Online Engineering Schools in California

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CA Engineering Opportunities by Field

Career Outlook for California Engineers By Field, 2014-2024
Fastest Growing:

Biomedical Engineers (41.1 percent)

Computer Hardware Engineers (22.1)

Environmental Engineers (21.1)

Chemical Engineers (16.7)

Health and Safety Engineers (13.8)

Most Annual Openings:

Computer Hardware Engineers (600 jobs added annually)

Civil Engineering (500)

Mechanical Engineers (290)

Industrial Engineers (260)

Electrical Engineers (250)

Even with steep demand, the best opportunities generally go to engineers who invest in the right education and training. And employers are willing to pay for it: in fact, the EDD data places engineers among some of the highest-paid professionals in California. The types of engineers who earned the highest median wages in 2016:

  • Computer Hardware Engineers: $131,874
  • Aerospace Engineers: $116,393
  • Electrical Engineers: $115,804
  • Materials Engineers: $111,950
  • Health and Safety Engineers:$104,970

Each job listed above represents a different engineering specialty. Students considering online engineering degrees in California should decide which interest them most before choosing a major.

Engineering Majors

Nearly every industry needs engineers. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, however, the engineer title is often misused: think sales, automotive, and culinary engineers. This lingering point of contention for engineering organizations can make it difficult to research relevant careers and programs. For a list of the most common types of online engineering programs in California (and elsewhere), please see our list of engineering degree types.

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.

Dr.-Woody-Ju

Dr. Jiann-Wen “Woody” Ju – 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 in the area of structural engineering. 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. Dr. Ju holds master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr.-Ellis-Meng

Dr. Ellis Meng – University of Southern California

Dr. Ellis Meng is an associate professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, where she also chairs the Women in Science and Engineering program and the Biomedical Microsystems Lab. She has earned a number of 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 is an advocate for the use of microtechnology in medicine, an inventor, and a textbook author. Dr. Meng holds a B.S. in Engineering and Applied Science, M.S. in Electrical Engineering, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Caltech. She often serves as a research mentor at USC.

Dr.-Christopher-C.-Pascual

Christopher C. Pascual – California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Dr. Christopher C. Pascual is a mechanical engineering professor at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He teaches several courses for the University’s online M.S. in fire protection engineering program, including fire dynamics, fundamental thermal sciences, and the culminating (i.e., capstone) experience in fire protection engineering. He was instrumental in founding the University’s FPE program—an effort that earned him the Society of Fire Protection Engineer’s “Person of the Year” in 2010. The award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the organization. According to his faculty bio, D. Pascual’s areas of professional interest range from fluid mechanics and turbomachinery to heat transfer, energy conversion, and fire protection.

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 B.S. in Computer Science – California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University, Monterey Bay’s online B.S. in computer science program provides a balance of CS theory and hands-on learning. Courses are eight weeks long and designed to be interactive and collaborative. Scheduling is flexible: students receive work on Monday that is due by Wednesday of the following week. While online engineering degrees afford students a greater degree of independence, schools like CSUMB design programs that also promote learner engagement, peer communication, and collaboration. Students can get faculty help along the way via email and Google Hangouts. Note that CSUMB’s online engineering students are expected to take some proctored exams, usually within their home communities.

  • Campus location: Monterey
  • Cost: $525 per unit, plus fees
  • Required campus visits: None

Online B.S. 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 its online B.S. 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 specialization. NU also offers an M.S. 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.

  • Campus location: La Jolla
  • Tuition and fees: $362 per unit in tuition and fees
  • 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:

Online M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics – Stanford University

Stanford University’s online engineering programs offer the prestige of a Stanford education with the flexibility and accessibility of online education. Its M.S. 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.

  • Campus location: Palo Alto
  • Cost: $1,200 per quarter unit, plus additional fees
  • Required campus visits: Minimal campus visits required

Online M.S. in Biomedical Engineering – University of Southern California

The University of Southern California’s online engineering programs are highly-regarded: U.S. News & World Report ranked the University’s online graduate engineering degrees second in the nation in 2017. According to USC, the online M.S. 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. Core course topics include advanced biomedical systems, medical imaging systems and informatics, brain theory, artificial intelligence, physiological control systems, and more.

  • Campus location: Los Angeles
  • Cost: $1,937 per unit, plus fees
  • Required campus visits: Visits are strictly optional

Online M.S. in Engineering – University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA’s graduate-level online engineering programs are perhaps among the most prestigious in the United States: U.S. News & World Report ranked them no. 1 nationally in 2017 for the third year in a row. Though this program leads to an M.S. 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, and mechanics of structures. Note that UCLA also offers a number of 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.

  • Campus location: Los Angeles
  • Cost: $3,850 per course, or $34,650 for the full nine-course program
  • 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 A.A. in Computer Information Systems – Monterey Peninsula College

Monterey Peninsula College’s A.A. in computer information systems is a fully online program ideal for students considering careers as computer engineers. Core coursework explores computer systems, networking, and programming in Python and Java. According to MPC, the online CIS program is a transfer-oriented degree that helps graduates segue into four-year programs with up to 60 units under their belts. Monterey Peninsula College is a member of the California Virtual Campus (CVC)—an online gateway that connects students with online courses from other participating schools at no additional cost. That means students enrolled in the online CIS program could pursue engineering-geared electives even if they are not a part of the core curriculum.

  • Campus location: Monterey
  • Cost: $46 per unit, plus fees
  • Required campus visits: None

Online A.S. 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 A.S. in engineering degree. Students take basic math and science courses, selected engineering core classes (e.g., electrical and materials engineering), and at least one programming course. 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.

  • Campus location: San Mateo
  • Cost: $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-if-complex production processes, from concept to fabrication. The program builds upon core coursework in concept development, system analysis, and engineering management. Additional electives explore systems safety, logistics, project management, and design thinking. While most students complete the program within two years, UCSD allows them as many as five.

  • Campus location: La Jolla
  • Cost: An estimated $6,200 in tuition and fees and $740 in books and materials
  • Required campus visits: None

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

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

Regional accreditation

Programmatic accreditation

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 admit 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 Programs for California Students

Johns Hopkins University

  • Online MS - ECE
  • Full-Time MSE - ECE