2017 Guide to Accredited Online Engineering Degree Programs

Choosing to enroll in an engineering degree online means you’re about to embark on a journey that offers over 20 different fields to specialize in with the promise of a lifelong, fulfilling career. What’s particularly unique about the field of engineering is that it is incredibly expansive. You may find yourself filling the role of aerospace engineer, biomedical engineer, chemical engineer, civil engineer, electrical engineer, or nuclear engineer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers some staggering projections about the growth of this profession. For example, the median annual wage of a civil engineer in 2015 was $82,220. By 2024, that particular branch of engineering is expected to see an 8.4% employment increase. Entering into an engineering degree online means you’re about to begin a journey that will be both meaningful and satisfactory.

Employment Growth for Engineers, 2014-2024

  Employment, 2014 Employment, 2024
Civil Engineers 281,400 305,000
Electrical Engineers 139,400 136,600
Environmental Engineers 55,100 62,000

Source: BLS

Below, you’ll find an extensive list of accredited colleges and universities offering online degree programs. Information such as school size, cost, acceptance rate, and application fees are available to you. From this list, you’ll also be able to discover which universities offer online engineering programs.

FAQs

What Do Engineers Do?

Simply put, engineers convert science into reality. They also develop productivity improvements, thus driving economic growth. According to StudentScholarships.org, “The work of an engineer is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs.” As an engineer, you will be aiding in the maintenance, design, production, and implementation of new and existing products. This development spans across a wide range of fields, from agriculture to aerospace.

How Do I Prepare to Major in Engineering?

The journey of becoming an engineer is not an easy one. Online engineering courses require total commitment, including prolonged hours of study and high levels of mathematical and scientific computations. You should first ensure you have a significant number of math and science classes under your belt, such as algebra, geometry, statistics, calculus, physical science, applied biology/chemistry, and advanced physics. If you’re in the position to embark upon an internship opportunity, that type of hands-on experience will also serve you well.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Engineer?

The minimum requirement for entry into the field of engineering is an associate degree, which generally takes two years to complete. More commonly, however, students will enroll in a bachelor of science degree program, which generally takes four years to complete. If you should choose to continue on to your master’s degree, that will require an additional two years. To maximize your success, try to plan for, at least, a four-year course of study.

What are the Advantages of an Engineering Degree?

The demand for talented employees with online engineering degrees is high. The low supply of workers with these complex skillsets continues to drive up the price of labor. Throughout your four years of study, you’ll maintain a certain sense of pride as your breadth of knowledge continues to widen and expand. The payoff upon completion of your degree program will be tremendously rewarding.

Can You Get an Engineering Degree Online?

Unfortunately, not every type of engineering degree can be pursued online. All United States engineers selling their skills to the public must be licensed. In order to obtain licensure, you must first earn an undergraduate degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The majority of ABET-accredited programs are offered mainly on-site. There are, however, some ABET-accredited online programs. A list of those online programs may be found at the ABET website.

What Degree Do I Need to Become an Engineer?

You’ll certainly need to complete, at minimum, a two-year associate degree program. You’ll find, however, that a four-year bachelor of science degree program is far more conducive to a satisfying job placement. After spending four years on your online engineering degree, you’ll probably be eager to embark upon full-time work. However, continuing on to your master’s degree is certainly a possibility. This will take another two years, depending on your availability.
Some engineers even continue all the way through to a PhD degree, typically requiring a total of six to seven years of study. According to an article written by U.S. News, a master’s degree in engineering prepares students for careers that don’t have a heavy focus on research. If, however, you want to work in academic research, then a PhD is your best course of action.

Engineering Specialities and Concentrations

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the field of engineering is that you’re not pigeonholed into one narrow path. Examine your interests closely. From agricultural sustainability, to the construction of roads and bridges, to computer programming, there’s likely to be an online engineering degree that’s just right for you.

