Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs

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Engineering is the scientific field dedicated to the development, construction and implementation of structures, machines, tools, computer programs and other innovations. Engineers rely on mathematics, technology and scientific research in order to build and maintain their creations. Engineering is a broad field with dozens of subdivisions. At the collegiate level, some of the most common engineering disciplines include electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, software engineering and aerospace engineering. Students generally choose from two types of degree: a research-driven Master of Science in Engineering, or a professional Master of Engineering.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level engineering jobs are attainable with an associate or bachelor’s degree. An online master’s degree in engineering will help graduates land a job and advance in their careers more quickly than their bachelor’s-holding counterparts. An engineering master’s will also qualify job-seekers for managerial titles normally reserved for candidates with a graduate degree. Master’s students who wish to boost your career standing even further may choose to earn a degree specialization in their desired engineering field.

An online master’s in engineering perfect for students who want to specialize in a subfield of a particular branch of engineering or jump into management.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master’s in engineering and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


Master’s-level engineering programs are designed to build on the foundational knowledge you’ve gained as an undergraduate and introduce more complex concepts. Students will enroll in course sequences dedicated to your area of specialization, as well as related areas of engineering. Additionally, many programs require students to complete a master’s research thesis or an independent study project. Internships are not usually required in engineering master’s programs, but students may be able to find onsite training opportunities through their school’s career center.


Online engineering master’s degree programs offer a flexible alternative to classroom-based learning. Students are able to access course materials, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors any time of day from the comfort of their home computer. Additionally, they can study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. Course faculty will also offer consultations for students who are composing a master’s thesis or participating in an independent study.


Students who graduate with a master’s degree in engineering will enter the workforce qualified for most entry-level jobs in their specific field, as well as top-level roles. The best online master’s in engineering programs prepare students for additional career steps, such as the required state license for certain managerial positions in mechanical, civil and aerospace engineering.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online engineering master’s programs in the United States. If you are considering an online engineering master’s degree, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Harvard University 86.61 97% Cambridge, MA

Harvard, the oldest university in the nation, was founded in 1636. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution is perennially in the top five of all schools in the country. More than 30,000 hopefuls apply to Harvard during the average year – and less than 6 percent are accepted. About 22,000 students are enrolled in the university’s 11 principal schools and colleges, and over 15,000 are in graduate and professional programs.

Harvard created its online Extension School to make a Harvard education more accessible, and it has a unique application process. Prospective students take an online test of critical reading and writing skills. If completed successfully, they sign up for three courses in their program of interest, pass them with a B or better, and they’re accepted – and the credits go towards their degree. The online master’s in engineering applies the principles of engineering to the construction of complex software applications. In Harvard’s software engineering program, students explore all aspects of modern computing, from databases and clouds to languages and systems programming. The curriculum was designed for students with an undergraduate degree and a background in C++ and Java. It requires students to complete nine courses and a thesis or 11 courses and a capstone. At least one class must be taken on campus.

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2 University of Florida 86.17 85% Gainesville, FL

Set on a 2,000-acre campus in Gainesville, UF is one of the nation’s largest institutions of higher learning, with more than 52,000 students. The school is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and nationally ranked for quality and value. As a leading research institution, UF is an incubator for innovation. About a third of the school’s students are in graduate programs.

UF has eight online engineering master’s programs designed for working professionals. Programs include aerospace engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering sciences, industrial systems engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering. Several of these have specializations, giving students flexibility in customizing their program. Materials science has concentrations in electronic materials, metals, polymers, and structural elements. Each degree consists of 10 courses, offered completely online, and most are in a video lecture format. Exams are typically proctored at a site of the student’s choice. Master’s degrees can be completed in two years.

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3 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 80.99 91% Ann Arbor, MI

Originally located in Detroit, the University of Michigan moved its flagship campus to Ann Arbor in 1837 and graduated its first class in 1845. The research university enrolls more than 43,000 in its 19 colleges and schools, over 15,000 pursue graduate and professional degrees. Michigan is a leading public university for nationally ranked programs in engineering, business, social work, education, geology, paleontology, psychology, and health-care policy.

