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Online Electrical Engineering Programs

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Is an Online Electrical Engineering Program for Me?

Of course, pursuing an electrical engineering degree through an online program may seem, to some, as somewhat of an enigma. Specifically, prospective students may wonder how it is possible to become proficient in a field that otherwise generally requires a large amount of hands-on participation.

In reality, however, many online electrical engineering programs still allow for interactive participation, without the requirement of traveling to and from the classroom. In sum, this type of program may be the best option for those currently in careers; those who otherwise have a busy schedule; or even prospective students who don’t have physical access to a top-notch program. Many accredited online electrical engineering programs allow students to complete coursework throughout the semester on their own time, providing an excellent option for those with jobs or who can’t otherwise structure their lives around the classroom.

It is important to note that not all prospective students will be suited to a learning experience away from a campus. Those interested in obtaining an electrical engineering degree online should have the ability to perform well without significant guidance, and set and adhere to self-imposed deadlines. In addition, because online programs vary in terms of the amount of interaction to expect with both instructors and peers, prospective students should expect to work independently throughout the program and without constant support from a professor or classmates.

List of Online Electrical Engineering Degree Programs

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AZ 402


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Influential Electrical Engineering Professors Who Teach Online

Fortunately for those considering the pursuit of an online electrical engineering degree, there exists a wide array of highly-respected educators who provide lessons available online. The following five electrical engineering professors are influential, to say the least, and work at accredited schools that offer such degrees online.

Keren Bergman

Keren Bergman is the Charles Batchelor Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. She heads numerous research programs that focus on optical interconnection networks for advanced computing systems, data centers, optical packet switched routers, and chip multiprocessor nanophotonic networks-on-chip.

Jelena Kovacevic

Jelena Kovacevic is the David Schramm Professor and head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University. Her recent research has focused on providing signal representation tools to be used primarily in communication and biomedical systems.

Robert Dutton

Robert Dutton is the Robert and Barbara Kleist Professor in the school of engineering at Stanford University. He has been the recipient of the Phil Kaufman Award, the SIA University Researcher Award, and the Jack A. Morton Award, among others in the field of electrical engineering.

Ashfaq A. Khokhar

Ashfaq A. Khokhar is the chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. His research focuses on context-aware wireless networks, computational biology, health care data mining, and other fields related to electrical engineering and communications. He has co-authored nine book chapters and contributed to 53 publications in archived journals.

Etienne-Cummings Ralph

Etienne-Cummings Ralph is a professor and chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at Johns Hopkins University. He was the founding director of the Institute of Neuromorphic Engineering, and has served as chairman of various IEEE Circuits and Systems (CAS) Technical Committees. He has also published over 220 peer-reviewed articles, and holds 10 patents/applications on his work.

Admissions Requirements for Online Electrical Engineering Programs (What to Expect)

Like with any other program offered by an institute of higher education, students must apply through the proper channels and be offered admission in order to begin studies. As such, if you are considering pursuing an electrical engineering degree online, it is important to know what to expect during the application process.

To begin, the admissions process will differ depending on the level of education; specifically, prospective undergraduate students will face separate requirements when compared to those students interested in obtaining a master’s or a doctorate degree. For example, undergraduate students will generally be required to submit SAT scores, high school transcripts (or their equivalent), a completed resume or CV, and a personal essay, the topic of which will likely vary depending on the institution. Furthermore, letters of recommendation may be required as well, from either previous teachers, professionals, or others who can attest to the student’s abilities. Prospective students must also apply within relevant timelines; many schools may have an early admissions deadline in November, as well as a regular admissions deadline in the following January. Final decisions are often mailed to students in May, with a seat deposit required at some point shortly after the summer begins.

In addition, many schools, such as Iowa State University and Johns Hopkins, among others, offer two start dates per year: one in August/September and one in late January. And, in general, students pursuing an online degree must adhere to the same schedule as the rest of the on-campus pupils; they cannot simply start at any time, and must instead begin classes at the same time as the rest of the school. Because specifics vary depending on the institution, please make sure to check the school admissions website for more information about admissions requirements.

Prospective graduate students can expect a similar application process, albeit with subtle differences. Those pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree must submit graduate record examination (GRE) scores in lieu of the SAT, as well as all transcripts from any undergraduate institutions attended. If the prospective student has been in the workforce, he or she may be asked to submit recommendations or references from colleagues or other relevant professionals.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of factors to expect in the admissions process. As such, prospective students should be sure to thoroughly read through all of the requirements as set forth by their institution of choice.

Program Accreditation

While it is certainly not required, many high-level online electrical engineering programs receive accreditation, which is meant to demonstrate the quality of the education offered. Well-regarded electrical engineering programs will receive accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); ABET is known as the accrediting agency for engineering, computing, technology, and applied science degree programs in the United States (ABET consists of more than 30 member societies, one of which is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE]). Prospective students should understand that accreditation is not a mandatory process; instead, in order to obtain accreditation schools must choose to undergo a voluntary peer-review that will scrutinize the quality of the program.

Here, it is also important to mention that accreditation is generally a requirement to achieve professional licensure as an electrical engineer after obtaining a degree. Specifically, the National Society of Professional Engineers awards professional licenses to only those engineers who have obtained a four-year degree from an accredited program. Of course, a professional license is not necessary to work as an engineer post-graduation; however, it is certainly required in order to plan, prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval. Furthermore, a professional license is responsible for engineers who are in responsible charge of work, and is often a requirement for higher-level or responsible government positions.