Among the many possible engineering degrees online are biomedical, software, and civil engineering. Biomedical engineering is the design, creation, and improvement of medical devices such as prosthetics, artificial organs, and bioengineered skin. There is also software engineering, which is the work of designing, constructing, testing, and maintaining computer applications software. Civil engineering deals with the design and maintenance of public works such as roads, bridges, and water and energy systems. These are only three of the engineering fields you could consider. There are many more specializations in which an engineer can contribute to society and make a more than comfortable living.

Accreditation for Online Engineering Programs

Especially in the field of engineering, accreditation is paramount. You won’t want to endure two to four years in an online engineering degree program only to discover your chosen university has not been properly accredited. The majority of accredited programs are offered onsite. However, you will find some accredited programs offering a completely online engineering degree. Rest assured that the accreditation process is an arduous 18-month process for universities. It is not awarded lightly, so feel free to savor the knowledge that you’re about to begin your engineering degree online in a finely-tailored degree program.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) makes the point that accreditation affords you confidence in your education. Accreditation establishes your eligibility for student loans and scholarships, ensures your education meets global standards, supports your entry into the field through licensure, registration, and certification, and enhances global employment opportunities.

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Most people are keenly aware of the importance of accreditation when searching for an online engineering degree. With engineering, especially, you want to look for ABET accreditation when scanning online engineering programs.

ABET accreditation secures university programs in the fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Seeing this mark of approval upon your engineering degree online will ensure that you can faithfully enter into the workforce prepared to succeed.

Educational Paths to Becoming an Engineer

In some professions, it’s possible to gain notoriety and success without earning a degree. This, however, is not the case with engineering. The field is so technical and precise that there’s really no way around higher education. There are over 20 recognized specialties within the field of engineering, some of which offer engineering online degree programs. Your four years of learning in a bachelor degree program will prove both exciting and informative.

Generally, the rule for moving into an engineering career is to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. A master’s degree is required for those wishing to carry out advanced development work, and a doctoral degree would be necessary for those who wish to participate in research.

Curriculum for an Online Engineering Programs

As with all things, there are many roads to achievement. Even after you’ve chosen your online engineering degree program, some core courses may differ, based on the college or university. Things aren’t likely to differ that drastically, however. Let’s take a look at a sampling of core courses you may encounter.

Engineering Analysis

Helpful across all areas of engineering, this course examines topics in linear algebra and the basics of MATLAB, a computing language for solving linear algebra problems. Specific topics are likely to include systems of linear equations, linear independence, linear transformations, matrix inverses, vector spaces, and least-square problems.

Engineering Graphics & CAD

Helpful across all areas of engineering, this course will cover the fundamentals of engineering – such as orthographic, isometric, and auxiliary projections – and provide an introduction to the techniques for creating solid models of engineering design. Three-dimensional modeling, orthographic sketching, and computer-generated design documentation are also likely to be examined.

Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

This course will prepare you for your future in mechanical engineering. Here, you will examine structural analysis, mechanism design, fluid flows, and thermal systems. Students will learn to interpret blueprints and drawings, identify engineering materials, and operate machine tools such as welding equipment.

Principles of Programming Languages

This course will prepare you for your future in software engineering. As an introduction to fundamental principles of language design, semantics, and implementation, you will study concepts related to problem solving using object-oriented programming language, algorithm design, structured programming, and fundamental algorithms and techniques.

Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering

This course will prepare you for your future in electrical engineering. Here, basic circuit and system concepts will be examined. You will develop fundamental tools for linear circuit analysis and learn the alphabet of circuits such as wires, resistors, capacitors, inductors, and operational amplifiers.

Degree Types

It’s possible to enter the field of engineering with a variety of different degrees. Since you are embarking upon a supremely technical field of study, as you increase your level of education, you will also increase your knowledge base, your salary, and your career opportunities.

Associate Of Applied Science (AAS)

This degree in mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineering can qualify you to be hired as an industrial engineering technician.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

This is the most common of the engineering degrees. The majority of engineers in most fields hold a bachelor’s degree.

Master of Science (MS)

This type of degree usually emphasizes research and requires a thesis for completion, making it the optimum degree for graduates who wish to pursue a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in engineering.

