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Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse are among the most famous pioneers in the field of electrical engineering. Their innovations fuel the research and development projects of students in the online Doctor of Electrical Engineering programs! Of course, students in Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Engineering Science programs also aim for professional development.
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Most students in these graduate programs are already experienced electrical engineers with advanced skills. However, these graduate degree programs cover even more advanced topics and, thus, demand effective time management skills and study habits. Among these advanced topics are signal processing, power systems, control systems, machine learning, and neural networks.
Earning an Electrical Engineering doctorate online is now an outstanding option for students seeking advanced expertise in the field! The online Doctor of Electrical Engineering programs that we highly recommend all share these features demonstrating excellence:
- Offered mostly as a hybrid program, which requires students and candidates to complete some coursework requirements online and in person but emphasizes overall flexibility and convenience,
- Features academic rigor through comprehensive coursework, ensuring that students and candidates obtain the right academic competence for the Electrical Engineering field,
- Promotes the soft skills that Doctor of Electrical Engineering graduates need to succeed, primarily problem solving, analysis, and critical thinking, readying them for management and leadership positions that they are well-qualified for,
- Employs the expertise of Electrical Engineers as professors, particularly those with distinctive expertise, experience, and contribution to the industry,
- Offers student assistance to students in the numerous aspects of their academic journey, including financial aid, career advice, and other student help programs,
- Proper accreditation from academic organizations or agencies that set the standards for academic instruction.
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The Best Online Doctor of Electrical Engineering Programs
Mississippi State University
The MSU Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering offers a world-class Doctor of Philosophy in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program. Students prepare for leadership roles in research, education, and consulting. Many students are already experienced electrical engineers but want to pursue further professional development.
Students in the Ph.D. program tackle graduate-level coursework and research in their specific areas of interest. Online students benefit from the same excellent quality of instruction as their on-campus counterparts. Every student also chooses a faculty advisor who provides academic guidance, support, and resources.
For students with a master’s degree, the doctoral program consists of 48 credit hours of courses relevant to the electrical and computer engineering field. For students with a bachelor’s degree, the doctoral program has a direct admit path consisting of 166 credit hours of coursework. Both types of students must complete dissertation requirements in electrical and computer engineering.
Electrical engineering students in the Ph.D. program complete core courses in:
- Signal processing and their systems
- Solid state electronics
- Power Systems
- Discrete structures
- Advanced electronics circuits
Full-time students must pass the qualifying exam by the end of their second year. Every student who wants to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree must defend his or her dissertation in an oral examination. The finished dissertation document must be approved by the faculty advisor assigned to the student.
The computer and electrical engineering Ph.D. program has three application deadlines - the first day of June, November, and May. Applicants to the graduate study program must at least have a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering or other related disciplines.
Mississippi State University, a leading research university, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of North Dakota
Students in UND’s Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering program receive the same exceptional quality of instruction and support as their on-campus counterparts. The transcripts and diplomas for online students are the same as those in traditional engineering programs. Even the curriculum and courses are the same for both online and on-campus students!
Students in the online Ph.D. program, however, have the convenience of online learning, including 24/7 access to the course materials. Reading references, assignments, and recorded lectures are on the learning platform.
The LMS and other online education tools also allow students to interact with their peers and professors. UND provides student support services, too, including tech support, online tutoring, a digital library, and academic advising. Students take proctored exams via ProctorU. Every student chooses a faculty advisor, too.
The Ph.D. program requires at least 60 credit hours of dissertation research, graduate courses, and a graduate seminar. Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree must pass the qualifying exam and the dissertation defense, among other requirements. Residency requirements can be met through sufficient demonstration of research activities in their workplaces, laboratories, and research universities.
Applicants must either hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in a field related to engineering science with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, minimum. GRE scores are required, too.
The University of North Dakota, a top-rated research university, has active accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering offers its outstanding Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering program for experienced electrical engineers and other engineering professionals. The graduate study program emphasizes advanced topics in digital signal processing and communications, control systems, and power systems. Students also learn advanced skills in computer engineering.
