What Is an Engineering Management Degree?

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Learn more about what it takes to earn an engineering management degree, the kind of coursework you'll take, and the careers you can pursue.

[Featured Image] An engineering manager in a yellow sweater discussing the latest project with a design team member in a blue button-down. They are standing in an open office and large-format calendars cover the wall behind them.

Managing a team of engineers requires unique technical expertise and business acumen. Engineering management degrees, available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, prepare students for this type of career by helping them understand the technical needs of a product and the business needs of a company.

In this article, we'll go over engineering management degrees, what it takes to earn them, and what you can do with them after graduation.

What is engineering management?

Engineering managers bridge the gap between business and engineering. They aid decision-making processes by acting as a liaisons between technical teams and business departments. Their primary goal is to align workflows to help organization members work together toward common goals. This role requires strong knowledge of both technical disciplines and workplace skills such as collaboration.

How much do engineering managers make?

Engineering management can be a rewarding career path for those who enjoy problem-solving and leading others. These positions also tend to pay well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering managers make a median annual US salary of $159,920 [1].

Engineering management degrees

You can earn a bachelor's or a master's degree in engineering management either in-person or online. In either instance, you’ll want to make sure the school you choose is accredited through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Bachelor's degrees in engineering management

Earning your bachelor's degree in engineering management takes between four and five years when you're able to attend full-time. Learn how much college costs in the United States.

When pursuing a bachelor's degree in engineering management, you’ll likely find programs that either offer a specific engineering management major or offer you the option to minor in the subject along with a related major. Some examples of engineering management bachelor's degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Management Engineering

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering with a minor in management

  • Bachelor of Science in Management and Engineering Manufacturing

Engineering management isn't a major or minor that every college or university in the US offers, so it's a good idea to research what programs are available in your area—or online—when you're interested in this focus.

Engineering management bachelor's coursework

Engineering management coursework at the bachelor's level combines engineering with business. For this type of major, you may be expected to have some background in the sciences.

Your coursework may include:

  • Introductory physics

  • Finance

  • Leadership skills

  • Business processes

  • Supply chain management

  • Quality management

  • Project engineering

  • Product design

As an engineering management undergraduate student, your program may offer you the opportunity to take electives in a subset of engineering, such as civil engineering, biomedical engineering, or software engineering, so you can pursue specific careers related to these fields.

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Master's degree in engineering management

Earning your master's degree in engineering management takes around two years, though you may find that some programs offer accelerated options that can speed up that timeline.

Though there's no one path to follow, many students who pursue a master's degree tend to have been working as an engineer for some time and want to transition to a management track. A master's program can help them learn about different business processes, such as finance, and refine their leadership skills.

Master's degrees in engineering management include:

  • Master of Science in Engineering Management

  • Master of Science in Construction Engineering and Management

Engineering management master's coursework

Every engineering management master's program is different, but many programs assume that students already have a strong foundation in engineering at this level. As such, you may find that your coursework emphasizes business processes and management skills, including:

  • Finance

  • Project management

  • Leadership skills

  • Technical communication

What skills do you learn in an engineering management program?

The skills you'll learn in an engineering management program focus on your ability to understand what a team is working on (the technical nature of its product or project) and to lead that team. Among the skills you’ll learn are:

  • Finance 

  • Leadership 

  • Decision-making

  • Quality control

  • Mathematical modeling 

  • Management information systems 

  • Team building 

Learn more about why Hubert Abiera, a master's degree student at the University of Colorado Boulder, chose to study engineering management.

3 reasons to earn an engineering management degree

Whether you’re thinking about a career as an engineering manager or are working as an engineer and want to advance into management, there are many reasons to consider pursuing an engineering management career.

  • You're interested in a versatile career: Because engineering managers need to understand aspects of a company's technical and business needs, this career requires someone who enjoys thinking critically, solving problems, and leading. More than that, you can pursue engineering management in a range of fields, such as biomedical, civil, and software.

  • You want to advance: If you've been working as an engineer and want to keep advancing in your career, an engineering management degree (especially a master's) can be a valuable credential to help you achieve your goal. A degree can be an excellent way to build on your knowledge and skill set.

  • You'd like a higher-paying role: Engineering managers make a median annual US salary of $159,920, according to the BLS [1]. Moreover, engineering management degrees emphasize skills development, many of which are in demand and transferable.

What can I do with an engineering management degree? 

A degree in engineering management offers many career options. You can work in almost any field of engineering. Take a look at some possible careers you can pursue:  

  • Bioengineering manager

  • Chemical engineering manager

  • Civil engineering manager

  • Electrical engineering manager

  • Software engineering manager

  • Systems engineering manager

Read more: What Is Team Management: Strategies, Duties, Job, Career Outlook

Learn engineering management with Coursera 

If you'd like to learn more about engineering management without committing to a full degree program, consider Rice University's Engineering Project Management Specialization. It introduces learners to core technical project management concepts, such as initiation, planning, scope definition, and risk management. You'll earn a shareable certificate to enhance your resume or LinkedIn profile by the end.

Or, focus on building technical leadership skills with the Leadership Development for Engineers Specialization. You'll focus on both workplace skills and technical skills, including high-performance team leadership and stress and relationship management.

If you’re considering earning a master’s degree in engineering management, check out the University of Colorado-Boulder's Master of Engineering in Engineering Management online. The university's performance-based admission means you take and pass three pathway courses to gain full admission without submitting a formal application.

Article sources

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Architectural and Engineering Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/architectural-and-engineering-managers.htm." Accessed January 3, 2024.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.