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Students with a talent for design and a desire to work in industries such as aerospace, agriculture, environment, electronics, computer software, or mechanics will benefit from an online master’s in engineering degree. They can explore, design, build, and analyze products and systems to improve how something functions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers earn a median annual salary of just over $100,000 as chemical or electrical engineers, $94,300 as mechanical engineers, and $128,170 as computer hardware engineers.

Students can earn a master’s in engineering in two years or less if full-time and three or more years if part-time. The cost of a master’s degree will vary due to many factors, including financial aid. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a master’s degree in the 2020-21 academic year was $12,394 at public universities and $26,621 at private schools.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Engineering Program

Choose your area of study

Choosing an area of study requires finding the best online master’s in engineering degree program that matches your career goals, education budget, and timeline. Not every school offers online, full-time, and part-time options.

A Master of Engineering degree focuses on improving practical skills and gaining new skills necessary to become managers and leaders. A Master of Science in Engineering degree focuses more on research and improving design, data collection and analysis, problem-solving, and project management skills.

Concentrations with the highest occupational outlook include:

  • Master of Electrical Engineering
  • Master of Mechanical Engineering
  • Master of Computer Engineering
  • Master of Civil Engineering

Research schools and programs

Accreditation verifies the school meets quality standards for providing education. Students can research accreditation statuses for specific programs with the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. They can check the status of a higher education institution in the Department of Education’s database.

Questions to help students choose an online master’s degree program include:

  • What is the culture and reputation of the school and program?
  • What are relationships like between faculty and students?
  • Do students have opportunities to network?
  • Does the curriculum cater to diverse learning needs?
  • What support services are available for students?

Students can find most information by reviewing a program’s website, reading testimonials, following social media pages, and taking virtual tours.

Prepare for tests and applications

Online master’s in engineering degree programs differ in the application materials students must submit. Keeping a spreadsheet will help students organize the information they learn. On the spreadsheet, they can place a checkmark next to the materials necessary for the application, such as:

  • Completed application and fees
  • Official undergraduate transcripts
  • Entrance exam results
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement of interest
  • Awards or recognition in the field
  • Resume

Some programs prefer students with work experience in engineering and will substitute experience for entrance exams like the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Select your program

After researching and preparing for tests and applications, students should be ready to select a program or several programs. If applying to more than one program, students should consider the application fees of each to ensure they stay within their budget. Applying to numerous schools may increase a student’s odds of being accepted, but it can be costly, with no guarantee of admission and no refunds.

Students choosing to apply to multiple programs simultaneously can contact the admissions department regarding possible fee waivers.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Students should avoid taking on student loan debt whenever possible. To do this, students must investigate funding opportunities such as the following:

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will connect students with additional funding sources, including loans with interest. Students who must take on loans to complete an online master’s in engineering degree can apply for direct unsubsidized loans. Learning as much as possible about this type of loan will help students avoid potential problems when it’s time to start repayment.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Engineering Programs

Best Online Master's in Engineering Degree Programs
01

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
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NC State University
01

Purdue University College of Engineering
01

Penn State World Campus
01

Arizona State University
01

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
01

Columbia University Engineering
01

University of Michigan
01

University of Florida
01

University of Wisconsin at Madison
01

University of Southern California
01

Texas A&M University College of Engineering
01

University of Nebraska at Lincoln
01

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals
01

George Washington University
01

Ohio State University
01

Auburn University
01

Oklahoma State University
01

University of Maryland Graduate School
01

Oregon State University
01

Missouri University of Science and Technology
01

Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University
01

Kansas State University
01

University of Alabama at Birmingham
01

Cornell University
01

UMass Lowell
01

Stevens Institute of Technology
01

University of Arizona
01

Virginia Tech Engineering
01

University at Buffalo
01

University of Cincinnati
01

Washington State University
01

University of California at Riverside
01

Louisiana State University
01

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
01

California State University at Fullerton
01

West Texas A&M University
01

University of Central Florida
01

Michigan Technological University
01

Drexel University
01

University of Arkansas
01

Case Western Reserve University
01

University of Colorado Colorado Springs
01

University of Connecticut
01

Colorado State University
01

Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science
01

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
01

Mississippi State University
01

Northeastern University
01

Ohio University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we focused on master’s-level degrees in various engineering-related disciplines, including electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, and more. The majority of these programs grant a Master of Science (MS) in their respective area of engineering.

