How effective are online courses for engineering students?


The concept of traditional education has shifted quickly within the last couple of years. As the world deals with the changes brought on by the pandemic, being physically present in a classroom is not the only learning option anymore.

But can online education replace on-campus time? Clearly online time cannot provide many of the informal interactions students have at school.

Nevertheless, how effective are online courses for engineering students in terms of moving learning forward?

Research says that it does wonders. In fact, data shows that students can retain 25% to 60% more information when learning online.

This is because students can fit online education around their busy schedules and responsibilities.

Since they can access the learning content at a time most convenient to them, they will be able to review the subject matter thoughtfully and maximize their learning potential.

But we get it, it’s hard to understand the notion of leaving behind the conventional classroom. After all, why fix something that isn’t broken?

How can I improve my engineering skills?

However, that’s not reason enough to shy away from this alternative. Outlined below are reasons why online courses for engineering students can be an effective learning method for sharpening your engineering skills.

Allows for more focused learning

There’s no getting around it; engineering is complex. It involves more physics and math than most students want to take. However, one thing that makes it more challenging is the science that underpins engineering.

Engineering is all about solving real-world problems. For an engineer to effectively do that, they need to be geared with all the knowledge needed to make educated decisions regarding pertinent issues.

With engineering online courses, you can do just that. The advantage of engineering online courses is they provide you with complete control over your learning.

This is the exact opposite of an in-person setting. When you are in a classroom setting, you have no control over your learning. You take what you can get from your professor even if it does not relate to your major.

Ever found yourself studying a course in biology and asking how it relates to my engineering profession in the first place? Fortunately, this won’t happen with online courses.

When you have the ability to choose what you want to learn, you can move quickly through areas of the course and get your degree.

It also makes it easier for you to concentrate and chime in with questions and ideas which can help boost your confidence to learn even more.

Provides complete flexibility

Many graduate students are put off enrolling in a face-to-face course because they cannot afford to take time off from work.

Or perhaps they want to keep working on advancing their careers while remaining in their existing positions, enhancing their credentials and implementing their learning on the job.

With an online course, you can learn at your own pace and get your degree quickly.

It is also worth noting that online education allows you to split the time you are investing in courses in whichever way works best for you.

This way, you won’t find yourself getting burned out as a result of dedicating large chunks of time to the course.

Like it or not, everybody learns differently. With engineering online courses, you can make the best use of your time to meet your learning objectives.

In a classroom setting, it is not uncommon for instructors to gear their instruction to the middle third of the group. This means that some part of the group is likely to be either lost or outright bored.

When you are studying an online master of science in engineering management, both extremes can be solved easily.

If you are someone who learns at a quicker pace, you have the opportunity to achieve rapidly. On the flip side, if you learn slowly, you will have the opportunity to absorb information without being pushed ahead too quickly.

Supports a personalized learning experience

To expand on the previous point, online courses for engineering students can also be tailored to your individual requirements.

Unlike the conventional class size, online classes are small. In some cases, you’ll even find yourself being the only student in the class.

Through this process, you can foster greater interaction and more feedback between you and your instructor.

More often than not, you can also gain access to diverse learning materials such as eBooks, photos, videos and lectures. Tutors can also integrate other formats such as discussions and forums to enhance lessons and improve your overall learning experience.

Prompts more frequent assessments

Frequent testing can improve student preparation and performance.

When students understand what they need to know to meet the course’s learning objectives, they can allocate sufficient time to understand specific topics.

This is especially important for a student taking a Master of Science in Engineering Management course.

In an engineering management course, students need to develop particular skills, including knowledge of business and management strategies, techniques and concerns that relate to the field.

The advantage of an online engineering course is that it allows for more frequent assessment.

Right after completing a module, you will be tested to evaluate where currently you are in the learning process.

This makes it easier for your online instructor to tailor your engineering management course to enhance learning.

Gives you real-world skills

Learning every engineering concept can only take you so far.

The truth is that most in-person degree programs only provide engineers with the basic structure for knowledge that they will develop during the course of their careers.

You still need to apply those concepts in real-life situations.

An online engineering course helps you develop real-world skills that would otherwise be challenging in university learning.

Unlike university learning where a teacher might go out of his or her way to advise and encourage students to succeed, engineering online courses will teach you self-reliance.

This means you must learn how to succeed without outside motivation and must find it within yourself to get online daily and do the work without anyone giving you constant praise.

Sounds daunting? Yes, it can be. Humans are hardwired to seek recognition for everything they do.

However, when you are not doing something to gain approval from others, you develop a mentality to perform your duties regardless of whether someone’s watching or not.

When you can take initiative on your engineering projects, you can maintain a high-performing workforce which allows for more innovation opportunities.

Can you actually earn an engineering degree online?

So, you might be wondering if an online engineering management degree is possible or perhaps respected by employers.

Much like an on-campus degree, an online engineering management degree is highly regarded by engineering firms.

In fact, many respected universities such as Kettering University Online have established quality engineering management programs on top of their brick-and-mortar campus offerings.

Given the emergence of technological advancements, higher learning institutions and educators have refined their online offerings to make them as engaging as their lecture hall counterparts.

As a result, most employers recognize that it is not where an engineering student earns a degree, instead, it is all about the effort the student puts in to finish the program and excel in the classroom and workplace.

According to a survey by, roughly 83% of employers feel that online degrees provide a quality education that is similar to a campus-based experience.

Engineers seeking career advancement opportunities may benefit quite well by earning an online master’s degree.

Having a master’s can also lead to a higher salary, although the particulars will always differ depending on the firm.

How do online classes differ from campus ones?

