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Contact Schools Directly - Compare 17 Distance Learning Doctors of Philosophy  (PhD) Programs in Engineering Studies 2024

17 Distance Learning PhD Programs in Engineering Studies 2024

The field of engineering and technology involves the study of how the conceptual design focus of engineering can be utilized in technological applications. Engineering and technology students learn how to take the plans made by engineers and make them work in the real world.

Requirements for the PhD program often involve the student having already obtained a Master’s degree. Additionally, a thesis or dissertation primarily consisting of original academic research must be submitted. In some countries, this work may even need to be defended in front of a panel.

Online learning refers to use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. With online learning one has the flexibility to access their studies at any time and from anywhere they can log on.

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Doctor of Engineering

Engineering institute of technology.

Engineering Institute of Technology

  • Perth, Australia

Full time, Part time

Graduates of the Online Doctor of Engineering (DEng) will be able to make original and significant contributions to the development, application, and evaluation of professional knowledge by engaging with practical problems of demonstrated importance to their employment context and the wider body of engineer programming and technical knowledge.

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Doctor of Philosophy

Edith cowan university.

Edith Cowan University

  • Joondalup, Australia
  • Mount Lawley, Australia

8 semesters

Distance Learning, On-Campus

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an opportunity to pursue a topic you're passionate about at the highest academic level.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Project Engineering Management

Selinus university of science and literature.

Selinus University of Science and Literature

  • London, United Kingdom
  • Bologna, Italy

English, Italian

In this PhD programme the candidate, through his research, should deepen the technical and human aspects of project management in engineering.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Civil Engineering

This programme is a valuable source of the principles and techniques needed to design and operate all types of civil construction such as highways, bridges, airports, etc. It incorporates innovations in construction, materials and equipment. The researcher should focus on the essential context in which civil engineering is grounded.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical Engineering

A research thesis on this programme should cover all relevant aspects to electrical engineers and technicians, including the technical breakthrough, industry standards, technical aspects and trends. It should also provide an overall perspective of the electricity world, covering issues such as its generation, transmission, distribution, measurement and use.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Engineering

In this research programme, students should implement updates of all aspects of environmental engineering including tools, techniques and regulations. Air quality control, water sanitation and its distribution, water treatment, waste pollutants sources and effects should also be covered. Candidates may draw attention to solid waste collection and transfer operations, hazardous waste remediation and assessment of environmental impacts.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Industrial Engineering

In today's complex and competitive world, industrial engineers are increasingly challenged to design, improve and manage integrated systems of people, materials, equipment and energy. The research thesis should demonstrate how to apply fundamental principles of engineering science to efficiently design and analyze large industrial systems in both manufacturing and service industries. This program is also known as Systems Engineering.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mining Engineering

This programme research should illustrate the latest in mining technology. Describing the several tasks that a mining engineer performs during the life of a mine is also a salient topic: deposit exploration, site value determination, ore extraction and post-mining reclamation. Candidates should focus on sustainable land management that meets economic and environmental needs and cover both surface and underground mining methods for a wide range of substances, including metals, non-metals and fuels.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Security and Emergency Management

This programme focuses on administration and management issues related to corporate security functions and planning, as well as risk management, contract security services, emergency management and loss prevention.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering

In the global world, technology is constantly evolving. In the field of engineering, in certain areas, there are flexible approaches that can be studied through distance courses at Selinus University. Different technical disciplines at engineering and technology levels cannot be learned through distance education. For this reason, most of the courses in this faculty are reserved for people who, through previous studies or professional practices, have the necessary credits to access the programs.

Doctorate in Chemical Engineering

Atlantic international university.

Atlantic International University

English, Portuguese, Spanish

The Doctor of Chemical Engineering (D.Sc) helps students become independent researchers with the ability to apply chemical engineering principles as well as advanced analytical and experimental techniques to conduct original research. Chemical engineering principles include transport phenomena, chemical reaction engineering, thermodynamics, and applied mathematics, and transport phenomena.

Doctorate in Civil Engineering

English, Spanish, Portuguese

The Doctor of Civil Engineering (D.Sc) helps students tailor a highly individualized program of study directed toward completion of a dissertation that is expected to make an important contribution in their selected area. Civil Engineering is a broadly based discipline that includes a variety of specialties in the areas of mechanics, structural engineering, construction materials, environmental engineering, water resources engineering, geotechnical and environmental engineering, and transportation engineering.

Doctorate in Electrical Engineering

The program of Electrical Engineering (D.Sc, Ph.D.) is designed to advance the professional development of experienced electrical engineers and professionals in the electrical arena by extending their electrical knowledge and equipping them with broad research and process electrical skills, enabling them to make a key leadership contribution to their chosen fields.

Department of Community Engagement Low-Residency Community Engagement Degree, Ph.D. in Community Engagement

Point park university online.

Point Park University Online

Point Park University's low-residency doctorate in community engagement is a unique social lab designed for working professionals who want to improve their effectiveness as leaders while gaining a broad understanding of public policy, program development, community psychology, and best practices in leadership and engagement.

Doctor of Strategic Security

Henley-putnam national american university.

Henley-Putnam National American University

Today, security environments evolve quickly and demand strategic thinkers equipped with the confidence and problem-solving skills to lead their organizations safely and securely into the future.

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  • North America
  • United Kingdom
  • South Africa

Related fields of study

Best Online PhDs in Engineering

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Contributing Writer

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Updated September 18, 2023

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Timelines, Programs and Resources for Engineering Students

Students can earn an online PhD in engineering in specializations that range from the philosophy of systems and engineering management to aeronautics engineering. The term “engineering” applies to mathematical, scientific, social and practical knowledge as it is used to innovate and improve upon existing machines, tools, computers, systems and processes, resulting in many specializations that PhD candidates can pursue in online programs. Discover some of the academic and career opportunities that await engineering students pursuing online doctoral degrees below.

  • Best Online PhD in Engineering Degrees
  • Search Online Engineering PhD's
  • Timeline: Online Engineering PhD
  • Principals Learned with a PhD in Engineering
  • Careers with a PhD Degree in Engineering

Additional Resources

Best online phd's in engineering.

To help refine the search for an engineering doctoral program, prospective students can compare current online PhD degree programs by sorting factors like tuition cost, graduation rates and student-to-teacher ratios using this ranking data chart.

These rankings include AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners. We use publicly available provisional datasets from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to inform the data for these schools. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

#1 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Online + Campus

Professionals seeking advanced remote study in engineering should consider the Ph.D. in systems engineering at Colorado State University-Fort Collins. Students in the online program receive training for careers in academia, with the option to explore positions beyond the academic setting.

Learners can enroll full or part time. Based on enrollment status, candidates can complete their degree in 4-6 years. Candidates conclude their studies by submitting a dissertation, contributing independent research to the field.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins at a Glance:

Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

School Type: Public

Admission Rate: 81%

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,520

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $25,791

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 79%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $9,750

Average Price After Aid: $16,793

#2 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • New York, NY

Graduate students seeking to advance in the engineering field can enroll in Columbia University in the City of New York's online doctoral program in materials science and engineering. The program connects enrollees with industry-relevant education, research opportunities, and other skillsets needed for a career in academia, research, and management. A doctorate commonly serves as the highest level of education available in the engineering field.

