyond the classroom.
Engineering Degree Levels Available Online
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
Master's Degree: 1-3 years to complete
Doctorate Degree: 4-6 years to complete
Associate degrees and undergraduate certificates concentrate in areas of engineering technology. It provides students with focused course study that places emphasis on the design and testing of basic engineering components, which, in turn, prepares graduates to enter the workforce as engineering technicians. An associate degree in electronics engineering, for instance, will prepare graduates to draw and read electronics blueprints as well as prepare them to test and install said components.
A bachelor's degree in engineering obtained online takes the associate degree to the next level, meaning that it is more applied and theoretical. Students working toward a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, for example, will study not only the statics, mechanics, and dynamics of mechanical engineering, but will also go on to create basic mechanical components in the engineering lab portion of their course work. Bachelor's degrees generally require study of the liberal arts and sciences on top of the focused engineering requirements.
Professionals currently employed in the engineering industry are the best to benefit from the online master's programs or graduate certificates. These higher-level programs are extremely focused on management and leadership skills. Some programs even require a large research project or thesis determined by the engineering student. These upper-level programs generally require discussions that are relevant to engineering management and research topics.
Online doctoral degrees are designed for current engineers that want to obtain a higher education to have a wider range of career opportunities, or those that wish to teach at the university level. A doctoral degree requires years of study but it is usually focused on the student's chosen engineering discipline, so there is more flexibility with the student's engineering designs and research project.
Prospective students wanting to apply to these online engineering programs will require a high school diploma as well as prior course work in natural science and math. In addition, letters of recommendation and SAT/ACT scores are necessary. Depending on the program, some online engineering degree programs will require previous college classes in calculus, physics, and chemistry. Graduate-level engineering programs generally require an ABET accredited undergrad degree and an impressive GPA, as well as GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Even if you think you know the admission requirements of your intended program, it's important to contact the school before registering to ensure that you can meet these requirements without a hitch.
Online Engineering vs. Traditional College Programs
Most engineering disciplines require hands-on skills, so some students completing their engineering degree online will need to complete on-campus lab work. One of the few exceptions to this rule is IT concentrations, such as software engineering. Graduate and doctoral degrees may not require on-campus labs, but this may vary depending on the focus of the degree. An engineering degree focused on management, for instance, could be completed online because there is no hands-on skill involved. The best thing about online engineering programs is the flexibility, so you can continue to work full-time or focus on your family without having to sacrifice your education. The courses you take can be completed on your own schedule, within a generous limit as specified by each course instructor, so nothing has to stop you from achieving your educational goals.
Tuition and Accreditation
Obtaining an online associate or bachelor's degree in engineering generally falls between $10,000 and $15,000 per year. Certifications tend to fall more on the $15,000 end. Online master's degrees range from about $8,000 to $31,000 a year depending on the focus, and doctorate degrees come with a tuition rate of around $9,000 annually. In general, an associate degree will cost less to complete than a higher-level program like a doctorate.
No engineering degree is authorized without proper accreditation. The ABET, or Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, is the most widely known and most important accrediting board for any engineering program. Without this vital ABET accreditation, graduates will have a difficult time attending graduate school or obtaining employment in their chosen field. You may be able to obtain an undergraduate degree at a non-accredited school, but you will have more difficulty reaching your career goals than if you had simply gone with an ABET-accredited institution. Furthermore, most states require that a graduate obtain ABET accreditation before earning an engineering license.
Choosing the Best Engineering Degree
Not every online engineering degree is the same, and different programs will require different on-campus or in-person requirements. In the event that your program does require on-campus labs, make sure that there is a facility nearby that will allow you to fulfill those requirements. If travel is the only option, look for an online program that allows lab requirements to be concentrated in one particular semester, such as a summer session, so you can minimize the cost and time of travel if you have to complete this requirement at a campus out of town. It's also important to consider cost, accreditation, and engineering concentrations offered, since all of these will factor into your career and educational goals.