What is an engineering management degree?


Engineering management is the specialized field of leadership within the engineering field. 

Graduates can qualify for leadership roles with an engineering management degree. Possible jobs include management consultant, engineering project manager, and operations manager. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, much of the projected demand for engineering managers stems from a push for innovation and new technologies, revitalized infrastructure, and renewable energies. Here, we explore this discipline and what the training may look like.

What is engineering management?

Schools’ approaches to engineering management degrees vary. Some combine engineering and business management curriculums, whereas others blend engineering principles and processes with management systems. 

Students acquire technical engineering training, plus interdisciplinary approaches to leadership, production and operations management, and human resources. They also learn to incorporate business considerations into their decision-making and project planning processes.

Engineering management professionals may specialize in any of engineering’s many disciplines.

What do you learn in an engineering management degree program?

In an engineering management degree, you’ll develop an extensive list of skills. In addition to the technical and practical engineering abilities, you’ll gain theoretical and management skills that are more typical of business programs. The provided skills may include:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Entrepreneurial 
  • Project management
  • Decision-making
  • Operations, production, and supply chain management
  • Finance 
  • Engineering skills from a specific subdiscipline

Engineering management course examples

Advanced project management

Students learn tools and methods for planning and leading projects. They learn how to handle scope management, delegation, reporting, and performance and progress monitoring. 

Data analytics

Learners apply business intelligence and predictive analytics models to make informed business decisions. They examine big data applications and performance management metrics.

Software engineer explaining to controlling robotic welding process to welder in factory. -

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Operations management

Students learn to oversee business operations, such as purchasing, health and safety, and supply chain management. They also examine methods for improving efficiencies, data collection, and problem-solving. 

Product management and innovation

This course teaches students how to motivate and inspire engineers to innovate. Coursework explores creative, entrepreneurial, and problem-solving techniques. It teaches research and development and organization design processes.

How hard is an engineering management degree?

An engineering management degree can prove challenging in several ways. 

The discipline requires you to learn and manage many fields. You must balance personalities and responsibilities. 

Also, engineering disciplines feature complex and specialized training and advanced mathematics and science courses. You’ll complete extensive projects, research, and presentations. 

Despite the difficulty, you can increase your chances of success through determination, self-motivation, and time-management strategies. Apply reasoning, problem-solving, and creative and critical thinking to your studies.

What kinds of engineering management degrees are there?

Engineering management degrees are available at several levels, providing students with varying depths of training and postgraduate opportunities. Below, we cover a few study options available to learners.

Bachelor’s degree in engineering management

A bachelor’s in engineering management typically runs for four years. It provides students with the technical training of an engineering degree and the management and operations training of a business degree. 

Courses offered vary by program, but topics may include:

  • Engineering administration
  • Six Sigma methods
  • Risk management

Undergraduate engineering management students learn how to support teams of engineers and apply engineering skills and processes to general management tasks. 

Their training can lead to many administrative and leadership positions, including project manager, IT manager, and compliance and quality control roles.

Graduate certificate in engineering management

A graduate certificate in engineering management provides advanced, focused training. These programs typically run for less than one year and omit general education courses. 

Depending on the school and program, courses may include:

  • Creativity and innovation 
  • Systems engineering and integration
  • Data science applications

Certificate programs are great for people who already have experience or a degree in an engineering field and want to advance into management. They provide training in people skills, such as communication and decision-making, in less time than degree programs. 

Certain programs may offer specialization options, such as data-based decision-making, operations management, and supply chain management. 

Depending on their qualifications, graduates have many career options, such as project engineer, technical manager, and cost analyst positions. 

Master’s degree in engineering management

A master’s in engineering management provides advanced and highly specialized training in leadership and management within the context of the engineering field. These programs typically run for two years and may include courses, such as:

  • Management science
  • Operations research
  • Engineering communication

Similar to an MBA, engineering management degrees help students develop expertise in areas like managing operations, finance, and human resources. 

However, engineering management includes much more technical engineering training and targeted applications. Graduates can access many management occupations in the field, including principal engineer or engineering manager roles. 

Accreditation for engineering management programs

To find the right engineering management degree, prioritize institutional and programmatic accreditation. All schools in consideration should have the appropriate institutional accreditation. 

All degree programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accreditation means a degree meets industry standards for content and quality.

ABET does not accredit certificate programs, however.

In conclusion

Management and leadership positions in the engineering field often require specialized training. With an engineering management degree or certificate, you’ll possess the skills to apply business management principles to engineering contexts and organizations. 

Use this guide to learn more about the discipline and identify what you want to look for from the available programs in this field. 

This article was reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

A headshot of Sierra Gawlowski, a smiling brunette woman.

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her BS in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington. She has worked for a private engineering consulting firm as well as for public agencies. Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of directors for Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed April 18, 2022.


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