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Online Engineering Degrees: The Best Programs for 2018

Updated on: 12/26/2017

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.

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’s 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.

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. 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. 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

  3. 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. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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. 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

  11. 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).

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

  13. 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

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

  15. 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

The 50 Best Online Engineering Degree Programs in 2018

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 ͞best͟school 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 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

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI 99.81 $22,740 9 99% 11:143%Yes Yes Yes
2 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI 98.38 $9,663 3 90% 18:137%Yes Yes Yes
3 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX 98.08 $9,685 14 54% 20:180%No Yes Yes
4 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN 97.94 $8,416 6 75% 20:143%Yes Yes Yes
5 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO 97.71 $7,008 4 51% 20:155%No Yes Yes
6 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA 97.61 $12,447 11 59% 18:154%No Yes Yes
7 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 97.43 $8,728 2 66% 18:149%No Yes Yes
8 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Daytona Beach, FL 97.27 $8,040 15 14% 12:148%Yes Yes Yes
9 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Stillwater, OK 97.19 $7,442 8 73% 20:162%Yes Yes Yes
10 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 96.83 $7,741 7 30% 19:152%No Yes Yes
11 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 96.65 $4,469 2 72% 17:141%No Yes Yes
12 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 96.39 $6,143 5 50% 18:158%No Yes Yes
13 Kennesaw State University Marietta, GA 96.03 $5,840 11 1% 21:137%Yes Yes Yes
14 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 95.73 $10,581 5 77% 20:161%No Yes Yes
15 Clemson University Clemson, SC 95.53 $13,446 8 59% 16:182%No Yes Yes
16 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS 95.34 $6,980 1 74% 17:150%No Yes Yes
17 Delta State University Cleveland, MS 95.25 $6,562 3 42% 13:137%No Yes Yes
18 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX 95.18 $5,250 1 86% 18:137%No Yes Yes
19 Washburn University Topeka, KS 95.04 $6,038 1 58% 14:134%No Yes Yes
20 University of Delaware Newark, DE 94.87 $12,342 3 54% 15:180%No Yes Yes
21 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 94.85 $6,368 6 44% 31:165%Yes Yes Yes
22 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 94.59 $10,556 2 63% 16:153%Yes Yes Yes
23 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA 94.12 $13,208 7 29% 15:193%No Yes Yes
24 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR 94.08 $7,432 1 50% 13:119%No Yes Yes
25 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC 94.03 $6,277 2 34% 19:153%No Yes Yes
26 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 93.92 $9,140 3 37% 18:150%No Yes Yes
27 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 93.83 $13,560 4 54% 17:173%Yes Yes Yes
28 Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro, AR 93.83 $7,720 1 65% 17:139%No Yes Yes
29 Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology Flushing, NY 93.80 $21,642 2 87% 15:157%Yes Yes Yes
30 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 93.73 $8,430 1 67% 16:170%No Yes Yes
31 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 93.62 $9,826 2 53% 21:167%Yes Yes Yes
32 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 93.42 $6,750 1 49% 16:146%Yes Yes Yes
33 Morehead State University Morehead, KY 93.39 $7,866 1 70% 18:143%No Yes Yes
34 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO 93.34 $7,058 1 76% 22:146%No Yes Yes
35 Utah Valley University Orem, UT 93.25 $5,270 2 33% 22:117%Yes Yes Yes
36 Pittsburg State University Pittsburg, KS 93.14 $6,230 1 56% 19:150%Yes Yes Yes
37 University of Toledo Toledo, OH 93.11 $9,463 1 85% 20:146%Yes Yes Yes
38 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 92.89 $8,970 3 41% 20:149%Yes Yes Yes
39 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 92.26 $4,831 1 43% 24:141%No Yes Yes
40 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus Portales, NM 92.25 $4,858 1 42% 19:129%No Yes Yes
41 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 91.94 $21,000 1 78% 18:146%Yes Yes Yes
42 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN 91.87 $8,134 2 43% 22:144%Yes Yes Yes
43 Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon, MI 91.85 $8,280 1 80% 33:118%Yes Yes Yes
44 Indiana University-East Richmond, IN 91.39 $6,787 1 47% 15:125%No No Yes
45 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL 91.20 $3,306 1 24% 18:1N/AYes Yes Yes
46 State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota Bradenton, FL 90.58 $3,074 1 11% 22:1N/AYes Yes Yes
47 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN 90.38 $7,553 1 39% 22:149%Yes Yes Yes
48 University of South Carolina-Upstate Spartanburg, SC 89.59 $10,518 1 17% 17:138%No Yes Yes
49 National University La Jolla, CA 89.28 $12,384 3 1% 20:123%Yes No Yes
50 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, PA 89.23 $9,788 1 11% 19:148%Yes Yes Yes

