Engineering

Can I Earn a Master of Engineering Management Online?

Can I Earn a Master of Engineering Management Online?
Engineers who plan to work full-time while earning a degree will benefit from predominantly or entirely asynchronous online degree programs, which allow them to complete their coursework at their own speed. Image from Pexels
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Craig Hoffman August 8, 2022

Online Master of Engineering Management (MEM) and Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) programs enable you to study anywhere in the world without having to relocate.

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Engineers live to solve problems. Whether it’s on the jobsite of a new highway or in the office preparing a client’s request for a proposal, the work engineers do requires a multidisciplinary STEM approach to complete projects effectively and efficiently.

What happens when you add a business and managerial component to the mix? Then you’ve created an engineering manager. They’re adept at handling any engineering project’s technical and administrative aspects utilizing their well-honed management skills. Through education and training, successful engineering management professionals can take on complex projects that require confident and proactive leadership.

If you are an engineering professional and want to advance your career or you have a STEM background—either with a related bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience—and are thinking about entering the field, consider earning an engineering management master’s.

This article discusses whether you can I earn a master’s of engineering management online, as well as:

  • What is an engineering manager?
  • What does an engineering manager do?
  • Engineering management career paths
  • Do I need an engineering management master’s?
  • What is an engineering management master’s?
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What is an engineering manager?

Every skyscraper, software product, and solar power grid has an engineering manager leading the research, design, and construction teams of engineers, scientists, technicians, and other support workers. Their day-to-day work often necessitates a thorough understanding of various engineering skills and technical disciplines as well as business administration and management strategies.

Engineering managers must be up-to-date on the latest processes and technologies that enable their teams to perform engineering projects efficiently and successfully. They also need a keen technical ability to review their team’s work for accuracy and quality assurance, as well as to provide recommendations and assess the need for any trade-offs.

Engineering managers need business skills for project and financial management as well as risk assessment. Engineers can expect to work on multiple projects simultaneously, balancing tasks such as allocating and budgeting resources and coordinating communication across numerous departments, as well as planning and implementing a supply chain strategy and ensuring that teams meet deadlines and maintain a high standard of work.

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What does an engineering manager do?

Engineering managers are project quarterbacks. They lead the team in all phases of delivering quality work for their clients. Engineering managers establish budgets, hire and train personnel, deal with technical issues, and collaborate with multiple departments to manage project tasks. They usually prepare reports on project development and outcomes.

Engineering managers’ specific responsibilities include:

  • Planning strategies for the development of designs and products on schedule and within budget
  • Communicating and collaborating with other managers, stakeholders, and contractors
  • Prioritizing, delegating, and supervising all engineers’ activities and deliverables
  • Managing, supporting, and evaluating engineers’ performance
  • Hiring new talent for the team and arranging coaching and development opportunities
  • Providing input in strategic technical decisions and solutions when needed
  • Building the entire technical documentation and project roadmaps

Engineering management career paths

Engineering management is a wide-ranging discipline that impacts myriad industries, including manufacturing, construction, architecture, technology, healthcare, and agriculture. It’s no surprise that engineering management positions vary depending on specialization and industry.

Career paths in the engineering management field include:

  • Chief engineer:__ A chief engineer is responsible for supervising operations, ensuring efficiency, and enforcing compliance with the safety standards and regulatory procedures. They assign tasks to the team, communicate with the clients and management for instructions and specifications, monitor budgets and forecast sales reports, analyze and approve designs, negotiate contracts, and process disputes. A chief engineer must have excellent knowledge of engineering disciplines and stellar leadership skills (average salary: $114,300).
  • Director of engineering:__ A director of engineering is the head of the engineering team or department but plays an active part in the development of projects. They work with their team to set goals, plan projects, build timelines, and stay within budgets. Their duties also include project management, hiring new team members, presenting budgets and plans to other departments, and meeting with upper-level management (average salary: $178,428).
  • Engineering manager:__ The engineering manager is responsible for overseeing a team of engineers as they work to complete projects. Their duties include hiring and training qualified staff, setting project budgets and timelines for completion, overseeing quality management, and helping their staff test or troubleshoot issues with prototypes (average salary: $149,073).
  • Engineering project manager:__ The engineering project manager supervises and assesses the daily operations of an engineering team working on a project. They review proposals and supervise much of the budgeting and cost analysis for projects as well as monitor productivity (average salary: $108,575).
  • Senior lead analyst:__ A senior lead analyst focuses on providing analytical services to a company. Their job entails conducting extensive research and analyses, determining potential resources, coordinating documentation, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of projects, and establishing business plans and forecasts (average salary: $118,386).

