Online Master of Electrical Engineering Training Programs

By Amelia Gray

Electrical engineers may use their targeted knowledge of systems and circuits to develop, test and repair electrical equipment. A master's degree in electrical engineering is often a choice for high-level science workers; for example, astronaut Jerry Ross earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, or MSEE.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that although the terms electrical and electronics engineering are both commonly used, sometimes interchangeably, their focus may differ. Electronics engineers typically have worked on applications of electricity to control systems or signal processing. Electrical engineers generally have specialized in the generation and supply of power, including power systems engineering or electrical equipment manufacturing.

As for employment opportunities, the BLS notes that a bachelor's degree may be considered adequate preparation for some entry level jobs, but some research positions may require you to have a graduate degree, and all engineers may need ongoing education to stay up-to-date with technological developments. An online master of electrical engineering program may offer working professionals a chance to go deeper into the field, choosing a specialization and exploring advanced research.

Typical Master of Electrical Engineering paths

Coursework in an MSEE program may be completed on-campus, online or through a hybrid program. Application standards for online electrical engineering programs tend to mirror those for traditional campus-based programs; applicants must provide bachelor's degree transcripts, foreign students must pass an English ability test, and letters of recommendation may be required. Individual schools--both online and on-campus--have their own application standards.

Master of Electrical Engineering students may come to the discipline by a few popular routes. Some may enroll in a five-year bachelor's to master's degree program, which includes four years of undergraduate study and one year of master's degree work. For those who choose to pursue each degree separately, a master's degree may require up to two years of full-time study.

Students may choose to specialize in electrical engineering standards such as electromagnetics and optics or microsystems. Beyond specialization, some campus-based and online MSEE programs may even combine master's degree training in electrical engineering with MBA training in business. The students' career goals and existing training help determine the course of study they choose.

MSEE coursework challenges and specializations

While a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering should give students the skills they may need for entry-level jobs, master's degree training may challenge them to go a step further. An online MSEE program should serve to focus each student's knowledge. Core courses in an electrical engineering master's degree program may include the following:

  • Advanced computer architecture
  • Digital signal processing
  • Electromagnetic theory
  • Lasers and applications
  • Optical sources, detectors and radiometry

A typical MSEE program may or may not require students to complete a thesis. Without a thesis, students may need to pass a qualifying exam, take additional courses, or create a project that displays their research and technical ability.

Electrical engineering careers

The BLS notes that the best job prospects for electrical engineers should go to those with experience providing their engineering expertise and design ability to manufacturers. The BLS lists these as top industries for electrical engineering graduates in 2010:

  1. Architectural, engineering and related services
  2. Navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing
  3. Electric power generation, transmission and distribution
  4. Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing
  5. Scientific research and development services

Professionals in these industries earned mean wages ranging from $85,370 up to $94,670 in 2010, according to the BLS. About 148,770 electrical engineers were employed in 2010, with mean annual wages of $87,770, or $42.20 an hour. The BLS lists the following as the highest paying industries for electrical engineers:

  1. Motion picture and video industries
  2. Hardware or plumbing/heating equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers
  3. Support activities for mining
  4. Oil and gas extraction
  5. Other pipeline transportation

Top jobs for famous MSEE graduates

MSEE graduates may leave their mark, from behind-the-scenes work within top government groups to high-level positions at successful companies. Notable MSEE holders include the following:

  • Santanu Das, founder and president of TranSwitch Corporation
  • Michael D. Griffin, NASA Administrator, 2005-2009
  • Ming Hsieh, president and founder of Cogent Systems
  • Mike Markkula, former CEO of Apple
  • Jerry Ross, astronaut

Pursuing a Master of Electrical Engineering degree may mean adding specialization and expertise to a strong base of knowledge. Whether students choose a five-year path including a bachelor's degree or return after a few years away from school to complete a master's degree, electrical engineering programs may offer a career-building option designed to put students on the cutting-edge of the industry.

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