In a technology-driven economy, electrical engineers are essential. From innovative energy sources to sophisticated communications technologies, electrical engineers are needed to design, test, and oversee the manufacturing of complex electrical equipment. Degrees in electrical engineering are offered at all levels, and students will take both theoretical and applied courses in physics, advanced math, drafting, electrical components, control systems, and more. Graduates with bachelor’s degrees can expect to earn a median annual salary of $98,530. Scroll down to find a list of the most popular educational institutions for online degrees in electrical engineering. Then read on for more information about accreditation, career opportunities, licensing requirements, and answers to frequently asked questions about electrical engineering degrees.
Online Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering with the Highest Return on Investment
We've highlighted the best online bachelor's programs in electrical engineering ranked by their return on investment (ROI). ROI is based on graduates' earnings projected over 10 years with payments for student debt subtracted. In some cases, it may be worth it to pay for a more expensive degree up front if that degree could lead to higher earnings over your career. For example, top-ranked University of North Dakota has the highest annual tuition, but also has the highest ROI at $734,100. The top three schools on our list all have estimated returns higher than $699,100, which is the average ROI across all online and in-person bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering.
ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.
Best Bachelor's Degrees in Electrical Engineering Rankings Details
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks (ND)
10-Year ROI: $734,100
Median Salary: $74,576
Annual Tuition: $20,202
Median Debt: $27,000
The University of North Dakota (UND) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering that is worth 125 credits. The program focuses on finding ways to power the world, using electrical technology in areas like computer science, aerospace, and biomedical engineering. Internships are available, organized by the Career Resources office. UND provides opportunities for... certification and licensure prep.
Blackboard is the online learning management system used by UND. The school offers scholarships, and military personnel and their spouses qualify for a military discount. Transfer students can bring in up to 84 eligible credits into a UND undergraduate program.
Career resources are available, such as job fairs and other career development services. Online services such as student forums, tutoring, and faculty mentoring are also available. Applications to UND should be submitted online for faster review. Application deadlines are: February 1 and April 15 for fall term, December 15 for spring term, and May 1 for summer term.
Cost per Credit: $631
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 128
Graduation Rate: 55%
Acceptance Rate: 83%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Average SAT Scores: 980 - 1230
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,867
University of Arizona - Engineering
10-Year ROI: $712,800
Median Salary: $71,930
Annual Tuition: $18,600
Median Debt: $22,237
The University of Arizona College of Engineering (UACE) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering degree for students who are interested in working within this diverse career field. The degree program requires 128 credit hours. The degree's primary focus is to bring together the concepts of both electrical and computer engineering and to explore... the benefits of combining the two. Internships are available depending on the degree program and which corporate partners are participating. Certification/licensure prep courses are available for students who are getting ready to take their state board exam.
Desire2Learn is the online learning management system used by UACE. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid are available at the university. UACE offers military discounts for active duty personnel, their spouses, and National Guard Members. Transfer students may be able to bring in up to 12 credits from previous college experience. UACE offers several career resources in addition to job fairs and other events.
Online resources include study groups, student forums, and virtual tutoring. Applications to attend UACE should be submitted online. The summer deadline falls on June 15, while the fall deadline falls on September 15.
Cost per Credit: $600
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 124
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 84%
Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
Average SAT Scores: 1070 - 1310
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,903
Arizona State University
Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
10-Year ROI: $700,000
Median Salary: $70,680
Annual Tuition: $17,847
Median Debt: $22,172
Arizona State University (ASU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree, as well as an online Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Electric Power and Energy Systems). In the B.S. option, students learn about signal processing algorithms, antennas, semiconductor devices, electric power systems, electronics, and more. In the B.S.E. option, instruction is... delivered on large-scale power systems, renewable energy systems, and how to design technologies to solve problems related to energy and power. Both of these full-time programs require 120 credits.
