If you are looking for the best affordable Bachelor’s in Engineering degree, you have come to the right place. The advancement of technology in recent years has had a noticeable impact on the economy in the United States, thus creating a great demand for professionals highly trained in science and mathematics. After all, engineering touches every aspect of our daily lives, from not only the technology we use to also the buildings we live in. On-campus engineering degree programs are increasing in popularity as well as online options for those who are juggling family obligations or already working full-time positions. Earning an online Bachelor’s in Engineering degree prepares students for one of many exciting career paths in areas such as civil, electrical, mechanical, or software engineering.
To provide our readers with the most comprehensive list of the most affordable colleges for online Bachelor’s in Engineering degree programs, we ranked each school based on three key metrics related to cost, class size, and student success. Regardless of the specific engineering field in which you would like to work once you have earned your online undergraduate Engineering degree, there are many affordable programs available across the country. However, narrowing down your options can be confusing and time-consuming, which is why decided to take it upon ourselves to do some of the hard work for you. Using the search term for “online engineering bachelor’s degree” at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we gathered a list of 20 schools before finding the top 15 programs based on the methodology. We also cross-referenced data supplied by the NCES with each institution’s website to ensure accuracy.
Average Cost of Attendance
The first metric by which we ranked schools was affordability. When comparing accredited universities for an online Bachelor’s in Engineering degree, consider whether the schools in which you are interested offer more than just low tuition. In other words, are there opportunities for hands-on learning or specialization areas you would be interested in pursuing? While it is tempting to want to choose the cheapest program on the list just to save money, it is important to ensure that the program you choose will not only be affordable but also meet your academic needs and professional goals as well. For this ranking, we gathered tuition information from each school’s website and ranked them based on one academic year of study (15 hours per semester).
Under $7,500: 5 points
$7,500 to $15,000: 3 points
$15,001 and above: 1 point
Next, we looked at each school’s student-to-faculty ratio from NCES to get a better understanding of the learning environment at each institution. When considering these figures, think about your own academic background and personal priorities. In other words, are you looking for small class sizes that are more likely to provide greater accountability and the opportunity to develop close relationships with your professors, or are you looking for larger classes in which you can complete your coursework without too many interactions with others? Are you interested in pursuing a specific area of study that might not be offered at smaller colleges? Although there are benefits to both, schools with lower student-to-faculty ratios may be more likely to offer one-on-one mentoring and smaller class sizes. Therefore, we awarded the most points to these institutions based on the ratios below.
10:1 or less: 3 points
11:1 to 15:1: 2 points
Greater than 15:1: 1 point
Finally, we looked at each school’s graduation rate provided from NCES to gauge student satisfaction and help aspiring engineers determine whether a particular school will be a good fit. After all, is it not the goal to enroll at a school, complete the program requirements, and graduate with your degree? Graduation rates tell us more about how many students completed this process successfully. In other words, those who are satisfied with a college or university are often more likely to remain enrolled there and graduate with their degree, while those who are unhappy may find themselves leaving prematurely and earning their degree elsewhere. This could happen for any number of reasons such as poor or nonexistent academic support, unhelpful or inexperienced faculty, or unaffordable tuition rates. For this reason, we awarded the most points to schools with the highest graduation rates based on the ranges below.
More than 50 percent: 3 points
Between 30 percent and 50 percent: 2 points
Less than 30 percent: 1 point
Ranking Top 15 Best Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Engineering Degrees
15. Upper Iowa University
Established in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private institution of higher education that offers low-cost undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 40 majors at 15 centers across the country as well as at centers in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. An accredited university for an online engineering degree, UIU provides an innovative Organizational Information Systems and Technology Program (OISTP) that includes majors in software engineering, information systems, and information technology. Specifically, students pursuing the inexpensive online software engineering program focus on software quality, process, validation, verification, and development. Topics such as visualization and graphics as well as informatics are emphasized. Courses are offered in convenient eight-week terms, and small classes allow students to interact directly with professors inside and outside the classroom.
