Engineering is one of the most popular and fastest-growing fields of study in the world.
There are many different types of engineering degrees available, each with its own unique set of skills and requirements.
This article provides an overview of engineering degrees, including what they are, common types and specializations, typical program requirements, career options, and earning potential.
Engineering degrees blend scientific and technical training to prepare graduates for solving real-world problems across many industries. Whether it’s designing infrastructure, developing new technologies, or improving manufacturing processes, engineering helps drive innovation and progress in our society.
What is an Engineering Degree?
An engineering degree is an academic program that provides scientific knowledge and principles related to a specific field of engineering, along with technical skills to design, build, and problem solve.
Some key things to know about engineering degrees:
- They blend science, math, and hands-on technical skills to prepare students for engineering careers. Coursework emphasizes critical thinking, analysis, and real-world applications.
- Programs are typically 4-5 years at the bachelor’s level. There are also associate degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs available.
- Common undergraduate majors include mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, industrial, computer, aerospace, biomedical, environmental, petroleum, and materials engineering. Specializations get more focused from there.
- Curricula cover foundational engineering concepts like thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, statics, materials science, electronics, and control systems. Advanced classes and projects build specialized expertise.
- Engineering graduates develop the abilities to design systems and processes, solve problems, conduct testing, oversee construction projects, and generally apply their technical knowledge across industries.
So in short, an engineering degree provides scientific grounding and hands-on skills to prepare students to take on real-world engineering challenges and deliver technical solutions. The specific field shapes what kind of projects and roles you’ll be equipped for after graduating.
What are the Different Types of Engineering Degrees?
There are many different types of engineering degrees that students can pursue. Here is a high-level overview:
The main branches of engineering are:
- Civil Engineering – Designing and constructing infrastructure like roads, bridges, dams, buildings, etc.
- Mechanical Engineering – Designing, developing, and testing machines, devices and mechanical systems. This includes areas like thermodynamics, robotics, automotive systems, manufacturing tech, etc.
- Electrical Engineering – Focused on electrical systems, electronics, communication systems, power generation, embedded systems, control systems, signal processing, etc.
- Chemical Engineering – Designing processes and developing/optimizing chemical production facilities related to things like fuel, drugs, food, synthetic materials, etc.
- Industrial Engineering – Focused on optimizing complex systems and processes, improving efficiency in business operations and manufacturing through statistical analysis, project management approaches, etc.
There are also more specialized engineering disciplines such as:
- Aerospace Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Mining Engineering
- Software Engineering
Engineering programs are typically offered at the undergraduate level (Bachelor’s degree) as well as graduate level (Master’s and PhD degrees). There are also associate degrees and certificates available. The curriculum and specializations vary across the different engineering branches and subfields.
Most Affordable Engineering Degree Programs
Stony Brook University’s Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Stony Brook University offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering program, with a tuition rate of $353 per credit. This program provides a cost-effective option for students seeking to pursue a degree in electrical engineering through online learning. The university’s commitment to academic excellence and accessibility makes this program an attractive choice for those looking for an affordable engineering degree.
South Texas College
South Texas College provides an engineering degree program with a tuition cost of $1,610 per year after financial aid. The college’s focus on affordability and quality education makes it an appealing option for students interested in pursuing an engineering degree at an affordable cost. South Texas College’s commitment to providing accessible education in the field of engineering contributes to its reputation as a cost-effective choice for prospective students.
Daytona State College
Daytona State College offers an affordable online engineering degree program, providing students with the opportunity to pursue their engineering education for close to $3,000 per year. The college’s emphasis on affordability and online learning options makes it a practical choice for individuals seeking a cost-effective pathway to an engineering degree. Daytona State College’s commitment to delivering quality education at an accessible cost reflects its dedication to providing affordable engineering degree programs.
Tarleton State University
Tarleton State University provides an affordable online engineering degree program, offering students a cost-effective option for pursuing their engineering education. The university’s focus on delivering accessible and high-quality education in the field of engineering makes it an attractive choice for individuals seeking an affordable pathway to an engineering degree. Tarleton State University’s commitment to affordability and academic excellence contributes to its reputation as a practical option for prospective engineering students.
