Master Of Engineering Vs Master Of Science: How To Choose

Earning a graduate degree is an important step for advancing your engineering or science career. But should you pursue a Master of Engineering (MEng) or Master of Science (MS)? This choice can be confusing, but it’s an important one.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: MEng degrees tend to be more application-focused, while MS programs concentrate more on research. MEng coursework ties directly to engineering practice, while an MS includes broader scientific study.

Keep reading as we compare these two paths in detail, from curriculum and career outlook to help you select the best degree for your goals.

Curriculum Differences

MEng focuses on technical coursework

The Master of Engineering (MEng) program is known for its emphasis on technical coursework. Students in this program typically take a variety of engineering courses that are designed to enhance their technical skills and knowledge in a specific field.

These courses often include advanced topics such as advanced mathematics, computer programming, and specialized engineering disciplines like civil, mechanical, or electrical engineering. The MEng program is ideal for individuals who want to strengthen their technical expertise and apply it directly to real-world engineering problems.

MS includes research and thesis

On the other hand, the Master of Science (MS) program typically includes a research component and a thesis. Students in the MS program are expected to conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty advisor and present their findings in the form of a thesis.

This research component allows students to deepen their understanding of a specific area of engineering and contribute to the existing body of knowledge. The MS program is suitable for individuals who have a strong interest in research and want to pursue a career in academia or industry research and development.

MEng classes aimed at engineering practice

The classes in the MEng program are specifically designed to prepare students for engineering practice. These courses often focus on practical applications of engineering principles and provide students with hands-on experience through projects and internships.

The curriculum is tailored to develop skills that are directly relevant to the industry, such as project management, design thinking, and problem-solving. The MEng program is a great choice for individuals who want to acquire practical skills and be ready to tackle real-world engineering challenges upon graduation.

MS covers wider theoretical foundation

In contrast, the MS program covers a wider theoretical foundation in engineering. The curriculum includes courses that delve into advanced concepts and theories in engineering disciplines. Students in the MS program are encouraged to explore different areas of engineering and gain a broad understanding of the field.

This broader theoretical foundation allows graduates to pursue a wide range of career opportunities, including research, academia, and specialized technical roles. The MS program is suitable for individuals who want to gain a deep theoretical understanding of engineering and have the flexibility to pursue diverse career paths.

Degree Duration

When it comes to choosing between a Master of Engineering (MEng) and a Master of Science (MS), one of the factors to consider is the duration of the program.

Full-time MEng can be completed in 1-2 years

The MEng program is typically designed to be completed in a shorter period of time compared to the MS program. Most full-time MEng programs can be completed within 1-2 years. This is advantageous for those who want to earn their degree and enter the workforce quickly.

MS is typically a 2+ year commitment

On the other hand, the MS program is generally a longer commitment, typically taking 2 or more years to complete. This can be due to the additional research and thesis requirements of the program. The longer duration allows students to delve deeper into their chosen field of study and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

MEng has fewer credit requirements

Another factor that affects the duration of the degree is the number of credit requirements. MEng programs usually have fewer credit requirements compared to MS programs. This means that students in MEng programs can focus more on coursework and practical applications of their knowledge, rather than spending a significant amount of time on research and thesis development.

MS thesis research takes extra time

One of the main reasons why the MS program takes longer to complete is the thesis research. In MS programs, students are typically required to conduct original research and write a thesis based on their findings.

This process can take a significant amount of time, as it involves literature review, data collection, analysis, and writing. However, it also provides an opportunity for students to contribute to the body of knowledge in their field of study.

It’s important to consider the duration of the program when choosing between an MEng and an MS. Both options have their advantages and it ultimately depends on your career goals and preferences.

Career Prospects

MEng tailored for engineering leadership roles

The Master of Engineering (MEng) degree is specifically designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the field of engineering. This program focuses on developing technical and managerial skills that are highly sought after by companies in various industries.

Graduates of MEng programs often find themselves in positions such as engineering managers, project managers, or technical directors.

MS prepares for R&D and academia

On the other hand, the Master of Science (MS) degree is more research-oriented and is ideal for those interested in pursuing careers in research and development (R&D) or academia. This program provides students with a deeper understanding of their chosen field and equips them with the skills necessary to conduct independent research.