Students at ASU access courses through the Canvas learning management system. Students may access lectures, simulations, labs, video discussions, interactive activities, quizzes, tests, conferencing with peers and faculty, and more. ASU has a dedicated military enrollment team to help active duty service members and veterans access their education benefits. ASU accepts transfer credits from other schools.
Applicants can fill out an application and submit any required materials online. To be considered for need and merit-based scholarships and grants, applicants must apply and submit any required materials by February 1.
School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 66%
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
Average SAT Scores: 1091 - 1298
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 28,353
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
10-Year ROI: $687,100
Median Salary: $70,009
Annual Tuition: $9,645
Median Debt: $27,000
Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Carbondale offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology, which covers electric power distribution, communications systems, microelectronics, computer systems, and more. This part-time program is designed as a full degree program but has enough flexibility that students who have completed an associate degree may use... the program as a completion option. Students in the program have internship and co-op opportunities, allowing them to get hands-on experience.
Online students at SIU use the MyCourses learning management system, where they can access lectures, online videos, reading material, and more. While the program is fully online, students experience a unique hands-on component, using portable test instruments and software simulation to mirror the experience they'd get in a traditional classroom. Many students at SIU receive financial aid. Students who have a gap between what's covered by their financial aid and what they can pay may be covered by SIU's Saluki Commitment.
While the school has a general deadline of December 1 in the year before the desired year of admittance, applications received later are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Online students have access to the school's writing lab, telehealth counseling appointments, career services, and online library resources.
Cost per Credit: $322
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 41%
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
Average SAT Scores: 1000 - 1210
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,589
Florida International University
10-Year ROI: $679,900
Median Salary: $68,643
Annual Tuition: $11,067
Median Debt: $21,527
An online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering is offered at Florida International University (FIU), instructing students in topics such as engineering economy, circuits, software techniques, linear systems, fields and waves, logic design, and more. Students are required to complete two senior design projects before graduation. This full-time, 128-credit program is taught... by faculty experts who hold doctoral degrees in computer and electrical engineering.
Students use the Canvas learning management system to access course materials. Course assignments may consist of discussion boards, group projects, tests, quizzes, and more. Many students at FIU receive financial aid. The school offers specialized options for active duty military members and veterans. FIU may also award academic credit for military service. Students and alumni have access to FIU's Career and Talent Development resources. Graduates can also take advantage of the school's wide alumni network.
Applicants interested in gaining admission for the fall semester must submit their application and related materials online no later than April 1. Online students have access to online student orientation, success coaches, IT support, tutoring, leadership development, and more.
Students at ODU access courses using the Blackboard learning management system. Some ODU courses on Blackboard are synchronous, while others are asynchronous. Classwork typically involves tests, writing assignments, message boards, discussion rooms, lectures, faculty interaction, and more. Military-affiliated students can satisfy technical base coursework with electrical or mechanical engineering training received during service. ODU has been designated as a "Best for Vets" school, and approximately one-fourth of students at ODU are affiliated with the military.
For consideration for admittance to ODU in the fall semester, students should apply by February 15. Later applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis. Online students have access to tutors, library resources, 24/7 IT support, free software, career development services, and student success coaches.
Cost per Credit: $407
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 128
Graduation Rate: 50%
Acceptance Rate: 86%
Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
Average SAT Scores: 990 - 1200
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,736
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook (NY)
10-Year ROI: $571,600
Median Salary: $58,092
Annual Tuition: $9,560
Median Debt: $21,208
Stony Brook University (SBU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree requiring 128 credit hours. The program explores the concepts, protocols, and theories of electrical engineering. SBU offers certification and licensure prep for students who are ready to take their state exams.
SBU uses the Blackboard online learning management system as its primary... mode of online access. Scholarships are available from outside organizations. SBU also offers military discounts for active duty military personnel as well as their spouses. Students can transfer up to 84 eligible credits if they meet the university's requirements, but they must complete 36 credit hours at SBU.
Online resources such as tutoring, tuition assistance, and student forums are available at SBU. Career resources include job fairs and prep classes. Applications to SBU should be submitted online. There are two deadlines each year: the spring deadline falls on January 5 and the fall deadline on June 5.
