Master’s in Engineering Management vs. MBA

How an M.Eng. Prepares You for Leadership in Engineering

Either a master of engineering (M.Eng.) in engineering management or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help engineers advance in their organization or industry. However, an M.Eng. in engineering management prepares engineers for leadership skills within the context of their field, while an MBA prepares them for more general roles in the business world. Though the M.Eng. degree is a slightly newer degree than the MBA, both are established degree programs that are highly regarded.

Both an MBA and an M.Eng. in engineering management prepare students with advanced knowledge in the following subject areas:

  • Management and leadership
  • Communications
  • Finance and accounting
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Supply change management
  • Decision-making

However, despite their similarities, the two degrees have important differences in student backgrounds, program curriculum, and degree outcomes.

MBA

Students

An MBA is designed for those interested in leadership roles in a variety of fields or industries. However, MBA students often pursue more traditional business professions, such as finance or marketing. Few MBA students aim to enter the engineering field.

Curriculum

Most MBA programs cover a breadth of skills needed to lead in a range of business environments, but rarely hone in on specific industries. Curricular topics may include supply chain management, accounting, organizational behavior, project management, economics and statistics.

Outcomes

MBA students will graduate with the skills to improve performance and return on investment for companies and organizations. A full-time MBA typically takes two years to complete.

M.Eng. in Engineering Management

Students

A master’s in engineering management is designed for those with a background in STEM who want to move into leadership roles. Because it caters to professionals in technical fields, students in an M.Eng. in engineering management program will collaborate with peers and professors who have similar experiences and goals.

These commonalities will enable students to build connections with other leaders in their industry. Students in the program may come from different engineering fields, but they will all have a STEM background.

Curriculum

The focus of an M.Eng. in engineering management curriculum is on the application of management principles to the engineering and technology industry. While topics covered usually overlap with those in an MBA program, they are presented within the context of engineering-specific responsibilities.

An M.Eng. in engineering management program, for example, examines how finances, staffing, and technical requirements contribute to the efficiency of an engineering or tech organization, and how these factors impact the final product. In Vanderbilt’s online master of engineering in engineering management program, students take courses that cover:

  • Engineering design process and project management
  • How to make software-assisted decisions
  • Intellectual property law as it applies to engineers and scientists
  • Marketing for technology products

Because engineering is a technical field that requires creative problem-solving and a desire to build and test new ideas, many master’s in engineering management programs include hands-on projects as a part of the curriculum. At Vanderbilt, students in the online M.Eng. in engineering management program apply what they learn to improve complex business systems, and create a change management plan and final presentation.

Outcomes

M.Eng. in engineering management graduates will be prepared to take on leadership roles within engineering, technology, and scientific organizations and companies. They will be able to present themselves as multi-talented professionals who can bridge technical engineering knowledge with organizational and people management skills. Graduates may also go on to lead organizations outside of the tech industry, if these organizations are influenced by technology or engineering.

An M.Eng. in engineering management typically takes approximately two years to complete. Vanderbilt’s online M.Eng. in engineering management program takes as few as 12-15 months to complete. Upon graduation, both the M.Eng. in engineering management and MBA will be recognized as advanced professional degrees by employers.

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