The engineering industry is a broad field that encompasses many different areas of specialization, from mechanical engineering to electrical engineering to aerospace engineering. While a master's degree will get you started on your career as an engineer, pursuing your doctorate in engineering can qualify you for more opportunities and a better salary. The 10 Best Online Doctorates in Engineering offers you the chance to gain a quality education, often while spending minimal time on campus. These online degrees are ideal if you're balancing your education with a full-time job or the demands of raising a family.
FINDING AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN ENGINEERING
Pursuing an online doctorate in engineering can make financial sense, especially when you consider the career opportunities that it can open. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an additional 21,300 electrical engineering jobs should be added to the workforce between 2016 and 2026, and electrical engineers make an average of $99,070 per year. Similarly, mechanical engineers make an average of $87,370 per year, while aerospace engineers make an average of $115,220 per year. An online doctorate in engineering can qualify you for new opportunities, such as a position teaching in higher education, and can help you to make more valuable contributions to your current position so that you can bring in a higher salary, too.
These online degree programs are created with working professionals in mind and offer the scheduling and location flexibility that you may need. Many of these programs are held almost entirely online while requiring only the occasional on-campus intensive, often held during the summer. Some of the programs have no on-campus residency requirements at all. When deciding which program is right for you, be sure to consider how the courses are delivered. Many of these programs feature asynchronous delivery, which allows you to log in and access lectures and coursework at any time. Some also combine in synchronous delivery, where you'll be required to be online at pre-scheduled times to participate in sessions live. The below programs offer excellent variety, so you should be able to find a degree program that suits your needs and career path.
RANKING THE 10 BEST ONLINE DOCTORATES IN ENGINEERING
While you're on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings, online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.
Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.
#1. TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
Texas Tech University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems & Engineering Management degree program in a hybrid format. During the program, students must spend two weeks of two consecutive summer terms in residency on campus. Once accepted into the program, students must have a formal plan of study approved by their advisor and by the Graduate Dean. To complete the degree, students must pass a qualifying exam, complete a research proposal, and perform a final dissertation defense. Students must also have two papers accepted by refereed journals before they perform their final degree defense.
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University was originally named Texas Technological Colleges. The university's enrollment was just 914 when it first opened, but as of Fall 2018, 38,209 students were enrolled at Texas Tech University. Students can choose from 150 undergraduate, 100 graduate, and 50 doctoral degrees and may participate in the university's more than 450 student organizations. During the university's history, more than 40 students have received the Goldwater Scholarship, and in the last decade, over 30 students have been named Fulbright Finalists.
#2. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
At George Washington University, students can pursue a Doctor of Engineering (D.Eng) in Engineering Management degree program. Students enter the program in online cohorts and work closely with faculty throughout the degree program. Because this degree is tailored to each student's individual interest, students can perform substantial research in an area of their choosing. Among other requirements, program applicants must submit three recommendations and a statement of purpose. Applicants must also have a minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale for their masters-level coursework. The university accepts limited numbers of graduate students for the summer term; be sure to contact the university for details.
Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University was founded in 1821. Today, over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students call GW home. GW consists of three campuses in Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia. The university also offers many online learning opportunities, allowing students all over the world to access a quality GW education. At GW, students can choose from over 12,000 internship opportunities at organizations including the White House, Discovery Communications, World Bank, and more. The university is also home to over 450 student clubs and organizations and is attended by students from all 50 states and 130 countries.
#3. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
The University of North Dakota's Electrical Engineering (Ph.D.) degree program is available on-campus or online. With the degree's customizable curriculum, students can learn how to research and design different technologies while also preparing for a higher education career if they should wish. Students don't just explore electrical engineering during this program; they also have the opportunity to pursue interests in related fields like computers, aerospace, and biomedical technology. Students can expect to take courses such as Communications Engineering, Robotics Fundamentals, Microwave Engineering, and Biomedical Instrumentation. This 90-credit-hour program takes approximately four years to complete.
UND was founded in 1883, shortly before the state of North Dakota was established. Over 13,000 students attend UND today, where they can choose from more than 225 academic programs. Classes average just 24 students in size, and UND's tuition and state fees are 13% lower than those at similar institutions located in the region. Students can choose from more than 250 clubs and organizations, and UND has 17 NCAA Division I athletic teams. UND is the only institution in the state to have graduate, law, and medical schools, and the university's research has a wide-reaching $300 million impact on the North Dakota economy.
#4. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
Columbia University's Electrical Engineering Doctorate Degree program is available partially online. This 30-credit-hour program allows students to choose their area of specialization, and students work closely with a faculty advisor to create a program of study that focuses on their interests. Faculty research areas include signals, information, and data; systems biology and neuroengineering; networking and communications; integrated circuits and systems; nanoscale structures and integrated devices; and smart electric energy. Program applicants must submit GRE scores and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must complete this degree in no more than seven years.
In 1754, Columbia University was founded as King's College, making it the fifth oldest educational institution in the country and the oldest in New York State. Columbia is home to three undergraduate schools as well as 13 graduate and professional schools. The university also houses a medical center and 25 libraries. Research is central to Columbia, and students have access to over 200 research centers and institutes through the university. Over 350 inventions are generated at Columbia each year, and since 1901, 84 alumni, faculty, adjunct faculty, researchers, and administrators at Columbia have won a Nobel Prize.
