Online Masters in Engineering Degree Programs

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More people are attending master’s degree in engineering programs online, and for good reason. These programs offer an opportunity to get a degree and further your career without physically attending college, which can be a good option if you have family, work, or other commitments. You also won’t have to commute to classes or stay in on-campus accommodations. 

If you’re considering an engineering master’s degree, learn more about completing a program online, including costs, core courses, and salary details.


What Is a Master’s Degree in Engineering?

A master’s degree in engineering might refer to a Master of Engineering (ME or MEng) or a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE). An ME or MEng is a degree that teaches mainly practical skills that can help you advance your career in engineering, including moving into management positions. 

An MSE, on the other hand, is a research-based program where you complete a final paper about a chosen engineering topic. Many people who graduate with an MSE go on to get a PhD and pursue careers in fields such as academia, research, or consulting.

People often study for engineering master’s degrees after completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. Master’s programs are usually more intensive than undergraduate programs and teach more advanced skills that you can apply to real-world scenarios in the engineering sector.

As online learning tools advance, many colleges are offering online or hybrid degrees in this subject, providing flexible learning opportunities for students.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Engineering Online?

Getting your engineering master’s online might be a good idea if you have a full-time job, may have difficulty traveling to a college campus, or want to access programs not available in your area.

Benefits of Online Learning in Engineering

Here are some of the advantages of studying for an online degree in engineering:

Flexibility and Accessibility

Earning a master’s degree in engineering online makes sense if you have family or travel commitments. You’ll be able to take lessons wherever you are in the world and learn at a pace that suits you, increasing the flexibility of your studies. For example, you can complete coursework in the evening if you look after your children during the day.

These degrees can also increase accessibility if you have mobility issues. You can learn from home rather than attending classes in school buildings that might be physically challenging to navigate.

Interactive Learning Technologies

Online master’s programs let you learn new engineering skills and communicate with tutors and faculty over the internet. Many colleges that offer these degrees allow you to study for your degree via interactive technologies such as learning management systems, webinars, digital workshops, video tutorials, emails, and online forums.

Reasons to Study Engineering Online

People have different motivations for getting an engineering degree online. Here are two of the most popular:

Balance Work and Study

You might want to study engineering online if you have a full-time job. You can plan lessons around your work schedule and still earn a living. Some people are reluctant to go to college because they’re worried they won’t be able to work. However, online programs help solve this issue.

Access Diverse Programs and Resources

Because there are few geographical limitations to online learning, you can study an engineering program at a college in a different city, state, or even country. This can allow you to specialize in an engineering topic not available in your local area.

Cost Analysis: How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree in Engineering Cost?

The average cost of a master’s degree was about $65,000 in 2023, according to the Education Data Initiative. That number may be higher if you attend a private school. This price is for tuition only and doesn’t include special fees, commuting costs, and housing costs.

An online master’s degree in engineering could be less expensive than a traditional degree because you won’t have to pay for travel or accommodations. Like regular degrees, you can also apply for scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid to lower your overall costs.

Engineering Master’s Degree Curriculum

A master’s degree in engineering normally takes 12 to 24 months full-time to complete, depending on the college. During that time, you’ll learn skills such as leadership and management, engineering-related finances, supply chain management, and product management. As mentioned before, ME programs focus more on practical skills, while MSE degrees are often heavily research-based.

You might also specialize in electives in an engineering sub-sector that interests you, such as robotics, civil engineering, or chemical engineering. Many educational institutions allow you to customize your program based on your career aspirations, helping you qualify for your ideal job after graduation. For example, you might want to learn about AI, human-robot interaction, computer vision, and other robotics-related topics if you plan to be a robotics engineer.

During your degree, you will complete various assignments, such as essays, tests, and practical projects. Some institutions also require you to write a research paper about a particular topic toward the end of your program, especially if you’re studying for an MSE. You could also have an opportunity to intern at a local engineering company or other related organization.

Admission Requirements for Online Engineering Master’s Programs

Academic prerequisites for an engineering master’s online program differ depending on the institution. However, you will normally need a bachelor’s degree in either engineering or a related subject. College administrators will also consider the grade point average (GPA) of your undergraduate degree and might require a particular score before offering you a place at their school.

Typically, you will send letters of recommendation from a previous tutor, faculty member, mentor, or colleague to your chosen college during the application process. These documents tell administrators why you are a good fit for the program. You may also be required to complete an application essay.

You can also send evidence of any work experience you have in the engineering industry. Having real-world engineering experience could increase your chances of acceptance into the program.

Importance of Accreditation for Online Master’s Degree in Engineering Programs

Accrediting agencies are government-sanctioned organizations that evaluate schools and programs to verify that their curricula and faculty meet certain standards. Accreditation of online engineering master’s degrees guarantees academic quality. 