The flexibility of the online doctoral program enables candidates to learn at their own pace or work full time while pursuing study. Based on enrollment, candidates may take 4-6 years to finish their degree. Learners conclude their studies by submitting a dissertation, contributing independent research to the field.

Columbia University in the City of New York at a Glance:

Location: New York, New York

School Type: Private

Admission Rate: 5%

Graduate Tuition In State: $47,600

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $47,600

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 59%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

#3 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Michigan Technological University

  • Houghton, MI

Looking to earn a doctoral degree at your own pace? Consider one of Michigan Technological University's flexible online doctoral programs. Learners pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering complete research, coursework, and comprehensive exams, preparing them for the demands of an academic career. Graduates may also work in research or management.

The online modality provides flexibility for doctoral candidates. The time it takes to complete the degree varies, though many students average 4-6 years in the program. Degree-seekers conclude their studies by submitting a dissertation, contributing independent research to the field.

Michigan Technological University at a Glance:

Location: Houghton, Michigan

Admission Rate: 74%

Graduate Tuition In State: $20,511

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $20,511

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 96%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $11,310

Average Price After Aid: $17,814

#4 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

  • University Park, PA

From its main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus provides premier doctoral-level study for professionals interested in the engineering field. One option includes a doctor of engineering in engineering. A doctorate is typically the field's highest education level.

The program's flexibility enables candidates to learn at their own pace or work full time while pursuing study. Doctoral candidates can expect to complete their studies in 4-6 years. Learners submit a research-driven dissertation at the conclusion of their studies.

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus at a Glance:

Location: University Park, Pennsylvania

Admission Rate: 76%

Graduate Tuition In State: $21,960

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $37,694

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 73%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $8,354

Average Price After Aid: $24,724

#5 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Texas A&M University-College Station

  • College Station, TX

Texas A&M University-College Station provides online doctoral programs across three disciplines. One option includes a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering. The public college prepares professionals for future careers in academia, research, and management. Engineering students gain competency in research and writing, gaining skills needed for an academic career.

Doctoral candidates benefit from the flexibility of an online education, learning at any location. Though the duration of study can vary, candidates often take 4-6 years to complete their degree. Engineering candidates' work culminates in a dissertation, which contributes original research to their field.

Texas A&M University-College Station at a Glance:

Location: College Station, Texas

Admission Rate: 58%

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,677

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,700

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 76%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $10,115

Average Price After Aid: $19,237

#6 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

Texas Tech University

  • Lubbock, TX

Professionals looking to secure an advanced engineering career should consider Texas Tech University's doctor of philosophy in systems and engineering management. Enrollees complete research, coursework, and comprehensive exams, preparing them for the demands of an academic career. A doctorate enables learners to inhabit positions in academia, research, and management.

The online modality allows doctoral candidates flexibility in learning. Learners typically complete their studies in 4-6 years. At the program's conclusion, candidates submit and defend a dissertation, which contributes novel research to the field.

Texas Tech University at a Glance:

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Admission Rate: 69%

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,958

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,428

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 78%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $7,527

Average Price After Aid: $16,463

#7 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Knoxville, TN

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers a highly ranked online Ph.D. in industrial engineering, reaching professionals across the globe. Learners gain advanced skills in research and professional practice, preparing them for positions in academia, research, and management. Upon graduation, degree-holders possess the highest level of education available in the field.

The online program enables both full-time and part-time study. Based on enrollment status, candidates can complete their degree in 4-6 years. Throughout the program, candidates teach, research, and complete a dissertation.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville at a Glance:

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Admission Rate: 79%

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,468

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,656

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 91%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $10,486

Average Price After Aid: $21,024

#8 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Birmingham, AL

Looking to earn a doctoral degree at your own pace? Consider one of University of Alabama at Birmingham's flexible online doctoral programs. The school supports online learning in its Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering program. A doctorate is typically the field's highest education level attainable.

The online modality allows doctoral candidates flexibility in learning. Learners can expect to complete their studies in 4-6 years. Candidates contribute original research to their field through independent projects and their dissertation.

University of Alabama at Birmingham at a Glance:

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,100

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,188

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 95%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $7,605

Average Price After Aid: $17,068

#9 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

University of Alabama in Huntsville

  • Huntsville, AL

University of Alabama in Huntsville provides doctoral-level education in its Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering program. The program connects students with industry-relevant education, research opportunities, and other skillsets needed for a career in academia, research, and management. Within the field, a doctorate is the highest level of education attainable.

Online doctoral candidates can pursue full-time or part-time study. Based on enrollment status, candidates can complete their degree in 4-6 years. At the program's conclusion, candidates submit and defend a dissertation, which contributes novel research to the field.

University of Alabama in Huntsville at a Glance:

Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Admission Rate: 83%

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,632

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $24,430

Percent of Students Awarded Financial Aid: 94%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $9,013

Average Price After Aid: $15,118

#10 Best Online PhDs in Engineering

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Columbia, SC

University of South Carolina-Columbia offers 10 fully online doctoral programs, including the Ph.D. in nuclear engineering. This program equips learners with transferrable knowledge and skills suitable for positions in academia, research, and management. Students gain competency in research and writing, gaining skills needed for an academic career.

The flexibility of the online doctoral program is unparalleled, enabling candidates to learn at their own pace. A doctorate typically takes 4-6 years to complete, though part-time enrollment may take longer. Candidates conclude their studies by submitting a dissertation, contributing independent research to the field.

University of South Carolina-Columbia at a Glance:

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,737

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,760

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $6,282

Average Price After Aid: $21,787

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

The Online PhD in Engineering Timeline

Online PhD programs in engineering often offer a variety of specializations, and while some programs can be completed in three years, others can take up to six. Regardless of the timeline, the work students put into these PhD programs is usually intensely focused and in-depth. It can be important for students to consider how much time they want to commit to earning an online PhD when choosing an engineering program. See an example of what to expect during the application process and a sample four-year track timeline below.

Application Process

Because online engineering PhD programs typically cover a wide range of course material, students should investigate particular areas of interest and faculty members they want to work with when deciding where to apply. They may need to demonstrate both their interest and their previous knowledge to be admitted into an online PhD in engineering program.

Bachelor's Degree and Official Transcripts

Applicants are often required to have a bachelor's degree, preferably in engineering or a related area, through an accredited institution. Programs may ask to see official transcripts from all higher learning institutions that an applicant attended and may have minimum GPA requirements.

Previous Experience and Demonstrated Competence in Chosen Area

Applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in a hands-on engineering field like mechanical or hardware engineering may need to provide proof that they have experience in their field. Previous experience is usually submitted in a résumé, but may be required in a larger essay or in a program's application.

Statement of Purpose

Online engineering programs may ask an applicant to write a statement of purpose that addresses why a student chose a particular program and elaborates on their ability to do advanced research; demonstrates their knowledge, passion, experience and skill; and notes an intended area of study.

Personal Statement

In addition to a résumé and a statement of purpose, programs may ask for a personal statement which may explore an applicant's history and life experience and address what an applicant would like to get out of pursing an online PhD in engineering.

Individual programs may require applicants to demonstrate minimum scores in the math and verbal areas of the GRE from exams taken within a certain number of years.

Year 1 Milestones

Students may enter online PhD programs with a clear idea of which engineering department they will work in. However, the first year in an online PhD in engineering program is generally spent learning about each possible area of study and often serves to deepen research skills and technical experience.

