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Online Degree in Electrical Engineering Powering the World, from Circuits to City Grids

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Electrical engineers are at the forefront of innovation. They develop new applications for electronic and electrical systems and devices – from renewable energy generators to nanotechnology used in medical devices. Online electrical engineering degrees blend the study of mathematics and science with research applications in engineering, and cover topics ranging from signal processing to circuits design. The following guide provides an in-depth look into online electrical engineering programs, including degree options, course descriptions, and enrollment advice.

Best Online Electrical Engineering Programs 2018-2019

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A degree in electrical engineering is a popular choice for students looking to enter a fulfilling career that allows them to work in a hands-on environment. Since most professions in this field require some level of degree completion, it may be beneficial for students to enroll in one of the top programs in this field with online learning options, so they can gain the field-specific credentials when and where works best for them. To help college-bound individuals choose the best program for them, we weighed every electrical engineering degree program in the country to create a ranked list of the top schools based on our criteria. Check out our rankings for 2018 here.

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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia$6,33065%85%55%1Yes Yes Yes

Old Dominion University has offered distance education for over 30 years; a newer element of this program allows students to earn or complete their bachelor's degree online. Old Dominion offers 5 different entirely online degrees in the field of electrical engineering technology, each of which is meant to prepare students for a specific career path. For example, the communications systems technology major will teach students how to work with wireless systems and advanced circuits, while the computer engineering technology major prepares students for careers in programming. Other choices are embedded systems technology, mechatronics technology and power systems technology. Available minors allow students to specialize even further. Transfer students are welcome, but Old Dominion requires that graduates earn at least 30 credits through its school. The required credits per 4-year program vary, but students should expect to complete up to 128 credits hours before graduating. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam in Virginia as well as several other states; passing the exam is one of the criteria for licensure.

School website
2 Clemson University Clemson, South Carolina$13,41868%51%83%1No Yes Yes

Recommended for students that are currently working full time in an engineering field, Clemson University's Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering is offered online for maximum flexibility. However, students should be aware that this is a degree completion program, and that some of the required courses in this 126-credit program are not offered online by Clemson and must be completed at other institutions and then transferred. Students are expected to hold a B average from previous coursework; however, those who fall short may apply for special dispensation if they demonstrate sufficient academic ability through other channels. Once admitted, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. The length of time to complete the program varies according to a student's individual time commitment; those attending on a part-time basis, who bring in some transfer credits, may expect to complete the full program in about 6 years. The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

School website
3 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, New York$6,47066%41%71%1No Yes Yes

Located near New York City, Stony Brook University awards more than 200 degrees, including an online bachelor's in electrical engineering. This completion degree is offered in an asynchronous format, and is designed to attract working students who need maximum flexibility in their schedules. Structured to be completed in 4 years, students will be able to follow a set course outline while still taking courses at their own pace. Courses include topics such as electromagnetics, engineering design, digital logic design and electronic circuits; after graduation, students should be prepared for careers in various industries that require the design and use of engineering devices and systems. Students who lack certain prerequisite classes ? typically lower-division lab courses ? may be required to take them on campus before being admitted to the program. Once students are accepted to the program, all labs, tests and discussions are completed entirely online. Admission requirements dictate that students show transcripts proving an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 in certain classes, and no grade below a C.

School website
4 Siena Heights University Adrian, Michigan$24,39099%72%53%1Yes Yes Yes

A Catholic school based in Adrian, Michigan, Siena Heights has an online program aimed at students who wish to further both their education and their careers through a degree completion program. The curriculum at Siena Heights adheres to an "inverted major"format. This means students will not engage in coursework that is specific to their field, but instead will take a complement of classes that are designed to give them a fuller liberal arts background as well as management skills. Students interested in earning a bachelor's degree in electronics technology must meet certain admissions requirements to demonstrate their competency in electronics technology. One route is to present an associate in applied science from a regionally accredited school; another is to show 35 completed credit hours and otherwise prove their technical abilities for electrical engineering, through work experience or military experience, for example. Upon entrance, the program is designed to take as little as 2 years to complete.

