Engineers design nearly everything people use in their day-to-day lives, such as automobiles, airplanes, buildings, and computers. These professionals master engineering fundamentals during their undergraduate education. Furthering their education with a master’s in engineering provides multiple specialization options and may qualify graduates for management-level positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that architecture and engineering positions pay a median $83,160 annual salary. This figure exceeds the national median salary by over $40,000. The BLS projects the need for engineers to grow 3% from 2019-2029, approximately the same as all professions.
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Q. What can I do with a master's degree in engineering?
An engineering master’s degree may qualify graduates for a career as a biomedical, chemical, or mechanical engineer. Learners prepare for a specific job by working with a career counselor and selecting a specialization.
Q. How many years is a master's in engineering?
A typical online engineering degree takes 2-3 years for full-time students. Part-time learners and those in programs with additional graduation requirements may need an extra year to earn the degree.
Q. What are the different specialties in engineering?
Engineering features numerous specializations, such as electrical, civil, and environmental engineering. Job growth projections and median salary vary for each engineering subfield.
Why Get a Degree in Engineering?
Master’s in engineering programs’ numerous specializations let learners customize the educational experience and prepare for a career. Many engineering jobs feature a high median salary, making a degree a wise financial investment. The BLS projects a growing need for highly trained engineers from 2019-2029.
Master’s degree-holders may also work as a college lecturer, imparting knowledge and skills to the next generation. Some professionals with a master’s degree return to school to earn a Ph.D. Professionals with a Ph.D. can apply to tenure-track teaching and research positions at four-year colleges and universities.
Although tuition varies among universities, students at out-of-state public schools should expect to pay more than in-state degree-seekers. However, some public schools waive out-of-state tuition for online learners. Private universities cost more, but do not charge residency-based tuition rates. Other typical costs include course fees.
An online engineering degree features financial advantages for learners, such as not needing on-campus housing or meals. Degree-seekers continue to save money by not commuting. Asynchronous programs allow students to continue working while in school, letting them set aside a portion of their income for school.
No matter their university, students save money on an engineering master’s degree by applying for institutional and private scholarship opportunities. Typical application requirements include a competitive graduate GPA, recommendation letters, and an essay. Graduate students may also qualify for a fellowship opportunity involving original research.
Additional Online Student Fees for Engineering
Earning a master’s in engineering may feature more fees and additional costs than other online graduate degrees. Degree-seekers need a stable internet connection and a computer capable of running the latest drafting software and other industry tools. Some textbooks cost hundreds of dollars. Learners save money on textbooks by buying used copies.
Recent graduates increase their employability by earning one or more professional certifications. Joining the issuing organization can save current or aspiring engineers money on a certification. Members may save considerably on the certification process and receive other benefits, such as a mentorship program or a job board.
How Much Do Engineering Majors Make?
Top-paying careers for engineering majors include petroleum engineer, computer hardware engineer, and aerospace engineer. These professionals garner median annual salaries between $118,610-$137,330, significantly higher than the typical U.S. engineer. Attaining one of these positions may require a degree, license, certification, and professional experience.
Engineers increase their salary potential in more ways than just selecting an in-demand subfield. Petroleum engineers working in New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Oklahoma earn more than peers in other states. Jobs in Beaumont, Houston, and Wichita Falls, Texas offer the highest petroleum engineer salaries in the nation.
On-the-Job Experience or License
In addition to engineering subfield and geographic location, engineers make more money by gaining on-the-job experience. Other methods include earning a professional engineer (PE) license or an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited master’s in engineering.
Courses in Engineering
Online engineering master’s degree-seekers complete a curriculum emphasizing advanced mathematics, scientific skills, and interpersonal communication. Other learning outcomes vary by specialization. Students complete courses in a synchronous or asynchronous format, depending on the school. Some programs offer both thesis and nonthesis options. Learners who write a thesis can include the final product in a doctoral program application.
The following sample curriculum features three foundational courses typical to most master’s in engineering programs. Please keep in mind that course offerings and graduation requirements vary among schools. Consult a university’s online academic catalog or contact an admissions advisor for more on their school’s program.
Program Management Principles for Engineers and Professionals
Program management principles for engineers and professionals confers the leadership skills graduates need for a management-level position. Course topics include technology program management best practices, programming planning fundamentals, and organizational structure. Professionals use these techniques to keep projects on schedule, limit expenses, and communicate with stakeholders.
Operations and Supply Chain Management
Students in operations and supply chain management learn how to apply strategic thinking in the workplace. Coursework involves supply chain fundamentals, such as how companies control the flow of goods and services to ensure on-time delivery. This knowledge helps professionals contribute to a company or organization’s decision-making process and improve overall performance.
