The past few decades have provided impressive advancements in technology. After all, these days most of us are walking around with supercomputers in our pockets, and we have the communication infrastructure to support these devices. None of this would have been possible without electrical engineers.
Electrical engineers use their knowledge of advanced mathematics and scientific principles to design, develop, and manufacture technological gadgets and systems that we rely on every day. To enter the field, you’ll need to complete an on-campus or online electrical engineering degree program.
The goal of this guide is to explain how these online engineering programs work. You’ll learn what’s needed to get admitted into one of these programs, the kinds of courses you’ll take, and what sort of job prospects you can expect after you graduate.
Bachelor’s Program Spotlights: Online Electrical Engineering Degrees
Every school offering an online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree program differs in how they present the course material. Some of these differences will be based on the teaching philosophies of the faculty and school administrators. For example, one program might offer 100% online coursework while another program emphasizes hands-on learning and requires on-campus labs for all electrical engineering students.
That said, to be accredited schools need to ensure certain topics are covered and specific learning standards are met. Therefore, you can expect some similarities in the curriculum among different online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree programs.
Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering that’s fully online. This means there are no campus visits or other in-person learning requirements. Online engineering students receive the same instruction from the same professors as their on-campus classmates but with the bonus of convenience. Upon completion of your online electrical engineering degree, graduates will be ready for professional licensure as engineers in the state of Arizona and many other states. There’s also an option to pursue a specialization in Electrical Power and Energy Systems. Each class lasts about eight weeks, making it easier to find the right learning pace to fit busy student schedules.
- Cost of program: $33,108
- Location: Tempe, Arizona
- Accreditation: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
National University is one of the largest private not-for-profit universities in the United States. It offers a wide array of online programs, including an online electrical engineering degree. To make this degree as convenient as possible, the curriculum follows the quarter unit system. This offers more options for students to arrange their coursework around their professional and personal responsibilities. To graduate, students must complete at least 180 quarter units, 33 of which are prerequisites. The electrical engineering major classes consist of 93 credits and the degree culminates with a capstone design project.
- Cost of program: $46,620
- Location: San Diego, California
- Accreditation: ABET
American Public University’s Online Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering is perfect for working students. The admissions process is streamlined and, while much of the curriculum can be completed online, the program includes some hands-on learning requirements. To make it easier for students to arrange their classes around their personal and work responsibilities, courses last eight or 16 weeks. This online electrical engineering degree has no out-of-pocket expenses for textbooks and offers tuition discounts for military and veteran students. Of the 128 credits required to graduate, up to 90 can be fulfilled through transfer credits.
- Cost of program: $44,800
- Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Classes for Your Online Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree
Every school formulates a unique curriculum that conforms to its academic philosophies. As a result, the classes you take in an electrical engineering bachelor’s degree online program will differ from the classes someone else takes at another program. Yet many of the topics overlap. The next section gives you an idea of some of the courses you can expect to take, regardless of which school you choose for your online electrical engineering degree.
This course teaches the fundamentals of electronic circuits. Students learn about the underlying scientific principles of how electronic devices work, including physics and semiconductor operations. Other topics include diodes and transistors, how they work, and in what applications they’re used. Lastly, students analyze various circuit designs and identify which is best suited for a particular context or design goal.
Systems and Signals
This covers the electrical engineering subtopic of signal processing. Specifically, this course covers how digital data is created, analyzed, and used in electrical devices. Online electrical engineering degree students learn how to apply mathematical concepts such as Fourier series to better understand and examine electronic outputs from control systems. The class also covers time domain analysis versus frequency domain analysis.
Fundamentals of Computer Programming
Even though electrical engineering is a different field than computer engineering and programming, because so many electrical systems and devices rely on computer code to operate properly this course is a necessary part of any online electrical engineering degree program. In this class, students review multiple object-oriented programming techniques and obtain a solid foundation in writing, analyzing, and debugging computer code. Students also learn how to apply their programming skills to real-world applications.
This course typically includes both lab and lecture components and provides an overview of microprocessors. Students learn about the microprocessor architectures and their applications. Students review microprocessor operations, including the scientific processes at work, how microprocessors complete arithmetic operations, and the interaction between a specific microprocessor design and a computer assembly language. Toward the end of the class, students learn about interfacing the microprocessor with other parts of the device in which it’s being used.
