Top 10 Most Affordable Online Electrical Engineering Degree Programs

Current studies say that a degree in electrical engineering is one of the best educational investments you can make. In the middle of your career you can make anywhere from $88,000 $163,000 per year with the skills learned through a quality online electrical engineering degree program.

Online programs feature the fundamental courses necessary for any engineering degree. They also offer a host of specialty courses to enhance your information processing and management skills. Getting your degree online provides you the same education without taking away as much time as attending school in person would.

An online degree program in the electrical engineering field will require occasional exams before a proctor. Some will additional course fees or out of state fees. Others might also require health insurance. People looking into online schools often hesitate when they see these additional costs that they did not think about. Getting the same degree at a brick and mortar school has the same fees, they just hide them better. People see them as a necessary part of receiving a respectable degree. So when you compare affordable online colleges, it’s important to include all the costs and fees associated. That way you’re comparing apples to apples.

This article will discuss the cheapest online colleges that offer a degree in electrical engineering. All of the Universities included are accredited schools that prepare students for real careers. They have transcripts that receive the same respect and attention as any brick and mortar school. Choosing the most affordable school helps you focus on your education without the concern of a huge student debt.

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Electrical Engineering Degree Programs


Getting an education is one of the biggest expenses of your life. It remains a real issue. When the cost of your degree could potentially reach six figures, you might begin to wonder if it is really worth it.

Price tag then becomes a make or break consideration when researching schools. Typing “cheap schools” into a search engine feels a little… well, cheap. It is necessary though. Online degrees can be very expensive.

But there are quality, affordable ones out there, too. Cheap, in this scenario, does not take away quality or respectability. It is simply more substance per dollar spent. Of the top affordable online colleges, all of them are accredited and highly respected schools.

These are the top ten most affordable schools, that offer an online electrical engineering degree:

  • Western Carolina University
  • University of West Florida
  • East Carolina University
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Florida
  • Old Dominion University
  • University of Houston
  • University of Idaho
  • Southern Polytechnic State University


You can find similar lists posted all over the internet. They list schools according to the price of tuition so that you can easily pick out the one that fits your budget. The drawback though, is that they are often listed according to the prices charged to state residents.

The first six Universities on this list are located in either North Carolina or Florida. That is all well and good for the citizens of those two states; but what about the other forty eight?

One of the greatest benefits of distance learning is that you can go to a school across the country without having to abandon your family and your life. If the degree program you fall in love with is three states away, you can still attend. Not being bound by a daily commute can open up more opportunities for your education. Your state may have only one school that offers an online electrical engineering degree while the next state over has several. Why, when you are taking courses online, should you be restricted to your own state?

The following revised list is the top ten most affordable universities, listed in order of tuition for out of state residents. A few colleges made it onto both lists for their great value.

  • 1) National University, based in La Jolla, California
  • 2) California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obiscpo, California
  • 3) University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho
  • 4) University of Houston, Houston, Texas
  • 5) Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina
  • 6) Utah State University, Logan, Utah
  • 7) University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama
  • 8) University of Wisconsin, Platteville, Wisconsin
  • 9) University of Western Florida, Pensacola, Florida
  • 10) Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi


The price and affordability of an online degree program is largely based on tuition since you do not need to pay for on campus amenities like a dorm or a meal plan. Some of the cost is affected by school fees or other miscellaneous taxes. You should look into a school thoroughly before you attend. For now, here is a little more information on each of the nation’s top most affordable schools for electrical engineering.

National University ($11,088)
National University is the second largest private, non profit college in California. They charge $384 per credit hour, which does not include fees. They have several fees that are or may be added on and are non-refundable. These fees are charged when you apply and when you graduate.

They offer free financial aid advisers that can walk you through the fees. These advisers will also help you find grants and scholarships that you may qualify for to cover some of the cost of tuition. The Student Concierge Service is also free and will help you adjust to the online format of your classes. Such a deep submersion in multimedia learning can be daunting to someone who does not have a lot of prior computer program experience.

The classes are available 24/7 and are 100% online, so you can go at your own pace. You may adapt quickly to the format or you may take a bit to get the ball rolling. The classes are month by month, one at a time.

Between the monthly scheduled classes and National University’s year round application process, you can pursue your education any time of year. If you are attending for a while and then hit a financial road block, you can take a break then start up again where you left off. National University does charge a reinstatement fee but it is not much.

California Polytechnic State University ($11,160)
This publicly funded college charges $319 per credit hour. Keep in mind though that this price is an estimate. When funds are low, the fees may change. The Board of Trustees decides the tuition rates based on how much funding they are getting from the government. This may happen at any time. Even if you have already paid your initial fees and agreed to the previous rates, they reserve the right to change them.

