Master’s in Engineering Degrees & Programs Guide

Master’s Degree in Engineering Career Options & Salary

Engineering is an ever-evolving, ever-expanding field that touches every aspect of human life. Even with the rapid expansion in electronic tools to facilitate higher-level design and building tasks, engineers are finding newer, deeper challenges all the time. That's why so many are extending their education into graduate school. They need to keep pace with technology as well as a workforce that increasingly expects the most knowledgeable and skilled workers.

As you read the following page, you'll learn about the Maters of Engineering degree in more depth than you've probably found before. You'll also find valuable lists of schools that offer degrees in the specific engineering fields you wish to pursue. You may even discover interesting options that weren't obvious before.

Engineering Degrees & Career Paths


PROS

  • Engineering is a highly academic field. While you can pursue a fruitful career with a bachelor's degree, you will find that your career is able to reach greater heights when you go the extra distance and achieve a master’s degree. Depending on your state's requirements, you might also find it easier to achieve your Professional Engineer credentials once you have a higher academic degree. State boards might have lower experience requirements if you have a greater degree but, since each board has individual rules, you’ll need to consult your state’s Board of Engineers.
  • Your master’s degree will pay off in other ways, too. In the workplace, you will find it's easier to move into a supervisory position. You will find that your earnings rise in accordance with your academic credentials. You might also find that you can attain more certifications with your graduate degree than you could with a bachelor’s. Furthermore, if you desire an added academic certificate, such as a graduate certificate in management, your existing graduate degree will help immensely when it comes time to apply.

CONS

  • Though there are many positive aspects of a master’s degree in engineering, there are also drawbacks. For one thing, you can still become a Professional Engineer with only a bachelor's degree. It might take a bit more time, but you can attain those credentials without the added debt you are likely to have once you complete your master’s degree. Since no degree comes with an iron-clad guarantee of a high salary, you might need to consider the financial risks involved. Furthermore, a master’s degree will take up to three years to complete, if not longer if you take courses part-time. That is time you could spend in the workforce, accruing hands-on experience and knowledge, which may or may not exceed what you learn from a university.

Overview of a Master's in Engineering


What Engineering Master’s Degrees are Available?


Master of Science: This degree is a more traditional, academic science degree. That's because it's focus is more on peer-reviewed coursework and independent research. MS students usually work on a thesis project that is often assumed to be preliminary to their work at the doctoral level. However, you won't be expected to pursue a PhD at the end of your MS degree. In general, the MS degree gains marginal favor in academia. What will matter most is your coursework and your research projects. As for the working world, your MS degree will carry the same weight as an MEng or ME degree.

Master of Engineering (MEng or ME): This degree type is commonly thought of as a professional degree rather than one based on research. That means that to earn the degree you will need to complete a series of courses rather than conduct a research project. Keep in mind that every program is different, but you can expect your MEng (or ME) program to include an experiential learning component, such as an internship or other field experience. One possible drawback to this degree is that you might have a harder time entering a PhD program or pursuing jobs in academia. However, a solid work record of achievement can likely overcome that obstacle at most universities.

Admission Requirements to Enter a Master’s Program


To gain acceptance into a master’s engineering degree program you will have to provide a number of documents. Every program will at least require copies of your undergraduate transcripts as part of your application. You will also need letters of recommendation and possibly GRE scores. Your GRE scores should reflect high analytical abilities. While GRE scores seem to be falling out of favor, you can always bolster your chances for success if you include them with your application.

If you've been working in the field for a few years, you should consider including your resume. However, check with the admissions office or website to verify whether this is a requirement. Some programs might specifically exclude this, and you don't want to include items they particularly don't want.

How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Engineering?


Depending on your program, a master's degree in engineering can take as little as a single year to complete, but some students take an extra semester to finish. Many engineering programs these days are offering combined undergraduate/graduate programs that allow you to seamlessly pass from your undergrad studies into a graduate program. This will allow you to graduate from the school in five years and have a master’s degree.

Since bachelor's degrees are increasingly depreciated in the market, you might consider one of these combined programs as a way to expedite the academic portion of your career. If you want to get into the workforce as quickly as possible, you should resist the impulse to take a part-time load or to take a semester off. Keep yourself focused on your academic and career goals.

