A Closer Look:
Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE 2021) reports that there were 144,818 bachelor's degrees in engineering awarded in 2019. Nearly one-quarter of these degrees were in mechanical engineering (35,094 degrees), the most popular subspecialty, followed by computer science (19,963 degrees), and electrical (14,221 degrees).
Admissions Requirements - To gain admittance to an online bachelor's program in engineering, these are some typical admissions requirements:
- Official transcripts from high school (or college) with a competitive GPA
- Completion of specific coursework (e.g., trigonometry, calculus, physics, computer programming)
- SAT/ACT test scores (SAT Subject Tests in math or science may also be required)
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal/professional statement (two pages about student's personal and professional goals)
- Application fee
- TOEFL test scores (for applicants whose first language isn't English)
Types of Online Bachelor Degrees in Engineering - These are the most common types of bachelor's degrees in engineering awarded in the United States:
- Bachelor's degree in engineering (BE or B.Eng): these degrees typically emphasize more technical or practical aspects of engineering (e.g., circuits, electronics) whereas the BSE (below) may be more theoretically focused
- Bachelor of science in engineering (BSE or BSc Eng)
- BS in electrical engineering (BSEE)
- BS in mechanical engineering (BSME)
Please note that subfields may also be designated by a postnomial (i.e., a parenthetical abbreviation). For example, a bachelor's degree in engineering with an emphasis in aerospace engineering may be designated as a BE(Aero), or for electrical engineering, BE(Elec).
Also, computer science (CS) is a field closely related to computer engineering (CEN). Lewis University notes that CS focuses predominantly on software, whereas CEN unites CS and electrical engineering with an emphasis on hardware.
Additionally, there is also the bachelor of technology (BTech) degree which differs from other engineering degrees. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)- the primary accreditation board for higher education in engineering-reports that while BTech programs focus on implementation and practical applications, other engineering programs (e.g., BSE, BSEE, BSME) hone in on design, planning, theory, and advanced mathematics. Also, the duration and career paths for these degrees may differ.
Top Schools Offering Online Bachelor's Programs in Engineering - There is a growing number of quality bachelor's degrees in engineering offered online. This featured selection has been chosen according to the following criteria:
- Program is accredited by ABET
- University boasts distinguished faculty in engineering, as evidenced by professor profiles below
- Institution or program has received additional recognition from an established source (e.g., Fiske Guide, U.S. News & World Report)
Here are three top online bachelor's programs in engineering:
Arizona State University : Arizona State University's (ASU) online bachelor of science in electrical engineering (BSE or BSEE) program prepares students for careers in energy production, healthcare technology, or sustainable development, to name a few fields. With exciting coursework in areas such as electromagnetic fields, microprocessors, and solid-state electronics, ASU's esteemed faculty uses web-based instruction and a variety of digital simulation tools to impart the valued skills of electrical engineering. Furthermore, ASU ranked #6 among U.S. News & World Report's (2020) "best online bachelor's programs." Finally, ASU is one of the largest public universities in the world with nearly 40,000 online students and accepts 80 percent of applicants.
Additional online bachelor's programs offered at ASU:
- BSE in engineering management
- BS in graphic information technology
- BS in information technology
- BS in software engineering
- BS in technological entrepreneurship & management
Featured engineering professor at ASU:
Dr. Jennifer Blain ChristenDr. Jennifer Blain Christen joined the prestigious ASU faculty in 2008 after receiving her MS in electrical engineering and her PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include bio-compatible integration for CMOS electronics (i.e., low power integrated circuits), microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) devices, and microfluidics. From 2007 to 2010, she received the "Best Paper Award" from Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems-a cutting-edge journal co-sponsored by two branches of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEEE), as well as from IEEE's Circuits and Systems Society in 2010. Additionally, she has received honors from both the National Science Foundation (2001-2006) and General Electric (1998).
University of North Dakota : The University of North Dakota (UND) offers an online bachelor of science (BSE) in mechanical engineering. This 129 credit program comprises online coursework and on-campus labs. These in-person labs take place during the summer in Grand Forks, ND and typically last five to 14 days, depending on the number of class credits. UND assists all students in finding lodging during these brief stays. This convenient online program has boasted employees of companies such as 3M, Boeing, and Intel among its students, who pursued their bachelor's degrees while they continued working. U.S. News & World Report (2020) ranked UND among the top 150 public universities in the nation and #181 best undergraduate engineering programs.
Additional online bachelor's programs offered at UND:
- BSE in chemical engineering
- BSE in electrical engineering (i.e., BSEE)
- BSE in civil engineering
Featured engineering professors at UND:
Dr. Sougata RoyDr. Sougata Roy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, holds an MTech degree in mechanical engineering from the India Institute of Technology - Madras with a specialization in manufacturing and precision engineering. He earned his PhD in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University in 2018 and joined the University of North Dakota in fall 2020. His current research interests are in novel coating development for machine tools and minimum quantity lubrication in high-speed manufacturing.
Dr. George Bibel
Dr. George Bibel is a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of North Dakota. Professor Bibel began his engineering career at Standard Oil Co and was eventually promoted to head of the pressure vessel, piping, and tankage group. Bibel also worked with NASA Lewis from 1988 to 1997 as a university researcher or Summer Faculty Fellow. Professor Bibel is author of two books: "Beyond the Black Box: The Forensics of Airplane Crashes" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), and "Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012); and is working with a certified Boeing/Airbus pilot on a second book about airplane crashes. Beyond the Black Box was developed into a seminar presented at Boeing. Bibel has introduced an innovated course on engineering disasters and is frequently interviewed on cable news and other national media (New York Times, Popular Science, NPR All Things Considered and Marketplace) about airplane crashes and train wrecks. Professor Bibel has also written "Listen Up and Fly Right (New York Times, 2008); Fasten Your Seat Belt, Yes, YOU (International Herald Tribune, 2008); Why Can’t Modern Technology Prevent Train Wrecks? (Huffingtion Post, 2012) and Train Wreck (Huffington Post, 2014). Professor Bibel received his BS and PhD from Case Western Reserve University and his MS from the University of Michigan.
Regis University: Regis University's ABET-accredited online bachelor of science (BS) in computer science imparts the fundamentals of computer engineering-particularly software development-with a combination of web-based coursework and intensive projects. In classes such as data structures, algorithms & analysis, and discrete mathematics, students gain proficiency in multiple computer languages, paradigms, and platforms, putting their newfound skills to practice by creating viable web designs, apps, software, and other business-ready tools.
Additional online bachelor's programs at Regis:
- BS in health information management
- BS in computer information systems
- BS in information technology
Featured engineering professors at Regis:
Dr. Richard L. BlumenthalDr. Richard L. Blumenthal-a professor and program coordinator for the College of Computer & Information Sciences-earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his MS from Rutgers University. Before joining Regis in 2002, Dr. Blumenthal garnered significant professional experience. He was the principal software engineer for Creekpath Systems and the senior software engineer for Athene Software. He's a senior member of the Association of Computer Machinery(ACM) and has been published in the Journal of Information Technology Impact and the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence Education, among others.
Professor Pamela Smallwood
Professor Pamela Smallwood earned her MS in computer science from Arizona State University before joining Regis University in 2000. She has worked for Park College, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and the U.S. Air Force, as well as with the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC). She's currently a reviewer and co-editor of the Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. Finally, Professor Smallwood has received two teaching accolades at Regis University: a 2004 Special Recognition Award and a 2000 Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Finally, there are some online bachelor's degrees that are integrally related to engineering, such as EKU's program below, which provides an interdisciplinary approach with elements from civil and environmental engineering.