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Online Master of Engineering

By Candice Mancini

Earning an online master of engineering degree could open the door to a wide span of career possibilities. Attending graduate school may allow engineers to stay current with the latest techniques and technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graduate training is needed for engineering faculty positions and some research and development programs; in addition, many engineering managers hold master's degrees.

To be admitted to most online master of engineering schools, a student must have a bachelor's degree, either in engineering or a closely related field such as computer science, mathematics or physics. Sometimes students may need to complete prerequisites, for example, in chemistry, physics, mathematics or computer science, before being admitted for graduate studies such as Master of Science in Engineering programs.

Acceptance into engineering schools may be competitive, and high undergraduate GPAs, especially in math and science, may often be required. If a student's GPA may not be high enough, then it is sometimes possible to prove oneself by taking, and excelling in, part-time courses. A high GRE score may be required.

Coursework for online master of engineering degrees

Graduate engineering courses may vary considerably, depending on the area of engineering being pursued. Studies might include the following or similar courses:

  1. Biodatabases
  2. Bioprocessing
  3. Engineering law
  4. Probability models and simulation
  5. Sustainability engineering
  6. Systems engineering

Students should anticipate that technology will play a major role in their programs, whether they are studying computer, civil, aerospace, biomedical or other engineering. Engineers already working in the field may be prepared for this, since technology is a central component to most engineering jobs.

Some programs may offer an interdisciplinary plan of study. For example, systems engineering is a broad approach spanning various specializations, which could include power plants or computer hardware and software. Dual degree programs may allow complementary studies of different disciplines, such as business and engineering. Specialized concentrations may include master's degrees in aeronautics and astronautics, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Career possibilities for graduates of online master of engineering schools

Research and academia often require an advanced engineering degree. A master's degree may increase engineering knowledge and demonstrate an advanced level of competence with current engineering research and technologies.

Of course, career options can be closely linked to the area of engineering studied. The federal government's Standard Occupational Classification, or SOC, system lists 17 engineering specialties: aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical, electronics, environmental, health and safety, industrial, marine, materials, mechanical, mining, nuclear and petroleum.

According to the BLS, 2010 median salaries for engineers ranged between $71,090, for agricultural engineers, and $114,080 for petroleum engineers. The BLS anticipates the fastest growth in the following engineering fields, shown with the projected growth rate between 2010 and 2020:

  1. Biomedical engineering: 62 percent
  2. Environmental engineering: 22 percent
  3. Civil engineering: 19 percent
  4. Petroleum engineering: 17 percent
  5. Mining and geological engineering: 10 percent

Prominent engineers with graduate degrees

The many famous individuals with engineering graduate degrees include these four very diverse personalities:

  • Neil Armstrong: Of these four, he is the most likely candidate for engineering graduate school. Known worldwide as the first person to walk on the moon, this astronaut earned a master's in aerospace engineering.
  • Rowan Atkinson: Although best known as the zany character Mr. Bean, this British comedian earned a master's degree in electrical engineering.
  • Lee Iacocca: The former CEO and chairman of Chrysler Corp. helped the company make billions. He also earned a master's degree in engineering.
  • Dolph Lundgren: While this Swedish actor has performed in hundreds of roles, he is perhaps best known for his role as the imposing Russian boxer Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV." He has a master's degree in chemical engineering.

Of course fame is not guaranteed for master of engineering school graduates, but those with a passion for engineering can seek meaningful work. Prospective students should keep in mind their own particular interests and talents when considering the many graduate specializations available for engineers.


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