2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Holmes Community College Goodman, MS 99.81 $2,288 5 37% 18:1N/ANo Yes Yes
2 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS 98.57 $2,600 2 78% 12:1N/AYes Yes Yes
3 Crowder College Neosho, MO 96.65 $3,048 4 18% 15:1N/AYes Yes Yes
4 Tulsa Community College Tulsa, OK 96.51 $2,820 2 39% 17:1N/AYes Yes Yes
5 Diablo Valley College Pleasant Hill, CA 95.50 $1,298 4 N/A 27:1N/ANo Yes Yes
6 State Fair Community College Sedalia, MO 95.03 $3,288 3 14% 17:1N/AYes Yes Yes
7 Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs, WY 94.88 $2,400 1 39% 16:1N/AYes Yes Yes
8 Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC 94.87 $2,640 4 2% 18:1N/AYes Yes Yes
9 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH 94.53 $3,808 4 20% 19:1N/AYes Yes Yes
10 Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins, GA 94.43 $2,568 3 N/A 15:1N/AYes Yes Yes
11 Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington, KY 94.40 $3,704 5 2% 16:1N/AYes Yes Yes
12 Gateway Community and Technical College Florence, KY 94.38 $3,704 4 9% 12:1N/AYes Yes Yes
13 Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City, KS 93.64 $2,640 1 22% 13:1N/AYes Yes Yes
14 Eastern Iowa Community College District Davenport, IA 93.38 $4,384 3 17% 17:1N/AYes Yes Yes
15 College of the Siskiyous Weed, CA 92.97 $1,146 3 2% 15:1N/AYes No Yes
16 Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg, KY 92.96 $3,624 4 18% 18:1N/ANo No Yes
17 Cowley County Community College Arkansas City, KS 92.80 $2,790 1 44% 23:1N/AYes Yes Yes
18 Three Rivers Community College Poplar Bluff, MO 92.39 $4,968 3 17% 24:1N/ANo Yes Yes
19 Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, NV 91.96 $2,700 1 22% 19:1N/AYes Yes Yes
20 Odessa College Odessa, TX 91.42 $3,900 1 32% 17:1N/ANo Yes Yes
21 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN 91.33 $4,055 3 9% 19:1N/AYes Yes Yes
22 Central Texas College Killeen, TX 90.53 $2,790 1 13% 18:1N/AYes Yes Yes
23 North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, ND 90.39 $4,438 1 31% 12:1N/AYes Yes Yes
24 Arapahoe Community College Littleton, CO 90.16 $3,392 2 10% 24:1N/AYes Yes Yes
25 Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge, IA 90.12 $4,710 1 60% 20:1N/AYes Yes Yes
26 Stark State College North Canton, OH 89.92 $3,686 2 7% 22:1N/AYes Yes Yes
27 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor, MI 89.72 $3,744 1 14% 19:1N/AYes Yes Yes
28 Merced College Merced, CA 89.16 $1,138 1 N/A 28:1N/ANo Yes Yes
29 Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Elizabethtown, KY 89.02 $3,624 3 4% 18:1N/AYes No Yes
30 Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield, MO 88.38 $3,924 2 4% 23:1N/AYes Yes Yes
31 Schoolcraft College Livonia, MI 87.95 $4,734 2 13% 25:1N/AYes Yes Yes
32 Ocean County College Toms River, NJ 86.20 $4,002 1 4% 26:1N/AYes Yes Yes
33 Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY 86.00 $4,754 1 7% 20:1N/AYes Yes Yes

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 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.