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hjg7715

MSEng vs. MEng..Which Route Should I Go?

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I've recently started researching graduate programs in anticipation of starting graduate school in Fall 2014. My educational and professional backgrounds are both in the field of Civil/Environmental Engineering and my goal is to obtain a Masters for professional development and career advancement. I have no desire or interest in continuing my education beyond the graduate level. Also, my undergraduate degree is a BSET, but I have a high undergraduate GPA, passed FE Exam and have completed Calculus I, II, III and Chemistry I,II. So I feel I am more than equipped to complete a Master of Science Engineering (MSEng) program, it's just a matter of being accepted into MSEng program that accepts non-engineering degrees...but that's another topic.



Based on my personal research, Master of Engineering (MEng) programs are typically orientated for working professionals or to prepare students for more practical application of their education. MSEng is more research based and would definitely be more advantageous if I wanted to pursue a PhD or if I desired to go into an industry/field that involved more research and development which isn't the case. The question is does the MSEng degree hold more weight than MSEng in the workforce or to employers, more specifically for Civil Engineers who work for a regulatory or government agency? And regardless of which degree route I choose, I plan to eventually obtain my P.E. which in my opinion is more critical for career advancement than either graduate degree.




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I went Masters of Engineering. Two more classes, but you weren't a slave to someone else doing research you may not be interested in.


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How do you plan to use a Master degree to advance your career?

To obtain a more specialized educational background. I have taken short courses and done workshops for professional development, but I feel I need a more in depth knowledge base. Additionally, in looking at job postings for the type of positions I would like to have in 5-10 years, many of them have Masters degree preferred. So I want to gain more knowledge and I also want to make myself more marketable.

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I've never heard of an "MSEng", although based on your description, I assume MSEng = MS. You're asking whether an MS or an MEng is better for you and based on what you said, the MEng is obviously better suited to your self-described disposition and goals.



Generally, from an employment side, your skills and ability to communicate those skills are probably more important than the specific set of letters appended to your name. For example, I have an MEng although I think it would have qualified as an MS - I conducted original research that was published in an esteemed peer-reviewed journal. Most of my classmates did not do MS-level work to complete their MEng, but they didn't have to in order to earn the MEng. In a properly conducted MEng program you will learn how to define abstract problems, how to research and apply advanced engineering methods, and how to present and communicate this process effectively. In an MS program, you will learn the same things, but with more emphasis on novel research rather than applied knowledge. You will probably have more freedom to develop your topic in an MEng than an MS although if you are paying the bills, this may not hold.



I would suggest that you narrow your goal "to obtain a more specialized background" to something more specific, i.e. - to become an expert at plate girder design, for example. If you can't narrow that down, I would suggest a Master of Engineering Management or similar. This will be a more general curriculum, but you will have "more knowledge" and it will make you more marketable, perhaps especially for a government or regulatory position because you will be managing people and resources rather than applying technical knowledge. NJIT, for example, offers this program:



http://mie.njit.edu/academics/graduate/ms-engineering-management.php



Check it out, it may be more aligned with your career goals than what you've considered thus far. Good luck!


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Mark, I didn't indicate specifically in my previous posts but I'm looking at pursuing a Masters degree in Environmental Science/Engineering or something closely related to Stormwater Management or Urban Hydrology. I had considering MEM program and NJIT is actually one of the schools I've looked at because they offer distance learning programs. But thanks for the information and advice.



BTW, when referring to MSEng I was in fact referring to Master of Science degree in Engineering.


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Some may call it MS some MEngineering, some may be field specific. I'd say that you'll get out of it what you put into it. I'd also say that the actual degree name is a little less important than the Master's itself, and possibly where you get it from. I'm learning increasingly that the old saying of "its who you know, not what you know" that gets you the job. Introverts (engineers) often have issues with the who you know part.

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Some may call it MS some MEngineering, some may be field specific. I'd say that you'll get out of it what you put into it. I'd also say that the actual degree name is a little less important than the Master's itself, and possibly where you get it from. I'm learning increasingly that the old saying of "its who you know, not what you know" that gets you the job. Introverts (engineers) often have issues with the who you know part.

I disagree. A true Master of Science degree implies a rigorous research program documented in a thesis, the Master of Engineering degree implies either a less rigorous research program documented in a report or a "non-thesis" option which is typically concluded by examination. In some MEng cases, students have the option between a research program or a capstone examination (of course I believe some institutions still grant an M.S. in this case).

