Guide to Accredited Engineering Colleges & Universities

Engineering is a branch of applied science that uses mathematics, science and technology to solve problems. Students in an engineering program are trained to understand the mechanics of buildings and machines so that they can design and build functional tools, systems and structures. Any engineering concentration will require you to take many science and mathematics classes, so you should be an analytical and logical thinker if you want to study this field. Engineers also innovate new products, so you must be able to think in unconventional ways too. You can study engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but keep in mind that you generally need only a bachelor's degree to become an engineer. Read More


TABLE of CONTENTS

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Degrees

Check the Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education to learn more about accreditation and how to determine if the program you select meets the necessary standards.

Graduate Certificate in Engineering

After you complete your bachelors degree, you may wish to extend your engineering education with a graduate certificate. A certificate program offers several classes in an engineering concentration so that you can learn about that area without pursuing lengthy graduate study.

  • Credit hours/length of study: 12-24 credits (6 months- 1 year)
  • Coursework: The types of courses that are required to earn an engineering certificate program vary widely according to the specific certificate that you pursue. For instance, if you decide to get a certificate in engineering management, you will take classes like technical project management, product development and engineering economy. And if you choose to earn a certificate in transportation engineering, you will take classes about pavement design, traffic flow theory and land development. But keep in mind that there is no standard curriculum for graduate certificate programs, so required coursework may vary by program.
  • Employment prospects: A graduate certificate in an engineering concentration will not qualify you for a job on its own, but it may help you to earn a promotion or to fulfill continuing education requirements. In addition, most schools allow you to use the credits that you earn in a graduate certificate program toward a masters degree.

Associate Degree in Engineering

An Associate of Arts (AA) in Engineering has courses in science, mathematics and the humanities that offer a broad education. The AA is acceptable if you want to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.

An Associate of Science (AS) in Engineering has a more scientific and mathematical focus than the AA. The AS is the best option if you want to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

An Associate of Technical Arts (ATA) in Engineering concentrates on the technical skills that you need in the engineering field. An ATA is a good choice if you plan to enter the workforce immediately.

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Engineering teaches practical job skills and it is very similar to the ATA degree. Likewise, an AAS is a good option if you want to start working as soon as you graduate.

  • Credit hours/length of study: 60-70 credit hours (approximately 2 years)
  • Coursework: The courses that you will take for an engineering associates degree depend on the type of degree that you pursue. If you earn a degree in engineering technology, your classes will teach you to assist engineers. For example, you will take courses like computer-aided drafting (CAD), applied mathematics, electrical circuits and computer programming. But if you choose to earn an associates degree in pre-engineering, you will take more courses that require labs to prepare you to transfer into a 4-year engineering program. Those courses are likely to include chemistry, physics, electrical circuits and engineering design.
  • Employment prospects: If you earn an associates degree, you will be qualified to work as an engineering technician. About one-third of all engineering technicians work in electrical engineering, but they also work in areas like manufacturing, sales and construction.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Engineering offers science, mathematics and liberal arts classes that are designed to give you a broad education. The BA is a good choice if you want to gain skills in the humanities as well as engineering.

A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Engineering has science and mathematics classes that are designed to give you a strong technical background. The BS is a good choice if you want to work as an engineer as soon as you finish your coursework.

  • Credit hours/length of study: 120-130 credit hours (4-5 years)
  • Coursework: The exact courses that you take for your bachelor’s degree in engineering depend on the type of program that you pursue. If you choose to earn a degree in general engineering, you will take a core curriculum that includes classes like mechanics, digital logic, physics, materials science and control systems. You will also take mathematics classes like calculus, differential equations and algebra. But if you choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in a concentration of engineering, your classes will be tailored to that area. For example, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering will also require you to take classes about fluid dynamics and thermodynamics. And a degree in aerospace engineering requires you to take classes like avionics systems, propulsion and flight mechanics.
  • Employment prospects: A bachelor’s degree will prepare you for entry-level engineering jobs that relate to your concentration. For instance, if you study civil engineering you could be a structural engineer or a city engineer. And if you study mechanical engineering you could be a process engineer or a supply chain engineer.

Master’s Degree in Engineering

A Master Of Science (MS) in Engineering requires in-depth study and research through engineering, mathematics and science classes. It is a good choice if you want to work in an advanced technical position or continue on to a PhD.

A Master Of Engineering (MEng) has science and mathematics courses that focus less on research than the MS. This option is best for working professionals who need to take continuing education classes and students who do not plan to earn a PhD.

