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Applying For An Engineering Master’s Degree - What You Should Know

If you want to secure a successful career in engineering and your financial future, then earning a master’s degree may be an important step in your professional life. Students considering applying to study for a master’s degree in the field of engineering need to spend some time researching the degree program thoroughly to find the one that fits them best. Once you have completed the initial research, it’s a good idea to get to grips with the admissions processes for the various programs on your shortlist. Understanding this will help you apply for the program in a way that puts you in with the best chance of being accepted and having a place offered.

Engineering is a particularly competitive field to get into at the master’s level, so spend some time making sure that you determine exactly what you are looking for in a school and program. Carefully study the application steps to determine what you need to do to be in with the best chance of acceptance and maximize your future opportunities. If you want to get a master’s degree in engineering to boost your career, here are some tips that you may find useful.

Choose the Right Discipline

The first thing to consider when choosing an engineering master’s degree is which discipline? If you are already working as an engineer in a certain specialty area, then it might make sense to opt for what you are used to when getting your master’s degree. If you simply want to use this qualification to work your way up further into a more advanced position in your current line of work, then naturally you would opt for the same discipline that you are currently involved in.

Engineering Master’s Degree

On the other hand, however, engineers will often use a master’s degree as a way to pivot their career and learn more about a different engineering area. Perhaps you are a computer engineer and want to get involved with the electrical or software engineering side of things. Or, maybe you are currently working as a mechanical engineer, and your work on certain projects has gotten you interested in marine engineering or aeronautical engineering. If you’re going to be studying for a master’s degree in a discipline that is new to you, there are a few things to consider beforehand, which include:

  • Your Qualifications: Bear in mind that some engineering master’s degree programs will require you to have a bachelor’s degree, relevant experience, or industry certifications in the same discipline, while others will simply require that you are qualified as any type of engineer. Be sure to research the programs that you are interested in to determine if you need to do any preparatory work to bring your qualifications or experience up to scratch and be successfully accepted onto the program.
  • Work Experience: Consider why you want to change to a certain engineering discipline, and make sure that you know enough about it before you start. It may be worthwhile looking for ways to get more work experience within that discipline before you make up your mind for sure. Shadowing other engineers who are currently working in this discipline or finding work that is more heavily involved in it can not only help you decide if it’s the right path for you, but also prepare you for the master’s degree.
  • Consider Your Skills: While the main principles of engineering tend to be similar and based around math, science and technology, some engineering disciplines are very different from others. For example, going into biochemical engineering after working as a software or computer engineer is likely to feel like an entirely different job – and it is. It’s important to consider how well the engineering hard skills and soft skills that you currently possess are going to translate into your new discipline, and if there is any further work that you may be able to do to prepare yourself in terms of your knowledge and skills before applying.
  • Career Outlook: Another main thing to consider before choosing a different engineering discipline to study at the master’s level is the career outlook. While working in a job you enjoy is always important, it’s also crucial to determine if you are okay with the fact that your new discipline may not be as lucrative or as in-demand as your previous one in some cases. Spend some time looking at job growth statistics, average salaries, and other key details to make sure that this move is going to be a worthwhile one for you to make.

How You Want to Study

Once you have chosen the right engineering discipline for you, it’s important to consider how you want to get your master’s degree. Today, engineering students have more options available to them than in the past and studying on-campus is not all that you can choose from, with online and blended degree options that might be better suited to some students. Online only master’s programs such as this masters in electrical and computer engineering from Kettering University are a popular choice among engineering students who are returning to school while working full-time. They offer more flexibility and the ability to be in control of your studies by choosing how, when and where you want to study based on your lifestyle and commitments, rather than facing the need to fit your life around the degree. On the other hand, if you would prefer a degree option that is flexible but allows you to spend time on-campus making use of the resources and networking, a blended degree might be worth considering, offering the best of both worlds.

