Students who earn an online master's in industrial engineering gain the skills to pursue a lucrative career in the field. Industrial engineers analyze business operations, manufacturing processes, and production schedules with the goal of minimizing waste and maximizing productivity.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), industrial engineers earn a median annual salary of $88,950, which is more than double the median annual salary of $41,950 for workers in other occupations. The BLS projects jobs for industrial engineers to grow 10% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the projected 4% growth rate for all occupations.
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Q. Where do industrial engineers work?
Industrial engineers work in a variety of professional arenas, including aerospace, transportation, and computer and electronic product manufacturing.
Q. What can I do with a master's in industrial engineering?
A postgraduate industrial engineering degree often qualifies degree-holders for project leadership jobs and executive management positions.
Q. Is industrial engineering in demand?
Yes. The BLS projects a 10% growth rate for jobs in this sector between 2019 and 2029, which translates to the addition of approximately 30,000 new jobs.
Why Get a Degree in Industrial Engineering?
Several colleges and universities offer online master's in industrial engineering programs in addition to their on-campus programs. Online enrollees can often save money since they do not incur additional expenses such as transportation and room and board.
Some schools allow out-of-state online enrollees to pay in-state tuition for certain programs, which can result in significant savings. Online students should inquire whether a prospective institution or program offers this privilege.
How Much Does an Industrial Engineering Degree Cost?
The National Center for Education Statistics reports an average cost of $12,170 for one year of graduate enrollment (2018-19) at in-state public colleges and universities. The average cost of a master's degree at private institutions was $27,780 for the same time period. Students can expect to pay approximately the same amount for one year of enrollment in a postgraduate industrial engineering program.
At the master's level, colleges and universities often support students through fellowships and grants, many of which come with teaching or research responsibilities. Some fellowship programs, especially in the STEM field, cover tuition, fees, and books, and offer a modest living stipend. A fellowship or grant can significantly reduce attendance costs. Prospective students should research opportunities before enrolling.
Additional Online Student Fees for Industrial Engineering
Tuition rates for an online master's in industrial engineering can vary depending on each school's fee structure and tuition policies. Many colleges and universities charge the same tuition for onsite and online enrollees. However, some schools require online learners to pay an additional technology fee (per credit or per semester), which can significantly impact attendance costs.
An online master's in industrial engineering program may also include certain on-campus requirements such as an orientation session, a comprehensive exam, or a thesis presentation. Students who do not live near their school should factor in travel expenses to their program's final cost.
How Much Do Industrial Engineering Majors Make?
According to the BLS, companies involved in the pipeline transportation of crude oil pay the highest average salary for industrial engineers ($120,850). Other top-paying fields for industrial engineers include the telecommunications industry ($114,920) and the petroleum and coal products manufacturing sector ($113,800).
Industrial engineers earn the highest salaries in New Mexico ($113,920), Washington ($111,310), Montana ($111,300), Wyoming ($109,640), and California ($108,130).
States that hire the most workers in specific professional arenas also typically offer the most career options. This holds especially true for industrial engineers with a master's degree. The top employers for industrial engineers include California (25,600), Michigan (25,380), Texas (20,490), Ohio (14,350), and Illinois (12,480).
In general, master's degree-holders earn higher salaries than workers with a bachelor's or an associate degree. The BLS reports a median weekly income of $1,545 for master's degree-holders versus $1,305 for bachelor's degree-holders and $938 for workers with an associate degree.
Courses in Industrial Engineering
An online master's in industrial engineering program often follows the same curriculum as an onsite program. Colleges and universities typically offer foundation coursework in both formats. Some industrial engineering programs offer specializations in areas like quality assurance and control, engineering experimental design, applied engineering statistics, and lean operations and management.
While specific coursework varies between schools, many colleges and universities offer similar foundation coursework in engineering project management, optimization methods, and enterprise-wide information systems. See below for three common courses in industrial engineering programs.
Quality ControlThis course focuses on the statistical approach to quality control in manufacturing. Students examine the managerial responsibilities engendered by such an approach. The course covers specifications and tolerance limits, process capability indices, and acceptance sampling. Enrollees also learn how to construct and interpret various control charts.