Michigan’s College of Engineering, Integrated Systems and Design (ISD) offers several online engineering master’s programs, including automotive engineering, global automotive and manufacturing engineering, energy systems engineering, manufacturing engineering, and systems engineering and design. The curriculum for each program consists of 30 credits, typically three or four core classes combined with electives. Programs require either a capstone or practicum. ISD has more than two decades of experience with providing web-based degrees. These are online-by-design courses, maximizing the digital medium and allowing professionals to work at their own pace. The school library provides students with remote access to journals and electronic resources.

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4 Columbia University in the City of New York 80.87 95% New York, NY

Columbia, established in 1754 by royal charter of King George II, is a private, Ivy League research university with more than 33,000 students in its 20 colleges and schools. Based in Upper Manhattan, the university is one of the most selective in the country, accepting only 6 percent of those who apply. Columbia has become famous worldwide for its schools of journalism, medicine, and law.

Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science offers engineering master’s programs online in eight different fields: biomedical, industrial systems, chemical, civil, earth and environmental, electrical, materials science, and mechanical. All are entirely online. Students must earn 30 credits for graduation. Prerequisites include taking the GRE and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Many programs allow for further specialization. Students in the electrical engineering program can concentrate in telecommunications, wireless and mobile communications, integrated circuits, microelectronics, multimedia networking, photonics, and systems biology. Distance learners can use the school’s library, recognized as one of the top five academic libraries in North America.

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5 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 80.76 79% Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech, located on a 400-acre campus in Atlanta, is part of the University System of Georgia. It was founded during the reconstruction era to help rebuild the industrial infrastructure of the South. It has grown into a renowned research institution with more than 23,000 students and satellite campuses across the globe. The first degree offered was in mechanical engineering, and the institute remains strong in the applied sciences. The school awards more engineering degrees to women than any other.

Georgia Tech Professional Education hosts an array of engineering master’s programs online: aerospace engineering, applied systems engineering, computational science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering. Aimed at working professionals, courses are recorded during on-campus classes and posted for viewing later; exams are done through a proctor. Web-based degrees require a bachelor’s in engineering or a related field (mathematics, physics) for acceptance. Students can use electives to customize their degree. The school’s Ask Buzz program answers most questions, and virtual students can ask the IT Support Center for help with technical issues.

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6 North Carolina State University at Raleigh 78.93 71% Raleigh, NC

With more than 34,000 students, NC State, located in Raleigh, is the largest university in the state. Raleigh is one of the three cities in North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle. NC State has strong STEM programs, along with design, veterinary medicine, textiles, and the social sciences. Students have access to some of the top online engineering master’s programs in the country.

NC State’s College of Engineering has 16 different web-based master’s programs, including a standard Master of Engineering, and less-common disciplines in nano and nuclear engineering. The programs are designed for students with an undergrad degree in science or engineering. A 3.0 GPA is required for acceptance and must be maintained throughout the 30 credit programs. Work is done remotely by using recorded class-room lectures. Students have six years to complete the curriculum. Tests are proctored and the GRE is required. The College of Engineering charges its own small fees in addition to the usual graduate tuition.

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7 University of Southern California 78.84 90% Los Angeles, CA

Southern California is located in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s the single biggest private employer in a city internationally known as a center of film, music, fashion, and entertainment. USC, a leading research institution, is home to over 44,000 students, more than half are enrolled in graduate and professional programs. Only 16% of applicants are accepted. The school is known for its programs in the visual and performing arts, business, and the social sciences. USC is a leader in STEM education, boasting the world’s most powerful quantum computer and nationally ranked engineering and computer science departments.

USC offers more than 30 online engineering master’s programs, including uncommon disciplines like astronautical engineering, engineering management, petroleum engineering, medical device engineering, product development engineering, cyber-security engineering, and financial engineering. The DEN@Viterbi program (Distance Education Network) was established to help professional engineers get the most out of a master’s education at USC. The program provides administrative and technical support, proctoring services, and networking opportunities.

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8 Cornell University 77.09 93% Ithaca, NY

Cornell is a private, Ivy League, research institution and the state of New York’s land-grant institution; it has public obligations to focus on practical skills like agriculture, the sciences, and engineering. Established in 1865 by Ezra Cornell, one the inventors of the telegraph, the Ithaca-based university is set on 2,300 acres in the Finger Lakes region. The school has 22,000 students enrolled in 7 undergraduate schools and 7 graduate and professional units. Cornell has become internationally known for programs in journalism, medicine, hotel administration, history, and engineering.