School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 74%
Acceptance Rate: 42%
Financial Aid Recipients: 78%
Average SAT Scores: 1230 - 1420
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 135
Online Electrical Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information
Those who wish to begin their career with an entry-level position should consider an electrical engineering degree online at the bachelor's level. In addition to general education courses, these programs include topics such as digital systems design, electrical circuit theory, differential equations, and calculus. Those seeking more advanced professional roles as a consultant, researcher, or educator should consider a master's or doctorate program.
Electrical engineering master's degree programs are designed for students seeking advanced knowledge and skills to help them achieve senior employment levels. Doctoraldegree programs help students develop the skills necessary to work as a researcher creating new engineering knowledge. Certificate programs in electrical engineering are available for students with varying levels of experience, from those who are currently enrolled in a degree program to those who have previously earned a degree in a related field. While most courses may be conducted online, certain courses (e.g., labs) may only be conducted in a physical classroom on campus or elsewhere.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Electrical Engineering
An online electrical engineering Bachelor of Science program (BSEE) teaches students fundamental theories in electrical systems, as well as the skills to solve engineering design problems.
Applicants are expected to have high school diplomas and high achievement in math and natural science classes. As with most other bachelor's degrees, the BSEE takes about four years and 120 credit hours of coursework to complete.
Electrical engineering students study everything from circuits, wires, and currents to robotics and theories of electrical engineering design. Students also examine technology topics such as computer-aided drafting, network security and cryptography, and digital imaging systems. Some courses focus on helping students find practical applications for electrical engineering concepts, such as medical instrumentation, patents, or systems design.
Most online electrical engineering programs include at least some courses that require students to visit campus for hands-on lab work. Some labs are separate from the course itself, while others integrate hands-on learning with the text material. All EE students can expect to take a lab in electrical construction, where they learn the actual techniques for wiring, fabricating, and installing electrical systems. Many people also participate in internships while enrolled in electrical engineering bachelor's degree programs. EE students may intern in settings such as telecommunications, manufacturing, computer design, or power production.
For anyone who is considering becoming a licensed professional engineer (PE), it is very important to choose a degree program that has been accredited. Accreditation is only granted to schools and individual degree programs that meet established criteria for academic excellence. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) as an authoritative accrediting agency for engineering and technology programs, as do most state PE licensing boards. Both ABET and CHEA maintain databases of accredited institutions and degree programs.
Accreditation is also important to financial institutions that grant student aid and other schools that you may wish to attend. Most accredited schools will only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions, and most financial aid and scholarships are only available to students who attend an accredited school or program.
Licensure and Certification Requirements
Although it's possible to find employment as an electrical engineer without being licensed, earning a license, and thus the title "Professional Engineer," will open up many more job opportunities. Electrical engineers must meet a rigorous set of qualifications before they can become a PE, assuring the state government and public and private employers that they are competent and knowledgeable. Each US state has its own PE licensing requirements, but in general, candidates must complete an approved bachelor’s or master's degree program in engineering and four years of suitable work experience, as well as pass two exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
In addition to a state license, electrical engineers may choose to earn voluntary certifications through a trade organization. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies is one organization that certifies individuals in some specific areas of EE, such as electrical power testing, industrial instrumentation, or audio systems.
Electrical vs. Electronics Engineering
Electrical engineers and electronics engineers share similar work environments, tasks, and technologies, but they have two distinct roles within the engineering profession. Electrical engineers design, develop, and manage the processes of larger-scale electrical systems, such as motors, navigation systems, radar, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers are involved in designing and developing a variety of smaller-scale electronic equipment, such as mobile, TV, and radio communications, global positioning systems, medical instruments, and industrial machinery.