Complex Systems Models for Industrial and Systems EngineeringThis course teaches students how to use simulation-based modeling methods to explore complex systems such as queuing networks, communication systems, supply chains, and financial markets. Learners hone their skills in modeling and analyzing different interacting and interdependent variables, components, and related subsystems, many of which are commonly used in industrial and systems engineering.
Design and Analysis of Work SystemsStudents learn how to analyze existing work systems and design more efficient alternatives by examining topics such as human-machine interaction, work sampling and workload balancing, direct time study, and methods and standards. The course familiarizes enrollees with several computer-based analytical and design tools that improve productivity and enhance workplace interactions.
How to Become an Industrial Engineer
An online industrial engineering degree usually comprises 30 credits and takes approximately two years to complete. Admission requirements typically include a bachelor's degree in a related engineering or science field and a 3.0 GPA. Most schools require applicants to submit their most recent GRE scores. Prior to graduation, degree candidates often complete a culminating activity such as a thesis or a capstone project that demonstrates mastery of the program's key learning outcomes.
Most states prefer engineers to obtain a professional engineer (PE) license before they can offer a full array of engineering services. The following section describes the requirements for the PE credential more fully.
Certifications and Licensure for Industrial Engineering
A state license or an industry-recognized credential presents the holder as a knowledgeable and skilled professional. Employers often prefer to hire licensed industrial engineers or practitioners certified in a specific arena for top managerial or executive positions. See below for three career-advancing opportunities for industrial engineers.
PE candidates need at least a bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited institution. Candidates must pass two exams: the Fundamental Engineering exam and the Professional Engineering exam. PE candidates must also complete four years of training under a licensed engineer.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) administers the CQE credential. Candidates must pass a five-hour exam that contains 160 multiple-choice questions. Candidates also need at least eight years of experience in one or more of the CQE practice areas. ASQ waives five years from the eight-year experience requirement for candidates with a master's or doctorate in engineering, four years for a bachelor's, two years for an associate, and one year for a diploma in engineering.
The Institute for Supply Management requires candidates to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and three years of full-time experience in the supply management field. Applicants without a bachelor's degree must show five years of supply management experience. Professional experience cannot be in a clerical or support position.
Best Online Master's Programs in Industrial Engineering
University of Central Florida
The College of Engineering and Computer Science at UCF offers an online master's in industrial engineering comprising 30 credits. Students can complete the program online. Some electives or program prerequisites require on-campus attendance.
Learners with a bachelor's in engineering, computer science, and other STEM fields may apply. All applicants must complete prerequisite coursework in high-level mathematics, advanced calculus, and engineering probability and statistics. Applicants must also show knowledge of a major programming language such as Java, Visual BASIC, or C++.
Students can focus on one of six research areas, such as human systems engineering (ergonomics), operations research, and quality systems engineering. Focus areas also include simulation modeling and analysis, systems engineering, and interactive simulations and training systems. The program supports thesis and non-thesis options. The program meets the educational requirement for licensure as a professional engineer in Florida.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
NC State University at Raleigh offers a master's in industrial engineering online through Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The degree comprises 33 credits and offers asynchronous delivery schedules. Students do not need a thesis, final exam, or on-campus visits for completion. However, enrollees must follow on-campus class requirements and deadlines for exams, projects, and homework.
Admission requirements include a bachelor's in industrial engineering from an accredited college or university, at least a 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores. The program welcomes applications from non-industrial engineering program graduates. However, an applicant's undergraduate degree must include advanced mathematics, computer, and engineering courses.
Students can craft an individualized study plan if they enroll in at least one class from four course areas. These areas include economic analytics and decision-making, manufacturing systems, and human factors and ergonomics. The remaining areas include supply chain and systems analytics and optimization. Enrollees must also complete one class in computer science, mathematics, or statistics.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Grainger College of Engineering at U of I offers a master's in industrial engineering program with thesis and non-thesis options. Both options include the same degree requirements. However, credit requirements for graduation differ. The thesis option requires 32 credits. The non-thesis option requires 36 credits.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field from an accredited college or university. The program requires at least a 3.25 GPA during the last 60 credits of an applicant's undergraduate program. Most students graduate after 2.5 years. The college gives enrollees five years to complete the degree.
