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Online Engineering & Science Degrees

Online schools offer a wide range of degrees in science and engineering to help prepare graduates for work in analytical, technical, and research-based fields. Depending on the specific degree program, students might study topics ranging from chemistry to manufacturing to computer software. Both engineering and science degree programs typically have a heavy emphasis on the quantitative. People drawn to science and engineering tend to be problem-solvers, curious individuals with a desire to push the boundaries of current technology and thought.

Online Engineering and Science Degrees

Spanning subjects from biology to mechanical engineering, online science and engineering degrees can differ radically in coursework requirements. As well, students earning online degrees in science may need to visit campus locations occasionally to complete hands-on lab work using equipment not typically available outside of research laboratories. For students attending online schools for engineering, advances in computing and software may allow degrees to be earned 100 percent online, but this varies greatly by program and degree level. More advanced programs are often less flexible schedule-wise, and potentially require more on-campus work.

Due to the level of education necessary to enter these fields, science and engineering degrees are generally designed to lead to a specific career path. A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, for example, is likely focused on preparing students to become electrical engineers. That said, electrical engineers may find their skills put to use in other fields, working with everything from small household electronics to power plants and beyond. Degree programs can typically be tailored to meet a student's specific career aspirations, especially once the introductory courses have been finished.

Science and Engineering Degree Specializations

There are many, many specializations offered for online degrees in engineering and science. Popular engineering degrees online and on-campus include electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and software engineering. Science degrees can run the gamut from biology to environmental science − and many more. Some engineering and science degrees commonly offered online include:

  • Associate in Engineering - Available in range of concentrations, the associate degree helps prepare graduates to look for a job quickly, albeit not as a full-fledged engineer. Online engineering degrees at the associate level can be completed in as little as two years of study, but schools may offer extended, part-time programs for students maintaining a full-time job. Credits can often be transferred towards a higher-level degree, if a student decides to continue their education at a later date.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering - According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), like most engineering disciplines, a bachelor's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement to become a electronics engineer. Coursework for a full-time bachelor's degree program generally takes four years to complete, with part-time programs taking longer. Electronics engineers develop components and software for everything from commercial to military application. In a bachelor's degree program, students usually learn how to design, run, and test advanced devices and electrical systems.
  • Master's Degree in Software Engineering - While many entry-level positions in computer hardware or software engineering require only a bachelor's, the BLS reports that more specialized jobs often call for individuals with a master's degree in the field. These programs typically take full-time students two years (beyond a bachelor's degree) to complete. Students pursuing a master's in software engineering can learn the skills needed to design, implement, and manage large software systems projects. In addition to coursework, programs may require students to complete a thesis demonstrating their mastery of related concepts.

Related Careers in Engineering and Science

Earning an engineering or science degree online could open a world of possibilities for graduates. Many different career paths may be available to students who complete a degree program at any level, although more advanced career opportunities likely require a bachelor's degree or above. Here's a selection of careers across the science and engineering spectrum:

  • Civil Engineers - Bridges, buildings, roads, airports, tunnels, dams − civil engineers are involved in the design of all these structures. If it has something to do with our country's infrastructure, it's safe to say that a civil engineer is behind its construction. According to the BLS, civil engineers need a bachelor's degree to enter the field.
  • Geological and Petroleum Technicians - These technicians work alongside scientists, providing support and aiding in natural resource research and extraction. This includes setting up, maintaining and checking laboratory and other research equipment; gathering samples and other data in the field; preparing reports and generally helping out. The BLS reports that most of these technicians typically have at least an associate degree.
  • Computer Hardware Engineer - Individuals interested in advancing computer technology might pursue a career in this field. Computer hardware engineers research, develop, and test computer equipment such as chips, circuit boards, or routers. Armed with a bachelor's degree, graduates may find employment in high-tech research laboratories sponsored by manufacturing corporations or even the federal government.

Science and Engineering Industry Trends

Rapid technological advancement and an increased emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education have helped make careers in these fields reasonably high in demand. The BLS projects that employment of the following related careers will continue to increase over the next decade:

  • Civil Engineers - 19 percent growth nationwide between 2010 and 2010
  • Geological and Petroleum Technicians - 15 percent growth nationwide between 2010 and 2020
  • Computer Hardware Engineer - 9 percent growth nationwide between 2010 and 2020

Sources:
"Architecture and Engineering Occupations," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Architecture-and-Engineering/home.htm
"Civil Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm
"Computer Hardware Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm
"Geological and Petroleum Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geological-and-petroleum-technicians.htm
"Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/

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