School website
5 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina$3,73728%62%58%1No Yes Yes

Established specifically to train the workforce immediately after World War II, the Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina has continued to educate students in the technical fields while also developing into a strong research institution. Students that choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the university should be prepared for multiple potential careers, including designing avionic control systems, creating applications for HVAC systems and working with networked computer systems or consumer electronics. Classes are offered entirely online except for on-campus labs conducted over the summer. The program is targeted to students who already have an applied sciences associate degree and currently hold jobs, but anyone who meets admission requirements is eligible to apply. All upper-division courses are offered both part time and full time to best accommodate working students. UNC Charlotte has also established relationships with local businesses to help connect local graduates to job possibilities.

School website
6 Indiana State University Terre Haute, Indiana$8,54668%86%41%1Yes Yes Yes

With one of the largest statewide online schools, Indiana State University welcomes seasoned students into its online electrical engineering program. For this degree completion program, ISU requires students to have either an associate of science in electronics technology from Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University (both located in Indiana), or to have completed a similar associate degree from an accredited school. Once students are accepted, they take complete an additional 80 credits of coursework covering electronics technology; mechanical engineering technology; various areas in math, computer science, physical science and technology management; as well as electives in robotics and manufacturing. Students will also take professional classes to develop workplace management skills, and upon graduation should be prepared to take positions in areas such as instrumentation and control, electronics manufacturing, power operations, and sales and services. The program has earned accreditation from the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

School website
7 North Carolina A & T State University Greensboro, North Carolina$3,47066%54%51%1No Yes Yes

Giving students a wide range of skills in electronics technology is the goal of this online bachelor's degree in electronics technology from North Carolina A&T State University. The 120-credit program is structured to take the traditional 4 years, but is specifically aimed at working students who would have difficulty making the commute to campus. Transfer students are also encouraged. Requiring that students maintain at least a "C" grade in all major-specific courses, the program emphasizes mainframe education, with students learning about things such as circuits, networks, power systems and digital computing. Hands-on experience is emphasized as much as theoretical principles, and the program is designed to propel graduates directly into the workplace, with careers such as home and business security specialists; transportation safety specialists; automatization or computer electronics technicians; and electronics or network installers. Graduates of the program go on to work for a variety of major corporations as well as in the public sector.

School website
8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts$13,93259%61%58%1No Yes Yes School website
9 Morgan State University Baltimore, Maryland$5,16148%60%36%1No Yes Yes School website

National Median Annual Salary & Job Growth For Electrical

The bureau of labor statistics provides the following data about job growth in the Electrical industry. As well as the following national median salary data for several different careers in the field of Electrical Engineering.

Career National Median Salary (2014) National Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Minimum Education
Electrical Engineering Technician $59,820 -2% Associate Degree
Electrical Engineer $91,410 0% Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Hardware Engineer $108,430 3% Bachelor’s Degree
Industrial Production Engineer $81,490 1% Bachelor’s Degree
Engineering Manager $130,620 2% Bachelor’s Degree

EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME AN ELECTRICAL ENGINEER

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook;
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Wage Estimates 2014

Milestone Map: Electrical Engineer’s Path

Outlined below is an example set of milestones an individual can achieve during their academic and career journey in electrical engineering.

Online Degree

Earns a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a specialization in signal processing

Internship

Helps conduct projects on DNA sequencing at biomedical engineering firm

Hired Full-Time

Gains experience in image analysis system design and bioinstrumentation

Professional
Engineer License

Gets state licensed after passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering
examination

Promotion to
Chief Engineer

Leads R&D unit responsible for designing biometric data applications

Expert Contributor

Writes for IEEE Spectrum, a popular engineering publication

What to Expect from Online Engineering Programs

Online electrical engineering degree programs are similar to on-campus programs, following the same curriculum and course calendars. The major difference is the delivery of instruction. Online students are still required to view lectures, complete assignments, read required materials, and engage with their peers and faculty members just like any other student. Below is a short overview of the learning experience for online electrical engineering students.

Course Delivery

Depending on the program, students may participate in either self-paced (asynchronous) or real-time (synchronous) learning environments. Classes are traditionally delivered via either streaming or recorded digital video.

Learning Management Technology

Students use online learning management systems to access course materials, participate in virtual classrooms, communicate with peers, and submit assignments. Examples of these web-based platforms include Blackboard and Moodle. Students should have a reliable Internet connection, a newer computer, and an up-to-date operating system.

