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

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the potential career options with this degree have an average annual salary of over $100,000.

Students can earn a master’s in engineering in two years or less if attending full-time and three to five years if attending 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 tuition for graduate school is $12,596 at public universities and $28,017 at private schools.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Engineering Program

Choose your area of study

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, data collection, and analysis.

Also, some programs allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field. Concentrations with the best occupational outlook include:

  • Electrical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Computer engineering
  • Civil engineering

If you already know what you want to do after you graduate, look for programs that match these career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in engineering program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for engineering education.

Other areas that you should research include:

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

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program. Keeping a spreadsheet will help students organize all this information. 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).

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

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 departments regarding possible fee waivers.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

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.

Be sure to speak to financial aid counselors at the schools you’re interested in for the most accurate and specific information about program cost and financing options.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Engineering Programs

Best Online Master's in Engineering Degree Programs

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

NC State University

Purdue University College of Engineering

Penn State World Campus

Arizona State University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Columbia University Engineering

University of Michigan

University of Florida

University of Wisconsin at Madison

University of Southern California

Texas A&M University College of Engineering

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals

George Washington University

Ohio State University

Auburn University

Oklahoma State University

University of Maryland Graduate School

Oregon State University

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University

Kansas State University

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Cornell University

UMass Lowell

Stevens Institute of Technology

University of Arizona

Virginia Tech Engineering

University at Buffalo

University of Cincinnati

Washington State University

University of California at Riverside

Louisiana State University

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

California State University at Fullerton

West Texas A&M University

University of Central Florida

Michigan Technological University

Drexel University

University of Arkansas

Case Western Reserve University

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

University of Connecticut

Colorado State University

Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Mississippi State University

Northeastern University

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 options also have programmatic accreditation through ABET.

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 about the characteristics of leaders and managers in the engineering industry as well as how to build productive teams, create a positive work environment, and motivate team members to perform at their highest potential. Students also learn how to help teams solve problems, communicate effectively, adapt to change, and make decisions.
  • Manufacturing and production. This course covers production concepts like design, development, inventory, and quality control. Students study manufacturing processes, technology, tools, machines, safety, and all the elements that make production possible.
  • 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

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:

  • Industrial engineer — Design systems to help organizations manufacture products or provide services.
    • Median annual salary: $96,350
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 12%
    • New job openings projected: 22,800 annually
  • Chemical engineer — Use the principles of chemistry and physics to design equipment and develop production processes.
    • Median annual salary: $106,260
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 8%
    • New job openings projected: 1,300 annually
  • Aerospace engineer — Develop and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.
    • Median annual salary: $126,880
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 3,800 annually

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 an 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 application materials a student may need to 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.

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

  • Travel or transportation
  • Location of residence
  • Full-time or part-time student status

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

An online master’s in engineering program usually takes about two years to complete. Some students enroll in an accelerated program to graduate in 12 to 18 months. Others enroll part-time, knowing it may take them three years to earn all the necessary credits.

Attending a program that requires 40 credit hours versus one that requires 30 credit hours can extend graduation deadlines by at least a semester. The amount of time it takes to complete a thesis project or practicum also makes a difference.

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.

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.

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