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Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering | Context - Context
Online Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering
Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering In Context

A Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering combines the research and development of pharmaceutical production methods with the research and development of medical drugs and their effects on patients.

A master’s degree in pharmaceutical engineering can be ideal for those who want to pursue a career within a challenging yet rewarding environment, discovering solutions to world health epidemics and advancements in treatments for chronic illnesses.

According to the U.S. government, the United States is the biggest pharmaceuticals market in the world, accounting for around 35% of the global market. The industry includes 4.4 million jobs across the country, and with 7,000 new medicines being developed. [1]

What is a Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering (M. Eng) degree?

Pharmaceutical engineering comprises researching the use of drugs and improving the manufacturing processes of these drugs. Pharmaceutical engineers run tests and carry out research on drugs that could potentially come to market, or check that those already on the market comply with government safety standards.

They also find new efficiencies in manufacturing processes and new methods to minimize costs. The M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering covers molecular and chemical processes in pharmaceuticals, as well as standards and regulatory aspects within the industry.

Who might choose to earn a Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering?

Many of those who choose to pursue a M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering will have gained a relevant undergraduate degree in a similar field, such as chemical or mechanical engineering. If you have an undergraduate degree in one of these areas, or a science-related degree, this could provide a suitable context within which to work toward your M.Eng. The degree also may be suitable for those who have recently graduated or for working professionals who want to specialize or further their career in medical research.

The curriculum may cover a wide range of topics including biomaterials, medicine, bioinstrumentation, medical imaging, or clinical engineering. [4]

Someone with a Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering may be able to work in a medical or research facility, hospital, university, government agency, or pharmaceutical company. He or she also may find employment in academia.

Why earn a Master or Pharmaceutical Engineering degree?

Earning a Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering presents a wide range of job opportunities within the field. The degree offers a variety of skills and knowledge that can equip you with the capability to succeed in:

  • Directing laboratory activities and leading teams in developing new instruments and processes for use in the medical profession
  • Working in hospitals to monitor and advise doctors and surgeons on medical procedures and where new equipment might be used
  • Academic teaching and/or research
  • Working to test the health and safety standards and the quality of products and equipment
  • Taking a role as a pharmacist in a laboratory or pharmacy

The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly important in managing world health problems and serious diseases. The industry can provide a great opportunity for people looking to make a difference in the world with regard to disease treatment and prevention. With people living longer, more complex and cost-effective medical treatment is likely to result in new opportunities in the pharmaceutical field. With advancement in technology and health care, new job opportunities will likely emerge as more specialized areas of research will begin to emerge. [3]

There was a slowdown in the pharmaceutical industry as a whole in 2016, but according to Nasdaq, the industry shows signs of recovery in its research and development sectors. [9] This could bode well for the future of pharmaceutical engineering careers.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Career Advancement
Choosing a Master of Engineering in Pharmaceutical Engineering can provide you with a solid foundation on which to build a well-paid and interesting career.
What are the types of careers in pharmaceutical engineering?

The types of careers in pharmaceuticals include manufacturing, regulatory and patenting, clinical pharmacy, research and development, quality assurance, formulation methods, and pharmaceutical analysis. These careers combine for an average salary of about $85,138 per year. [4] Some of the more common job fields and their pay include: [5]

  • General medicine and surgical hospitals: $75,530
  • Research and development: $104,490
  • Office of physicians: $101,190
  • Medical equipment manufacturing: $96,870

Where do pharmaceutical engineering professionals work?

The engineering industry is one of the fastest-growing industries, with job roles arising in most sectors including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and aerospace engineering. [6] A growing number of students are choosing to study pharmaceutical engineering and work in health care and pharmaceutical research. Some settings in which graduates may find employment include:

Many global pharmaceutical companies offer roles in pharmaceutical engineering, such as drug manufacture, and in other disciplines, such as marketing, finance, and operations. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline, some of the most successful in the world, invest in graduates to further career prospects once they are employed in their organizations. [7] [8]

All drugs undergo thorough testing and retesting to check that they meet the government regulations for approval for public use. Pharmaceutical engineers are heavily involved in this process.

Many M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering graduates go on to further study, or alternatively choose to become teachers or lecturers within the field. This may mean working in a college or university to teach and support students with research in the field.

What types of careers do pharmaceutical engineering graduates take?

As is the case with many engineering master’s degrees, the M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering can teach you a wide array of competencies and skills. It can prepare you best for a career in pharmaceuticals, but graduates often find themselves working as engineers in the petroleum, aerospace, chemical, electrical, and biomedical fields, just to name a few.

