Students interested in applying engineering principles to building design and construction will have more success finding online programs in construction - rather than architectural - engineering. Although some distance learning options at the undergraduate level are available, online programs in construction engineering are much more prevalent at the master's degree level. Found mainly at traditional four-year universities or colleges, these programs are usually designed for working professionals who have experience in the field. The online coursework focuses on advancing students' technical skills while also giving them managerial knowledge.
Distance learners studying these subjects do so in a virtual classroom environment managed by their schools. Professors upload lectures, videos, assignments, supplemental readings and other course materials that students can access any time of day. Tools like Web conferencing, discussion boards and e-mail allow classmates and instructors to interact. For this reason, students will need a webcam and headset with a microphone.
Master's Degree in Construction Engineering
To be eligible for admission to a construction engineering master's degree program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, typically, in engineering or a related field. Some schools may admit students without this undergraduate background, but will require additional prerequisite courses. Relevant work experience is also a common admissions factor. Once enrolled, students can usually complete all courses totally online and earn their graduate degree in about two years.
Students learn to manage both engineering and construction processes that take place in the field. They also learn how to gauge the risk of infrastructure systems, oversee construction crews, manage construction budgets and follow construction industry regulations.
Some specific topics that might be seen in online classes include:
- Construction materials
- Design and construction law
- Research methods in construction
- Environmental regulations
- Strategic management in construction
- Managing engineering and construction
- Engineering development
- Engineering computer methods
- Project budgeting and finance
Graduates may go on to obtain positions as construction managers, general contractors and land developers. They could work in construction engineering, engineering design and development, urban planning, architectural engineering, or construction consulting.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of civil engineers - professionals who design and supervise large-scale construction projects - is expected to grow 8% in the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for construction managers are also projected to be favorable, increasing 5% in the same time period.
Those looking for an online degree in architectural engineering may want to consider construction engineering programs instead; these programs are more commonly found, especially at the master's level. Graduates may be interested in the growing fields of civil engineering or construction management.