Thomas Edison State University
The Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology at Thomas Edison State University offers a competitive tuition rate for students pursuing an engineering degree. TESU has technology-oriented programs related to engineering, but not traditional engineering degrees that would prepare someone for PE licensure and jobs like building design. The programs are more tailored to technicians and technologists in electronics, nuclear energy, and other applied technology fields.
TESU offers bachelor’s and associate’s degrees related to engineering technology:
- Bachelor of Science in Electronics Systems Engineering Technology
- Associate in Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology
These programs are geared more towards technicians and technologists working in applied engineering settings, rather than professional engineers doing design work. The curricula focus on hands-on skills and practical knowledge.
TESU is regionally accredited and the technical programs are ABET accredited. The school has a good reputation for serving working adults and military students with flexible online programs. But the technology-focused degrees would not lead to a professional engineering license.
What are the Requirements for an Engineering Degree?
The requirements for an engineering degree vary depending on the specific program, but they typically include the following:
- A strong academic background in math, science, and engineering
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- A minimum GPA of 3.0
- Some programs may require applicants to take the SAT or ACT
- Some programs may require applicants to have work experience in engineering or a related field
What Can You Do with an Engineering Degree?
Engineers work in a wide variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare. They can also work in government, academia, and research. Some of the specific jobs that engineers can do include:
- Civil Engineer: Civil engineers design, build, and maintain infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, and water systems.
- Electrical Engineer: Electrical engineers design, develop, and test electrical systems such as power plants, motors, and computers.
- Mechanical Engineer: Mechanical engineers design, build, and maintain mechanical systems such as engines, turbines, and pumps.
- Chemical Engineer: Chemical engineers design, develop, and produce chemicals and chemical processes.
- Biomedical Engineer: Biomedical engineers design, develop, and test medical devices and systems.
How Much Does an Engineer Make?
The median annual salary for engineers is $87,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, salaries vary depending on the specific field of engineering, the level of experience, and the location.
Is an Engineering Degree Right for Me?
Engineering is a challenging but rewarding career. If you are interested in math, science, and problem-solving, then an engineering degree may be right for you. However, it is important to carefully consider the different types of engineering degrees and the requirements for each program before you make a decision.
What is the difference between a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in engineering?
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is a four-year degree that teaches students the fundamental principles of engineering. A master’s degree in engineering is a two-year degree that builds on the knowledge and skills learned in a bachelor’s degree program. Master’s degree programs typically focus on more advanced topics and research.
How long does it take to get an engineering degree?
It typically takes four to five years to complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Master’s degree programs can take two years to complete.
What are the best engineering schools?
There are many great engineering schools in the United States. Some of the most highly ranked engineering schools include:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Stanford University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
What are the most popular engineering majors?
The most popular engineering majors include:
- Civil Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
What are the job prospects for engineers?
Projections point to steady job growth and demand for engineers in the coming years. Students pursuing engineering can expect promising career prospects overall, especially in high-demand specialties. The future continues to need people who can design, build, and innovate.
- Employment for engineers is projected to grow by about 4% between 2024-2034, adding around 65,000 new engineering jobs.
- Some of the most in-demand engineering occupations are projected to see stronger growth than average. This includes civil engineering technicians, construction project managers, structural engineers, and engineers in emerging fields like biomedical and materials engineering.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM occupations as a whole are projected to grow by about 8% over the next decade. So demand is strong across technical fields.
- Factors driving growth include infrastructure projects, sustainability initiatives, new technologies in fields like robotics and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare innovations needing engineers.
- Pay for engineers tends to be higher than average. Some of the top-paying specialized engineering roles include petroleum, computer hardware, aerospace, nuclear, and electrical engineers.
Resources & Sources
- Types of Engineering Degrees – Purdue University – Provides an overview of the main engineering disciplines and degree options at Purdue.
- Choosing an Engineering Major – University of Minnesota – Breaks down factors to consider when selecting an engineering specialty.
- Engineering Degrees – American Society for Engineering Education – Overview of degree levels from a leading engineering professional organization.
- Engineering Program Accreditation – ABET – Background on engineering accreditation standards from ABET.
- Engineering Salaries – PayScale – Provides salary data for various engineering roles to support earnings discussion.
- Engineering Job Outlook – Bureau of Labor Statistics – Official government source for engineering employment projections.