Core Requirement Courses

Online engineering doctoral degree programs typically have a core series of classes that introduce students to basic engineering concepts like modeling technologies, common systems management principles and the economics of engineering.

Exploring Facility Possibilities

Though students in online PhD programs often do not learn in on-site labs, some programs offer facilities via satellite for distance learning students. Students interested in practical aspects of engineering, such as mechanical or computer engineering, may need to find places to gain tangible experience.

Selecting an Area of Specialization

Students generally will need to decide to pursue a narrowed course of engineering study by the end of their first year. Common specializations may include the theories and ethics of engineering; management and engineering; or civil, mechanical or computer engineering.

Years 2 and 3 Milestones

Students may spend a lot of time investigating their chosen field before finding an area that suits them. Some online PhD in engineering programs allow as many as six years before a student must propose a dissertation topic, and students can often spend that time building up their experiences and knowledge before completing their degree.

Specializing Further

Students who may not have begun their engineering program knowing exactly what they wanted to study will usually narrow their focus in their second year, choosing specific aspects of their chosen engineering specialization to explore more in-depth.

Refinement of Research Practices

Throughout an online engineering PhD program, students will typically design projects and conduct research within their fields, refine their approaches and execution techniques, and accept feedback from advanced faculty.

Approach Faculty Advisors

Students may choose online engineering doctoral programs based on possible areas of specialization and the faculty who work in these areas. As they work toward an original project for their dissertation, students may need to select an engineering faculty advisor in their field and begin discussions about this final academic work.

Qualifying Exam

A qualifying examination is usually delivered by engineering faculty members familiar with a student's chosen field of study. It may include an oral component in addition to a written test. The exam is meant to determine each student's ability to apply general concepts and methods in their chosen field. Students may also have to complete a research proposal exam before beginning work on their engineering dissertation.

Year 4 Milestones

The final year of an online PhD in engineering student's degree is often spent working on their dissertation. All core class requirements and electives are usually completed by this time, allowing students time to focus on this final project.

Dissertation Preparation

Dissertations will likely address an aspect of engineering that could be improved upon or altered in some way. This project is generally an example of how a student will contribute to their engineering field.

Scheduling Final Exam and Dissertation Defense

Online PhD in engineering programs may ask for certain scheduling applications or dissertation draft submissions before a student attempts to earn their engineering degree. These application and submission deadlines may be as many as three months out.

Graduation Requirements

Online engineering PhD students who have completed all of their coursework to their instructors' satisfaction will often be well-prepared to deliver their final dissertation and defend their expertise to a panel of fellow experts. Tests throughout online doctoral engineering programs may help to ensure that any student who makes it to this stage is academically committed to expanding knowledge in their chosen field.


An engineering dissertation often needs to follow professional formatting guidelines. Students should be sure if they are working with sensitive or confidential information not to include those aspects in their dissertation as these documents are often considered public.

An oral exam often requires a student to justify the methods and conclusions of their dissertation and to explain how their work relates and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in their engineering specialty.

Core Principles and Skills Learned in an Online Engineering PhD Program

Phd in engineering, refined research techniques.

Students generally enter online engineering PhD programs with basic knowledge in their area of specialty. These advanced academic programs often teach students how to research and explore current knowledge on an even deeper level.

Application of Principles

Online engineering PhD program graduates typically teach students general concepts and methods, and while students learn how to practice these techniques, they may also develop the ability to apply these principles to their own specialized areas and any other areas of their field they may encounter.

Continuing Education

Engineering is a field that is often adapting and changing with new technologies. As this field advances, PhD program graduates typically have the research abilities and connections within both professional and academic fields to keep up with these changes.

Learn More About Engineering Degrees

After your degree: what to do with a phd in engineering.

Online engineering doctoral graduates may seek out the highly specialized jobs that fall within their refined scope of learning. They may also choose to use the broader researching and knowledge-application skills they usually learn in PhD programs to find work in other elite fields.

Engineering Professor

A PhD student may head back into the classroom as an Engineering Professor after graduation, teaching general and specialization coursework on everything from basic engineering principles to physical laws, mechanical development, instrumentation, process and services. Specializations may include chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, mineral or petroleum engineering. Educators will typically have the time and resources to double as researchers in their selected field.

Job Growth (2014-2024): 13% Median Annual Salary (May 2015): $95,060

Computer Hardware Engineer

Technology professionals typically need to be prepared to continually evolve, adapt and improve existing tech. Computer hardware engineers often keep themselves current on computer engineering trends and new technology as they design, develop and test computer components. They also may ensure that computer pieces like processors and routers work together as systems and may work to advance computer technology.

Job Growth (2014-2024): 3% Median Annual Salary (May 2015): $111,7300

Computer and Information Research Scientist

The federal government employs the highest amount of computer and information research scientists, but professionals in this field may work for businesses, in medicine, in science, or in other fields. They are often in charge of coming up with creative uses for current computing technology and inventing, designing and creating new approaches to computing as well.

Job Growth (2014-2024): 11 percent Median Annual Salary (May 2015): $110,620

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers are often also called IT managers or IT project managers. They typically plan, coordinate and direct all computer-related activities in an organization or business. Professionals in this field may help individual companies achieve their information technology goals by implementing the appropriate computer systems. They may also be required to manage their resources as well as their employees.

Job Growth (2014-2024): 15% Median Annual Salary (May 2015): $131,600

Below is a list of free online resources for current and post-graduate online engineering PhD students that offer educational, career and networking opportunities

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Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.

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10 degrees at 4 universities in the UK.

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Engineering and The Built Environment PhD

London south bank university.

  • 6 years Distance without attendance degree: £4,820 per year (UK)
  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,820 per year (UK)
  • 5 years Part time degree: £2,892 per year (UK)

Energy Engineering PhDs and Mphils (Distance Learning)

University of portsmouth.

  • 6 years Distance without attendance degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

General Engineering PhD

Electronic engineering phds and mphils (distance learning), mechanical engineering phd.

  • Advanced thermofluids and energy analysis
  • View all modules

Mechanical & Design Engineering PhDs and MPhils (Distance Learning)

Electronic and electrical engineering phd, chemical process and energy engineering phd, engineering phd, university of sunderland.

  • 6 years Distance without attendance degree: £3,681 per year (UK)
  • 4 years Distance without attendance degree: £3,681 per year (UK)
  • 4 years Full time degree: £4,500 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £3,681 per year (UK)

Engineering Research Degrees - PhD

Birmingham city university.

  • 4 years Distance without attendance degree
  • 3 years Full time degree
  • 4 years Part time degree

Course type:

  • Distance learning PhD
  • Full time PhD
  • Part time PhD


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11 Best Affordable Online PhD’s in Engineering

If you’re looking for a way to advance your engineering career, then earning your Ph.D. in Engineering may be the ideal next step. A Ph.D. gives you an opportunity to focus on research so that you can become a subject matter expert in your specific field. It’s a way to focus on a topic that you truly enjoy plus earning your Ph.D. can open up new career opportunities. You don’t have to put your life and career on hold to earn your degree – the 11 Best Affordable Online Ph.D. Degrees in Engineering programs are designed with working professionals in mind and will allow you to earn your degree while continuing to work.


