2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Engineering Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 10/15/2021
2020 Most Affordable Engineering Bachelors Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 10/15/2021

This page lists 23 accredited colleges with the most affordable online bachelor’s degrees in engineering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates steady job growth in most engineering disciplines, and engineers often make twice the median salary of all other U.S.-based occupations. Schools on this list offer various distinct engineering disciplines, so when students conduct a school search, they should research the specific majors being offered. Below the rankings list, we discuss whether an online engineering program is a worthwhile pursuit, and we provide an overview of funding options, common engineering courses, and potential careers to consider.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or see our other engineering rankings. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Lamar University $7,440
# 2 #2 University of the Potomac $7,785
# 3 #3 American Public University System $8,640
# 4 #4 Middle Georgia State University $8,670
# 5 #5 Bemidji State University $8,758
# 6 #6 Southern New Hampshire University Online $9,600
# 7 #7 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale $9,637
# 8 #8 Stony Brook University $10,590
# 9 #9 Florida International University $11,067
# 10 #10 Saint Leo University Online $11,100
# 11 #11 University of Alabama $12,000
# 12 #12 MidAmerica Nazarene University $12,570
# 13 #13 Regent University Online $12,640
# 14 #14 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide $13,216
# 15 #15 University of North Dakota $14,410
# 16 #16 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus $14,594
# 17 #17 Arizona State University $15,900
# 18 #18 National University $16,650
# 19 #19 University of Arizona $18,000
# 20 #20 University of Advancing Technology $18,900
# 21 #21 Keiser University $19,808
# 22 #22 University of Alabama at Birmingham $20,010
# 23 #23 Cogswell College $24,750

Most Affordable Online Engineering Degrees by Program

Most Affordable Engineering College Details

For each school ranked above, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' engineering programs. Explore engineering class offerings, degrees offered, and accreditation information below.

#1
#1

Lamar University

Beaumont (TX)
Annual Tuition: $7,440
Annual Tuition: $7,440
Annual Tuition: $7,440

At Lamar University, the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering degree is designed to be a four-year program that prepares students for leadership roles in manufacturing and other production environments. Students can opt for the 2+2 online format, in which they take the first two years of math and other foundational courses in person and the remaining industrial engineering courses online. Lamar’s industrial engineering faculty are known for their expertise in supply chain management, safety,... quality, operations research, six sigma, and lean engineering.

All junior- and senior-level courses are delivered online through the Blackboard learning management system, but students are required to attend an on-campus three-day manufacturing lab. Students are strongly encouraged to develop additional real-world experience through the school’s many internships and co-op opportunities with local businesses and manufacturing research labs. Tuition is frozen for four years upon enrollment for eligible students, and financial aid and scholarships are also available. Distance learners have access to resources, including library resources, career services, and online tutoring.

Students can apply through the ApplyTexas online system. In addition to the application form, applicants will need to supply an essay, transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a resume. Graduates may pursue career opportunities in logistics, management, quality control, materials, occupational health and safety, and cost estimation and analysis.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,222
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 6,150
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (409) 880-7011

Example Classes: Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Engineering Materials/Process, IE Systems Design, Industrial Management, Production and Inventory Control, Quality Improvement

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology
#2
#2

University of the Potomac

Multiple Locations
Annual Tuition: $7,785
Annual Tuition: $7,785
Annual Tuition: $7,785

The University of the Potomac's online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Software Engineering program is designed to prepare students to plan, design, build, and optimize hardware and software systems in a wide range of business, government, and academic settings. Delivered through the Blackboard learning management system, the 10 core courses cover computer organization and architecture, object-oriented design and development, database organization, wireless networks, operating systems,... distributed systems, and mobile app development. From there, students can choose courses from a number of specializations, including software engineering, database management, game design, mobile app development, data analytics, geospatial intelligence, and cybersecurity. The content helps prepare students for professional certification in software engineering. Students with prior education, work, or military experience may be able to receive some credit for this training.

