Photo by Artem Podrez

As people become more aware of the adverse effects of pollution, climate change, and other environmental problems, there is a greater demand for professionals who can help address these issues. If you want to dedicate your life to making the planet healthier, consider getting an online environmental engineering degree.

Online environmental engineering degree programs have gained increasing recognition and reputation over the years due to technological advancements and the growing demand for flexible and accessible education. Nowadays, most of the well-known environmental engineering schools offer degrees online. This guide will explore online undergraduate and graduate environmental engineering programs. It will give you all the tools you need to make an educated decision about your future.

Specializations for an Online Environmental Engineering Degree

Online environmental engineering degree programs use a multidisciplinary field that teaches different aspects of science, engineering, and social science. At the end of the program, you should be prepared to tackle environmental challenges such as air and water pollution, climate change, waste management, and sustainability. Here are a few examples of specializations students can earn:

Water and Wastewater Engineering

The specialization focuses on the design and management of water and wastewater treatment systems. You will learn about water quality, water supply, wastewater treatment technologies, and environmental regulations related to water management.

Air Pollution Control Engineering

If you’re passionate about reducing air pollution, you might pursue a specialization in air pollution control engineering. This concentration prepares students with tools to understand emission control technologies, air quality monitoring, and regulatory requirements related to air pollution.

Hazardous Waste Management

The topic focuses on the safe handling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous wastes. You could learn about the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, as well as waste minimization and environmental impact assessments. 

Sustainable Engineering

If you’re interested in sustainable solutions to environmental challenges, the sustainable engineering specialization is for you. This concentration offers insight into such interesting topics as green design, renewable energy, life cycle assessment, and environmental management systems. 

Environmental Modeling and Analysis

This specialization trains students to use mathematical and computational models to simulate and analyze environmental systems. You will do number crunching related to data analysis, statistical methods, and modeling techniques used to understand complex environmental systems.

Career and Salary Information for Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs

A career in environmental engineering offers a variety of opportunities to make a positive impact on the environment and public health. Job growth for careers in environmental engineering will be strong in the coming years. According to the BLS, employment of environmental engineers will grow more than four percent between 2021 and 2030, which is on par with the average for all occupations.

As of 2021, the median annual wage for environmental engineers was $96,820. The highest ten percent earned more than $153,200, while the bottom 10 percent earned $59,820 on average. 

Here are some examples of jobs and average salaries for people with undergraduate environmental engineering degrees:

PositionAverage Salary
Senior Environmental Engineer$112,685
Environmental Engineer $100,446
Environmental Compliance Manager $97,564
Water/Wastewater Engineer $96,631
Sustainability Manager $92,939

After graduation, you can work for regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. These agencies enforce environmental regulations and ensure that industries and organizations comply with environmental laws. Many environmental engineers also work for state and local governments, where they help develop policies and rules to protect the environment.

Working in the private sector is another option. You can work for consulting firms, engineering companies, and corporations. Similarly, you can help raise awareness about environmental issues and promote sustainable practices by working for non-profits.

The following data offers an overview of the median yearly wages for environmental engineers in the top industries:

IndustryMedian Salary
The Federal Government$110,240
Engineering Services$95,730
Consulting Services$94,970
Local Government$82,520
State Government$80,450

Curriculum and Courses for Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs

During your studies, expect to take challenging courses offering comprehensive instruction. The curriculum will generally include courses in various areas, such as environmental law, pollution prevention, waste management, water and air quality, and sustainability.

In the program’s first two years, you will generally take courses in physics, chemistry, and mathematics, which helps build a strong foundation in science and engineering principles. 

As you progress through the program, you are more likely to encounter advanced courses focusing on environmental engineering. Accordingly, some of the courses that may be included in the curriculum are:

Environmental Chemistry

In this course, you learn about chemical reactions, equilibrium, and kinetics and how they relate to environmental issues such as waste management and pollution.

Sustainable Engineering

The course will focus on developing solutions that meet the needs of the present generation while helping future generations to meet their own needs.