An online Ph.D. in Engineering is a research-based terminal degree. While earning your Ph.D. can open up new career opportunities and qualify you for higher-paying positions, you’ll need to make sure that the program you choose is right for you. Ph.D. programs are available with many different concentrations, there are options for mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, aerospace engineering, and more. Many programs on this list take at least three years to complete while some can take as many as five years. The programs in this ranking are rigorous, and some require that you maintain a minimum GPA throughout the program in order to stay enrolled.

While the programs in this ranking do offer flexibility for working professionals, they each have a bit of a different design. Some programs are delivered entirely online while others require on-campus intensives each semester or even every month. Because these programs are research-intensive some programs require that you live within the state and perform research at approved facilities. You will also find variation in how online courses are delivered, with some programs offering asynchronous classes while others require you to be online at certain times on certain days for interactive coursework. It’s important to think about the type of program that would best fit into your schedule while also delivering the quality education that you seek.


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.


Texas Tech University offers a Ph.D. in Systems and Engineering Management (Ph.D. SYEM) program that prepares students to hold a variety of leadership roles. In addition to 60 hours of coursework, students complete an additional 12 hours in dissertation courses. While students can complete almost all of the coursework online, they must attend two two-week summer residencies. Students have the option to apply up to 30 hours of transfer credits to this program if they have them. Program applicants do not need to have an engineering background but must have completed three hours of college-level physics as well as Calculus I, II, and III. Applicants must also submit GRE scores and three letters of reference, among other requirements.

Located in Lubbock, Texas, Texas Tech University is a public research university that was founded in 1923. Today, Texas Tech University has an enrollment of over 38,000 and employs more than 1,500 full-time and 199 part-time faculty. At Texas Tech University students may choose from over 150 undergraduate, 100 graduate, and 50 doctoral degrees, and may also participate in more than 450 student organizations. The university has six on-campus libraries and is one of just 86 public institutions to receive the “Very High Research Activity” distinction from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education . In 2018, College Factua l ranked Texas Tech University as the No. 1 Best College for the Money in the Southwest.

Format: Online


The Doctor of Philosophy in Reliability Engineering offered by the University of Maryland is available on a full or part-time basis. Non-resident students may take distance courses for this program if they so choose. Distance students will view recorded classes online as streaming video and will communicate with their instructors by phone and email. During this program, students learn how to execute independent research and prepare a dissertation. Students must also take and pass a qualifying examination that assesses their ability to perform independent research during the program. Students must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA in their core courses to qualify for their examination. Students must then identify the topic of their dissertation within two semesters of taking their qualifying examination.

Located in College Park, Maryland, the University of Maryland was founded in 1856. This liberal arts institution is now home to 41,000 students, including 17 Fulbright Scholars in 2016-2017. Students represent all 50 states and 118 countries and are able to participate in more than 800 university student clubs. The University of Maryland offers 92 undergraduate majors, 107 master’s programs, and 83 doctoral programs, plus students may choose to study abroad in one of 447 destinations. Students receive a quality education from top faculty, who have three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prizes, three Emmys, and two Tony Awards among them. Format: Online


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Engineering at Colorado State University is an online degree program designed for working professionals. This highly selective program is intended for senior management and top-level executives because it offers the flexible schedule students need to balance their education with their work commitments. During the program, students will contribute original research via their coursework, and will learn from faculty who possess expertise in many fields including aerospace and defense, technical management and manufacturing, design and analysis of automotive systems, and more. Students may watch and interact online while a lecture happens on campus, watch a recorded version of the lecture online, or even attend some courses in-person, offering flexible scheduling options.

Founded in 1870, Colorado State University is located in picturesque Fort Collins, Colorado, with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. The 586-acre campus includes a veterinary teaching hospital and eight colleges. CSU offers over 250 academic programs and more than 50 minors. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked 22 of CSU’s graduate programs as the top 100 programs in the United States. CSU offers an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio and the average amount of institutional aid has increased by 53 percent over the last five years. Students can choose to participate in over 475 student organizations and 16 intercollegiate sports programs.


Michigan Technological University’s Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering is a research-intensive program that prepares students for careers in the mechanical engineering industry. During the program, students will explore collaboration between initiatives such as nanotechnologies, alternative-energy technologies, and even learn manufacturing and design. While this program is offered in-person on-campus, students may also take the degree online. With online learning, students can take courses at their convenience and the only scheduling restrictions are meeting assignment due dates. Program applicants should have a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering or a bachelor’s in a similar field. The program is only available to students who live or work in the United States.

Michigan Technological University was originally founded in 1885 as a school to train mining engineers. Today, Michigan Tech has an enrollment of over 7,300 students. Located in Houghton, Michigan, this public university sits on a 925-acre campus. Michigan Tech’s seven colleges and schools offer students a choice of over 120 degrees and its 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio makes for a quality education with plenty of teacher-student interaction. Students will work alongside faculty mentors on paid research for 126,000 hours each year, thanks to the university’s $78.6 million research expenditures. In 2018, SmartAsset named Michigan Tech as the best value university in Michigan, and College Magazine ranked Michigan Tech as having the safest college in the nation in 2017.


The Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering program is a 90-credit-hour degree that can be completed online or onsite. Students complete 39 credit hours of coursework and spend 6 credit hours in seminars. The rest of the credit hours consist of thesis and doctoral work. During the program, students may choose a concentration in Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural and Material Engineering, or Water Resource Engineering. Program applicants should have an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering, or in another engineering program. Students have the ability to transfer up to 30 credit hours in which they’ve received a B or better and must complete this program within seven years.

Clarkson University was founded in 1896 and has a 640-acre main campus in Potsdam, New York. Additional hubs and research satellites are located in Schenectady, Saranac Lake, Beacon, and Manhattan. Clarkson offers over 95 degrees and features an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students may also explore over 55 study abroad opportunities at partner universities in 28 countries, and may enroll in over 200 student clubs and professional societies. Clarkson has Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, and 18 Division III sports, along with 225 intramural teams. The U.S. News & World Report has included Clarkson in its Top-Tier National University ranking, and CEOWORLD magazine recognized Clarkson as one of the 100 best-value private colleges in America.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers a Blended Ph.D. in Systems Engineering program that takes a different approach than other more traditional programs. This program is designed with the assumption that students will be part-time off-campus professionals who are working full-time jobs while pursuing their education. Therefore, most courses are available online, and the required research seminars are performed in a virtual classroom setting that allows interaction between all participants. The program and its faculty encourage support student research, and may even financially support travel costs that allow students to present at national conferences. Students will regularly interact with their research advisors as they progress through this 60 credit hour program.

Founded in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is located in Worcester, Massachusetts. WPI offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate programs through 14 academic departments. Students may choose from programs in science, engineering, technology, business, and more, and may opt to study on-campus or at 40 different project centers in America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. In 2018, Forbes ranked WPI among the top 25 STEM colleges in the country, and in 2019, the Princeton Review ranked WPI as the No. 5 top best-run colleges. The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education deemed WPI the top institution for faculty who best combine research and teaching in 2016.


George Washington University’s Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management is designed for working professionals and is offered online. All classes are taught online via distance learning technology and classes are scheduled on Saturdays to allow students scheduling freedom during the workweek. Classes are also recorded, so the online and Saturday format leaves students free to meet work and family commitments during the week. Students will work closely with GWU faculty during the program and will learn about how to use the latest engineering management concepts and tools in order to solve real-world problems. This 45 credit hour program culminates in the development and defense of a praxis. Students must earn a B- or higher in each course in order to stay enrolled in this program.