Online students enjoy the same resources as their on-campus counterparts, including career development services, student advising, and disability support services. Tuition fees were reduced in 2017 and financial aid and scholarships are available.

To apply, prospective students should complete and submit an online application through the university website. Applicants will also need to submit official transcripts and test scores before scheduling an admissions interview. International students may need to provide alternative documentation and should contact the university directly for more information.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 31%
  • Graduation Rate: 80%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 56
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 42
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE

Example Classes: Agile Software Development, Applied Network and Security, Software Testing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Software Engineering
#3
#3
Annual Tuition: $8,640
Annual Tuition: $8,640
Annual Tuition: $8,640

At American Public University, three online bachelor’s of electrical engineering degrees are offered. Each program is designed to provide students with a foundation in theory, practices, tools, and technology. The core courses cover such topics as electrical engineering fundamentals, electrical circuit analysis, analog and digital circuit theory, discrete math, linear algebra, calculus, and physics. Students who want to specialize in communications will take additional courses in microwave engineering,... wireless communications, and more, while students focusing on mechatronic systems will take additional courses in mechatronics, embedded systems design, and power electronics. Undergraduates also have the option of taking courses in both areas for a generalized degree in electrical engineering. A senior seminar project is required for all students.

Distance learning courses typically run for eight weeks, and new classes start every month. Online students earn the same degree as their on-campus counterparts and have the same access to student resources, including the school’s career preparation and coaching services.

Applicants must be able to show proof of a high school diploma or the equivalent. College students who have studied elsewhere or completed a degree program at another school may be able to receive transfer credit for previously completed coursework. Besides federal aid programs, the school offers some scholarships, especially for current and former members of the U.S. armed forces.

  • Online Degrees: 7
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 37,335
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 7,914
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (877) 468-6268

Example Classes: Continuous and Discrete Signals and Systems, Control Systems Theory and Design, Energy Conversion Processes and Systems, Field Theory

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Engineering, Engineering: Electrical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Engineering, Engineering: Electrical Engineering - Communications
  • Bachelor of Engineering, Engineering: Electrical Engineering - General
  • Bachelor of Engineering, Engineering: Electrical Engineering - Mechatronic Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Space Studies - Aerospace Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Space Studies - Astronomy
#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $8,670
Annual Tuition: $8,670
Annual Tuition: $8,670
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Average SATs: 880 -1090
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,852
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 268
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (478) 471-2700

Example Classes: Computer Architecture, Robot Programming, Software Testing and Quality Assurance

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Information Technology - Software Engineering
#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $8,758
Annual Tuition: $8,758
Annual Tuition: $8,758
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 998
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 345
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (800) 475-2001

Example Classes: Economic and Cost Analysis, Material Science and Metallurgy, Principles of Professional Development, Project Management Methodology, Quality Assurance, Safety and Risk Management

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BAS in Applied Engineering
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Online Degrees: 6
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 86,849
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 19,526
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (603) 668-2211

Example Classes: Computational Graphics and Visualization, Fundamentals of Data Mining, Operating Environments, Software Development Lifecycle, Software Testing, Automation, and Quality Assurance

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS Computer Science
  • BS Computer Science - Information Security
  • BS Computer Science - Software Engineering
  • BS Geosciences
  • BS Information Technologies - Cyber Security
  • BS Information Technologies - Software Development
#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $9,637
Annual Tuition: $9,637
Annual Tuition: $9,637
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,534
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 552
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (618) 453-2121

Example Classes: Computer-Aided Manufacturing, Cost Estimating, Health and Injury Control in A Work Setting, Industrial Robotics, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma Black Belt

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Electrical Engineering Technology
  • BS in Industrial Management and Applied Engineering
#8
#8

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook (NY)
Annual Tuition: $10,590
Annual Tuition: $10,590
Annual Tuition: $10,590
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Acceptance Rate: 42%
  • Average SATs: 1230 -1440
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 164
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,280
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (631) 632-6000

