What Is a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree is a graduate program you can pursue after your bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree classes allow you the opportunity to delve deeper into a specific field of study before graduate school. Some careers require a master’s degree, while others require a master’s degree as part of a doctorate program.
Is a Graduate Degree Right for You?
Completing a master’s degree allows you to pursue certain careers and lets you delve more deeply into your field of study. Here are some of the top reasons why students choose to attend graduate school and earn a master’s degree:
For career advancement.
- Even if a graduate school degree isn’t required to get a job in your industry, you may find that you can advance further in your career with a master’s degree. For some positions, a master’s degree is mandatory for consideration.
To earn more money.
- Students with graduate school degrees may be more likely to be considered for higher-paying jobs and can have an increased ability to move higher in their positions.
To change career fields.
- A master’s degree can help professionals gain expertise in a new area and make switching careers easier.
To become an authority in your field.
- Pursuing your area of study at the graduate school level can help make you an expert on that subject. Most master’s degrees require that students complete a thesis or research paper on a chosen subject.
To get a doctorate degree.
- A master’s degree is required to pursue a doctorate. You can either apply to a doctoral program and get your master’s degree as part of your studies, or you can apply to a terminal master’s degree program and then pursue a doctorate degree when you’ve completed your master’s degree.
Do Engineers Need a Master’s Degree?
It’s not always necessary to have a master’s degree to work in the engineering field of your choice, but it can help you get the job you want to have if you have one. You will be more competitive with a master’s degree, making it more likely for you to get hired. With that competitiveness also comes an edge to allow for better negotiations and higher wages or salaries.
On top of that, getting a master’s degree gives you more time to study and get real-world experience, so you’re ready to tackle any job that you come across in your field.
What Types of Engineering Master’s Degrees Are There?
There are over a dozen different master’s degrees available for different kinds of engineers. Some of those degrees include:
- Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
- Master of Agriculture and Biological Engineering
- Master of Biological Engineering
- Master of Chemical Engineering
- Master of Civil Engineering
- Master of Computer Engineering
You might be asking, “Do engineers need a master’s?” and the simple answer is no, but if you enjoy your field and want to specialize, one of these master’s programs may be right for you.
Master of Engineering vs Master of Science
The main difference between a Master of Engineering vs Master of Science is that a Master of Science tends to focus on research and theory rather than technical and practical applications. For students who enjoy theorizing and coming up with solutions in the background, a Master’s of Science could be the right choice. For those who enjoy hands-on work and being in the field, a Master of Engineering degree may be a better option.
Engineering Master’s Degree Time Requirements
A master’s degree is typically completed in two years of full-time graduate school coursework. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, which combines general studies and elective courses with classes in a student’s major, at the graduate school level, students focus specifically on courses in their majors or areas of study. In a master’s degree program, students can expand on the general knowledge and skills learned during their undergraduate courses.
While some students complete their master’s degree full-time, others choose to work and attend school part-time, either at night or through online classes. Online courses allow students to balance other responsibilities with their coursework. Students attending part-time courses at online schools may still be able to complete their degrees in the same two-year time frame as their full-time student counterparts because many online master’s degree programs move at an accelerated pace.
You should expect to spend a good deal of time completing your graduate coursework, as a master’s degree curriculum is generally more rigorous than a bachelor’s degree curriculum. Your time will be spent attending classes, meeting with study groups, completing projects, and conducting research in the library and laboratories.
What Types of Students Pursue Master’s Degrees in Engineering?
Students choose master’s degrees for many reasons. Some begin their graduate school studies right after completing their bachelor’s degrees, while others return to graduate school after working. They may choose to complete their master’s degree to advance in their current careers or change career paths.
Many master’s degree programs are designed to prepare students for a research career. These students choose an area of their field that interests them and spend most of their graduate studies conducting research. Students seeking a master’s degree graduate with a dissertation or extensive research paper, which serves as tangible evidence of the knowledge learned during their graduate studies. Research what types of jobs are available in your industry that require a master’s degree to get a better idea of what your degree will do for your career.