Water Resources Engineering

This course covers the management of water resources and the engineering techniques used to address issues such as water scarcity, flood control, and water quality.

Environmental Law and Policy

As evident by the title, you will learn legal and policy frameworks that govern environmental issues all around the globe.

Air Quality Engineering

This course will cover topics related to air pollution monitoring, modeling, and designing and implementing air pollution control technologies.

While most basic courses are similar across all the online schools in this list, some schools may focus on specific areas. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the curriculum before shortlisting the college.

Admissions Requirements for Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs

To pursue an online environmental engineering degree program, you will need school transcripts, GPA, and standardized test scores. These requirements may vary depending on the school you choose, but here is an outline of what’s usually required:

 Undergraduate Program

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Transcripts from all high schools attended
  • A minimum GPA requirement (usually 3.0 or above)
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • 2 to 3 Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose
  • TOEFL or IELTS (for non-native English speakers)

In addition to these general requirements, some online programs may require you to complete specific high school courses, such as mathematics and physics. A few may also require students to complete a certain number of community service hours or participate in extracurricular activities related to environmental engineering.

Graduate Program

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • GRE scores, recommended (may be waived for applicants with a minimum 3.5 GPA)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume/CV
  • English proficiency test scores (for non-native English speakers)

You may notice that admission requirements for undergraduate programs are often stricter than those for graduate programs. It’s because undergraduate programs are designed to provide students with foundational knowledge and skills in a particular field. In contrast, graduate programs build on that knowledge and focus on more specialized areas of study. 

As a result, undergraduate programs typically have more general requirements that you must meet, such as completing a certain number of courses in different subject areas.

Accreditation for Online Colleges with Environmental Engineering Degrees

Select an accredited program if you’re considering pursuing an online environmental engineering degree. Accreditation is a process by which a third-party organization evaluates a school’s programs and services to ensure that they meet specific standards of quality and rigor. In addition to finding an accredited degree program, attending a regionally accredited online college is essential.

Accreditation is crucial for several reasons. It ensures that the education you receive meets specific quality standards, which can be important for future employers and graduate school admissions committees. Furthermore, it allows you to transfer credits more easily between accredited institutions. Finally, it may be a requirement for certain types of financial aid.

The United States has two main accrediting bodies for environmental engineering programs: ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and ACCE (American Council for Construction Education). ABET is the primary accrediting body for engineering programs, including environmental engineering. ACCE is another option that mainly accredits construction programs focusing on construction and infrastructure.

Financial Aid & Scholarships for Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs

There are several avenues to help fund your education. It would be best to start by completing the FASFA application, also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application will determine if you qualify for federal financial aid such as grants, loans, and work-study. You may also be eligible for state financial aid programs depending on where you reside and the policies in your state.

Aside from federal and state aid, various private scholarships are available for environmental engineering students. Some scholarships are specific to online students, while others are open to all students regardless of their educational format. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF) offer potential scholarship opportunities.

Additionally, many universities and colleges offering online environmental engineering programs have their own scholarship and financial aid programs available to their students. Make sure to reach out to the financial aid office at your institution to see what scholarships and aid you may qualify for.

It’s also important to note that many professional organizations, such as the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing degrees in environmental engineering. These organizations may even offer networking opportunities and job postings for their members.

What Can You Do With an Environmental Engineering Degree from an Online College?

There are many options for environmental engineers. Just like a traditional on-campus program, an online degree can prepare you for a rewarding professional career.

An online environmental engineering degree from a reputable college will give you the skills and expertise to design and implement solutions to environmental problems. This can include working on projects such as designing and implementing sustainable water treatment systems, developing renewable energy sources, and managing hazardous waste.

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One common career path for environmental engineers is working in consulting firms. These firms primarily work with businesses and government agencies to help them comply with environmental regulations and reduce their environmental impact. As an environmental engineer, you conduct environmental impact assessments, develop remediation plans, and advise clients on sustainability practices.

Another option is to work for a government agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Department of Energy (DOE). In these roles, you’re responsible for developing and enforcing environmental regulations, researching new technologies, and managing environmental projects.

