The Best Online Engineering Degree Programs

The advancement of technology has noticeably impacted the economy in the United States. This has created a strong need for individuals highly trained in math and science. As it turns out, engineers fit the bill perfectly, and engineering programs are an increasingly popular choice for study. For future engineering students, especially those already working at full-time jobs and juggling family obligations, online programs are available. This guide will help future engineers find the right online program for them.

Top 10 Best Online Engineering Degree Programs

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The 50 Best Online Engineering Degree Programs

There are many well-known engineering programs out there. While an easily recognizable name doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t guarantee anything either. Depending on an individual’s specific goals, what most consider the best school or program isn’t necessarily the best for that individual. The following list of ranked schools isn’t like most school rankings. That’s because it ranks schools by examining traits that may not result in higher prestige, but that many prospective students still find important. Examples include the cost of tuition, the availability of student services, faculty to student ratio and programs available.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

  • *PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

  1. Siena Heights University
    Location

    Adrian, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  2. Eastern Michigan University
    Location

    Ypsilanti, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  3. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  4. Indiana State University
    Location

    Terre Haute, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  5. Missouri State University-Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  6. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
    Location

    Lowell, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  7. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  8. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  9. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Stillwater, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  10. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

2-Year Best College Rankings

Online Engineering Degree FAQs

How much do engineers make?

With the increased demand for engineers, along with the relative difficulty of the coursework to become one, engineers are well compensated for their services. However, not all engineering fields pay the same. There is also the factor of experience, with seasoned engineers usually receiving more compensation than newly minted ones. For an overview of what engineers can make, see the below median annual salary chart.

Occupation Median Annual Salary: Entry-level Median Annual Salary: Mid-level Median Annual Salary: Late-career
Engineering Technician $48,730 $53,824 $62,715
Project Manager, Engineering $70,755 $86,762 $109,386
Design Engineering Manager $83,064 $91,151 $118,402
Civil Engineering Technician $46,774 $49,539 $57,886
Mechanical Engineering Manager $85,739 $97,127 $118,533

Source: Payscale

Explore Associate Degree
Programs for Engineering

What Online Degree Do I Need to Become an Engineer?

The bachelor’s degree is usually required for a career in engineering. But online degrees at the associate and master’s levels are useful as well. The associate degree is great for those wanting to get real-world experience as soon as possible. However, an associate degree usually isn’t enough to be a full-fledged engineer, but rather, an engineering technician.

The associate degree takes about two years to complete, so it serves as a quick and relatively affordable option to start working in the engineering field as soon as possible. With an associate degree, professional options are limited to technician positions, where the primary role is supporting and assisting engineers. However, an associate degree can serve as the first step for individuals on their way to a bachelor’s degree. Depending on what specific engineering program students choose, they can expect to take some of the following courses:

  • Introduction to Thermodynamics

    Students will gain a basic understanding of entropy, gas laws, and types of power cycles used in mechanical technology.

  • Precalculus

    Advanced algebra and trigonometric concepts are covered to prepare students for calculus level math.

  • Physics I

    Students learn about vectors, laws of motion, gravity and energy in this introductory physics course.

Engineering Careers with an Associate Degree:

Civil engineering technician

Job Outlook: 9 percent growth

Environmental engineering technician

Job Outlook: 13 percent growth

Mechanical engineering technician

Job Outlook: 5 percent growth

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

Taking four years to complete, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most engineering positions. Some programs may be only two years long, in that they are intended for students who already have an associate degree. A few other programs last five years in that they combine a master’s degree in with the bachelor’s degree, providing students with an opportunity to concentrate further in a particular engineering discipline without having to return to school for a master’s degree. Here’s a brief sampling of bachelor’s level coursework.

  • Differential Calculus

    Students will gain an understanding of limits, mean value theorem and differentiation.

  • Integral Calculus

    The second major calculus course that covers exponential and logarithmic functions, as well as the basics of integration.

  • Electricity and Magnetism

    The fundamental principles of electromagnetic theory are discussed in this course, as they relate to engineering applications.

Engineering Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree:

Aerospace engineer

Job Outlook: 6 percent growth

Civil engineer

Job Outlook: 11 percent growth

Agricultural engineer

Job Outlook: 8 percent growth

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

The master’s degree takes about two years to complete and provides the opportunity for engineers to shift their career into a concentration or specialization. It can also allow engineers to move into management and administration. One thing the master’s degree is not primarily used for is gaining additional knowledge and training in research, as that’s typically the focus of doctorate level courses. Some of the specializations available can be gleaned from the list below of master’s level coursework.

  • Digital Control SystemsThe scientific principles for microprocessor controllers are discussed in this course.

  • Spacecraft Engineering

    Considerations for vehicles designed to travel space is explained, in addition to principles of orbital mechanics.

  • Engineering Mathematics

    Students are instructed on advanced mathematical principles, such as complex systems modeling and probabilistic optimization techniques, as they apply to common engineering issues.

Engineering Careers with a Master’s Degree:

Mechanical engineer

Job Outlook: 9 percent growth

Postsecondary teacher

Job Outlook: 15 percent growth

Materials engineer

Job Outlook: 2 percent growth

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

Explore Bachelor’s Degree
Programs for Engineering

What Are the Steps to Earn an Online Engineering Degree?

Engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical principles to real world applications. As a result, engineers must have a strong foundation in math and science. Individuals interested in making a career in engineering should not be intimidated by the prospect of taking a tremendous number of challenging math and science courses. However, becoming an engineer involves more than understanding mathematical concepts and scientific principles. Here are some of the other necessary steps to getting an online engineering degree:

  • 1.A high school diploma is a given for becoming an engineer, but to get the best start possible, students should take as many math and science classes as they can, including physics, statistics and calculus. Time to complete: Four years

  • 2.The engineering world is broad and covers everything from agriculture to structures to electronics. Not all schools have programs that teach every area of engineering. Time to complete: Varies

  • A bachelor’s degree is the norm, but it’s not always possible or necessary for everyone to start off with this four-year degree.

  • 4.Not all engineering programs are fully online; many are offered in a blended format, necessitating students to meet in-person curriculum requirements. A prospective student must be aware of any limitations that may prevent fulfilling all the requirements of an online engineering program. Time to complete: Varies

  • Depending on the type of engineering degree, an online course may have on-campus course requirements or have a synchronous learning format that won’t offer the flexibility students need if they have professional or family obligations. Time to complete: Varies

  • Pick a program that provides the best professional potential, but in the most affordable and practical manner. This may require looking at multiple schools and programs and taking their preferences into consideration. Time to complete: Varies

  • There are primarily two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. In addition to making sure the school itself is accredited (institutional), prospective engineering students should make sure their engineering program is also accredited (programmatic). The most recognized agency for accrediting engineering programs is the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Time to complete: Less than a month

  • In addition to the admission application, students can expect to provide standardized test scores, academic transcripts, an essay, resume and letters of recommendation. Time to complete: Less than a month

  • At the undergraduate level, students will probably need to take the ACT or SAT, while at the graduate level, students may need to take the GRE. Time to complete: Three to six months

  • 10.Assuming your test score is what you expected, you can now complete your applications and send in your GRE, SAT or ACT test scores. Don’t wait until the last minute and risk missing the application deadline. Time to complete: Three to six months

  • Most students can’t afford to pay for their entire education out of pocket, so they’ll need to apply for financial aid. The single most important piece in this step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Once accepted, students can choose their classes and begin studying. Time to complete: Two to four years

  • While still in school, engineering students should look for as many hands-on work opportunities (such as internships and co-ops) as possible. No matter how well students perform in the coursework, they will know very little about what it means to be an engineer in the real world. Time to complete: Two or more months

  • Attending job fairs, networking events and polishing the resume should be well underway even before graduation. Time to complete: One month or more

  • The single most important consideration for most employers looking to hire engineers is their level of experience. Once individuals gain a few years of experience, they can consider their next step for professional development, such as a graduate degree or obtaining advanced credentials. Time to complete: One year or more

  • Explore Online Programs
    to Become an Engineer

    SEARCH PROGRAMS

    Specialized Online Engineering Programs and Resources

    Engineering Careers and Salary
    Resources for Engineering Students
    Engineering Scholarships

    How do I Find the Top Accredited Online Engineering Programs

    Students would generally prefer to attend the best online engineering program, but that’s not always possible. Perhaps the best school doesn’t offer the engineering program in the student’s career choice. Maybe the school is too expensive. Or perhaps the online format isn’t conducive to that student’s preferred method of learning. Whatever the reason, finding the best online engineering program requires students to look at their own preferences and needs, and start their search based on those factors.

    For example, if students have full-time jobs and family obligations, they will probably want a program that offers the most classroom flexibility, such as being fully online with asynchronous class delivery methods. If students have less rigid schedules, they may be fine with a blended learning format, especially if it means saving a little money on tuition. If a program also has on-campus requirements, students may need to choose a school that’s close enough to them to make travel to the school realistic.

    That’s where the following search tool can help. Students can find schools based on several factors, such as location, cost and type.


    Start your School Search


    Are There Scholarships and Grants for Engineers?

    In addition to loans, work study, scholarships and grants available to all students, there are many scholarships and grants tailored just for those studying engineering. Scholarships and grants are highly desirable because they do not need to be repaid as loans do. Many are sponsored or administered by professional engineering organizations.

    Scholarships

    Scholarships are a type of gift-based financial aid where individual merit is the primary factor for choosing the recipient. Besides high academic performance, a student’s chosen field of study, such as engineering, is another popular merit-based factor. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there:

    Grants are similar to scholarships in that they don’t have to be paid back. Depending on the organization offering the financial aid, the term “grant” and “scholarship” may be used interchangeably. However, grants are technically different from scholarships in that financial need, not individual merit, is the primary eligibility factor. To learn more about some of the grants available to engineering students, please look at the following organizations’ engineering grant offerings.


    • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)

      NACME’s flagship scholarship program provides block grants to individuals and schools to help minority students enter STEM fields.


    • IEEE

      This leading professional technical organization helps promote its mission of advancing technology by offering grants, scholarships and fellowships to selected student members.

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