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Master of Engineering Management (MEM) | Context - Context
Master of Engineering Management
Master of Engineering Management In Context

A master’s degree in engineering management combines technical and business skills, and can lead to a management role in the engineering sector.

Master’s in engineering management (MEM) programs meet the growing demand for engineering managers, standing out from other engineering programs because they integrate elements of engineering, business, and law.

An MEM degree can provide the necessary knowledge, skills, and theory to operate successfully at a senior level in technology leadership, high technology management, research and development management, or industrial management.

What can you learn by earning a master's in engineering management?

The Master of Engineering Management program focuses on a combination of management and business acumen with technical expertise. This includes:

  • Engineering mathematics
  • Management science
  • Operations management
  • Business practices
  • Science
  • Engineering principles
  • Global business
  • Organizational behavior
  • Management theory and skills

The typical candidates for an MEM are those who hold a bachelor’s in engineering and wish to pursue a management role.

Why earn a Master of Engineering Management degree?

According to information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering management is a competitive field with relatively slow growth but very high salaries. The median pay in 2016 was more than $134,000. [3]

Students pursue an MEM to become better leaders and entrepreneurs, and there are many opportunities, particularly in project management, information technology, and engineering. MEM graduates are highly sought after for the following reasons:

  • Wide range of skills:
    Engineering management programs normally include courses in financial management, industrial and human resources management, accounting, engineering economics, and quality control. [4]
  • Job responsibilities:
    Students learn both engineering and business skills, making them highly desirable as leaders at top global tech firms. [5]
Master of Engineering Management Career Advancement

Most students embarking on the MEM program already have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty. Some pursue their Master of Engineering Management degree before entering the job market, while others first obtain some experience.

Once they have completed their MEM degree, graduates usually must gain work experience in team leading, problem-solving, decision-making, and working on projects before pursuing a management position.

What are some careers for MEM graduates?

There are many career paths that a business professional can choose with an engineering management degree, depending on their chosen specialty or focus during their program, including:

  • Engineering manager: average salary $107,738 [7]
  • Software engineering manager: average salary $128,619 [8]
  • Process engineering manager: average salary $105,767 [9]

The employment of engineering managers in the engineering services industry is projected to grow 12% from 2014 to 2024. [1] This sector comprises consulting firms providing services to many different industries, such as civil engineering, mechanical, and electrical engineering services.

What is a typical job outcome after earning an MEM?

Job opportunities for MEM graduates include: [11]

  • Manufacturing
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Government
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Scientific research and development services

There are many opportunities for electrical engineers in industries such as power companies, tech giants, government, consulting, development firms, the military, and research. Salary is competitive, with median wages in May 2016 of $157,570 for scientific research and development services, $141,280 for company management, and $135,380 in the manufacturing sector. [12]

In Fortune’s list of the best 100 companies to work for in the U.S., those employing engineers feature prominently. While tech-related engineering fields are on the rise, many different planes of engineering are represented each year. [14]

What are current trends connected to engineering management jobs?

As a result of the rapid advancement of new technologies, the field of engineering management is enjoying excellent employment rates, with some fields having almost no unemployment.

Thanks to advances in automotive technology, industrial automation, sustainability, oil and gas exploration, biotechnology and infrastructure, engineers will continue to enjoy a robust career outlook, with an estimated 240,000 new engineering positions predicted over the next 10 years.

This means that there is a constant need for engineering managers. Although the field is growing relatively slowly, the jobs that are available tend to offer high salaries and competitive benefits packages. The median salary for engineering managers in 2016 was more than $134,000. [3]

What are common career settings for master’s in engineering management graduates?