Home to over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students, GWU was founded in 1821. GWU is located in Washington, DC and students from all 50 states and 130 countries attend the university. Students can participate in 450 clubs and organizations, play on Division I athletics teams, and take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime internships. GWU consists of 10 schools and colleges and 100 research centers as well as an extensive library system. Through GW Online students may participate in many different programs in liberal arts, business, education, medicine, and more. Online courses typically have a lower student-to-faculty ratio than in-person courses do, allowing students to interact with their instructors and with their peers.


The University of Alabama offers a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics that is delivered primarily online. This program is identical to the Ph.D. program in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics that is offered on-campus, with the only difference being in the program’s delivery method. This 72 credit hour program is intended for engineering professionals with five or more years of experience. Students are required to visit campus once a semester to meet with their faculty advisor, allowing students to continue working full-time while earning their degree. The research-based degree prepares students to become thought-leaders in their fields and gives them the skills and knowledge that can lead to research discoveries, promotions, and more.

When the University of Alabama was founded in 1831 it became the state’s first public college. The 1,200-acre campus is home to over 38,000 students, including 53 Goldwater Scholars, 15 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Truman Scholars, and 33 Hollings Scholars. Additionally, 15 alumni and graduates have won Fulbright awards which allowed them to study and teach abroad in 2018-19. The University of Alabama’s Doctoral University holds the Carnegie Classification of being a Very High Research Activity status. The university offers over 200 degree programs, including more than 120 graduate programs. With “Bama By Distance,” distance students can receive a quality University of Alabama education no matter where they live.


Northcentral University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Technology and Innovation Management program prepares students to lead engineering and information system initiatives in government, business, and nonprofit settings. This 60 credit hour program consists of 20 different courses and takes about 50 months to complete. This program offers excellent flexibility with weekly course starts and no scheduled lecture hours. Additionally, because this program involves no group assignments students have the ability to schedule their coursework around their own obligations. Students are taught by a 100 percent doctoral faculty and have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with their professors for personalized education.

Located in San Diego, California, Northcentral University was founded in 1996 with the strategy to provide 100 percent online education to working professionals around the world. Today, NCU offers more than 40 programs without any physical residency requirements. About 10,000 students are currently enrolled at NCU, where they are able to earn their master’s and doctoral degrees. There is no GRE/GMAT application requirement, and students may apply for a variety of scholarships both through NCU and from third parties. Students may also earn membership to honor societies including Delta Mu Delta, Alpha Phi Sigma, Kappa Delta Pi, and more.


The University of Maine offers a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering . This blended program offers online coursework. However, students must reside in Maine during the program so that they can conduct research at one of five Maine partner institutions. In the first two years, students receive tuition, fees, and half of the cost of health insurance plus a $23,000 stipend. The student’s dissertation mentor will provide the stipend, tuition, fees, and half of the cost of health insurance during the third year of the program. During this 30 credit hour program students are expected to submit a written dissertation and are required to publish at least one first-author paper in a peer-reviewed journal in order to graduate.

The University of Maine is located in Orono, Maine and was established in 1862. Today, the university is home to over 9,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students, with more than 109,000 alumni worldwide. Students may select from more than 100 certificate, master’s, doctoral, and professional science master’s degrees. This public research university focuses on undergraduate and graduate research throughout the state and received a 2015 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification. The University of Maine’s quality education has been highlighted by multiple best college guides including The Princeton Review who named the university as one of the top 50 green colleges in the United States.


Nova Southeastern University’s Ph.D. in Information Systems is a 64 credit hour program that combines traditional and online instruction. Students attend on-campus sessions quarterly on extended weekends and then attend online classes and work on their assignments and research in between the in-person meetings. This program is ideal for students who work in information security, systems analysis and design, information science, and similar fields. IT professionals will learn how to develop creative solutions to information systems challenges and problems. During the program, students will complete eight courses, two research courses, and a dissertation. Program applicants must hold a master’s degree with a 3.25 minimum GPA.

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU features 18 different schools and colleges that offer a wide assortment of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students may choose from more than 150 degrees, including over 50 undergraduate majors and minors. NSU offers over 100 on-campus clubs and organizations, including an active Greek life, student government, and intramural sports. This university is distinguished as being a “Military Friendly” institution, and NSU matches every dollar provided by the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Bill Education Enhancement Program. NSU is also among the top five institutions in the country when it comes to the largest number of minority graduate degree recipients.

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Systems Engineering, Ph.D.

Online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering

Online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering

A multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex problems.

As technological advancements and the rate of innovation continue to accelerate, a systems approach is required to address today's multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary challenges.

A complex system consists of diverse and individual factors, or components, that are interdependent and add up to more than the sum of its parts. That complexity drives the need for systems engineering as a formal discipline, providing both a framework and a rigorous theoretical underpinning for the design and management of challenges across industries. To solve problems within complex systems, engineers must utilize tools from a variety of fields including control systems, operations research, reliability and performance engineering, risk analysis, software engineering, and networking and security.

The development of systematic design and management processes, while integrating appropriate tools and requirements from all of the above disciplines, is at the heart of systems engineering. The online Ph.D. in systems engineering prepares students to work with multi-disciplinary teams and methods to solve complex problems in any industry.

A Ph.D. program for professionals

The online Ph.D. in systems engineering is a competitive program for working professionals, offering a flexible study format and applicable material. Students are encouraged to problem-solve current issues faced by their employers as part of their studies.

Designed for senior management and top-level executives, CSU's highly selective online systems engineering Ph.D. program only accepts a handful of students each semester to maintain the integrity and quality of the student experience.

Faculty expertise and applied research

Be a part of a community of engineers exploring the frontier of modern research, pushing the boundaries in the field of systems engineering. The online Ph.D. prepares students to become future leaders in systems engineering. As Ph.D.-level scientists in both academia and industry, you will contribute original research to the field throughout your coursework, driving advancements and leading to improvements in your area of focus for your company and the discipline as a whole.

Study with faculty who bring decades of experience in applying academic research to real-world situations, who are conducting groundbreaking research of their own that will help write the textbooks of tomorrow.

Learn from faculty with expertise in:

  • Aerospace and Defense (A&D), including research, system and technology development, and operations;
  • Systems architecture and engineering with emphasis on information- and software-intensive systems and enterprises;
  • Technical management, production, manufacturing, lean engineering, life cycle management, test and analysis, transitioning technology into manufacturing; and
  • Design and analysis of aerospace, energy, and automotive systems, design optimization, and environmental assessment.

Visit the Systems Engineering website to learn more about the faculty associated with the systems engineering Ph.D. program, and their research specializations.

What you will learn in the online Ph.D. in systems engineering program

In consultation with your advisory committee, you'll individually structure the systems engineering graduate program to fit your academic and research goals. Your Ph.D. experience culminates in a dissertation* which serves to heighten research and knowledge in your area of interest, and demonstrates a solid foundation of systems engineering theory and practice, as well as a multi-disciplinary understanding of systems concepts.