Example Classes: Design using Programmable Mixed-Signal Systems-on-Chip, Electric Machinery & Energy Conversion, Electromagnetics, Power Systems Engineering, Random Signals, Renewable Distributed Generation and Storage

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $11,067
Annual Tuition: $11,067
Annual Tuition: $11,067
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Acceptance Rate: 54%
  • Average SATs: 1110 -1280
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 10,922
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,749
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (305) 348-2000

Example Classes: Embedded GUI Programming, Energy Conversion Lab, Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures, Industrial Control Systems, Integrated Circuits and Systems, Sustainable and Renewable Energy Source and Their Utilization

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
#10
#10
Annual Tuition: $11,100
Annual Tuition: $11,100
Annual Tuition: $11,100
  • Online Degrees: 6
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Acceptance Rate: 58%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 8,242
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 4,720
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (352) 588-8200

Example Classes: Database Concepts and Programming, Decision Support Systems, Information Technology and Project Management, Network Theory and Design, Programming in C/C++, Programming in JAVA

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • B.S. in Software Engineering
  • B.S. in Computer Information Systems
  • B.S. in Computer Science
  • B.S. in Computer Science: Information Assurance
  • B.S. in Cybersecurity
  • BA: Software Engineering
#11
#11

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa (AL)
Annual Tuition: $12,000
Annual Tuition: $12,000
Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Average SATs: 1080 -1340
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,856
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,659
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (205) 348-6010

Example Classes: Heat Transfer, Modern Manufacturing Practices, Small-Scale Engineering Graphics, Static Machine Components

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering
#12
#12
Annual Tuition: $12,570
Annual Tuition: $12,570
Annual Tuition: $12,570
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 286
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 418
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (913) 782-3750

Example Classes: Data Structures and Algorithms, Emerging Trends in Technology, Web Application Development

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems - Software Engineering
#13
#13

Regent University Online

Virginia Beach (VA)
Annual Tuition: $12,640
Annual Tuition: $12,640
Annual Tuition: $12,640
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,146
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 5,092
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (757) 352-4127

Example Classes: Information Systems Security, Mobile and Smart Computing, Operating Systems, Parallel and Distributive Programming, Software Engineering

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • B.S. in Computer Engineering
  • B.S. in Computer Science
#14
#14
Annual Tuition: $13,216
Annual Tuition: $13,216
Annual Tuition: $13,216
  • Online Degrees: 21
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 49%
  • Graduation Rate: 28%
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 8,378
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,982
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (800) 522-6787

Example Classes: Advanced Technologies in Design and Production of Aircraft Structures & Systems, Aviation Information Systems, Construction Scheduling & Control, Rotorcraft, Unmanned Aerial Systems Robotics, Unmanned Systems Sensing Technology

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics
  • Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics - Aviation
  • Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics/Master of Aeronautical Science 4+1 Program
  • Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance - Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance - Safety
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering
#15
#15

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks (ND)
Annual Tuition: $14,410
Annual Tuition: $14,410
Annual Tuition: $14,410
  • Online Degrees: 14
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Average SATs: 1010 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,851
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (800) 225-5863

Example Classes: Design Hydrology for Wetlands, Drilling Engineering, Groundwater Modeling, Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation, Reclamation Engineering, Reservoir Engineering

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering - Energetics
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering - Petroleum Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering - Sustainability
  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
#16
#16
Annual Tuition: $14,594
Annual Tuition: $14,594
Annual Tuition: $14,594
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (814) 865-5403

Example Classes: Electrical Circuits and Power Distribution, Embedded Real Time Systems, Engineering Quality and Security in Software, Software Verification, Validation, and Testing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
#17
#17

Arizona State University

Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
Annual Tuition: $15,900
Annual Tuition: $15,900
Annual Tuition: $15,900
  • Online Degrees: 6
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Average SATs: 1091 -1301
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 33,410
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 10,843
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Example Classes: Engineering Administration, Introduction to Systems Engineering, Probability and Statistics for Engineering Problem Solving

