Learners who enroll in an online bachelor's in engineering program can pursue a variety of lucrative careers. A bachelor's degree usually combines coursework with real-world applications, teaching students valuable skills that directly apply to relevant careers.
Most online bachelor's in engineering programs take four years to complete. Many online schools accept applicants with no previous college experience, though strong standardized test scores and a solid high school GPA help candidates stand out.
Most engineers enjoy high-paying careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), petroleum engineers only need a bachelor's degree and earn a median annual salary of $137,720. Aerospace engineers also only need a bachelor's degree and earn a median annual salary of $116,500. The BLS projects jobs in the engineering field to grow 3% between 2019 and 2029.
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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering?
Engineering covers multiple topics, including aerospace, civil, mechanical, chemical, and nuclear engineering. There are various career opportunities within each focus area, and many require a minimum level of education.
Regardless of the field, an engineering bachelor's degree usually leads to high-paying positions with steady growth. However, to access some of the highest-paying positions, learners should complete at least a bachelor's degree. From employer preferences to licensure prerequisites, many positions require a bachelor's degree in engineering. After completing the undergraduate degree, students can pursue additional education.
Students concerned about entering a competitive workspace can choose a niche field, such as marine engineering or geological engineering. These fields could lead to positions that require incredibly specific skills. Also, through additional education, learners can become one of the few experts in their niche field.
Will I Need a Bachelor's Degree for a Career in Engineering?
Depending on their career goals, learners may need a bachelor's degree in engineering. However, some positions only require an associate degree. According to the BLS, many engineer technician positions require just an associate degree, including positions like civil engineering technician, electrical engineering technician, and industrial engineering technician.
With a bachelor's degree, professionals can often secure positions that come with higher median salaries. For example, the BLS reports a $56,980 median salary for mechanical engineering technicians and an $88,430 median salary for mechanical engineers. By completing a bachelor's degree over an associate degree, learners can bump their potential salaries by considerable amounts.
In addition to completing a bachelor's degree, students can also earn certifications or join professional organizations to boost their employability and potential earnings.
Accreditation for a Degree in Engineering
When researching engineering bachelor's degrees, prospective students should only apply to accredited schools. When a school or program is accredited, it has met the standards set by an accrediting organization. All accrediting organizations must gain approval from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Department of Education, or both.
Colleges and universities receive either national or regional accreditation. Regionally accredited schools typically offer better academics.
Prospective enrollees should also look for programmatic accreditation, which means that a specific program, such as an online bachelor of engineering, meets standards set by an industry leader. For engineering, accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) ranks as the top accreditation attainable. Some scholarships, professional organizations, and employers only accept learners who pursue an ABET-accredited degree.
What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering?
Students applying to a bachelor's program in engineering must submit high school transcripts, relevant test scores, recommendation letters, a personal essay, and a resume. Schools set specific admission requirements for engineering programs. For example, some schools require learners to first complete prerequisite courses either in high school or through undergraduate coursework.
To graduate from an engineering bachelor's program, students must complete roughly 120 semester credits, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA (though this requirement varies by school), and complete a final project.
Courses in an Engineering Program
Because engineering fields cover different materials, learners complete different courses. Also, colleges and universities set their own curriculum requirements, so schools offering the same engineering degree may not require the same courses. However, to remain ABET-accredited, many undergraduate programs align their coursework with ABET standards. So, learners can anticipate completing some specific courses regardless of their area of study.
Degree-seekers also complete specialized courses that relate to their major. For example, a civil engineering student must complete courses in areas like environmental engineering and structural design. While specific courses vary, many engineering programs feature the courses below.
- Statistics for Engineering
- Required for most engineering focuses, this course introduces linear regression analysis, non-linear regression, and design of experiments. Students learn how to interpret confidence intervals, monitor charts, and design their own experiments using principles of statistics and engineering. Many engineering careers require at least some statistics experience. This course often builds on previous statistics courses.
- Usually required even if students do not pursue chemical engineering, chemistry teaches the fundamentals of the science, sometimes with a focus on its engineering applications. The course covers states of matter, chemical reactions, atomic structure, and chemical bonding. Learners also study chemical thermodynamics and equilibrium. Most engineering fields use basic chemistry, and schools often require chemistry as a core course for all engineering students.
- Electromagnetism covers the large concepts of electromagnetics, from static and dynamic fields to photon behavior. Students also apply mathematics to electromagnetics, including vectors and partial differential equations. By the end of the course, learners can understand and calculate electromagnetic fields. While electromagnetism falls under electrical engineering, schools sometimes require this course for all engineering students as part of the core curriculum.
- Differential Equations
- All engineering undergraduates must typically take this upper-division course. The course builds off fundamental math, including statistics, calculus, and geometry. Students learn how to use quantitative reasoning to analyze and interpret data sets. Course topics usually include Laplace transforms, first-order differential equations, and higher-order linear differential equations. Many professional engineers use differential equations to visualize and interpret information, making this an important course for all engineers.
