Online Engineering Degrees and Diploma Programs

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Online programs in such engineering specialties as chemical engineering and electrical engineering are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels; degree-completion options are also offered. While some programs are entirely online, others may require students to complete some work on campus, such as lab work or examinations, though this depends on the program. Look for programs accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), since this is requirement for professional licensure. Transferrable credits or degrees or required for some programs. Diploma programs in engineering typically are not available online.

Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering

Online bachelor's degree programs in electrical engineering provide students with an overview of contemporary and traditional aspects of designing electronic and electrical components and systems. Candidates study a variety of electrical engineering components, including electronics, control systems, circuits and electromagnetic fields. In addition to the traditional engineering coursework, students develop leadership, communication and teamwork skills in order to better prepare for a competitive global marketplace. Some online programs require applicants to have a number of general education transfer credits or an associate degree in engineering technology or a related field.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's-level electrical engineering programs typically require approximately 120-136 credit hours composed of general education coursework, core electrical engineering courses and electives that allow students to customize their learning. Foundation courses in chemistry, physics, math and English are usually required.

Some online engineering programs offer the required coursework entirely online, while others require brief on-campus learning labs. Others are offered as degree completion programs, providing only upper-division coursework in electrical engineering online and expecting students to complete all general education and lower-division courses at an accredited community college or 4-year institution prior to enrollment in the online program. Engineering students learn online through posted course materials, lecture videos, group projects, discussion boards and course assignments. If required, on-campus labs range from 3-14 days in length and are usually conducted during the summer session.

Course Topics

Online electrical engineering courses are usually taught by educated and experienced professionals within the field who are available to answer questions and discuss course content via e-mail, phone or online video conferencing. Common courses cover power supplies, electronic devices, electrical systems and circuits.

Digital Electronics

This online course introduces students to the basics of digital circuit design. Topics include logic gates, Boolean algebra, mathematical operations and counters.

Semiconductor Devices

Students are provided with an overview of the physical principles of semiconductor devices and their operation. Principles covered include bipolar junction transistors, field-effect transistors, metal-semiconductor contacts and junction diodes.

Signals and Systems

Lessons introduce continuous-time and discrete-time linear systems and signals. Distance learning students study time-domain descriptions, including convolution and both difference and differential equations. Frequency-domain descriptions, such as transfer function, frequency response and Laplace transforms, are also discussed.

Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering

A master's degree program in chemical engineering is designed to advance the knowledge of engineering professionals who hold a bachelor's degree in an engineering field. Online master's candidates study advanced concepts and principles in mathematical modeling, transport phenomena, kinetics and chemical reaction engineering. Graduates are prepared for advanced graduate work through a doctoral program or upper-level career paths within the field.

Program Information and Requirements

Online master's degree programs in chemical engineering typically require approximately 30-36 credit hours and two years of full-time study. Presented through recorded and streaming video lectures, the online coursework required for this type of program mimics that of similar on-campus programs.

Technical requirements include high-speed Internet access, word processing applications and Microsoft Excel. Most distance learning programs offer all the required coursework entirely online, with the exception of some programs that require students to visit campus for a final oral examination conducted by a graduate committee.

Course Topics

Online master's-level courses provide in-depth instruction in advanced concepts for key chemical engineering functions and build upon undergraduate coursework. Through electives that may include environmental science, energy engineering, electronic materials, biotechnology or polymers, students are able to customize their learning and further their knowledge of engineering specialty areas.

Chemical Engineering Modeling

Students examine mathematical approaches to solving problems within the field of chemical engineering. Topics covered include differential and integral equations, linear systems analysis, stability and mathematical modeling.

Chemical Reaction Engineering

Lessons include advanced reaction mechanisms and reaction rate theories. Enrollees study the design and analysis of complex reaction systems, including packed bed, fluidized bed and stirred tank chemical reactors.


This online course covers advanced chemical engineering principles in thermodynamics. Course content covers physical and chemical equilibria, phase behavior and correlations of material properties.

Ph.D. Program in Industrial Engineering

This type of online engineering program is designed for individuals interested in the advanced practice, research and teaching of industrial engineering. Applicants are typically required to have a master's degree in industrial engineering or another closely related engineering field from an ABET-accredited program.

Program Information and Requirements

An online Ph.D. program typically requires approximately 48 credit hours of advanced formal coursework and 20 hours of dissertation credit. Aside from the required core group of courses, students are able to work with academic advisors to customize their learning and map out an online degree program that includes coursework to meet their interests and career goals. Prior to submitting a dissertation proposal, students are often required to pass a preliminary examination composed of both oral and written components in order to demonstrate mastery of advanced industrial engineering principles and concepts.

Course Topics

Courses at this level cover a wide range of topics relevant to industrial engineering, such as mechanics and control of manufacturing systems, production control systems, cognitive engineering, operations research and design theory. In addition to the core requirements specific to industrial engineering, the curriculum includes courses in engineering disciplines outside of industrial engineering, research methods and statistics.

Industrial Ergonomics

Students examine and analyze procedures for completing work tasks. Topics covered include workspace design, ergonomic design principles for manual work, work environments and work measurement.

Engineering Economy

Lessons cover alternative engineering proposal principles and evaluations. Discussions include economic measures for effectiveness, comparative models, cost estimates and break-even analysis.

Engineering Statistics

This online course covers statistical analysis as it pertains to engineering fields. Ph.D. candidates study data analysis, probability, probability distributions, statistical inference and correlation models.

Career Information

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering may find careers focusing on power systems engineering or electrical equipment manufacturing. They're prepared to assume active roles in the design, development, testing and manufacturing of electrical equipment for electric motors, automobiles, aircraft, navigation systems, wireless communications and power generation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for electrical engineers is only projected to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028 ( Growth is being driven by advancements in technology, but tempered by the decline of the manufacturing sector. The BLS also reported that as of May 2018, electrical engineers earned a median annual salary of $96,640.

Engineers planning to provide services directly to the public are required to be licensed as professional engineers (PEs). Licensure requirements vary from state to state, but usually require at least an undergraduate degree from a program accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), a passing score on a state licensing exam and four years of relevant work experience.

Although a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering is often all that is required for entry-level positions within the field, graduates from a master's degree program are qualified to pursue advanced careers that focus on research and development. Chemical engineers are needed in manufacturing, project engineering and product development.

The BLS projected that despite slower-than-average job growth of 6% of employment opportunities for chemical engineers between 2018 and 2028, some job growth may present itself for chemical engineers within service-providing industries, specifically in the research and development of nanotechnology, biotechnology and energy. The BLS also reported the median average salary for chemical engineers was $114,470, as of May 2018.

Concerned with the factors of production and productivity, industrial engineers can find employment in a number of industries with private, public and government organizations. Industrial engineers are able to use their knowledge of production procedures, including machines, materials, people, energy and information to increase productivity. Graduates of a Ph.D. program typically enter the world of academia and find positions as college professors or researchers.

Students seeking an engineering degree have several online options available including programs that can be completed fully online or hybrid programs that require some on-campus work. These programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

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