The money they get goes back into the degree programs. The California Polytechnic Plan is an initiative determined to make future learning more efficient and affordable. They aim to decrease the amount of time a student has to spend on coursework before getting his degree. They want to enhance the productivity of the online campus to make more effective use of their resources. What is done with the mandatory academic fees that fund this initiative is decided by the Student Success Fee Allocation Advisory Committee.

Both the Advisory Committee and the Board of Trustees claim to do all they can to keep student costs low. They do a great job, based on the rates they are able to offer compared to the average cost of other online colleges.

University of Idaho ($11,592)
The University of Idaho is the third most affordable college offering a degree in electrical engineering despite the many ways of adding more dollars to your bill. Although eleven thousand is the price for a full time graduate degree program, they charge more if you decide to go part time. Each credit hour is $1,147.50 with an additional $35 online fee. If you go over a total of 20 credits you are charged $267.50 per extra credit hour. The school does provide health insurance though. The downside is that coverage is mandatory and costs you another $894 a semester.

Payment plans can be set up with the college as an alternative or a supplement to loans. You can start them the June before your classes begin, to give you a head start on paying the tuition back. They charge a $55 fee each semester that the Payment Plan is in place. Late payments cost another $60 and should you have a remaining balance after graduation, the University of Idaho will keep your transcripts until the debt is paid off. Missing two consecutive payments cancels the plan and the school will demand the tuition paid in full.

If you decide after admission that this University is not for you, you have two weeks in which to get a refund.

University of Houston ($12,072)
The tuition charged by the University of Houston goes toward many things that keep the school and its online programs running. The electrical engineering degree program consists of formal courses, laboratory work, and research. All of these take funding to keep active and current.

The money also goes toward providing resources for prospective students. Admissions Representatives will instant message you to walk you through the application and financial processes. The website offers career planning advice and tutorials. Students can sign up for additional tutoring and academic skills counseling. All of it is included in the reasonable tuition fees they charge.

If you decide to work for the college after graduation, you are eligible for the alumni reimbursement program. After six months of employment at the University you can apply to get back the money you spent on tuition. For graduate reimbursement you need to maintain a B average on your courses in order to qualify. Once you are approved, they return $750 a semester or $2250 a year, on an individual basis.

For people who do not wish to work for the University of Houston, the website has a guide to financial aid that will help you find other cost cutting options.

Western Carolina University ($12,413)
Western Carolina University designed its online electrical engineering degree so that professionals with full time careers could still pursue part time education at night. Adults rarely have enough free time to commit to a new career when their old one is good enough. Western Carolina gives you the opportunity to learn a trade that will be more than good enough.

Every program they offer is ABET accredited and electrical engineering is no exception. At WCU they believe in Project Based Learning. That means your courses will involve real work projects for clients that trust the teaching ability of the college. Completing real jobs reinforces lessons and gives you practical experience that you will need when looking for a job in your new field.

Western Carolina charges $468.35 per credit hour. In state residents pay only $144.12, more than a hundred dollars less than what military involved students pay. If you are receiving education allowances from the Department of Defense or the Veteran’s Administration you pay $250 per credit hour.

The North Carolina Legislature reviews these prices every year. They decide if adjustments need to be made or if the rates are reasonable. Their current tuition standards keep the school at #5 on the list of most affordable online electrical engineering schools.

WCU made it onto both lists. For in state residents, this school is number one in affordability. It is the cheapest online school you can go to in the United States.

Utah State University ($13,031)
Utah State offers the same rates to in state and non residents. At $350 per credit hour it is a hard bargain to pass up.

They put a lot of money back into their online student resources. Utah State offers a free orientation to prospective students, so they can learn more about the college and what they can expect, before they commit to attending. They do not even have to apply first.

They also offer online workshops for struggling students. You can take them at any time, or as assigned by University administrators. Topics include Academic Dismissal and Academic Suspensions, both part one and two.

Their free advisers are always available to help you. They can be reached via email, instant chat, or, if you live near the campus, you can come in and speak to an adviser in person. They have six campuses in Utah and all are available to assist in your needs.

You may need to visit a campus to take an exam for the degree program. Some courses require proctored exams. If you do not live near enough to a Utah State University campus, you can have your test proctored by an authorized individual in your area. Some proctors charge a fee, which the college will not reimburse you for. Their own proctors are free.

