Engineering and Physical Sciences graduate programs cover a broad number of fields in the sciences, math and engineering. Some people continue their undergraduate education into an even more in-depth look at a particular field, and others get graduate degrees in related fields depending upon their career plans. You've probably heard this before, but an MBA is a great compliment to any type of master of science degree—so a dual degree program could be exactly what you need. And if you've ever had teaching aspirations, your engineering graduate degree could be just the ticket to teaching secondary or postsecondary students!
Searching for engineering graduate programs starts with requesting information from several universities. Each program offers grad students different research opportunities and course concentrations. Talk with career counselors at each engineering college you're considering and ask about job placement rates, starting salaries for master's degree holders, and which fields most graduates go into. Look for highly-trained faculty and internship opportunities so you can practice engineering skills while earning money to pay for your education. Online engineering programs are available to allow students greater flexibility while in grad school, but expect to take at least some on-campus courses while earning your degree.
Engineering masters program students earn an MS or SM (Master of Science), MSE (Master of Science in Engineering) or an MEng (Master of Engineering). The MS engineering degree often includes research assistantships along with the coursework, though each university's research department handles fellowships differently. The MS also includes in-depth master's thesis work. MEng programs are more like accelerated learning: they take one school year to complete and are more practice-oriented. Most engineering schools don't provide fellowships or assistantships to MEng program students because they're accelerated. Keep in mind that an undergraduate degree in engineering technology is not the same as a bachelor's in engineering; you won't be qualified to register as a professional engineer without obtaining additional skills and work experience. PhD and doctorate programs focus on theory and developing research that breaks new ground in science and engineering.
Engineers are in short supply for several fields, so graduate training in popular engineering specialties may lead to a related career (such as a mechanical engineer working in aerospace). More than half of all engineers are employed in the civil, mechanical, industrial, or electrical specialties. A master's degree or higher is required for better jobs and for research and development. High-level management and executives in government and industry leverage their advanced knowledge to get positions of great responsibility. Job growth will remain steady for at least the next ten years, with biomedical engineers experiencing the largest percentage-point growth and civil engineers experiencing the largest growth in number of jobs. For pure science degree holders such as physicists, chemists and geologists, job growth will remain steady and competition for jobs is not expected to increase significantly.
Students working toward an MSE (Master of Science in Engineering) degree will focus exclusively on their chosen specialty. Hands-on lab-based work is the norm, combined with practical experience in industry internships. MS programs are interdisciplinary, so your courses may cover related specialties as well as your main specialty. It takes only two years to complete an MSE degree, with at least part of that time taken up with the master's thesis based on independent research. MEng (Master of Engineering) students build technical skills and focus on advanced skills that lead directly to employment, and this graduate degree typically takes about a year to complete. At the PhD and doctoral level, engineering students delve deeply into theory and focus on the engineering specialty, usually with an eye toward teaching or theoretical applications in government or industry.