Choose the Right School

How you want to study and what discipline you want to study will likely have a major impact on the schools and programs that you shortlist. While it is not quite as important today to have a master’s degree from a well-known school as many schools follow similar curriculums and offer qualifications that are worth the same, it’s important to make sure that you are a student at a reputable school that you can trust with your education. This is especially important if you are studying online as some ‘colleges’ online are not really offering degree programs, and you could end up spending your money on a program that isn’t worth anything. Accreditation from a relevant accrediting body, a good reputation, and experience in delivering online programs are some of the main things to look out for if you want to get an engineering master’s degree online.

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Submit Several Applications

If you’re like many students, you might have one school in mind that you really want to get into. But don’t limit yourself by making the mistake of only submitting one application to this particular school. It’s a common mistake made by master’s applicants who may believe that they are likely to be accepted due to having the educational requirements necessary for the program; however, the reality is that there is much more that goes into being offered a place. Engineering master’s degree programs are highly popular, and chances are that only a small percentage of applicants are going to be admitted, even when studying online. So, make sure that you put yourself in with a better chance by choosing a few different schools that you would also like to study at and submitting several applications to keep your options open.

Write an Admissions Essay

Admissions essays are typically required when applying for a master’s program, and an engineering master’s degree will be no different. Admissions officers will often say that reading through hundreds of admissions essays is their least favorite job, so use this to your advantage and write an essay that they will actually enjoy, in order to stand out and get noticed. Along with this, it is worth bearing in mind that just like employers, colleges will often use AI to help them sift through the hundreds or thousands of admissions essays that they receive in order to speed up the process. Because of this, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching the course to find various keywords you can add to your essay to avoid having it go unnoticed.

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Demonstrate Your Strengths

One advantage that you will have if you are currently working as an engineer and want to get onto a master’s program is your work experience. Chances are that since graduating and starting work as an engineer, you have significantly built on the knowledge and skills that you gained in college while getting your bachelor’s degree and have a lot of real-world experience that you can share with admissions staff to showcase your strengths. Once you have determined which programs you are going to apply to and spent some time studying the applications process for each one, approach it like you would a job application and tailor your applications to suit each one and appeal to the respective admissions officers.

Remember that at the master’s level in particular, schools receive hundreds, if not thousands of applications from students that have good grades, so you are going to need more to make sure that you stand out. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to stand out from the competition by using your application to demonstrate your personal and professional strengths. Include your resume if possible, as this can help you stand out by giving the admissions staff a clearer look at what you have done so far in your career as an engineer, the kind of skills that you have developed and the employers that you have worked for.

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Request an Admissions Interview

While admissions interviews are no longer as common as they once were and more likely to be held on Zoom these days compared to going to the campus in-person, there is a chance that some programs might offer you a face-to-face meeting with admissions staff. While skipping the interview stage might be relieving if you get nervous in this type of situation, not being able to meet admissions officers is not always a good thing, as a successful admissions interview can be just what you need to stand out from the crowd and make a better impression on the people who are literally tasked with deciding your fate. Bear in mind that you may have the option to request an interview – if you do, it’s always worth going for it as you can use it to your advantage to help you stand out and put a face to your application. If you get an admissions interview, some tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Have a solid answer for why you want to attend that college and study for the program that you have applied to. This is especially important if you have been offered an admissions interview for a school that may not have been your first choice, and you’ll need to put the same amount of effort into researching this school and thinking about why you applied to it.
  2. Spend some time researching the college. You can use what you learn during the interview to demonstrate what you know about the college to admissions staff, and why you think it will be a good fit for you.
  3. Give examples - you’re likely going to be asked about your work experience, and your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. Being able to go into more detail about these with real-life examples will strengthen your interview process.
  4. Don’t be unprepared for non-academic questions - the interview isn’t going to be about your GPA from your bachelor’s degree. They will want to find out more about who you are as a person. They might ask to get your opinion on a certain topic or get your take on the latest news from your industry.

As an engineer, getting a master’s degree can be a step forward or a step into a different discipline. If you want to take your career to the next level, it’s important to be prepared for the process of applying and increase your chances of being accepted to get the master’s degree you want.

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