Today, working professionals have more opportunities than ever to complete an online bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, with the increased availability of online courses, it is now possible to pursue the qualification without compromising quality.
The United States Census Bureau data recorded electrical engineers as comprising the largest percentage of engineering majors at 23% in 2018. Electrical engineers design, develop, and evaluate circuits and networks, and the online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering provides all the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in this field.
At the forefront of technological developments, electrical engineers have played key roles in next-generation robotics, smart grids, the Internet of Things, space-based solar power, and sense and avoid for drones. According to a paper published in the International Journal on Emerging Technologies, “This field (electrical engineering) witnessed in the last quarter-century an exponential bombardment of individuals and learners as electrical engineering in its own has multiple disciplines of subject-based substance that relates to all walks of life directly and indirectly” (Pandey, 2017).
This article aims to inform interested college applicants wanting to explore online bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering. It will shed light on tuition, job market trends, the difference from traditional learning, and more.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering Table of Contents
- Can you get a degree completely online?
- Will employers take my online degree seriously?
- Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
- Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
- How much does an online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering cost?
- What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering?
- Courses to Expect in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
- Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
Can you get a degree completely online?
A bachelor’s degree program in this field may require more hands-on training, and, therefore, an on-campus setup. This is because electrical engineers need physical access to the electrical devices and systems that they are studying (ITCareerFinder, 2018).
However, once a level of familiarity has been established, one may opt for online instruction for various reasons, including health and safety during a time of pandemic, flexibility, and affordability, among others. There are several higher education institutions that are now offering online bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering.
Will employers take my online degree seriously?
The short answer is yes. Employers are seeking qualified applicants regardless of the nature of instruction. Note, however, that it is important to pick a digital bachelor’s degree program in electrical engineering that passed the standards of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). A majority of hiring managers will seek this accreditation.
Employment in electrical engineering positions is projected to grow 5% from 2019-2029 (BLS, 2021). This makes it one of the top-paying degree programs to take for individuals looking into college to secure their future in the job market.
Electrical engineering graduates may seek employment from the following industries: telecommunications, energy and electric power, computers, semiconductors, aerospace, bioengineering, manufacturing, services and other professions, education and research, and transportation and automotive.
Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
While the history of elearning may not be long, plenty of employers and schools globally have recognized its worth. A survey showed that 83% of executives believe that degrees acquired through online learning are as credible as ones acquired through traditional, on-campus setup (CareerBuilder.com, 2010). Further, elearning has become part of the new norm with the health and safety restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even prior to the pandemic, there has been a continuous rise in elearning participation in higher education. In 2018, more than 6.9 million or 35.3% of undergraduate students in the U.S. participated in distance learning through degree-granting post-secondary institutions (NCES, 2019).
Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
While traditional education in electrical engineering offers a more hands-on experience in the sense that instructors are physically present to guide students in learning different electrical components, online education has several perks that allow it to be on par if not more. Online education is more flexible, more affordable, safer to take in the midst of a pandemic, and just as effective, rigorous, and credible as traditional education (Magda & Smalec, 2020).
Here are some statistical data that demonstrates the value of acquiring an online degree:
- Knowledge retention is higher when learning online at 25%-60% compared to only 8%-10% when learning on-campus (Gutierrez, 2016).
- Online education requires 40%-60% less time to learn than traditional education (Gutierrez, 2016).
- The number one factor in a student’s decision to enroll in an online program is affordability. More than 50% of the respondents in Wiley’s survey said it was their most important consideration (Wiley Education Services, 2020). Luckily, there are plenty of affordable degree programs out there.
- A survey by Learning House in 2019 revealed that 63% of students decided to study online because it works best for their current work/life responsibilities and 36% of students said their decision is based on the fact that they prefer online education.
- Seventy-six percent of online students agree that they will be able to apply what they learned through their online courses in their current or future workplace (Wiley Education Services, 2020.
- More than one in four students said that their main motivation for enrolling in an online degree is to start a new career to earn more money (Wiley Education Services, 2020).
Source: Wiley Education Services, 2020
How much does an online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering cost?
Pre-credit costs for online electrical engineering degree courses range from $245 to $600 while total tuition is between $29,000 and $83,000 (U.S. News, n.d.). In addition to these, online students will need to shoulder the online education-related cost of devices, internet connectivity, and electric consumption.
Is an online electrical engineering degree worth it?
According to the report of Wiley Education Services, 79% of online college students either agree or strongly agree that their online education was worth the cost.
A degree in electrical engineering will eventually pay off. In 2021, electrical engineering professionals earned an average of $100,420 (BLS, 2022). Oil and gas extraction is the top paying industry for this position, with electrical engineers earning an annual mean wage of $132,950.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering?
Like in every engineering major, universities typically require the same documents from online and on-campus degree program applicants. You will need to check your preferred university for the specific requirements and instructions for submission.
What are the Admission Requirements of Students for Online Learning?
Prepare the following documents when applying for an online degree program:
- High school diploma
- High school transcript
- Relevant test scores (SAT or ACT scores)
Some universities may require further supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation, certificates from extracurricular activities, and resume or curriculum vitae. Others also require applicants to write a personal essay to assess how they would fit as part of the university.
What are the Technological Requirements of Students for Online Learning?
A fully online education will require you to invest in the following essentials:
Hardware. You will need a laptop or desktop, a webcam, and a microphone. Your devices must be able to support the activities and software requirements that are typically required in the field of electrical engineering.