Topics of study include:

  • Information technology and project management
  • Systems engineering processes
  • Engineering risk analysis
  • Systems engineering architecture
  • Simulation modeling and experimentation
  • Dynamics of complex engineering systems

Review the Ph.D. curriculum .

The online Ph.D. in systems engineering offers the advantage of synchronous or asynchronous delivery, allowing you the flexibility to study when and where it works best for your situation, with options to:

  • Watch and interact online while the lecture is happening live on campus.
  • Watch a recorded version online after work or on the weekend.

*Dissertation does not require a campus visit.

Industries with opportunities for systems engineers

The online systems engineering Ph.D. prepares students for a wide-variety of careers in many industries, including, but not limited to:

  • Research and development
  • Systems engineering and optimization
  • Government/Military
  • Clean energy
  • Environment

The volume of applicants far exceeds the number of students that can be accepted into this program. The highly selective nature of the program maintains the integrity and quality of the student experience.


  • A minimum of 72 credits must be completed. Students with an applicable master’s degree may have up to 30 credits apply, such that they take 42 credits at CSU for the Ph.D.
  • The Ph.D. requires students to complete a qualifying process (B grade or higher earned in all coursework toward the degree), an oral preliminary examination, and an oral final examination in addition to the finished dissertation document. All Ph.D. students are considered provisional until they complete the qualifying process and preliminary exam.
  • Course substitutions, if permitted, must be approved by your department and faculty advisor.

Once admitted, please stay in touch with your department and faculty advisors and reference Department Resources and the SE Handbook to ensure you are meeting all program requirements.

Advising and Faculty Mentor Expectations

All Ph.D. applicants are expected to create a formal advising arrangement with a faculty advisor before joining the Ph.D. program to assist with advising, course selection, and research. Doctoral students must complete an annual evaluation with their research advisor every year to continue degree progress. To explore options for a faculty advisor, visit the faculty list .

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 18 credits of SE coursework, selected to be relevant to your research project, and a minimum of 24 credits of SYSE 799A dissertation, taken over the duration of your program. Faculty advisor permission is required before your first semester of SYSE 799A registration.

Course delivery options allow you to study when and where it works best for you, whether that is streaming the lecture from your computer while it's happening live on campus or watching a recorded version at a time more convenient for you.

Please check with the SE department for a complete list of course options. When registration for a term is open, use our Credit Courses Page to search and register for online courses.

engineering phd online

Jim Scheibmeir

“I was looking for a credible university with flexibility to study for my Ph.D. remotely. CSU Online provided both. I learned to make data driven decisions and remove my own bias in my thinking. I gained confidence, skills, enjoyment, and growth.”

“I deal with systems engineering daily at my job - building systems from conception to operation. I had tunnel vision to solving engineering problems. This program taught me creative ways to solve problems. I learned about fields that I had little experience in such as digital twinning. My performance and motivation have improved because of this program.”

Application Deadlines

The highly selective nature of this program is intentional and designed to maintain the integrity and quality of the student experience. Before applying to the degree program, it is strongly recommended that you contact us well in advance of the application deadline to understand and fulfill all requirements.

Full consideration is given to applicants who meet the given deadline. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed as space within the program allows.

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

1 Review Admission Requirements

Download the complete Systems Engineering Application Information Packet prior to starting the application process. This packet provides detailed information regarding CSU's Systems Engineering graduate programs, minimum application qualifications, criteria for admission, and more.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  • B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution in engineering, mathematics, or a science discipline with a GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Basic Statistics

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience and the personal statement.

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time. We recommend starting the application process at least 1 month before the deadline to ensure you submit all required materials on time.

2 Secure a Faculty Advisor

A faculty advisor must be secured before you begin your application. Please download and reference the Systems Engineering Application Information Packet for details.

3 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Three letters of recommendation Three professional recommendations are required. We recommend letters come from faculty, supervisors, etc. who can accurately speak to your skills. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.
  • Resume Outline your professional employment, collegiate work, and any publications, exhibitions, service activities, prizes, and awards.
  • Statement of purpose (2 pages MAXIMUM) This is meant to address the Systems Engineering Admissions Committee and why you would be a good fit for the program. This is different from the Research Interest Summary you will compile, but some of the same information may be used. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • Your relevant professional/academic background and skills
  • Why you are interested in Systems Engineering — provide specific areas of interest and application
  • Why you are interested in CSU's program and what you can contribute to CSU

4 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Systems Engineering (Ph.D.) – Distance" when choosing the program of study

5 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred): Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial. Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or gradadmission[email protected] if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary) Graduate Admissions Colorado State University – Office of Admissions 1062 Campus Delivery Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Find answers to frequently asked questions .

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements .

We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

engineering phd online

Program Details

  • 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
  • Math Entrance Exam scores recommended for applicants who have not taken the required prerequisites within the past 10 years

Application Dates

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Best Online Engineering PhDs and Doctorates for 2023

Online engineering doctoral program spotlights, benefits of earning your phd or doctorate in engineering online, online learning formats for engineering doctorates, phd vs. deng: which online engineering doctorate is right for you, engineering phd and doctorate timelines, learning outcomes of engineering doctoral programs, specialization options for your engineering doctorate, accreditation for online engineering doctorates, applying to an online phd or deng grad program, online engineering phd and doctorate costs, how much you could earn with an engineering phd or doctorate.

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Best Online Doctorates in Engineering: PhD/DEng

Thinking about continuing your education in engineering by earning your doctorate online? Whether you want to pursue a PhD or a DEng, you have more choices than ever. This guide introduces top-ranked programs and walks you through the basics as you consider your options for an online doctorate in engineering.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Megan Harrington

Last updated

Jul 31, 2023

Demand continues to grow for graduates of PhD and doctoral engineering programs, especially for jobs in environmental, aerospace, and tech industries. With an advanced degree in engineering, you’ll have your choice of top-tier career opportunities. Well-known universities offer plenty of accredited online doctorate in engineering programs that allow flexibility for busy professionals. 

Getting your online doctorate in engineering online is a big decision, and no doubt you have lots of questions swirling around: 

Which program is right for me, a PhD or Doctor of Engineering? Will the time, money, and effort of an advanced degree be worth it professionally? What are the in-person requirements for an online PhD in engineering or online doctorate in engineering?

This guide introduces you to several top-ranked programs and provides other key information that will walk you through the decision-making process and help you find the right program for you. Keep reading to take the first step toward an online PhD in engineering or online doctorate in engineering.

Let’s get started by taking a look at this year’s best PhD and professional doctorate programs in engineering. While every student’s needs will be different, our college ranking can help you get started on your search for the program that’s right for you. The programs that made our list stood out for their combined rating on key factors like affordability, academic quality, strength of student services, and study flexibility. Learn more about this year’s top-ranked online engineering doctoral programs below and see if one is a good match for you.

College Rankings Methodology

PhDs.me’s college rankings are based on the most recent data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) . To be eligible for our rankings, colleges were required to have the following characteristics:

  • At least one doctoral program in subject area offered partially online or fully online.
  • Accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Academic counseling and career placement services.

Eligible colleges were then scored on their performance in the following areas to determine the final ranking:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state graduate tuition per academic year.
  • Selectivity: Based on overall admissions rate. More selective schools ranked higher.
  • Online learning availability: Based on percentage of grad students taking at least one class online and number of online doctoral programs in subject area reported by the school.
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower overall ratios ranked higher.

