Earning a Master's in Engineering Management Online

Online master's in engineering management degrees prepare engineers for leadership roles by building advanced skills in decision-making, analytics, economics, financial management, and other key business areas. The current rapid growth in the engineering sector makes it an excellent time to pursue an advanced degree in engineering management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for architecture and engineering workers will increase by 7% from 2016-2026, leading to the creation of almost 200,000 new jobs.

Read on to learn more about online engineering management degrees and their benefits. This guide explores career options, salary expectations, coursework, scholarship opportunities, and helpful resources for engineering management students.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Engineering Management?

Earning a master's in engineering management online may appeal to many different types of students, and this degree can help graduates meet a variety of professional goals. For instance, bachelor's-level engineering students looking to quickly enter a management role might decide to pursue their master's right after graduation. A master's in engineering program may also attract bachelor's degree-holders looking to specialize in a particular engineering field.

Practicing engineers can earn their master's in engineering management to grow their job options and increase their lifelong salary potential. Engineers thinking about pursuing an industry certification should also consider earning an advanced degree.

Pursuing Specialization

Earning a master's in engineering management online can be a great option for engineers interested in specializing further within their field. An engineering management degree builds leadership skills and serves as an opportunity to develop specialized abilities and knowledge. Some engineering management programs offer concentrations like financial engineering, manufacturing systems, quality engineering, and industrial engineering. Master's degree-holders may leverage their degree to specialize within their current industry or switch careers.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Many engineers decide to earn an online master's in engineering management to attain positions with more responsibility, higher pay, and increased seniority. While engineers may advance to management positions through work experience alone, a master's in engineering management demonstrates expertise in technology management, leadership, project management, finance, and engineering policy. These programs also build accounting, economics, and human resources skills that can help engineers succeed as managers and continue progressing in their careers.

Online Learning Technology

Online engineering management programs give engineers the flexibility to earn a degree while continuing to work full time. Earning a degree online also comes with financial benefits, since distance learners can avoid costs related to on-campus housing and transportation. In addition, online engineering management students gain experience with the latest communication tools and technologies. Proficiency with video chat and presentation tools might help graduates better communicate with colleagues and deliver presentations in management roles.

Prerequisites for Online Engineering Management Programs

While specific admission requirements vary between schools, engineering management programs typically boast similar expectations. Consult the list below to familiarize yourself with key admission requirements.

  • Work Experience: Engineering management master's programs often require at least two years of professional experience, and some universities prefer applicants with up to five years in the field. Students with considerable work experience may benefit from familiarity with engineering management theories and practices.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Many schools require candidates to submit GRE scores. Some universities publicize their minimum score requirements, but many do not. Additionally, schools may waive testing requirements for applicants who hold significant professional experience or a high GPA. GRE scores remain valid for five years.
  • Coursework: Online master's in engineering management programs usually require a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field, like physics or mathematics. Programs typically expect that students have completed advanced courses in subjects like calculus, statistics, and probability. Applicants often need at least a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate coursework.
  • Recommendations: Like many other graduate programs, master's in engineering management degrees require references. Applicants usually need to obtain 2-3 letters of recommendation from past professors, supervisors, or other figures who can speak to a candidate's character and academic preparedness.
  • Essays: Engineering management graduate programs may require a personal essay and/or statement of purpose. Applicants typically need to explain their reasoning for choosing a particular program. They also may need to describe how an engineering management degree will help them achieve their professional and personal goals.
  • Interviews: Graduate programs in engineering sometimes require applicants to sit for an interview with an admissions officer or faculty member. Distance students may be able to complete their interview over the phone or through video conferencing.
  • International Students: International students must meet the same requirements as domestic applicants. In addition, they may need to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language to demonstrate English proficiency. Foreign applicants may need to prove their residency status.

What to Expect from a Master's-level Online Engineering Management Program

Students generally complete their master's in engineering management online in approximately two years of full-time study. While the virtual classroom experience varies between schools, programs typically use an online learning platform where students access recorded lectures, discussion boards, assignments, and other course materials. Some programs use video conferencing tools to broadcast on-campus class sessions or facilitate discussions among online students. Program milestones vary depending on the program and each student's learning preferences, but the following milestones are common.

