Electrical engineers design, build, and maintain electrical equipment. From the largest power plant to the smallest electrical circuit, electrical engineers play a vital role. If you harbor a passionate for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), a bachelor's in electrical engineering will give you the knowledge and skills to begin a rewarding career.
Overall, college graduates with a bachelor's in STEM-related fields can expect generous salaries throughout their careers. Electrical engineers are no exception. Earning a median annual salary of $94,210, you can support yourself in nearly every region of the country. Also, specializing in certain subfields such as renewable energy can make you a highly sought-after employee in this rapidly growing energy sector. From this article, you will gain resources to help you begin researching the U.S.'s best online bachelor's in electrical engineering programs.
Choosing a Program
The foundation of any electrical engineering program is a curriculum that teaches the math and physics principles that govern electromagnetism. After mastering these topics, students move to courses that show how these concepts apply to modern electrical systems. However, your online electrical engineering program should provide you with much more than a cookie-cutter education. Electrical engineering is a broad, evolving field that requires degree holders to stay up to date with the latest advances in electrical equipment.
When researching programs, consider what kind of work environment would best suit you. You can find electrical engineers in work environments ranging from nuclear power plant control rooms to the top of massive wind turbines. The latter represents one of the fastest growing fields of electrical engineering: renewable energy. Electrical engineering programs that offer a concentration in renewable energy give their graduates a tremendous advantage in the job market.
Online programs have multiple requirements for prospective students. Requirements include, but are not limited to earning an associate degree, a GPA cutoff, or prerequisite courses. Also, your program's graduation requirements may also include an internship or work experience component.
What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Programs?
|1||Clemson University Clemson, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Clemson is home to the 2017 NCAA football national champions and the well-respected Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Clemson offers an online bachelor’s in electrical engineering degree completion program. As a degree completion program, not all 126 required credits are available online; students are expected to bring credits from previous studies. Clemson does offer about 20 electrical engineering courses online each summer, which comprise the majority of the required credits.
The ideal applicant for Clemson’s bachelor's of science electrical engineering program is a full-time electrical engineer. Coursework is delivered asynchronously, in a flexible format to accommodate each student’s schedule. Recent high school graduates should gain some work experience before applying.
|2||Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
With the fifth-largest undergraduate enrollment in the nation, ASU maintains a strong presence in the distance education field. ASU offers an online BSE in electrical engineering, which consists of 40 courses, including fundamentals of electromagnets, calculus for engineers, and random signal analysis. Transfer students must complete only 30 credits of their online electrical engineering degree at ASU.
Graduates work as aerospace engineers, computer engineers, and wind energy engineers. The flexible, asynchronous program accepts applications on a rolling basis and provides multiple start dates throughout the year. Applicants should have an SAT score of 1210 or an ACT score of 24. Transfer students should have at least a 3.0 college GPA.
|3||University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
UND extends its influence beyond its remote Grand Forks campus through its extensive distance education department. UND's online bachelor's of science in electrical engineering allows full-time electrical engineers to pursue further education while working; most students require more than six years to complete the 125-credit program. Coursework is delivered asynchronously, through recorded lectures, so working engineers may complete coursework at their convenience. However, students are required to attend one- to two-week lab sessions on campus during the summer.
The curriculum includes courses in foundational electrical engineering areas such as signals and systems, electric drives, and control systems. While the program is designed for working professionals, anyone seeking an online electrical engineering degree may apply.
|4||Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Located on Long Island, Stony Brook is part of the State University of New York System. Stony Brook's online bachelor's of science in electrical engineering program is a relatively new offering from the university. The online electrical engineering degree program admitted its first cohort in May of 2014. The asynchronous program allows students to complete coursework according to their schedules. There are no on-campus requirements, which is ideal for the program's working students.
Classes begin during fall and spring semesters. Applicants should have completed a year of calculus-based physics. As the program focuses on upper-division electrical engineering courses, students are welcome to complete general education requirements elsewhere.
|5||Morgan State University Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Located in Baltimore, Morgan State is an historically black college with a proud history dating back more than 150 years. Morgan State has recently expanded into distance education, including an electrical and computer engineering 2+2 program. Designed for students with an associate degree in electrical engineering, the 133-credit program allows students to complete the final two years of their online bachelor’s in electrical engineering degree.
The curriculum includes studies in signal processing, image processing, avionics, and biomedical engineering. Students may complete the program full-time or part-time and can incorporate on-campus coursework. Applicants should have earned at least 70 previous credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Program?
Your electrical engineering program will challenge you in many ways. To earn your degree, you will have to master higher level math and physics concepts. Working online, you will collaborate with other students to complete various projects. Studying full-time, you can expect to finish your program in approximately two years. Part-time students will need more time to complete their degree.
Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering
The best online electrical engineering programs have similar curricula. However, subtle differences between programs mean that your experience may differ from the courses listed below.
- Electric Power Engineering: As the name suggests, this course will instruct you on how energy flows through electrical systems. For example, you will learn how an electrical power plant transmits power to people's homes. An electric power engineer course is essential if you hope to work in a power plant after graduation.
- Electromagnetics: This class incorporates both history and mathematics to teach you about the forces that govern electromagnetism. Throughout the course, you will apply famous equations such as Gauss's Law to understand how electric fields behave. No matter your future career, this course remains the foundation of an education in electrical engineering.
- Electronic System Design: After you gain a basic understanding of electrical engineering, this course asks you to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting. For example, you and your classmates will work together to create electronic systems that solve problems. Excelling in this course is a sign to future employers that you can contribute to a team.