Applicants who want to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree must have a master’s degree in electrical engineering or related disciplines. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree may be considered but must possess exceptional credentials. GRE scores are required. Applicants from international schools must present their TOEFL scores.
Students must pass the qualifying exam and submit an approved dissertation. The Ph.D. program features a curriculum consisting of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Every student creates a personalized plan of study with a graduate program officer.
Auburn University, a public land-grant research university, is a regionally accredited institution by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The prestigious Columbia University accepts outstanding students into its rigorous Doctor of Engineering Science in Electrical Engineering. This is a hybrid program with a partially online delivery format.
Every student chooses a faculty advisor with whom they work in creating a personalized program of study and identifying research interests. Columbia emphasizes several state-of-the-art research areas, including solid-state electronics, ultra-fast optics, communications and information processing, and plasmas. Systems biology, neuroengineering and smart electric energy are also popular.
The rigorous doctoral coursework requires a master’s degree level of mastery upon admission. Research courses prepare students for the dissertation phase.
Electrical engineering students must complete the requirements for 72 credit hours - 30 transfer credits from a master of science degree, 30 credits from the doctor of engineering science program, and 12 credits from research courses.
Students must perform research activities in on-campus sites under the supervision of their faculty advisors. Students in the Doctor of Engineering Science program can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis.
However, they must be self-funded and must complete the program requirements within seven years from the date of candidacy to the date of the dissertation defense. Doctor of Engineering Science students are not required to undergo community service, teaching assignments, or teaching assistantships.
Applicants must choose from a list of research interests and submit appropriate academic records for consideration. Letters of recommendation, a personal-professional statement, and a resume are also required.
Columbia University, an Ivy League private research university, is a regionally accredited institution by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Lamar University’s Doctor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering program features a hybrid format. Students earn 61 credit hours and prepare for leadership positions in business, industry, and academia. Among its research areas are electronic systems and power and energy systems.
Students can apply for competitive graduate assistantships and scholarships. Faculty members choose their assistants based on compatibility with research interests, among other factors.
There’s a minimum one-year residency requirement. The graduate-level courses include nine credit hours of core courses, 18-36 hours of dissertation preparatory courses, and four hours of a graduate seminar. Students must pass a qualifying exam, too. Maximum time-to-completion is 10 consecutive years.
Lamar University, a public university, is a member of the Texas State University System and is accredited by the SACSCOC.
What Constitutes An Online Doctor of Electrical Engineering Degree Program
The two major types of electrical engineering doctor degrees, namely the Doctor of Electrical Engineering and the Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering, are both considered the highest academic credential in electrical engineering.
The Doctor of Electrical Engineering - and its variant, Doctor of Engineering Science in Electrical Engineering - and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering are research doctorates, too. Students must produce original research that has undergone intensive dissertation defense.
The doctorate degree programs are also intended for working professionals, with the online learning format being conducive to a good work-life balance.
There are significant differences between these two doctorate degrees in electrical engineering. For one thing, the Doctor of Electrical Engineering degree emphasizes applied research (i.e., the research has practical applications in solving real-world issues).
The Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree focuses on the development of theoretical knowledge and research that can be published in industry journals.
For another thing, graduates of Doctor of Electrical Engineering degree programs usually use their advanced knowledge and skills in technical and/or business environments. Manufacturing, industrial, and service companies are popular workplaces.
Graduates of Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree programs usually become full-time, tenured professors and researchers. Community colleges and four-year institutions are among their preferred workplaces.
The program requirements for admission into the Doctor of Electrical Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering programs vary. Be sure to check the official web pages and ask an admissions counselor for specifics first before gathering your admissions materials.
Note that most of these admission requirements should be prepared in advance of the application deadline due to their time commitment. Letters of recommendation and official transcripts from schools attended are notable examples.
