Online Engineering Degrees: Top Programs for 2016

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There’s a lot going on in the world of engineering. Due to ever-growing and changing technology demands, highly-skilled professional engineers can be found in almost every field and sector of the economy. A successful engineering career demands a quality college or university education. Fortunately, many schools are now offering the added flexibility of online degrees. This page is designed to help prospective students locate the right engineering program for them, and to provide in-depth data and information for those still researching.

Online Engineering Programs & Info

Online Degrees in Engineering: A Guide

Engineering, in basic terms, is the application of scientific principles to design, construct and maintain buildings and machines in economical and practical ways. That definition covers a lot of ground and so does engineering postsecondary education. The list of degree programs goes way past electrical and mechanical engineering, especially on the graduate level, with specialties that include civil engineering, industrial engineering, aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, health and safety engineering, chemical engineering and many others.

MEET THE Expert: Jeanne Jensen

Jeanne Jensen, PE is a registered engineer in the State of Arizona. Jeanne also serves as a board member for the AZ Water Association. Jeanne has a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Arizona State University and is currently completing a Master’s of Public Administration – Urban Management, also from ASU. Her work experience includes municipal water utilities representation and consulting for a highly dynamic water/wastewater design firm where she led projects targeting invasive species control, disinfection by-product mitigation, treatment facility optimization, and various design efforts.

Online engineering degree programs can be found in abundance and are available on all degree levels. Many of these programs are offered by some of the most highly-regarded colleges and universities in the country and provide identical coursework to their on-site counterparts. Whether studying on a traditional campus or through distance learning, students who pursue an engineering degree will have to make a substantial commitment of time, money and effort to be successful.

The Online Engineering Degree Timeline

The actual amount of time required to earn an engineering degree depends on several factors, chief among them the degree level a student wishes to achieve. Other factors include area of study, finances and financial aid, family and work commitments and location of student and school. The built-in time flexibility of distance education makes it an excellent option for individuals who must take into account one or all of these factors.

Online Engineering Associate Degrees – Two Years

Associate degrees typically require two years to complete and serve two basic functions for engineering students. First, they provide education and training for entry-level employment positions in a broadly-defined engineering job market. Second, they offer an economical alternative for students who intend to continue their education at a public or private university in pursuit of a bachelor’s or graduate engineering degree. In regard to entry-level employment, the opportunities and earning potential for an engineering associate’s degree graduate depend on the focus of his or her studies. Job positions are usually technician- or lab-oriented and involve assisting engineers in carrying out their duties and responsibilities.

There are dozens of online engineering associate’s programs available from a surprisingly wide range of colleges and universities, both public and private. A typical degree program will include general education coursework along with core subject classes in subjects such as mathematics, physics, mechanics, electricity, magnetism and computers.

Thomas Edison State College
  • Enrollment: 19,405
  • Tuition: $5,508
  • College Type: Public
  • State: New Jersey
  • Associate of Science in Applied Science And Technology (ASAST) - Nuclear Engineering Technology
National University
  • Enrollment: 14,156
  • Tuition: $11,736
  • College Type: Private
  • State: California
  • Associate of Science in Engineering Technology
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach
  • Enrollment: 5,028
  • Tuition: $30,720
  • College Type: Private
  • State: Florida
  • Associate of Science in Engineering Fundamentals

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering – Four or Five Years

A bachelor’s degree in engineering is the minimum requirement for anyone intending to enter the profession with the “engineer” job title. The engineering profession is a lucrative one, with a great and growing need for highly-educated and skilled workers in the STEM-related fields. Not surprisingly, therefore, engineering bachelor’s degree programs are among the most popular available. What may be surprising to some is that the study of engineering lends itself quite well to distance learning.

The standard time requirement for earning a bachelor’s degree is four years. It is not uncommon, though, for some students to complete an accelerated program in three years or to extend their coursework into a fifth year if necessary. Whatever specific area of engineering one chooses to study or however long the program, there are a number of core course subjects one should expect to complete, including:

Mathematics: Virtually all engineering students will be required to complete one or more courses in calculus and statistics. Other more subject-specific math courses may also be required.

Basic Sciences: Engineering students should expect to encounter basic science courses in physics, biology and chemistry.

Humanities, Social Science and English: Success in engineering involves more than just a foundation in science and math. Engineers must possess solid reading, writing, creativity, problem-solving and interpersonal skills as well. Engineering students should expect to complete courses in subjects such as expository writing, technical communication, geography, economics, anthropology, history and more.

Engineering: Most engineering programs understand the need for basic subject knowledge that crosses specialization boundaries and include courses in areas such as thermodynamics, materials engineering, fluids and computer science.