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ATS: Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Capitol Technology University in Maryland offers a research-intensive PhD in systems engineering. The curriculum consists of core classes in the field and research and writing courses that guide students through their dissertation or published research. For the latter part, students choose between completing a full-length dissertation or getting a smaller research project published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. No matter which option they choose, the research and writing experience is broken down into smaller units, with one-on-one mentorship at each step of the process. By the end of the program, students are experts in the design, management, and integration of various engineering systems, leading to an abundance of career opportunities. All coursework is online, including one-on-one research mentorship by faculty. Successful applicants should have multiple years of experience in the field of systems engineering.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $950/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Mississippi State University offers a flexible, customizable PhD in engineering. Students can choose between seven distinct concentrations: aerospace, applied physics, biological engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and engineering education. No matter which program a student chooses, 100% of the coursework can be completed online. For each course, students either watch asynchronous videos and complete coursework or attend live class sessions. All assignments are completed on a student's own time for added flexibility. The exact curriculum differs depending on what concentration a student chooses, but all students take general engineering courses and complete a dissertation under the mentorship of an experienced faculty member. To apply, students should have a background in the field of their concentration, whether work experience or a graduate degree.

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

  • Credits: 68-69
  • Cost: Cost: $537/credit
  • Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Columbia University offers three high-quality engineering doctorates in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and earth and environmental engineering. All three programs are hybrid, meaning students complete some coursework online and other coursework in person. Along with taking some courses in person, students complete a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, and these meetings usually take place on campus. Students typically complete all online coursework in the first year of their degree and then start on their dissertation. This makes it possible to have two 100% online semesters. To apply for any of the three concentrations, students must already have a master's degree in the field of study or a related field. Previous work or research experience also makes a candidate more competitive.

Engineering Doctorate

  • Credits: 72
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $2,362/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid

Florida Atlantic University hosts two engineering PhDs. The electrical engineering PhD consists of coursework such electromagnetic theory and the digital processing of signals. Students have the option to pursue a neuroengineering concentration, which requires additional specialized coursework. The university also offers a computer engineering doctorate. Coursework for this degree covers subjects such as network communication and the Internet of Things. With both degrees, students must complete a dissertation in the field of study. The dissertation and all coursework can be completed virtually. Most class sessions and research meetings are synchronous. For either degree, students should have a bachelor's degree and work experience or a master's in a related field. Students also need to pass a qualifying exam created by the university.

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering

  • Cost: $371.82 per credit hour in-state | $1,026.81 per credit hour out-of-state
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The George Washington University offers four options for its online doctorate in engineering programs: a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering and Doctor of Engineering degrees in Cybersecurity Analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, and Engineering Management. Unlike many other doctorate programs, coursework is taken on an accelerated basis, meaning students graduate in two to three years. The first year is considered the classroom phase. During this time, students take two 10-week courses at once. Class sessions take place online every Saturday, and students swap into two new courses every 10 weeks. The second and third years are the research phase, where students work on their praxis paper (DEng) or dissertation (PhD) with guidance from a faculty member.

Doctor of Engineering (AI & Machine Learning, Cybersecurity Analytics, Engineering Management )

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $1,625/credit
  • Mode: Synchronous; fully-online

PhD in Systems Engineerin g

  • Credits: 54

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Texas A&M University

Texas A&M, one of the largest universities in the United States, has two online options for doctoral level engineering programs. The school’s online PhD in engineering is more theoretical and prepares students for a career in academia and tenure track positions. Meanwhile the online doctor of engineering prepares graduates for leadership roles in business and the public sector. The PhD requires research and a dissertation defense, while the DEng requires a one-year professional internship. Entry requirements vary depending on the prior level of education, but applicants should have at least a 3.0 (for applicants with a bachelor’s degree) or 3.25 (for applicants with a master’s degree). Students must make an annual visit to the College Station campus or attend a conference or workshop with other students.

PhD in Engineering

  • Credits: 96 credit hours beyond a bachelor’s degree or 64 credit hours beyond a master’s degree
  • Cost: $717.89/credit (in state, includes fees), $1,247.40/credit (out of state, includes fees) plus a $555.56 distance education differential tuition fee per credit hour
  • Length: Three to seven years
  • Mode: Partially online

Doctor of Engineering

  • Length: Two to five years

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Penn State University World Campus

The Penn State World Campus online doctor of engineering program prepares students for leadership roles heading up research organizations or corporations. The program is for students who are looking for a career in the practical application of engineering rather than academia. Penn State’s program is unique in that it allows a lot of customization; students can fulfill their 15 elective credit hours from 20 multidisciplinary course options (e.g., homeland security, geodesign, data analytics). In addition to academic courses, successful completion of the program also requires maintaining a 3.0 GPA, a residency requirement (minimum of five days on campus), and completion of program milestones (qualifying exam, comprehensive exam, and praxis defense). 

  • Credits: 45 credits beyond a master’s degree in engineering or a related field
  • Cost: $1,007/credit

Compared to just a few years ago, there are now more options than ever when it comes to completing a graduate degree. Instead of quitting your job and moving to your program’s campus, you can earn a PhD or DEng completely online, mostly from the comfort of home. Below are just two of many benefits to an online doctorate in engineering.

  • Flexibility and convenience . Online doctorate in engineering programs are usually presented in one of two formats: synchronous (live classes via Zoom or another platform) or asynchronous (students watch lectures and complete coursework on their own schedule). Asynchronous courses are particularly good for nontraditional students because they offer extra flexibility. Whether you’re balancing a demanding job or personal obligations, learning on your own timeline can be invaluable. 
  • Cost. Another big benefit to online PhD in engineering programs is the potential for savings. You can skip the gas, tolls, and wear on your car and attend classes from home. Online students also save money when it comes to student activity fees, housing, and dining plans—since you won’t be on campus, most likely these won’t be necessary. You’ll be responsible for your own Wi-Fi and computer, so that’s something to consider, but the costs should be much lower than the cost of living on campus.

An online doctorate in engineering provides the flexibility and cost savings that make it possible for working professionals to enroll in a program. 

The two main online learning formats for engineering doctorates are fully online programs and blended/hybrid programs. Both have their pros and cons. It’s important to note that even completely online programs may have in-person residency requirements or dissertation defenses. If you live far from your program’s home campus, be sure to ask how frequently (if at all) students are expected to be on campus.

Fully online

Many doctoral programs are available in a completely online format, meaning students attend lectures remotely (over Zoom or a similar platform) and communicate with the professor via email or phone. Some programs also require an in-person residency. This may range from a two-day orientation to a two-week (or longer) summer seminar.


This format combines elements of both online and in-person programs. Some classes may be remote, while others may be in person. This type of program can offer the best of both formats: the flexibility of an online program with the interaction and networking of an in-person experience. 

Regardless of the format, both types of programs usually have the same requirements for exams and dissertation/praxis defense. The following components may require an in-person meeting, even in fully online PhD or DEng programs:

  • Qualifying exam
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation/praxis defense

Engineering programs offer two types of doctoral degrees. PhDs are generally more theoretical in nature and prepare students for careers in academia. DEng degrees focus more on practical application of engineering principles and prepare graduates for leadership roles in business or the public sector. Take a look at this table for a more detailed breakdown: 

The time it takes to complete a PhD or DEng varies depending on the individual and the program. Some programs can be accelerated (particularly those with online formats) and a motivated student with a foundation of master’s coursework may be able to finish a doctoral program in as little as three years. Part-time students, especially those who are working full time, may need a full seven years to complete their research and defend their dissertation (or final project). Many universities have time limits on their PhD and DEng programs, so it’s important to plan appropriately. 

