Anyone interested in taking a non-traditional route to a degree should be familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of online degree programs. Perhaps the greatest benefit of an online nanoengineering degree is that it allows the student to complete coursework relatively flexibly. Those with full-time employment or with young children may find the ability to study from home appealing. Though students in these programs must still follow the yearly schedule associated with the physical campus, coursework can be completed remotely, allowing individuals to earn a degree without relocating or dropping other responsibilities.
Despite the schedule flexibility and physical freedom, there can be certain drawbacks to earning a degree in nanoengineering online. Perhaps the most significant drawback is that students don’t have constant face-to-face support and motivation from professors or classroom peers. Individuals who require this type of atmosphere to succeed in a course may not thrive in an online setting. Additionally, successfully pursuing an online degree in nanoengineering requires the ability to set a schedule and work with very little oversight, which may make completing an online degree difficult for some students.
There may be additional pros and cons to an online nanoengineering degree that become more apparent as a student researches individual programs. Before making any final decisions, it is recommended that students have a full understanding of the scope and expectations for the program in which they hope to enroll.
Similar to traditional undergraduate or graduate programs, those attempting to enroll in an online nanoengineering program will be expected to submit various materials. Common admissions requirements derived from the programs profiled below include:
Aspiring students generally are required to follow the same admissions timeline as traditional students. Those who wish to begin school in the fall should expect to submit applications by January, while anyone hoping to start in the spring may need to submit materials by the fall. As the specific timeline will vary based on each institution, prospective students should search diligently to understand all relevant admissions information before starting the process.
As of November 2021, Louisiana Tech University, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, Rice University, and the State University of New York are the only nanoengineering programs that have received accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
All these programs are only offered in an on-campus format, meaning that it is currently not possible to attend an online nanoengineering program accredited by ABET. This lack of ABET accreditation for online nanoengineering programs may serve as an obstacle for some seeking a Professional Engineering (PE) license following graduation. In some states, graduation from an ABET-accredited engineering program is a mandatory prerequisite to apply to sit for a PE licensing exam.
In other states, graduates can use work experience instead of graduation from an ABET-accredited program, but the experiential requirements generally are higher than if a student attended an ABET-accredited institution. Overall, having a PE license is not a requirement to work as a nanoengineer, so an online degree can still allow the student the opportunity to obtain employment in the field.
In general, students in a nanoengineering undergraduate program take courses covering engineering computation, properties of materials, nanoengineering foundations, biochemical and physical principles of nanoengineering, molecular modeling, synthesis and fabrication, probability and statistical methods, and system design. In addition, undergraduate students may be required to take several general elective credits in pursuit of their degree, and graduate students may need to complete a thesis.
In some online degree programs, students may have the opportunity to choose a specialty within the field of nanoengineering. For example, a student pursuing a degree in online nanoengineering may also be able to focus on microelectronic devices and materials or biotechnology.
Aspiring students who hope to obtain a high-quality online education have several choices among highly regarded institutions. The following is a list of respected online nanoengineering degree programs:
North Carolina State University of Raleigh, NC allows students to obtain a master’s degree in nanoengineering online. This 30-credit degree program does not require a thesis, a final oral exam, or any in-person residency. The program provides students with an understanding of the fundamental advantages of nanoscale materials, systems, and devices.
This program is designed for students who have a bachelor of science degree in engineering or science from an accredited college or university with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Application requirements include three letters of recommendation, an official transcript, a written statement, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.
The program allows students to choose from several available concentrations such as materials science in nanoengineering, nanoelectronics and nanophotonics, biomedical sciences in nanoengineering, and research project in nanoengineering. Core courses in the program include modern concepts in materials science, introduction to nanomaterials, micro or nano-scale fabrication & manufacturing, micro or nanoelectromechanical systems, and conventional and emerging nanomanufacturing techniques and their applications in nanosystems.
At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as mechanical engineers, research & development engineers, materials engineers, computational chemists, process engineers, biomedical engineers, and bioinformatics engineers.
Students at the University of California–Riverside have the chance to pursue an online master’s of science (MS) degree in engineering with a specialization in materials at the nanoscale. This program can be completed in as few as 13 months and has no on-campus requirements. Students in this program will explore nanoscale applications and processes, including designing, synthesizing, and processing nanostructured materials.
Made up of 32 credits, the program involves 16 credits of core engineering courses and 16 credits of materials at the nanoscale specialization. Core classes include engineering in the global environment, technology innovation & strategy for engineers, introduction to systems engineering, and principles of engineering management.
Coursework in the specialization covers a variety of high-level topics in nanoscience, including microelectromechanical systems and crystal structure and bonding, the thermodynamic foundations of materials, and nanoscale science and engineering. This is a 100 percent online program and does not have any on-campus residency requirements.
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in STEM or a related field from a regionally accredited institution, official transcripts, a satisfactory GPA, GRE scores (waiver available for students who have a GPA of 3.2 or better), reference letters, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.
On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as materials engineers, medical scientists, and chemists among many such roles.
The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering based in Greensboro, NC offers an online MS in nanoengineering and other online degree programs in nanoengineering. The JSNN is a collaboration between the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).
As of November 2021, the school provides four nanoengineering-related degrees: a professional science master’s in nanoscience, an MS in nanoengineering, a PhD in nanoscience, and a PhD in nanoengineering. Notably, it offers six nano-oriented research foci: nano bioscience, nanometrology, nanomaterials, nanobioelectronics, nano energy, and computational nanotechnology.