Arizona State University
  • Enrollment: 65,501
  • Tuition: $9,724
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Arizona
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering - Electrical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering - Engineering Management
North Carolina State University
  • Enrollment: 29,134
  • Tuition: $7,788
  • College Type: Public
  • State: North Carolina
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics Engineering
Texas Tech University
  • Enrollment: 28,429
  • Tuition: $7,517
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Texas
  • Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering
Daytona State College
  • Enrollment: 22,859
  • Tuition: $3,371
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology
Thomas Edison State College
  • Enrollment: 19,405
  • Tuition: $5,508
  • College Type: Public
  • State: New Jersey
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Science And Technology (BSAST) - Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology
Ferris State University
  • Enrollment: 15,753
  • Tuition: $10,192
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Michigan
  • Bachelor of Science in Heating Ventilation
  • Air Conditioning And Refrigeration (HVACR) Engineering Technology And Energy Management
University of Southern Mississippi
  • Enrollment: 15,661
  • Tuition: $6,336
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Mississippi
  • Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology

Online Master’s of Science in Engineering – Six Years

Surprisingly, the number and range of online engineering degree options increases when moving from the undergraduate to the graduate level. The breadth of choices grows dramatically with an almost endless variety of sub-specialties offered within subject fields that include civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautics and astronautics, bioengineering, software engineering and engineering management. Degree requirements also expand to include such things as on-the-job experience and internships and, in some cases, comprehensive examinations. Another major change that students moving from the bachelor’s degree level to the master’s degree level will encounter is the shift away from fully-online to hybrid-format programs.

Most engineering master’s degree programs, both online and on-site, are designed to be completed within a two-year time frame (following completion of a bachelor’s degree) for students who are able to study on a full-time basis. Many programs provide for a good deal of flexibility in terms of completion deadlines to accommodate those persons who plan to continue working while pursuing their degree.

University of Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 20,394
  • Tuition: $15,854
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Minnesota
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Ohio State University
  • Enrollment: 16,519
  • Tuition: $12,201
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Ohio
  • Master of Science in Welding Engineering
Arizona State University
  • Enrollment: 16,288
  • Tuition: $10,517
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Arizona
  • Master of Business Administration / Master of Science Engineering - Electrical Engineering
  • Master of Business Administration / Master of Science in Industrial Engineering
Texas A & M University
  • Enrollment: 11,913
  • Tuition: $8,250
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Texas
  • Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering
  • Master of Engineering in Petroleum Engineering
Florida State University
  • Enrollment: 10,436
  • Tuition: $11,505
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in Management of Orthotics And Prosthetics
University of Houston
  • Enrollment: 9,185
  • Tuition: $9,522
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Texas
  • Master of Science in Subsea Engineering (M.S.)
Pennsylvania State University
  • Enrollment: 7,609
  • Tuition: $18,552
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Master of Engineering Management
  • Master of Nuclear Engineering

Online Engineering Doctoral Degrees – Eight Years +

Engineering doctorate degree programs typically prepare their students either for careers in the top levels of academia or in highly-specialized research. Engineering Ph.D. graduates may also find professional employment in business or with science-oriented government agencies. Given the much narrower job focus, it is not surprising that online doctorate degree options are somewhat limited.

Engineering doctorate programs require a significant commitment of time and effort, often taking as long as six years to complete. They are characterized as “research-based” programs that mandate the meeting of certain milestones along the way. The typical degree path includes the completion of all course requirements within the first two years followed by successful passing of an examination to qualify for degree candidacy. Afterward, the doctoral candidate will devote his or her remaining time to dissertation research, completion of a written dissertation and the oral presentation and defense of their work.

George Washington University
  • Enrollment: 17,747
  • Tuition: $24,147
  • College Type: Private
  • State: DC
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Engineering Management
University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Enrollment: 7,930
  • Tuition: $6,420
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Alabama
  • Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Engineering
Texas Tech University
  • Enrollment: 7,529
  • Tuition: $6,991
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Texas
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Systems And Engineering Management
Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Enrollment: 2,328
  • Tuition: $9,546
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Missouri
  • Systems Engineering (MS/Ph.D.)
University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Enrollment: 2,026
  • Tuition: $10,850
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Alabama
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering - Engineering Management
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering - Industrial Engineering
Michigan Technological University
  • Enrollment: 1,482
  • Tuition: $13,630
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Michigan
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Important Elements of Online Engineering Programs

Make no mistake, there are plenty of quality engineering degree programs to be found online. That does not mean, however, that prospective distance learners should not be careful to fully vet all programs under consideration. The following are a few of the most important elements of a strong online degree program:

Accreditation of Engineering Schools and Programs

Full accreditation is a must when it comes to any postsecondary education program, online or otherwise. Accreditation is the means by which an individual can rest assured the his or her degree program rises to the rigorous standards established by the accrediting agency.