The top four career settings likely to see an increase in jobs over the next decade are:

  • Mechanical engineering
    Working in a diverse range of industries with many different responsibilities, this discipline is expected to add around 14,600 positions from 2014 to 2024. [2]
  • Biomedical and environmental engineering
    The BLS projects about 5,100 new jobs being created in the growing field of biomedical engineering, and an additional 6,800 in environmental engineering, from 2014 to 2024. [6] [13]
  • Industrial engineering

    This sector includes manufacturing engineering, quality engineering, process engineering, and supply chain. The BLS projects growth to be slow and steady in this industry, but with nearly a quarter million people holding this title, managers will likely be in demand. [19]
  • Electrical engineering
    Electronics is a booming field, and the BLS estimates that some 315,000 electrical engineering positions currently exist in the United States. [24]
Master of Engineering Management career benefits

Applicants who have an engineering management degree can offer both business and technical skills to an employer, which could give them a distinct advantage when applying for jobs in the competitive world of technology-driven industry.

  • A better salary
    MEM graduates can achieve high earnings, advanced job responsibilities, and promotions thanks to the unique skills provided by the Master of Engineering Management degree. Analysts state the top-paying sector is the oil and gas extraction industry, where the mean wage is $201,900. [17]
  • More employment opportunities
    The MEM degree teaches a combination of engineering skills and business acumen, leading to a wider range of job opportunities, such as planning new projects, proposing budgets, estimating workforce and equipment needs, supervising staff, and coordinating operations. [18]
What MEM skills do employers seek?

Employers are seeking particular skills from MEM graduates, regardless of their particular engineering specialization: [20]

  • Analytical skills and the ability to solve problems by evaluating information and data
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to apply technical knowledge and expertise to finding solutions to workplace challenges
  • Paying attention to detail and showing a clear understanding of complex systems
  • Good business practices
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Mathematical ability
  • Organizational skills, including an ability to manage time effectively, keep track of many employees, prioritize tasks and schedules, and plan resources and budgets accurately
  • The motivation, drive, and ambition to effectively motivate others
  • Enthusiasm and commitment when learning new skills
  • An ability to assimilate a lot of new information
Master of Engineering Management Curriculum
At least one-third of a typical MEM program is management-related, including courses on managing projects, people, and strategy, with course material directly related to technology-driven organizations. [22]

Typical core courses
The MEM program has a multidisciplinary approach, combining graduate-level engineering education with core business principles.

Your curriculum will vary from college to college, but typical core areas of study include:

  • Business
  • Emerging technologies
  • Engineering management strategy
  • Financial analysis
  • Law
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Problem solving
  • Product development
  • Project management
  • Research and development
  • Strategic planning
  • Systems engineering management

Specialist courses can include topics such as:

  • Construction management and property development
  • Financial engineering
  • Operations and supply chain management

These specialist courses differentiate the engineering management degree from other business programs as they rely on your engineering background, ensuring you attain in-depth knowledge of the field you wish to pursue for your future career.

Master of Engineering Management Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Engineering Management Admission Requirements

Most programs will generally require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Students who do not possess a bachelor’s degree in engineering will need to have one in a related field. Master of Engineering Management programs require students with a strong background in math and science.

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Relevant Industry Associations Overview
Students can benefit from exploring and connecting with the following associations and organizations:

  • The Society of Women Engineers [40]
  • National Society of Professional Engineers [41]
  • American Association of Engineering Societies [42]
  • National Academy of Engineering [43]
  • National Society of Black Engineers [44]
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers [45]
  • American Society for Engineering Education [46]
  • American Society for Engineering Management [39]
  • IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society [34]
  • American Society for Engineering Management [35]
  • IEEE Advancing Technology for Humanity [32]
Master of Engineering Management Accreditation Overview

ABET is the primary accreditation body for MEM degrees, providing assurances that a program meets the quality standard of the profession. ABET accredits programs, not institutions, providing specialized accreditation for programs within degree-granting institutions. [23]

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

What is the importance of accreditation?
Because ABET accreditation provides assurance that a program meets specific professional quality standards, most programs are ABET accredited. Some employers will look for students who attended an ABET-accredited program. [16]

Master of Engineering Management Licensure and Certification Overview

State licensure is one of the main reasons why engineers pursue advanced education, as graduate degrees are typically required for achieving licensure. In the United States, licensure for the engineering profession is regulated by state, with different requirements for each state or territory. [26]

How does state licensure work?
Engineers are licensed at the state level by professional licensing boards. Engineering boards confer the professional engineer license when candidates meet the requirements. When professional engineers need to be licensed in more than one state, it’s necessary to apply for comity licensure in additional states. [27]

An MEM helps students to prepare and qualify for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams. [28]

PE licensure is the engineering profession’s highest standard of competence. It is a symbol of achievement and an assurance of quality. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides its members with the resources and information they need to earn and maintain the PE licensure.

