Automotive Engineering has the potential to open your path to one of the most historic industries within the United States: car (and car part) manufacturing. Some OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), including Ford and General Motors, have been operating for over 100 years. Today, with the move to increase electric vehicle usage and production globally, OEMs and automotive engineers are again at the forefront of that transition. A master’s in automotive engineering can provide a great way to become a new entrant or further your opportunity in an exciting industry.
What is Automotive Engineering?
Automotive engineering encompasses several roles and responsibilities. At its core, being an automotive engineer is about working with cars, trucks, and related parts within the field. An automotive engineer may have the opportunity to work directly for a company that manufacturers cars such as Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagen, or for an OEM in the automotive industry such as Denso, Johnson Controls, or Magna.
Automotive engineers are involved in the automotive industry’s research, design, and manufacturing sectors. According to Payscale, CAD (computer-aided design) and other design software are commonly used by automotive engineers in the creative process, in addition to hands-on work in the field and research on new technology.
In a master’s of automotive engineering job description, you will find work at the intersection of automotive design and manufacturing with a requested ability to optimize, troubleshoot, and improve upon existing systems. Master’s of automotive engineering salaries are also quite desirable, ranging from $60k up to $190k as management and team leadership opportunities arise.
Why Get an Online Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering?
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, online degrees from schools that offer online and on-campus programs are viewed as favorable by over 90% of employers. The gap between an online and an on-campus program regarding notoriety is almost closed.
Pursuing an online master’s in automotive engineering can allow you to level up your education with a more flexible schedule. This is because the courses are typically pre-recorded for online programs and can be taken asynchronously at your chosen time.
Flexibility is one of the key aspects that an online master’s degree can provide. As a result, most students pursuing an online degree will continue to work, at least part-time, during their master’s in automotive engineering program. However, students may pursue co-ops or internships in the automotive industry while obtaining their master’s degree online. Getting an internship or co-op in the automotive sector could provide an even smoother transition into the automotive industry for new entrants upon graduation.
Lastly, online master’s programs sometimes have benefits related to accessibility. If the program utilizes pre-recorded lectures, professors may have more time for grading assignments, monitoring discussion groups, and other activities. In addition, online programs aren’t subject to the same physical space limitations. Consequently, students may find that they have an easier time getting into online programs.
How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering Cost?
Several exceptional schools provide online Master’s Degrees in Automotive Engineering. You will still be taught by extraordinary professors and obtain an accredited degree. Costs tend to vary for programs depending on the courses’ synchronicity, the program’s length, in-state vs. out-of-state tuition and more.
Overall, the cost of an online master’s in automotive engineering is highly likely to be more affordable than an on-campus degree. However, the cost-benefit of pursuing an online degree is even more significant, given the ability to continue working during the program.
Due to the flexibility of an online master’s in automotive engineering program, it is essential to look at the cost per credit hour for the online programs. An online program can take anywhere from 1 to 5+ years to complete depending on how many courses you choose to take per semester. With this in mind, the cost for the entire master’s of automotive engineering degree will be spread out over several years, depending on your pace of completion.
Three of the top master’s in automotive engineering programs at US universities are listed below (in alphabetical order), along with their degree cost and length of program:
- Clemson University — Master’s of Science in Automotive Engineering. Prices range from $499 to $1264 per credit hour, depending on the program tier. With a requirement of obtaining 33 credits to graduate, the full tuition ranges from approximately $16k to $42k. The degree can be completed at your own pace.
- Pittsburgh State — Master’s of Science in Technology emphasis in Automotive Technology. The cost is $374 (in-state) or $826 (out-of-state) per credit hour for graduate students. With a requirement of 30 credit hours, the entire degree tuition is approximately $11k for in-state and $25k for out-of-state. The degree can be completed at your own pace.
- University of Michigan — Master’s of Automotive Engineering MEng Online. The cost is $1300 (in-state) to $1500 (out-of-state) per credit hour. With a requirement of 30 credit hours, the total tuition amounts to $39k (in-state) to $45k (out-of-state). The degree can be completed in 1 to 2 years if done full-time or between 2.5 and 5 years on a part-time basis.
