Online Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering
Master of Industrial Engineering In Context

If you’re looking for a diverse career in which you can play a crucial role in supporting businesses’ growth and development, then industrial engineering may be right for you. A postgraduate degree in this field can help to shape your technical skills and knowledge to pursue a prosperous future.

What is this degree for?

A master’s in industrial engineering can appeal to those who have just completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related subject, or who have been working in the sector for some time. It can be good preparation for anyone who wants to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to take on managerial or leadership roles.

You can learn how to optimize and streamline complex organizations, systems, and processes to save money, time, manpower, energy, and materials. This postgraduate degree blends business and engineering, combining your technical expertise with managerial abilities.

How do I earn this degree?

Although the admissions requirements vary depending on the university, most schools require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related subject such as mathematics, physics, or computer science. If you have a non-engineering degree, you may be required to take additional courses, either before your degree or alongside it.

How long does it take to earn this degree?

The program length varies depending on the institution, but it will generally take between one and two years to complete. The average requirement for ABET-accredited engineering programs is about 30 credit hours. [1]

Taking the program full time is faster, but you might not be able to work while you are enrolled. If you take a part-time program, it may increase your time spent in the program, but you will likely be able to continue working.

What is a master’s in engineering degree?

Master of Industrial Engineering programs are designed to equip students with the necessary engineering and business tools and knowledge for a managerial role in the workplace. This includes engineering knowledge, people management skills, an understanding of computer applications, applied mathematics, statistics, and project management techniques. [2]

An industrial engineer aims to determine the most effective processes and methods in production that will help organizations and businesses save time and money, as well as energy, materials, and manpower. This also improves the product or service being offered.

It is a very diverse field, and degree holders can find employment in sectors including technology, business, public administration, management and consultancy, research and development, and manufacturing. [3]

Who is a Master of Engineering degree for?

If you have recently completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field, a master’s degree can allow you to focus more on a specific area of study and develop more advanced leadership skills. This investment can lead to more demand in the marketplace for your skills and open the possibility of managerial roles.

For those who already have some work experience, a master’s degree can offer many of the same benefits of increased engineering and leadership skills. It can also help experienced professionals shift to a new area of focus in their career or pursue different roles.

The Master of Engineering is not intended to lead to a doctoral program, but instead is intended to impart practical, on-the-job skills. Those interested in a Ph.D. track would be better off pursuing a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering. The MSc requires you to complete a thesis and better equips you with the necessary research and academic skills.

More than 40,000 professionals pursued their Master of Engineering degree in 2013, so it can be a differentiator in this competitive job market.

The most common jobs held by those who graduate with engineering degrees include: [4]

  • Industrial production managers
  • Logisticians
  • Quality control inspectors
  • Materials engineers
  • Industrial engineering technicians
  • Health and safety engineers
Why earn a master's in industrial engineering?

There are a number of reasons why it can be beneficial to earn a master’s degree in engineering. It can help you:

  • Increase and expand your knowledge
  • Broaden your horizons
  • Build on your qualifications
  • Move up the career ladder
  • Command a larger salary
  • Change your professional direction

Industrial engineers can work in many sectors, including: [5]

  • Engineering services
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
  • Product manufacturing
  • Machinery manufacturing
  • Motor vehicle parts manufacturing

Industrial engineers with a master’s are not only highly skilled in engineering principles; they should also develop a strong range of people skills and business management tools. This means they can easily step into various roles across multiple areas of practice, making them a valuable asset to any company.

Your ability to help companies reduce costs and save money are also in demand. Every company wants to improve its bottom line — if you know how to do this, you’ll be earning your salary and more. You will also be able to offer your support to all areas of the company, not just your focus area.

The industrial engineering degree seeks to develop your mathematical skills while imparting knowledge of big data. Understanding big data and its importance in the workplace — particularly in streamlining processes, targeting customers, and improving sales — is a valuable asset. Big data is only growing in value [6], and knowing how to use it can help position you for high-demand roles. You can also build on the theoretical skills you gain from your master’s degree with additional courses and certifications, which could lead to a career in data science.

Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Career Advancement
With your skills and level of training, as an industrial engineer, you can expect to earn a higher than average salary. [35] This is even more true with a master’s degree. [7] Industrial engineers of any educational level earn a median salary of $83,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the highest 10% earning nearly $127,000. [8] Engineering managers earn a median salary of is $141,970, and engineers who work as management analysts earn an average salary of $131,964. [9] Other careers to consider include:

In this role, you can expect to earn a median salary of $71,270 with a range from $52,370 when starting to $100,861 at the peak of your career. [10] Process engineers examine the processes in every manufactured product. They evaluate the process’ efficiency, safety, and quality.

Some of the key skills for process engineers include:

  • Engineering design
  • Project management
  • Troubleshooting
  • Knowledge of Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Chemical process engineering

Logisticians earn a median salary of $62,828. There is also the possibility of earning bonuses, profit-sharing proceeds, and commissions. Key skills for logisticians include knowledge of: [11]

  • Budget management
  • Supply chains
  • Operations management
  • Contract negotiations
  • Leadership
  • Data analysis

Beginning salary for industrial engineers is about $49,016, and can reach $90,659. [12] Industrial engineers:

  • Help improve and manage a company’s manufacturing processes
  • Find ways to ensure a company is utilizing machinery, employees, materials, time, and other assets effectively

Key skills include:

  • Knowledge of Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Project management
  • Manufacturing process engineering
  • Data analysis
  • Process improvement

A production engineer’s responsibilities involve overseeing the production processes, generally within a factory. They must ensure products have been produced efficiently and cost-effectively.

Production engineers are often responsible for a large part of the process, including the materials used, how the product is assembled to ensure the best quality, and how the production line should be operated to get the most out of the machinery and manpower. [13] The average salary for a production engineer is $69,595, with the opportunity to earn up to $113,695 with greater experience. These professionals may also be eligible for bonuses and profit-sharing. [14]

Core skills for production engineers include:

  • Production engineering
  • Operations management
  • Chemical process engineering
  • Project management
  • Production management

Other roles for production engineers include:

  • Project manager
  • Senior mechanical engineer
  • Mechanical design engineer
  • Senior process engineer
  • Senior manufacturing engineer

Plant engineers work in a management or supervisory position at a manufacturing or assembly facility. They are in charge of overseeing operations and ensuring the manufacturing plant functions are effective and efficient. Those working in this role report being extremely satisfied, [15] and can eventually fill roles including facilities manager, vice president of operations, senior manufacturing engineer, or manufacturing design engineer.

Relevant skills include:

  • Knowledge of budget management
  • Project management
  • Manufacturing process engineering
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)/Automation

Areas where industrial engineers can expect to work include: [16]

  • Managerial positions in offices
  • Laboratories
  • Construction sites
  • Factories or industrial product plants
  • Research
  • Government
Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Curriculum

Each university devises its own curriculum, and it is important to do your research to assess which program will equip you with the right knowledge and skills to pursue your career goals.

As part of the industrial engineering curriculum, you will typically need to take core courses and concentration electives designed to tailor your interests and specializations. Courses may cover a variety of topics, including: [17]

  • Engineering design
  • Engineering sciences
  • Modern engineering tools [17]

If you have a definite idea of where you want to take your career, or have previous experience in industrial engineering, you might want to specialize your degree. Focusing on your core interests can ensure you have the skills you need to pursue the role you want. It can also give you the opportunity to become an expert in your area, which can help you to become more employable, improve your job security, and lead to a higher salary.

It is important that you choose a specialty that aligns with your career goals and interests. This might include the following areas: [36]

  • Manufacturing
  • Raw-product processing
  • Engineering administration

Some programs may require you to take part in an internship as part of your industrial engineering degree. This is a great opportunity to gain practical experience.

An internship provides a great opportunity to expand your network and reach out to key contacts in the companies you’re interested in working with. This can be vital once you graduate and are looking for a job. Make the most of your work experiences and use it as a chance to find out how your co-workers ended up in their roles, and whether they found any specific courses or organizations to be helpful.

If work experience particularly interests you, you should check the school’s curriculum, as not all programs offer this option. In some cases, you might need to complete a research project instead. If you are unsure, check with the course administrator. Key questions to ask include:

  • Will I have to find my own placement or will the university support me in this?
  • Will the internship count toward my final grade?
  • How long will it last, and will it affect the length of my studies?
  • Will I be paid for the internship?
  • Will I have a supervisor who will guide me through the process?
  • Will I be required to do any kind of report on the internship?
  • What if I am unable to find a position?

