Master’s in Engineering Program Guide

See where a master's in engineering can take you in terms of job prospects and potential salary.

portrait of Staff Writers
by Staff Writers

Updated August 23, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
Share this Article
Master’s in Engineering Program Guide

Expectations of Masters in Engineering Degree

Completing a master's in engineering prepares graduates for in-demand and well-paid professions in engineering. It also provides them with a lot of flexibility in terms of where they work and live after graduation. These master's programs cover advanced topics in engineering. Students can choose from a wide spectrum of concentrations to focus their studies.

Master's in engineering programs last 12-24 months. The cost of a master's degree in engineering can vary based on whether a student attends public vs. private institutions and how much funding they secure to offset costs. Learners on a budget typically decide to study at an in-state public university.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Keep reading to learn about the benefits of earning a master's degree in engineering, some of the top concentrations available, possible career paths for graduates, and what it takes to get into a top program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Engineering Programs

What is the best master's degree to get for engineers?

The best master's degree in engineering is the one that matches the student's intended career path and educational budget. If a student wants to pursue a concentration in petroleum engineering but a program does not offer that specialization, it's not the right degree for them.

Students must also ensure any program they strongly consider maintains proper accreditation. Failing to check on accreditation status can result in issues transferring credits, finding a job, seeking licensure, and pursuing another degree.

Is a master's in engineering worth it?

A master's degree in engineering is a great investment in both yourself and your future. Graduates of these programs typically enjoy challenging, fulfilling jobs that pay above-average salaries. That said, engineering can be difficult for someone who does not possess a strong foundation in STEM subjects.

If you want to pursue a career that will likely always be in demand, a master's degree in engineering is a good option. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for industrial engineers will grow by 14% between 2020-2030, while jobs for chemical engineers will grow by 9% over the same time period.

How do you get into an engineering master's program?

Admission requirements for a master's degree in engineering can vary significantly between programs. Some programs welcome students from unrelated undergraduate backgrounds and others only accept those with engineering bachelor's degrees or substantial STEM prerequisites.

Other factors taken into consideration include your undergraduate GPA, relevant work experience or volunteerism, what your references say about you, and how you convey your interests and goals in your personal statement/statement of goals. If transferring from another master's in engineering program, admission officers will also consider your previous coursework.

How much does it cost to get a master's in engineering?

How much you spend earning a master's degree in engineering can vary substantially based on several different factors. In-state tuition at a public school is almost always far less expensive than a degree earned at a private university.

Data collected by College Board shows that master's students enrolled at a public college paid an average of $9,000 in tuition during the 2021-2022 school year. Those attending private institutions paid an average of $29,670 during the same academic year.

Scholarships, grants, and other awards that do not require repayment can also vastly reduce your costs. Start looking into and applying to these early on in your application process.

What are the highest paying jobs with an engineering degree?

While nearly every job for graduates with a master's degree in engineering pays a high salary, not all salaries are equal. Architectural and engineering managers typically earn the highest wages. Their median salary topped $149,530 as of 2020.

Meanwhile, petroleum engineers brought home median wages of $137,330 in 2020, while computer hardware engineers received a median salary of $119,560 that same year.

Factors affecting how much you earn include experience level, industry, job title, and work location.

Should I Get a Master's in Engineering?

Deciding to go to graduate school can take some soul-searching, but earning a master's degree in engineering makes great sense for someone who enjoys STEM and wants to earn a good salary. These jobs also appeal to individuals seeking career security, as roles for engineers are projected to grow in the coming years.

The amount of time spent earning a master's degree in engineering depends on several factors, including on if the student enrolls on a full-time or part-time basis. Their graduation timeline also depends on whether they choose to pursue a master of engineering (MEng) or a master of science (MS) in engineering. An MEng usually requires 12 months of full-time study to complete, while the MS takes 18-24 months.

Licensure requirements vary based on the type of engineering someone practices and whether their employer requires a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Some states require PEs to complete a set number of continuing education credits to renew their license.