Data and Business Analytics
No matter their specialization, engineers must know how to analyze spreadsheets and use data to solve engineering problems. Course topics include linear programming, forecasting, regression, and distribution models. Other requirements involve marketing and finance fundamentals. Engineers use what they learn in data and business analytics to track data and present information to managers and stakeholders.
How to Become an Engineer
Aspiring engineers first earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Some schools offer a 4+1 engineering program, conferring both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years. Engineering programs should possess programmatic accreditation from ABET, as graduates from unaccredited programs may not qualify for licensure.
Students increase their marketability by either completing an internship or enrolling in a program requiring on-the-job training. Both experiences enhance learners’ resumes, helping them stand apart from other job applicants. New engineers working toward licensure explore continuing education opportunities, such as certifications, to improve their career trajectory.
Certifications and Licensure for Engineering
Some graduates need more than a master’s in engineering to qualify for their dream career. Many positions require candidates to possess a state-issued license or professional certification. Already employed engineers may receive a raise or promotion by attaining either. Typical requirements include a degree, professional experience, and an examination.
Certified Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing engineers with seven years of experience earn the CMfgE to take on new responsibilities and increase their salary potential. Candidates must pass the 180-question certification exam with a minimum 60% score. Recertification involves earning at least 36 continuing education credits every three years. Society for Manufacturing Engineers members receive a certification discount.
Professionals with four years of relevant experience and a bachelor’s or master’s in engineering qualify by passing two exams. Benefits of becoming a PE include the ability to sign off on work or attain a position with a local, state, or federal government agency. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides exam-preparation materials.
The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) awards the SEPC to midcareer systems engineers looking to advance their career. Certification steps include providing recommendation letters and passing an exam. Candidates who do not pass on their first attempt may retake the exam twice within 12 months. Interested engineers must join INCOSE before starting the certification process.
Founded in 1907 as the Riverside Citrus Experiment Station, UC Riverside hosts six schools and colleges and enrolls more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually.
The fully online master of science in engineering at UC Riverside offers seven specializations: bioengineering, electrical engineering, materials at the nanoscale, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, data science, and chemical engineering.
The program offers three start dates and typically takes 13 months to complete. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited institution and submit GRE or FE scores. They must also submit evidence of significant professional engineering experience, any industry-recognized certifications, reference letters, and official transcripts.
The largest UC campus in terms of undergraduate enrollment, UCLA hosts more than 40,000 students each year. The Samueli School of Engineering at UCLA offers a 36-unit master of science in engineering that students can complete entirely online.
Enrollees can choose from nine specializations, including materials science, manufacturing and design, aerospace, and electrical engineering. Students who pursue a program designated as a specialized area of study receive an additional certificate of specialization.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering with a minimum 3.0 GPA in junior- and senior-level coursework. Applicants must also submit GRE scores, though some applicants may receive a GRE score waiver depending on their background. Students can transfer up to two graduate-level courses toward the degree.
Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin's main campus occupies 938 acres along Lake Mendota in Madison. The university enrolls about 45,000 students each year and offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees across 13 schools and colleges.
The master of engineering in engineering at UW-Madison comprises 30 credits and follows a cohort model of education. Students can complete the program over four semesters and two summer sessions. The curriculum includes coursework in engineering economic analysis and management, effective negotiation principles and strategies, technical project management, and engineering applications of statistics.
Applicants must hold a bachelor of science in engineering from an accredited university and at least two years of professional engineering experience post-graduation.
NC State began in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Today, the university enrolls more than 36,700 undergraduate and graduate students annually across 12 colleges.
The online master of science in aerospace engineering comprises 30 credits. The curriculum includes coursework in foundations of fluid dynamics, heat transfer theory and applications, principles of structural vibration, and engineering design optimization. A coursework-only degree, the program does not require candidates to write a thesis or pass a comprehensive exam to graduate.
Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA throughout the program to be eligible for the degree. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or another technical field.
Founded in 1894, Louisiana Tech University enrolls close to 12,000 students each year. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across five colleges. The College of Engineering and Science offers a master of science in engineering with a concentration in industrial engineering.
Students can pursue one of three study options: a non-thesis program comprising 36 credits, a 30-credit thesis program, or a 36-credit practicum program. Online enrollees can complete the practicum requirement locally with approval from the program director.
All students take two core courses: introduction to engineering and science research methods and engineering computational methods. Learners also study topics like manufacturing and operations analysis, reliability engineering, operations research, and economics and decision-making.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's in engineering from an accredited school and submit GRE scores.
Arizona State University began as the Territorial Normal School in 1886. One of 16 ASU colleges and schools, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offers an online master of engineering in engineering management. The program prepares graduates for leadership positions in technical and engineering projects.