Cornell’s has only one online master’s in engineering program, the master’s of systems engineering; it’s the school’s only web-based graduate offering. It’s a 30-credit program with a unique 6-credit design project that serves as its centerpiece. At least 2 credits must be taken on campus; the capstone is a faculty-supervised group project. Core courses include model-based systems engineering, systems analysis behavior and optimization, and principles of project leadership. Every student who has taken Cornell’s master of science in engineering online is now employed, many with Fortune 500 companies. Students are required to have completed the GRE and a course in probability and statistics.

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9 University of Virginia-Main Campus 76.30 93% Charlottesville, VA

UVA is one of the nation’s leading public research institutions. The Charlottesville institution is the state’s flagship campus. More than 29,000 students attend, divided among the university’s 12 schools and colleges. UVA’s medical school and law, business, and engineering programs are nationally ranked.

UVA’s school of engineering and applied science was established in 1836, and it has been electronically delivering engineering classes for over 30 years. The school offers 6 engineering master’s programs online: chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, materials science engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and systems engineering. Students can combine courses to create their own unique field of study. Most classes in the 30-credit programs are delivered in real time, encouraging interactivity, but they’re also recorded and can be watched later. UVA participates in the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, which allows students to take up to half of their credits at other participating schools, including Old Dominion, George Mason, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Commonwealth University. UVA’s Student Information System is a comprehensive source of tech help, financial aid information, and class details.

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10 Carnegie Mellon University 72.48 87% Pittsburgh, PA

Founded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon opened its doors in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical School. A merger in 1967 with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research created today’s Carnegie Mellon, a private, research university in Pittsburgh. Over 13,500 students from 114 countries are enrolled in the school’s programs.

Carnegie Mellon’s has offered engineering distance education for more than 20 years, and it has a master’s of science in engineering online. The Master of Software Engineering program is unusual because it is based on a series of DVDs, which contain the lectures and coursework. The curriculum is centered on core engineering principles, and incorporates leadership, project management, critical decision making, and teamwork. Its focus is the studio project, where students work in groups to solve real software problems for external clients. The university uses a unit-based system, rather than credits, and each unit represents an hour of work. The program requires 195 units for completion. Students can tailor the degree to their own area of interest under the guidance of their advisor.

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11 University of Wisconsin-Madison 71.73 82% Madison, WI

UW-Madison is a public, land-grant university set on 936 acres. Over 43,000 students are enrolled in Wisconsin’s 13 schools and colleges, almost 12,000 of them in graduate and professional programs. This is where the “Wisconsin Idea” was launched, the notion that universities should give back to the region where they’re located, and it guides the school’s teaching, research, and outreach. Wisconsin’s gained a national reputation for its business, government, biology, and engineering programs.

UW-Madison offers ten nationally ranked engineering master’s online. Programs include engine systems, engineering management, sustainable systems, and engineering data analytics. Each program requires 30 credits and takes two or three years to complete. The GRE is required for the two mechanical engineering offerings, polymers, and control. About half of the programs include a summer visit to Madison. UW-Madison is tied with Harvard for the most graduates working as CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

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12 Lehigh University 71.68 88% Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh, located in the mountains of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, is a private research institution. With 7,000 students in its four colleges and a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, learners develop relationships with the faculty. 55 students have been awarded their own research grants. Lehigh is highly regarded for its engineering programs, and almost a third of students are in the college of engineering.

Lehigh offers 10 web-based master’s programs, and all but two are in engineering. Engineering master’s online include biological and chemical engineering, chemical energy engineering, chemical engineering, healthcare systems engineering, management science and engineering, and manufacturing systems engineering. Each program is 30 or 31 credits; some require a thesis or a capstone project. A GPA of 2.75 or better is required for admittance. Work experience is necessary for some programs. Courses are delivered in two ways: Classroom Live, which features interactive, real-time recording from actual classrooms; and Classroom Online, which is asynchronous and can be accessed at any time. Some courses include proctored exams.

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13 University of Washington-Seattle Campus 71.16 81% Seattle, WA

Washington has more than 56,000 students spread across its campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell. It’s a public research university and the flagship of the state university system. As a member of the American Association of Universities, UW receives more federal research dollars than almost any other school, and its graduate programs are considered among the best in the nation. They include seven online engineering master’s programs designed for working professionals.

