Electrical Degrees by Degree Program Level

Get information about degree programs in electrical engineering. Learn about degree levels, program requirements, career options, continuing education options and the economic outlook for graduates.

Essential Information

Electrical engineering degrees are offered at the associates, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree level. An associate's degree program in electrical engineering technology prepares grads for employment as engineering technicians. Students in associate's programs learn about electronic devices and components, mathematics and physics. Hands-on training assembling and dissembling electronics is often included.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs prepare students to work as electrical engineers. Students in bachelor's degree programs learn to design electronic components and participate in a senior project. Students in master's degree programs may specialize in an area, such as nanotechnology, circuit design or microelectronics, and they usually have the option to do a thesis. Doctoral programs usually also feature specializations, and coursework, research and a dissertation are required. Graduates of master's and doctoral programs will have expanded career options in college instruction and research, in addition to electrical engineering.

Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering Technology

An electrical engineering technology program emphasizes the application of science and engineering. Students receive training in electronic circuits, microprocessors, AC and DC circuits, machines that utilize electricity and computer applications. However, before these engineering technology classes can be taken, a student must first complete courses in mathematics and physics. An associate's degree in electrical engineering technology can be completed in two years.

Educational Prerequisites

A high school diploma is required for admission into an associate's electrical engineering technology degree program. Scores for the ACT exam may also be requested by some community colleges.

Program Coursework

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in electrical engineering technology must be proficient in math and science. Additionally, they must be comfortable assembling and disassembling electronic devices and components. Some possible courses include:

  • Algebra
  • Physics
  • Technical calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Logic controllers
  • Analog electronics
  • DC circuits
  • AC circuits

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the employment of electrical and electronic technicians is expected to grow 2% for the years 2010-2020. The BLS also reports that the 2012 annual median salary of an electrical and electronics engineering technician was $57,850.

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)

A Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering provides a foundation in electrical engineering and introduces students to the theory and design of electrical circuits, electronics and systems and signals. Some programs include an optional fifth year in which the student completes a senior design project. This fifth year, if available, is strongly encouraged to be taken by those students who are interested in continuing their study in electrical engineering at the graduate level.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants who have an aptitude for electronics design, mathematics and physics will have the best chance of succeeding in a bachelor's degree program in electrical engineering. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma. A university may also request scores for either the ACT or SAT exam.

Program Coursework

The first and second year of enrollment is primarily devoted to the completion of math and science courses. During the final years, a student will complete core courses in electrical engineering and a senior project. Some possible courses include:

  • Physics
  • General chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Differential equations
  • Circuits
  • Electromagnetics
  • Microcontrollers
  • Digital logic

Possible Career Options

Many engineering opportunities exist for graduates of a bachelor's degree program in electrical engineering. Some possible career outcomes include:

  • Electrical engineer
  • Research electrical engineer
  • Business consultant

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

A master's degree program in electrical engineering introduces students to more advanced concepts within the field and allows for areas of specialization, such as circuit design, signal and networking processing, optics and fields, nanotechnology, microelectronics and automatic controls. Students may pursue a thesis or non-thesis option; the thesis option is strongly recommendation for students who plan to apply for research-based electrical engineering positions.

Educational Prerequisites

A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering is required for admission into a master's degree program. Many colleges and universities also require a minimum 3.0 GPA on courses taken during the third and final year of enrollment. Scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and 2-3 recommendation letters may also be requested.

Program Coursework

A final project is completed during the second year of enrollment. The first year is devoted core courses in a student's area of interest. Course topics typically include:

  • Solid state instruments
  • Computer engineering fundamentals
  • Electromagnetic theory
  • Analysis of linear systems
  • Architecture of computers
  • Differential equations
  • Complex variables

Popular Career Options

A master's program prepares students for advanced positions in the field of electrical engineering. Some graduates may also choose to teach at a community college. Possible career outcomes include:

  • Community college instructor
  • Electrical engineer
  • Test engineer
  • Research engineer

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering

A Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering degree program includes training on the basics of electronic systems and design. Much like a master's degree program, it allows students to choose an area of specialization. Some current electrical engineering emphasis areas include semiconductors, solid state microelectronics, signal processing, wireless networks and electromagnetics.

Most of the time spent in residency is spent on the completion of a dissertation. A research topic is chosen by a student and he or she works closely with an advisor to develop a course of study that compliments a student's area of interest in electrical engineering. Advisors also provide guidance on the process of completing and defending the dissertation and the comprehensive examination.

Educational Prerequisites

An applicant must hold at least an undergraduate degree in engineering and have a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in engineering courses. Selective electrical engineering Ph.D. programs may require a higher GPA. Additionally, a university may request letters of recommendation and scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Program Coursework

A majority of the time enrolled in a Ph.D. degree program in electrical engineering is spent on conducting research and the writing of a dissertation. Elective courses should support a student's area of interest within the discipline. Some courses include:

  • Electrical power systems
  • Analysis of linear systems
  • Processing of digital signals
  • Theory of electromagnetics
  • Stochastic processes
  • Analog circuit design
  • Integrated circuits
  • Electromagnetics and computational methods

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the employment of electrical engineers is expected to increase by 7% for the 2010-2020 period. The median annual salary of an electrical engineer in 2012 was $87,920.

Continuing Education Information

State licensure is required for engineers who offer their services to the general public. Licensure requires passing a state examination, accumulating four years of work experience as an engineer and graduation from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Certification is also offered by many different professional organizations.

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