Experiential Learning

Research and laboratory experimentation is important in electrical engineering programs. Some institutions may require students to attend summer intensive learning experiences on campus or participate in at-home exercises with additional course materials.

Examinations

Online examinations require a proctor. Most programs allow students to submit an application for a local proctor, an individual who manages the examination process. This provides for the student to take examinations in their local area.

Types of Online Degrees in Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering has numerous academic pathways to careers in the field. Students may select between undergraduate and graduate programs, offered both entirely online or through hybrid instruction (requiring both online- and on-campus program). Below is a review of the major online electrical engineering program types.

  • Certificate
  • Associate’s
  • Bachelor’s
  • Master’s
  • Doctorate

Online certificates in electrical engineering can be leveraged by engineers as a form of professional development. Typically requiring between 12 and 16 credit hours to complete, these programs can generally be completed entirely online. Students can select a specific course of study, such as electric power engineering; circuits; digital electronics; or communication systems and complete a range of specialized, advanced classes in that field.

At the associate level, students may select between an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. The Associate of Science prepares students to transition into a four-year program of study, while the AAS is designed for students seeking entry-level employment in the field. Both programs generally require students to complete 60 credit hours of study. Unlike more advanced degrees, curriculum focuses on electronic engineering technology, not electrical engineering. Students gain fundamental skills required in entry-level technician careers, including a fundamental understanding of circuit design, microprocessors, and semiconductors.

Completing an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering traditionally requires between 120 and 136 credit hours of full-time study. Although some students are able to earn their degree in four years, some programs may take upwards of six years to finish. Curriculum is progressive, advancing from foundational courses in mathematics and science (e.g. calculus; general chemistry); to core electrical engineering curriculum (e.g. energy conversion; circuit analysis and design; electromagnetics); and into specialized electives (embedded systems; semiconductors; digital signal processing).

The Master of Science in Electrical Engineering is designed to either prepare graduates for advancement opportunities in their professional career or pave the way for future studies at the doctoral level. Most online master’s degree programs in electrical engineering require 30 credit hours of full-time study to complete. Depending on the institution, students may be able to complete an all-course option or a shorter (24- to 27-credits) thesis option. Students move through core courses that cover the fundamentals of electrical engineering (e.g. linear systems; electromagnetic theory) before transitioning into an academic concentration, such as systems and controls; electric power and energy systems; image systems; or embedded systems engineering.

The majority of electrical engineering programs accredited by the Association Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are on-campus. And, because of the research-focus of doctoral programs, fully online electrical engineering programs are not available. However, most programs do offer a range of courses online for doctoral students. Students typically complete 72 credit hours of study, conducting original research into sub-disciplines in the field, ranging from electric machinery to lightwave engineering, image processing to Students conduct original research into a specific concentration, ranging from electric machinery to lightwave engineering; image processing to robotics. After completing an original dissertation, graduates are prepared for research and teaching careers in academia, government and private industry.

Academic Concentrations in Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering students may select to pursue a concentration in both undergraduate and graduate programs of study. These concentrations allow students to gain a depth of knowledge in a specific area and take classes based on their personal and professional interests. Below is a list of common electrical engineering specializations available to students.

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Communication Systems
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Electromagnetics
  • Integrated Circuits and Systems
  • Lightwave Engineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • Networking
  • Power Electronics
  • Power Systems
  • Telecommunications Engineering

Electrical Engineering College Coursework

Curriculum standards for engineering, including electrical engineering, are determined by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. These standards create consistency among degree programs. Students gain a fundamental understanding of electrical engineering and its components—signals and systems, electromagnetic fields, analog and digital systems—as well as in-depth skills in research and experimentation. Below is a list of classes that are traditionally found in ABET-accredited electrical engineering programs.

Course Description
Electromagnetic Theory

This course introduces students to the core concepts of electromagnetic theory, including wave equations, vector potentials, transmission lines, and Maxwell’s equations.

Digital Signal Processing

In this class, students learn about the fundamentals of digital signal processing, including digital filtering, Fourier transforms, linear systems, and windowing.

Digital Circuits and Systems

This course provides students with an overview of digital computing and logic, including the study of system design and operation, memory, logic design, and Boolean algebra.