Software. You will need to install video conferencing software, word processing software, and electrical engineering software.
Internet connection. Ensure that your connectivity is stable and your bandwidth is at least 1.5 Mbps.
Courses to Expect in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineering students are required to earn 120 to 160 credits. Full-time students usually complete their studies in four to six years. Below is a list of courses that typical electrical engineering students are likely to encounter.
- Circuit Theory. This is a foundational course where students are taught about the components of an electrical circuit and how they function together. The topics in this course include circuit theorems, techniques of analysis, Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s Laws, steady-state response, transient response, and wye-delta transformations, among others.
- Differential Equations. Many courses in electrical engineering degree programs require an understanding of differential equations. Students will use it in analyzing electric circuits, studying electromagnetic fields and waves, and solving power series.
- Electromagnetism. This course covers electrostatics, magnetostatics, photon behavior, Faraday’s Law, Ampere’s Law, Gauss’ Law, to enumerate but a few. By the end of this course, students are expected to know how to apply the concepts of electromagnetism to DC motors and circuit breakers.
- Mechanics. The three traditional branches of this course are kinematics, statics, and dynamics. This course is required for mechanical engineering students and is also taught to other engineering majors. In this course, students will have an understanding of concepts like stress, strain, and elasticity.
- Microprocessor Systems. This is an essential course for learning the components, structure, and programming of microprocessors. It will prepare students for working on hardware and software designs, interfacing with on-chip and external devices, and using microcontrollers.
- Probability Theory. Electrical engineering students need to take this course to learn how to apply probabilities in decision-making. This course will allow them to understand the variables, functions, and laws that may affect systems outcomes.
- Solid-State Engineering. Course topics include conductors, semiconductors, insulators, diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits. Electrical engineering students will find the knowledge of this course useful for designing and operating solid-state electronic and optoelectronic devices and circuits.
Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
Bourne, Harris, and Mayadas (2005) posit that the quality of online engineering education may be measured through the following metrics: learning effectiveness, access, faculty satisfaction, student satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness. While you may not be able to assess institutions with these metrics initially, below are some related characteristics that you should look into when choosing your online electrical engineering degree program:
- ABET-accreditation. In the field of engineering, perhaps the most important consideration for choosing an online degree program is its accreditation. More than anything, this will ensure that you will receive a quality education, you will be eligible to the take licensure examination, and you will be considered for many exciting job prospects.
- Reputation. This is the second top-most factor for students when selecting an online degree program (Wiley Education Services, 2020). Most individuals desire to affiliate with reputable institutions. If you are one of these individuals, you may opt to balance this with other factors, such as affordability and proximity.
- On-site requirement. If you are looking for more hands-on instruction, you may choose an online degree program that offers lab classes on campus. In this case, you need to consider your willingness to travel the distance between your home and your target university. You may also opt to pick a degree program offered in a near higher education institution for your convenience.
- Support services. A recent study by Wiley Education Services revealed that the topmost important services of online programs for personal success according to students are (1) working with a career supervisor, (2) job search website maintained by the school, and (3) job search assistance. You may likely need these too and may inquire about these in your target institutions.
Be a Modern-day Faraday
Still thinking of what college degree you should take? If electricity and all that it powers fascinate you, perhaps this degree is one of your best options. With the emergence of new technologies, knowledge in this field will surely bring you to a place where you will be valued and recognized.
If you are still having doubts about taking an online degree in this field, remember that even the father of electrical engineering, Michael Faraday, did not take a traditional education. With online degree programs in Electrical Engineering, access to electrical engineering education and many others are made easier for many people. The continued fight for digital equity will ensure the continuation and further success of this mode of instruction.
- ABET (2021). 2020 Accreditation Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.abet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2020-ABET-Accreditation-Statistics.pdf
- Bourne, J., Harris, D., & Mayadas, F. (2005). Online Engineering Education: Learning Anywhere, Anytime. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 131–146. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2005.tb00834.x
- CareerBuilder.com (2010). Employers on online education. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/
- CareerOneStop (n.d.). Electrical Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Careers/Occupations/occupation-profile.aspx?keyword=Electrical%20Engineers&onetcode=17207100&location=UNITED%20STATES
- Gutierrez (2016). Facts and Stats That Reveal The Power Of eLearning [Infographic]. SHIFT eLearning. Retrieved from https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/301248/15-facts-and-stats-that-reveal-the-power-of-elearning
- LearnHowToBecome.org (2021). Electrical Engineering Degrees & Careers. Retrieved from https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/engineering-careers/electrical-engineer/
- Magda, A.J., & Smalec, J.S. (2020). Student perspectives on online programs: A survey of learners supported by Wiley Education Services. Louisville, KY: Wiley edu, LLC. Retrieved from https://edservices.wiley.com/student-perspectives-on-online-programs/
- O*NET Online (2021). Electrical Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/17-2071.00
- Pandey, H. (2017). Education in Electrical Engineering and Emerging Technologies. International Journal on Emerging Technologies, 8(1), 82-87. Retrieved from https://www.researchtrend.net/ijet/pdf/20-801.pdf
- Payscale (n.d.). Average Electrical Engineer Salary. Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Electrical_Engineer/Salary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172071.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Field of degree: Engineering. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/field-of-degree/engineering/engineering-field-of-degree.htm#emp
- U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Digest of Education Statistics 2019. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80
- U.S. News (n.d.). Online Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/electrical-engineering-bachelors-degree
- World Economic Forum (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/