Best Online Engineering Degree Programs 2021

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An online engineering degree combines interdisciplinary studies in math, science, and technology. Students choose from concentrations in chemical, civil, and electrical engineering. Depending on the concentration, coursework in these programs varies significantly, covering topics like physics, chemistry, and programming.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering can lead to high-paying careers, including aerospace engineering and architectural engineering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster-than-average job growth from 2019 to 2029 for several engineering occupations, including sales engineers and bioengineers.

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Concentrations | Tuition | FAQs | Top Engineering Programs

What Is Engineering?

Engineering rose in popularity in the 18th century during the Industrial Revolution. As the field modernized, biochemical and computer engineering become more prevalent alongside traditional sectors like civil and electrical engineering.

Today, engineers work in various industries and roles. Graduates can pursue careers as project managers, network designers, and aerospace engineers. These professionals may work in offices, on construction sites, or in warehouses. Industries that employ engineers include agriculture, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability.

Engineers are innovative problem-solvers that make products and processes safer, more affordable, and more efficient. Engineering roles are more important than ever, allowing manufacturing plants and businesses to meet evolving technology and customer demands.

A bachelor’s degree in engineering gives students experience in the software and tools required for their future careers. Most entry-level engineering positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, while advanced degrees can qualify graduates for supervisory roles.

Learn more about fields in science

Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering?

Though many engineer positions require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, some employers hire workers with degrees in technology, chemistry, statistics, or other related fields. For the most focused, in-depth education, however, students should pursue engineering degrees, which also offer internships and other hands-on learning opportunities.

Here are a few more benefits of a bachelor’s degree in engineering:

  • Variety of Careers: Engineering is an expansive field with many subfields. Depending on the program curriculum, engineering graduates may become software developers, network engineers, or quality engineers for leading technology companies. Non-tech industries, like healthcare and aerospace, also hire engineering degree-holders.
  • High Demand: The BLS projects the engineering field to add 139,300 more jobs between 2016 and 2026. Civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and industrial engineers are projected to add the most jobs in that period.
  • Earning Potential: Earning an online engineering bachelor’s degree provides lucrative job opportunities for graduates. For example, PayScale reported that computer science and engineering graduates earn an average annual salary of $108,212 as of June 2021.


What to Expect From Bachelor’s in Engineering Programs

A bachelor’s degree in engineering prepares learners to design, create, and test products for various applications. Most programs require 120 credits, which takes four years of full-time study to complete. On average, learners pay between $200-$600 per credit, but scholarships, loans, and other financial aid options can help reduce these costs.

Degree-seekers typically take courses in physics, diagnostics, and data analysis. Engineering program length and content vary depending on the specialization.

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Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for online engineering programs vary. Typically, students complete an application, pay an application fee, submit official high school transcripts, and write an essay. Most schools also require a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 and SAT or ACT scores.

Some schools may require additional application materials like professional or academic references. Students with prior college credit may be exempt themselves from some coursework. However, prospective applicants should discuss these exemptions with an admissions counselor.

Learn more about the application process

Concentration Options

Because engineering includes many disciplines, engineering students can choose a concentration that aligns with their career goals. Learners enroll in specialization classes after they complete core math and science coursework.

Some of the most common engineering concentrations include:

Chemical Engineering
This discipline studies chemical processes in manufacturing and production. Chemical engineers may design new processes for oil refinement, battery disposal, or food manufacturing.
Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineers plan, design, and test electrical systems and equipment. Students complete coursework in circuitry, electromagnetics, and digital system design. Graduates may work in industries like communications, transportation, or electronics.
Civil Engineering
This concentration blends construction planning with ethical and legal principles in infrastructure design. Studies typically consist of sustainable practices, mechanics, and thermodynamics. Degree-holders find work as urban planners, surveyors, or construction managers.

Finding the right concentration allows students to develop the necessary skills for their ideal engineering careers. If undecided on a specialization, learners should speak with an academic advisor for additional guidance.

Discover engineering specializations


Popular Engineering Courses

A typical engineering curriculum includes core, elective, and capstone courses. Core classes fulfill general math, science, and introductory engineering requirements. Electives are more advanced courses that cover specialized engineering knowledge.