Do I need an engineering management master’s?

Obtaining an engineering management graduate degree involves a significant commitment of time and effort, particularly for working professionals who must balance degree studies with their job and other personal responsibilities. Prospective students also need to take into consideration the cost of earning a master’s degree and whether they qualify for financial aid (although the higher salary one can earn over time can help pay off any student loans).

Caveats acknowledged, there are many benefits to earning a master’s degree in engineering management, including gaining additional knowledge and expertise in the field (and earning the degree validating this training), expanding your professional network, and increasing your employment prospects. Of course, a master’s degree in engineering management usually results in better compensation and employment security as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) workers holding a master’s degree earn over 15 percent more in pay each week than those whose highest degree is a bachelor’s (plus the unemployment rate for workers with master’s is 2.6 percent versus 3.5 percent for those only holding bachelor’s).

What is an engineering management master’s?

A master’s degree in engineering management, such as a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) or a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM), is a graduate-level degree that prepares students for successful careers in the field. These programs feature a wide range of engineering specialties and provide technical and financial insight into the creation, operation, and management of complex engineering projects. They build on undergraduate concepts by teaching decision-making, problem-solving, management, and leadership skills so you’re ready to lead a team of engineers to success.

How long does it take to earn an engineering management master’s?

Whether they are pursuing their degree on-campus, online, or in a hybrid program, full-time students usually require around two years to complete all coursework (and earn 30 to 36 credits). Part-time students often take three to four years. Accelerated tracks, which are typically offered online, can be completed in as little as one year to as many as 16 months.

Prerequisites for an engineering management master’s

Most engineering management master’s programs expect applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Stevens Institute of Technology requires prospective students to submit undergraduate degree transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, two letters of recommendation from faculty or professional colleagues, a statement of purpose, and resume (plus TOEFL scores for international students). Notably, Stevens doesn’t require GRE scores, as is becoming the case at many schools. Programs have different admission requirements regarding professional experience, but most are interested in students with some practical work experience.

Core curriculum

In graduate-level engineering management programs, core courses emphasize operations research foundations, engineering project management, engineering leadership, and financial management and accounting components of directing cross-disciplinary engineering and science-based teams.

For example, Stevens Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Engineering Management’s core curriculum combines both financial and technological classwork:

  • Engineering Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Project Management Of Complex Systems
  • Elements of Operations Research
  • Informatics for Engineering Management
  • Systems Modeling and Simulation
  • Decision and Risk Analysis

Elective courses

Students also have the opportunity to complete electives (or undertake a capstone project) in engineering and other technical fields, as well as specialized management courses tailored to their experiences, skill sets, and career objectives. This interdisciplinary mix leads to a specialty representing students’ interests and career aspirations in many engineering management degree programs, such as industrial engineering, systems engineering, civil engineering, supply chain management, technology entrepreneurship, and information systems management.

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Can I earn a Master of Engineering Management online?

As you may have gathered by now, it’s possible to earn an online master’s degree in engineering management (see U.S. News & World Report’s list of best online master’s programs in engineering management). Engineers who plan to work full-time while earning a degree will benefit from predominantly or entirely asynchronous online degree programs, which allow them to complete their coursework at their own speed. Synchronous online programs require some live engagement, but students generally find the time commitment manageable; many appreciate the opportunities for networking and engagement synchronous online learning provides.

Stevens Institute of Technology’s engineering management master’s degree is a hybrid of both forms, with courses combining live weekly discussions, lectures, and Q&A sessions at set times with asynchronous coursework and projects.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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