UW offers traditional programs including aerospace, civil, and mechanical; and less-common ones like supply chain transportation, sustainable transportation, pharmaceutical bioengineering, and construction management. Most degrees require students to earn 42 credits, others take up-to 45. Many can be customized with concentrations. Programs are intended to be pursued part time and include thesis and non-thesis tracks; the non-thesis track may require a special project. Students should expect to commit three hours a week to classroom time.

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14 University of California-Los Angeles 69.62 92% Los Angeles, CA

Based in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, the research university is traditionally ranked in the top 10 of public schools in the nation. About 45,000 students are currently enrolled, close to a third of whom are in graduate and professional programs. UCLA has strong programs in film, medicine, clinical psychology, business, education, and engineering. The school’s engineering master’s online is nationally ranked.

The UCLA engineering department offers twelve options, including aerospace, structural materials, environmental and water resources, and data science engineering. Students can design their own degree, adding electives in their area of interest. All degrees are structured similarly – students take nine courses on a project track or a non-project track. Students who elect not to do the capstone project are required to take an additional course and a comprehensive exam. Admission is based on GPA and requires an ABET-accredited degree in the sciences or engineering; work experience is recommended.

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15 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 68.86 84% Champaign, IL

Illinois, one of the 37 original land-grant institutions established after President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, is the flagship university of the state. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has engineering roots that date back to its earliest days as Illinois Industrial University. Almost a quarter of Illinois’ 44,000 students are in graduate and professional programs; they include seven online master’s in engineering programs.

Illinois’ highly ranked engineering master’s include aerospace, bioengineering, civil, computer, and bioinstrumentation. Students are required to earn 32 credits for completion of MS programs, and have the option of a thesis or non-thesis track. Students must have an undergraduate degree in an appropriate field and a 3.0 GPA or better in their last two years of school for admittance; A 3.0 GPA must be maintained as they move through the curriculum. Learners can start each program prior to admission; taking classes doesn’t guarantee admission. Up-to 12 credits can be transferred in. The school has more than 70 professional and honorary engineering organizations and an active Career Services department. Illinois also has one of the largest engineering libraries in the country.

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16 Illinois Institute of Technology 68.64 68% Chicago, IL

Illinois Tech is a private, research institution based in Chicago. The school began as the Armour Institute in 1893. The school taught engineering and the sciences and merged with the likeminded Lewis Institute in 1940 to create IIT. Almost 5,000 of the school’s 7,800 students are enrolled in graduate and professional studies. Engineering was one of the first degrees offered at the Armour Institute and it continues to remain a strength at IIT.

IIT offers 13 online master's in engineering, including biological, telecommunications, and software engineering. Several specialized fields can be studied through the web, including food process engineering, manufacturing engineering, electricity markets, and VLSI and microelectronics. Programs require 30–32 credit hours, many can be focused with electives and concentrations. Co-terminal degrees are an option, allowing students to combine two specializations. The school has an Online Student Support Services team available to assist with exam proctoring, scheduling, and course questions.

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17 Stevens Institute of Technology 67.78 78% Hoboken, NJ

Stevens, a small, private research university, looks out at the skyline of New York City from its campus in Hoboken, New Jersey. When the institute opened in 1870, it was the first school dedicated to mechanical engineering in the country. It continues a tradition of invention and innovation, with a commitment to research, interdisciplinary learning, and entrepreneurship. Graduate students outnumber undergraduates by about 700 in Stevens’ student body of 6,600. A student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 allows students to develop relationships with professors.

Stevens has nine engineering master’s online, ranging from engineering management to systems security engineering. This includes less-common fields like financial engineering and space systems engineering; the curriculums explore multiple disciplines. Systems engineering combines management, tech, and engineering. Several degrees allow for specialization with concentrations. Stevens has become known for its career placement, with students getting internships at Cisco, IBM, and Verizon. Its graduates are among the highest-earning college grads.

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18 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 66.45 84% Worcester, MA

WPI was founded in 1865 to educate leaders for the Industrial Revolution. Set in Worcester, New England’s second-largest city, the private research institution was an early leader in project-based education, becoming one of the first universities to incorporate problem-solving and experiential education. Science and technology is popular at WPI – only seven of the school’s 6,400 students in 2016 were enrolled in a bachelor of arts program. Undergraduates outnumber post-grad and professional students by two to one. Computer science is the most popular major, followed by mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and general/undeclared engineering.