If you do choose to pursue a career in a pharmaceutical setting, there are plenty of fields you may consider. Some of these include: [2]

  • Bioprocess research and development
  • Chemical engineering research and development
  • Pharmaceutical research and development
  • Pharmaceutical technology and engineering
How does a graduate degree in engineering impact salary potential?

As a trend, most master’s degrees tend to help graduates earn higher salaries and pursue more prestigious work than they would be able to with only a bachelor’s degree.

According to data compiled by job search engine, engineering master’s degrees net some of the highest reported salaries. The average salary for engineering and technology degrees is about $110,000, so graduates stand to increase their earning power significantly with a graduate degree. [12]

Not only that, but the third-ranked master’s degree in terms of earning potential, the Master of Chemical Engineering, shares many competencies and skills with those you can learn in a M.Eng. of Pharmaceutical Engineering program. The average salary associated with this degree is $117,000. [12]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Curriculum
While each program’s curriculum will differ, an analysis of several Master of Engineering in Pharmaceutical Engineering programs reveals several trends that students can expect to find with respect to information covered.
Typical core courses

Students in M.Eng. programs will usually need to take core courses followed by concentration electives to complete their programs. Typical core courses may include:

  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Pharmaceutical process design
  • Principles of pharmaceutical engineering
  • Materials engineering
  • Statistical analysis

Students will typically be required to take several elective courses to complete their program and should focus those based on their career goals and areas of interest. Popular elective courses are:

  • Biochemical engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Computational methods
  • Data structures
  • Engineering statistics
  • Experimental design
  • Organic chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical design
  • Project management
  • Thermodynamics
Field experience/internships

Some programs may require fieldwork or an internship in order to earn your Master of Engineering in Pharmaceutical Engineering.

This may entail working in a relevant environment to your specialization, either as part of your program for a semester or a year, or outside of the program on your own time. Undertaking an internship or fieldwork can boost your profile to prospective employers, and give you the confidence and skills in the workplace to succeed after graduation.

The type of fieldwork a student may need to complete as part of his or her degree program includes working in relevant areas such as market research firms, pharmaceutical companies, and laboratories.

An internship is not only a requirement of some master’s programs, but also it can offer students relevant experience in the field which can improve employability and contribute toward gaining licensure in some states.

Internships in pharmaceutical engineering field will vary in length, but most are full-time paid opportunities, based remotely or at an employer’s site. Your individual program requirements should help you narrow down the best option to suit your program. Work may involve roles in various disciplines within health care organizations, including marketing, administration, customer service, or finance. [22]

Research project

Research projects may involve taking a hypothesis and carrying out academic and/or practical research to prove or disprove this hypothesis. The curriculum of each program of study will specify the requirements for each research project.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering 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 (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Admissions Requirements

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.

Specialized admission requirements

Most programs will require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Students without a bachelor’s degree in engineering will likely need one in a related field, because many M.Eng. programs require a strong background in math and science. Ensure you highlight all pre-requisites in as much detail as possible.

Please be aware that requirements for admission can vary depending on the track chosen, including prior coursework needed. Check with your selected program to make sure you meet all the requirements for the track you wish to pursue.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study
Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome. The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.

Master of Science in Engineering

Core subjects can vary greatly from those in the M.Eng. The focus is generally on areas such as mathematical and computational modeling, the design and build of apparatus and software, and data analytics and visualization. [24]

The similarities in degree programs mean that the elective subjects can significantly overlap.

Master of Engineering Management

A master’s in engineering management covers broader topics than a Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering. The program is designed to apply engineering principles to business practice, and it can, therefore, span many industries including technology, the petroleum, construction, and manufacturing.

The program content focuses more on project management than any of the other master’s and is also geared towards the IT industry. The entry requirements for this program span engineering, technology, and business, so it covers a broader intake of students.