Schools that offer these programs have high levels of student success and help teach the skills you need to land a solid position as an engineer. Going to an accredited school looks great on your resume and could make you stand out from other job candidates in the future.

You might want to enroll in a degree certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) — a non-profit that accredits post-secondary programs in the engineering field. You can check for ABET-accredited engineering degree programs on the organization’s website.

Career Options for Graduates with a Master’s Degree in Engineering

When you complete your engineering master’s degree, you could get a job as a biomedical engineer, architectural engineer, chemical engineer, civil engineer, or aerospace engineer. You might choose to work for a private company, non-profit organization, or government agency.

In recent years, new types of engineering roles have emerged in the job market. For example, AI engineers develop systems that allow organizations to use artificial intelligence in real-world situations. Other positions that didn’t exist several years ago include virtual reality engineers and machine learning engineers.

Master’s Degree in Engineering Salary and Job Outlook

The average annual base salary for a professional engineer in the United States was about $88,000 as of 2023, according to PayScale. However, how much money you make after completing your master’s depends on factors such as location and what type of engineering you specialize in.

For example, the median annual salary for an aerospace engineer — one of the most popular jobs for those with an engineering master’s degree — was $126,880 in 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, the median annual salary for a chemical engineer was $106,260.

The outlook for engineering jobs in the U.S. is extremely positive. For example, the BLS projects that the employment of chemical engineers will increase by 8% from 2022 to 2032 — a higher growth rate than the average for all occupations. The BLS predicts 1,300 new jobs for chemical engineers in this timeframe. Aerospace engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, and other engineering roles will also experience job growth over the coming years.

Different engineering trends are driving employment opportunities in the sector. For example, companies are redesigning aircraft to be less noisy and more fuel efficient, increasing demand for aerospace engineers. Increased drone usage is also contributing to job growth in this subsector.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information for Online Engineering Master’s Programs

Many colleges, federal agencies, and other organizations offer financial aid to students to help them fund their studies. This aid includes scholarships, grants, and other incentives that can cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. For example, you could receive a scholarship if you demonstrate exceptional engineering talent or come from a low-income or minority background.

You can find out about different programs that support your studies by contacting the financial aid office at the college you want to attend. Alternatively, you can check the Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool.

Online Master’s Degree in Engineering FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about engineering master’s degrees online:

Earnings Potential: How Much Can You Earn With a Master’s Degree in Engineering?

The average annual base wage for an engineer is about $88,000. However, your exact master’s degree in engineering salary will depend on experience, location, and the type of engineering role you want to pursue. According to the BLS, the median annual salaries for aerospace and chemical engineers are $126,880 and $106,260, respectively.

Duration: How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Master’s in Engineering?

It can take 12 to 24 months of full-time study to complete a master’s degree in engineering, whether you study for it online or in person. Many colleges also offer part-time degrees, which could take 24 to 48 months to finish. You might choose the latter if you have a full-time job or family responsibilities.

Return on Investment: Is Getting an Online Master’s in Engineering Worth it?

Studying for a master’s degree in engineering either online or at a college campus can open the door to new career opportunities. Those with a master’s in this subject might be able to find higher-paying positions after they graduate and specialize in a specific type of engineering that interests them.

Earning an engineering master’s online can also be less costly than a conventional degree. That’s because you won’t have to commute to classes or stay in college housing. You can also apply for scholarships and other types of financial aid to reduce the cost of your studies.

Flexibility: Can I Earn a Master’s Degree in Engineering Entirely Online?

Yes. While some colleges only offer hybrid programs, you can study your entire master’s over the internet. Instead of physically attending classes at a college campus, you will access coursework and submit assignments via a learning management system and communicate with tutors via webinars, digital workshops, and other technologies.

Career Pathways: What Careers Can an Individual With a Master’s in Engineering Pursue?

An engineering master’s lets you pursue a wide range of career paths. For example, you could become an aerospace engineer, chemical engineer, or civil engineer. You might want to work for a company, non-profit organization, or government agency. New positions, such as AI and machine learning engineers, have become popular in recent years.

Advance Your Career With a Master’s Degree in Engineering

Pursuing an online master’s degree in engineering, whether it be an ME/MEng or MSE, isn’t for everyone. However, this type of program could be beneficial if you want to balance work and study, improve learning flexibility, and access new interactive technologies. An online engineering master’s might also be a good idea if you want to eliminate commuting and housing costs and maintain family responsibilities.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to choose a school that can help teach you the right skills to land a lucrative and rewarding job in the engineering sector. That might be an institution certified by ABET, the non-profit organization that accredits post-secondary engineering programs. Ultimately, the college you select depends on your budget, learning preferences, and career goals. 

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