The common admission requirements in these doctoral degree programs are:
- A bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in electrical engineering, computer science, or electrical and computer engineering, among other related disciplines (Most students with a bachelor’s degree are required to complete prerequisite graduate-level courses before being granted formal admission)
- Minimum cumulative GPA on the highest degree earned, usually 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or its equivalent, as well as minimum grades on specific STEM subjects
- Satisfactory GRE scores within a specific period, usually five years (This may be an optional or waived requirement with specific conditions met)
- Three letters of recommendation,
- Personal statements (Statement of purpose, research statement, and essays with specific format)
- Current résumé
Prospective students must also be prepared for one-on-one and panel interviews with faculty members. Many graduate degree programs also require applicants to identify their preferred faculty members as potential research advisors. The choice should ideally be based on a match between their research interests and current research projects being conducted by faculty members.
Nearly every electrical engineering program takes a holistic approach to the evaluation of applicants and their admission. Academic performance and potential demonstrated ability for original, independent, and innovative research during graduate study and strong communication and mathematical skills are considered. Research projects done during your master's degree program can boost your chances of admission.
The applicant must also demonstrate professional compatibility with his or her chosen faculty advisor.
The time-to-completion of Doctor of Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering programs are similar - between five and six years. However, your actual time-to-completion and awarding of the doctoral degree will vary based on your academic course work and dissertation completion.
Your academic coursework will also depend on whether you were admitted with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Direct admission with only a bachelor's degree can mean a longer completion time.
The online learning format in a doctoral program usually means asynchronous online classes, thus, allowing students to complete it at their own pace. The exception is online programs with a cohort model and/or synchronous online classes.
The typical timeline for doctoral degree programs is:
- First-year - Graduate courses and qualifying exams, usually in written form
- Second year - Graduate-level courses combined with a selection of research advisory committees and preliminary research
- Third year - Coursework on advanced topics and preliminary research exam
- Fourth year - Conduct research
- Fifth year - Completion of the dissertation, including dissertation defense via a final oral exam
Note that the five-year time-to-completion is only a guide. Most students earn a doctoral degree in 6-7 years. Most, if not all, graduate programs have maximum time-to-completion, usually between eight and ten years.
Electrical Engineering Doctorate: Format, Curriculum, and Courses
Electrical engineering students pursuing an online doctoral degree must familiarize themselves with the online learning management system (LMS) used in their respective programs. The popular LMSs are Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle; graduate programs provide orientation sessions and a 24/7 IT help desk for the use of these online learning platforms.
As previously mentioned, students must pass several major examinations before earning a doctoral degree in electrical engineering. These examinations, which can be in written and/or oral formats, are designed to measure academic performance and progress as well as readiness for the research phase.
First, the written qualifying examination is the first major hurdle electrical engineering students face; an oral component is also present in some programs. The exam is used to determine a student’s ability to apply advanced electrical engineering concepts and methods.
Second, the preliminary research exam is intended to determine a student’s ability and readiness for conducting an original, independent, and innovative research project. There are also written and oral components that students must pass.
Third, the final oral dissertation defense is the last hurdle that students must pass to earn the Doctor of Engineering or Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering degree. Many Ph.D. programs also require the publication of research projects in industry journals before awarding the doctoral degree. The publication itself has its own challenges since industry journals require an intensive peer review before research projects are published.
The doctoral dissertation is the capstone project in the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Doctor of Electrical Engineering programs. The dissertation is a technical research paper worthy of publication.
Even experienced electrical engineers with a master’s degree and advanced skills will likely be challenged by the dissertation process. Fortunately, graduate-level courses ensure that their research skills and methodologies are up to par!
These graduate-level courses cover the essential aspects of the dissertation, including the research process and methodologies, literature review, and annotated bibliography.
Every electrical engineering graduate student must be familiar with their dissertation, as well as its significance in the discipline. Plagiarism and other academic misdemeanors are obviously not tolerated in any graduate program.
Electrical engineering students in the best graduate programs tackle a wide range of advanced topics that reflect the present trends and future direction of the discipline.
The core courses differ between online programs, but the following are common topics.