An engineering capstone course allows students to complete a final project demonstrating their skills. Additionally, some engineering programs require internships that provide hands-on training in the field.

The following are examples of common courses offered in an online engineering degree program:

Engineering Mathematics
This course builds advanced mathematics skills for engineering. Students use algebra, geometry, calculus, and differential equations to solve real-life engineering problems. Some institutions offer a sequence of engineering mathematics courses for more in-depth study of these advanced topics.
Systems Design and Analysis
Learners in this class create engineering systems using design and feedback software. Many top online engineering schools pair this class with lab hours to give students hands-on experiences with design tools.
Physics
Because many engineering specializations use physics to solve problems, physics classes are a cornerstone for many online degrees in engineering. These courses often have a lab component and are usually offered in sequences.
Electronics and Digital Systems
A common elective for computer and electrical engineering majors, this class provides an introduction to working with digitized mechanics. Students get hands-on experience with circuitry and wiring while learning techniques for designing electronic networks. Learners also study the repair and optimization of electronic systems.
Design Project Capstone
Engineering capstones test a student’s ability to design a project relevant to their specialization. Students may design functioning circuitry, computer networks, or construction materials as part of the capstone. The project may also require a written or oral presentation about the completed project.


How Much Will an Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

Tuition rates vary between schools. On average, online engineering programs charge $200-$600/credit or $6,000-$18,000/year. Some public institutions offer in-state tuition to all distance learners regardless of residency. Additionally, some private schools offer a lower tuition rate for online classes.

Even the most affordable online engineering degrees have additional costs to consider. Students also pay for textbooks, school supplies, and fees. However, degree-seekers can avoid commuting and on-campus housing costs when pursuing an online engineering degree.

Students can apply for multiple financing options to make their engineering program more affordable. Merit-based scholarships and need-based grants give financial assistance to eligible students and do not need to be repaid. In contrast, loans can cover tuition and textbook costs, but recipients must pay them back over time. Visit the links below for more financial aid information.

Choosing the Right Engineering Undergraduate Program

Our rankings are a helpful tool for finding the best online engineering programs. However, students must also consider other factors when choosing a program.

Accreditation is a top consideration for any engineering program. Accrediting bodies endorse schools and engineering programs that meet standards of academic excellence. Our rankings only include regionally and nationally accredited programs.

Some engineering programs also receive endorsement from industry-specific accrediting bodies, like ABET and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Programmatic accreditation ensures a program prepares students for careers in the field.

Learners should also consider factors like affordability, admission requirements, and program length. Other program features to take into account include:

  • Financial aid options
  • Credit transferability
  • Flexible course offerings
  • Class size and student-to-faculty ratio
  • Available concentrations
  • Faculty credentials and diversity
  • Alumni network

What is accreditation and why does it matter?

Why You Should Get Your Engineer Degree Online

As distance learning continues to grow, online engineering programs have become more common. The best online colleges for engineering offer curricula that mirror on-campus studies, so distance learners get the same education and opportunities as on-campus students.

Engineering degree course offerings vary between schools. Some schools offer only general engineering degrees, while others feature concentrations, like chemical engineering or electrical engineering. Opting for an online engineering degree allows learners the flexibility to choose a program that suits their future goals regardless of their location.

Before applying for engineering degrees online, students should consider their learning preferences. Online learning requires excellent time management skills and self-discipline.

Engineering programs frequently incorporate hands-on learning. Although some online programs include digital labs, they may not offer an ideal learning environment for all students.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you get an engineering degree online?

    Yes. Several colleges and universities, such as Keiser University and Morehouse College, offer online engineering programs. However, some online engineering schools feature in-person requirements, such as engineering labs, fieldwork, or internships.

  • Is getting an online engineering bachelor's degree worth it?

    Yes! In most cases, earning an engineering degree online offers students the same opportunities and curriculum as in-person programs. With an online engineering degree, graduates may pursue high-paying engineering careers in various fields, like technology and agriculture.

  • How long are online engineering programs?