Major Milestones

  1. Thesis/Final Project Proposal

    After they have completed a significant portion of their program, students work with a faculty advisor to develop a thesis/final project topic and proposal.

  2. Thesis/Final Project Research

    After submitting an acceptable proposal, students spend around two semesters conducting research and writing their thesis. They may also take other courses during this time.

  3. Submit Graduation Application

    Engineering master's students must submit documents confirming that they have completed all requirements and are eligible to graduate.

  4. Defend Thesis

    To graduate, students must often defend their work in front of a panel that includes their thesis advisor and other engineering faculty members.

  5. Take Final Exam

    In lieu of a thesis or final project, some programs require students to pass a comprehensive examination that covers key learning areas.

  6. Prepare for Licensure/Certification

    Toward the end of their studies, master's students should consider pursuing a professional engineering license or another industry credential.

Master's in Engineering Management Coursework

Specific engineering management curricula vary between schools. However the list below details some common courses in online master's in engineering management programs.

Engineering Economics and Cost Analysis

This course prepares students to estimate costs and make financially informed decisions. Coursework covers topics including management accounting, cost allocation, capital investment, and statistical cost estimation.

Decision and Risk Analysis

Through risk analysis coursework, students learn about analytical techniques they can apply to the decision-making process. The course may cover decision trees, rational decision-making principles, and value hierarchies.

Engineering Law and Ethics

In this course, students learn about moral and legal issues in engineering. Topics include patent law, legal responsibilities of contractors, insurance, and public safety.

Construction Management

These courses examine the role of project managers, designers, contractors, and developers in the construction process. Students also explore topics like project financing, contracts, delivery methods, and bidding.

Modeling and Simulation

This course introduces modeling techniques that engineering managers can use to make decisions. Students explore various ways to use computers to analyze and solve complex problems.

Licenses and Certifications

While a master's degree in engineering management opens the door to many job opportunities, a professional certification can give you an additional competitive edge over other job-seekers. An industry certification, such as those listed below, demonstrates additional expertise and experience in the field.

  • Certified Associate in Engineering Management: The American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) offers this certification to entry-level engineering, technology, and science workers. Applicants must hold at least a bachelor's degree in an engineering-related field.
  • Certified Professional in Engineering Management: This credential, administered by ASEM, demonstrates extensive experience in and knowledge of engineering management. Master's degree-holders need 3-4 years of experience.
  • Project Management Professional: The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers this credential to professionals who pass a 200-question exam. Candidates also need to meet experience and education requirements.

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

Architectural and engineering workers earn a median annual salary of just over $80,000, and engineers who advance to management positions can expect a significant bump in pay. The highest-earning architectural and engineering managers take home over $173,000 per year, while the bottom 10% of earners still command salaries around $90,000. On-the-job experience can lead to promotions and increased pay, but an engineering management master's may develop the leadership, finance, and planning skills an engineer needs to secure a management position.

How Careers for Master's in Engineering Management Graduates Stack Up Against Similar Careers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Median Salary: $140,760

Job Growth: 5%-9%

These professionals coordinate operations in architectural and engineering firms. They manage engineers and other staff in environments like construction sites or manufacturing plants. They also manage budgets and communicate with other departments or organizations. Engineering and architectural managers often hold a master's in engineering management, business, or technology management.

Mechanical Engineers

Median Salary: $87,370

Job Growth: 5%-9%

Mechanical engineers design a variety of products and equipment, including medical devices, combustion engines, air-conditioning systems, and generators. Their work includes designing and testing prototypes and overseeing final manufacture. They need at least a bachelor's degree.

Mechanical Engineering Technologists

Median Salary: $63,200

Job Growth: 5%-9%

Mechanical engineering technologists assist mechanical engineers. They may produce layouts, plan workflow, and interpret sketches. Technologists also help other employees involved in design, testing, and manufacturing processes. They need skills in computer-aided design and typically hold an associate degree.

Mechatronics Engineers

Median Salary: $96,980

Job Growth: 5%-9%

These engineers typically need a bachelor's degree and considerable on-the-job experience. They also require a strong background in electrical engineering, analytical software, and computer-aided design tools. They develop products using foundations in mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering.

