Electrical engineering degrees are available at both undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs often feature specializations in areas like nanotechnology, microelectronics and circuit design. Undergraduate students must have their high school diploma to pursue an associate's (2 years) or bachelor's (4 years) degree in the field, with some schools requiring SAT or ACT scores. An undergraduate degree in electrical engineering is required for master's and Ph.D programs, as well as GRE scores. Master's programs typically take 2 to 6 years to complete, with thesis projects often being required.
Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering Technology
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. Hands-on training in assembling and dissembling electronics is often included.
After basic courses in math and physics, students receive training in electronic circuits, machines that utilize electricity and computer applications. Some possible courses include:
- Algebra and calculus
- Logic controllers
- Analog electronics
- DC and AC circuits
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 is strongly encouraged for those students who are interested in continuing their study in electrical engineering at the graduate level.
The first and second year of enrollment is primarily devoted to 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 and chemistry
- Calculus including differential equations
- Circuits and digital logic
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
A master's degree program in electrical engineering introduces students to more advanced concepts within the field. 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.
The first year is devoted to core courses in a student's area of interest. Course topics typically include:
- Solid state instruments
- Computer engineering and architecture
- Electromagnetic theory
- Analysis of linear systems
- Complex variables
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. Some current electrical engineering emphasis areas include semiconductors, solid state microelectronics, signal processing, wireless networks and electromagnetics.
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. A research topic is chosen and the student works closely with an adviser to develop a course of study that compliments the student's area of interest.
Elective courses should support a student's area of interest within the discipline. Some courses might include:
- Electrical power systems
- Analysis of linear systems
- Processing of digital signals
- Integrated circuits
- Electromagnetics and computational methods
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the employment of electrical and electronic technicians is expected to decline by 2% for the years 2014-2024. The BLS also reports that the 2015 annual median salary of an electrical and electronics engineering technician was $61,130.
The BLS reported that the employment of electrical engineers is not expected to change for the 2014-2024 period. The median annual salary of an electrical engineer in 2014 was $93,010.
Possible Career Options
Many opportunities exist for electrical engineering at all levels from associate to doctoral degrees.
- Electronics technician
- Electrical engineer or research electrical engineer
- Test engineer
- Research engineer
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.
Aspiring electrical professionals can pursue associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees that provide training in various areas of electrical engineering and technology. Those who attain licensure after school can seek careers as engineers.