Many MS graduates go on to work in research labs, universities, or government agencies.

MEng valued by technology companies

Technology companies often highly value candidates with a Master of Engineering (MEng) degree. These companies are looking for individuals who not only have a strong technical background but also possess the leadership and management skills necessary to drive innovation and lead teams.

The MEng program provides students with a well-rounded education that combines technical knowledge with business acumen, making them highly desirable candidates in the industry.

MS useful for scientific consulting firms

On the other hand, scientific consulting firms often prefer candidates with a Master of Science (MS) degree. These firms require individuals with a deep understanding of scientific principles and the ability to apply them to real-world problems.

The research focus of the MS program allows graduates to develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills, which are highly valued in the consulting industry.

Earning Potential

MEng graduates can earn $70K-$90K starting

One of the key factors to consider when choosing between a Master of Engineering (MEng) and a Master of Science (MS) degree is the earning potential. MEng graduates typically have higher starting salaries compared to MS holders.

According to recent statistics, MEng graduates can expect to earn between $70,000 and $90,000 per year right after graduation. This is due to the specialized technical skills and practical experience gained during the MEng program.

MS holders qualify for $60K-$80K salaries

On the other hand, MS degree holders can still enjoy competitive salaries in the range of $60,000 to $80,000 per year upon entering the job market. The Master of Science degree provides graduates with a strong theoretical foundation and research skills, which are highly valued in industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance.

Salary depends on factors like location, experience, industry

It is important to note that earning potential can vary based on several factors such as geographical location, years of experience, and the industry in which one works. For example, professionals working in major tech hubs like San Francisco or New York City may earn higher salaries compared to those working in smaller towns or rural areas.

Additionally, individuals with several years of experience in their field may command higher salaries than entry-level professionals.

For more information on salary trends and earning potential for different engineering and science disciplines, you can visit websites like or

Deciding Which Program is Right for You

Choosing between a Master of Engineering (MEng) and a Master of Science (MS) can be a tough decision. Both programs offer valuable skills and knowledge, but the right choice depends on your individual career goals and interests. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

Consider your career goals and interests

Before deciding on a program, it’s important to think about your long-term career goals and interests. If you’re interested in pursuing a career that involves hands-on practical applications, such as designing and implementing engineering solutions, then a Master of Engineering might be the right fit for you.

On the other hand, if you have a passion for research and want to delve deeper into a specific engineering field, a Master of Science program might be more suitable.

It’s also worth considering the industry you want to work in. Some industries, like consulting or project management, may place more value on a practical-oriented degree like an MEng, while others, like academia or research institutions, may prefer candidates with an MS degree.

Talk to faculty and students in each program

One of the best ways to gain insights into the different programs is by talking to faculty and students who are currently enrolled. Reach out to professors or program coordinators and ask if you can arrange a meeting or have a chat to learn more about the curriculum, research opportunities, and career outcomes of each program.

Additionally, try to connect with current students or alumni who have completed either the MEng or MS program. They can provide valuable firsthand experiences and perspectives that can help you make an informed decision.

Ask them about their coursework, research projects, internships, and job placements after graduation.

Determine if you want more practical or research focus

Another crucial factor to consider is your preference for a practical or research-oriented focus. A Master of Engineering program typically emphasizes practical skills and applications, with a focus on coursework, internships, and real-world projects.

On the other hand, a Master of Science program tends to be more research-intensive, with opportunities for conducting independent research and publishing scholarly articles.

Think about your learning style and what you enjoy most. Are you excited about working on real-world engineering projects and applying theoretical concepts to solve practical problems? Or do you prefer conducting in-depth research, analyzing data, and contributing to the advancement of knowledge in your field?

Ultimately, the decision between a Master of Engineering and a Master of Science program depends on your unique goals, interests, and learning style. Take the time to do thorough research, talk to people in the field, and consider your long-term career aspirations.

With the right information and self-reflection, you’ll be well-equipped to make the choice that aligns best with your future success.


The choice between an MEng and MS degree is based on your specific aspirations. If you desire hands-on engineering training for professional practice, an MEng is likely the better option. But if conducting original research appeals to you, an MS program may be a better fit.

By weighing the key differences in curriculum, careers, and other factors, you can make an informed decision between these two rewarding graduate degrees in engineering and science fields.

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