This study aims to explore the academic engagement experiences of pre-service teachers (PSTs) during the COVID-19 online education process. For this purpose, a phenomenological study was carried out with a sample of 10 PSTs studying at the department of Foreign Language Education (FLE) at a state university in Türkiye, selected through purposeful sampling. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was utilized to analyze and interpret the data. The outstanding results include that there were both positive and negative experiences during online education. Positive experiences are related to effective learning, time efficiency, and flexibility opportunities of the process while negative experiences are centered around concentration problems, stressfulness, the inexperience of instructors, lack of interaction, motivation, and socialization. Besides, the factors that increased academic engagement include keeping cameras on/off during lessons, facilitative instructors, autonomous learning, and technological facilities. On the other hand, the factors that decreased academic engagement involve keeping cameras on/off, having technological obstacles, instructors’ attitudes and teaching styles, home environment, and the lack of interaction and interest. Lastly, the suggestions include using varying methods during lessons, arranging course hours appropriately, having a common course policy among instructors, and increasing student involvement in the whole process.