Electrical engineering is the use of electrical science, computer systems and electronics to develop new technologies and to make improvements to existing ones. A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering is the main requirement for entry-level positions in the field. A select number of four-year institutions offer these programs fully online, but other schools offer combined on-campus and distance learning education that require students to attend lab sessions.
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Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Bachelor's degree programs usually take about four years to complete, but online options in this field could range from three to six years in length depending on course schedules and a student's enrollment status.
Students enrolled in an online electrical engineering B.S. degree program learn the principles of designing electronic and electrical systems for numerous industries, such as energy, communications, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation and health care. The subject matter may examine:
- Signals and systems
- Random signals
- Semiconductor devices
- Computer programming
- Energy systems
- Engineering design
- Engineering ethics
- Technical communication
The lecture components are delivered through methods common to online degree programs in other fields. These include e-mail, messaging boards, chat rooms, videos, mp3s and more. Students can log on to their school's online classroom environment to complete assignments, take tests, participate in class discussions or work on group assignments with classmates.
Because of the hands-on nature of engineering work, online B.S. programs in electrical engineering often require students to perform laboratory work. A school may authorize a distance learning student to perform the lab work at a community college or other facility in his or her area, provided the appropriate professional faculty is available. Many programs, however, may require in-person attendance at the campus offering the online degree.
Electrical engineering employers tend to prefer hiring those with a bachelor's degree accredited by ABET. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who seek licensure as professional engineers must have graduated from an ABET-accredited program (www.bls.gov). As of April 2014, ABET has only accredited one university with a fully online bachelor's program in electrical engineering; however, the organization has given accreditation to a number of programs that have some online components (www.abet.org).
An online bachelor's degree in electrical engineering may take from three to six years to complete, depending on the student's schedule and enrollment status. These programs normally explore subjects such as electronics, semiconductors, circuits and engineering design.