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How To Save $15,000 on Your Engineering Degree

Emily Hale
Emily Hale

April 27, 2015

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Engineers Engineers. Everyone knows we need them.

They design our cars, roads, bridges, sewers, buildings, phones, cars, software, and even our coffeemakers. When they’re not around, everyone notices pretty fast.

There’s a reason an engineer’s education and skills training are valuable in the job market. Engineering majors graduating this spring are expected to have an average starting salary of $62,998, the highest of all degree majors.

Sound good to you? Cool. First you have to get into an engineering program.

And…that’s where the challenges begin.

Like most majors, engineering students have 24 credits of General Education requirements. However, many of those credits have to fit additional, specific engineering standards that other degrees don’t have.

The rest of the Engineering degree is usually a linear, rigid track with almost every class serving as a prerequisite for the next. Because of these requirements, engineering students are very limited when it comes to saving time or money by transferring in credit from other programs.

Because of the extremely-rigorous subject material, engineering students will often take only four courses per semester, rather than the five courses needed to graduate in four years.

As a result, the majority of engineering students either take summer classes, or extend their degree to five years.

Both options increase the cost of a student’s already-expensive degree dramatically. This extra time in the classroom means paying money rather than making money as part of the engineering workforce.

So, because of the challenging requirements and rigorous workload of an engineering degree, you might assume there is no way to save time or money. Right?


You can save $15,000 and your fifth year of engineering studies. Here’s how:

girl with chemical model

1. Design a Plan

If you want to major in Engineering, do some early research and make sure it’s really for you. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money on a degree and then finding out you don’t really like the field.

Next, do you know what engineering field you would like to pursue? If not, here’s a good place to start.

Find out what fascinates you, and look for ways to expand your knowledge of the field by taking upper-level high school courses (like calculus, physics, or chemistry), exploring internship opportunities, or joining a club (like robotics). With information and experience, you can begin your search for the college that will best serve your needs.

2. Talk to an Expert

Every year, our Central Registrar’s Office helps hundreds of students map out a plan to their chosen college. Most schools have specific requirements for their engineering programs. Our researchers can look at your desired college’s requirements to determine how you can get to your goal in the most efficient way.

young man drawing plans

3. Start Before You Graduate From High School

If you are an engineering-minded junior or senior in high school, you can almost certainly benefit from the Unbound program. In high school, you can take Advanced Placement (AP) classes which can transfer to your chosen college. These less-expensive AP tests let you start a few semesters early, get a jumpstart on your peers, and often save thousands of dollars before you turn 18.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like starting early with a few General Education classes could even make a dent in something as intense as an engineering degree.

But take a step back and look at the big picture.

If you start your program one or two years early, you can eliminate the likely choice between killing yourself with a five-course load, taking summer classes, or adding on that fifth year of college.

At the end of the day, earning an engineering degree takes an incredible amount of hard work. (That just might have something to do with why engineers get paid more!) But by looking for creative ways to maximize your time and resources, you can shorten your path to an engineering degree and get paid for a job you enjoy.

Emily Hale
Emily Hale

Emily is an Unbound student majoring in Communications. People are her passion and there is nothing she enjoys more than engaging and encouraging. She writes at about faith and daily living.

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