    Online engineering programs vary in length, depending on the type of degree. Associate programs typically take up to two years of full-time study. Bachelor’s programs usually take four years of full-time study.

  • What can I do with a bachelor's degree in engineering?

    Bachelor of engineering graduates can pursue jobs in civil, mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering. Industries that employ engineers include government, manufacturing, and aerospace, plus computing and networking.

  • Is an engineer a good career?

    Yes! An engineering career can be very rewarding. Engineers possess skills that make them highly employable in various industries, often with high salaries. Engineers also have a positive impact on the world with jobs like designing eco-friendly buildings and creating safer network technologies.


2021’s Five Best Online Colleges for Engineering

  1. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Columbia University is one of the best universities in the country, consistently ranking high on the national and international level. The university is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is commonly praised for its online engineering degree programs.

    Online presence

    Columbia offers over 20 engineering degrees at the graduate and postgraduate levels. This large selection of degrees have varying requirements, all sustaining the high standard of the school. Some of the most interesting degrees offered by Columbia include:

    • Earth and Environmental Engineering Doctorate Degree
    • Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering
    • Construction Engineering and Management
    • Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering
    Notes

    Online Columbia degree that shows no distinction on whether the student earned their degree on-campus or remotely. The school’s lofty expectations for all guarantees that online students are more than capable of fulfilling roles as leaders in their chosen field.

  2. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Duke University is well known for offering online engineering educations. The school is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Working professionals compete for a place in the school’s Distributed Master of Engineering Management Program, an exciting twist on a traditional engineering education.

    Online presence

    The school utilizes a hybrid cohort model, a rare teaching model in the engineering world. Students begin and end their degrees with the same classmates they spend time with during the residencies, strengthening relationships with faculty and peers. Online programs require students to:

    • Attend three one-week residencies at Duke’s campus
    • Take part in leadership workshops
    • Connect with students and faculty
    • Learn more about the profession
    Notes

    Students engage in the core curriculum through discussion forums, study groups in Google Hangout, and group projects. The multi-platform approach is a fantastic way for students to feel as though they are part of the Duke family.

  3. Cornell University
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Cornell University knows the strong value of an online education particularly in the field of engineering. The school takes pride in providing students a Master of Engineering degree with over 15 different specialties. Those pursuing the program will learn not only about their chosen specialty but other factors affecting the industry.

    Online presence

    Cornell’s Master of Engineering is a 30-credit hour degree that is professional in nature. Students should expect to be held up to the same ambitious standards, perhaps rising above harder. This is quite a commitment, but the esteem that comes with a Cornell degree is irreplaceable. Specializations in the program include:

    • Materials Science and Engineering
    • Engineering Management
    • Biological
    • Environmental Engineering
    Notes

    Courses are taught both as asynchronous and synchronous courses involving virtual labs, group projects, and frequently a thesis or research project requirement.

  4. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a variety of engineering degree programs through its Department of Professional Education. This online suite of engineering degrees was created specifically for students already working in the professional field in need of a flexible way to continue education. This university is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Online presence

    Georgia Tech consistently ranks in the top ten of the U.S. News and World Reports of online graduate engineering school. It gives students the choice of when, how, and where they study by providing classroom materials online and in a school-specific smartphone app.

    • Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering
    • Master of Science in Operations Research
    • Master of Science in Medical Physics
    Notes

    Internationally unique degrees such as Professional Masters in Applied Systems Engineering and the Professional Masters make this an extraordinary place to start for almost any student.

  5. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottsville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Catering remote learners for over 30-years, the University of Virginia is a leader in online engineering education. The school consistently ranks in the top five of graduate engineering programs year-to-year. This university is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Online presence

    Students can complete 30-credit hour degrees can be finished in 18 months given enough flexibility. All courses are downloadable, making classes available anytime. The professional degree for engineers, A Master of Engineering, available in six areas:

    • Chemical Engineering
    • Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Systems Engineering
    • Materials Science and Engineering
    • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Notes

    Students can even take online classes at other UV institutions to complete the requirements. Ongoing tech support and online-only student services desk are standard, leaving no question or concern unanswered.

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