A Master Of Engineering Management (MEM) is a terminal degree that offers classes in applied engineering and business. It is a good choice if you want to learn to manage engineering teams and operations.

  • Credit hours/length of study: 30-40 credit hours (2-3 years)
  • Coursework: The types of courses that you take for your engineering master’s degree depend on your program. For example, if you pursue a master’s degree in general engineering, you will take classes about statistics, computer science and advanced mathematics. On the other hand, if you choose to earn a master’s degree in a certain concentration, you will take classes that are directly associated with that field. For instance, a masters degree in chemical engineering will require you to take classes like process control, chemical reactor design and computational modeling. In addition, most master’s degree programs in engineering require students to conduct extensive original research and to write a thesis. Finally, a degree in engineering management will require you to take classes about business. You can expect to take classes like technical communications, engineering law and project management.
  • Employment prospects: A master’s degree in engineering will qualify you for senior technical positions in engineering. You may be able to direct a team of entry-level engineers or to manage an engineering department in a corporate business.

Doctorate in Engineering

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering offers advanced classes in science, mathematics and engineering theory. It also requires students to conduct original research that leads to a dissertation. You will be required to specialize in a concentration like mechanical, industrial or civil engineering. You program will train you to conduct original engineering research that your peers respect. When you graduate, you will be qualified for research jobs in many different workplaces.

  • Credit hours/length of study: 72-90 hours (4-7 years)
  • Coursework: The classes that you take to earn a PhD will vary according to your concentration. For instance, if you earn a PhD in electrical engineering, you will take classes like circuit and systems modeling, digital communications systems and linear programming. But if you earn a PhD in mechanical engineering, you will take classes about continuum mechanics, advanced thermodynamics and control system design. No matter what your concentration is, you will be required to write a dissertation about the original research that you conduct.
  • Employment prospects: A PhD will prepare you to teach at the university level or conduct professional engineering research for the government or corporate businesses.

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Licensing and Certifications

The Professional Engineering (PE) license is a coveted professional credential that will grant you increased pay and job opportunities. Since applicants are required to have at least four years of supervised work experience prior to taking the PE exam, hiring managers for engineering firms immediately favor license holders because they know they already have a solid base of expertise and a college degree.

Even so, very few working engineers are professionally licensed. This is due to the arduous application standards as well as state and NCEES exceptions that enable engineers to practice, as long as they remain under the supervision of a licensed professional. By earning your PE credential, you can distinguish your portfolio and resume from other applicants and you will be able to take on more job responsibilities like accepting government contracts, becoming a principal at a design firm, stamping and sealing designs or working for yourself as a consultant. If you think an engineering career is right for you, then plan to prepare for the PE right after you graduate from college.

The path to PE licensure is rigorous and starts while you are in an ABET-accredited college with the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, after which you will need to get work experience and pass the Professional Engineering exam.

Reciprocity

Most states allow reciprocity between states, which means you can transfer your professional credentials no matter where you live as long as you have an ABET-accredited degree. This is a crucial caveat because the ABET’s standards are the scale by which all state boards and consumers measure the professionalism and worth of engineers and engineering firms. If you do not have an ABET-accredited degree, you will likely have to reapply for licensure if you move to another state.

Continuing Education

You must participate in continuing education to maintain your P.E. credential. Continuing education standards are dictated by state boards instead of the NCEES, so determine the requirements in your location after passing the PE exam. A number of activities can qualify for continuing education credits, depending on your location; for example, in Alaska, continuing education credit is awarded for publishing an academic paper pertaining to engineering or completing semester and quarter-long courses in subjects related to engineering, such as public safety or health.

After earning your license, you should review your state’s requirements for continuing education and professional development in order to avoid having your licensed revoked or voided.

Caveats for International Students

If you have earned your degree overseas, it is still possible to seek licensure stateside by applying for a credentials evaluation sponsored by the NCEES. These credential evaluations simply serve as a way for state engineer licensing boards to verify the credentials of a foreign applicant. The process usually includes a general summary of the applicant’s history and achievements, including an in-depth comparative analysis that measures the proficiency standards of the international degree against those of ABET. This is done in order to discern whether an international graduate has been trained the same standardized disciplines that many hiring managers believe best aid new hires in the workplace.

This is a helpful but expensive process as one evaluation costs $400 while any repeat examinations thereafter will cost you $225. Additionally, if you want your results sent to additional state licensing boards, it will cost an additional $60 per board. If you are dead-set on working in the United States, this is the most streamlined – albeit pricey – solution, but, if you are even halfway considering against it, it is probably easier and more cost efficient to simply stay abroad.

Careers

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Engineering Technician