Before you can pursue a master’s in engineering management – one of the highest-paying master’s degrees – you need to complete your undergraduate studies. Some master’s degree programs are open to applicants with any undergraduate degree, but the degree requirements and prerequisites are somewhat stricter for engineering management programs. A bachelor’s degree in engineering is the most undergraduate option most directly connected to a master’s in engineering management, although extensive studies of science subjects may be enough to get accepted into graduate school.
Any Branch of Engineering
Admissions personnel for an engineering management program typically expect incoming students to already have the technical skills and knowledge to work as an engineer. It’s common for applicants to these graduate programs to have an undergraduate background in engineering. Since engineering management programs typically aren’t specialized in a particular branch of engineering, which engineering major you chose doesn’t affect your qualifications for admission.
Historically, mechanical engineering has been the undergraduate program that produced the most graduates, according to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Students graduating in 2018 earned 31,936 degrees in this engineering discipline. Engineering-based computer science programs were the second most productive, awarding 19,082 bachelor’s degrees that year, followed by electrical engineering, which awarded 13,767 bachelor’s degrees. Other popular engineering branches to study, particularly at the undergraduate level, include civil engineering and chemical engineering.
These disciplines – mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical – are generally regarded as the four main categories of engineering work and study. There are also numerous subdisciplines of engineering, and earning a bachelor’s degree in any of those subdisciplines can also prepare you for success in a graduate program in engineering management.
Many engineers start out their education in these broader, more general engineering disciplines. Comparably few bachelor’s degrees are awarded in highly specialized engineering branches like mining engineering and nuclear engineering, the ASEE reported.
Looking Beyond Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees
The principles and practices of engineering design in all disciplines are based on scientific theories and methods. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in engineering but you want to work in engineering management, a bachelor’s degree in a science field or another closely related technical area of study is the next best thing. Non-engineering-based computer science programs are very popular undergraduate options, according to the ASEE, and they still equip students with the technical skills required to work in computer-focused aspects of engineering. Other programs of study, including mathematics, physical science and other technical subjects, may also be suitable.
Although these graduate programs may not always specify precise prerequisites, they typically expect students to have a history of coursework in science and math. If you’re missing crucial coursework, like statistics and engineering economics, you may have to complete some additional “bridge” courses before you can enroll in a master’s in engineering management program. Different schools may have slightly different entrance requirements, so if you’re thinking of applying to this graduate program without an undergraduate engineering degree, speak with admissions personnel about what classes you are missing and how to fill these gaps.
What engineering management programs typically don’t require is an extensive history of business classes. Many of the classes you will take in these programs emphasize business-focused courses that help students develop managerial skills, so you might think a business background would be an asset. If you happened to have minored or double-majored in business, in addition to your technical major, it certainly wouldn’t hurt. However, master’s in engineering management programs typically assume the applicant’s expertise in technical engineering skills rather than business knowledge.
If you come from a business background, you might have to shift your plans. You could still pursue a master’s in engineering management if you beef up your technical studies first by earning a second bachelor’s degree or a graduate certificate in engineering or a technical subject. Alternatively, you might consider a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program instead of a master’s in engineering management. While this program won’t provide you with the technical skills of an engineer, it will offer you a versatile background in business that could help you land an administrative role in all kinds of industries, including engineering and technical fields.
Prospective undergraduate students who are planning a future in engineering management would generally be best to study engineering as undergraduates, but if you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in another subject, there are still ways to achieve your goal.