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If you’re seeking a promotion to a senior-level engineering management position, a master’s in engineering may be exactly what you need to succeed. These programs are designed to provide ambitious engineers with mastery of advanced concepts and skills to tackle challenges and drive innovation in the industry.

These programs focus on leadership, project management, and technical proficiency, preparing you to excel at the highest level of the field. As an engineering manager, you could earn a median salary of $165,370, with job opportunities projected to grow by 4% over the next decade.

Typically, completing these degrees requires two years of full-time study and costs an average of $19,749, representing a significant but worthwhile investment in your future.

How to Choose a Master’s in Engineering Program

Choose your area of study

Choosing your area of study is especially important for graduate engineering programs, where the focus is on expert proficiency in a particular area. Many students select a specialization that aligns with their undergraduate degree or current field of employment to build on existing knowledge and advance their careers.

Specializations may vary slightly depending on the institution, but typical options include mechanical, electrical, civil, software, and environmental engineering.

Research schools and programs

With your specialization in mind, you can begin researching schools and programs that will help you meet your career goals. You may come into this process with questions of your own, but here are a few more to consider:

  • What are the qualifications and industry experience of the faculty?
  • How does the program integrate practical experience with learning?
  • What are the program’s facilities and resources like?
  • Does a recognized engineering accreditation body accredit the program?

Information on these aspects can typically be found on university websites, but you’ll also benefit from attending an information session or speaking with an admissions counselor.

Prepare for tests and applications

Now that you know the schools you’d like to attend, it’s time to prepare for tests and applications. The most important parts of this process are simple: starting early and organizing the application process carefully.

For example, be sure to secure letters of recommendation and transcripts well in advance and allocate sufficient time to write your statement of purpose — reflecting your goals and readiness for graduate-level study. In addition, consider enrolling in a GRE test prep program to boost your scores, particularly if your top programs require this exam.

Select your program

Once acceptance letters arrive, you may have a big decision to make. Take a moment to revisit your initial research criteria, focusing on the aspects most important to you, such as the availability of your chosen specialization, the faculty you’ll learn from, and campus facilities. Then, evaluate the total cost of attendance and explore financial aid opportunities, including scholarships and assistantships, to ensure affordability.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

As you prepare to fund your degree, prioritizing financial aid resources is essential. Begin by exploring scholarships and grants; although grants are more common for undergraduates, many scholarships are specifically designated for graduate students. Next, consider assistantships, which provide a stipend and often tuition remission in exchange for research or teaching responsibilities.

If applicable, ask about employer tuition reimbursement programs, especially if your degree will improve your current job skills. If additional funding is necessary, opt for federal loans over private loans due to better interest rates and repayment terms.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Engineering Programs

Best Master's in Engineering Degree Programs_2024 badge
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University of California, Berkeley
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Harvard University
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Stanford University School of Engineering
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Texas Engineering Executive Education
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Duke Pratt School of Engineering
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University of Maryland
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University of California San Diego
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Cornell University
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Johns Hopkins University
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Texas A&M University
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University of Georgia
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Princeton University
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University of Pennsylvania
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University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Purdue University
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Stony Brook University
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University of Washington
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University of Michigan
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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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University of the Pacific
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University of Dayton
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San Diego State University
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Yale University
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Texas Tech University
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Northwestern University
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Vanderbilt University
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University of California, Davis
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Arizona State University
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Carnegie Mellon University
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Tufts University
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Columbia University
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Santa Clara University
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Dartmouth College
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Washington University in St. Louis
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Rice University
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University of California, Los Angeles
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Brown University
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Georgia Institute of Technology
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University of Virginia
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George Washington University
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Keck Graduate Institute
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Case Western Reserve University
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University of Florida
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Villanova University
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Colorado School of Mines
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Northeastern University
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North Carolina State University
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Stevens Institute of Technology
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University of California, Irvine

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

This list covers graduate-level programs in engineering that prepare students with the academic background necessary to specialize in a field of their choice. Degrees offered include Master of Engineering, Master of Science in engineering management, Master of Science in mechanical and industrial engineering, and Master of Science in engineering technology.

All of the listed programs are approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Many of these options have programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology as well. These accrediting organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Engineering Program?

A master’s in engineering will provide you with advanced technical and practical skills in specific engineering fields, like civil, mechanical, electrical, or computer engineering. As a student, you’ll also develop soft skills in project management and teamwork. In addition, many curriculums provide opportunities to take additional coursework in specialized topics like sustainable design, robotics, manufacturing processes, and more.

Most programs offer a non-thesis track, focusing instead on practical projects, coursework, and internships that provide real-world experience and boost your employability. This degree takes approximately two years to complete, depending on program specifics and whether you enroll full- or part-time.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in engineering program

  • Engineering Analysis: A cornerstone in many curriculums, this course is fundamental for mastering advanced mathematical techniques used in engineering problem-solving, including differential equations and linear algebra. Students learn to apply these methods to model and solve complex engineering problems effectively.
  • Project Management for Engineers: Essential for engineers aiming to lead projects or manage teams, this course covers project lifecycle management, risk assessment, and resource allocation. It gives students the skills to oversee projects from inception to completion, ensuring they meet specifications, budgets, and timelines.
  • Sustainable Energy Solutions: Often deemed an elective, this course examines solar, wind, and other renewable technologies, focusing on transitioning to sustainable energy sources. Participants learn about the challenges and technological solutions in integrating these systems into existing grids and their potential environmental impacts.
  • Machine Learning in Engineering: This elective delves into applying machine learning algorithms and data analysis in engineering tasks. Students explore how to implement these technologies to optimize processes, improve decision-making, and innovate within their fields.

Master’s in Engineering Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in engineering degree program?

To apply for these programs, start by checking the specific requirements of the schools you’re interested in, as these can vary. However, many share similar criteria — typically including:

  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • GRE scores, although some programs may waive this requirement for various reasons
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV

Contacting an admissions counselor before applying is essential, as they can help clarify any program-specific requirements and ensure your application is as strong as possible.

How much does a master's in engineering degree cost?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the average cost of a graduate degree was $19,749, but this can vary significantly by institution. Factors such as whether the school is private or public and whether you qualify for in-state or out-of-state tuition can considerably impact tuition prices.

You’ll also want to anticipate expenses not typically included in the tuition price — such as textbooks, course materials, lab fees, and living expenses. It’s essential to review the specific costs and expenses listed by the institution to fully understand the total investment required.

How long does it take to earn a master's in engineering degree?

Earning this degree takes about two years for full-time students, while part-time students might need three to four years to complete degree requirements — depending on their course load each semester. It’s also important to note each program’s number of required credits, as this can vary by institution and significantly affect program duration. While some programs may require as few as 30 credits, others may need 45 or more.

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