This is one of the more advanced classes students take, typically during the final year of their electrical engineering degree online. The bulk of this class revolves around a final design project in which students design an electrical device and/or system within practical constraints. This includes legal, financial, ethical, safety, manufacturing, and logistical considerations. The goal of this class is to help students understand that the limitations placed on the design and development of a project won’t necessarily be based on science, but on political, economic, and social pressures.
Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with an Online Electrical Engineering Degree
The online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is a specific technical degree, which means graduates have a focused set of jobs to choose from after they graduate. Below are brief descriptions of some of the jobs you may want to consider after you earn your electrical engineering bachelor’s degree online.
An electrical engineer works with electrical equipment that’s usually part of a larger system, such as power generation, communication systems, electrical systems in vehicles, and manufacturing equipment. Job duties include designing, inspecting, repairing, and overseeing the production of electrical systems and equipment. Electrical engineers often work with technicians and project managers to ensure the completion of a project within monetary and time constraints. Employers of electrical engineers typically include federal and state governments as well as private industry. The median annual salary for an electrical engineer is $103,320 with a projected 2022-2032 job growth rate of 4%.
Electronics engineers deal with electronic devices typically used or carried by an individual. This includes GPS units, laptops, mobile phones, and cameras. Electronics engineers can be found working in the private sector, researching new ways to improve existing products and designing new electronic devices. This research and design process may also involve evaluating feedback from consumers and clients and determining the feasibility of implementing the desired changes. The estimated 2022-2032 growth rate for electronics engineers is 7% and their median annual income is $108,170.
Sales engineers use their engineering and scientific knowledge to sell products and services. To become a sales engineer, an individual must have detailed knowledge of business and engineering principles and concepts. Many sales engineers earn an engineering degree in an area related to the products they sell. Sales engineers also work with engineers, technicians, and other sales professionals to provide products that match the needs of prospective customers. Sales engineers can expect moderate job growth, with a 5% 2022-2032 growth projection, and healthy compensation, with a median annual salary of $108,530.
How Much Does an Online Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Cost?
It usually takes four years and 120 or so credits to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering online or on campus. Depending on the availability of financial aid and your tuition rate, this can put the degree out of reach. To provide a rough idea of what you can expect to pay to become an electrical engineer, we’ve researched the tuition rates of five online electrical engineering degree programs.
Keep in mind that campus visits, residency status, and type of school (public versus private) can affect how much you’ll pay. Even if a school’s tuition seems high, don’t rule out that school until you first see what financial aid packages are available.
|School||Cost Per Credit||Number of Credits|
|The University of Arizona||$600||128|
|Florida International University||$222.14 (in-state) and $635.43 (out-of-state)||128|
|University of Southern Indiana||$289.70 (in-state) and $704.25 (out-of-state)||109|
|Mississippi State University||$402.75||128|
|Lamar University||$259.49 (in-state) and $679.49 (out-of-state)||123|
What Should I Look for in an Online Electrical Engineering Degree Program?
Part of choosing the right online electrical engineering program comes down to personal preferences. However, there are several objective characteristics that you should look for when researching schools and programs. Before applying to a school, evaluate the following program traits and confirm they meet your specific needs.
The price you pay for your online electrical engineering degree may be the most important consideration when choosing a program. But you’ll want to put the tuition cost of your ideal program into the proper perspective. Higher tuition might be more affordable than you think if it means lower fees, no travel costs for campus visits, and generous scholarship and grant awards from the school. Likewise, lower tuition could be misleading because of higher fees and in-person program requirements that mean expensive trips to campus.
Besides cost, program quality should be one of the most important factors when choosing an online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree program and school. But how do you measure a program’s quality? For starters, you can look at the faculty and their level of industry experience, academic credentials, and research accomplishments. Quantitative metrics to consider include employment rate after graduation, faculty-to-student ratio, and graduation completion rate. Another important component is the quality of student services, such as academic assistance and career advising. Lastly, consider the courses themselves and what sort of specialization, experiential learning, and work project options are available.
