An online master’s in engineering opens up a world of opportunities to new graduates. Whether your interests lie in building bridges, researching biological development, or creating the next software giant, the right online program will provide you with a solid educational foundation. Engineering is a popular field of study right now – according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering have grown 30 percent since 2001 – and many students are choosing to pursue their master’s in the field.
Because engineering is such a broad discipline – large schools often have about a dozen engineering departments – you will undoubtedly find an online program in your subfield of expertise. As you search for the right college, it’s important to pay attention to a couple of factors. You’ll want to study in an accredited program, and you should also check with target schools to see how effectively they prepare you for licensing exams.
Below, we’ve ranked the best online engineering master’s programs in the country. Some schools require internships, while others mandate a research-based thesis. A few of these schools require you to spend at least one semester on campus. Every college approaches distance learning in a slightly different way, and as part of our ranking, we’ve reviewed what separates each school from the next. To learn more about the academic highlights, program features, and online environment at each school, be sure to read our list.
Prospective Stanford online graduate students have the unique opportunity to preview their required courses by exploring Stanford's sample lecture library. Stanford's engineering faculty includes both Kyoto and Nobel Prize winners. Distance learners receive full access to program faculty, databases and support services and can pursue a number of part-time master's degrees in specialty fields like mechanical engineering, engineering leadership and electrical engineering.
The U.S. News and World Report ranking names Columbia's distance learning master's program first in the nation due to its unmatchable scores in the "Student Engagement" and "Admissions Selectivity" categories. Like Stanford, prospective Columbia students can preview engineering courses online for free. Columbia University's online academic offerings cater to an impressive breadth of graduate degree specialties, with online MS programs in biomedical, chemical, civil, environmental, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering.
This college offers four online Master of Engineering (MEng) programs: manufacturing, global manufacturing, energy systems, and automotive engineering. The University of Michigan delivers learning materials and facilitates discussions through the CTools system, which supports multimedia sharing, chat rooms, assignment uploads, forums, wikis, cloud storage and online grade books. U.S. News and World Report ranked U of M's program as the 9th best in the nation.
The UF Electronic Delivery of Graduate Engineering (EDGE) program ranked 56th amongst the U.S. News and World Report's list of the best online graduate programs in engineering. Prospective students can explore eight different EDGE master's degree program tracks, including systems, mechanical, aerospace, and electrical engineering. Lecture videos are not recycled from previous semesters. Instead, they are recorded the same day they are delivered to students on campus and then uploaded for online students to view.
UVA's online distance learning program for engineering graduates is known as the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP), which blends faculty and academic resources provided by five different colleges: George Mason University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and University of Virginia. The program actually predates the consumer Internet era; CGEP first began offering distance learning education via broadcast television in 1984. Today, CGEP offers six Master of Engineering degree options online in systems, civil, chemical, mechanical, materials science and electrical engineering.
JHU provides online students with broad array of master's degree options, including environmental engineering, information systems engineering and computer engineering. Enrolled students gain access to a number of digital support services, such as live academic advising, financial aid, a digital library and career counseling. While course materials are available 24/7, students are encouraged to communicate with faculty members during specific live office hours.
Georgia Tech sets itself apart from the majority of national colleges, ranking as the sixth best engineering school in the nation. Students exploring master's programs online can pursue aerospace, applied systems, computational science, industrial or mechanical engineering, which are overseen by several different Georgia Tech departments. Prospective students can preview the online curriculum format by signing into the sample lecture demo website to access class recordings.
Students at Lehigh University can enroll in seven distinct engineering programs in a range of fields, including biological chemical engineering, healthcare systems engineering, manufacturing systems engineering, and more. Students pursuing an online master’s in engineering can choose from both interdisciplinary programs and programs concentrated on specialized aspects of engineering.
