bulls2030

Considering getting a Master's Degree. I am a Civil Engineer.

14 posts in this topic

I completed my Bachelors in Civil Engineering May 2015. Worked one year in Site Development and for the past 10 months on Roadway Design. Passed the PE exam last Spring in Transportation. (since I am in Illinois, I don't have to wait the 4 years to take the exam)

I am thinking to pursue further education and get a Masters Degree. What options are good for the future for Civil Engineers?

I am open to the idea of getting a Masters in Civil Engineering but I am considering other degrees as well. One of the fields I was thinking is MBA. 

Any experience on what other Masters programs would be valuable in the future?

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Value of Masters program depends on where you want to take your career. If you want to move to management, an MBA may be more valuable than masters in Civil Engineering.  If want to stay in design field, make sure you know where you want to focus so your master can be centered around that. For example, don't go for a master's in water resources/land development focused masters program and then decide you want to focus your career on structural design. 

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Why do you want a Master degree?

Just work a couple more years and see if engineering is even what you want to do.  

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4 hours ago, youngmotivatedengineer said:

Value of Masters program depends on where you want to take your career. If you want to move to management, an MBA may be more valuable than masters in Civil Engineering.  If want to stay in design field, make sure you know where you want to focus so your master can be centered around that. For example, don't go for a master's in water resources/land development focused masters program and then decide you want to focus your career on structural design. 

I think what I want to do is Roadway Design. That is what interests me most. 

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What other degrees are you considering then? Other than MBA? Which I think is quite different...

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Don't do it

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Do it

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Its painful. and it gets in the way of life and especially work. And if you start feeling like work gets in the way of school then you're probably about to drop the ball at work for school. Did I mention its expensive? It gets a good response when applying for jobs for sure. Thesis is super hard and tedious. Writing for work to be published is painful. It was extremely painful for me and after so many iterations when it was all approved I almost cried. Not joking. I did it so I could apply for license early. Then as soon as I was done, within a year, PE exam was decoupled. LOL. '

IMO, just make sure you really want it. You will meet experienced professionals and have the opportunity to absorb experience from great professors. 

Good Luck!!

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If you do decide to pursue a master's, make sure you can get funding for an assistantship. I don't feel a master's is worth it if you're coming out of school with more debt. 

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Assistant may not be necessary if your work will help cover some of the cost and let you do the MS with flex time.  Also, from personal experience the earlier you do it the easier it is.  You are more used to studying and have fewer demands on your time - kids, more job responsibilities, house, professional orgs, etc.  I know a number of people who waited and now are still working on it 5 or 10 years later, whereas I worked full time and did one class at a time and finished in 2.5 years right after my BS, it just sucked a bit.  I would never be able to do it now.

As someone who works in transportation (bridge design) what is driving you towards the MS?  I will say almost all structural and geotechnical I know have it, but none of the roadway engineers.  It would definitely set you apart

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I think getting a graduate degree is great if you know what sub-discipline you want to have a career in.  I'm a little biased though - I got a masters and phd after undergrad.  I had an assistantship while I was working on my masters, but I decided to work part time while pursuing my phd (I really wouldn't recommend that).  If you want the degree, find a school that will pay for you to be a full-time student so you don't have to sacrifice your productivity at work or school.  Plus, there are very few professors that will take on a part-time student - I learned that the hard way.  Being on an assistantship will reduce your income though, so make sure you plan for that.  Grad students don't live a life of luxury.  

Masters degrees will expose you to a lot of different areas within a specific sub-discipline.  For example in a transportation program, you'll have courses such as geometric design, traffic flow theory, transportation planning, traffic safety, infrastructure/pavement design, etc.  They're great and will help you become well-rounded, but as a designer you may only need to focus on one area.

I heard many times that a MBA is more valuable to designers than a masters.  I can't really speak much on that because I am focused in a different area, but it sounds reasonable to me.

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If you want to do roadway design, find a masters that focuses in just that. Still do a cost-benefit analysis yourself because experience in the civil engineering world is the most valuable part of your resume. Unless you want to go into academia a MBA may be a better choice if you are just trying to make more money.

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Posted (edited)

I am one class away from finishing my MSCE with Transportation concentration.

Take a look at the program at NJIT, you can do it all online, and it has one of the best ROI's for an MSCE in the country.

I recently changed jobs, and the hiring managers all flat-out said that the PE and MSCE is what made me more attractive than other candidates. This was for an upper level position (20 years experience).

Edited by John QPE

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