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BAS in Internet & Web Development
  • BS in Computer Information Systems
  • BS in Software Engineering
  • BSE in Electrical Engineering (Electric Power and Energy Systems)
  • BSE in Engineering - Electrical Engineering
  • BSE in Engineering Management
#18
#18

National University

La Jolla (CA)
Annual Tuition: $16,650
Annual Tuition: $16,650
Annual Tuition: $16,650
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 33%
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Average SATs: 750 -1170
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,849
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 4,165
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Phone #: (800) 628-8648

Example Classes: Computer Ethics, Design & Analysis of Experiment, Legal Aspects of Engineering, Linear Systems and Signals, Product Design Optimization, VLSI Design

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Design Engineering
#19
#19

University of Arizona

Tucson (AZ)
Annual Tuition: $18,000
Annual Tuition: $18,000
Annual Tuition: $18,000
  • Online Degrees: 5
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Average SATs: 1110 -1360
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,558
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,515
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (520) 621-2211

Example Classes: Engineering Ethics, Microprocessor Organization, Object-Oriented Software Design

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Cyber Operations - Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments
  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments - Real Estate Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments - Sustainable Buildings
#20
#20
Annual Tuition: $18,900
Annual Tuition: $18,900
Annual Tuition: $18,900
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 291
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 0
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (602) 383-8228

Example Classes: Applied Mobile Computing and Cloud Collaboration Technologies, Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery, Directory Services Design and Administration, Router and Switch Configuration and Administration, Shell Scripting for Hackers, Virtualization System Technologies and Administration

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Network Engineering
#21
#21

Keiser University

Daytona Beach (FL) (and 15 others)
Annual Tuition: $19,808
Annual Tuition: $19,808
Annual Tuition: $19,808
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 7,362
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,615
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (954) 776-4476

Example Classes: Advanced Electrical/Mechanical Systems, Programming in C for Engineers, Rapid Prototyping with FPGA

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering
#22
#22
Annual Tuition: $20,010
Annual Tuition: $20,010
Annual Tuition: $20,010
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Average SATs: 1090 -1365
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,398
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,338
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (205) 934-4011

Example Classes: Drawing, Design and Measurement for ID, Industrial Distribution Management, Industrial Distribution Policies and Quality Issues

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Industrial Distribution - Engineering
  • BS in Industrial Distribution - Medical Equipment and Supplies Distribution
  • BS in Information Systems
#23
#23

Cogswell College

Sunnyvale (CA)
Annual Tuition: $24,750
Annual Tuition: $24,750
Annual Tuition: $24,750
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 0
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 0
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Phone #: (800) 264-7955

Example Classes: GUI and Graphics Programming, Mobile Programming for iOS, or Mobile Programming for Android, Tools Programming

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Game Design Engineering

Overview of Online Engineering Degrees

Engineering degree programs prepare students with the necessary skills to become professional engineers in various fields, such as civil engineering, aerospace engineering, nuclear engineering, and health and safety engineering. Engineers work for the federal government, municipal and state departments, engineering design firms, the military, and private industries, to name a few. They are often responsible for maintaining the efficiency of technological and mechanical systems within buildings or a city's infrastructure. For example, engineers may monitor systems or consumer products for potential environmental safety/health hazards and implement changes accordingly.

Many schools offer engineering degree programs that are 100% online, while others prefer hybrid models that require some time on campus. Overall, students must earn a minimum of 120 credit hours. Although an online bachelor's engineering degree is designed to be completed in four years, the program could take up to six years for part-time students to finish.

Engineers are often responsible for maintaining the efficiency of technological and mechanical systems within buildings or a city's infrastructure.

The average annual tuition for an online bachelor's in engineering costs $25,824, but our rankings list presents some more affordable online programs. Many students apply to multiple sources for financial aid to pay tuition costs and other student fees. However, to qualify for aid, students need to attend an accredited school and program. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a globally recognized nonprofit, accredits many engineering programs. This accreditation board ensures that engineering programs are held to the highest standards and meet industry demands. ABET accredits over 4,000 engineering programs in more than 800 schools worldwide.

