Tips for Choosing an Engineering Program

A graduate degree in engineering can be incredibly valuable, but choosing which engineering school and program is the right one for you can be overwhelming, with over a thousand engineering programs to choose from in the United States alone. If you’re torn between where you want to earn your master’s degree in engineering, ask yourself these five questions about your engineering schools and programs of interest.

Which specializations does the engineering school offer?

If you aren’t sure what type of engineering you’re interested in, do some research into all the available specializations — you may be surprised by the length of the list! Most people know about the three most popular specialties: civil, mechanical, and electric. However, there’s also marine, network, and solar engineering, just to list a few. Picking an engineering school based on its rank alone is not the best decision if that school doesn’t offer strong programs in your chosen specialty area.

Does the engineering school offer internships and co-op programs?

Find out what kind of opportunities, if any, the school you’re considering offers students who are looking for internships or co-op programs. Being able to gain more hands-on experience in the real world will boost your chances of landing a good engineering job after you graduate. Engineering schools that help students find these kinds of valuable experiences are more likely to have higher job placement rates after graduation.

Where is the engineering school located?

Choosing a school located in an area where you know you don’t want to start your career may introduce unnecessary hurdles for you. The connections you make through school may not be as helpful as they could be if their networks don’t extend to where you’re actually considering applying for jobs. Also consider that job outlooks can vary by region, so choosing an area that’s known to have opportunities for engineers with your chosen specialty can help you get started on the right foot.

What is the size of the engineering school?

A large school doesn’t always mean a better school. A smaller school may offer more one-on-one learning opportunities and opportunities for more personal relationships with your professors. Also, a smaller school means less competition for internships and academic achievements. Larger schools have benefits as well. The networking pool and the number of connections you can make will expand with the size of your school. Bigger schools also typically have bigger budgets, which means better equipment and resources.

What will it cost you to complete the engineering program?

Your finances should always be a factor when making choices about your education, but it’s more complicated than just considering how much program X costs compared to program Y. Consider your answers to these questions:

  • Will saving money by going to a lower ranked engineering school negatively affect your career opportunities in the long run?
  • Do you have the networking skills necessary to make the most out of going to a “good” engineering school?
  • Will you need the prestige that comes with going to a highly ranked engineering school to help you stand out during job interviews?

Choosing where to earn your master’s degree in engineering is ultimately up to you, but asking yourself these five questions about your engineering schools of interest will help make it an easier decision to make