Linear Systems

In this course students study the basic concepts of linear systems, including state variables, stability, time-variable systems, as well as discrete and continuous-linear systems.

Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering

Students gain a fundamental understanding of electrical engineering, including mathematical models used, basic circuit concepts, and are introduced to the study and function of resistors, amplifiers and capacitors.

Advice for Selecting the Right School

Because of the different types of online options available to electrical engineering students, it is important they do their due diligence before making a decision. They should review each program to ensure the curriculum, faculty, and student services meet their personal and professional needs. Here is a list of factors to consider when considering an online electrical engineering degree program.

  • Are there technology fees?

    Distance and online engineering students may be required to participate in at-home laboratory exercises, which requires additional course materials.

  • Is the program ABET-accredited?

    Students should ensure their program is ABET accredited to make sure they meet licensing and Professional Engineer designations in the future.

  • Does the program offer student services?

    Online students require the same access to financial aid support, academic tutoring, and career planning services as their on-campus counterparts.

  • What is the program’s PE success rate?

    Does the program graduate electrical engineers that become Professional Engineers? What is the passing/fail rate for students taking the PE examination?

Electrical Engineering: ABET Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process conducted by non-governmental organizations to ensure academic programs meet industry standards of quality. For electrical engineering, the primary—and most important—accrediting body is the Association Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accredits individual electrical engineering programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Before enrolling in a program of study, students should check if that program is accredited by one of two ABET commissions: Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) and Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC). The EAC accredits electrical engineering bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, while the ETAC accredits associate and bachelor’s programs in electrical engineering.

For prospective electrical engineering students, attending an ABET-accredited program is important. Most states require engineers to earn an accredited degree to qualify for licensure and many employers prefer to hire candidates with an accredited education and professional license.

Enrollment Guide:
Online Master’s in Electrical Engineering

Technological innovation is driving a changing landscape in the engineering profession, making an advanced degree increasingly necessary for employment and career advancement. In addition to preparing for supervisory or management positions, a graduate degree can also be used to satisfy continuing education requirements for licensure. Below is a sample timeline for enrolling in an online electrical engineering degree program at the graduate level.

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Complete an undergraduate program in electrical engineering

4 to 6 years
Step 2

Gain real world experience through an Engineering Internship

5 years
Step 3

Work as an engineer, take the PE examination, and apply for a Professional Engineer License

4 – 5 years
Step 4

Take and pass the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

10 months to 1 year

Step 5

Submit an application to master’s degree programs

8 – 10 months

Earning a graduate degree in electrical engineering can help professionals advance up the career ladder. However, grad school is extremely competitive and candidates must be prepared prior to applying to a master’s degree program. Below are three ways prospective graduate students can make sure their candidacy is competitive as possible.

  • Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to develop additional practical skills the electrical engineering discipline. Volunteering also demonstrates the student’s commitment to and engagement with their community.
  • Join a Professional Association: Networking is important and engineers should join the local chapter of their engineering society and attend luncheons and other events. These contacts can lead to recommendations for graduate school and even employment opportunities after graduation.
  • Have professional experience: An engineering internship, work experience, and Professional Engineering license shows the graduate application committee the candidate is serious about their career and are using the master’s degree to advance their professional skills.

Professional Opportunities in Electrical Engineering

The electrical engineering profession offers numerous potential employment avenues, whether in signal processing or hardware development. Below is a list of five example career paths open to students that complete online electrical engineering degrees.

Electrical Engineering Technician

Working under the supervision and alongside electrical engineers, electrical engineering technicians are responsible for designing, building, and testing a range of electronic equipment—from computers to medical devices. A majority work in manufacturing and research laboratories, building electrical circuitry and control equipment. An associate degree or technical training diploma is traditionally required for employment in the industry.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers are multi-disciplinary professionals that blend the study of physics, mathematics, and electricity to drive technological innovation. They design and build electronic and computing devices for a broad array of industries, such as telecommunication, software/hardware, signal processing, and energy and power. A bachelor’s degree, along with a Professional Engineer license, are traditionally required for employment as an electrical engineer.

Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers design and develop computer technology systems and components, such as circuit boards and networking devices. Working closely with software engineers, they rely on their creative and technical skills to develop solutions to get computer equipment to work with software. Examples range from embedded computer systems in automobiles to automated manufacturing systems. To enter the field, individuals typically most possess either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in electrical engineering from an ABET-accredited institution.

Industrial Production Engineering

Industrial production engineers are concerned with efficiency, devising new ways to improve production processes—bringing together organizational management skills with technical knowledge. They create manufacturing systems that help workers, materials, and information work more effectively to help companies reduce costs and waste. Employed across industry, such as manufacturing and healthcare, industrial production engineers may evaluate workers’ job performance, find novel approaches to scheduling, or implement updated design processes to improve product delivery. A bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited program is recommended.

Engineering Manager

Electrical engineering managers are charged with serving as supervisors, leading electrical engineering projects. They are the principal architects for the design of new products or construction projects. They determine staffing and equipment needs, project budgets, liaise with clients and suppliers, and monitor the timeline and quality of each individual project. Although mostly based in offices, electrical engineering managers are employed across industries, ranging from software development to biotechnology. An advanced occupation, a majority of electrical engineering managers either have advanced degrees or significant years of experience, along with a Professional Engineer license.

Earning Certifications and Licensure

Certification is one way for electrical engineers to remain relevant in their profession and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. Below is a list of three example certifications for electrical engineers.

  • Certified Electrical Inspector

    Offered by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, this certification is a nationally recognized credential. Designed for individuals in the electrical inspection profession, the certification requires the successful completion of a computer-based examination. Candidates must have an associate or bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a PE in Electrical Engineering and hold between 2,000 and 8,000 hours of professional experience, based on the level of certification: Certified Electrical Inspector Residential or Certified Electrical Inspector Master.

  • Certified Power Quality Professional

    Sponsored by the Association of Energy Engineers, this certification is for power quality professionals who demonstrate advanced knowledge and experience in the field. To qualify, candidates must work requirements that vary by educational attainment. Individuals with a PE license or four-year engineering degree must have at least three years of experience, those with a four-year non-engineering degree must have five years of experience, those with a two-year degree must have at least five years of experience, and individuals without a degree must have at least 10 years of experience. In addition to academic and professional experience requirements, candidates must also pass an examination and attend a three-day seminar.

  • Certified Software Development Professional

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers a Certified Software Development Professional designation. It is designed for individuals in mid-level positions in software engineering and development. The designation includes exam-based testing, employment requirements, and continuing professional education requirements. Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of four knowledge areas (e.g. Software Engineering Construction, Software Engineering Testing) and complete two practical, experience-based applied modules.

The electrical engineering practice—like most engineering occupations—is licensed at the state level. Individual state boards determine the qualifications, education, and examinations candidates must pass in order to become licensed electrical engineers in the state. Typically, electrical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited program, meet work experience requirements, pass comprehensive examinations, and submit an application and fees to their state board. A list of state licensure boards and their requirements is available from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

It is important to remember that entry-level engineering technicians and electrical engineers do not need to hold Professional Licensure for entry-level employment. However, a PE license can impact employability, promotional opportunities as employers typically prefer to hire and advance individuals with licensure.

Other Engineering Disciplines to Consider

Engineering is broad profession, one that covers a number of interrelated areas of practice in related fields. Below are three examples of engineering programs in growing industries that may be of interest to prospective engineering students.

Online Civil
Engineering Degrees

An online degree in civil engineering offers students the opportunity to develop knowledge of and skills in various disciplines, including structural, geotechnical, water resources, and environmental engineering. Graduates of these programs can pursue employment in a range of professional settings, including municipalities, transportation departments, consulting firms, and government agencies.

Online Mechanical
Engineering Degrees

Mechanical engineering exists at the intersection of innovation and manufacturing. One of the field’s broadest disciplines, an online degree in mechanical engineering can prepare graduates for career paths in nearly every industry, such as aerospace, computers and electronics, renewable energy, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

Online Petroleum
Engineering Degrees

The increasing demand for energy positions individuals with an online degree in petroleum engineering for long-term career success. Students develop an understanding of petroleum and natural gas extraction, production and refinement and gain skills to navigate the waters of environmental issues and public policy.

Electrical Engineering Student Resources