Is an Online Engineering Degree Worth It?

One of the first questions students often ask is whether an online degree is worth the time and cost it takes to complete. An online engineering degree's value is determined by numerous factors, including career growth potential, work-life balance, and job satisfaction. Students should also consider their personal and professional goals, such as their ability to pay back student debt after graduation and whether they will need further education later on for job advancement in their chosen field. Some benefits to an online degree include its potential flexibility and the convenience of studying from home, but students should also acknowledge the challenges of remote learning when deciding on a program. For example, issues may arise involving time management, and networking opportunities to connect in-person with peers and mentors may be more limited.

When considering whether an online engineering degree is worth the investment, it may be helpful to review some pros and cons:

Potential Benefits

  • Salary potential. Many engineering occupations pay over $90,000 per year. For example, according to the BLS, aerospace engineers make $118,610 on average, while petroleum engineers earn median annual wages of $137,000.
  • Immediate entry-level options. Engineers in all fields can embark on their careers with only a bachelor's degree and can decide later whether a master's is worth the cost.
  • High job satisfaction. According to a survey produced by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. in 2020, engineers' job satisfaction has substantially increased in recent years, including in the following categories: technical challenges, employer’s support for technical vitality, compensation, and advancement prospects.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Slow overall job growth. Many engineering fields are merely expected to grow at the national average — or even slower — for all occupations. For example, civil engineering and materials engineering are projected to grow by only 2%, which is well below the average. However, it should be noted that some concentrations are expected to grow slightly faster than average.
  • Salary gaps. Large salary gaps along racial and gender lines favor white men in the field at the expense of all others.
  • High unemployment rates. Several engineering specialties feature relatively high levels of unemployment, such as general and industrial engineering, which have 4.9% and 4.7% unemployment rates, respectively.

Funding an Online Bachelor's Degree in Engineering

Many students need financial assistance to help pay educational expenses. First, students should search for an affordable online bachelor's in engineering program that meets their needs and minimizes debt. It may also be helpful for students to consider how comfortable they are with the amount of debt they may incur.

Once a student has chosen their school and course of study, they should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if they qualify for grants, such as Pell grants, or subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans. Federal student loans offer more repayment options and flexibility than private loans. However, if students choose to apply for loans from banks and other financial institutions, they should do so with care because private loans often have higher interest rates and stricter repayment requirements than federal loans.

After a student receives their eligibility status for federal financial aid, they should check with their school's financial aid office to see if they offer other scholarships or work-study programs. Sometimes, students can become employees at their school and qualify for discounted or free tuition, even if they only work part-time.

Scholarships for Engineering Students

Several engineering organizations offer scholarships to offset tuition costs. Organizations often require membership to be eligible for their scholarships but most offer discounted membership rates for students. Below are some scholarships geared toward those pursuing an engineering degree.

The Environmental Engineering and Science Foundation (EESF) Scholarships

The EESF offers two $2,500 scholarships annually to undergraduate students majoring in environmental engineering. Students must be transferring to a four-year college from a two-year community college with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The AIAA has scholarships from $1,500 to $10,000 for students pursuing engineering degrees in aeronautics or astronautics. They also have awards specifically for women entering these fields.

The American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) Scholarships

The ASCE provides $2,500 and $5,000 scholarships to members, though the amount may vary from year to year. Students may apply for more than one scholarship.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships

ASHRAE awards several scholarships each year, from $3,000 to $10,000. The engineering degree program must be ABET-accredited, and applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Scholarships

ASME has several scholarships that range from $1,000 to $13,000. Requirements vary but may include a 3.0 GPA or higher and enrollment in an ABET-accredited engineering program.