Choose an online electrical engineering program with professors and instructors who not only have extensive educational training, but also have real-world experience in the industry, whether working for corporations or government. This nonacademic experience is helpful so faculty members can show how what they’re teaching applies to the real world. Additionally, these professors and instructors have connections to individuals in the private sector, which can help lead to post-graduation positions.
The primary organization for accrediting electrical engineering programs is the ABET. Ideally, your online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree should come from an accredited program. However, if that’s not possible, you’ll want to at least confirm the school you graduate from has institutional accreditation from an organization that’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Electrical engineering degree online programs can be either fully online or partially online (sometimes referred to as a blended or hybrid program). The online courses themselves can also take two possible forms. First, they can be synchronous, meaning students attend class at preset times and days. Second, they can be asynchronous, which allows students to not only take classes from anywhere, but also at any time. Asynchronous courses are more convenient but don’t offer the same collaborative learning environment that hybrid or synchronous courses and programs offer.
Questions to Ask About Online Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Here are six of the most pressing questions according to our readers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in electrical engineering fully online?
Some online electrical engineering degree programs are 100% online. This means no mandatory residencies, internships, or on-campus labs are needed to graduate. However, most online bachelor’s degree programs in electrical engineering are offered in a hybrid format. This means many of the course requirements are fully online, although part of the curriculum will include face-to-face learning elements, such as campus visits for orientation, labs, and testing.
Another possibility is that the extent of the online and in-person coursework is up to the students. At Lamar University’s Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, students have the flexibility to decide if they want to earn their degree entirely online, take a few of their classes on campus, or take most of their classes on campus.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
Each online electrical engineering bachelor’s program will have its own admissions process, but for the most part interested students should expect to provide the following:
- Online application form
- Application fee
- ACT or SAT scores
- Official high school transcripts
- Official college transcripts (for transfer applicants)
If applying as a transfer student or a student already enrolled in the school who is applying to the engineering program as a second or third-year student, individuals may also need to show they have completed certain prerequisite classes, such as calculus and introduction to electronic circuits.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering online?
Almost all online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree programs require students to earn 120 to 130 semester credits. With a typical full-time courseload every spring and fall semester, students can expect to graduate in four years. However, graduating in three or so years is very possible if a student is entering college with multiple college credits already completed (such as through Advanced Placement classes), enrolling in an accelerated program, taking an extra class each semester, and/or attending summer school.
Transfer students can graduate in less than four years, although the exact length of time will depend on how many classes are credited through the transfer process. Students who enroll on a part-time basis can expect to take closer to five or six years to graduate, depending on the pace they choose.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering?
Online electrical engineering degree students typically have access to the same academic and career support services that are available to traditional students. Therefore, online students able to visit the main campus can make use of the library, tutoring, technical support, and professional advising services.
If campus visits are not possible, most of the above-referenced benefits are still available virtually. For example, instead of a face-to-face meeting with an academic advisor, career coach, or tutor, the meetings may occur over Zoom or the telephone. As for research materials, most of a library’s information will be online and can be researched virtually.
What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in electrical engineering?
The primary requirement for earning an electrical engineering degree online will be access to broadband internet and a computer. The computer must be capable of supporting video conferencing software, such as Zoom, as well as learning management systems, such as Canvas.
However, the most demanding technical requirements will likely come from using engineering, design, and computational software, like MATLAB and Simulink. Most laptopsreleased in the past few years should have the specifications to meet the necessary system requirements, such as:
- Windows 10 operating system
- At least 4 GB RAM
- graphics processing unit with at least 1 GB of memory
- An Intel or AMD X86-64 processor that supports AVX2 instructions
Check out our guide to online college tech and get a list of schools that issue you a free laptop to study.
Can I work while pursuing an online electrical engineering degree?
Most of the curriculum in an electrical engineering degree can be completed online. Any in-person requirements are typically limited to just a few events during the program, such as orientation, labs, final exams, and projects. The courses may also be offered asynchronously, which allows students to attend class at any time. Even when online classes have set times that students must attend (synchronous learning), these classes typically are offered late in the afternoon or in the evenings. Additionally, online students usually have the option of taking lighter course loads to make it easier to fit their studies around their professional and family duties.
Other Degree Options in Engineering
If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other bachelor’s degree options: