Online Engineering Schools in California

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Online Engineering Programs – What to Consider

Most students researching online colleges ponder the same basic characteristics—i.e., program availability, school reputation, and cost—but it is just as important to consider online education as a medium. Knowing the ins and outs of web-based learning ensures students ask the right questions as they review California’s online engineering schools. Examples:

  • Does this program have scheduled or flexible course log-ins?
  • Are occasional campus visits required?
  • Can students finish internships and other practical requirements locally?
  • What student support services are available?
  • Is the program exclusively full- or part-time?
  • What is its average time to completion?
  • Do all online learners have in-state status?
  • What kinds of careers do program graduates hold?

Not all program considerations are a matter of preference: accreditation and state authorization can define what a degree is worth, assuming it’s available at all.


Accreditation certifies that a third-party organization evaluated a California online engineering school or program and confirmed it met set quality standards and best practices. In other words, it signals value: many financial aid providers, graduate schools, and employers only consider applicants from accredited engineering schools. Unfortunately, not all accrediting agencies carry the same weight.

Students are encouraged to look for online colleges or degrees accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Programs can earn national, regional, and programmatic accreditation. Some accreditation bodies focus on engineering programs, for example, while others evaluate only online schools. The agencies most likely to accredit online engineering schools in California:

National accreditation

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

Regional accreditation

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)

Programmatic accreditation

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  • Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)

State Authorization

Students can only attend online engineering schools authorized to operate in their state. Californians who attend online programs based in the state are unlikely to have trouble, but programs based in other states may not be able to admit students from specific states.

Therefore, out-of-state students considering an online engineering degree based in California should review state policies before applying for admission. Fortunately, many online schools in California list this information on their websites (e.g., University of Southern California’s state disclosures page).

Admissions Requirements for Online Engineering Programs

Finding the right engineering school pays off, but only for students who get into them. Online engineering schools in California typically have the same admissions standards as those with campuses. While specific requirements vary by school and program, some criteria are common. The following breaks them down by program level:

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Requirements

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent with coursework in math, physics, chemistry, and biology
  • High school GPA: >2.5-3.0
  • Letters of recommendation: Two from qualifying high school teachers
  • Admissions essay: Usually a summary of one’s background, reasons for applying, and long-term goals
  • Exam scores: SAT or ACT

Online Master’s Degree in Engineering Requirements

  • Education: A bachelor’s degree in engineering; schools may accept other relevant degrees if applicants meet established prerequisites
  • Undergraduate GPA: >2.5-3.0
  • Exam scores: Some schools require GRE scores, though they may be waived in certain cases; minimums vary by program
  • Statement of purpose: Demonstrates why a student chose to apply and what he or she hopes to achieve
  • Letters of recommendation: Two or three from qualifying contributors

Online Graduate or Professional Certificate Requirements

  • Education: A relevant and accredited bachelor’s degree; some programs require bachelor’s degrees with a minimum of four years of full-time study
  • Letters of recommendation: Two letters provided by professors, employers, or others who can speak to one’s engineering achievements and potential
  • Statement of purpose: One- to two-page statement clarifying why a candidate wanted to apply to the program
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Exam scores: Minimums and type of test vary by school and may be waived in certain cases

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering

The BLS reports that most entry-level engineering jobs require bachelor’s degrees, but master’s degrees can improve one’s career and earning potential. It is not uncommon for bachelor’s degree holders to attend graduate school online while working full-time.

Nonetheless, an online bachelor’s in engineering can help get one’s foot in the metaphorical door. Computer science and engineering are perhaps the most common options, but online schools increasingly branch into new disciplines by incorporating local internships or apprenticeships. Here are a few of the online engineering bachelor’s degrees in California.

Online BS in Computer Science Degree Completion Program – California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University, Monterey Bay’s online BS in computer science degree completion program offers both hands-on software development training and solid computer science theories. Students are provided with a balance of CS theory and hands-on learning in an interactive and collaborative environment with a concentration in software engineering.

Ideal for working professionals, this degree completion program requires applicants to be transfer-ready from another community college or university, or hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than computer science. Transfer-ready students can be defined as those applicants who have 60 or more semester credits of transferable courses, have achieved a minimum grade point average of 2.0, and are in good academic standing at their current or most recent college or university.

The curriculum will explore courses such as operating systems, introduction to computer networks, internet programming, introduction to database systems, design and analysis of algorithms, and software engineering.