Postsecondary education in the United States is accredited in two fundamental ways: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Institutional accreditation concerns the college or university as a whole. It is primarily carried out through a system of six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, although there are also a number of national institutional accrediting agencies.

Programmatic or “specialized” accreditation normally applies to individual programs, departments or schools within the larger educational institution and is administered by accrediting agencies often associated with private not-for-profit professional organizations. In the case of engineering degree programs, the most recognized programmatic accrediting agency is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Student Resources and Support Services

One sure sign of a quality online degree program is access to a package of out-of-class student resources and support services. Such a package should include the availability of program, personal and financial counselors, online study tools and technical support, and library and tutoring services. In addition, distance learning engineering programs should provide students with a portal to reputable internship programs.

Licensure Requirements

With the exception of the associate’s-level degree, preparation for professional licensure is a crucial element to any engineering degree program. Obtaining a license as a professional engineer is an absolute prerequisite for practice in all United States jurisdictions. Engineering licensure is handled on the state level and specific requirements vary from state to state. Generally speaking, however, an individual will need to meet these minimum qualifications:

  • Graduation with a from an ABET-accredited college or university engineering program with a bachelor’s degree;
  • Successful completion of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, which results in the Engineer in Training (EIT) designation;
  • Completion of set amount of professional experience (typically four years)under the supervision of a licensed engineer; and
  • Successful completion of the Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) exam.

Both the FE and PE examinations are written and administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Each of 50 states as well as the District of Columbia have their own engineering boards that determine the specific requirements for taking the exams and the minimum passing scores.

Engineering Degree Search Tool

For students looking to enter into an engineering program, it can seem as though there are as many options for online learning as there are careers in the field. With degree levels ranging from associate to doctoral – and offered across a massive group of concentration options – knowing where to begin can be a big challenge. The search tool below can help, by delivering a personalized list of online engineering programs tailored to meet the needs of each student, with information on programs, school accreditation and flexible learning options. Start the search for the right engineering program below.

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Best Online Engineering Degrees for 2015-2016

An ever-growing field with constantly changing technological demands, the world of engineering is ever evolving. As a result, highly-skilled professional engineers are needed across almost every field and sector of the economy. A successful engineering career starts with a quality college or university education. This page can help prospective engineering students locate the right program to fit their needs, and will provide in-depth data to those still researching schools.

Visit our methodology page to learn more about how we selected the programs included here.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Eastern Kentucky University 98.5417:197%

The fire protection and safety engineering degree is a fully online accelerated bachelor's program that can be completed in two and a half years. Aimed at students who excel at math and science, the program examines how fire behaves, ways to minimize a fire's impact and the best methods for preventing fires. Courses last eight weeks and are taught by experienced faculty who are experts in the field. Graduates can pursue careers as fire protection and prevention systems designers, industrial safety specialists, fire protection technicians, insurance safety specialists or insurance company consultants.

2 Daytona State College 97.5421:181%

The Bachelor of Science in engineering technology (BSET) degree is designed to prepare students for careers in a wide range of industries, including mechanical design, construction design and industrial operations. Students receive both theoretical and practical instruction, with coursework covering computers, energy systems, mechanics, electrical and electronic circuits, technical economics, programmable logic controllers and quality assurance. Graduates may find employment as process analysts, systems engineers, calibration engineers or technical sales engineers. Applicants must have earned an associate degree with a GPA of at least 2.5.

3 Ferris State University 97.1216:196%

One of only two Bachelor of Science in HVACR engineering technology programs in the country, this two-year, upper curriculum course of study is designed for students looking to build on a two-year associate degree. Students learn modern methods of identifying and performing efficiency evaluations on many kinds of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems with the goal of becoming experts in retrofitting, controls design, testing and adjusting, and system balancing. Graduates should be prepared to fill the technology gap between engineers and service technicians.

4 University of Southern Mississippi 96.8917:196%

The only fully online, fully accredited degree of its kind in the United States, the Bachelor of Science in construction engineering technology degree is designed to give students the entire skill set needed for a career in construction engineering. Students will learn to coordinate and supervise projects from the initial concept development phase all the way through construction. Applicants must meet basic core requirements: four English units, three mathematics units, three science units, three social studies units, two advanced electives and a half unit of computer applications. In total, 124 credits are required to complete the program, at least half of which must be completed at USM.