#5. MISSOURI UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The Missouri University of Science & Technology offers an Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Doctor of Philosophy degree program with online and on-campus options. Students who pursue this degree off-campus must complete the department residency requirement by taking their Qualifying Exam on-campus by their fifth semester. Off-campus students must also commit to at least two video conferences with their advisor each month. Students must also meet with their Ph.D. committee at least twice each semester. Program applicants must have a BS in engineering, physical science, or math, as well as an MS in Systems Engineering or in a related field. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and should have completed three years of postgraduate work.
Missouri S&T was founded in 1870, becoming one of the first technological institutions west of the Mississippi. Today, over 8,600 students attend the university, including 1,800 graduate students. Students can choose from 99 degree programs across 40 areas of study and may participate in 20 design teams such as the Solar Car, Solar House, Mars Rover, and Human-Powered Vehicle design teams. Students can also choose to participate in one of the university's more than 200 student organizations. Newsweek recognized Missouri S&T as being a best investment public university for out-of-state students.
#6. COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
At Colorado State University, students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Engineering program online. This program is designed for working professionals, including senior management and top-level executives. The study format is flexible, and during this program, students have the opportunity to focus on solving problems their current employers face. Through online learning in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, students may watch recorded lectures on their own time or watch the lectures live and interact online. Students may or may not be required to visit campus to complete their dissertation. This program is highly competitive and only accepts a few students each semester.
CSU offers more than 250 academic programs and more than 50 minors across its nine different colleges. The campus is home to over 500 student organizations, and students also have the option to pursue study abroad opportunities. CSU is home to 16 NCAA Division I sports teams as well as a variety of club and intramural sports. Through CSU Online, students all pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live. CSU Online students have access to many resources including advising, career services, and library services, and financial aid is available for all CSU Online courses. CSU Online students are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses and receive the same diploma that on-campus students receive.
#7. WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Systems Engineer Blended (Ph.D.) program is designed with the anticipation that most students will be part-time students residing off-campus. Most students are professionals who work full-time jobs, so this program is designed with the flexibility that they need. Most of the program's courses are available online and research seminars are offered in a virtual classroom setting so that students can interact with each other, no matter where they're located. Students in this program are strongly encouraged and financially supported in terms of travel costs when attending national conferences. Even though students may not be on-campus, they will still regularly interact with their research advisors throughout the course of the program.
Founded in 1865, WPI offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 14 academic departments. Students may pursue graduate research programs in cybersecurity, robots, materials science, and more, and WPI also has project centers throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas. As of the class of 2022, 100% of students receive a global project scholarship. CNBC ranked WPI eighth in its list of the 25 colleges where graduates have the highest earning potential, and in 2018, Forbes included WPI in its ranking of the top 25 STEM colleges. In 2019, the Princeton Review recognized WPI as being the fifth top best-run college.
#8. CLARKSON UNIVERSITY
At Clarkson University, students can pursue a Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering on campus, as a hybrid program or online. This degree program is 90 credit hours beyond the Bachelor of Science and consists of 39 credit hours of coursework. Students complete 15 credit hours in their major field and 9 credit hours in their minor field. During this program, students can expect to take courses such as Environmental Systems, Advanced Soil Mechanics, Continuum Mechanics, and Coastal Engineering. Program applicants must have a Master's of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering, or in another engineering discipline.
Clarkson was founded in 1896 and has a main campus in Potsdam, New York, as well as graduate program and research satellite locations in Saranac Lake, Schenectady, Beacon, and New York City. The university offers over 95 programs of study and features an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Over 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students from 44 states and 65 countries attend Clarkson, and the university is home to over 43,000 living alumni. At Clarkson, students can choose from more than 200 clubs and professional societies as well as 225 intramural sports teams.
#9. THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA
The University of Alabama's PhD in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics degree program is offered primarily online, though students must visit campus once each semester to meet with their faculty advisor. The program is designed for engineering professionals who have five or more years of experience, allowing them to continue working full-time while advancing their education. The degree is research-based, and students will complete and defend a dissertation related to aerospace engineering or engineering science and mechanics. This 72-credit-hour program is identical to the program offered on-campus, except for its delivery mode.
The University of Alabama was founded in 1831 and was the first public college to open in the state. Its 1,200-acre campus is located in Tuscaloosa and is home to over 600 student organizations. As of Fall 2018, over 38,000 students were enrolled at the university and over 34% of the entering class had a high school GPA of 4.0 or higher. To date, 56 of the university's students have been named Goldwater Scholars, 15 have been named Rhodes Scholars, and 16 have been named Truman Scholars. The students aren't the only ones to receive prestigious recognition; 27 UA faculty have been awarded NSF CAREER Awards recognizing the top-performing young scientists in fields such as nanoscience and engineering. Additionally, 46 UA faculty are included in the National Academy of Inventors.
#10. NORTHCENTRAL UNIVERSITY
At Northcentral University, students can pursue an Engineering Management, Ph.D.-TIM degree program entirely online. With weekly course starts, students can quickly take that next step in pursuing their education. This program features no scheduled lecture hours and no group assignments, meaning students can plan their courses around their own schedules. Program graduates will be able to lead engineering and information systems initiatives in government, business, and nonprofit organizations. This 60-credit-hour program consists of 20 courses and takes approximately 50 months to complete.
Founded in 1996, Northcentral University was designed to offer higher education to working professionals located all over the world. This nonprofit university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees entirely online with no physical residency requirements. Programs are available in the fields of business, education, psychology, marriage and family therapy, technology, and the health sciences. Students learn from doctoral degree-holding NCU professors in a one-on-one learning environment that leverages the power of mentoring. NCU occasionally offers grants and scholarships to help students finance their education.