The generation and supply of power are the main components of everyday work for electrical engineers, and they are involved from the outset until the completion and implementation of electrical products. They design new ways to use electrical power and establish unique and creative ways to improve current systems and products. Manufacturing, construction, and installation calculations are performed by electrical engineers to ensure proper inception and completion; they often work hand in hand with project managers to see plans come to fruition. Electrical engineers play a role in helping to direct workers in the field of manufacturing, installation, and testing so that projects and products come out as specified.
Electronic engineering involves work with signal processing or control systems in an effort to apply the supply of power, with projects such as global positioning systems, portable music players, broadcast systems, and much more. Electronics engineers design electronic components and software for industrial, commercial, medical, military, and other such ventures. They also develop and test different procedures for both electronic components and equipment and assist in repairing or designing diverse modifications for failing or improperly working systems.
Where Do Electrical Engineers Work?
Electrical engineers play an important role in any industry that requires electricity, wires, circuits, relays, and power systems. They are responsible for some of the most vital devices we use today, and they work in a variety of fields to support and expand the functionality of these devices. Here are some examples of the types of companies that require the work of electrical engineers:
Engineering firms concentrate a broad selection of engineers in different specialties, or focus on a specific realm and form a team of specialists. Either way, when an outside company has engineering needs, they contact an engineering firm. The firm analyzes the company's needs and responds with a team that can accomplish the task. Electrical engineers in these firms contribute their valuable knowledge and experience when the situation calls for power or energy systems analysis. They may also coordinate their efforts with computer engineers when designing power systems for large-scale computer, network, and database setups.
Instrument manufacturing and electronic component manufacturing are good examples of engineers helping engineers. Instruments and delicate components must meet very specific requirements in order to be of use to engineers and technicians of all kinds. When manufacturing specialized equipment, electrical engineers are responsible for both designing and maintaining the machines that will physically produce the items, and also for testing them to make sure that they meet quality control standards. Instrument manufacturing is a great field for people who love learning how things are made and who have an eye for detail in a finished product.
Everyone needs access to electricity nowadays, and if they want to make sure that their systems are safe and efficient, then they need an electrical engineer. When power companies build a new plant, they have electrical engineers there making sure that the systems are in order and connect to the grid correctly. Cities and development companies bring civil engineers together with electrical engineers to design power delivery systems that can meet the needs of their citizens. Mass transit systems, like NYC's subways or Seattle's electric buses, also need electrical engineers to make sure that these systems have the power they need to keep a busy populace up and running.
Electronic Component Manufacturing
Many electrical engineers are tasked with building delicate components. Engineers need to have an eye for detail and an understanding of the complex parts that come together to make a system work. The machinery that makes electronic components is even more delicate and needs a dedicated professional at the helm.
Scientific Research and Development
Research and development is focused on taking existing products and making them better, designing brand new products that solve a problem (new or old), or building a new product based on a cutting-edge discovery in the electrical engineering field. R&D is never the same day twice. If you want to get into this field, be prepared to work hard and face a lot of competition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electrical Engineering Degrees
How much can I earn with an online degree in electrical engineering?
Entry-level jobs in electrical engineering require a bachelor's degree, and professionals in the field earn a median annual income of $98,530 based on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2019. The best-paying jobs for electrical engineers are in research and development, although there are also lucrative positions in manufacturing, especially of semiconductors, electrical components, and various types of instruments.
What is the job outlook for electrical engineers?
Despite the heavy emphasis on technological innovation in so many industries, the demand for electrical engineers is expected to remain fairly constant over the next decade. Opportunities are being phased out of some industries, but there are new, emerging growth areas, especially in the research and development of energy resources, production automation, consumer electronics, and telecommunications. Electrical engineers may also find more job openings in engineering services firms, since many manufacturing companies are opting to outsource work to services firms instead of using internal resources.
What is the difference between an electrical engineer and an electrical engineering technician?
Electrical engineering technicians assist electrical and electronics engineers in designing, developing, and testing electronics and electrical devices. Becoming an electrical engineering technician requires an associate degree, while a bachelor's or more advanced degree is required for higher-level positions as electrical engineers. An electrical engineering technician can expect to earn an annual salary of about $65,260.
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