What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Engineering?
A master’s degree in engineering is a great way to advance your opportunities for leadership and specialization in a well-paying and highly competitive field. A master’s degree in engineering an especially appealing option for working engineers who wish to enhance their skill sets, update their training, or improve their qualifications for specialized positions and leadership roles in the industry.
Engineering professionals have access to a wide spectrum of career opportunities with strong salary potential and job security. Because engineering is a highly competitive profession with numerous opportunities for advancement, many engineering students and professional engineers will pursue a master’s degree in engineering. Many of these master’s candidates will attend classes while already working in the field. This makes the master’s degree in engineering an especially appealing option for working engineers who wish to enhance their skill sets, update their training, or improve their qualifications for specialized positions and leadership roles in the industry.
Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the engineering major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in engineering.
If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Engineering.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an engineering master.
Why Get a Master’s Degree in Engineering?
Matthew Tirrell, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, Founding Pritzker Director and Dean of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering, and one of our top influencers in the field of engineering, highlights the tremendous learning opportunity you’ll seize as an engineering graduate student. He points to the incredible educational value of gaining hands-on research experience alongside influential professors, particularly in such a complex and dynamic field.
Tirrell told us, “I realize that teaching and research aren’t as different as they might seem at first. In each case, you’re trying to teach somebody something. What we typically call teaching is classroom activity, where you lecture and interact with students in the classroom, but in your research lab, you talk and interact with students in the laboratory, and you try to produce results that teach the world something about nature or about what nature can do with chemistry or biology or physics or whatever it is, and I think there’s a huge premium in both teaching and research on developing clear ways of explaining things.”
And, of course, in addition to the research experience you’ll gain, a master’s degree in engineering is a great way to advance your opportunities for leadership and specialization in a well-paying and highly competitive field. In most cases, you can qualify to become a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) by earning your bachelor’s degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited college, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, and amassing at least four years of professional engineering experience.
How Can I Qualify To Get a Master’s Degree in Engineering?
Some engineering masters programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Because engineering is an interdisciplinary subject, some graduate schools may alternately accept, or require, The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). If the GRE or GMAT is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of engineering. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one engineering master’s program to the next.
If no GRE or GMAT is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into an engineering master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. Programmatic accreditation is very important in the field of engineering, particularly if you plan to become (or advance your career as) as a Professional Engineer (PE). In order to enter into an accredited engineering master’s degree, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree from a program which is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Beyond this programmatic accreditation, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.
Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!
For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.
If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the engineering major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in engineering.
What Kinds of Advanced Engineering Degrees Are There?
- Master of Engineering (M.Eng.): The Master of engineering is considered a terminal degree in the field. This is the highest credential you can earn without pursuing a Master of Science degree. You will typically be required to choose a specialization and complete a practicum or final project (as opposed to a thesis). A master of engineering degree does not qualify you to pursue a PhD in the field.
- Master of Science in Engineering (M.Sc.Eng): The Master of Science in Engineering degree is required as a basic qualification for enrolling in a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering program. If you plan to pursue your PhD in the field, which would qualify you to conduct research or teach engineering at the postsecondary level, you would need to earn your M.Sc.Eng. The Master of Science degree program typically requires the completion of a thesis based on your own original research question and undertaking.
- PhD in Engineering: This terminal degree may take between three and five years to complete, and provides you with the credentials to become a full professor at the postsecondary level, or lead engineering research in the field.
What are Some Popular Engineering Specializations?
Your engineering master’s degree program may require you to narrow your focus around an area of specialization. This is especially true if you plan to become, or already are, a licensed PE. Choosing a specialization can either directly prepare you to enter into a specific area of the engineering field, or it can help bring your existing knowledge, skills, and qualifications up to speed. In all likelihood, you’ll already know your area of specialization by the time you apply to enter an advanced degree program. The following are just a few of the many different specializations that you can choose through your master’s degree program.
- Computer Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Electronics Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
What Courses Will I Take as an Engineering Master?
As you pursue your master in engineering degree, you will be expected to complete a set of core engineering courses as well as several technical courses in your area of specialization. Depending on whether you are pursuing a M.Eng or M.Sc.Eng, you will also be required to complete a capstone project, or alternately, to research and write a dissertation. Beyond that, the following are some of the courses you could take in engineering degree program:
- Systems Engineering
- Mathematics Methods for Engineers
- Structural Mechanics
- Natural Disaster Risk Modeling
- Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics
- Control of Mechanical Engineering Systems
- System Architecture
- Operations and Supply Chain Management
Is a Master’s Degree in Engineering Worth It?
Though a bachelor’s degree in engineering is sufficient to set you on the path toward engineering licensure, a master’s degree can significantly improve your earning power, especially if you choose a high-growth specialization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the wage premiums for master’s in engineering vary by specialty. In particular, civil, mechanical, and architectural engineers with advanced degrees enjoyed median wages of roughly 9 to 13% higher than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.
In addition to improving your candidacy for a number of specialized roles in the engineering field, a master’s degree could qualify you for management, leadership, and research roles in the field. Engineering is, in general, a high-paying profession. Earnings are even higher for those who ascend to positions of leadership. According to the BLS, in 2019, General and Operations Managers from Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services earned an average salary of $156,170. Most who hold these positions will also hold at least one advanced degree in engineering.
What Are The Top Jobs With a Master’s In Engineering Degree?
The masters degree in engineering is a great way to advance your skills and improve your qualifications in specialized areas of engineering. Though the bachelor’s degree is the basic academic threshold for earning your license to practice as a Professional Engineer, engineering is a highly competitive and challenging field. That means that suitable candidates for some of the specialized roles in engineering may have earned a master’s degree. In order to improve your chances of working in one of these specialized roles, as well as to enhance your qualifications to excel within this role, you could benefit from a master’s degree in engineering. Following are some of these specialized engineering roles, as well as the 2019 median salary for each role as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Mechanical Engineers
- Industrial Engineers
- Civil Engineers
- Industrial Engineers
- Materials Engineers
- Chemical Engineers
- Environmental Engineers
- Computer Hardware Engineers
- Aerospace Engineers
- Agricultural Engineers
- Biomedical Engineers
- Architectural and Engineering Managers
- Industrial Production Managers
- Construction Managers
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in engineering? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
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