Students can focus on advanced analytics, which is a new field that applies engineering processes to data management. The advanced analytics core includes courses such as analysis of network data, optimization for data analytics, and big data and social networks.
Arizona State University-Skysong
ASU-Skysong offers an online master's in industrial engineering. The program comprises 30 credits, with some classes delivered over 7.5 weeks for added flexibility and convenience for online enrollees.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in computer or software engineering or a related field from a regionally accredited institution. The program requires a minimum 3.2 GPA in the last two years of undergraduate coursework (60 credits). Applicants with a master's degree in another field or graduate credits need a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
The program requires applicants to have nine credits in calculus. Prerequisite coursework includes probability and statistics, linear algebra, and object-oriented programming. The program also requires GRE scores.
The curriculum includes coursework in reliability engineering, production systems, and web-enabled decision support systems.
Texas A & M University-College Station
College Station, TX
The online master's in industrial engineering at Texas A&M comprises 30 credits.
The program welcomes applications from accredited bachelor's in engineering program graduates. This non-thesis program requires at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (3.25 preferred). Applicants with a non-engineering bachelor's degree must complete prerequisite coursework. The program requires GRE scores.
Students enroll in four industrial engineering course subjects. They also complete three classes of electives and essential modeling techniques. The curriculum includes courses in logistics and inventory control, optimization models and tools, and engineering economy. Degree candidates must pass a final exam before graduation. Students who meet certain criteria can apply for a waiver of this rule.
Top applicants, such as Texas residents, may qualify for $1,000 in financial assistance. Nonresident online enrollees who qualify for this financial aid receive an out-of-state tuition waiver, which can amount to $6,000 per year.
University of Central Missouri
The 33-credit master of science in industrial management at UCM's School of Technology offers a comprehensive curriculum. The program helps prepare graduates for top management positions in technology and industrial fields. Students can pursue the degree online or through a combination of on-campus and online coursework. Most enrollees graduate from the program in two years.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.6 GPA from an accredited institution. Program admission does not include GMAT or GRE scores. The curriculum features courses in organizational dynamics, industrial statistics, and applied research for technology. Students enrolled in related courses can earn a Lean Six Sigma or networking security graduate certificate en route to the MS degree. Students can complete a thesis or seminar in industrial management as the culminating experience.
The MS in industrial management is accredited by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering.
Purdue University-Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN
Purdue offers a 30-credit master's in industrial engineering program with two degree options: a master of science in industrial engineering (MSIE) and a master of science in engineering with a concentration in industrial engineering (MSE/MS). Both programs offer thesis and non-thesis options. Purdue only offers the thesis-based MSIE as an on-campus degree. All applicants must hold a 3.2 undergraduate GPA from an accredited institution.
Students can select from four specialization areas. Options include human factors and ergonomics, manufacturing and materials, and optimization and simulation. Students work with advisors to create a study plan that supports their career and academic goals. The comprehensive curriculum includes courses in human factors in engineering, stochastic models in operations research, and applied ergonomics.
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
OSU offers an online master's in industrial engineering through the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology. Graduates earn a master of science in industrial engineering and management (MSIEM).
Ideal applicants hold a 3.0 GPA in an accredited bachelor's degree in industrial engineering (or a related field). Non-engineering degree-holders must fulfill prerequisite coursework in differential and integral calculus, high-level programming language, and introductory probability and statistics. Applicants must also submit their latest GRE scores. Applicants with a cumulative undergraduate 3.5 GPA in specific fields can request a waiver for this rule.
Students can pursue a 30-credit thesis option or a 33-credit non-thesis option. Enrollees can pursue a general industrial engineering program or choose from the following tracks: engineering management, operations research, or supply chain and logistics. The curriculum includes courses in integrated manufacturing control systems, stochastic processes, and network optimization.
The University of Texas at Arlington
The online master's in industrial engineering at UTA comprises 30 credits and offers thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option requires 24 credits of coursework, or eight courses. The thesis counts for six credits. Students who choose the non-thesis option can complete a coursework-only program or a capstone, which is a practice-oriented research paper. The capstone option requires 27 credits, with the final paper counting for three credits.