WPI offers seven master’s of engineering online, and partners with Southern New Hampshire University to provide an MBA in engineering management. Programs include mechanical engineering, fire science engineering, and robotics engineering. Curriculum is comprised of 10 courses, and many require graduate seminars and capstone projects. Students must have an ABET-accredited BA in an appropriate field for admission and submit a plan of study to be approved. WPI places an emphasis on collaboration with fellow students. Most classes are delivered asynchronously.

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19 Texas A & M University-College Station 66.35 80% College Station, TX

Founded in 1876, Texas A&M was the first university established in the state. Located in College Station, the school is one of the nation’s largest universities, home to more than 64,000 students; over 12,000 are enrolled in graduate and professional studies. Considered one of the best schools in the country for veterans, Texas A&M has all the resources of a flagship, land-grant, research university. Grad students have more options than undergraduates; the school offers 268 graduate programs.

Students can select from 11 online master’s in engineering, including aerospace, biological and agricultural, computer, electrical, industrial, industrial distribution, mechanical, petroleum, safety, and systems management. The programs take 30–32 credits to complete; a thesis-track is included in some majors. Several programs have teaching assistants that work as tutors, helping remote students through the program. Many engineering degrees can be specialized by selecting electives in an area of focus.

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20 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 64.10 73% Minneapolis, MN

UMN-Twin Cities is the oldest and biggest campus in the University of Minnesota System. The public, land-grant institution is among the largest in the nation, with an enrollment of about 50,000, including 16,000 graduate students. The Carnegie Foundation classified the school as an R1 Doctoral Research University with the highest research activity. The school is known for strong programs in law, chemical engineering, pharmacology, math, and the social sciences.

Among Minnesota’s graduate programs is a master of science in engineering online. The 30-credit curriculum of the Master of Science in electrical engineering explores power systems, quantum electronics, optics, communications systems, lasers, noise, magnetism, signal processing, and computer and systems engineering. Students can elect to follow a thesis or non-thesis track. Non-thesis students must do a research project and make an oral presentation. Some aspects of the program are synchronous, requiring students to be on their computer at certain times for quizzes, tests, and lectures. The UNITE Distributed Learning office helps to coordinate proctored exams. Applicants must have an undergrad degree in an appropriate field and a 3.4 GPA.

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21 Case Western Reserve University 63.75 78% Cleveland, OH

Case Western, created by the 1967 merger of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, is a private institution of higher education in Cleveland’s University Circle. It’s a member of the elite Association of American Universities and is classified as a research institution of the highest activity by Carnegie. Case Western’s schools of law, nursing, medicine, dentistry, and business are highly regarded nationwide. More than 6,000 of its 11,600 students are in graduate and professional programs, and over 350,000 students have enrolled in its online courses.

Case Western’s school of engineering offers five engineering master’s online, including bio, civil, mechanical, systems, and a standard engineering degree that can be customized. Designed for working professionals with an undergraduate degree in engineering, physics, or an adjacent field, the program doesn’t have any on-campus requirements. All programs require nine classes, the majority of which are core components. Several have concentration options. Each program has start dates in the spring and fall.

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22 University of Central Florida 63.63 65% Orlando, FL

Central Florida is one of the nation’s largest schools, with more than 64,000 students. UCF has a dozen satellite centers across central Florida and online. More than 212 degree programs are available at its 13 schools and colleges. UCF was founded as a tech school, and it continues to provide STEM educations. It’s a space-grant school, pushing the boundaries of research in aerospace, engineering, and related fields. The school is ranked for value -- 44% of students graduate free of debt.

UCF offers seven online master’s in engineering: aerospace, healthcare systems, materials science, mechanical, engineering management, and two industrial engineering degrees. These are 30-credit programs, and many of them have several concentrations, allowing students to focus on their area of interest. Some have thesis and non-thesis tracks and require trips to Orlando. UCF provides web-based services, including access to the library, the Student Academic Resource Center Online, the Writing Center, tech support, and career services.

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23 Purdue University-Main Campus 61.32 70% West Lafayette, IN

Purdue, located in Lafayette, Indiana, is part of the Purdue University system, one of the nation’s largest systems of higher education. The main campus is the state of Indiana’s land-grant university, a public research institution with more than 40,000 students. About a quarter of those enrolled are pursuing graduate and professional degrees.

