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10 May

Master of Engineering vs. Master of Science

Master of Engineering vs Master of Science

Which degree is right for you?

You have a background in engineering, and you are considering your options for an advanced degree. Should you choose a Master of Engineering or a Master of Science in engineering program? Maybe you want to advance into a management position, or perhaps you want to pursue a PhD in engineering. Clarifying your career goals is essential to determining which engineering master's degree to pursue.

Here, we cover the key differences when it comes to a Master of Engineering vs. Master of Science program, including curricula, competencies gained and career outcomes.

Master of Engineering

A Master of Engineering degree, typically abbreviated ME or MEng, focuses on practical skill development. These programs tend to emphasize engineering in the context of business management, promoting skills that will help working engineers move into leadership roles.

These programs typically do not involve completing a thesis (although they may require a comprehensive examination) and may be completed in a shorter amount of time than an MS in engineering. An ME can be a huge plus on your resume for current and future employers, signaling that you are both technically adept and well-prepared to lead teams.1

Master of Science in Engineering

A Master of Science (MS) in engineering is generally considered a research-focused degree and typically requires completion of a thesis or a research project.2 Depending on the program, an MS in engineering can be a step on the path toward a PhD and an academically focused career in engineering. These programs likely will require submission of GRE scores during the admission process.

MS Programs Vary by University

Depending on the university, some MS in engineering programs emphasize practice as much or more than research. For instance, the online MS programs in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, and systems and control engineering at Case Western Reserve University blend leadership-focused core coursework with highly specialized courses that build technical skills in a particular engineering vertical.

While these programs require GRE scores (or a waiver) for admission, students do not need to complete a thesis or research project to graduate, though the MS in Biomedical Engineering curriculum offers an optional research project.

Career Outcomes

Earning an MS in engineering is by no means a disqualification when it comes to seeking professional management positions. However, there are some differences in terms of median salary over a career. According to payscale.com, individuals who hold an MS degree earn a median salary of $77,000 per year and tend to be employed in technology firms.3 By contrast, and ME degree nets a salary of nearly $90,000 per year with employment in a wide array of manufacturing and technical firms.4

Master of Engineering vs. Master of Science: Which will serve you best?

Choosing the right degree program requires careful consideration of your own vision for your career. If you see yourself pursuing a PhD or a career in academia, choose a research-focused MS in engineering. If you want to increase your business operations knowledge and learn relevant strategies for communicating with and leading teams of engineers, pursue a practice-oriented Master of Engineering program.

At Case Western Reserve, we pride ourselves on preparing the next generation of engineering leaders, which is why both our online Master of Engineering and our online Master of Science programs (biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, and systems and control engineering) are practice-based, designed to prepare you to succeed with a combination of technical mastery and highly relevant leadership skills.


1. Retrieved on April 23, 2019, from brighthub.com/education/postgraduate/articles/66961.aspx
2. Retrieved on April 23, 2019, from prodigyfinance.com/resources/blog/MEng-vs-MSEngineering
3. Retrieved on April 23, 2019, from payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Science_(MS)/Salary
4. Retrieved on April 23, 2019, from payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Engineering_(MEng_%2f_ME)/Salary