Introduction to Nanotechnology
Students explore nanotechnology, including the physics of the solid state, quantum wells, and nanoscale biological materials.
Advanced Topics in Semiconductor Devices
Students learn about advanced topics in solid-state electronics and their devices. Topics include semiconductors and their physics and properties, semiconductor lasers, and field effect devices. Experienced electrical engineers will find plenty of challenges in these topics.
Digital Communication Systems
Students explore information theory, channel coding, and digital coding, among other topics in digital communication systems.
Internet of Things Systems
Students learn about the myriad elements of the Internet of Things (IoT), including sensors, sensor-system communications, and networking.
Photovoltaic Devices and Systems
Students explore the characteristics of solar resources, including solar cell technologies. The topics covered here are popular research interests, too, such as PV module design and grid-connected PV systems.
Not every electrical engineering program requires its online students to meet on-campus residency requirements, but it’s a fairly common practice. This is particularly true for the on-campus graduate seminar series, research or teaching assistantships, and dissertation courses. Most students may have to work with their faculty advisors, too, to complete their dissertations.
The on-campus residency requirements may also be fulfilled in other meaningful ways. Places of employment as well as assistantships in research laboratories and other organizations can be considered.
Skills and Competencies Gained
Experienced electrical engineers obviously already have advanced skills before entering any electrical engineering doctor graduate program. But there’s always room for improvement, and thus, graduate students should challenge themselves and pursue lifelong learning.
- Advanced knowledge and skills in circuit design, electrical schematics, and power systems
- Mathematical skills
- Troubleshooting of electrical engineering systems
- Programming languages (i.e., useful in embedded systems)
- Data collection and analysis
- Communication, both oral and written
- Critical thinking
- Organization and time management
While electrical engineering doctor graduate programs have different learning outcomes, students should demonstrate the following knowledge, skills, and outputs.
- Conduct original broad research in the form of a dissertation
- Advanced knowledge in the major areas of electrical engineering (Digital systems, power systems, control systems, electromagnetics, electronics, and communications)
- Identify, evaluate, and solve issues in the electrical engineering field using computer science theory and other related concepts
- Use technical and transferable skills in diverse situations
Tuition and Financial Aid
Graduate programs offering any type of doctoral degree can be expensive, with tuition starting at $1,000 per credit hour, even in public universities. Every electrical engineering program has its specific tuition structure that interested individuals must carefully consider.
In-state and out-of-state per-credit tuition may or may not differ. When the per-credit rates are different, the difference can be significant, too. Online programs also have fees and other charges that are exclusively implemented among online students (i.e., on-campus students don’t pay for these fees). Technology fees and extra per-credit fees are notable examples.
The good news is financial aid options are made available to full-time students; part-time students may also apply. Financial aid includes federal financial aid, teaching and research assistantships, grants, as well as private loans.
Professional Certifications and Licenses
The doctoral degree in electrical engineering prepares students for a wide range of leadership roles in the public and private sectors. But it’s also an advantage to secure a Professional Engineering license and certifications to gain an edge in the job marketplace.
Licensed electrical engineers can pursue several types of professional certifications, not only for their professional development but also to keep up with the times. The Project Management Professional, Certified Systems Engineer Professional, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) certifications are popular among electrical engineers.
Overview of Doctorate of Electrical Engineering Prospects: Duties, Pay and Career Advancement
The best thing about earning a doctorate in engineering degree is the wide range of career possibilities. The most obvious career path is being an electrical engineer in leadership positions, but pursuing a research career in academia and industry is just as viable.
Roles and Responsibilities of Electrical Engineers
Electrical engineers design, develop, and test electrical equipment for the consumer, commercial, and industrial markets. These include aircraft and automobiles, solid-state devices, and neural networks.
While their specific roles and responsibilities differ depending on their place of employment, position, and industry, electrical engineers typically perform the following duties.