Common Courses for a Bachelor’s in Engineering

An engineering program’s coursework is similar across many schools. While course titles may differ, the learning objectives and outcomes are mostly the same. Below are some standard courses for any engineering degree program, depending on the field of interest.

  • Computational Graphics and Visualization: Instructors teach best practices for visually representing complex systems and processes. Engineering students in many concentrations take this class to study systems models, the quality of various data inputs, and the software used to present compelling computer simulations.
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM): This coursework introduces students to the engineering technology used in modern manufacturing, which relies on computer-aided automation to maximize efficiency. Practices include systems integration, robotics, and computer-aided design.
  • Material Science and Metallurgy: Engineers can’t build or design a project without first understanding the materials used. This course covers the physical properties of different substances, how they react to stresses, and how they bear loads under different conditions.
  • Software Testing and Quality Assurance: A software testing course is required for students in software engineering bachelor's programs. Students in other specializations, such as biomedical engineering, take similar classes. Professors teach debugging practices, life cycle models, and how to test software.

Choosing a Specific Major

Engineers work across industries — from automotive and electrical engineering to construction and infrastructure. Since the engineering discipline is incredibly diverse, it offers many specializations. These areas of expertise are conveyed through specific engineering majors.

If you like to build things or improve processes, you may consider industrial or mechanical engineering. For example, mechanical engineers develop and design mechanical and thermal devices, which often involves troubleshooting and resolving equipment failures. On the other hand, you may choose to study industrial engineering if you want to develop and construct energy-efficient systems or develop environmentally and financially efficient management control systems.

These are only a couple of options, however. If you are interested in energy use, you may want to study nuclear, petroleum, or environmental engineering. If computer technology appeals to you, hardware or software engineering may be more suitable.


Engineering Careers

Since many industries — from modest start-ups to global corporations — need educated, well-trained engineers, this field offers a wide variety of career opportunities. Below are some examples of potential occupations to consider in engineering, as well as predictions for salaries and job outlooks over the next decade.

  • Aerospace engineers build and maintain aircraft, including planes, missiles, rockets, and spacecraft. They ensure that this equipment meets quality and safety standards.
    • Median salary: $118,610
    • Job growth projection: 8%
  • Chemical engineers often create processes and design the equipment needed for monitoring and testing while directing a facility's manufacturing operations. Chemical engineering uses chemistry, physics, and math to solve problems regarding chemicals, drugs, food, and other products.
    • Median salary: $108,540
    • Job growth projection: 9%
  • Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, and improve electrical products. They also investigate problems and implement the appropriate solutions.
    • Median salary: $103,390
    • Job growth projection: 7%
  • Bioengineers and biomedical engineers design and maintain medical equipment and devices, such as artificial organs and diagnostic tools. They may also design software that operates complex medical instruments.
    • Median salary: $92,620
    • Job growth projection: 6%
  • Civil engineers work on private and public infrastructure, such as transportation systems, roads, buildings, and water systems. They manage the repair, replacement, and maintenance of these systems and structures. Civil engineering is the largest engineering occupation and makes up approximately a quarter of all engineering jobs.
    • Median salary: $88,570
    • Job growth projection: 8%

Licensing and Certification for Engineers

Employers do not always require licensure for entry-level engineers or even some engineering occupations, such as aerospace or chemical engineering. However, many graduates become licensed as they progress through their careers or if their profession requires it.

If engineers opt for licensure upon graduation, they may take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Once they pass, engineers become Engineers in Training (EIT), or they are also referred to as Engineer Interns (EI). After an EIT/EI has earned at least four years of relevant work experience, they can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam to become a professional engineer.


Many engineering graduates become licensed as they progress through their careers or if their profession requires it.


After passing the FE and PE exams, engineers may apply for licensure but only if their bachelor's program has been accredited by ABET. While each state may have different licensing requirements, most accept licenses from other states if they either meet or exceed their state requirements. In addition, some states ask engineers to periodically take continuing education courses in order to retain their licenses. Various engineering associations, including ABET, offer many of these courses.