We concentrated on finding the best online programs to ensure accessibility for all students. Many of the programs on our list are also offered on campus. Some can be completed through a combination of online and on-campus classes.

As an added measure of quality, we only included schools that have regional accreditation. Many of these programs also have accreditation through ABET, an engineering and technology program accrediting body.

We evaluated each program’s faculty, flexibility, cost, outcomes, coursework, and reputation. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Engineering Program?

Full-time and part-time students can expect to complete at least 30 credit hours. For full-time students, this can take between 18 and 24 months. Students may finish in one year if an accelerated program is an option. Part-time students generally take at least three years to complete the program.

The 30 credit hours consist of core curriculum and electives, in which students learn product management, research, problem-solving, leadership, modeling, and simulation. Some online master’s in engineering degree programs require a thesis project and presentation; others may require internships or practicums.

Part of the graduation requirements may involve a student’s grade point average (GPA). Some online master’s in engineering degree programs require students to have a 3.0 in all courses. Students earning a C or worse will not be given credit for the class and must retake it if it is part of the core curriculum.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in engineering degree program

  • Engineering fundamentals. This foundational class reviews the skills engineers will use daily, including computation, programming, communication, leadership, design analysis, and team building. Also, students learn problem-solving skills and integrate new technology into engineering projects. Students review key concepts like energy, matter, gases, hydraulics, etc.
  • Leadership and management. Students learn the characteristics of leaders and managers in the engineering industry, how to build productive teams, create a positive work environment, and motivate team members to perform at their highest potential. Students learn how to help teams solve problems, communicate effectively, adapt to change, and make decisions.
  • Manufacturing and production. Students study production concepts like design, development, inventory, and quality control. They study manufacturing processes, technology, tools, machines, safety, and all the elements that make production possible. Students learn how to take tangible, raw materials and turn them into finished products.
  • Managing product lifecycle. Students study the five stages of a product’s lifecycle: development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Students learn that products have a shelf life, so learning how to extend the lifecycle in each stage is essential. Other topics include understanding the target customer, market research, pricing, technical services, and adaptability.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Engineering Degree?

Career outlook

If you’re considering a master’s degree in engineering, there’s good news. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs in this sector to continue to grow at a faster-than-average rate, with around 188,000 job openings expected each year through 2032. Industrial engineers and chemical engineers are poised to see the fastest job growth, at 12% and 8%, respectively.

The highest-paying salaries can be found in the computer hardware and petroleum spaces. Petroleum engineers make an average of $131,800 per year (or $67.37 per hour), and computer hardware engineers make an average of $132,360 per year (or $63.64 per hour).

Career paths

A master’s degree in engineering opens up myriad career paths because engineering touches almost every industry. This means students can pick an area of special interest to apply their engineering knowledge and skills.

Some spaces that employ engineers include the aerospace, agriculture, biomedical, chemical, manufacturing, computer, electrical, healthcare, petroleum, and nuclear industries.

