Online Engineering Programs in Illinois

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IL-Based Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering

For many aspiring engineers, the first step in starting their careers is earning a bachelor’s degree. Having at least an undergraduate degree can lead to higher compensation, increased professional responsibilities, candidacy for graduate programs, and more opportunities to advance into the future. Here are two of the outstanding online bachelor’s degrees in engineering (or closely related fields) from institutions based in IL:

B.S. in Technology, Emphasis in Applied Manufacturing Technology – Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University in DeKalb gives students the opportunity to pursue an online bachelor of science (B.S.) in technology with an emphasis in applied manufacturing technology, a degree offered through the School of Engineering. This program accepts students who already possess a technical associate degree, and requires the completion of an additional 60 credit-hours of courses on industrial quality control, supervision in industry, green technologies, industrial project management, and disaster preparedness, among others. Tuition for the spring 2016 semester costs $348.84 per credit-hour for in-state students, although this does not include additional fees.

B.A. in Computer Science – Lewis University

Aspiring engineers with an interest in computers may wish to pursue an accelerated, distance-based bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in computer science from Lewis University in Romeoville. This degree can be completed entirely online and consists of eight-week courses on subjects such as discrete mathematics, programming fundamentals, operating systems, and computer organization. Students must complete a total of 128 credit-hours. Tuition costs $600 per credit-hour for undergraduate students, not including additional fees.

IL-Based Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering

While some engineers obtain entry-level employment following a bachelor’s degree program, others pursue a master’s degree. A graduate education can allow for greater specialization and a comprehensive understanding of a specific field. It’s worth noting that there’s generally a greater variety of online degrees in engineering at the graduate degree level. Here are two online master’s degrees in engineering based in Illinois.

M.S. in Biological Engineering – Illinois Institute of Technology

At the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, students have the opportunity to pursue an master of science (M.S.) degree in biological engineering online. A thesis is not necessary in this 30-credit program. Core courses include transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and bioprocess engineering, among others. Students are also required to take elective and professional development classes during this program, as well. Tuition rates for the 2017-18 academic year are $1,470 per credit-hour, not including fees.

M.S. in Computer Science – University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield provides students the opportunity to pursue an online M.S. degree in computer science. Successful completion of this program requires a total of 32 credit-hours split into eight different courses, which includes a graduate research seminar. Tuition for graduate students is set at $362.25 per credit-hour, although this does not include an online academic support fee of $45 per hour and additional fees.

Other Online Engineering Programs in Illinois

In addition to online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Illinois, there are certificate and associate degree programs as well. Here are two other distance-based engineering programs based in IL.

Certificate in Transportation Engineering – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gives students the option of pursuing a certificate in transportation engineering entirely online. The program falls within the general purview of civil and environmental engineering, providing students with knowledge of the transportation engineering subfield in a shorter period of time than a degree program. Courses include airport design, railroad track engineering, high speed rail, and public transportation. Students must complete these 12 credit-hours in order to obtain the certificate, and tuition for the program costs $3,102 for each three-credit course.

A.S. in Computer Science – Oakton Community College (Hybrid)

The associate of science (A.S.) program in computer science at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines is not a purely online degree, as some of the courses are held on campus. That said, this hybrid program does offer many required courses online, including basic computer science, Java programming, Python, C programming for engineers, C++ data structures, and more. This program requires students to successfully complete between 60 and 62 credit-hours, and costs $136.25 per credit-hour for in-state students.

Online Engineering Programs – What to Consider

Beyond the lure of generous compensation and the desire to study under accomplished professors, aspiring engineers are encouraged to consider other factors before deciding on a school. Prior to applying to an online engineering program in IL, students should ask:

  • Do online students have in-state status (and tuition rates)?
  • Is the program entirely online? If it’s a hybrid program, how often are campus visits required? Can practical experience credits be completed in the student’s home area?
  • Will the school help with job placement after graduation? Do other services exist for alumni?
  • Can students complete the program on a part-time basis? How long does the program take to complete, on average?

Two other important considerations are a program’s accreditation and “state authorization” statuses.

Accreditation of Online Engineering Programs

Accreditation is an indicator of programmatic or institutional quality. Pursuing accreditation from an esteemed organization is voluntary and demonstrates that a school is committed to offering a useful, reliable, and standardized education which can prepare a student for employment. To become accredited, a program (or school) must general meet certain standards in regards to education offered, the management of finances, the provision of student services, and student outcomes, among other criteria.

Bear in mind, however, that not all accreditation organizations carry the same weight; students should search for programs that have received accreditation through one of the entities approved by the U.S. Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), including the organizations below, which approve engineering schools in IL:

National accreditation

Regional accreditation

Programmatic accreditation

State Authorization Status

In addition to accreditation, students should also search for programs have proper “state authorization” status as well. Students can only attend programs that have been authorized to operate in Illinois. When students reside in the same state as their distance-based institution, this generally isn’t a problem; however, when schools and their students are in different states, students must ensure they’re eligible for admissions. Most schools display this information on their websites (e.g., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and for those that don’t, students are encouraged to reach out to program coordinators prior to applying.

Admissions Requirements

Online engineering programs in Illinois typically require students to meet the same prerequisites as their on-campus counterparts. Naturally, some programs may have institution-specific requirements, but many have similar application processes and materials. Broken down by degree level, here are some common criteria for online engineering programs:

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Requirements

  • A high school diploma
  • Proof of completion of courses in physics, chemistry, calculus, and other related courses
  • A competitive GPA (e.g., >2.5 or 3.0)
  • Letters of recommendation, either by teachers or other qualifying individuals
  • Personal statement
  • ACT or SAT scores

Online Master’s Degree in Engineering Requirements

  • B.S. in engineering (some programs may admit students from other disciplines on a case-by-case basis with proof of prerequisite coursework)
  • A competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Test scores for the GRE or other similar exam
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation from professors, advisors, or employers

Online Graduate or Professional Certificate Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in engineering
  • A CV or resume
  • Two or more letters of recommendation from qualifying individuals
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose

Illinois-Based Online Engineering Professors to Know

There is a wealth of reputable engineering professors who teach courses at schools offering online degrees. Here are three standout educators and researchers who lead engineering or computer science-related courses in Illinois:

Dr. Ted Mims – University of Illinois at Springfield

Dr. Ted Mims is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, where he also serves as the department head. Courses that he’s taught include computer organization, introduction to operating systems, network administration, and computer architecture, among many others. His current research is related to developing laboratory and instructional modules for teaching about networks, systems security, and information assurance. Notably, he’s the recipient of a number of National Science Foundation grants and research stipends over the years.

Dr. Rahim Benekohal – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Rahim Benekohal is a professor within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his primary research area focuses is transportation engineering. He’s the editor of the book Traffic Congestion and Traffic Safety in the 21st Century: Challenges, Innovations, and Opportunities, published by the ASCE (1997), and currently serves as the editor of the civil engineering section of the Journal of Engineering. He’s also the director of the Traffic Operations Lab at the university, as well as the faculty advisor to the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Dr. Said Oucheriah – Northern Illinois University

Dr. Said Oucheriah is a professor of technology within the Department of Engineering at Northern Illinois University. His research interests include large-scale systems, robust and adaptive control, time-delay systems, and frequency synthesizers, among others. He has many authorship credits to his name, including a February 2016 article in the International Journal of Electronics Letters; a February 2015 article in the International Journal of Innovative Computing, Information, and Control; and many more in peer-reviewed publications.


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