Choosing the right postgraduate engineering program will depend on several main factors, including desired qualifications, job sector, cost, and location. Beyond a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an undergraduate institution, engineering students can also pursue a master’s degree in engineering (ME) or a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in engineering. An Engineer’s Degree is available at a few US academic institutions, but this degree is most common in Europe, South America, and Central America.
The qualifications and type of job that are ultimately desired will most likely be the biggest factors in finding the right postgraduate engineering program. Students should determine their major career interests, job descriptions, and the credentials they feel would fit best with their plan. For example, postgraduate engineering students who are interested in research or teaching at higher academic institutions will frequently pursue Ph.D. degrees in engineering. This allows them to specialize in very narrow areas of interest over the span of several years, developing a base for their future research as a professor.
Some engineers elect to pursue ME or Engineer’s degrees if they intend to work in industry. Depending on the nature of their work, engineers with these degrees may spend more time amassing a broader knowledge base that will help them in more diverse fields. This is useful for working in the private sector or working in environments where a the specific knowledge obtained from a Ph.D. would not be effectively applied.
Cost is another major factor in determining postgraduate engineering paths, as many students might already have undergraduate loans to pay off. Ph.D. programs generally offer a stipend to students of up to $30,000 US Dollars (USD) per year, which could be enticing for those who do not wish to take out more loans for their education. ME programs can cost about the same per semester as many undergraduate programs, although they typically last between one and three years. The shortened time for ME programs, however, might make them worth the tuition if graduates are able to land a high-paying job shortly after completion.
Students’ locations will also influence the availability of the different postgraduate engineering programs. Those in the US might have difficulty finding a good Engineer’s Degree program, while those abroad might not want to travel to the US for certain master’s or Ph.D. programs. Despite these barriers, many engineering students are able to travel overseas to find the right program.