- Design and develop new products that use electricity, usually using the concepts of electrical and computer engineering
- Improve existing products by applying electrical and computer engineering principles
- Oversee the production, installation, and evaluation of electrical equipment according to specifications
- Work with other professionals to ensure new products and improvements to old products are made in accordance with plans
Both technical and transferable skills, as outlined above, are essential to carry out the myriad of duties that electrical engineers do.
Average Salary and Job Outlook
Experienced electrical engineers with a doctor of engineering degree can choose from several career possibilities. These career opportunities come with high salaries and other compensation-related benefits, professional development, and even industry recognition.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics presents the latest data that shows electrical engineers earn a median annual wage of $114,050. The overall employment growth for electrical engineers between 2022 and 2032 is 3%, which is slower than average but still results in thousands of new openings every year.
(Dollar amounts in parentheses are the average annual salaries for the specific occupation)
College Engineering Professors
Most electrical engineering professionals with a Ph.D. degree thrive in academic careers, thanks to their research-intensive training. As college professors, their day-to-day schedule includes the performance of education, research, and other academic services. Many devote most of their time to research projects, as well as to performing supervisory responsibilities, publishing articles, and attending industry conferences.
Electrical Research Engineers
Many professionals with a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering also become electrical research engineers. Their primary duties are the design, development, and implementation of research projects that result in new and innovative products. Many electrical research engineers work in the business sector, including manufacturing companies.
Architectural and Engineering Managers
Electrical engineers with a doctorate degree are qualified for architectural and engineering management positions. Architectural and engineering managers create detailed plans for new product development, determine their manpower and equipment needs, and coordinate the projects. Research and development projects related to new products and processes are their forte.
Electrical Aerospace Engineers
Electrical engineers can also work in the aerospace industry. Electrical aerospace engineers may also take specialized courses specific to the industry, particularly in the design, construction, and maintenance of aircraft, spacecraft, and satellites. Their duties also include testing, diagnosing, and repairing systems, as well as optimizing their operations.
Mechatronics engineers are involved in the entire development of new products, from their design and manufacture to testing and troubleshooting. Their combined expertise in electrical and computer engineering as well as mechanical engineering makes them suited for the challenging occupation. Nearly everything in the modern world, from control systems to microwaves, is in their realm of expertise.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you call a professional with a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering degree?
In academia, electrical engineers with a doctorate degree are usually addressed as Dr. John Smith (full name) in written communications. In conversations, Dr. Smith (surname) is used.
Do Electrical Engineers need a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree?
No, a doctorate in engineering degree isn’t necessary for licensed professional electrical engineers. But for professionals who want to become college professors and/or researchers, a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering is a must for tenure track purposes.
How can you choose the best Doctor of Electrical Engineering online program?
The quality of online education in engineering also depends on the same factors as traditional engineering programs. Regional accreditation is the first and foremost accreditation because it demonstrates compliance with academic standards set by the US Department of Education.
Then, look at the professional credentials of the faculty members, including their educational attainment and research projects, both present and past. Consider the quality of instruction, too, including learning objectives, curriculum and courses, and graduate outcomes, which are measurements of overall quality.
Is an online Doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering accepted by the industry and employers?
Yes, it is! However, you must ensure that you’re enrolled in a regionally accredited school. The electrical engineering industry and employers will only recognize the doctorate degree if it’s awarded by four-year colleges and universities with active regional accreditation.
Can you finish a Doctorate degree program faster than the average time to completion?
Yes, you can, but it will be a challenging endeavor, to say the least. You can be a full-time student, find a great mentor, and immerse yourself in your research, among other steps. You should also consider choosing a specialized or narrow topic for your dissertation.
- The career possibilities that open up with either a Doctor of Electrical Engineering or a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering degree will offset the time, cost, and effort involved in earning it. With your advanced knowledge and skills, you can explore other occupations aside from being a practicing electrical engineer, such as a college professor or a mechatronics engineer.
- Be mindful of the academic challenges, high costs of a terminal degree in universities, and dissertation demands before considering doctorate programs. Plan with the time and cost commitments in mind, and you should be able to earn the doctorate degree in due time.