As mentioned, most online engineering management programs are offered by brick-and-mortar universities.

This means that there is not much difference between the classes you will take as an online student compared to an on-campus student.

However, the duration of classes and course structure will differ depending on the institution you attend.

Online engineering management classes usually take up to 16 weeks, just like the average semester-long, in-person class. However, the benefit is that you can take accelerated courses to speed up the process.

You may also encounter accomplished students in the field. Often, students that pursue an online engineering management degree at a master’s level typically have a few years of experience in the field.

This lets you pool your knowledge together and use past work experiences on team projects and when sharing thoughts on discussion boards.

What to expect in an online engineering management course?

By now, you have likely given some consideration to enrolling in an online Master’s in Engineering Management. This section will give you an idea of what you can expect to encounter when studying:

The courses in an online engineering management degree depend on the program type and level. A Master of Science in Engineering Management degree program at Kettering University Online usually takes two years.

These graduate degrees cover more specialized and advanced training. Other than that, here’s what you can expect:

More problem-solving projects

When you were an undergraduate engineering student, you tackled a few problem-solving projects. Now that you are enrolled in a Master’s program, expect more than what you bargained for.

This is not to deter you from pursuing an online engineering management degree, rather, it’s to provide you with the skills necessary to compete on a global scale.

Throughout the course, you will most likely tackle projects that culminate with a final capstone project. These tasks may be one-off or a group of projects which usually involves in-depth research.

You may be required to show your findings in a written format and record oral presentations. Your completed projects will subsequently be available for you to add to your professional portfolio.

Expect multiple types of assignments and projects

The types of assignments and projects you can expect will differ depending on the subject area and instructor of a particular course.

However, in many online engineering management classes, discussion boards where students can reply to a relevant question from a professor and to one another may be assigned.

Online engineering management courses usually concentrate on quantitative topics which mean that proctored exams are common.

At several online universities, near the end of the online engineering management degree program, students have a capstone experience.

This includes completing a research project or taking and passing multiple comprehensive exam questions.

In some other online academic institutions, you will learn how to perform needs assessments.

You will work on projects to better understand how to structure things so that the end result is reliable and performs as expected.

Expect multiple group work activities

Similar to an in-person classroom setting, an online engineering management class will also require you to collaborate with classmates virtually.

However, the frequency can vary depending on the course material and the instructor.

In some engineering management programs, classes are more of a mix of individual and collaborative work.

With collaborative activities, you can achieve more active learning by sharing knowledge and getting support from your community.

Whether you like it or not, learning online can make someone feel isolated.

After all, you are missing the mundane conversations you would get from learning in an on-campus setting.

However, with group work activities, you can feel more involved in the learning process and create continuous engagement with your classmates.

What does an online engineering management curriculum look like?

Now that course expectations have been established, let’s find out what an online engineering management curriculum looks like.

Online curricula will always vary depending on the academic institution. Usually, top universities like Kettering University Online have a 40-credit Master of Science in Engineering Management curriculum.

The curriculum includes 10 courses, which includes seven core courses and a three-course graduate certificate on topics such as Supply Chain Management, Healthcare Management, Operations Management and Global Leadership.

Here are some courses you will most likely take while working on a Master’s degree in Engineering Management online at Kettering University Online:

Ethics and practice of engineering

In this course, you will learn the multiple ethical and professional considerations of an engineer in a modern environment.

Topics to be discussed will include environmental considerations, management responsibilities, professional registration, case studies on conflict of interest and the code of ethics of engineers.

Depending on your instructor, this class may require a live discussion weekly.

Managing people and organizations

In this course, you will learn how to prepare for management positions in manufacturing and high-tech companies.

You will be introduced to essential concepts and issues related to the leadership and management of high-technology staff.

Discussions will include but are not limited to persuasion, ethics, human resources issues, lean thinking, change management and high-tech leadership and communication.

Financial management

This is a two-part course that aims to help students gain an overview of their role in a firm conducting financial management.

In the first part of the course, you will learn the theoretical valuations of stocks and bonds as well as the capital markets in which they are traded.

The second part will concentrate on working capital management and the use of financial leverage by an engineering firm. It also stresses the need for financial managers to provide legal and ethical leadership.

International business

In this course, you will learn about the increasing role of international business in the world marketplace.

The course will place an emphasis on complex problems related to the best practices in world business.

You will also encounter multiple case studies to illustrate and help you understand complex business topics.

Enterprise information system models

This course tackles information systems (IS) at multiple levels. You will learn the strategic role of IS and its ability to provide visibility into organizational relationships.

You will learn how businesses apply processes globally using powerful software solutions such as Product Lifecycle Management, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management and Enterprise Resource Planning.

It will also provide an overview of IS infrastructure and address important IS management subjects.

You will also learn about the legal and ethical implications of using these information systems when collecting important data regarding customer, supplier and competitor relationships.

Marketing management

In this course, you will learn about marketing’s role in connecting businesses.

This course will tackle basic business management topics and the best practices in strategy development, supply chain management and market relationship management.

Similar to the International Business course, you will use multiple case studies throughout the course to explore numerous issues and concepts.

Strategy – Capstone

This course will concentrate on the creation, application and assessment of business rules and strategy from the point of view of a strategy planner or a senior manager.

Emphasis is placed on the functional level strategies of the organization, legal perspectives, ethics, global operations and information technology.

It uses an integrative approach to case methods to uncover opportunities in executive decision-making in the international marketplace.

Start earning your online engineering management degree today

Whether you are looking to pursue an MBA after engineering management, or simply interested in getting started in advancing your career, check out Kettering University Online Master of Science in Engineering Management program today to explore your options.