Successful applicants often hold a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, mathematics, or science. Applicants must show a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of their undergraduate program. They must also submit their most recent GRE scores.
Students can focus on a field that supports their career and academic goals by enrolling in classes within a specific practice area. Regardless of their specialization, learners enroll in four core courses: operations research, engineering economy, statistics, and applied linear regression.
The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn offers an online master of science in industrial and systems engineering comprising at least 31 credits.
Ideal applicants hold a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, mathematics, sciences, or another engineering field. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in other fields must fulfill courses in advanced calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. The program requires applicants to submit their latest GRE scores. However, graduates of an ABET-accredited engineering program with a 2.75 GPA or higher can request a waiver for this rule.
Degree candidates can pursue a thesis or non-thesis program. Students who pursue the non-thesis program must complete a practice-oriented research project. All learners must complete three core industrial engineering courses: advanced engineering statistics, linear programming and network flows, and engineering economic systems.
The online master's in industrial engineering at Clemson comprises 30 credits and offers a concentration in supply chain logistics. As a self-paced program, courses follow asynchronous delivery schedules. As such, enrollees can pursue their studies on their own schedule.
Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as engineering, mathematics, sciences, or business. Their undergraduate program must include at least one semester of engineering or business calculus and statistics. The program also requires applicants to have three years of relevant professional experience.
Students enroll in 15 credits each of core industrial engineering and concentration coursework. The curriculum covers topics such as supply chain and logistics modeling, prescriptive analytics, and business fundamentals for supply chain management. Degree candidates complete a capstone design project for the program's culminating experience.
UofA offers an online master's in industrial engineering comprising 30-33 credits. Students can choose a thesis, a practical project, or a coursework-only program. Their choice determines the total credits required to earn the degree. Classes follow asynchronous delivery schedules. Most students graduate from the program after 1.5-2 years of continuous enrollment.
Most applicants hold an undergraduate degree in engineering from an accredited college or university. The program accepts applications from graduates of related non-engineering disciplines such as mathematics or physics. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Students work with advisors to craft an individual study plan that supports their professional and academic goals. The curriculum offers various courses on topics relevant to the industrial engineering field today. Students can enroll in classes in advanced production control, distributed multi-paradigm simulation systems, and nonlinear optimization.
Texas Tech offers an online master's in industrial engineering through Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. College of Engineering. The program comprises 30 credits and allows enrollees to pursue a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who pursue the non-thesis option take a final exam before graduation.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and submit their latest GRE scores. Once admitted, students can transfer in up to six graduate-level credits from another accredited institution. Learners must hold a grade of "B" or higher in these credits. Out-of-state enrollees who plan to pursue the degree online pay tuition comparable to in-state students.
All students must enroll in five courses covering the main competency areas of the MS program. The core curriculum includes courses in operations research, systems and engineering management, and human factors (ergonomics).
Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at K-State offers a non-thesis master's in industrial engineering comprising 30 credits. The program requires on-campus attendance for the final oral exam.
Ideal applicants hold a bachelor's in engineering or a related field such as mathematics or physical science. The school may require applicants with a degree in a non-related field to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the MS program. Applicants must also submit their latest GRE scores. However, graduates of an ABET-accredited institution can request a waiver for this rule.
Degree candidates enroll in classes in advanced production and inventory control, normative theories of decisions and games, and industrial logistics engineering. Students can take non-engineering electives with the approval of the program director.
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS
MSU offers an online master's in industrial and systems engineering through James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. The program comprises 30 credits with thesis and non-thesis options. The degree also maintains five concentration areas.
Ideal applicants hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field with a 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university. The program requires the submission of GRE scores. Graduates of non-engineering (or related) programs who do not meet the 3.0 undergraduate GPA can still apply. The program considers factors like GRE scores, references, and relevant professional history.
Areas of concentration include human factors and ergonomics, industrial systems, and operations research. The remaining concentration areas include management systems engineering and manufacturing systems. The curriculum offers coursework in process management engineering, systems simulation, and engineering statistics. Students can pursue a thesis or non-thesis option in any of these concentrations.