Studying online
There are a number of reasons why studying online might appeal to you. This includes if you:

  • Don’t live near your program of interest
  • Need to complete coursework outside traditional classroom hours
  • Have family or personal obligations
  • Want to continue working while you study

In these instances, you may find you are better suited to an online industrial engineering program rather than studying on campus. You will still have access to the same high standard of teaching and experienced faculty members. You will also get to study the same academically challenging courses, only online via a virtual learning platform. However, be sure the program

Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Admission Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study

Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.

The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the master’s in industrial engineering, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.

Relevant Industry Associations and Organizations

The following organizations and resources maybe be useful in finding out more about the engineering sector. You may also want to check whether the universities and programs you are looking at have relationships with these organizations, as it may have additional benefits for you:

  • Society of Women Engineers [23]
  • National Society of Professional Engineers [24]
  • American Association of Engineering Societies [25]
  • National Academy of Engineering [26]
  • National Society of Black Engineers [27]
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers [28]
  • American Society for Engineering Education [29]
  • Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers [30]
  • International Association of Engineers [31]
Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Accreditation Overview

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Specialized accrediting bodies
It is important when looking for the right degree program for you to check that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This is the specific accrediting body for engineering programs.

If the program you are looking at is ABET-accredited, this means its curriculum meets the standards put in place to ensure teaching and learning are to a high and approved standard. It is recognized on a regional and national level by employers and agencies, and it is also known across the world. [21]

ABET accreditation certifies that your program has equipped you with the knowledge and skills needed for a career in industrial engineering. It is also a prerequisite for taking your Professional Engineer (PE) licensure exams that you have studied at an accredited program. [22]

Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering Licensure and Certifications Overview

One of the main reasons why many engineers pursue a postgraduate degree is because advanced education is a typical requirement to achieve licensure in most states. A Master of Industrial Engineering degree can prepare your for your Professional Engineer exams. This is necessary to gain licensure as an industrial engineer.

Available licensure exams include:

  • Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam

Although licensure varies from state to state, it can help to set you apart as someone who is of the highest competency and skill set. It means you have met a nationwide recognized standard and can take on a higher level of responsibility. It is a highly respected and hard-won achievement.

There are a number of reasons for why licensure is important as an industrial engineer. They include: [19]

  • Being able to prepare, sign, and submit plans to public authorities for approval. This is of particular importance if you are working on public projects, and which could affect public safety.
  • If you are in charge of others in a managerial or supervisory role — for example, as their line manager — or in charge of work, for example as a project manager, you will need licensure to legally pursue this role.
  • Being able to demonstrate that you hold strong ethical credentials and have been trained fully in this aspect of your job.
  • If you want to teach engineering to students in schools, colleges, or universities.
  • To help you build strong and meaningful work connections and validate the level of knowledge and skills you hold through an authorized body.

To hold the PE seal of approval, you will need to: [20]

  • Have a four-year engineering degree from an accredited program
  • Be able to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
  • Complete four years of progressive engineering work experience under the supervision of a professional engineer
  • Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam
History of the Degree

Industrial engineering had been taught by a number of universities during the late 1800s. However, Pennsylvania State University introduced the first department of Industrial Engineering in 1908. Cornell University awarded the first doctorate degree in industrial engineering during the 1930s. [32]

It is a profession that has continued to remain important, ever more so in the workplace of the 21st century, when time is money and making production processes more efficient can make or break a successful company. Industrial engineering graduates are always in demand by a number of industries, and this isn’t set to change anytime soon. [33]

Tuition and Fees Overview

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The primary focus of an industrial engineering degree is to teach how the integration of engineering principles with business applications can eliminate wastefulness and make complex systems run more efficiently. [42] From health care systems to business operations to manufacturing and logistics, the career options for an industrial engineer are widespread, so it’s essential for the degree to offer a comprehensive view that covers assessing any systems that integrate workers, equipment, money, and production materials.

Industrial engineers often serve as the link between the engineering department and business administration, so the educational/professional background needed to qualify for the degree isn’t always black and white. Students who wish to pursue a master’s degree in industrial engineering typically hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Prospective students may also have earned their undergrad from an accredited institution in a related discipline such as math, physics, or computer science programs. The prospective student typically has a professional background in the field of engineering, but career changers are also accepted. Most programs require students to complete specific prerequisites if they do not meet the educational/professional background admission requirements.