Master of Engineering (MEng)

This program is aimed toward equipping students with technical preparation for fieldwork practice. In the field of engineering, masters’ degrees accelerate career advancement approximately 15% above the average. It is wise to pursue the master’s degree if you did not earn your bachelor’s degree in an engineering field, but you want to move into an engineering career.

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)

With this degree you might find opportunities to work in academia or industry. This is especially true for researchers that study profitable, commercial products. It is also said that a PhD in engineering will give you a chance to do things that engineers without a PhD have to fight harder to do, as certain career tracks right out of college may create a limited perception of the scope of your abilities.

 

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    Skills Needed

    Engineers are required to possess an array of skills in order to be successful in their given specialty. You may find yourself conceptualizing a product from scratch, or perhaps refining an already-existent product. Both your technical skills and communication skills will need to be highly refined for success.

    Finite Element Analysis

    This is a method of predicting how a product will react to real-world forces by subdividing it into smaller parts, or finite elements. Although this skill can be learned through proper mentoring out in the field, you may want to enroll in a certificate course to examine these processes.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 4%

    Engineering Design

    This is a methodical series of steps used to solve a problem or create functional products and processes. This can be thought of as the Scientific Method for engineers. The Scientific Method requires you to conduct experiments and record observations. The Engineering Design process requires you to design, build, and test products. This skill will be learned during your undergraduate studies in engineering.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 1%

    Project Management

    This involves an understanding of principles regarding engineering, project organization, and communication. Strong project management skills include standard operating procedures, consistency in the enforcement of said procedures, and risk assessment skills. While this may be touched upon in undergraduate studies, project management can be learned in the field through proper mentoring or a certificate program.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 6%

    Construction Estimating

    This is a multifaceted skill that requires one to organize an estimate, utilize proper pricing techniques, adjust an estimate based on varying factors, and account for labor, materials, equipment, and overhead markups. A very specific skill required at the start of certain engineering projects, you might want to pursue a certification in construction estimating after you’ve spent a few years in the field.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 3%

    Sales Engineering

    This skill requires an ability to sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses and individuals. Sales experts must possess extensive knowledge of a product’s parts and functions, as well as the scientific processes that make the product work. This skill should be explored during your undergraduate studies in engineering.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 2%

    C++

    C++ is a versatile and powerful programming language containing imperative, object-oriented, and generic programming features. This may either be learned in your undergraduate studies in engineering or through a certification program.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 4%

    ANSYS Simulation Software

    This is a comprehensive engineering simulation software program that offers engineering scalability, a multiphysics foundation, and adaptive architecture. This may be learned during your undergraduate studies, through a strong mentor in the field, or via a certificate program.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 5%

    Manufacturing Process Engineering

    Akin to project management, this skill requires the development of a successful workflow, equipment and procedure requirements, and overall efficiency in operations. This can be learned during your undergraduate studies in engineering.

    Salary Growth Potential for Professionals with This Skill: 2%

    Internships

    Seeking out internship opportunities as you continue in your engineering degree online will prove paramount to your success. While it may be more difficult to secure an internship as early as your first year, it’s not impossible, and that’s how soon you should begin the process. Reach out to a professor within your department of engineering, and ask him or her to have a look at your resume. Throughout each internship opportunity, you will practice newly acquired skills and ensure you’re on the right path.

    There’s no better way to position yourself as a worthy candidate for employment than with hands-on experience and industry contacts. If, for example, you’re considering a computer engineering degree, imagine being able to tell prospective employers that you tested software and development programs for Company X. A pairing of internship experiences with educational advancement is, indeed, your surest pathway to success.

    Licensing and Certifications

    Even after you’ve earned an online engineering degree in your chosen specialty, you should always maintain the mindset that you are continuously learning and growing. New skills will be introduced to you on the job, but it’s also helpful to consider certificate programs throughout your tenure. The added training on your resume will only make you more desirable to global employers.