5 Florida Atlantic University 96.6724:187%

The Bachelor of Science in geomatics engineering (BSGE) degree focuses on real-world mapping, modeling, analysis and design. The course requires 120 credits to complete, with a C or better in most courses. Geomatics engineers can work in a range of fields, including land development, construction surveying, spatial data analysis and hydrographic surveying. Students will be exposed to coursework that includes general studies, basic mathematics, sciences and engineering fundamentals, as well as professional core and technical electives. Online students have access to tutoring, library services, career services, disability access and other support services.

6 University of North Dakota 96.3119:188%

Students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering degree completely online. The program, which has start dates in August, January and May, consists of 133 credits and requires at least six years to complete. Courses follow a semester format and are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. The program aims to give students a well-rounded education that focuses on creativity, communication and critical thinking. Graduates should understand the role of chemical engineers and be qualified to work in a wide range of industries, including development, manufacturing or project engineering. They may also pursue advanced engineering degrees.

7 Arizona State University-Online 96.0123:191%

A Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSE) prepares students for careers in information processing and management, energy production and distribution, global sustainable development, healthcare technology and delivery, communications and data networking, and economic growth and security. Students study the fundamentals of engineering along with specialty coursework in digital and analog circuits, electromagnetic fields, communications networks, solid-state electronics and microprocessors. Lab experiences using industry-standard design and simulation tools along with practical hardware provide students with specific applied skills required by today's engineers.

8 Indiana State University 95.5820:192%

The bachelor degree completion program in electronic engineering technology includes coursework in foundational studies, basic technical areas, mathematics and computer science, management and specialized technology. The course of study moves through the most basic concepts first, followed by a slow movement toward technically complicated principles. The program also features professional courses to help students develop managerial skills. When students graduate, they should be prepared for careers in electrical power operations, electronics manufacturing, instrumentation and controls, or technical sales. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering.

9 Old Dominion University 95.4720:182%

Online students who pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering technology should graduate prepared to work in either the private or public sector designing, constructing or maintaining infrastructure networks and systems. Career opportunities include consulting, construction, development and surveying. Graduates are also eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which is required for licensure as a professional engineer in Virginia and several other states. Some courses allow students to self-pace, while others have a fixed schedule. The degree requires 120 total credit hours, at least 30 of which must be taken at Old Dominion.

10 Baker College 94.6714:1100%

The Bachelor of Science in mobile application software engineering degree aims to prepare students for careers creating smartphone and tablet software applications. Students will graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to develop software applications for a range of popular platforms, including iOS for Apple, Windows and Android. Graduates may join an application development team and work toward creating, testing and evaluating the software that drives modern computers and mobile devices. All online graduates receive lifetime career assistance, including job postings, relocation tips, resume and cover letter assistance, and job search advice.

11 North Carolina State University 94.0117:171%

The Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering systems degree program teaches critical scientific concepts and real-world applications to students pursuing careers as engineers. Students should graduate with the skills needed to develop machines and structures and implement manufacturing processes. The program immerses students in calculus, physics, humanities and chemistry for the first two years. All 10 mechanical engineering courses in the program are delivered via high-definition video conferences by North Carolina State Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering faculty.

12 National University 93.0822:141%

The Bachelor of Science in construction engineering technology degree program prepares students to analyze structural systems; utilize effective computer tools for engineering problems; employ cost estimating and scheduling; practice control and project management; communicate using written, oral and graphical media; and apply mathematics and engineering science to problem-solving situations. Applicants must have completed 180 quarter units, including 76.5 at the upper level, 70.5 in general education and 45 in residence, including the research project class. If students have not attained transfer credits, they may have to take prerequisite courses first.

13 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide 92.1712:132%

The Bachelor of Science in engineering technology degree focuses on applying general engineering principles to real-world applications. The program, which can be taken completely online, imparts to students the skills to design, apply and perfect engineering principles across several different industries with the aid of simulations and virtual labs. Students can customize and individualize their degrees with a range of concentrations, including aviation safety, helicopter operations and safety, project management and unmanned aerial systems. The program also prepares students for the National Counselors of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying licensure exam.

14 Thomas Edison State College 87.2920:1 N/A

Students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology (BSAST) degree in nuclear energy engineering technology completely online. The 126-credit program focuses on nuclear power generation through the the practical application of engineering principles. Graduates should be ready to work in areas such as quality assurance, reactor operations and instrumentation and control technology. The degree is also a step toward achieving a professional engineering license. Students must complete 60 credits of general education, 51 credits of nuclear engineering technology and 15 elective credits. Laboratories are considered part of the coursework and are not assigned credits.