Electromechanical Engineering Technologists

Median Salary: $63,200

Job Growth: 5%-9%

Employers generally require these professionals to hold a bachelor's degree. In addition, electromechanical engineering technologists benefit from skills in rapid prototyping software, computer-aided design, and analytics tools. They assist electromechanical engineers by fabricating components, analyzing costs, and consulting with other technicians.

Industrial Engineers

Median Salary: $87,040

Job Growth: 10%-14%

Industrial engineers work to improve efficiency in manufacturing processes. They identify production inefficiencies and implement solutions that increase productivity. These professionals may earn a degree in industrial engineering or a related field, such as mechanical or manufacturing engineering.

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Median Salary: $56,250

Job Growth: 5%-9%

Mechanical engineering technicians work under the supervision of senior engineers to calibrate, test, and manufacture machinery. In their daily work, they review blueprints, draft sketches, and consult with other engineering staff. They usually need a vocational or associate degree along with proficiency in engineering software.

Industrial Production Managers

Median Salary: $103,380

Job Growth: -1%-1%

Industrial production managers supervise activities in manufacturing plants and similar organizations. They may work in automotive manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, or food manufacturing, among other fields. They examine production figures, improve productivity, and manage budgets. Employers often require a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or business administration.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET

Paying for an Online Master's in Engineering Management

Paying for your online master's in engineering management can be daunting. Here are some tips to help you pay for your degree and save money along the way:

  1. Loading up on extra credits each term can help you save on tuition — many universities charge a set fee each semester.
  2. Prioritize programs that offer tuition discounts to distance learners.
  3. Look for scholarships and grants from your university, government sources, and other organizations.
  4. Consider attending a public university in your home state rather than a private institution.
  5. Find an engineering management program that you can complete without any campus visits to avoid transportation costs.

Scholarships for Online Engineering Management Master's Students

While earning a degree comes with a host of benefits, it can also be quite expensive. All students should take advantage of scholarships and grants to reduce tuition costs. Below, you can learn about some funding opportunities for online master's in engineering management students.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations offer continuing education opportunities, networking events, and career services that can prove beneficial to current students and recent graduates. For instance, the National Society of Professional Engineers boasts a mentorship program and a virtual career fair.

Resources like academic journals can help master's students conduct research. Likewise, these publications keep practicing engineers up to date in the field. Below, you can discover some invaluable professional associations and resources for engineering students and graduates.

  • IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society: This association — a council of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers — helps engineering managers develop their careers by providing international conferences, publications, and training opportunities.
  • American Society for Engineering Management: ASEM serves engineering and technical managers through a job board, certifications, and a conference. Members also gain free access to resources like the Engineering Management Handbook and the Engineering Management Journal.
  • Project Management Institute: Established in 1969, PMI supports project managers working across industries. The organization offers ethics resources, project management publications, a job board, and resources on professional standards and practices.
  • National Society of Professional Engineers: NSPE connects licensed professional engineers and offers membership benefits, including a career center, a magazine, and information on advocacy efforts. The organization's PE Institute boasts online courses, conferences, and live events.
  • Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering: ATMAE members include engineering educators, students, and professionals. In addition to hosting an annual conference, the organization offers a career center, industry certification, an academic journal, and a student division.
  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology: The IET is a valuable resource for professional development, engineering research, and engineering standards and regulations. The institute also operates Inspec — a research database focused on engineering and physics.
  • Journal of Management in Engineering: This academic journal publishes peer-reviewed papers, case studies, and other materials related to civil engineering. The journal covers topics including project management, contract management, organizational theory, and strategic planning.
  • American Management Association: AMA offers management development workshops and training programs to individuals and organizations. Seminars cover a variety of subjects, including analytical skills, leadership, marketing, and supply chain management.
  • IEEE Xplore: IEEE — the largest technical professional organization in the world — operates this digital library that holds over four million documents from scientific and technical publications.
  • Journal of Engineering and Technology Management: This international scholarly publication covers technology, innovation, and engineering management. Students can read about issues related to planning, developing, and implementing technology projects.