In academic terms, a true MS is better than the MEng - i.e. M.S. is more rigorous and prepares the candidate for independent research or continuation to a PhD. The MEng, on the other hand, is an applied degree program and in most cases is a terminal degree. In my opinion, it isn't entirely correct to conclude that the M.S. is purely academic and the MEng is purely applied. I know several people first-hand who moved into the workforce after completing an M.S. and several others who moved onto PhD programs following completion of the MEng. There are, of course, certainly people in the workforce that are unaware and unconcerned with the distinction between the MS and the MEng.

hgj7715 - i understood that you weren't necessarily structural, i was simply using a explicit example to illustrate my point. Whatever the degree is called, it sounds like you're preparing to make an informed decision. I would conclude that the letters denoting a graduate degree are probably less important to career success than what you learn and how well you can communicate and demonstrate that knowledge.

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Mark, I think you summarized a lot of what I was thinking and what I've already ascertained through my own research. I definitely want to make an informed decision and is the reason why I'm really interested to read the feedback. Without question, I think that I can gain the necessary knowledge in an MSEng program to satisfy my career objectives. And like you stated, it appears that the distinction between an MS and MSEng is probably a lot more relevant or imperative in academia than in the workforce. However, I want to verify or better gauge if that's the case in the area of engineering I presently work and hope to advance within.

Specifically, in regards to stormwater management, as you probably know it's heavily dictated by environmental science and regulation. And depending on you believe, a lot of that regulation is being impacted by research and academia that rely/believe in theoretical science a lot more than applied science. So if I chose to work for a regulatory agency, I have to keep in mind that many of the regulatory agencies rely and sometimes work closely with research institutions, especially at the state level. My concern is making sure that my degree isn't automatically lessen in value if I elected to go the MSEng route.

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To my knowledge, everything that you said is correct, in regards to MS vs. ME, and like you said, it all depends on the path that you want to take. As for future employers, in the private consulting world, I do not believe it matters which one you have. They see that you have a Master's degree and really do not dig into it much further than that. I doubt most of those doing the hiring could tell you the difference between the two. Also, for the most part, I believe the curriculum is pretty much the same, except that one requires a thesis, and one does not. Therefore, the technical design concepts that you will learn in the classes should be the same either way. Good luck with it whichever path you choose.


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^I agree with this. Most people don't distinguish between the MS and ME, excepting of course admissions to a PhD program.



Also, there are on-line MS programs out there that do not require a thesis, too, such as Johns Hopkins' MS in Env. Engineering and Science program. It's not just the ME programs that are structured that way anymore. Your best bet is just to find a program that most closely mirrors your professional goals, which seem well defined.


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The Master of Science (MS) usually involves research and a thesis, although some places do offer the non-thesis MS. The Master of Engineering (MEng) replaces the research and thesis with a project which is geared toward industry skills. The MEng is intended as a terminal degree for people who want to work in industry afterwards.


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If you're planning on doing actual engineering work I would stay away from the MSEM. Even if you decide to pursue an MSEM I would not recommend NJIT. I completed my MSEM at NJIT and the only advantage to the program is the distance learning aspect. The Professors generally are pretty poor. While they claim they possess industry experience it's pretty obvious, with very few exceptions, that the majority of them don't. More importantly, quite a few of the Profs appear to simply be 'phoning it in.' You really need to be highly motivated and a self-learner to get anything out of the program. I spent countless hours pouring over material on my own (research material to supplement the posted material).



Here's a typical example. You'll sign up for a class and see the entire semester's work posted. You're then responsible for learning the work, doing assignments, and handing it in. The Prof will grade it and return it to you, most likely not even in a timely manner. I wrote official letters of complaints against at least two Professors during my time there. Other classmates of mine complained publicly on NJIT's twitter feed before the Dean decided to address the problem.



Now contrast that to my experience during my MSME (traditional, not distance learning). I had a good mix of Profs - some industry, some purely academic. I specialized in CFD/Thermal-Fluid systems. All the courses were highly relevant to my job at the time. The Profs, including the academic ones, were more than willing to address any work related problems I had as pertaining to the course. My thesis was highly relevant to what I wanted to do and was strenuous but rewarding at the end.



Either way, first determine what you want to do - technical engineering or management.



Now to answer your question. Mostly everyone has it right on here. In Industry, there doesn't seem to be any particular distinction between the MSME and the MEng. As you correctly stated, if you plan on pursuing a PhD then obviously the MSME is the way to go. If you want to get Industry applicable graduate work then you're better of with the MEng - and it will be less stressful without the thesis component.


Edited by Ramnares P.E.

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