First-year students often begin with core courses that focus on the program’s specific learning outcomes. Students also explore electives to assist them in narrowing down an area of research. Some online doctorate in engineering programs have in-person orientations or residencies during the first year.

Students continue to take courses focused on their research interests and should have a dedicated faculty advisor. Qualifying (also called candidacy) exams are usually taken at the end of the second year. Full-time students may be required to serve as teaching assistants for undergraduate classes. Students should begin to assemble their dissertation committee.

In the third year, students complete their qualifying exams if they haven’t already done so. They also meet with their dissertation committee to finalize their research topic and begin writing a formal proposal. Full-time students may begin writing their dissertation and may be expected to present at academic conferences. Students also prepare to take their comprehensive exams.

The trajectory of the fourth year largely depends on if the student is full- or part-time. Full-time students should be wrapping up writing their dissertation and preparing to defend it. Part-time students will be focused on the writing process. Depending on the program, some DEng students may be working on a capstone project rather than a dissertation.

Full-time students focus on defending and publishing their dissertation. Part-time students should be wrapping up writing and preparing to defend their dissertation.

Years six and seven

Most full-time students should have successfully defended their dissertation, praxis, or final project by the end of year six. Part-time students should schedule their dissertation defense. Be aware that some programs have a seven- or eight-year time limit. 

Each PhD and DEng program has different requirements and prerequisites. Depending on your personal and professional goals, your own timeline may be longer or shorter. Be sure to discuss specific benchmarks and special requirements with your academic or faculty advisor so you know what to expect.

Almost all institutions structure their doctoral programs based on expected learning outcomes. These are statements describing the knowledge and skills students are expected to master by the completion of the program. Learning outcomes guide students throughout their study and result in a set of common outcomes for graduates. Each program has its own specific learning outcomes, which vary depending on whether the program is a PhD or DEng. However, in general students can expect the following:

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of engineering and science fundamentals. By the completion of the program, doctoral students should have an expert grasp of engineering, math, and science principles and the skills to apply this learning to real-world problems. 
  • Demonstrate a depth of knowledge in a chosen specialty that meets or exceeds expert level. Beyond broad engineering principles, doctoral students choose a specialization and, through original research, contribute to further knowledge in the field. 
  • Conduct original and independent research. In addition to critical review of the existing literature, students come up with their own questions and eventual solutions for issues in the engineering field. PhDs typically focus on publishing in academic journals and presenting at conferences.
  • Identify and solve engineering problems and contribute to innovation and real-world problem solving. This real-world application is especially relevant for DEng graduates working on a capstone project/praxis rather than a dissertation. 
  • Communicate effectively and clearly both orally and through writing. Regardless of the type of program or school, doctoral students will be expected to write and speak at an expert level. U.S.-based PhD and DEng programs require a mastery of English; international students need a specific score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam.

You can choose from numerous areas for specialization within an engineering doctorate. What you choose will likely depend on your strengths and interests. Think about what electives inspire you and spark interest. Do you enjoy leading a team of people? Or do you see yourself immersed in solo lab work? Is there a specific industry you’re focusing on for future career prospects (e.g., aerospace)? The following specializations represent a few examples in the engineering field. 

Engineering Management

This specialization combines technology problem solving with managerial and administrative skills. Both large and small organizations benefit from the expertise of a manager well versed in the field.

Systems Engineering

A systems engineer designs and manages complex systems over their life cycles. From spacecraft to software chip design, systems engineers use an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers focus on the study and application of three areas: electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. They might design or develop communications systems or electric motors.

Industrial Engineering

An industrial engineer optimizes processes or organizations by analyzing the way people, machines, facilities, and systems work together. Many industrial engineers work in the manufacturing sector, designing solutions for systems to work better. 

Chemical Engineering

Chemical plants convert raw materials into usable products. A chemical engineer designs and optimizes that process.

Choosing an accredited online doctoral degree in engineering is important because it certifies the quality of the program and ensures your time, money, and effort result in the stated learning outcomes (e.g., graduates from two different accredited DEng programs should be at the same level). Attending a properly accredited program also is important so your credits transfer if needed and so you have access to the full range of financial aid options. For example, only students at accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid. Accreditation is an independent evaluation attesting to the quality and rigor of the education, and it shows potential employers that you’re a qualified job candidate.

All doctoral students are advised to attend an institution accredited by an organization recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the Department of Education. Look for a university with regional accreditation, which means it meets the highest educational standards. A few examples of regional accreditation organizations include the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredits STEM programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level, but currently there is no specific accrediting organization for doctoral programs. For fully online or hybrid programs, ensure that the university’s on-campus program is accredited.

When applying to a graduate or doctoral program, you can expect several standard application components such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, written statement or essay, and GRE scores. Each school has its own application checklist, so be sure to follow the instructions regarding what’s required and how to submit materials. Applicants to doctoral programs in engineering may also need to complete the following.

  • Interview: Many doctoral programs require a virtual or in-person interview. This helps the program learn about the applicant’s academic history, interests, and professional goals. Through a one-on-one interview, the department determines if the applicant is prepared for the rigors of the program and, likewise, the applicant gets a better sense of if the program will be a good fit.
  • Scholarly Writing Sample: A common learning outcome for doctoral programs is excellent communication skills. Students are often required to synthesize their research in a written dissertation and present papers at academic conferences. Students should have a baseline competency and experience with scholarly writing before enrolling in an on-campus or online PhD in engineering or DEng program.
  • English Proficiency: Many PhD and DEng programs are taught in English (especially programs based in the United States). Students are expected to have strong working knowledge of the English language for reading, writing, and oral communication. Some programs may require the TOEFL exam if a student isn’t a native English speaker.

When evaluating tuition for an online doctoral degree in engineering, you’ll want to consider several financial factors. Many schools list their cost per credit hour, but keep in mind that schools may have other required fees. For example, Texas A & M charges an additional fee per credit hour for all distance learning programs. An online PhD in engineering or DEng program can save you money on some costs (e.g., parking, meal plans, on-campus housing), but you may have to cover other things such as your own technology and Wi-Fi. For an overview of expected costs, check out the four real-world examples in the table below:

While it’s a good idea to know the overall tuition for a doctoral program, keep in mind that many financial aid options are available to graduate students. It’s not uncommon for a doctoral program to be fully funded through a combination of resources such as grants, fellowships, scholarships, and loans. If you have questions about paying for an online PhD or DEng degree, don’t hesitate to reach out to a school’s financial aid office to ask about program specifics. For general information on what might be available to you, read our guides on scholarships and grants and financial aid . 

The path to a doctorate or PhD takes a few years, but that time is rewarded with higher earning potential. An individual with a PhD in engineering can expect a median salary of $150,000 but may earn much more depending on experience level and location. Comparatively, an individual with a master’s degree in engineering can expect to earn approximately $100,000, and an individual with a bachelor’s degree in engineering can expect to earn approximately $87,000. 


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