The Master of Pharmaceutical Engineering shares some electives with the Master of Engineering Management, such as Product Development; however, engineering management is less focused on the chemical aspects of engineering and more on the combined skills of managing projects, with a strong slant towards industrial engineering. [25]

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is the most popular degree type in the world, with 2,500 programs currently available. [26]

An MBA is not just for those wishing to work strictly in a business management role, either, although the program of study complements this, as it spans economics, operations, and marketing. The program also lends itself to those wishing to undertake a managerial career in a number of industries, including within engineering. [26]

The MBA is useful for an overview of business management within engineering, which some employers may find favorable in engineering management roles. Unlike the M.Eng., it does not offer the depth of specialist technical or engineering insight; however, it may be useful if you’re interested in the management side of engineering, or if you wish to change careers. [26]

Other M.Eng. specialty programs

M.Eng. programs cover areas such as environmental, chemical, mechanical and electrical, and computer engineering.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Relevant Industry Associations and Organizations
There are a number of professional associations you may consider joining as a pharmaceutical engineering student or professional. These associations often provide opportunities for you to develop your professional resume and network with others in the field. Here are several examples of organizations:

The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)

oin a network of more than 10,000 scientists whose mission it is to review and develop processes and manufacture pharmaceutical products. Members will be part of a group of like-minded people with common goals and receive access to industry-specific magazines and journals, as well as access to employment opportunities, awards, and fellowship programs. [27]

International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE)

Members of this 20,000-strong network get access to an online discussion forum to share knowledge and news, as well as access to face-to-face networking events to uncover best practice within the industry. [13]

Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

This organization is responsible for the advocacy of public policies that support new research in medications for patients. If a pharmaceutical company is a member, it can benefit from support in being able to carry out this type of research. [14]

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is a trade association that supports its members in driving over the counter medicines. Working for a company who is a member of this organization would provide the opportunity to help give access to avoidable medicines for the population of the U.S. [15]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Accreditation

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.

Industry-specific accreditation

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is a recognized accrediting agency for engineering programs as well as programs in applied science, computing, and engineering technology. As it covers engineering, master’s in biomedical engineering programs come under its authority. [16]

Accreditations of graduate biomedical engineering programs are undertaken by experts in the fields of engineering and engineering technology. They come together through ABET to form an executive committee that is supported by a number of commission members and alternates. [17] [18]

ABET accredits programs rather than institutions so that students, industry, and others can have confidence that the program meets a common set of quality standards.

For example, most graduate programs require you to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited program. Employers look for degrees from accredited programs too. Specifically, in regards to master’s in biomedical engineering graduates, you will need a master’s degree from an accredited program to obtain a Professional Engineer license. [16]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Licensure and Certification

State licensure is one of the main reasons engineers pursue advanced education in the engineering industry as graduate degrees are typically required for achieving licensure in most states. An M.Eng. helps students to prepare and qualify for the licensure exams like the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. [19]

Why would a student pursue a PE rather than just being an engineer?

Pursuing Professional Engineer status through licensure can give you some advantages with potential employers and the public. PEs are held in high regard due to their further commitment to the industry and enhanced leadership and management skills.

Employment in the government or in teaching engineering increasingly requires PE status. [19]

Do all states require an M.Eng. for licensure? What other degrees are acceptable?

Not all states require an M.Eng. for licensure. For example, an EAC/ABET or program may be adequate. Some states may require a National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the NCEES Principles and Practice (PE) exam during the last year of their academic program, or shortly after graduation. Some states also require a significant amount of work experience in the engineering industry, while others do not. [20]

What benefits and career opportunities are available to industrial engineers with licensure?

Professional Engineer licensure can indicate to potential employers that you have outstanding commitment to engineering and that you have developed strong management and leadership skills. The average salary is often higher for those with licensure than those without. [21] There are also several practical considerations that only licensed professionals can undertake.

The benefits and career opportunities of a licensed engineer include:

  • State engineering boards often impose penalties on those people practicing without a license. By becoming licensed, you avoid breaking the law and avoid the risk of damaging your career.
  • Licensing is now a requirement by many states for teaching engineering. A licensed engineer can more easily take up a role in education.
  • High positions of engineering in government require a licensed practitioner. By gaining a license, you may be better-qualified to pursue these roles.
  • For those wanting to become an engineering consultant or private practitioner, a is a necessity for most employers. [21]
  • Only someone who is licensed is permitted to submit engineering drawings to a local authority for acceptance or seal engineering work for public and private clients. [21]
History of the Degree

The pharmaceutical industry as we know it dates back to the 19th century, when the manufacturing of medicine began scaling up to meet increased demand. At the same time, dye and chemical companies began working from laboratories that were conducive to pharmaceutical work. The combination of these two factors, and research into the medical utility of certain chemicals, led to an uptick in the production and supply of pharmaceuticals. [11]