Each graduate program requires students to take a mixture of core graduate courses along with a selection of related electives. Lehigh’s online learning curriculum includes two distinct components: a live platform that allows students to interact in real-time with instructors and classmates, and an asynchronous format that allows students to complete assignments around their own schedules.
Graduate students are generally required to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 or higher and should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last two semesters of undergraduate coursework.
NCSU is ranked 9th on the U.S. News and World Report list for Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs and 29th on the Best Engineering Schools list.
The College of Engineering provides an impressive selection of 15 different master's degrees in fields like materials science, nano-engineering and integrated manufacturing system engineering. The faculty and staff at NCSU have received multiple awards, including an Emmy for plasma display developments and four Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science.
The Institute of Software Research and the School of Computer Science at this private university provide prospective graduate students with a single online engineering degree option – the MSE, or Master's of Software Engineering. CMU is ranked as the top computer science school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
Unlike the other schools listed here, CMU relies on DVD media to distribute filmed lectures instead of streaming online video. Enrolled students can complete the MSE online program within 16 months of study.
The Engineering Online department at this university hosts four master's degree tracks in computer science, civil and environmental engineering, aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. Students and professors collaborate in virtual classroom environments supported by platforms like Echo360 and Adobe Connect. Research at this college isn't underfunded; the University of Illinois has received $299 million annually for engineering research expenditures.
Clemson University offers two online master's in engineering programs: electrical/computer engineering and industrial engineering, with a focus on accommodating working professionals. The electrical/computer engineering program allows students to concentrate in one of seven major focus areas, with specializations in both computer engineering and electrical engineering.
Computer engineering specializations include communication systems and networks, computer systems architecture, digital signal processing, and intelligent systems. Electrical engineering specializations include electronics, applied electromagnetics, and power and energy systems. The industrial engineering degree, meanwhile, offers a focus on capital projects supply chain engineering.
Neither of the degree options requires students to complete a final thesis, though industrial engineering students do have the option to do so. Both programs’ asynchronous courses allow students to complete their master’s in engineering entirely online.
Prospective UCLA students can earn a Master of Science in Engineering from the prestigious Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the second for engineering master's degrees in the nation. Students who have graduated from this program have gained employment with companies such as Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Armed Forces, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Future applicant's can learn more about UCLA's competitive online engineering programs by attending one of their global recruitment events.
Students looking for a wide variety of online master's degree designations might want to explore Texas A&M. The Dwight Look College of Engineering offers Master of Engineering (MEng), Master of Science (MS) and Master's of Industrial Distribution (MID) through its distance learning programs. Students can explore seven different degree tracks, including petroleum, safety and agricultural engineering.
Villanova University offers several online master's in engineering degrees, including biochemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, and water resources and environmental engineering, among others. Villanova ranks as one of the top online graduate engineering programs in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings. The school also ranks as one of the country’s best schools for online graduate engineering programs for veterans.
All programs require students to take core courses along with related electives, and all degrees offer both thesis and non-thesis options. Students who choose not to complete a thesis take more credit hours and may also complete a faculty-guided independent study project.
Admissions requirements for the different programs vary, but typically include a GPA between 3.0 and 3.25, depending on the applicant’s undergraduate major. Most courses for the school’s graduate engineering programs are offered online, and students are allowed to supplement their degree with on-campus courses if they choose to.
Virginia Tech offers three fully online engineering programs: the MS in aerospace engineering, the master’s of information technology and the MS in ocean engineering. The school also participates in the commonwealth graduate engineering program (CGEP), an association of five universities across Virginia that operate together to offer a part-time online master’s degree for working professionals. Students in the CGEP must participate in videoconferencing and some on-site classes.
Students in the aerospace engineering and ocean engineering programs have the options for both thesis and non-thesis tracks. Those who choose the non-thesis track complete more electives and independent or special study courses on topics of their choosing.
Online students earning an online master’s in engineering complete course material asynchronously and take part in weekly video conference meetings with faculty and other classmates. Virginia Tech also offers significant resources for veterans, and the school is one of only six in the nation to be classified as a Senior Military College. All veterans have their admissions application fees waived.
