Engineering is one of the most in-demand fields in the U.S.
From civil and mechanical engineering to software and biomedical engineering–there are many paths for students skilled and interested in planning and building roads, bridges, or gadgets.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for civil engineers will grow by 20% by the year 2020 as the national, state, and local governments undertake municipal projects to repair public infrastructure.
About Online Engineering Degrees
Students hoping to pursue an online engineering degree have many programs and institutions to choose from.
Not only is there is a wide array of engineering fields to choose from, but there is also a number of formats in which students can study for and receive their degree.
Some programs–like the University of Southern Mississippi’s Construction Engineering Technology program–can be taken entirely online, with students directing their own study from a mixture of live and recorded study materials. Other programs offer both online and in-person classes, allowing students to get not just the knowledge necessary to pursue an engineering career, but also the hands-on experience and skills they’ll need when they begin applying for jobs.
Online Engineering Degrees Offered
Like many fields, students interested in engineering can pursue various levels of degrees offered online.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S., B.S.E., or B.Eng.)
This is the most commonly awarded undergraduate degree. The particular classification depends on the school and which bodies accredited the programs. Bachelors of Engineering (B.Eng.) are also more technically-involved, covering topics like electronics and electrical circuits, than a B.S. in Engineering. But, that’s not always the case.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology (B.E.T.)
Although closely related to a B.S.E. or B.Eng., the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology focuses more on technological application and implementation in the engineering profession, rather than the concept and theory. This degree generally leads to jobs not as an engineer, but as a technologist or technician.
Master of Science in Engineering (M.S. or M.S.E.)
Many–most– colleges and universities award this academic degree. It usually requires the completion of a thesis and allows graduates to apply for a Ph.D. program.
Master of Engineering degree (M.Eng)
This degree can either be a professional or academic degree in the engineering field. Rather than a thesis, it usually requires the completion of a process. And, graduates with an M.Eng. are generally not qualified to apply for a Ph.D. program in engineering.
Doctorate of Engineering (Ph.D.)
This is an academic degree that is mostly related to the research or applied science of engineering. Generally, it’s the highest degree in the engineering field.
Online Engineering Programs and Fields of Study
There are many fields within engineering that students can choose to pursue.
In this field, you’ll apply mathematics and science principals as well as technology to engineer software solutions for various problems. This could involve developing mobile phone applications, writing computer algorithms, managing databases, or creating software to control autonomous vehicles.
This is one of the oldest engineering professions in the world. Civil engineers studying and plan all kinds of projects that we see every day. From managing the construction of roads and bridges to conducting traffic safety studies and analyzing water flow through dams, civil engineers handle many types of municipal projects nationally and also locally.
While software engineers write the code that makes machines move in certain ways, mechanical engineers design the physical parts and mechanisms needed for operation. This kind of engineering can be applied to everything from automobiles to the robots that help build them.
One of the fast-growing fields of engineering, petroleum engineers are responsible for all kinds of study and planning related to the extraction and transportation of oil around the world. Many petroleum engineers work directly on oil rigs or wells, managing and maintaining the mechanical and structural components of the operation. Others study and analyze sub-surface terrain in search of new places for extraction and also other opportunities.
From developing new materials and polymers to designing systems that effectively process or refine raw materials, chemical engineers encompass a wide variety of professions and disciplines. These engineers are also critical in the energy sector, where they develop and manage systems that maximize energy output while minimizing consumption and waste.
Mechanical, electrical, and software engineers often work side-by-side to develop electronic components and systems. While mechanical engineers focus on the moving parts and software engineers focus on the bits and bytes that make things work as intended, electrical engineers lie somewhere in the middle–often designing and developing things like circuit boards or electrical systems that allow the software to communicate and also manipulate the mechanical hardware.
What to Look For in an Online Engineering Degree Program
If you’re considering getting an online engineering degree, you’ll want to carefully evaluate and compare different programs offered by different colleges and universities. Consider these factors:
Is the program accredited? If so, by whom? It may seem strange, but a regionally accredited program is generally more reputable than a nationally accredited one. Be sure to investigate the accrediting body to see if they are well-regarded among schools and employers.
Carefully calculate what your costs will be. Consider ways you can reduce your overall price tag. Can you earn credits for previous coursework or work experience? Can you use test options like CLEP to earn credits for prerequisite knowledge?
Which courses are there? Do they offer the kind of knowledge and also experience you’ll need to get a job in the field you’re aiming for?
Skills / Experience
Do you need hands-on experience to get a job in your field? Do you need access to materials or equipment? If so, consider if the online program has an in-person component that will allow you to access the resources you need to learn and gain the skills you need to get hired.