The NSPE does not license PEs itself. The licensing authority is the licensing board for the state or district in which the engineer practices. The national organization representing the state boards is the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

MEMs can also earn the Engineering Manager (EM) professional certification, administered by the American Society for Engineering Management.

ASEM provides two levels of professional certification for engineers: Professional Engineering Manager (PEMTM) and Associate Engineering Manager (AEMTM). The AEM is primarily designed for young technical professionals who seek to establish credentials in preparation for technical management or supervisory positions.

The PEM is aimed at experienced technical managers who wish to validate their experience and skills with a professional certification. [29]

Why would a student pursue a PE/EM rather than just being an engineer?
Pursuing a PE/EM enables engineers to validate their skills and receive state licensure. [30]

Only licensed engineers can prepare and submit engineering plans for approval by a public authority. PEs must take responsibility for their work and the lives of the people affected by that work. [31]

What benefits and career opportunities are available to industrial engineers with licensure?
Licensure is a standard recognized by employers, clients, the public, and governments as an assurance of skill, high quality, and dedication.

There are many benefits to be had by earning a PE license. For example, only a licensed engineer can prepare, sign, and submit engineering plans to a public authority for approval.

Licensure is a necessity for consulting engineers and private practitioners. In today’s labor market, regardless of which career path the professional engineer chooses, he or she will likely need PE licensure to progress. The PE license reassures the public that you have mastered the vital elements of your profession.

With licensure, you can establish your own business or become a specialist. In terms of salary, most PEs earn higher pay throughout their career, as it enables greater opportunities. [36]

What benefits and career opportunities are available to engineers without licensure?
Some students may wonder if it’s worth the time and effort to become a licensed professional engineer. However, the career opportunities available to engineers without licensure are limited.

The most important benefit of PE licensing is that it grants more options for career advancement and responsibility, which can ultimately lead to a higher salary and greater job satisfaction. [37]

You may get hired without a PE license, but in fields where the PE is preferred but not essential. Therefore, you may miss out on promotion and meaningful career advancement without it.

Although you can work in the industry without a PE license, you won’t be able to gain employment in a number of fields, such as consulting engineer, or working for municipal, federal, or state agencies. Many states now require that engineering teachers be licensed. So without a license, you’re missing out on many opportunities in your career.

What are the licensure requirements for individual states?
Civil engineering is governed by the laws of individual states, with many different licensing laws and requirements.

To find out the individual requirements of your chosen state, contact the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, a nonprofit organization composed of land surveying, licensing, and engineering boards, representing all U.S. states and territories. [38]

Tuition and Fees Overview

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree is a professional degree that aims to bridge the gap between the technical knowledge taught in a specialized engineering program, such a Master of Science in Engineering, with the business and management skills taught in a Master of Business Administration program. [47]

Early engineering degree programs are often focused on the technical aspects of learning your specific engineering skills. When it comes to career advancement in a management or leadership position, however, many of the technical engineering degrees don’t focus on the skills needed to lead a team, run a business, or manage a project. A Master of Engineering Management degree can help you learn these skills, and aims to help you advance your career to a senior position. [48]

While the coursework in MBA programs cover a broad array of business topics aimed at professionals from all industries and sectors, MEM programs focus their coursework on covering select business topics that specifically relate to engineers. This means that the coursework and case studies in MEM subjects like project management, leadership, finance, and law will all focus on specific engineering examples and principles, and will be taught from an engineering-centric approach.

Yes. Students who study an MEM generally already specialize in a specific area or discipline of engineering, such as electrical engineering or civil engineering. An MEM degree assists professionals like this in enhancing their careers by taking their existing technical engineering expertise and combining it with project management, leadership, and functional business area skills.

Key attributes to look for in an MEM degree include:

Accreditation: Is the program ABET accredited? Is my school regionally or nationally accredited?
Curriculum: Are the leadership and management courses taught with an engineering focus?
Delivery Method: Is the program offered online or on-campus?
Support Structure: Is there a solid support structure in place to allow students and faculty to collaborate and interact with throughout the program?
Affordability: What is the cost of the program, and can I afford it?
On-Campus Requirements: Are there are requirements to attend on-campus workshops or classes?
Reputation & Ranking: Does the school have a solid reputation and ranking for delivering an MEM program?
Faculty Experience: Does the faculty have a broad range of engineering technical expertise, along with business management experience?
Program Length: What is the length of the program?

Tuition rates tend to vary between schools, however you can expect to pay between $15,000 and $40,000 for your MEM.

Most MEM programs take between 15 and 18 months in total to complete.

Generally, there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. [49]

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded.

Yes. You will find that most MEM programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying. [52]

Work experience requirements will differ from school to school, although more and more MEM programs are requiring applicants to have a minimum level of work experience for admission. The level and type of work experience required also differs, though at a minimum you should aim to have at least two years of relevant engineering experience.

Based on a survey of online programs, many MEM programs seek applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics or physical sciences from an accredited 4-year program in the U.S. To become an engineer manager, you should hold a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty. [50] It is always advisable to contact the respective school’s admissions office to find out their specific requirements, and whether your current background matches their admissions standards.

Most Master of Engineering Management programs include full or partial elements of the following subject matters:
Leadership Development
Project Management
Six Sigma
Quality Systems
Information Systems
Systems Engineering
Engineering Law
Lean Thinking Methods

When selecting an MEM program, look for a curriculum that has a broad base of business and leadership development components blended with specific systems engineering and information systems courses. Use the list from the question above to ensure your program covers the essential course components of a well-developed MEM program.

No. Most MEM programs don’t require you to undertake specific fieldwork or a practicum to complete the degree. [51]

Yes. Many schools offer their MEM program in an online format.

No. As MEM programs are professional degrees, a thesis component is considered non-essential. [51]

Yes. The advancement of learning management systems now gives universities the ability to deliver highly effective coursework to their students. As such, you will find that most universities offer the same course offering and curriculum to their online and on-campus students. The main difference between the online and on-campus formats is the way the coursework is delivered, the flexibility you have in scheduling when you study, and how you communicate with students and faculty.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a benefit for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

Unlike specific technical engineering degrees that focus on a core area of engineering, MEM degrees suit individuals from all engineering disciplines and backgrounds. The aim of an MEM is to enhance your business, leadership, legal, and project management skills, with the goal of setting you up for a leadership or management role. [53]

Job titles and salary levels differ depending on the engineering discipline you work in. Median salary levels for engineers range from $75,000 to $130,000. [53]

MEM graduates work in all types of settings, including government, military, nonprofit, and private enterprise.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects above average employment growth across all engineering disciplines. [54]

No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

Ensure the school you select for your Master of Engineering Management program holds a regional accreditation, and while you may have received your bachelor’s degree from an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.) accredited school, you may find that there are few ABET-accredited MEM programs available. [55] When comparing, it can help to verify that the program requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited undergraduate school. [55]

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [56]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.

There are a number of professional association and industry organizations that MEM graduates may consider joining. Here’s a list of prominent organizations:
The Society of Women Engineers [57]
National Society of Professional Engineers [58]
American Association of Engineering Societies [59]
National Academy of Engineering [60]
National Society of Black Engineers [61]
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers [62]
American Society for Engineering Education[63]
American Society for Engineering Management [64]
IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society [65]