Software Engineering Major
Online Tuition: $21,195
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Graduation Rate: 43 percent
14. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide
Daytona Beach, Florida
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, established in 1926 as Embry-Riddle Flying School, is a high-value, private university that operates campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and in Prescott, Arizona as well as online through ERAU Worldwide. It is the largest university system that specializes in aerospace and aviation. Designed from a multidisciplinary perspective with subject matter ranging from systems, aeronautical, electrical, and mechanical engineering, ERAU’s cheap online Bachelor of Science in Engineering program prepares students to enter into design, development, and research positions. The 128-hour curriculum is comprised of 27 hours of humanities, social sciences, communications, and economics; 66 hours of engineering courses; 10 hours of calculus-based classes; 19 hours of mathematics courses; and six hours of a senior-level capstone design project.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering
Online Tuition: $12,870
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 19 percent
13. Lamar University
Established in 1923, Lamar University is a public institution of higher education and a member of the Texas State University System. Lamar is also a top choice among students seeking an economical engineering degree, providing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering that focuses on the systems of people, equipment, and the environment. Faculty members at this low-cost university are experts in project management, design and manufacturing, operations research, logistics, and supply chain management. Beyond the classroom, students have opportunities for learning experiences through study-abroad programs, conferences, student research, co-ops, and hands-on internships. The 2+2 online format allows students to complete the first two years on-campus and the remaining two years online with minimal travel from home.
B.S. in Industrial Engineering
Online Tuition: $10,092
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 27 percent
12. National University
La Jolla, California
National University, founded in 1971, is a private institution of higher education that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees throughout California, in Nevada, and online. Distance education programs at NU are designed for adult learners, with online offerings delivered via interactive multimedia, streaming video, and real-time online classrooms. A cheap, accredited university for an online engineering degree, NU confers a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering that is comprised of four-week classes. The low-cost program’s curriculum focuses on the practices, principles, and theories of mathematics and traditional electrical engineering and applies them to the design of computers and computer-based devices.
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Online Tuition: $14,985
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 36 percent
11. Bemidji State University
One of the top schools for an affordable distance education engineering degree, Bemidji State University is a public institution of higher learning that was founded as a preparatory institution for teachers in 1919. A member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, BSU offers a cheap online Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Engineering that is designed to help students build upon their past education. Students are required to transfer a minimum of 38 technical credits from a community or technical college, or they must complete technical courses on-campus at BSU. The top-value B.A.S. in Applied Engineering major requires 78 additional credits of study, including core courses in safety and risk management, operations planning and control, industrial design and innovation, and materials science and metallurgy.
Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Engineering
Online Tuition: $9,100
Graduation Rate: 46 percent
10. University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi is a public research university and a top choice among undergraduates seeking a low-cost engineering degree. Founded in 1910 as Mississippi Normal College, USM offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology that is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. The curriculum includes core courses in lean production systems, engineering project management, global supply chain management, and electrical systems. Topics such as plant layout and material handling, industrial automation, and production and inventory control are also investigated. The program culminates in a senior design project. Students may also choose to pursue an economical fully online industrial engineering technology degree with an emphasis in logistics.
Online Industrial Engineering Technology BS
Online Tuition: $8,896
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 49 percent
9. Arizona State University
Established in 1885, Arizona State University is a public metropolitan research university and one of the largest public institutions of higher education by enrollment in the U.S. Recognized among the most affordable universities for an engineering degree, ASU confers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering that consists of 120 total credit hours of study. The program’s award-winning faculty guides undergraduates through fundamental engineering courses as well as specialty courses in electric power and energy systems, solid-state electronics, communications networks, microprocessors, electromagnetic fields, and digital and analog circuits. This low-cost program is available entirely online, and classes are offered every seven and a half weeks.
Online BSE in Electrical Engineering
Online Tuition: $13,518
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 69 percent
8. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public research university and the flagship campus of the University of Alabama System. Established in 1820, it is also the oldest and largest of the public institutions of higher education in the state. Through its online division, Bama By Distance, UA offers an economical online Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree. Students complete 126 credit hours of study and train the science of designing a system in a process, a machine, or a component. Distance learners of this top-value mechanical engineering program should be aware that three courses require in-person weekend laboratories at locations in Tuscaloosa or Gadsden, Alabama.