The master of science in nanoengineering program comprises 30 to 33 credits including coursework in fundamentals of nanoengineering, fundamentals of nanomaterials, introduction to nano processing, nanobioelectronics, introduction to nano modeling and applications, and introduction of nano energy.
The major admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a grade point average of 3.0, applied science, or a closely related field from recognized institutions, a personal statement, and a current curriculum vitae.
The Harvard University Extension School offers a master’s degree in bioengineering and nanotechnology. The program comprises 12 courses, two of which are required on campus. Students in this program will explore the innovations that drive the nanotechnology world and will learn to apply engineering principles for addressing biological challenges.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must possess a four-year US bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university or its foreign equivalent. Application requirements include a completed online application, transcripts from previous schools, a recommendation from a postbaccalaureate research supervisor, a current resume, and proof of English proficiency for international applicants.
Comprising 48 credits, the curriculum includes courses such as introduction to biochemistry, principles & techniques of molecular biology, neurobiology, engineering of nanostructures for targeted drug delivery, and introduction to nanobiotechnology.
Oxford University has a distance-based postgraduate certificate in nanotechnology—a field closely allied with nanoengineering—which takes ten months to complete. This certificate can be taken online from anywhere in the world and is ideal for those who wish to learn more about the foundations of nanotechnology and nanoscience, technological advances, and the applications enabled by nanotechnology.
Students in this program take three online modules that introduce them to the most important and most commonly used quantitative, experimental, and analytical methods in nanotechnology. The three modules include the wider context of nanotechnology; the fundamental science of nanotechnology; and fundamental characterization for nanotechnology.
Graduates of the program will gain knowledge of the mathematical techniques & methods and physical principles for solving nanotechnology problems and apply them to industrial problems, conduct an independent and effective study, and gain an understanding of some of the most common applications of nanoscale phenomena.
A significant consideration for anyone interested in pursuing an online degree in nanoengineering is whether or not campus visits are required. In some cases, a student may be asked to travel to the campus once or twice per year for exams, interviews, or orientation sessions. Because this is ultimately dependent upon the individual institution, it is important that prospective students fully familiarize themselves with the specifics of the program before beginning the admissions process.
Shyam Aravamudhan The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering
Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan is an assistant professor of nanoengineering at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a collaborative project of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In addition to holding two patents, he has published numerous articles, and his current research interests include nanobioelectronics systems, environmental and health impacts of engineered and transformed nanomaterials, and functional additive manufacturing. Through his research, Dr. Aravamudhan seeks to better understand how the biological system functions by observing the phenomena at micro or nano-length scales.
He has published his research in journals such as the Journal of Neurotrauma, Journal of Electrochemical Society, and Biosensors & Bioelectronics. He completed his PhD and MS from the University of South Florida and a BE from the University of Madras.
Alexander Balandin The University of California at Riverside
Dr. Alexander Balandin is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, the founding chair of the materials science and engineering program, director of the Nano-Device Laboratory (NDL), and interim director of UCR’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University of California at Riverside. Dr. Balandin’s research areas include nanoscale materials, devices, and circuits.
In 2013, the Materials Research Society Foundation (MRS) awarded Dr. Balandin the MRS Medal for exceptional achievement for his work and discoveries regarding the thermal properties of graphene. His research has been published in journals such as Nano Letters, Nature Materials, and Applied Physics Letters. Some of his topics include “Superior thermal conductivity of single-layer graphene” and “Thermal properties of graphene and nanostructured carbon materials.” Dr. Balandin finished his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Lew Reynolds, Jr. North Carolina State University
Dr. Lew Reynolds, Jr. is a nanoengineering professor within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University, where he also serves as the director of graduate programs. He currently teaches a graduate course on nanoelectronics and two undergraduate laboratory courses. His interests include compound semiconductor materials and devices, epitaxial thin film growth, heteroepitaxy, and strain relation in misfit systems.
Since 2004, Dr. Reynolds has co-authored and published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. His research has been published in prominent journals such as Nanotechnology, Scientific Reports, and Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing. He completed his PhD and MS from the University of Virginia and a BS from Virginia Military Institute.
Jianjun Wei The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering
Dr. Jianjun Wei is a professor of nanoscience at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). He teaches courses such as the principles of nanoscience, advances in nanobiosensors, and nanoscale reaction. His research efforts are focused on the convergence of nanomaterials, bioanalysis, biomedicine, biosensors, and nanoscience & biology. His research has been published in prominent journals such as Langmuir, Nanotechnology, and the Journal of Power Sources.
He has received several awards such as JSNN Faculty Research Excellence Award, NASA Technical Innovation Brief Award, and The US DOD SBIR Achievement Award. He completed his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and his MS and BS from East China University of Science and Technology.
Yong Zhu North Carolina State University
Dr. Yong Zhu is the Andrew A. Adams Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University. His long-term goal is to advance nanotechnology and nanoscience by improving nanoscale material behavior understanding and exploring the applications of nanomaterials. He teaches courses such as micro/nanoelectromechanical systems, solid mechanics, and the strength of mechanical components.
His research efforts are focused on MEMS/NEMS design, fabrication, and characterization; stretchable and flexible electronics; and mechanics and materials issues in nanostructures and thin films. He has published his research in journals such as Advanced Materials, Nanoscale, and Nano Letters. Dr. Zhu has received several awards such as the Eshelby Mechanics Award and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award. He completed his PhD and MS from Northwestern University and a BS from the University of Science and Technology of China.
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