Potential Careers in Engineering with a Master’s Degree


  • Electrical Engineer:
    These professionals work on a wide range of electrical systems. Electrical engineers have been known to create cellphone networks, design electrical systems for high-rise buildings, and even work on alternative power farms. Basically, if you achieve a master’s degree in electrical engineering, your work will include designing and maintaining anything that is electric or electronic. The average salary for electrical engineers is approximately $75,300.
  • Civil Engineer:
    If you want to build bridges, design roadways, or work on the construction of nearly any sort of public, civic structure this is the field for you. Civil engineers work on some of the largest challenges we currently face. Their new and retrofit projects result in structures that are increasingly energy efficient and which reflect society's changes. The average salary for civil engineers is approximately $66,000.
  • Mechanical Engineer:
    If it has a motor there's a good chance that a mechanical engineer has worked on it. Professionals in this field work on projects that can include high-performance motors, transmissions, or the machines that operate manufacturing facilities. They also design and create things like sensors and any other part of a mechanical device. The average salary for mechanical engineers is approximately $70,500.
  • Biomedical Engineer:
    Since healthcare is one of the largest parts of our economy, biomedical engineers are increasingly in demand. In this field, you'll design and create devices that help patients recover from their ailments. You'll also create software and hardware that doctors use for treatments or diagnoses. The average salary for biomedical engineers is approximately $70,500.
  • Chemical Engineer:
    These engineers use the world of chemistry to create or perfect any number of products. Chemical engineers are working on next-level fuels, drugs, and food, among other things. They even work for high-tech microprocessor manufacturers to develop the next faster chip. Since chemistry is such a deep subject, it is recommended that you pursue a master’s degree in this field. The average salary for chemical engineers is approximately $74,200.
  • Aerospace Engineer:
    If it flies, you will probably work on it. These days you might work alongside electrical engineers to figure out how to create a solar-powered airplane. You might also spend your career designing rockets or space shuttles. Who knows? You might design a craft that successfully carries humans to Mars. The average salary for aerospace engineers is approximately $83,400.

Options to Advance


If you want to advance as an engineer, you will likely need either more experience or education. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can still become licensed as a Professional Engineer, but your career will reach higher with a master’s degree. However, there's nothing that can override the importance of experience.

As your career takes off, you should make an effort to seek out larger and larger projects. While you might gain notoriety from more high-profile work, your fellow engineers will recognize, and reward, your ability to overcome terrific engineering challenges. Your work on those challenging projects will mean much when it comes time to find a new job or on your annual review.

Best Master of Science in Engineering (MEng) Programs


  • University of Illinois
    Urbana, IL

    The U of Illinois at Urbana is one of the nation's top engineering schools. Their Grainger School of Engineering supports a wide range of traditional graduate degrees. They also offer joint degrees where you can conjoin your engineering studies with another graduate program such as architecture or business.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Agricultural Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Chemical Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Civil Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Electrical and Electronics Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Engineering, General – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering – Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Industrial Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Materials Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Mechanical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Nuclear Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Systems Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
    Atlanta, GA

    Located in downtown Atlanta, GA, this is one of the nation's top schools for technical training. The school’s engineering program is second to none and offers a diverse range of specialty fields for your graduate engineering degree.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Chemical Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Civil Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Electrical and Electronics Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Industrial Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Manufacturing Engineering – Master’s Degree
    • Materials Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Mechanical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Nuclear Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Systems Engineering – Master’s Degree
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Cambridge, MA

    MIT is perhaps the nation's very best engineering school. Their laboratories produce some of the most cutting-edge technologies known to humanity. You can complete your MIT graduate degree in one year, but that is sure to be one of the most intense years of your career.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Chemical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Civil Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Electrical and Electronics Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Materials Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Mechanical Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Nuclear Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Systems Engineering – Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Transportation and Highway Engineering – Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
    Klamath Falls, OR

    Oregonians can pursue their graduate engineering degrees in the Klamath Falls area of Southern Oregon. They also offer courses through their Portland Metro and Seattle locations. The school prepares graduates for a wide range of technical fields, including Civil Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and Renewable Energy Technology.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Civil Engineering – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Engineering, General – Master’s Degree
    • Engineering, Other – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
  • University of Washington
    Seattle, WA

    University of Washington is one of the top research institutions in the nation. Their College of Engineering offers a wide variety of options for graduate students. No matter what passion motivates your engineering mind, UW has a graduate degree to match.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace, Aeronautical & Astronautical/Space Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Ceramic Sciences and Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Chemical Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Civil Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Electrical & Electronics Engineering – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Engineering, General – Master’s Degree
    • Engineering, Other – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Industrial Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Manufacturing Engineering – Master’s Degree
    • Materials Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Mechanical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Metallurgical Engineering - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Mining and Mineral Engineering – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree
    • Nuclear Engineering – Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Transportation and Highway Engineering – Master’s Degree

Colleges That Offer Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering


  • University of Illinois
    Urbana, IL

    University of Illinois' Grainger College of Engineering is one of the nation's foremost schools in its field. They support a wide range of fields both online and on campus.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Georgia Tech
    Atlanta, Georgia

    One of the South's oldest technical universities now offers engineering degrees via online media. You can achieve a range of MS degrees or Professional Master's degrees. Considering that so much of engineering relies on computer modeling, your online degree may even surpass those in traditional classrooms.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Computational Science and Engineering
    • Cybersecurity
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
    Klamath Falls, OR

    If you want to raise your level of knowledge and skill from your undergraduate work, you can enroll in OIT's online Master of Science in Engineering program. This program is available online as well as through the school's Portland Metro location.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Engineering
  • NC State University
    Raleigh, NC

    NC State is located near the famous Research Triangle Park, one of the nation's foremost regions for technological advancement. However, you don't need to live in the Tarheel State in order to benefit from that brain trust. Rather, you can enroll for the engineering graduate program of your dreams and complete it from any Wi-Fi hub worldwide.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Chemical Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
    • Computer Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Engineering
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
  • University of North Dakota
    Grand Forks, ND

    The University of North Dakota's engineering school offers aspiring engineers up to fourteen graduate programs. These degrees will help you sharpen your knowledge and skills while launching your career to the next level.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Biomedical Engineering
    • Chemical Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Systems Engineering