Engineering Management Degrees: Bachelors, Associate & Online Info

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What will you learn in an engineering management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and a bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Engineering Management: Degrees at a Glance

Engineering management combines technical and business information into a single field. If you choose to pursue this degree path, you can learn how to apply engineering principles and business savvy to managing technical projects and teams. Engineering managers can work in a wide range of engineering disciplines and other technical industries.

While a bachelor's degree may be considered sufficient to work as an engineering manager, it is generally more acceptable to have a master's degree in engineering management with an undergraduate background in an engineering discipline. Engineering manager positions are expected to increase by 9% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), with positions being more available in disciplines such as environmental or biomedical engineering.

Some associate degree programs prepare you for transfer to a 4-year degree program or entry-level technician positions, such as an industrial engineering technician. The BLS predicted that employment for these technicians would increase by 4% from 2010-2020. Licensure requirements for engineering careers can vary by state and discipline.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Students who want an introduction to technical and business principles for an entry-level career or additional studies Engineering students who want additional education in business and leadership
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Industrial engineering technician ($52,000)*
- Industrial production manager ($96,000)*
- Engineering manager ($129,000)*
- Sales engineer ($97,000)*
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None beyond required coursework Capstone or senior project
Prerequisites - Basic math and science coursework
- Basic computer skills
Those for associate degree, plus:
- High school diploma
Online Availability Limited Limited; some courses may be available online

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (May 2011).

Associate Degrees

Associate degree programs, which are available in engineering management and engineering management technology, generally serve as an introduction to both business and technical subjects. You can also learn leadership, communication and teamwork concepts.

These progams are designed to explain the basics and allow you to transfer to a related bachelor's degree program or pursue an entry-level position. You will find that these programs are rare and generally award the Associate of Science or Associate of Arts degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can transfer credit to a related bachelor's degree program
  • You can learn the basics of the field in a shorter amount of time than a 4-year program
  • You can develop skills that are usable in many industries (drafting, business, engineering, technology)
  • Career options typically offer a higher than average salary potential*

Cons

  • Most engineering management positions require at least a bachelor's degree
  • Associate degree programs in engineering management are rare
  • Job prospects for some career choices are predicted to grow slower than national average*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Engineering management and engineering management technology programs typically contain a mixture of business, engineering, communication and leadership courses.

Examples of courses you may take include:

  • Principles of business management
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Technical writing
  • Circuits
  • Algebra
  • Physics

Some programs may also require general education courses, such as basic math and English, to reach the necessary credit requirements for graduation.

Online Degree Options

Similar to campus-based programs, online associate degree programs in engineering management are very limited. Private, for-profit institutions generally offer the available online programs. The curriculum for online programs may not differ from on-campus programs, but can require more advanced software during your studies. If you are interested in transferring to a bachelor's degree program, campus-based programs may be a better fit. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) does not accredit any online associate degree programs at this time.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

You can use your associate degree to transfer into a bachelor's degree program, as most employers, according to the BLS, require at least a bachelor's degree for management positions. If you have a specific area you'd like to go into, such as manufacturing, it may help to have experience in that area through related internship positions. Also, you may be able to take extra or elective courses in science or technology through your school to help you gain additional skills.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in engineering management, such as the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in Engineering Management, are designed to give you an engineering base combined with the business knowledge necessary to move into a leadership role. Programs may require that you specialize in an engineering discipline, such as civil, electrical, industrial or mechanical engineering, within the engineering management degree program. You can also find schools that offer minors in engineering management, which you can couple with studies in other engineering specialties.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Employers generally accept a bachelor's degree as the minimum requirement for engineering management positions*
  • Higher than average salary potential for engineering managers*
  • Programs can provide a solid foundation for both future engineering and leadership positions
  • Eligible for some professional certifications**

Cons

  • You may be competing for jobs against applicants with master's degrees
  • Engineering manager positions are predicted to grow slower than the national average for all careers*
  • Undergraduate engineering management programs are less common than master's programs

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, **American Society for Engineering Management.

Courses and Requirements

The courses you take in a bachelor's degree program generally cover more advanced topics than those at the associate level. They consist of a mix of math, science, engineering, management, finance and systems courses, and can include a capstone or senior project as well.

Some classes you may take include:

  • Calculus I-III
  • Physics and chemistry
  • Risk management
  • Engineering administration
  • Accounting
  • Engineering design

If your program requires you to select an engineering discipline, you may also have additional courses specific to your specialty area.

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs in engineering management exist, but they are also rare. These online programs can be found at universities that offer on-campus programs in this field. They tend to be designed for students who are currently employed. Generally, the curriculum covers topics similar to on-campus programs. You can also find hybrid programs that require you to complete some of your courses on the campus. Online bachelor's degree programs are not accredited by ABET.

Standing Out With This Degree

Because you may be competing against other applicants with master's degrees, you may want to take some steps to help you stand out against your competition. Previous experience, such as that earned through internships, in related areas like engineering or business can be helpful. Additionally, you may want to seek out professional certification, such as those offered by the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM). Pursuing ASEM certification generally requires at least a bachelor's degree, and you may also need experience.

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Excelsior College

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