BS in Mechanical Engineering
Online Tuition: $11,250
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Graduation Rate: 72 percent
7. Old Dominion University
Established as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in 1930, Old Dominion University is now one of the largest public research universities by enrollment in the state. A top choice among students seeking a best-value online engineering degree, ODU confers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering through the Batten College of Engineering & Technology. Designed as a degree-completion program, the curriculum includes core courses in computer science and electrical engineering. Undergraduates of this cost-effective degree program may focus their studies with courses in communications systems, medical imaging, cybersecurity, computer networks, and computer hardware systems. During the final two years of the program, undergraduates work with peers from other disciplines to design, propose, and complete projects. The online B.S. in Computer Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Online Tuition: $10,680
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 52 percent
6. University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Established in 1883, the University of North Dakota is a public research university and the oldest institution of higher education in the state. One of the first schools to offer cheap online engineering programs in the country, UND provides distance education engineering degrees in the disciplines of chemical, civil, electrical, geological, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. In addition, undergraduates considering pursuing the low-cost online chemical, civil, electrical, or petroleum engineering degrees may consider taking advantage of UND’s combined programs and earn a Bachelor of Science in the major of their choice as well as either a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering. All programs are available entirely online and feature opportunities for hands-on learning through research projects, internships, and co-ops.
Chemical Engineering (B.S.)
Chemical Engineering (Combined B.S./M.S. or M.Eng.)
Civil Engineering (B.S.)
Civil Engineering (Combined B.S./M.S. or M.Eng.)
Electrical Engineering (B.S.E.E.)
Electrical Engineering (Combined B.S./M.S. or M.Eng.)
Geological Engineering (B.S.)
Mechanical Engineering (B.S.)
Petroleum Engineering (B.S.)
Petroleum Engineering (Combined B.S./M.S. or M.Eng.)
Online Tuition: $10,524
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 55 percent
5. Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York
The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, also referred to as Stony Brook University, is a public space- and sea-grant research university and one of four campuses that make up the SUNY System. Established in 1957, SBU offers a cost-effective online engineering degree in the form of a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the 120-credit curriculum is comprised of required coursework in electronics, engineering design, electromagnetics, signals and systems, and technical communications for electrical engineers. Top- value courses are available entirely online and taught by faculty members at SBU, Binghamton University, and the University at Buffalo.
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Online (BSEEOL)
Online Tuition: $10,175
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 74 percent
4. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina
Established in 1946, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a public research institution of higher learning and one of the most affordable universities for an online engineering degree. UNC at Charlotte offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology with two separate focus areas: electrical or fire safety. The electrical engineering option includes coursework in areas such as power systems, control systems, electronic circuits and systems, digital logic and systems, linear circuits, and microprocessors, microcontrollers, and embedded systems. Both cheap engineering programs are available entirely online except for summer laboratories in the electrical engineering program that require face-to-face, on-campus instruction.
B.S. in Engineering Technology: Electrical
B.S. in Engineering Technology: Fire Safety
Online Tuition: $9,617
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 59 percent
3. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a public research university and a popular institution of higher education for students seeking a top-value online engineering degree. Established in 1885, UA offers an inexpensive online Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering that provides undergraduates with the skills they need to advance biomedical devices, robotics, wireless technology, cybersecurity, and embedded systems. Courses may cover topics such as microprocessor organization, circuit theory, and computer programing for engineering applications. Outside of the classroom, AU’s longstanding partnerships with companies such as Pixar, NASA, Microsoft, Intel, and Raytheon provide undergraduates with an edge in the job market, with most students receiving job offers before graduation.
Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Online Tuition: $15,000
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 64 percent
2. Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
Established in 1927, Eastern New Mexico University is the largest regional comprehensive university in the state. A federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, ENMU is also recognized as one of the most affordable universities for an online engineering degree. ENMU offers a low-cost online Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology that provides students with experience and knowledge in manufacturing and testing, research and development, applications in computer systems design, and electronics technology. ENMU also provides two of the cheapest fully online Bachelor of Applied Art and Science degrees in electronics engineering technology with options in analog electronics and digital electronics. These programs are designed to combine technical course credits for undergraduates who hold an associate degree in a specific area of technical or vocational emphasis.