The potential job titles for a graduate with this degree are almost as varied. Here are a few possible engineering career paths:

  • Mechanical engineer — design and analyze mechanical devices to improve existing systems
  • Industrial engineer — analyze systems for inefficiencies and implement fixes to improve operations
  • Civil engineer — design infrastructure, including buildings, roads, and bridges, to improve daily life for city residents
  • Biomedical engineer — develop healthcare equipment and devices used in research, diagnostics, and patient care
  • Chemical engineer — improve chemical production processes

Aerospace Engineer

Earning Potential: $78,170-$176,280 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, or a related field

Aerospace engineers focus on designing, creating, and testing aircraft and spacecraft. They analyze current designs to identify where improvements can be made to structural design, propulsion, navigation, and other key systems. Aerospace engineers often review proposals for new projects to determine if they meet safety requirements and whether they are realistic technically and financially. This job requires a great deal of collaboration with other professionals, such as researchers, scientists, and the crew. Aerospace engineers can choose to go into aeronautical work (aircraft) or astronautical work (spacecraft).

Electrical Engineer

Earning Potential: $65,480-$166,970 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Engineering, Electronics Engineering, or Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, implementing, and troubleshooting electrical equipment. They may work on devices such as navigation systems, generators, communications systems, and electric components of larger systems. Electrical engineers work in a variety of industries, including the computer, healthcare, military, and utility sectors. Duties include ensuring that electrical equipment is in alignment with the relevant codes and safety standards and making sure that current infrastructure can support the electric demand. Electrical engineers may also work in management, overseeing teams or projects to ensure efficient production and time management.

Industrial Engineer

Earning Potential: $62,730-$134,990 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or other engineering fields

Most industrial engineers work in transportation equipment manufacturing, professional services, and computer and electronic product manufacturing. Industrial engineers are focused on identifying inefficiencies and wastefulness in processes and eliminating them to increase production and decrease costs and labor. They may evaluate production schedules and manufacturing processes and develop and implement quality control procedures. Industrial engineers often collaborate with project managers, clients, and production staff and can work in various environments, from manufacturing plants to government agencies.

Online Master’s in Engineering Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for an online master's in engineering degree program?

Before applying to the best online master’s in engineering degree program, contact the admissions department of each university. Speak with an admissions counselor who can tell you the specific requirements for their program, which can be very different from another school’s needs.

Students may find there are common materials and processes, like having official undergraduate transcripts sent directly from the university to the graduate school admissions department. The transcripts must show completion of a bachelor’s degree and overall GPA.

Schools that require students to take an entrance exam, like the GRE, only accept results sent directly from the testing center. Other common application materials a student can submit include letters of recommendation, a resume, a completed application, and fees.

How much does an online master's in engineering degree program cost?

The cost of attending an online master’s in engineering degree program increases from the base tuition when schools add special fees for online technology, student support services, instruction, media resources, and activities. Online costs are often less than on-campus costs, which include parking, meal plans, computer labs, housing, student events, and more.

The factors that influence the cost of a master’s degree program include the following:

  • Travel or transportation
  • Location of residence
  • Hidden fees that support the school
  • Full-time or part-time student status

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

Program completion depends on how many credit hours students can take each semester. Some students enroll in an accelerated program to complete it in 12 to 18 months. Others enroll part-time, knowing it may take them three years to graduate.

Attending a program that requires 40 credit hours versus one that requires 30 credit hours can extend graduation deadlines by at least a semester. Further, the time it takes a student to complete a thesis project or practicum makes a difference. Finally, unexpected events happen, some of which can delay program completion temporarily.

Is an online master’s in engineering degree worth it?

If you enjoy designing systems and ensuring that processes are as efficient as possible, an online master’s in engineering degree may be a good fit. This degree prepares you for a career in various engineering disciplines and can pave the way for a management-level position.

The average annual salary for someone with a master’s in engineering degree in the United States is $99,000, and some specialty industries within this field have average salaries in the six-figure range.

An online master’s in engineering degree gives you a strong foundation in research, product management, modeling, simulations, and manufacturing processes. These programs allow you to put your skills to practical use with projects involving research, mockups, and design analysis. You’ll also get a chance to explore a variety of niches, such as electrical engineering or marine engineering, so you can find out where your passion and expertise overlap for a more fulfilling career after graduation.