Study Mechatronics: Master's Degree & Online Program Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree in mechatronics? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and mechatronics degrees.
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Mechatronics Master's: Degrees at a Glance

Mechatronics, as a field, combines mechanical and electrical systems, also often utilizing computer programming. Mechatronics degrees may be offered on their own, or as a concentration within a mechanical or electrical and computer engineering degree. Master's degrees are an important step for those who wish to go into research.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) and O*NET Online, job prospects for those with a degree in mechatronics are expected to increase by 3 to 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. Opportunities will be higher for those involved in research or those who keep up with changes in technology.

Master's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in the complex electrical/mechanical systems that drive the latest technology
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Mechanical engineer ($84,000)*
- Electrical engineer ($89,000)*
- Mechatronics engineer ($91,000)**
Time to Completion 2-5 years after bachelor's
Common Graduation Requirements - Coursework
- Thesis or research project
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree in engineering
- Minimum GPA
- Graduate-level exam, such as the GRE
Online Availability Mostly hybrid

Source: *BLS (May 2011 figures), **O*Net Online (2011 figures).

Master's Degrees in Mechatronics

Mechatronics master's degrees are offered at some universities, especially those that also offer graduate degrees in other engineering disciplines since mechatronics may be offered within another discipline instead of its own degree. Courses may be offered in the evenings or on weekends for those students who are already out in the work force or otherwise have other impediments to a standard school schedule. Additionally, most mechatronics master's programs require you to already have a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Careers typically pay higher-than-average salaries*
  • Ability to work with and design new technologies
  • Skills relevant to a wide variety of industries

Cons

  • May be competing against those with bachelor's degrees*
  • Potential job prospects are growing slower than average*
  • May need to work overtime or weekends depending on field*

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

Common Courses and Requirements

Mechatronics master's degree programs typically require about 30 credit hours past your bachelor's degree and require that you have an undergraduate degree in some field of engineering, though some programs may specify particular engineering fields, such as mechanical, electrical or computer engineering. Programs typically include a mixture of core classes, electives and thesis or project-related work, though some programs do not require a thesis. You may also need to take prerequisite courses, such as electrical courses if you were a mechanical engineer, or mechanical courses if you were an electrical one.

Common courses you may take include:

  • Control systems
  • Dynamics
  • Automation and robotics
  • Digital systems design
  • Autonomous vehicle systems

Online Degree Options

Online and distance-learning mechatronics programs tend to be hybrid programs as opposed to fully online ones. These hybrid programs may vary from completing all coursework online and taking proctored tests at an in-person location to having some, but not all, courses offered online. Programs are typically identical to on-campus equivalents.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

Membership in a professional society can help you stay ahead of the pack. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has a side branch known as the Systems, Man, & Cybernetics Society (SMCS). Membership includes discounted fees to conferences and electronic access to documents. Additionally, depending on your specific industry and field, you may find it helpful to work towards a Professional Engineer (PE) certification. A PE is one of the highest levels of certification in engineering, and exams are offered in mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

Degree Alternatives

If you like the idea of blending mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, but are more interested in the computer aspect, you might consider becoming a computer hardware engineer. Computer hardware engineers research, test and design new computer technology, and typically have a degree in either electrical or computer engineering. According to BLS, computer hardware engineers earned $101,000 annually as of May 2011 and job prospects were expected to increase by 9% between 2010 and 2020.

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