Pursuing a master's degree in engineering or construction is all about choices. You must choose your general engineering degree path and pick a specialization before you can even begin to consider potential schools. In construction, you must also choose a degree that matches your career.
Researching your degree before you enroll is an essential part of the educational process. Use this guide as a tool to help you as you begin to explore your options for a master's degree in construction or engineering. It pays to do your research and engage in a broader discussion of majors before pursuing an on-campus or online graduate degree program.
Master's of Engineering: Choose Your Path
Once you've decided to pursue a master's degree in engineering, you need to pick a degree that challenges you and offers the training you'll need to succeed in the field. Take a look at the two degree options for engineering master's degree students:
- Master of Engineering (M.Eng): Considered a professional, terminal degree, the M.Eng degree is the best choice for students who do not intend to go on to earn a doctorate. Not all M.Eng students are required to conduct research or write a thesis.
- Master of Science in Engineering (MS): Original research and a thesis are generally required among master's of science students in engineering. Such research may eventually translate to further study in a doctoral program.
Furthermore, some colleges offer 5-year bachelor's degree programs that include a master's degree. If you're planning an undergraduate major, you might consider a school that combines your master's degree training with bachelor's degree fundamentals.
Engineering Master's Degree Specialization Options
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that engineers with bachelor's degrees earn some of the highest starting salaries among all bachelor's degree holders. With a master's degree, graduates can go on to positions of greater responsibility, higher salary, and better job security. Here are a few popular specializations for master's degree in engineering:
- Aeronautics and Astronautics: Standing at the forefront of aeronautic and astronautic technology
- Biological Engineering: Combining biology, medicine, and engineering to design and create medical information systems
- Chemical Engineering: Studying the chemicals in production or use in fields from pharmaceuticals to agriculture
- Civil Engineering: Planning, building, and maintaining infrastructure
- Environmental Engineering: Bridging the gap between environment and engineering systems
- Electrical Engineering: Studying and creating the electrical systems that power homes, businesses, and infrastructures
- Materials Science and Engineering: Creating, testing, and improving on materials used in a range of industry
- Mechanical Engineering: Creating the mechanical systems that drive modern science and technology
- Nuclear Science and Engineering: The future of nuclear power and science as it relates to engineering
Earn a master's degree in one of the specializations above and you should enjoy the high-level instruction and research opportunities you receive. Graduates go on to the workforce, or stay in school to finish a doctoral degree.
Graduate Engineering Program: Choose Between Two Construction Disciplines
Construction is a lucrative field with growing job options for workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field should grow faster than the average for all occupations, in part due to renovation on older buildings as well as new construction in cities and towns across the country.
Your interests and career path ultimately decide the type of construction master's degree you choose. If you have a background in engineering and are interested in the highly technical details of construction work, a construction engineering degree may be right for you. If your interests rest more in the business of construction science, an MS in construction management could be the best path.
Take a look at typical coursework you can find in construction management and construction engineering master's degrees:
- Construction Management (MS): Construction cost analysis and control, legal environment, construction financial management, topics in international construction, construction information systems, total quality management and planning in construction, construction safety management, and value engineering in construction
- Construction Engineering (M.Eng or MS): Construction cost engineering, construction management and project engineering, critical path methods, construction professional practice seminar, and graduate civil engineering construction courses
Each master's degree typically focuses on high-level technical information, but the engineering degree offers a scientific technical perspective while the management degree looks at the systems and business of the trade.
Earn a Master's Degree Online in Construction or Engineering
For master's degree programs that don't require a high level of laboratory research, such as construction and some engineering degrees, it's possible to earn a master's degree online in the field. Full-time workers and individuals who travel with construction, engineering, or military groups see the benefits of online education:
- Log on from anywhere with an Internet connection to complete coursework
- Interact with instructors and students around the world
- Complete coursework on your schedule
For many construction and engineering students, campus-based educational programs come with their own benefits:
- Access to laboratory and research materials
- Hands-on research opportunities in construction and engineering departments
- Face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers
Your own preferences as a student may help determine your comfort level if you choose to earn a master's degree online in construction or engineering. To find out more about online education, including accreditation of online schools, check out WorldWideLearn's Education Resources page.
Campus-Based or Online Master's Degrees in Construction or Engineering
No matter which degree program or school you choose, educating yourself about the degree process is the most important part of your return to school. Learn about the different types of degrees and you can enjoy the confidence of making an informed choice about your education.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Construction
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Engineering
- Florida International University, MS Construction Management
- MIT, MIT Engineering
- University of Michigan, Construction Management