Graduate Programs in Engineering

How hard is it to gain admission to brick-and-mortar or online graduate programs in engineering?

Engineering is a competitive field, and top engineering graduate schools are seeking exceptional candidates for their programs. Colleges and universities granted over 34,000 engineering degrees from 2008 to 2009, and the profession continues to grow as industries like biomedical engineering and nuclear engineering expand.

Rates of acceptance vary widely among engineering specializations. The top 5 schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best engineering graduate schools in the country report acceptance rates of 10% or lower. However, there are hundreds of programs to choose from, and submitting a strong application will help you to succeed in gaining admission.

One important way to strengthen your application is to engage any research opportunities that come your way during your undergraduate studies. Admissions committees want to see that you have the interest and drive as a graduate student that may lead to earning your PhD in engineering.

Having prior research experience will highlight your ambition and commitment. In addition, investing your time in a research project may introduce you to a professor who can write a strong recommendation letter to submit with your application.

An online engineering masters degree may also be an option to explore as you evaluate where to apply. Top engineering graduate schools such as University of California, Los Angeles and Purdue University offer online engineering graduate programs. Acceptance rates may be higher due to the ability of schools to accommodate more distance learners than on-site students.

What are the average salaries for engineering degree graduates?

Salaries for engineers vary widely depending on the area of specialization. A median salary for students entering the workforce with accredited engineering graduate degrees ranges from $40,000 to $115,000 depending on the area of specialization.

The salary for a recently graduated mechanical engineer, for example, ranges from $50,000 to $85,000 depending upon geographic location. Similarly, an electrical engineer earns anywhere from $54,000 to $95,000. Aerospace engineers earn from $53,000 to $106,000. A graduate with a nuclear engineering degree will earn between $60,000 and $104,000.

These salaries mark a significant increase in earnings, up 9% from the undergraduate level to completion of engineering graduate school. Graduates of top online engineering graduate programs will have the same earnings capability as graduates of brick-and-mortar programs.

If I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree in engineering, what related graduate programs should I consider?

There is significant overlap between engineering and other fields of study. Understanding the similarities and differences between some of the alternatives will help you to decide whether to continue exploring on-site and online engineering graduate programs.

Civil engineers, computer hardware engineers, electrical engineers and nuclear engineers all apply the principles of physics in their daily work. Physicists explore the fundamental properties and laws that govern space, time, energy and matter, and use their research to formulate theories and to draw conclusions with real world applications.

Jobs for someone with a masters degree in physics may focus on scientific research and data analysis at a laboratory or for a government agency. Some physics graduates may also opt to teach at the university level.

In addition to physics, engineering shares many of its principles with mathematics. In fact, mathematics can be considered the language of both physics and engineering. Mathematicians use high-level calculations and computer technology to explore theories and to analyze data for application to real-world problems. Graduates of a mathematics program may pursue a career in the federal government, in engineering research or in teaching at the university level.

Someone who is interested in civil engineering graduate schools may alternatively look at a program in architecture. The 2 are similar in that both plan and assist in executing large-scale projects. Where an architect would envision and design the plans for a building, however, the civil engineer would work to make sure the building was structurally sound. Both occupations are projected to continue growing through 2020, with growth in architecture at 24% and in civil engineering at 19%.

Are there any iPhone or iPad apps that would benefit me while I am completing my on-campus or online engineering graduate degree?

Engineer’s Calculator is exactly as the name describes. This downloadable calculator provides nearly all of the common functions you might need throughout your on-site or online engineering masters degree. The calculator also displays the numbers in proper engineering format.

e-ENGineer is an app that is most useful to a student of an electrical engineering program and can be downloaded to both your iPhone and iPad. It provides a quick way for you to obtain answers to common calculations that will arise over your course of study and as you practice in the field. Programmed formulas include star delta transformation, delta star transformation and volt drop.

element14 Everywhere is a mobile app that was recently updated to accommodate iPhone and iPad use. It can help you to connect with electronic design engineers and students attending online engineering graduate programs around the world. You can easily link and log in to the full community, allowing you to swap ideas, request feedback on a design idea and get updates on the latest technology trends around the globe.