Online Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Online B.A.A.S. in EET (Analog Electronics)
Online B.A.A.S. in EET (Digital Electronics)
Online B.A.A.S. in EET (Analog and Digital Electronics)
Online Tuition: $6,450
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 35 percent
1. Florida International University
Topping our list of the top low-cost universities for an online engineering degree is Florida International University. Established in 1965, FIU is a public research university that offers more than 190 degree options, including South Florida’s only public schools of medicine and law. Through its College of Engineering and Computing, FIU confers the best affordable online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering that trains students in the areas of computers, power and energy systems, bioengineering, electronics and electromagnetism, controls, nanotechnology, and communications. Students must complete 128 credits of study that help them become creative problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners. This high-value program is available entirely online with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
Online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Online Tuition: $7,186
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Graduation Rate: 58 percent
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Career Options for an Online Bachelor’s in Engineering Degree?
Did you use appliances, electronics, or roads today? Thank an engineer. Engineers are responsible for creating a variety of products and structures, from zippers to airports. Working in many different fields, engineers apply what they have learned during a Bachelor of Science degree program in the professional workforce. Computer engineers design computer systems, civil engineers design bridges and roads, and mechanical engineers develop new products and materials. Graduates of online Bachelor’s in Engineering degree programs can work in technology and manufacturing, for government agencies, and in medical research laboratories. With a wealth of career options after graduating, earning an online bachelor’s degree in engineering prepares graduates for several in-demand, lucrative careers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth is expected from 2016 to 2026 — the most recent data available — with nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers. Below we have outlined just a few career options for those who have earned an online bachelor’s in engineering degree.
- Civil Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Industrial Engineer
- Electrical and Electronics Engineer
- Petroleum Engineer
- Environmental Engineer
- Aerospace Engineer
- Nuclear Engineer
There are many more careers available in fields such as agricultural engineering, mining and geological engineering, materials engineering, and marine engineering. Other occupations that might require — or benefit from — a background in engineering include postsecondary engineering teachers, sales engineers, architectural and engineering managers, and engineering technicians, except drafters.
As you can see, depending on a student’s particular area of interest, there is, without a doubt, a subdiscipline of engineering available. Another factor to consider when thinking about career options is employment by industry. According to this data, manufacturing employed more than 578,000 engineers in 2016, the most of any industry. Within manufacturing, the largest number of positions for engineers were related to the production of machinery, transportation equipment, and computer and electronic products. Below, we list the top industries of employment for engineers as of 2016 in order from highest to lowest:
- Manufacturing: 578,000 positions
- Engineering services: 315,000
- Federal, state, and local government: 203,000
- Scientific research and development services: 83,000
- Management of companies and enterprises: 52,000
- Construction: 51,000
- Computer systems design and related services: 47,000
What is the Salary Potential for an Online Bachelor’s in Engineering Degree?
Due to the increased demand for engineers as well as the rigorous curriculum requirements to become one, engineers are typically well-compensated for their services. However, when thinking about the salary potential for an online Bachelor’s in Engineering degree, keep in mind that several factors influence these numbers such as location, level of experience in the field, an engineer’s specific employer, and level of education. Those with many years of hands-on experience as well as higher degrees may be entitled to more compensation than those who have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree. However, even those with a four-year degree can command relatively high salaries. To learn more about earnings, we turned to the BLS for data.
As you consider a career as an engineer, remember that not all fields of engineering pay the same. According to the BLS, five of the highest-paying engineer-based occupations include that of the petroleum engineer, computer hardware engineer, aerospace engineer, nuclear engineer, and electronics engineers, except computers. Overall, all engineers earned a median annual wage of $91,010 as of May 2016, the most recent data available. However, the BLS provides updated salaries for these careers as of May 2018. Let’s take a closer look at the top three.