Graduates of this program will be exceptionally prepared to participate in the fast-paced information economy in jobs such as software engineers, mobile app developers, and technology project managers.

  • Campus Location: Monterey
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); AACSB
  • Estimated Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $525 per unit
  • Required campus visits: None

Online BS in Computer Science – National University

While National University does, as its name suggests, serve students from dozens of states, its official headquarters are in La Jolla. According to NU, students pursuing their online BS in computer science establish a strong technical background that benefits those entering the workforce or preparing for graduate school.

They study object-oriented programming, algorithms, operating systems, software engineering, and data structures, among other topics. Electives allow some degree of specialization. NU also offers an MS in computer science transition program. This online option allows students to take graduate-level courses as undergraduates, which reduces program requirements so students can graduate faster.

Graduates will be able to analyze complex computing problems and apply principles of computing to identify solutions. They will be able to communicate effectively and function effectively as members of a team. Graduates will also learn about the basics of designing, implementing, and evaluating computing-based solutions.

  • Campus Location: La Jolla
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months or less
  • Estimated Tuition: $370 per quarter-unit
  • Required campus visits: None

Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering

More students seek online master’s in engineering degrees than ever. The ability to work and study likely contributes to the trend, as do increasing employer expectations. Because much of an engineer’s hands-on practical training takes place at the undergraduate level, online engineering master’s degrees are more prevalent than bachelor’s degrees.

Graduate programs build upon one’s undergraduate studies, deepening students’ understanding of the field and preparing them to advance their careers. A few of California’s online engineering master’s degrees:

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Online MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics – Stanford University

Stanford University’s online engineering programs offer the prestige of Stanford education with the flexibility and accessibility of online education. Its MS in aeronautics and astronautics is ideal for working professionals attending on a part-time basis.

Core classes fall into one of five specializations: fluids, structures, propulsion, experimentation, and guidance and control; math courses and electives round out the curriculum. According to Stanford, most part-time students complete the 45-unit program in three to five years; five years is the maximum period allowed.

To be eligible for this program, applicants must either hold or expect to hold a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university. Applicants from institutions outside the U.S. must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. Application requirements include a completed online application, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and official TOEFL scores for international students.

  • Campus Location: Palo Alto
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 to 60 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,352 per unit
  • Required campus visits: Minimal campus visits required

Online MS in Biomedical Engineering – University of Southern California

The University of Southern California’s online engineering programs are highly-regarded: US News & World Report ranked the University’s online graduate engineering degrees fifth in the nation in 2021. According to USC, the online MS in biomedical engineering program aims to provide a broad background in the field—one ideal for students entering interdisciplinary medical technology careers or doctoral studies. The program can be completed with or without a thesis.

Made up of 28 credits, the program includes core courses such as advanced topics in biomedical systems, integration of medical imaging systems, physiological control systems, advanced studies of the nervous system, signal and systems analysis, analog integrated circuit design, and more.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in any engineering or engineering-related discipline, electronic transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, a current resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students whose first language is not English.

At the end of the program, graduates will be able to pursue opportunities in the areas of bioinstrumentation, biomechanics, biomaterials, medical imaging, pharmaceuticals, orthopedic surgery, and systems physiology.

  • Campus Location: Los Angeles
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,199 per unit
  • Required campus visits: None

Online MS in Engineering – University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA’s graduate-level online engineering programs are perhaps among the most prestigious in the United States: US News & World Report ranked them second nationally in 2021.

Though this program leads to an MS in engineering, most students choose one of five major specializations: electrical engineering; computer science; materials science and engineering; civil and environmental engineering; and mechanical and aerospace engineering. Additional programs include system engineering, engineering management, reliability engineering, and mechanics of structures.

Note that UCLA also offers several online engineering graduate certificates. Most students complete programs within two years, including two summer sessions, but are allowed to do so within three. Students can learn more about each specialty track on the UCLA website.

This program offers highly qualified engineers the advantages and accessibility of a fully online masters program. Students will be able to strengthen their knowledge of industry and technology while maintaining prior outside commitments.

Applicants to the program require a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, mathematics, or physics, a grade point average of 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate coursework, GRE test scores (can be waived), and TOEFL/ or IELTS scores for international applicants.