The Office of Advanced Engineering Education (OAEE) oversees the Professional Master of Engineering program (M.Eng) at the University of Maryland. Students can opt to complete a thesis or non-thesis option with differing credit requirements. Online students can choose from seven master's degree tracks, including energetic concepts, fire protection and reliability engineering. Prospective students can partake in a Virtual Open House to get familiar with admissions requirements, student life and upcoming deadlines.
Students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute can pursue MS or ME degrees in electrical and computer engineering, fire protection engineering, robotics engineering, and more. Many of Worcester’s graduate programs also offer professional certifications in addition to degrees.
The majority of Worcester’s online master’s in engineering courses are asynchronous, though some classes may include synchronous elements, such as video conferences and online meetings. Most degree programs require students to hold a GPA of at least 3.0 or higher, and students may be required to have taken relevant undergraduate courses. Students lacking experience may be required to take certain undergraduate courses to build a stronger background for their chosen graduate program. Worcester also offers an online survey course for students to get a feel for the program.
A perennial inclusion on the U.S. News & World Report's top ten graduate engineering programs, Wisconsin's prestigious education has successfully translated to the online learning environment. Specific engineering degrees awarded as part of the engineering department's "at a distance" include focuses in environmental engineering, engine systems and polymer engineering. Each program maintains its own faculty, curriculum and outcomes; all of which are tailored to suit the specific demands of an online student body.
The Illinois Institute of Technology offers several engineering programs in a variety of fields, including environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, food science engineering, and more. IIT also offers a range of electrical and computer engineering degrees, including network engineering, telecommunications and software engineering and power engineering.
Expert faculty advisors help students choose elective courses to specialize in a specific area of their chosen field. All engineering degrees require a number of basic core courses, and in some programs, students must take a number of elective courses approved by a faculty advisor.
Students earning their master’s in engineering online through ITT use both synchronous and asynchronous learning platforms. Online courses follow the same 16-week semester schedule as campus courses. Students can typically take exams at designated local testing centers, but ITT also offers remote web proctoring for students to take exams at home.
Purdue offers multiple online master’s in engineering programs, including aeronautics and astronautics, electrical and computer engineering, and industrial engineering.
The school also offers a pair of unique interdisciplinary degrees: the dual master of science in engineering/master of business administration (MS/MBA) and the interdisciplinary master of science in engineering (MSE). The MS/MBA degree trains students in both the technical and managerial components of the engineering field, with a focus on understanding engineering in a business context. The interdisciplinary MSE offers no preset study plan, and instead allows students to work with faculty and design a curriculum that fits their interests. Students can focus on fields such as biomedical engineering, computational engineering, engineering management and leadership.
Purdue offers support for non-traditional students, including scholarships provided to working adults. Every online master’s program allows students to work with an academic advisor and design their own plan of study. Students also have the flexibility to take time off from their studies if needed, ensuring a balance of school, work, and life.
Case Western Reserve University offers an ME or MS degree in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and systems & control engineering. U.S. News & World Report ranks Case’s graduate engineering program as one of the top 50 in the nation. Students at Case can earn an online degree after completing nine classes and a comprehensive final exam. All of the school’s engineering programs offer multiple start dates for classes each year.
The ME program is practice-oriented, preparing students to apply principles of engineering to modern business environments through different focus areas. Students do not have to complete a final thesis, though they do complete one core capstone course. The other degrees are more research-oriented, and some do require students to complete a final thesis. All engineering programs at Case require students to hold a GPA of at least 3.0 and a BS in engineering, natural sciences, mathematical sciences, or physical sciences.
The University of Minnesota offers a master’s degree in electrical engineering that students can pair with interdisciplinary work in fields such as computer science, biological modeling and bioelectrical sciences. Students can study and conduct research in many areas of electrical engineering, including signal and image processing, microelectronics and digital systems, and computer architecture.