Curriculum & Specialization

Although the curriculum for online electrical engineering programs may vary based on the institution, students may expect to take a similar course load throughout their studies. Specifically, students will likely be required to take courses on circuits and electronics, digital systems and design, computing, electromagnetism, and engineering mechanics, among others. Prospective students must also have a strong command of various fields of mathematics, including algebra and calculus; or, in some cases, students may be able to progress through these courses concurrently with their engineering studies. In addition, electives, both within and outside of the school of engineering, may be mandatory as well.

In some cases, those interested in pursuing a graduate degree may also have the option of following a specific specialty track that results in additional proficiency. For example, a master’s student studying electrical engineering may also have the option to obtain a certificate in Embedded Systems, or even develop a specialty in computer networks, electric power, wireless health technology, wireless networks, or other fields. If a graduate student chooses not to specialize, however, he or she should expect to follow a curriculum similar to that of an undergraduate, albeit specifically tailored to meet the goals necessary to obtain a master’s degree.

Highly Regarded Online Electrical Engineering Programs

It would be incorrect to assume that all online electrical engineering degrees share the same qualities. While all accredited institutions have relative merits, some stand above the rest as highly-regarded programs offering top-quality education in the field of electrical engineering. If you wish to pursue such a degree, it may be in your best interest to look towards one of the five following well-respected programs as options to consider.

1University of Colorado at Boulder

The University of Colorado at Boulder affords students the opportunity to obtain a master’s degree in electrical engineering without visiting the campus. Students may choose to focus on biomedical engineering, optics and photonics, or one of many other areas of study.

Michael Lightner

Michael Lightner is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is the co-director of the lab for new media strategy and design. His research areas include both computer engineering and VLSI/CAD.

Frank Barnes

Frank Barnes is a distinguished professor of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research areas include biomedical engineering and nanostructures and devices, and his further interests include electrical energy storage and electric grid reliability and security.

2Naval Postgraduate School

The Naval Postgraduate School offers top-quality education to both civilian and military personnel. Students may choose to pursue an online master’s degree in electrical engineering, or a doctorate degree while conducting research through a cooperating laboratory.

Giovanna Oriti

Giovanna Oriti is an associate professor within the electrical and computer engineering department at the Naval Postgraduate School. She has received numerous awards and has co-authored 40 papers in IEEE transactions or IEEE conference proceedings.

Roberto Cristi

Roberto Cristi teaches courses on applied digital signal processing, image and video processing, and more at the Naval Postgraduate School. His current research areas include control systems, digital signal processing, and distributed learning and multimedia.

3Iowa State University

Iowa State University provides students with the ability to pursue one of two master’s degrees in electrical engineering. Furthermore, students may choose to specialize in communications and signal processing; electric power and energy systems; electromagnetics, microwave, and nondestructive evaluation; or systems and controls.

Venkataramana Ajjarapu

Venkataramana Ajjarapu is the Nicholas Professor of Electrical Engineering at Iowa State University. He has co-authored numerous publications and his core research area includes electric power and energy systems.

Degang James Chen

Degang James Chen is the Jerry R. Junkins Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering at Iowa State University. His list of publications is extensive, and his core research areas include VLSI, as well as systems and controls.

4Kansas State University

Electrical engineering graduate students at Kansas State University may choose to an emphasis in either electric power systems, or communication and networking. Studies at Kansas State University are available to students domestic and abroad.

Don Gruenbacher

Don Gruenbacher is the department head and associate professor of electrical engineering at Kansas State University. Along with his numerous publications, he has received awards as an outstanding faculty member and teacher.

Medhat M. Morcos

Medhat M. Morcos is a professor and university distinguished scholar of electrical engineering at Kansas State University. He teaches courses on energy conversion, power electronics, power quality, and other subjects, and his research interests include electric machines, power electronics, power quality, and artificial intelligence in power systems.

5University of Florida

At the University of Florida, graduate students can pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering, with the option specialize in either communication or semiconductor device technology. Students can obtain a master’s degree in as few as 24 months online.

Robert M. Fox

Robert M. Fox is an associate professor of electrical engineering, as well as the associate chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Florida. His research focuses on analog integrated circuit design, and he has co-authored numerous publications since the late 1980s.

Jack W. Judy

Jack W. Judy is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Florida, as well as the Director of the Nanoscience Institute for Medical and Engineering Technologies. He has received numerous awards, including a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, NSF Career Award, and Okawa Foundation Award.

Campus Visitation Requirements for Online Electrical Engineering Programs

In some cases, prospective students may be required to visit the campus certain times throughout the year, either to meet with an advisor or to turn in coursework to professors. In general, though, many highly-respected and accredited online engineering programs allow students to pursue a degree without ever visiting the campus. For example, both the University of Florida and Iowa State University allow graduate students to obtain a degree in electrical engineering without setting foot inside of a classroom.

Other Considerations for Selecting the Right Program

Of course, there are other factors to consider before enrolling in a specific program. Along with accreditation, it is important that an online electrical engineering program assist students with post-graduate job placement, as this may prove difficult otherwise without help from the school. In addition, students should seek out a program that provides them with the opportunity to discuss their questions and concerns with an advisor or other faculty member, which can be conducted online or even in-person. Overall, this will help the student throughout the course of his or her studies in the program, as well as once he or she has completed the degree online.

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