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pharmaceutical companies in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other leading locations began collaborating with universities in a research capacity. This partnership, through which drug suppliers were able to use laboratories and other university resources, established pharmaceuticals as a firmly academic pursuit. [41]

Ethical codes and guidelines, as well as regulations for clinical trials, started to emerge in the early 20th century, prompting the need for more control over medical practice. Modern M.Eng. in Pharmaceutical Engineering program curricula incorporate these trends and continue to evolve to reflect the legal and ethical changes in medicine and drug trials. [23]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Pharmaceutical Engineering Tuition and Fees

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 primary focus of a pharmaceutical engineering degree is to audit and develop the technology and manufacturing process of pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceutical engineers are specialized chemical engineers who seek to improve, maintain, and develop new pharmaceuticals. Federal regulations guide this field, and the pharmaceutical engineering degree focuses on safe drug production. This includes but is not limited to machine design, drug development, manufacturing process, research, product testing, and labeling.

Yes. Pharmaceutical engineers may also work in food and cosmetic manufacturing and development.

Pharmaceutical engineers at minimum are required to have a Bachelor of Science degree, but often a master’s or even a doctoral degree is preferred. Graduate students who do not have a bachelor’s in pharmaceutical engineering may have undergraduate degrees from accredited institutions in chemistry, physics, biology, math, chemical engineering, or business. Note that some schools may require additional prerequisite courses for students without engineering backgrounds.

A master’s degree is not required to work in this field, but having a master’s means you’re more likely to work in higher roles, whereas bachelor’s- or certificate-holding individuals will carry out the lower-level work. Having a graduate degree often leads to an increase in income and responsibilities at work, and can open up new opportunities for advancement.

When researching pharmaceutical engineering programs, be sure to check for a program’s accreditation. ABET, the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, accredits engineering degree programs, so be sure to check its website to see if your program qualifies. [28] Based on which area of pharmaceutical engineering you’re interested in, you’ll want to check out the curriculum. Many graduate students with a master’s in pharmaceutical engineering become pharmaceutical engineers, but some may become bioprocessors or chemical engineers. If you’re more inclined to one profession over another, evaluate the program’s curriculum.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus 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.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE before 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.

A master’s in pharmaceutical engineering prepares you for career opportunities in research, design, manufacturing, and production of pharmaceutical products. Common job titles for pharmaceutical engineering degree holders are scientist, process engineer, bioprocessor, R&D engineer, product developer, manufacturing engineer, packaging engineer, quality engineer, and manufacturing supervisor.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for chemical engineers is $98,340. [29] In May 2011, the BLS surveyed 13,400 workers in pharmaceutical engineering professions and found a median wage of $79,890. [30]

Often, pursuing a graduate degree provides opportunities for career and salary growth. Having a graduate degree may help you advance to a leadership or management role, and that often comes with an increased salary. According to, those with only a bachelor’s degree of science working in pharmaceutical manufacturing have starting income in the $40,000 range, whereas those with a Master of Science tend to have a lower-end income starting in the $50,000 range. [31]

ABET is an important mark of distinction and a symbol of quality assurance. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is one of only two accrediting agencies in the nation, and one of few worldwide, to receive the ISO 9001:2008 quality standard designation. Some employers, including the U.S. government, prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from ABET-accredited programs. [32]

ABET is the industry standard for accreditation in the field of engineering. In addition to ABET accreditation, keep in mind that universities also have regional accreditations. [28]

While a graduate degree does not guarantee advancement, employers may prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from an accredited engineering program.

Although each state has its own licensure requirements and required qualifications, licensure for engineers is becoming increasingly significant, especially in government and higher level positions. A minimum requirement for licensure is that students graduate from an accredited engineering program. [28]

While licensure is not required for entry-level positions, if you have any desire to become a licensed professional engineer (PE), then you must earn your degree from an ABET-accredited institution. [33]

If a program is accredited at the time you are matriculating, you should be considered a graduate of an accredited program. If you find yourself in this situation, you are encouraged to contact the accrediting body to determine if you still meet their eligibility requirements.

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.

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. [34]

The quality standards for an ABET-accredited program are developed by an
expert network of more than 2,200 professionals from the worlds of academia,
government, and industrial backgrounds. ABET accredits programs housed within
regionally accredited institutions. ABET does not accredit departments,
colleges, or institutions.

All programs that are ABET-accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) need to meet certain standards and criteria. But that does not mean that every program is equal. Each engineering program is uniquely enriched by the faculty, students, and alumni networks.

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. [35]

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. [35]