The school’s engineering department integrates research into its curriculum heavily, and students have the opportunity to work with different research centers, including many outside of the college.
UMN’s master’s program allows students both thesis and non-thesis options for completing their degree. The thesis option requires fewer courses but a final thesis worth a third of the degree credits. The non-thesis option has students take more courses and complete an independent research project that also includes a written report and an oral presentation. UMN offers mostly asynchronous online courses, but some synchronous events, such as tests and presentations, may be required in certain courses.
Students at the Naval Postgraduate School study engineering as it relates to military and defense issues. The school offers online master’s in engineering programs in a range of fields, including aviation engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering for nuclear trained officers and more. Graduate programs at this school range in length from one to two years, and many programs have multiple start dates throughout the year. Online courses are offered in various formats, including options for asynchronous learning, synchronous collaboration, and live video conferencing.
While the Naval Postgraduate School primarily serves naval officers and members of the military, the school also offers admission to non-government civilian students under various scholarship programs. Some of these programs stipulate that applicants must agree to work for the Department of Defense after completing their degree. Certain programs at the school are only open to naval officers who have completed certain training programs related to the degree.
Students pursuing an online master's degree in engineering at NJIT benefit from future-focused curricula geared towards leadership careers. NJIT offers a master of science in civil engineering (MSCE) and a master of science in electrical engineering (MSEE), both of which can be completed online in 19 months.
The MSEE is a 30-credit program that focuses on three high-demand specialties: communications, signal processing, and microwave; power and energy systems; or mechatronics. The school's 30-credit online MSCE program also offers a choice of three specialty tracks, including construction management, transportation, and structural design & construction. NJIT offers graduate-level certificate programs in construction management and project management for engineering students looking to further strengthen their skill set.
An MSCE degree from NJIT may count towards the required experienced needed to obtain the Professional Engineer (P.E.) license, which prepares graduates to land a leadership or project manager role at an organization. All of NJIT's courses are delivered asynchronously through the university's learning management system.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Engineering Graduates
An online master’s in engineering perfect for students who want to specialize in a subfield of their particular branch of engineering. A master’s is also important for professionals looking to jump into management, as many engineering firms require their project managers to hold an advanced degree.
Most master’s programs require about two years of study. In most cases, those years pay off – literally. According to a 2015 Georgetown University study “The Economic Value of College Majors”:
Civil engineers with only a bachelor’s degree had a median income of $83,000. With a graduate degree the median income rose to $101,000.
Electrical engineers with a bachelor’s degree had a median income of $93,000. With a graduate degree that median income rose to $112,000.
Mechanical engineers with a bachelor’s degree had a median income of $87,000. With a graduate degree that median income rose to $107,000.
The relationship holds for almost every engineering degree (though petroleum engineers with a master’s actually make slightly less than those holding just a bachelor’s). In the aggregate, an advanced degree can open up more professional opportunities for graduates, and allow them to pursue careers with higher annual salaries.
Ultimately, a master’s degree in engineering can help you earn a higher salary while preparing you to take the next step forward in your career. If you are considering returning to school, you may want to take a look at an online program in the field. Online degrees allow you to study at your convenience, which is ideal for working professionals who might not be able to regularly attend classes on campus. If you want to study at a top program without disrupting your current responsibilities and commitments, the online format may be perfect for you.
Financing Your Online Degree
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, the need for financial aid is still a reality for most students. But rest assured, loans aren’t your only option. Explore our collection of financial aid resources or dig into one of the following guides to read more about financing your education.
Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options savvy students can use to reduce the total costs of their education.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to 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 and funding opportunities for online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for single parents looking for a more secure financial future for their children. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships for these hard-working parents.
Millions in education benefits are available for veterans and active members of the military. Unfortunately, much of this goes unused. Find out if you’re entitled to help with college and start planning for your future.