How Can I Find a Master’s Degree Near Me?
The easiest way to find a master’s degree program near you is via the Internet. Simply search Google, and you’ll find various schools that offer master’s degrees in your area. Be certain to research what each school offers, so you can choose the program that best meets your needs.
Master’s of Engineering Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage, when looking at all major engineering fields, is around $107,800. That makes the average hourly wage approximately $51.83. At the lower end of the spectrum, the least an engineer makes, on average, is $28.24 per hour, which works out to around $58,730 annually. The most engineers earn ranges from $79.18 per hour ($164,690 annually) and up.
If you look more specifically at individual fields in engineering, you’ll see who tends to make more than others. For example, the highest annual mean wage is in the oil and gas extraction industry, in which the annual mean wage was $164,770 for engineers. The lowest-paying industry was Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services at $97,630 on average.
It’s a good idea to look at different parts of the field to determine what specializations can help you reach the wages you’re interested in obtaining. You will also want to look at the employment numbers since certain fields have more job openings. For instance, there are only 240 people employed in the Oil and Gas Extraction field in engineering, but the Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation) has 32,290.
By looking at the available jobs and the median and mean payments to those already in the field, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate and come up with the right path for your master’s program.
What Type of Master’s Degree Is a Good Fit for Me?
It is becoming increasingly possible and more convenient to pursue your online master’s degree. An online program allows flexibility in scheduling classes because you can tailor them to your work schedule and other obligations. Additionally, while you may not have in-person interactions with professors and other students, live conferencing allows you to interact with them in real-time.
Be aware that at the graduate school level, some online master’s degree programs may require you to spend some time on campus, either attending specific courses or taking exams. Review the attendance requirements at any online schools you’re considering that are located far from where you live.
Many online master’s degree programs are structured into shorter semesters, which allows you to earn your master’s degree faster. This is especially helpful if you are using your master’s degree as a means to advance in your career.
What Is an Accelerated Master’s Degree Program?
An accelerated graduate degree program is one that you can complete in a shorter amount of time than the average, which is usually around two years. In order to take this route, you will need to make sure your program offers accelerated options. Accelerated degree programs can be helpful if you are already working and need to continue your career. If your program provides accelerated options, you can generally graduate in less than two years, depending on the area of study.
How Do You Find the Right Master’s Degrees?
If you’re choosing a campus school rather than an online school for your master’s degree, the location may be a significant factor. You will also want to take note of the type of school that best suits your needs. Some graduate students enjoy the atmosphere of a sprawling campus with seminar courses, while others crave a smaller, more intimate campus environment.
You want to look at the area of studies offered by the graduate school to make sure your intended concentration is available. Pay close attention to the details of each master’s degree program, as each school may focus on developing different sets of skills. For example, some are centered on research, while others prepare students for a teaching position.
For online schools and campus schools, the cost offered by the graduate school will also help you choose the school that’s best for you. The price of the graduate school will vary by program, location, type of school, and facilities offered. If you need help funding your graduate program, compare financial aid programs at each school to determine which will give you the best deal. To significantly decrease the cost of earning your master’s degree, apply to a state school where you live, as they typically have cheaper tuition rates for in-state students. Another option to consider is applying to your alma mater because some colleges and universities offer lower costs to former students.
When Should You Pursue a Master’s Degree?
You must have a clear idea of why you want a master’s degree before you apply to graduate school. Some students are entering a career requiring a master’s degree for entry-level positions, such as particular fields of engineering. Typically, these students attend a master’s degree program directly after earning their bachelor’s degree. Other graduate students are encouraged to gain real-world experience before attending a master’s degree program. This ensures that you have a solid understanding of how your industry works and what role you want to play in it.
Graduate students need to have a solid background in research and a passion for the subject they are studying. A master’s degree is more than an extension of your bachelor’s degree, it is a program with a specific focus, and it is essential to know why you want a master’s degree before applying to a program.
If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree but don’t know which one to choose, this list of Master’s degrees by program can help. Please view the list below.