Through the combination of business and management acumen with technical expertise, engineering management degrees are designed to play a key role in preparing the next generation of managers in the engineering sector.
Engineering is a broad discipline which applies scientific, economic, social and practical factors to the design, building, maintenance and improvement of structures, machines, devices, systems and materials. It is typically divided up into civil and structural engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, with many further sub-specializations in each field. Management applies social, economic, theoretical and practical factors to the coordination, planning, organizing, staffing and leading of all aspects of an organization, through the strategic direction of human, financial, technological and natural resources.
What is engineering management?
Engineering management is a specialized field of management concerned with the engineering sector. Reflecting industry demand for management-focused engineers (or from the opposite perspective, managers with an understanding of engineering), a growing number of specialized engineering management degrees are available to help develop the knowledge and skills needed for these roles. During an engineering management course, students will develop industrial engineering skills, knowledge and expertise, alongside knowledge of business and management techniques, strategies and concerns.
Types of engineering management degree
The title given to engineering management degrees may vary depending on the institution, and can include: Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management (BSEM), Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Engineering Management, Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in Engineering Management, and Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Management (BEEM). Keep in mind that the specific structure and content of engineering management courses will also vary, so make sure to check the curriculum before applying. Some (non-exhaustive) variations on engineering management degree titles you may come across include:
- Engineering Management: Usually a multidisciplinary program which builds theoretical and practical knowledge of all engineering fields and engineering mathematics, along with advanced project and personnel management knowledge and skills.
- [Branch of Engineering] with Management: This could also be [Branch of Engineering] and Management or simply [Branch of Engineering] Management. Examples include ‘Chemical Engineering with Management’, ‘Mechanical Engineering and Business Management’ or ‘Construction Engineering Management’. These programs include specialized engineering focus, with complementary modules in business and management studies.
- [Branch of Engineering] (Engineering Management): This includes programs such as ‘Systems and Control Engineering (Engineering Management)’ or ‘Chemical Engineering (Business Management)’. The focus is on the business side of the engineering topic, with business treated as a specialization, and engineering and business modules studied alongside one another.
- Business Administration Major with engineering management option: Available mainly in the US, this is the engineering route to a business administration degree, drawing from both academic areas and allowing students to develop a broad view of business principles and engineering topics. This can be a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program, and may have a liberal arts core.
Some institutions may also offer dual-degree programs, at the end of which you will graduate with two bachelor’s degrees (one in engineering, one in management). You’ll either divide your time equally between the two degrees, or be able to choose whether to concentrate more on business/management or more on engineering.
If your degree is accredited by an institution such as the UK’s the Engineering Council, you might be able to fully satisfy the educational base for Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status or partially satisfy the educational base for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. In order to complete the educational base for CEng, you’ll need to take part in an accredited program at the postgraduate level, build up your professional development and undergo a professional review.
The accreditation body for post-secondary education programs in engineering in the US is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). After the completion of a four-year ABET-accredited program, you’ll qualify for admission to examination at the first level of professional registration. Note that some employers may prefer accredited degrees, and they are also more likely to be recognized on an international level.
You’ll find that most engineering management programs are offered at the postgraduate level and thus require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, science or business. However, some institutions do offer engineering management at the undergraduate level – indeed, the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) has accredited and/or recognized 27 undergraduate engineering management programs within US institutions.
Outside of the US, notable undergraduate engineering management programs include those in countries such as Turkey (Istanbul Technical University’s Management Engineering), Canada (University of Waterloo’s co-operative Management Engineering, the first program of its kind in Canada) and Peru (the University of the Pacific offers Peru’s first Business Engineering program).
In general, undergraduate entry requirements for engineering management degrees include mathematics, or further mathematics, with some institutions asking for a qualification in physics or any other science subject. A background or interest in business and/or economics can be helpful, while a foundation in the social sciences (such as psychology and sociology) can aid your understanding of management in organizations.
What to expect from engineering management degrees
Engineering management is typically taught through a combination of lectures (some delivered by leading industry practitioners), case studies, hands-on workshops, laboratory-based practical classes, engineering design activities (EDAs), tutorials, group and individual project work and consultation sessions. Generally, a combination of continuous assessment through small practical exercises for each module is used along with individual and group project work, essay writing, presentations, coursework and examinations, with an individual project or dissertation taking up most of your last year.
You’ll use a range of industrial software, for applications such as 3D modelling, project management, quality assessment, inventory management and simulation of processes. Studies focused on the fundamentals of your chosen engineering branch are likely to dominate your first year, with business and management topics (including legal studies, contract management, project evaluation and corporate management) introduced as your degree progresses.
You may also be able to participate in engineering or business research projects available at your institution. These projects are usually funded by industry bodies, charities, government departments and research councils, and are a good way of putting your degree knowledge to practical use and seeing first-hand how your studies are directly applicable to the workplace. Depending on your institution, you may be able to undertake research abroad, or take part in a salaried industrial placement for one year (such programs are sometimes called ‘sandwich’ courses), in sectors including automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer goods, computer software, food processing and manufacturing, either locally or abroad.
Read about the QS-WMG Engineering Management Scholarship for international students >