Environmental engineers are also in demand in the energy sector. You may work for a renewable energy company helping them develop new technologies to harness wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Alternatively, you can apply for a job in a traditional energy company, helping the company reduce its environmental impact and improve its sustainability practices.

If you’re interested in research, a career in academia may be a good fit. Many new graduates opt to pursue a career as a researcher, studying environmental chemistry, air quality, and sustainable materials. This career track will require you to earn a graduate degree.

Finally, entrepreneurship is another option for environmental engineering graduates. If you can get funding, starting a consulting firm, marketing sustainable products, or even developing new technologies to solve environmental problems is possible.

How Much Does an Environmental Engineering Degree from an Online College Cost?

The cost of an environmental engineering degree from an online college will depend on various factors, including the institution you choose, the format of the program, and whether you qualify for financial aid.

On average, a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering can cost between $30,000 to $80,000 for a four-year program. A master’s degree in Environmental Engineering can cost between $20,000 to $70,000 for a two-year program. These costs include tuition, fees, textbooks, and any other expenses related to the program.

Remember that the cost of an environmental engineering degree from an online college may be lower than the cost of an on-campus program, as you won’t have to pay for room and board or transportation. Online programs also offer greater flexibility, allowing you to continue your busy schedule while you pursue your degree. You can easily offset some of these costs using financial aid opportunities such as scholarships, grants, and loans. 

How Long Does Getting an Environmental Engineering Degree from an Online College Take?

A bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering typically takes four years of full-time study to complete the required coursework. However, some programs may offer accelerated options that allow you to finish in as little as three years, while part-time students may take longer to complete the degree.

A Master’s in Environmental Engineering usually takes two years of full-time study. However, some programs may offer accelerated options that you can complete in less time.

Some online colleges also offer flexible scheduling options allowing you to complete your degree part-time – ideal for busy students. However, taking courses on a part-time basis may extend the length of time it takes to complete the degree.

It’s important to note that the time it takes to earn an Environmental Engineering degree can also depend on individual factors such as the number of transfer credits you have, how many classes you take each semester, and how quickly you can complete required coursework and other program requirements.

Are There Affordable Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs?

Yes, there are many affordable online Environmental Engineering degree programs available for students. For instance, public colleges and universities with good reputations can offer a great return on investment, especially if you are an in-state student.

Additionally, online degree programs allow you to complete your coursework from practically anywhere there is internet, saving you money on expenses such as housing and transportation. You get more flexibility in terms of when and where you complete your coursework. This means that students can work full-time or part-time while pursuing their degree, allowing them to earn an income to help pay for their education.

As evident from the tuition cost of various top-notch degree programs compared in the previous section, you can complete your master’s degree for as low as $20,000. Considering that the total cost includes all the expenses, it’s an excellent ROI. Moreover, you may be eligible for financial aid, which can reduce the total expense by more than 50% in some cases. 

Amid the growing job prospect, and the average starting salary of a graduate of these online environmental engineering programs, it’s possible to recoup your investment in education within a year after graduation.

Is an Environmental Engineering Degree from an Online College Worth it?

Deciding whether an Environmental Engineering degree from an online college is worth it depends on your individual goals and circumstances. However, pursuing an Environmental Engineering degree from an online college can offer several benefits.

First, online degree programs offer flexibility, allowing you to complete coursework on your own schedule from anywhere with an internet connection. This can be especially helpful if you need to balance school with other responsibilities, such as work or family obligations.

Second, online degree programs are often more affordable than traditional on-campus programs, especially if you attend a state college or university with lower tuition rates or are eligible for in-state tuition.

Lastly, an online degree program can provide the same quality education as a traditional on-campus program. Accredited online colleges and universities adhere to the same academic standards as their on-campus counterparts, and many of the same instructors teach both online and on-campus courses.

In recent years, online master’s degree programs from reputable institutions have become increasingly accepted and respected by employers. Employers prioritize evaluating job candidates’ knowledge, skills, and experience over the format in which they earned their degrees. Many employers now view online master’s degrees as just as rigorous and valuable as traditional on-campus degrees, particularly if they are earned from accredited institutions that are well-respected in their respective fields.