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How Do I Choose a Master's in Engineering Program?

With so many master's degrees in engineering available, students must take their time to choose a program that matches their academic, financial, and professional goals. Ensuring a program holds ABET accreditation is important. Students should also make sure the institution holds proper accreditation.

Students should also consider whether they want to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis, as some schools do not provide both options. Deciding whether to attend in-person or online typically narrows down the options as well. They should also consider the best colleges in their state and learn if they offer master's in engineering programs.

Learners working with a budget should look into their financial aid options and find out what the school offers. Lastly, it's important to look at the student services offered. These can include things like mentorship programs and networking opportunities.

Find the Best Online Master's in Engineering Programs

How Do I Get Into a Master's in Engineering Program?

Graduate admissions for a master's degree in engineering vary by program and institution, making it important for students to narrow their options based on schools they think they can get into. For example, some programs require GRE scores, while others do not.

Letters of recommendation play an important role in the admissions process. They allow school officials to get a sense of how someone who knows the student well views the applicant's likelihood for success in higher education.

Grad school essays also receive substantial review, as this document provides students the opportunity to discuss why they want to advance their engineering education, how they plan to use the degree, and why they want to attend a particular program.

What Will I Learn in an Engineering Master's Program?

Whether a student enters a master's degree in engineering program to build on an undergraduate STEM degree or to change career paths entirely, these programs provide the advanced knowledge needed to take on senior-level engineering roles with more responsibilities — and potentially higher earnings.

Courses vary among different schools, but the core curriculum usually looks quite similar. Classes learners take include financial issues for engineers, leadership and organizational behavior, supply chain management, and product management. Because engineering includes so many different subfields, requirements will vary substantially based on your chosen concentration.

Learners typically choose between an MS or MEng for their degree type. MS programs typically take 18-24 months to complete, while MEng programs are shorter in length and usually last 12 months. Students should review the hiring requirements of potential employers to understand which degree route would serve them best.

Concentrations

Biomedical Engineering

This concentration focuses on applying engineering methodologies to biology and medicine. Students who pursue this track typically want to develop new hardware and equipment to be used in medical treatments.

Civil Engineering

This track supports students who want to be part of creating and improving our built environment. Coursework focuses on the engineering tools and design theories associated with airports, roads, bridges, and other structures or transportation systems.

Chemical Engineering

This concentration brings together the principles of both engineering and chemistry. Students learn to engineer chemical compounds in settings such as pharmaceuticals, alternative engineering, and food production.

Mechanical Engineering

Students who want to design products and goods often gravitate towards this concentration. Courses incorporate physics and math alongside mechanics and engineering. Students graduate with the skills needed to engineer products such as vehicles and appliances.

Electrical Engineering

Combining principles from mechanical engineering and electronics, this concentration serves students who want to engineer products that rely on electricity. They learn about the concepts behind products such as microchips, computers, and generators.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Engineering?

Engineering touches nearly every discipline and industry, creating a wealth of professional opportunities for graduates with a master's degree in engineering. The concentration a learner chooses will affect which careers they can pursue.

For instance, a student who decides to pursue a software engineering concentration may find themselves working for a Fortune 500 company to design an internal personnel app, while another may decide to work for a government agency to create software that improves user access.

Popular Career Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Engineering?

Graduates who earn a master's degree in engineering earn substantially more than the national average for all occupations, which was $41,950 in 2020. Many engineers bring home six-figure salaries. At the lower end of the spectrum, agricultural engineers earned median annual salaries of $84,410 in 2020. At the upper end, petroleum engineers brought home $137,330 during the same time.

Several factors impact how much an engineer earns, so these should be taken into account when reviewing salary offers. The type of degree an applicant holds, where they earned it, how much experience they possess, the industry they work in, and the location of the job all impact the final salary offer from a potential employer.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs

Feature Image: TommL / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.