- Fundamentals of Wind Power: With the renewable energy sector experiencing record growth, the need for electrical engineers in this field has never been higher. In this course, you will learn not only how wind turbines generate electricity, but also how to identify suitable locations for their placement. This skill alone will make you a valuable asset to renewable energy companies both in the U.S. and abroad.
How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering?
Many factors influence the length of time it takes for students to earn an online bachelor's in electrical engineering. If you have credits from other colleges or an associate degree, your school may allow you to apply these credits toward your bachelor's degree. The vast majority of online programs will ask you to complete prerequisites before applying. These prerequisites may take one or more years to complete.
Once accepted, your program may require you to complete an engineering internship. If you already work as an engineer, your work experience should fulfill this requirement. Working at an individual pace, you can finish your bachelor's program in approximately two years, earning approximately 120 credits. If your program uses cohort learning, however, your program may require three or four years to complete. In cohort learning, students take courses together and at the same pace. This learning style encourages collaboration and can help you network with future peers in the engineering field.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Degrees
When researching a potential college or university that offers an online electrical engineering degree program, be sure to confirm whether that school has received accreditation. Accreditation functions to protect students against academic programs that do not provide an adequate education. Your program should have at least two types of accreditation. The first is regional accreditation. The six regional accreditation agencies oversee all academic institutions throughout the United States. For online programs, national accreditation is just as important. For decades, national accreditation agencies have reviewed distance education programs, ensuring that students receive the same education as they would learning on campus.
There are also independent accreditation agencies that review programs within a particular academic field. Colleges or universities that offer online electrical engineering degrees should have accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). For almost 90 years, ABET has both accredited engineering programs and performed research into educational best practices.
The Department of Education (ED) is the most significant piece of the accreditation puzzle. The ED oversees and regulates regional accreditation agencies. If one of these agencies does not perform well, the ED can revoke its status. One of the largest independent accreditation agencies, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a consortium of over 3,000 degree-granting institutions. CHEA accreditation represents that a college or university provides exceptional programs to its students.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Graduates
Job Placement for Graduates of Electrical Engineering Programs
Earning an online bachelor's in electrical engineering puts learners at a distinct advantage in both job placement and salary. A recent study by Georgetown University revealed that approximately 82% of all electrical engineers hold a bachelor's degree or higher. According to Georgetown's Center on Education in the Workforce, earning a graduate degree in electrical engineering can increase your salary by as much as 20%. Many electrical engineers earn a graduate degree after gaining some job experience. Many companies pay for their employees to earn graduate degrees, as they view the expense as an investment.
Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Salary
|District of Columbia||$110,310|
Coastal states offer electrical engineers the best salaries. In California, a large number of technology companies compete for employees, resulting in overall higher salaries. California also boasts the largest number of electrical engineering jobs in the nation. However, Alaska offers electrical engineers the highest overall salaries. You can attribute Alaska's position at the top of the list to its higher cost of living and efforts made by companies to attract talent from out of state.
Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Careers
From writing at home to working at a nuclear power plant, by pursuing electrical engineering, you can expect to benefit from multiple opportunities to adapt your career as your personal and professional needs change over time. The professions below represent only a sample of the potential career paths you can pursue with an online bachelor's in electrical engineering.
- Aerospace Engineer
From commercial airliners to satellites, aerospace engineers draw from their educational background to develop the latest flying machines. As an aerospace engineer, you will use your electrical engineering education to ensure that your team's projects are safe, efficient, and financially feasible. In addition to a bachelor's degree, many companies that hire aerospace engineers require applicants to have a master's degree or work experience.
Median Annual Salary: $109,650
Projected Growth Rate: -2%
- Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians must operate, maintain, and repair recording equipment. One of the career's advantages is that professionals have the ability to work for a variety of employers ranging from major movie studios to local government agencies. The sensitive electronics involved make an electrical engineering degree a highly sought after qualification in the eyes of potential employers.
Median Annual Salary: $42,550
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Industrial Engineer
Industrial engineers evaluate both employees and manufacturing processes to reduce waste, save money, and make the best product possible. Although colleges offer bachelor's in industrial engineering degrees, many different types of engineers move up to this position. With a bachelor's in electrical engineering, you will likely need work experience before potential employers consider you for an industrial engineering position.
Median Annual Salary: $84,310
Projected Growth Rate: 1%
- Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear engineers ensure that their nuclear power plants remain efficient and safe. On the job, they often monitor plant operations. Many nuclear engineers work for medical device companies that produce equipment containing radioactive elements. Electrical engineers transferring into this field may need additional education or work experience.
Median Annual Salary: $102,220
Projected Growth Rate: -4%
- Technical Writer
Technical writers create the written materials consulted by engineers and other professionals working in STEM. Although some are independent contractors with multiple clients, most technical writers work full-time for large companies. Working as a technical writer requires not only technical knowledge, but also extensive job experience.
Median Annual Salary: $69,850
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Program
Financing your online electrical engineering degree begins with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing the FAFSA makes you eligible for specific work-study programs, low interest loans, and government grants. Along with the FAFSA, determine if potential colleges offer scholarships or work-study programs. Finally, don't forget about scholarships created for students studying electrical engineering. For example, the Microsoft Scholarship Program awards funding to college students studying STEM.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Clemson University Clemson, SC 2 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ 3 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 4 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 5 Morgan State University Baltimore, MD