  • Campus Location: Los Angeles
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,200 per course
  • Required campus visits: None

Other Online Engineering Programs

Most online engineering students in California seek bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but the options don’t end there. A limited number of online associate degrees give students a head start in their training and there are droves of specialized online engineering certificates as well. Examples of these online engineering programs in California:

Online Graduate Certificate in Astronautical Engineering – University of Southern California

University of Southern California’’s online graduate certificate in astronautical engineering program is ideal for practicing scientists and engineers who wish to enter space-related fields or those who want to obtain additional training in specific space-related areas. This fully online program does not require any campus visits and includes the same dedicated faculty members who teach on campus.

Applicants for this program require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in any engineering or engineering-related discipline, electronic transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, a current resume, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students.

Comprising 12 credits, the program includes courses such as plasma dynamics, spacecraft system design, human spaceflight, liquid rocket propulsion, and spacecraft power systems. Graduates will be able to take up opportunities at consulting firms, warehouse and distribution facilities, aerospace & defense, quality control inspection, and spacecraft operations.

  • Campus Location: Los Angeles
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (18 to 24 months); Part-time (36 to 36 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,199 per unit
  • Required campus visits: None

Online AS in Engineering – College of San Mateo

The College of San Mateo is another CVC campus with a range of online learning options, including an online AS in engineering degree. The College of San Mateo suggests its engineering graduates should know how to use math, science, and engineering concepts and tools to identify and solve problems. They should also be able to communicate and collaborate effectively. Keep in mind that CSM’s status as a CVC institution lets students explore additional online courses from other participating schools.

Students take basic math and science courses, selected engineering core classes (e.g., electrical and materials engineering), and at least one programming course. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: Principles of microeconomics, introduction to engineering, elementary probability and statistics, engineering statics, engineering graphics, and materials science. The program comprises 60 to 70 transferable units.

  • Campus location: San Mateo
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $46 per unit, plus fees
  • Required campus visits: None

Online Graduate Certificate in Embedded Systems Engineering – University of California, San Diego

The University of California San Diego’s online systems engineering certificate develops a tech-savvy applicable to a range of industries. Students learn the techniques and methodologies systems engineers use to create efficient production processes, from concept to fabrication.

The program consists of 24 credits including coursework in systems engineering management, systems requirements analysis, systems verification and validation, systems engineering software overview, and systems hardware or software integration. While most students complete the program within two years, UCSD allows them as many as five.

Graduates will be ready to take up positions in industries such as defense, financial services & banking, information technology, aerospace & airlines, health care, communications, manufacturing, automotive, utilities, and transportation.

  • Campus location: La Jolla
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $6,455
  • Required campus visits: None

Online Engineering Professors in California

The following California engineering professors are known not only for their teaching excellence but their notable contributions to their respective fields.

Hassan Badkoobehi – PhD National University

Dr. Hassan Badkoobehi is a professor of engineering at the National University, San Diego, California. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering classes. His activities and research interests are in the areas of problem-driven teaching, mathematical reasoning, environmental engineering, and related fields.

Dr. Badkoobehi has published and presented more than fifty papers, reviewed several book chapters and conference submissions, and served on many conference committees. He has received several awards such as the National University President Professoriate award and the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He completed his PhD and MS from the University of Oklahoma and a BS from Tabriz University.

Jiann-Wen “Woody” Ju – PhD University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Woody Ju is a professor in UCLA’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering where he teaches online courses such as experimental structural mechanics, elementary structural analysis, and plasticity. He is very active in academic publishing and holds editor or editorial board positions for such journals as the International Journal of Damage Mechanics, Advances in Structural Engineering, Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering, and the Journal of Composites.

A highly-regarded educator, Dr. Ju has been a visiting professor at universities in China, Paris, and Hong Kong. His primary research interest is the micromechanical damage mechanics of brittle composites, though his full list of foci is extensive. He holds MS and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ellis Meng – PhD University of Southern California

Dr. Ellis Meng is a professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, where she is also the Shelly and Ofer Nemirovsky Chair in Convergent Bioscience. She teaches or has taught courses such as introduction to engineering, biomedical measurement & instrumentation, and the fundamentals of biomedical microdevices. She has earned several honors and awards in her field.

Dr. Meng was, for instance, named a “TR35 Young Innovator Under 35” for her work in drug delivery and a “Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry’s MedTech 40 under 40.” She holds a BS in engineering and applied science, MS in electrical engineering, and PhD in electrical engineering from Caltech. She often serves as a research mentor at USC.

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