University of Alabama ($13,198)
Number seven on the list is the University of Alabama. This school offers a discount on the first credit hour of your first semester. It is only $666 compared to the other by credit hour rates set at $873.

Princeton Review called UoA America’s “Best College Value.” The college was founded in 2011 and very quickly climbed ranks to sit among other highly respected distance learning programs. Their electrical engineering degree program already ranks #39 in the country, according to an article documenting a study that the US and World News did to inform prospective students of the colleges they are interested in.

Other stats were included in the report. University of Alabama is #19 in student engagement and retained 95% of its new students last year.

Their program can be taken completely online or blended with on campus classes. This dynamic is what gives students more incentive to stay. When you have a busy schedule it is good to attend a school that is flexible.

Students attending the University have private scholarships available to them. The school itself gives away over one million dollars per year to assist its students in affording the high quality education that they provide.

University of Wisconsin ($13,339)
The University of Wisconsin has led the way in distance learning for 35 years. They have been teaching engineers for 150 years, so it makes sense that they would be one of the first to begin instruction in electrical engineering online. They are accredited to do so by the Higher Learning Commission. Corporate Report Wisconsin deemed them the “Best School for Online Education” for the last three years in a row.

For this quality education they charge $630 dollars in tuition per credit hour earned. They do not discriminate and instead offer the same cheap rate for both residents of Wisconsin, and out of state students wishing to learn from the renowned school. It is a popular option, not just for students in the home state but for ones that look for good schools online. Websites that rank online degree programs often include the University and group it with more well known colleges. is a website that encourages students to investigate the schools they are interested in before they settle on a few to apply to. They also do their own study of colleges. This dedicated website found qualities in the University of Wisconsin that it liked. It awarded the college the “Best Buys” distinction. This means that the college offers high value programs for prices less than the National average.

University of Western Florida ($13,453)
Tuition for the University of Western Florida is more than ten grand cheaper for residents of the Sunshine State. According to the first set of rankings, it was the second most affordable online electrical engineering degree program. If you live in Florida it is the cheapest.

Arranged according to non resident costs, it is number nine on the list.

Fortunately UWF offers a unique program for its students. Anyone attending online courses from the distance of another state may apply for a tuition waiver. All or part of your tuition may be covered by this waiver, making an education at this University just as cheap for a long distance attendee as a local one.

The waiver is per semester so you must remember to apply each time. If you receive partial coverage of your bill, you must pay the rest of your tuition and fees or the waiver will be considered void. The school then considers you responsible for the original cost. This is also the case if you withdraw from the school. All monetary expenditures then fall to you.

The online campus fees cover the support and development of Online Campus Services.

University campus resources are also offered to online students. The library allows access to online databases that can help you with research. The IT department is more than happy to assist you with technical support.

Mississippi State University ($13,801)
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission looks for integrity, quality, self-regulation, accountability, transparency, and student learning in the colleges they access. They accredited Mississippi State University for its valiant efforts in providing quality online educations at affordable prices. They places tenth on the list for keeping their tuition low and their standards high.

The University charges $570.75 per credit hour worked toward in a graduate program. This breaks down to $370.75 for the hour itself. A distance learning fee is set at $175, and a non refundable instructional technology fee of $25 is also applied.

The Institute of Higher Learning determines these rates. They are the same for all online students, resident or non. Tuition may change annually as the Institute reviews what amount is necessary to keep the programs running smoothly.

Mississippi State University drop outs get refunds up to five days after the start of classes. Each day of class, the amount is prorated until the sixth day, which allows no return. After the fifth day, dropping out will also incur a fee of $50.

The Benefits of an Online Education

The top ten schools listed in this article are more affordable than a brick and mortar school of the same quality. A lot more affordable. They do not always require textbook purchases because the materials you need for a course can be downloaded. You do not need to pay for a dorm room or a meal plan. You don’t need to spend money on gas to commute. You also do not incur any on campus fees, since you may never set foot on your University’s actual grounds.

You have read all you can about the cheapest schools and what their low tuition rates are being spent on. Cost is an obvious benefit to online schooling. Being able to work at your own pace is another one. No matter what your career is, you can advance it or change while continuing to work. A degree in your field will get you promotions and raises before you even graduate.

The lack of a classroom commitment means scheduling is easier. You save time by not having to spend it in a desk, slouched and half asleep while your instructor stammers through a lecture. You schedule your own lectures, and you either read them at your own pace or listen to a recording that has all the hiccups and long pauses edited out. That also gives you flexibility in assignment completion. You receive assignments a week ahead of time in most cases, and do them when you get a chance to. Online degree programs conform to your life, instead of your life conforming to them.
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