Engineering students can choose between eight engineering master’s programs online at Purdue. Programs include aeronautics and astronautics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, engineering management, and a dual engineering master’s of science/master’s of business administration degree. The interdisciplinary degree allows students to select from 12 specializations. The engineering management degree includes classes taught by Indiana University’s school of business. Programs are 30–33 credits and have students choose between thesis and non-thesis options. Exams are proctored. Online resources include the library and the Online Writing Lab. A sample class can be found on the Purdue engineering site.

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24 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 60.74 83% Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech is a public, research university with an emphasis on STEM disciplines. The school is located on a 2,600-acre campus in Blacksburg, including six satellites across the Commonwealth. It’s a land-grant university and one of the six senior military colleges in the country. Virginia Tech offers more than 250 degree programs to a student population of 33,000. About 17 percent of students are in graduate and professional programs.

Virginia Tech has seven online master’s in engineering programs: aerospace, civil, computer, electrical, environmental sciences, ocean, and systems. Many are delivered through interactive video conferencing, others through more traditional online methods. Exams are proctored, and students must register their proctoring information. Several degree programs are offered as part of the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, which is a partnership between Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, George Mason, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Students from various schools meet through Webex once a week. Up to 12 credits can be taken prior to being officially accepted.

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25 University of Dayton 59.91 78% Dayton, OH

Dayton was founded in 1850 by Marianists. It’s a Catholic research institution and the largest private university in Ohio with 11,000 students, about 2,400 of whom are engaged in graduate and professional studies. The school is considered one of the best Catholic universities for STEM education.

UD offers three engineering master’s online. The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering hosts a web-based Master’s of Science in renewable and clean energy. The ten-course curriculum can be pursued entirely online and includes classes like energy efficient manufacturing and probability and statistics. The department of engineering management and systems offers a Master of Science in engineering management and a master of science in management science online. Both are 36-credit programs that explore the administrative end of engineering. Online courses run concurrently with their on-campus counterpart and consist of recorded lectures and assignments. Most students in virtual classrooms make visits to campus, though it’s not required.

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1 to 2 years
Program Costs
$20,000 to $40,000 in annual tuition
Related Areas of Study
Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical/Biochemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

Job Placement: Master vs Bachelor of Engineering

The BLS projects that the architecture and engineering sector will increase by 3% between 2014 and 2024, or roughly 67,000 jobs. This growth rate is significantly smaller than the 8% projection for all industries. Due to this competitive professional climate, engineers with a master’s degree tend to enjoy more favorable employment rates than their colleagues with a bachelor’s degree. A recent survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce noted the different job placement rates in various occupations between individuals with a bachelor’s and those with a graduate degree. Using data from that survey, the following table lists employment rates for both groups in six niche engineering fields.

Engineering Degree Field Employment Rate for Bachelor’s Graduates with Work Experience Employment Rate for Graduate Degree-Holders
General Engineering 5.7% 3.0%
Chemical Engineering 4.2% 3.5%
Civil Engineering 4.5% 2.8%
Electrical Engineering 5.2% 3.5%
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering 5.1% 4.0%
Mechanical Engineering 3.8% 3.5%

Source: Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce

As the table above indicates, graduate degree-holding engineers in these six fields face an average unemployment rate of 3.4%; by comparison, the unemployment rate for experienced engineers with a bachelor’s is 4.8%. The National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) notes that the number of aspiring engineers who earn a master’s degree has grown significantly in recent years. During the 2003-04 academic year, roughly 32,500 master’s degrees in engineering were conferred; in 2013-14 that number stood at 42,372 ― an increase of more than 30% in just 10 years.

Earning a Living

In addition to more favorable employment rates, engineers with a master’s degree also tend to enjoy higher earning potential ― although this is not the case in certain engineering fields. The CEW survey found that engineers with a graduate degree stand to earn roughly $100,000 per year; in contrast, experienced engineers with a bachelor’s pull in $81,000 and recent bachelor’s graduates earn an annual salary of $55,000. However, the wage premium for master’s-holding engineers will vary by specific engineering field ― and in some cases, master’s graduates actually earned less than bachelor’s graduates in the same field. Using data from the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the following table notes the expected entry-level salaries for bachelor’s and master’s graduates in different engineering fields.

