How do I get into a master’s in engineering program?

Graduate programs use a formal application process to select students. Applicants typically submit documentation of prior education, work-related knowledge and skills, as well as plans for future work and study. Students interested in an engineering program should prepare to provide the following:

Tests or Certifications

The GRE is required by many engineering schools, while some allow the GMAT as an alternative.

Experience

Some programs expect students to have work experience in an engineering-related setting, while others are designed for students entering right after completing their bachelor’s degree.

Transcripts

Official transcripts from a regionally-accredited bachelor’s program are typically required. Some schools require full-time study as an undergraduate.

Additional Materials

Each program determines the admissions process. Look for additional requirements, such as a purpose statement, letters of recommendation and a current resume or CV.

What can I do to improve my chances of getting accepted into a Master of Engineering program?

  • Explore the many specializations in the field. Become more familiar with the options available and how they line up with the careers in your area of interest.
  • Take additional mathematics courses. Graduate level programs often require documented knowledge and skill, especially for students who do not have an engineering background.
  • Improve your undergraduate GPA. Many master’s in engineering programs only consider students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Find opportunities to gain practical experience. Part-time jobs, volunteer projects and internships are great ways to learn in a workplace environment.

Application Process Timeline

  • Review program requirements.
  • Take standardized tests, as required.
  • Order undergraduate transcripts.
  • Prepare required documentation (i.e., write essay, request recommendation letters).
  • Submit a completed application by the program’s posted deadline.

Note: Program to program, you will find there is a lot of variation in the application process. Some only admit students at certain times of year, which may be based on semesters or accelerated terms. Others have a rolling admissions policy that allows students to apply any time and quickly enroll. Completion timelines can also vary across programs within one institution or across a network of schools.


What are the degree options available at the master’s level?

Program Length

M.S. and M.Eng. programs usually take 18 months to two years to complete, through a combination of coursework and projects totaling 30 to 36 academic credits. Depending on the specific field of study, some engineering programs can extend to 45 or more required credits. Additional coursework is required for students without an engineering background.

Program Goals

Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.) programs typically have a research focus, although thesis and non-thesis options are available. They usually admit students who have an undergraduate degree in engineering, engineering technology or a related field such as computer science, physics or chemistry. These programs are designed to prepare students for doctoral study in engineering.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) programs, meanwhile, prepare students to pursue work in engineering-related positions and to advance their existing careers in the field. These programs offer an option for students who don’t have an undergraduate degree in engineering, with a focus on technical skills, as well as management and business topics.

Majors/Concentrations

There are many sub-fields of engineering. Each school may offer multiple academic tracks, but no one school covers all of the possibilities. Students can choose from a wide range of concentrations that apply engineering principles in different contexts, such as Aerospace, Biomedical, Civil and Environmental, Computer Science, Mechanical, Petroleum and Industrial. Explore these and additional specialties on our Careers in Engineering.


What do the major concepts and coursework look like?

The learning objectives in each engineering course and program vary, however, students will gain advanced knowledge in engineering principles and technical skills in problem solving, design and analysis. Many programs include prerequisites in mathematics, including multiple courses in calculus, as well as physics, computer programming and other topics related to the concentration.

Curriculum

Required courses provide a foundation for all students and can vary depending on the concentration. Typical core courses include:

  • Applied Mathematics in Engineering
  • Engineering Analysis
  • Deterministic Models and Simulation
  • Applied Statistics
  • Engineering Communications and Management
  • Partial Differential Equations

These courses vary widely based on the engineering concentration:

  • Software Architecture
  • Graphic Information Systems
  • Advanced Thermodynamics
  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Sustainability in Design and Manufacturing
  • Utility Application of Power Electronics

Most programs allow students to select multiple elective courses, which are usually engineering or science-related, and approved by an advisor.

Thesis, Exam, Practicum

M.S. and M.Eng. program curricula usually include a comprehensive learning and assessment activity after coursework has been completed. These requirements may include the following: thesis research, independent study, capstone projects, internships and examinations.


What about program costs?

Getting In

You can expect several expenses related to applying for admission, such as:

  • Application: Printed and online forms require payment of a non-refundable fee ranging from $50 to $90.
  • Standardized tests: The GRE test administration fee is $195; additional fees apply for subject tests, special handling and prep courses. The GMAT appointment fee is $250.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition costs at the graduate level can vary based on the type of school (i.e., private, public, for-profit), mode of instruction (i.e., online, on-campus, blended) and student residency (in-state, out-of-state). Each institution sets its own rates for tuition and other fees associated with taking courses and completing program requirements.

When comparing the costs of multiple programs, look for the following information to help you in your decision making:

  • Total costs: The amount paid to complete all courses and program requirements.
  • Annual tuition: Usually calculated based on full-time enrollment for one academic year.
  • Cost per credit: Programs require different numbers of courses and credits. The program with the fewest number of credits required isn’t necessarily the least expensive.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average full-time graduate tuition and fees was $16,435 in 2013. Current engineering programs range from approximately $22,000 to $52,000.

Admissions and financial aid counselors can help research funding options to offset the total cost of attendance. Review our guide on scholarships, grants and financial aid for more information.


How does accreditation work?

What accrediting agencies should I be aware of for M.Eng. programs?

ABET
This consortium of more than 30 member societies provides accreditation standards and evaluation for academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. Bachelor’s of engineering programs are far more commonly accredited by ABET than graduate programs; accreditation or lack thereof does not affect financial aid, funding or employment prospects for engineering graduate students like it might for those in other fields.


How do I go about evaluating and selecting a program?

  • Match the program with your goals and interests. Engineering students are pursuing a specific type of engineering in their graduate programs. Ensure that the field and program you choose align with your career goals and any interests you may have in research or future doctoral studies. Carefully review learning objectives and outcomes to find out more about the program’s design and alumni employment.
  • Compare costs and funding options. Graduate tuition is expensive, and engineering programs can have additional costs related to lab and technology fees, as well as required equipment and software. Make sure you understand all of the costs associated with a program, as well as the availability of scholarships and grants, before you enroll.
  • Learn about faculty qualifications. Find out more about the professional experience, academic qualifications and the current research interests of the instructors teaching at the programs you are interested in attending. Department websites often provide access to faculty members’ bios and sometimes their course syllabi.
  • Review the prerequisites. Engineering programs include a wide range of curricula. The courses and prerequisites vary depending on the type of degree (M.S., M.Eng.) and goal of the program (e.g., research, technical skills). To ensure you are prepared for success in your new program, you may need to take an additional class or two to learn or review fundamental topics, particularly in math.

What are the keys to success once I’ve begun my program?

  • Find opportunities to practice new skills and apply new knowledge. Whether your goals include engineering research or an advanced position in industry, your engineering advisors and instructors can help you find ways to practice the skills you will need to succeed in your courses and after graduation. Look for opportunities to work on projects outside of class, participate in program committees and apply for internships.
  • Stay focused on your goals. Persistence is an important characteristic of successful graduate students. Some courses will be more difficult than others, and some weeks will be more stressful than others. Keep your original career and education goals in mind as you work through the challenges ahead.
  • Join a student club or professional association. Engineering-related clubs and organizations not only offer learning resources, such as publications and workshops, but also the opportunity to network and get involved in leadership positions. Research the options at your school and in the professional groups that represent professionals in your engineering specialization.
  • Ask for guidance. You will receive grades and other helpful feedback in your courses, but reaching out to other resources in your program and beyond will help you make decisions about everything from course selection to job offers. Schedule time to meet with faculty members, advisors, career counselors and program alumni.