In May 2018, the median annual wage for petroleum engineers was $137,170. The highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $74,270. The highest-paying industries for petroleum engineers included the management of companies and enterprises, oil and gas extraction, and petroleum and coal products manufacturing. Other lucrative industries included engineering services and support activities for mining.
Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer hardware engineers reported a median annual wage of $114,600 as of May 2018. The highest 10 percent brought home more than $172,630, while the lowest 10 percent saw less than $66,700. Industries in which computer hardware engineers earned the most include research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences as well as manufacturing in the areas of computer and peripheral equipment and semiconductor and other electronic components. Other top-paying industries included the federal government and computer systems design and related services.
According to the BLS, aerospace engineers earned an average yearly salary of $115,220 in May 2018, with the top 10 percent earning more than $164,210 and the lowest 10 percent earning less than $71,640. Aspiring aerospace engineers looking to earn the highest salaries should consider the following industries: research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences; navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing; the federal government, excluding postal services; aerospace product and parts manufacturing; and engineering services.
What Will You Learn About in an Online Bachelor’s in Engineering Degree Program?
Engineers use their knowledge of mathematical and scientific principles to solve technical problems. They can work in a variety of disciplines, including petroleum, electrical, mechanical, chemical, environmental, and civil engineering. Therefore, aspiring engineerings must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program and major in the branch in which they wish to work. College coursework will vary depending on the branch chosen, and students should expect to take advanced mathematics and science courses in addition to their engineering classes. They will also be required to fulfill the core or general education curriculum requirements of the school by taking social sciences, humanities, and English classes. Below is a sample curriculum that includes different requirements of various engineering programs:
- Engineering Mathematics
- Engineering Materials
- Engineering Laboratory
- Digital Circuits and Logical Design
- Risk Analysis and Probability for Engineers
When it comes to the curriculum and school, undergraduates may select either an unaccredited or accredited program. However, it is always recommended to opt for an accredited program that meets certain standards of excellence. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, or they may have received programmatic accreditation for specific engineering-focused degrees by the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) — a non-governmental, nonprofit agency that accredits programs in natural and applied science, engineering, engineering technology, and computing. Although earning a degree with ABET accreditation is not required for all occupations in the field of engineering, many employers prefer to hire graduates of these programs.
In addition to having a strong background in mathematics and the sciences, undergraduates will also develop soft skills that prepare them for success in their chosen occupations. For instance, students must be strong problem-solvers and be able to not only identify issues but come up with solutions to solve them. Excellent critical thinking skills allow students to evaluate each solution to determine which has the highest chance of success. Undergraduates will also learn how to effectively work on a team, solving problems alongside their peers. Successful engineers are also good speakers and listeners as well.
The best Bachelor’s in Engineering degrees incorporate experiential, hands-on learning at the undergraduate level. Engineering majors at the top programs build global competencies through study-abroad experiences, gain work experience through internships and co-ops, and participate in research projects with peers and faculty members. Whether you are undergraduate simply interested in research or you are thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in engineering, real-world learning and collaborating on projects will prepare you for a productive future in research, your place of work, and your local community.
There are many affordable online engineering degrees available today. While it does not hurt to pursue a degree from a well-known school, doing so provides no guarantees in terms of finding and securing a position. Depending on your specific academic needs and professional goals, what most consider the best program or school for a bachelor’s in engineering might not be ideal for you. The above list of ranked schools examines traits that relate not to prestige but to affordability, student-to-faculty ratios, and student success to help aspiring engineers find the program that works for them.
This concludes our ranking of the top 15 best affordable online bachelor’s in engineering degrees.
Other Rankings of Interest:
- 50 Best Affordable Industrial Engineering Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- 50 Best Affordable Electrical Engineering Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- 50 Best Affordable Civil Engineering Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- 50 Best Affordable Biomedical Engineering Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- 25 Best Affordable Nuclear Engineering Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- The 50 Most Affordable Colleges with the Best Return
- 15 Most Affordable Ph.D in Engineering Management Online
- The 20 Most Affordable Online Colleges