    • Professional Engineering (PE) License: With a PE License, you’re telling prospective employers that you’re in possession of hard-earned and noteworthy credentials. You’re also demonstrating an ability to take on higher levels of responsibility. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), “To become licensed, engineers must complete a four-year degree, work under a professional engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams, and earn a license from their state’s licensure board.”
    • Professional Certificate in Construction Estimating: At the start of any project, construction costs and bids are going to need to be estimated. Being able to comprehend the technicalities that an engineering project encompasses and develop a breakdown of all costs associated is a skill that will make you uniquely qualified to enter into the early planning stages of any number of projects.
    • Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification: Project management is an important skill that applies to nearly all professions. Engineering project management, however, requires a great deal of technical knowledge paired with strong communication skills. According to an article posted on Entangled.com, “Being both technically adept and an expert in project management makes for a highly desirable employee.”
    • AutoCAD Certification: Computer-aided design (CAD) is used in several branches of engineering. This is computer software that creates precision drawings or technical illustrations. Both 2-D drawings and 3-D models can be composed. Useful in an array of development stages, a proven proficiency in CAD will be a valuable addition to your skillset.

    Career Outlook for Engineers

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers many reassurances for your chosen career path. The employment of engineers is projected to grow 4% from 2014 to 2024, adding about 65,000 new jobs. Several specialties within this broad science are expected to grow at an even faster rate. For example, biomedical engineers are expected to see a 23% job increase during these 10 years. Environmental engineers can expect to see a 12% growth. Marine engineers and naval architects could expand to nearly 9% in growth.

    As we know, there are numerous specialities for engineers to gain expertise in. Within each subsection of engineering (i.e. civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering), there exist even further subcategories for opportunity.

    Career Setting Percentage of total psychologist employment
    Engineering services 19%
    Machinery manufacturing 15%
    Computer and electronic product manufacturing 7%
    Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 6%
    Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 6%

    Source: BLS

    Careers Where Advanced Degrees are Recommended

    Process Engineer
    • Description: Responsible for studying processes manufactured products must undergo before reaching consumers – evaluating efficiency, quality, and safety
    • Average Salary: $71,284
    • Degree and License Required: ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree in chemical, manufacturing, or industrial engineering preferred; master’s degree improves credentials, knowledge, and employment opportunities.
    Process Researcher
    • Description: Responsible for gathering knowledge, comprehending research, performing experiments, making observations, and creating detailed papers on findings
    • Average Salary: $77,028
    • Degree and License Required: Bachelor’s degree
    Nuclear Engineer
    • Description: Responsible for developing and executing complex model interactions using innovative computational methods to predict effects and assess risks
    • Average Salary: $84,449
    • Degree and License Required: Master’s degree preferred
    Aerospace Engineer
    • Description: Responsible for determining if aircraft, spacecraft, missile, and satellite design will be technically possible, financially feasible, and safe
    • Average Salary: $82,844
    • Degree and License Required: ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree in chemical, manufacturing, or industrial engineering preferred; master’s degree improves credentials, knowledge, and employment opportunities

    Source: Payscale

    Scholarships

    Many people today are faced with enormous student loan debt. However, if you’re willing to take the time to research and apply for various scholarships throughout your engineering online degree program, then you will lessen the burden of future debt. Seek out opportunities through your university’s financial aid office as well as any engineering organizations you may be a member of.

    Resources

    • Forbes Magazine: This article explores which college majors are most likely to land you a well-paying job upon graduation. Biomedical engineering is listed as the number one major, earning a salary of $53,800, which expands a whopping 82% by mid-career. Other engineering concentrations are discussed, such as software engineers, environmental engineers, and civil engineers.
    • Money Magazine: CNN Money analyzes the best jobs in America, with biomedical engineering coming in at number one again. Top pay is earmarked at $134,000, and a 10-year job growth projection estimates a surge of 61.7%.
    • Try Engineering: This is a comprehensive resource discussing important elements of engineering. Here, you’ll receive assistance as you research universities and select your major. You’ll also uncover referrals for internship programs, and receive helpful tips for financial aid applications and future course selections.
    • Live Science: This article clearly defines engineering, explaining many areas of speciality in vast detail. Statistics pertaining to the field’s anticipated job growth are also carefully laid out for your consideration.