The 30-credit curriculum includes coursework in strategic technology management, applied stochastic operations research models, and web-enabled decision support systems. By enrolling in a cluster of courses on related topics, students can pursue an elective path in one of four areas: supply chain management, quality management, entrepreneurship and innovation, or systems and software management.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, math, or science. The program favors applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of a bachelor's program or the last 12 credits of a master's degree.
Texas A&M began in 1876 as the state's first public institution of higher learning. Currently enrolling around 69,000 students each year, the university offers more than 400 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs across 17 academic colleges.
The College of Engineering offers master's degrees in 14 fields, including biomedical, chemical, petroleum, and industrial and systems engineering. For students whose professional interests lie beyond the realm of traditional engineering programs, the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering also offers degrees in nontraditional and emerging engineering arenas, such as a master's in engineering with a specialization in cybersecurity. Students can also enroll in a general master's in interdisciplinary engineering.
Founded in 1859 as the Chicago College of Pharmacy, UIC offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in over 260 fields of study across seven colleges. The school offers a fully online master of engineering degree comprising 36 credits. A coursework-only program, the degree does not require a thesis or special project for completion.
Students can pursue a general master's program or specialize in one of eight areas, including bioinformatics, circuits and electronics, disaster management, or electromagnetics and optics. All students enroll in two core courses: engineering law and engineering management.
Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in engineering or a closely related field, such as chemistry, mathematics, or computer science. Applicants also need a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Established in 1870, Ohio State hosts 19 schools and colleges and enrolls more than 67,000 students annually. Through a partnership with three OSU colleges, students can pursue an online master of engineering management degree.
The degree comprises 30 credits, including 15 core credits, 12 elective credits, and a three-credit capstone course. Students can pursue the degree entirely online. Motivated enrollees can complete the program in as few as 16 months. However, most students enroll in one or two courses each semester and graduate within 2-3 years.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree in engineering and at least one year of professional or internship experience. Non-engineering degree-holders may need to fulfill additional requirements, such as submitting GRE scores, depending on their professional background.
Established in 1856, UMD hosts more than 40,700 students annually and offers over 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. The A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMD offers a 30-credit, online professional master of engineering.
The program offers 18 specializations, including seven fully online specializations: bioengineering, cybersecurity, reliability engineering, electronic packaging, fire protection engineering, project management, and energy systems engineering.
Students can enroll full time or part time; however, candidates must complete their program within five years. A coursework-only program, the professional master of engineering does not require a thesis or capstone project to graduate.
Founded in 1871, U of A enrolls approximately 27,000 students annually through more than 200 academic programs across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Engineering offers a 30-credit master of science in engineering that students can pursue entirely online.
The program follows an eight-week delivery schedule, and most enrollees graduate within two years. Students can tailor the degree to their professional interests. However, candidates must satisfy core requirements in mathematics, computer applications, management, and technical communications.
Engineering master's degree applicants must hold an ABET-accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants who do not meet the GPA threshold but have at least three years of relevant work experience may receive conditional admission. The program does not require GRE scores.
Established in 1923, Rowan University enrolls more than 20,000 students every year across 12 schools and colleges. The Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering offers an online master of engineering management degree. The program comprises 30 credits and offers two tracks: project management and construction management.
Students complete 18 core credits and 12 specialization credits. Core courses cover topics such as engineering economics, strategic risk management, engineering law and ethics, and systems in engineering management.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit a statement of professional objectives, describing how a master's in engineering management can help them reach their career goals.
Established in 1879, Colorado State University hosts over 35,000 students annually. Comprising eight schools and colleges, CSU offers more than 160 programs of study at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including an online master's in engineering.
Students can pursue an online master's in biomedical, civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, or systems engineering. The programs generally comprise around 30 credits and do not require candidates to write a thesis or complete a capstone project to earn the degree.
Admission criteria vary slightly between fields, but applicants typically need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Established in 1885, UA currently enrolls around 47,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The school's online master's in engineering degrees include electrical, industrial, materials science, mechanical, and systems engineering. Students can also pursue a master of engineering in innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship or in mining, geological, and geophysical engineering.
Many of the engineering programs allow enrollees to customize their study plan by choosing courses that support their career objectives. Degree candidates can also choose from coursework-only programs or programs that require a thesis or project to graduate. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts.
Chartered in 1878, MSU enrolls more than 20,000 students annually through over 160 programs across eight colleges. MSU's Bagley College of Engineering offers a fully online, 30-credit master of engineering program.
Students can pursue a thesis or non-thesis track. Regardless of their choice, all students enroll in two core classes: engineering statistics and project management.
Degree candidates who choose to write a thesis must enroll in a non-credit thesis formatting course. Candidates who pursue a non-thesis program must enroll in a capstone course.
Students can craft an individualized program of study, choosing from courses in areas such as aerospace and aerodynamics engineering; civil, transportation, and construction systems; coastal and water management; and materials and fluids engineering.
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