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Distance Learning Engineering can Make You a Real Engineer!

Aug 17, 2007
Distance learning engineering is nowadays offered by more and more universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutes, thanks to breakthroughs in course delivery like the internet, virtual labs, instructional design, and interactive content.

What it Involves

Distance learning engineering mainly involves taking either a BS or BE in any of the engineering branches; a BS in Engineering Technology; an MS or ME in any engineering branch or its specialization; or a PhD in a specialization of an engineering branch; through the online or distance mode.

While accredited MS and ME degrees are available for most engineering branches and their specializations, from many universities, accredited BS and BE degrees through distance learning engineering are offered only by a lesser number of institutions. Also, distance learning engineering for undergraduate degrees offers only fewer engineering branches as majors. It is more common to find among bachelor degrees branches like computer science/engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, and quality control/assurance. In many other branches, aspirants will have to opt for a hybrid program with some element of on-campus study during evenings or holidays. However, many universities offer BS degree completion programs in many branches, through distance learning engineering, which means that you need to have prior experience and credits from some other undergraduate engineering program.

However, BS degrees in engineering technology through distance learning engineering are widely available.

Why Engineering?

Engineering is one of the most attractive professions due to the huge demand in the job market, high starting salaries, enormous scope for specialization, and the requirement of only a bachelor's degree to scale even the heights of this profession. With more than 1.2 million engineers working in the field, it is the USA's second-largest profession, and provides starting salaries to the tune of US $50,000 per annum to fresh engineers with just bachelors degrees. No wonder, each year, 100,000 new students enroll for engineering courses, in the USA.

Why Distance Learning Engineering?

Universities and colleges nowadays use the latest course delivery methods like the internet, streaming video, video conferencing, virtual labs, instructional design, interactive content, CD, video tapes, on-the-job training, etc, to create a rich experience, which comes close if not being better than a real engineering campus. Most universities also don't differentiate between their regular engineering degrees and distance learning engineering degrees, making it a viable option for those who can't accommodate a regular course into their schedule.

Universities, Colleges and Courses for Distance Learning Engineering

BS, MS, and PhD degrees in various branches of engineering are nowadays available under this delivery model. Also available are specialized certificate courses and 2-year associate degrees.

It is always better to go for an accredited course, the best accreditation being that of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). But finding and getting admitted to an ABET accredited distance learning engineering course will not be very easy, as, even in regular engineering education, only 15% of the Universities and Colleges have at least one undergraduate engineering course accredited by ABET.

Also, ABET accreditation is not the only criterion to look for. Many prestigious universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutes offer courses that are highly regarded by the industry and the academic world, but which are still not accredited by ABET.

One of the universities offering ABET accredited courses through distance education is University of North Dakota. UND has four ABET accredited BS degrees in engineering - chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical. The format of course delivery is online. But, generally speaking, ABET accredited courses tend to be hybrid courses with some element of on-campus study.

California National University for Advanced Studies offers a BS in Engineering with electives being computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and quality assurance science.

Kennedy-Western University offers Bachelor degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, and quality control.

Kansas State University offers an MS in chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical branches, with course delivery through internet, video, and CD. North Carolina State University offers an MS in chemical, civil, and mechanical engineering. The course delivery is over video. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Iowa State University both offer MS degrees in electrical and mechanical branches. While University of Illinois exclusively uses the internet for delivery, University of Iowa uses a combination of streaming video over the internet, CD, and video tape. University of Tennessee offers MS in civil engineering, for which the delivery is through the internet.

University of Illinois, Iowa State University, University of Tennessee, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are some of the institutions offering specialized Graduate Certificate Courses through distance learning engineering, while North Carolina State University offers undergraduate level Certificate Courses through this mode.
About the Author
Jim Zorn is web master of the Guide to Distance Learning. Please visit to learn more about online colleges and universities, distance learning degrees, majors and courses offered.
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