Master’s in Automotive Engineering Salary and Job Outlook
The average master’s in automotive engineering salary is $82,000 USD in the US, according to Payscale data obtained in August 2022. According to the Economic Research Institute, automotive engineering salary estimates are projected to increase by 11% over the next 5-years with steady growth. Additionally, a master’s in automotive engineering could qualify you to take on several roles in the automotive industry within the United States, such as:
- Controls engineer with salary ranging from $60k to 109k annually (Payscale – August 2022)
- Design engineer with salary ranging from $59k to $103k annually (Payscale – August 2022)
- Team leader, general with salary ranging $82k to $185k annually (Payscale – August 2022)
- Test engineer with salary ranging from $71k to $132k annually (Payscale – August 2022)
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) distinguishes between job opportunities in motor vehicle manufacturing and parts manufacturing. The majority of the motor vehicle manufacturing roles are in the following states:
- Michigan (41.5k employees in 2021)
- California (25k employees in 2021)
- Kentucky (22k employees in 2021)
- Ohio (22k employees in 2021)
The majority of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing roles are in the following states:
- Michigan (121k employees in 2021)
- Ohio (68k employees in 2021)
- Indiana (59k employees in 2021)
A brief search on LinkedIn for “automotive engineer” also led to a high number of potential master’s in automotive engineering job descriptions and titles that one could qualify for, including:
- Automotive analysis engineer
- Automotive application engineer
- Automotive engineer, sales team
- Automotive manufacturing engineer
- Automotive materials engineer
- Automotive vibration engineer
Career trajectory may start you as an engineer; then you can become a senior engineer followed by a team leader or manager where multiple automotive engineers may report to you. A master’s of automotive engineering can also allow you to pursue a role focusing more on materials, vibration, autonomous driving, sales, or a specific application. The opportunities are bountiful, and the master’s of automotive engineering salary is desirable with a high potential for growth in the industry.
Common Courses in Master’s of Automotive Engineering Degree Programs
You will likely take several standard courses no matter what online master’s in automotive engineering degree program you pursue.
The courses are generally separated by the system, including electrical, power train, manufacturing, controls, design, management, and more.
You will likely have courses in electrical and controls that touch on battery systems, vehicle dynamics, control systems design, computational methods, predictive controls, control of parts and transmissions, electric drives, and modeling vehicle systems. Powertrain-related curriculum includes courses about internal combustion engines, hybrids and electric vehicles, transmissions, and fuel cell components.
Within manufacturing, you may take courses related to automotive body material selection and construction, quality control and assurance, value engineering, diagnostics and reliability, six sigma and lean manufacturing. Within design, you will take courses around concept development, hypothesis testing, design implementation, design software, risk testing, crash testing, and more.
Within management, you will have courses around leadership development, human behavior, development strategies, leadership management, and more.
As you can see, there is a great variety of course options you can take to obtain your master’s of automotive engineering. By the end of the degree, you will be familiar with leadership development, manufacturing, electric and controls, design, and more.
Other FAQs About Master’s In Automotive Engineering Degrees and Programs
How long will an online master’s take to complete?
An online master’s in automotive engineering will take 1 to 5 years, depending on how many courses you take per semester. Some programs can be completed in one to two years if you attend full-time. If you attend the program part-time, and take 1 to 2 courses per semester, it can be a three- to five-year program. The beauty of an online master’s degree is that it can be highly tailored to your schedule.
Are there further specializations associated with the Master’s in Automotive Engineering degree?
Yes, as you pursue a master’s degree, or a PhD if you choose to go further, you can look for concentration opportunities in electric vehicle (EV) car and parts manufacturing, autonomous vehicle research and development, and a more detailed design focus.
Are there any professional associations I can join as an automotive engineer?
Yes. Both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) are great resources for new automotive engineers looking to build community, find jobs, and expand their network.
Do I need a bachelor’s in automotive engineering to get a master’s in automotive engineering?
Not necessarily, but it may help. If you do not have a bachelor’s in automotive engineering, having a similar degree in mechanical, electrical, and systems engineering is also acceptable. If you do not have an undergraduate engineering degree, work experience in the automotive industry or expertise in design, test, or manufacturing roles may be sufficient to obtain a master’s in automotive engineering, depending on the program.