- Sometimes split into multiple courses, mechanics covers topics like force; the behaviors of statically determinate structures; and the definition of stress, strain, and elasticity. Degree-seekers learn how to calculate forces in static structures through the application of computer programs and mathematics. While required for all students pursuing mechanical engineering, mechanics teaches important skills that all engineers can apply, from the application of programs to the use of mathematics.
Certifications and Licensure for Engineering Majors
Some engineering positions require certifications or licensure. These requirements vary by state, position, and industry. Even if professionals do not need certification or licensure for their job, becoming certified or licensed could lead to higher pay and better job opportunities.
Professional Engineering LicenseOffered by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the PE license is the highest standard of engineering competence. While NSPE does not license PEs, engineers complete prerequisite materials, including an exam, through NSPE and then apply for a PE license through their local or state licensing board.
Electromagnetic Compatibility Design EngineerCreated for electrical engineers and offered by iNARTE, this certification demonstrates excellence in electronic components, circuits, and sub systems. Engineers select either the EMC certification for recent graduates or senior EMC certification for experienced electrical engineers with at least three years of professional experience.
National Association of School PsychologistsNASP publishes online and hard copy magazines and newsletters containing relevant developments and current policies and regulations impacting school psychology practitioners. Members enjoy significant discounts on several professional resources such as liability insurance and continuing education units available through the Online Learning Center.
Certified Manufacturing EngineerThis advanced certification helps mechanical engineers and similar professionals stand out in the competitive manufacturing industry. Engineers need at least eight years of manufacturing-related experience and education, so recent graduates must work for several years before applying.
Professional Organizations for Engineering Students
Current students may not know how to begin their professional journey after graduation. Fortunately, professional organizations provide learners with various benefits, including career boards, certifications, continuing education opportunities, and networking events. While professional organizations often cost money to join, the benefits typically exceed the costs.
One of the largest organizations for engineers, NSPE extends continuing education, networking opportunities, local community events, and advocacy to engineers. NSPE also offers different levels of membership, including a student option at a reduced price. Students must study full time in an ABET-accredited engineering program to qualify.More Information
A nonprofit representing mechanical engineers, ASME serves over 100,000 members, including over 32,000 student members. Learners enjoy benefits including professional development, competitions, financial aid opportunities, networking events, mentorships, and various industry discounts.More Information
Dedicated entirely to civil engineers, ASCE offers only one type of membership, though learners can access local student chapters. Some membership benefits include access to industry information, career resources, and a unique mentoring program. ASCE also connects members with each other to expand professional networks.More Information
One of the largest organizations of technical professionals, IEEE serves over 419,000 members, including more than 124,000 students. Members gain access to networking opportunities and industry information. IEEE also offers a membership option specifically for students.More Information
Scholarships for Engineering Students
Many students enrolled in online bachelor's in engineering programs help pay for their degree through scholarships. Several scholarships exist for STEM students, including some niche scholarships for learners pursuing specific engineering fields. There are hundreds of these awards, so engineers should spend time researching different opportunities.
Best Online Bachelor's in Engineering Programs 2020
Located in Tucson, UArizona is the state's premier institution of higher education. The esteemed university also ranks among the region's top public research schools and excels in STEM education.
UArizona's top online bachelor's in engineering program, the electrical and computer engineering bachelor of science, runs entirely online. This unique program combines electrical and computer engineering courses to prepare learners for niche positions in highly technical fields. Students may select a track in either electrical or computer engineering to focus their studies. Both routes take four years to complete.
Applicants must pass a comprehensive review of their high school transcript. UArizona determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis, and those with strong academic backgrounds increase their chances of getting accepted. Because of the university's close ties with large organizations including NASA, Intel, and Microsoft, graduates often enjoy an edge in the job market.
A New York-based public university, Stony Brook maintains a low 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio despite its large size. The university attracts learners from around the world with its state-of-the-art facilities and affordability.
Stony Brook offers an electrical engineering degree as a degree-completion program. Learners must first complete lower-division courses either through Stony Brook or another institution. Students need a 3.0 cumulative GPA on prerequisite courses. While the online degree only serves transfer students or those with previous college credit, Stony Brook allows learners to continue working full time while completing the program.
The online electrical engineering program consists of 44 major credits, 12 technical electives, and six open electives. All required courses run completely online.
As one of the nation's top public research institutions, FIU attracts talented learners from all backgrounds. Some of the school's top programs include science, engineering, and healthcare, some of which students can complete online.
FIU offers two undergraduate engineering programs online: electrical engineering and computer engineering. Both 128-credit programs offer discounted tuition for Florida residents. FIU accepts transfer students into both programs, though many students choose to first complete prerequisite courses through the university. Students can choose from various elective courses related to their major, allowing them to specialize their skills. Full-time learners complete either route in four years.
Applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores and official high school transcripts. Transfer students with fewer than 60 transferable credits must submit both college and high school transcripts. International learners must submit TOEFL scores and undergo course-by-course evaluations.
A large public institution in Clemson, South Carolina, Clemson educates over 20,000 undergraduate students, many of whom study online. Students interested in online bachelor's in engineering programs can enroll in Clemson's online bachelor of science in electrical engineering degree-completion program. The program is intended for students who complete an associate degree, transfer from other colleges, or those who complete prerequisite courses at Clemson. Qualified students can complete the entire program online.
The program requires 126 credits, and most students transfer in 60 credits or more. Applicants must demonstrate completion of all prerequisite courses with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
UA, the state's flagship institution, serves over 37,500 students, many of whom come from across Alabama. Students often choose UA because of its large size, vibrant college atmosphere, and quality academic programs.
UA offers a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering that runs primarily online. However, learners must complete some of the program onsite in Tuscaloosa. Full-time students can complete the 126-credit degree in four years. Of the 126 required credits, 49 credits fall under mechanical engineering core requirements. Mechanical engineering core courses include thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. Learners also choose from several electives to focus on mechanical engineering subject matter related to their interests.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts unless they have already completed 24 semester hours of college credit. Other admission requirements include ACT or SAT scores, specific high school prerequisite courses, and at least a 2.0 GPA.
UND is the state's largest university, serving as a regional leader in medicine, aviation, unmanned aircraft, and engineering education. UND's connections to local industries and the military often help graduates find positions.
UND offers undergraduates six online engineering degree options: chemical, electrical, mechanical, civil, geological, and petroleum. Each specialty leads to specific career outcomes. All programs run either on campus or online, with most online learners taking 4-6 years to earn their degree. Online learners usually continue working and enroll part time.
To graduate, students must complete up to 130 credits, depending on their chosen major. UND requires ACT or SAT test scores and high school transcripts to verify a 2.75 GPA or higher.
With campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida; Prescott, Arizona; and online, ERAU offers learners a quality engineering education while connecting them with local industries in need of new talent. Nearly 18,000 of ERAU's 27,000 undergraduate learners study online, and many of the programs run entirely online.
ERAU offers two unique engineering degrees for undergraduates: a bachelor of science in engineering and a bachelor of science in engineering technology. The general engineering major prepares students for careers that demand multiple engineering skills, while the engineering technology route leads to research-based careers. The two routes require 122-128 credits, and learners can complete both options entirely online.
Applicants must complete English and mathematics skill assessments and possess a 3.0 high school GPA. Transfer students need a 2.5 GPA on all transferable courses.
Founded in 1971 by a retired U.S. Navy Captain, NU serves over 25,000 students each year. This innovative university uses four-week courses to help working students complete their degrees while continuing in their careers.
Students interested in an online bachelor's in engineering choose between the bachelor's in electrical and computer engineering and the bachelor's in manufacturing design engineering. Both options require at least 180 quarter-credits, most of which come at the upper-division level within the school of engineering. The electrical and computer engineering track runs entirely online and culminates with a senior project. The manufacturing design engineering route requires 45 quarter-credits of residency study, meaning students must attend courses on site in San Diego, California.
All applicants coming out of high school must complete an orientation course through WES Training and Development. Transfer students, including those who previously completed an associate degree, must have a 2.0 GPA or higher on all previous coursework.
ODU, a public research institution in Norfolk, Virginia, ranks among the top universities for military veterans and online learners. ODU features over 30 years of experience with distance learning and currently offers over 100 programs online, including multiple online bachelor's in engineering programs.
New college students can enroll in ODU's online computer engineering degree, a 128-credit program that covers topics including data analytics, computer networks, and software development. Online courses occur synchronously, so students must attend courses at specific times during the week. The degree includes a minor in computer science.
ODU also offers engineering degree-completion programs, including computer engineering, civil engineering technology, modeling and simulation engineering, computer engineering technology, and general engineering technology. These options require students to transfer in college credits and complete at least 30 credits through ODU.
Located in Beaumont, Texas, LU serves over 15,000 students. Part of the Texas State University System, LU extends low in-state tuition rates to learners, including online students.
LU offers online engineering bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and industrial engineering. Both options come in a 2+2 format, meaning learners must first complete two years of lower-division courses elsewhere. LU supports transfers from public community colleges in Texas. The electrical engineering route comes in a hybrid format, meaning students must complete some courses on site.
The industrial engineering option runs entirely online. However, out-of-state learners may become exempt from on-campus requirements for the electrical engineering degree. Most online learners finish either option in two years, though some full-time workers choose to take longer.