Adding this credential to your resume can position you for advanced leadership opportunities across virtually all industries. While you do not need a master’s degree to work in the industrial engineering field, it is a respected credential that can set you apart from your peers. Also, keep in mind that you may change careers a few times throughout your working life. As industries change and technology evolves, furthering your education can help you qualify for upcoming opportunities.

The first thing you should look for in a program is accreditation. That is your baseline quality assessment. Next, you will want to consider the admission requirements to see if you have what it takes to qualify for the program. Look for any pre-qualifiers, such as minimum GPA, minimum years of experience, specific undergrad restrictions, or required scores from graduate exams. After reviewing the accreditation and admission requirements, review the curriculum to ensure it aligns with your personal interests and professional goals. Lastly, keep in mind that programs can be offered 100% online, on-campus, or in hybrid versions. Be sure to choose a program that fits with your lifestyle and gives you the flexibility you need.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. [44]

Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.

A master’s in industrial engineering prepares you for career opportunities in practically every industry; every company wants to ensure its processes, people, and resources are working as efficiently as possible. Because industrial engineers work with such large and complex systems, it requires a broad yet specialized expertise that can be applicable to a variety of career paths.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for industrial engineers in 2015 was $84,370 [41]. Some potential employers and industries and their average salaries include aerospace/defense companies ($142,000), Tesla Motors ($124,000), SanDisk ($102,000), and Staples ($96,000). [1]

Often, a master’s degree can position you for leadership and management opportunities which tend to have higher salaries. According to the Occupational Information Network’s summary report for industrial engineers, approximately 62% of survey respondents indicated they have a bachelor’s degree [38]. This means that earning a graduate degree can distinguish your talent and make you a more qualified candidate for leadership roles, in addition to positively impacting your earning potential.

No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

ABET is an important mark of distinction and a symbol of quality assurance. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is one of only two accrediting agencies in the nation, and one of few worldwide, to receive the ISO 9001:2008 quality standard designation. Some employers, including the U.S. government, prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from ABET-accredited programs. [39]

ABET is the industry standard for accreditation in engineering. In addition to ABET accreditation, universities also have regional accreditations.

While a graduate degree does not guarantee advancement, employers may prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from an accredited engineering program. Because ABET signs agreements regarding quality assurance with organizations in other countries, graduates of an ABET-accredited program are viewed as more valuable to employers of multinational corporations. The U.S. government also seeks candidates from ABET-accredited programs, knowing these graduates have knowledge that translates globally [40]. In fact, part of becoming a licensed professional engineer (PE) requires that you must have earned your degree from an ABET-accredited program.

Though each state has its own licensure requirements and required qualifications, licensure for engineers is becoming increasingly significant, especially in government and higher level positions. A minimum requirement for licensure is that students graduate from an accredited engineering program.

While licensure is not required for entry-level positions, if you desire to become a licensed professional engineer (PE), then you must earn your degree from an ABET-accredited institution [43].

If a program is accredited at the time you are matriculating, you should be considered a graduate of an accredited program. If you find yourself in this situation, you are encouraged to contact the accrediting body to determine if you still meet its eligibility requirements.

While it may appear that ABET-accredited programs cost more, it’s important to take a critical look at programs that appear to cost less. You do not want to earn your degree from a diploma mill that appears to have accreditation, rankings, and other interesting accolades, only to find out that in reality, the accreditation and accolades are bought rather than earned. They hold minimal, if any, academic value. Keep in mind, there are only six regional accreditors, five national accreditors, and ABET is the gold standard for engineering program accreditation.

The quality standards for an ABET-accredited program are developed by an expert network of more than 2,200 professionals from the worlds of academia, government, and industrial backgrounds. ABET accredits programs in regionally accredited institutions. ABET does not accredit departments, colleges, or institutions.

ABET accreditation is an intensive 18-month, five-step process carried out by more than 2,000 professionals. The criteria include taking a look at program educational objectives, student outcomes, continuous improvement, curriculum content, faculty, admission requirements, graduation requirements, and other factors such as facilities and institutional support. The program evaluators undergo a rigorous process, evaluating program materials, visiting campuses, and participating in accreditation decisions.

All programs that are ABET-accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) need to meet certain standards and criteria. But that does not mean that every program is created equally. Each engineering program is uniquely enriched by the faculty, students, and alumni networks.

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [45]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.