Engineering Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) with a Bachelor’s Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) with a Master’s Degree Wage Premium for Master’s Degree-Holders
Civil Engineering $55,600 $60,100 8.1%
Electrical Engineering $66,500 $78,900 18.6%
Mechanical Engineering $62,500 $71,600 14.5%
Chemical Engineering $69,500 $72,900 4.9%
Environmental Engineering $52,400 $58,400 11.5%
Aerospace Engineering $75,600 $75,600 16.7%
Petroleum Engineering $101,000 $96,500 -4.5%

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table shows, the engineering fields with the highest wage premium for master’s degree recipients are electrical engineering, aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. However, it’s also important to note that a master’s in engineering salary will increase incrementally over the course of his or her career. The next table reveals median annual earnings at four career benchmarks for all degree-holders in different engineering fields.

Engineering Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Civil Engineering $55,995 $67,477 $79,689 $93,060
Electrical Engineering $64,981 $77,067 $89,919 $100,979
Mechanical Engineering $62,527 $73,618 $83,979 $94,016
Chemical Engineering $67,006 $82,491 $99,162 $117,570
Environmental Engineering $55,880 $69,928 $82,399 $93,093
Aerospace Engineering $69,903 $83,878 $101,043 $124,893
Petroleum Engineering $91,459 $111,443 $135,041 $172,134

Source: PayScale

Among the fields listed above, petroleum engineers enjoyed the highest career salary growth with an 88% between the early-career and late-career marks. Aerospace engineering came in second at 79%. The average wage premium for all seven careers was 68.6% between the entry-level and late-career marks.

Career Opportunities

Students who complete an online master’s in engineering program will be qualified for hundreds of jobs once they graduate, although opportunities will vary by the candidate’s degree specialization. The table below features some of the most common master’s in engineering career pathways, as well as the median annual salary and projected growth rate of these fields.

Aerospace Engineers: Aerospace engineers specialize in the development of air and spacecraft, as well as other projectile structures like missiles and satellites. They may spend years working on a single project, first using prototypes to test various aspects of the design before implementing a fully functioning model. According to the BLS, 38% of aerospace engineers work in product and parts manufacturing.

Civil Engineers: Civil engineers design and build roads, bridges, tunnels dams, reservoirs and other projects intended for public use, as well as airports, sewage treatment centers and other buildings. The development process begins with the initial testing phase; civil engineers also organize permits, calculate total costs and make sure their project is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. More than a quarter of civil engineers work for local, state or federal government agencies.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Electrical engineers develop and build products with electrical components, from automobile and aircraft parts to communication and navigation systems. Electronics engineers, on the other hand, specialize in projects like broadcast systems and portable electronic devices. These engineers typically work in teams, and perform different tasks during the planning, construction, implementation and evaluation phases.

Mechanical Engineers: Mechanical engineers dedicate their careers to developing and creating engines, turbines, generators and other mechanical parts, as well as household appliances that use power and machines used in buildings. They typically utilize computer-aided design (CAD) throughout their projects, and often rely on prototypes during the early planning phases.

Profession Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2014-24)
Aerospace Engineers $107,830 -2%
Civil Engineers $82,220 8%
Electrical and Electronics Engineers $95,230 0%
Mechanical Engineers $83,590 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to engineering is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional engineers. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • National Society of Professional Engineers: Created in 1934, the NSPE is the only multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to professional engineers. The website includes extensive information about licensing requirements and procedures for professional engineers, as well as links to continuing education opportunities and an online career center.
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: With more than 420,000 members in 160 countries, the IEEE is one of the world’s largest organizations for engineers. Members are invited to join local chapters and receive discounted insurance rates, among other benefits.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers: The ASCE was founded in 1852, and today represents more than 150,000 civil engineers around the world. Members are eligible for up to five free webinars per year, as well as discounts on continuing ed courses, organizational publications and conference entrance fees.
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers: Originally founded in 1880 to address professional challenges related to steam boilers, the ASME today represents more than 150,000 mechanical engineers. The organization regularly sponsors engineering contests and competitions, and each year holds dozens of conferences around the world.
Despite the relative affordability of online engineering master’s programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.


Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.

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Best Online Master's in Engineering Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Stanford University Stanford, CA
2 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
3 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
4 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
5 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
6 John Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
7 Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA
8 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
9 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
10 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
11 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
12 Clemson University Clemson, SC
13 University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
14 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
15 Villanova University Villanove, PA
16 Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
17 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
18 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA
19 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
20 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
21 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
22 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
23 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
24 Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, CA
25 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