Ultimately, choosing a program that meets your academic and professional goals, regardless of the format, is essential to be a competitive candidate in the job market.

10 of the Best Schools Offering Online Environmental Engineering Degree Programs

Here are ten regionally accredited schools with superb quality online engineering programs. This list mainly includes graduate programs, but a few undergraduate degrees are listed. The schools are in alphabetical order. 

1. California State University – Fullerton (Fullerton, CA)

online environmental engineering degree at CSU Fullerton

The 30-unit online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is designed to be completed in two years. The estimated cost of attendance for the online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering degree is approximately $20,000 for California residents and $34,000 for non-residents.

2. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

online environmental engineering degree at Johns Hopkins University

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is part-time and can be completed between 2 and 5 years. The program requires ten courses and a thesis or project. The estimated cost of attendance for the online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is approximately $54,000.

3. University of New Haven (West Haven, CT)

online environmental engineering degree from the University of New Haven

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is a 30-credit program that can often be completed in just three semesters, including the Summer. The school charges approximately $33,000 for the online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program.

4. North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)

online environmental engineering degree from NC State

The online Master of Environmental Engineering program requires 30 credits that you can comfortably complete within two years. The institution also offers an online undergraduate completion degree through its Distance Education program. North Carolina residents pay $25,000, and non-residents pay $43,000 for the online Master of Environmental Engineering program at NCSU.

5. Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA)

online environmental engineering degree from ODU

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program also requires 30 credits and two years to complete. If you’re an undergraduate student, you can achieve an online Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with a minor in Environmental Issues and Management. The online undergraduate degree is a completion program. The estimated cost of attendance for the online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is approximately $22,000 for Virginia residents and $35,000 for non-residents.

6. University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)

One of the greatest online colleges in the United States is the University of Arizona. This school has a couple of online degrees that would attract people passionate about environmental studies. The online B.S. in Sustainable Built Environments is 120 credits at $525 per credit. Arizona also offers a 30-credit online Master of Engineering in Innovation, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship. This online graduate program costs $925 per credit.

7. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program requires graduates to complete 30 credits in two years. At this institution, the online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program is approximately $23,000 for Florida residents and $45,000 for non-residents.

8. University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign (Urbana, IL)

The online Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program requires 36 credits and can be completed in two years. While the school does not offer an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering online, there is an online Bachelor of Science in Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability. The estimated cost of attendance for the online Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering program is approximately $24,000 for Illinois residents and $37,000 for non-residents.

9. University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)

The online Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering program requires 30 credits. Just like other programs, you can complete it in two years. You’ll likely pay $15,000 as a North Dakota resident and $18,000 as a non-resident for a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering program. 

10. University of Wisconsin – Madison (Madison, WI)

The online Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering program requires 30 credits that most students complete in two years. The estimated cost of attendance for the online M.S. in Environmental Engineering degree program is approximately $27,000 for Wisconsin residents and $43,000 for non-residents.

Getting your Environmental Engineering Degree from an Online College

An online environmental engineering degree can offer flexibility and convenience but requires self-discipline and time-management skills. 

There are many affordable online programs. In-state tuition and public institutions tend to be cheaper, but private schools can also offer a good return on investment. When researching, it’s necessary to consider the program’s curriculum, faculty, and available resources, such as internships and networking opportunities, before making a final decision.

With the growth of online education, employers are increasingly viewing online degrees from reputable institutions as equivalent to traditional on-campus degrees. Overall, an online environmental engineering degree can provide a path to a rewarding career at a fraction of the cost of a similar on-campus education.


Pursuing a degree in environmental engineering can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. With a variety of online undergraduate and graduate engineering degree programs available, it can take time to choose the right one. This guide has provided an overview of some of the best online environmental engineering degree programs in the United States, helping you to make an informed decision about which program is right for you. By considering factors such as cost, accreditation, course offerings, and faculty expertise, you can find a program that will help you achieve your goals and launch your successful career in environmental engineering. 

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