Student Advice

Pros and Cons of Earning an Engineering Master’s Degree Online
Student Advisor posted on March 31, 2017 | 831 views

Pursuing on online master’s degree in engineering has become an increasingly popular choice for both students and professionals who are in various stages of their careers. From recent undergraduates immediately looking to take their studies to the next level, to seasoned engineers seeking new knowledge in a specific branch of the industry, people have various motivations for attaining an online engineering master’s degree.

The advantages of taking the online path are plentiful, but there are also some negatives and key considerations to take into account. Here are some pros and cons of earning an engineering master’s degree online.

Flexibility

The ability to determine your own school schedule is a major perk of online studies. In the engineering sector, many professionals maintain full-time employment and complete their online studies around their work hours. Deadlines are less rigid in the online learning space, and attending classes, writing papers and completing assignments can be done when convenient for the student.

However, with flexibility comes the need for responsibility, self-discipline and strong time management skills. When it comes to online learning, the onus is on the student to ensure they are managing their work-study schedule effectively.


Affordability

In many respects. online master’s programs are a more cost-effective way to earn a graduate degree. There are cost-saving opportunities to be found everywhere, such as reduced travel and living expenses, which are essentially non-existent when studying from your own home.

A wide range of online colleges and universities offer highly affordable master’s degree programs, often below $10,000 in annual tuition fees, across various specializations, including aerospace, mechanical and interdisciplinary engineering. 


Recognition

Among the reasons for the growth of online engineering master’s programs is their improving reputation, with businesses increasingly recognizing online studies among prospective employees. The curriculum of online engineering master’s degrees often mirrors that of on-campus programs, and it is also common for the same faculty members to teach both online and on-campus courses.

Put simply, an online engineering master’s degree offers the same level of training and expertise as many of its on-campus counterparts.

The Right Fit For You?

For all the perks an online master’s degree in engineering offers, it does not work for everyone. The very make-up of online learning entails foregoing some of the benefits associated with attaining a degree in a traditional educational setting.

Many engineers relish the opportunity to develop their interpersonal, leadership and communication skills in a classroom setting. Face-to-face interactions with professors and students help refine these skills, and these interactions are much more limited in an online setting. While webinars and video conferences occasionally allow online students to interact with their peers and professors, the interaction is a more limited experience than when conducted in person.

The aforementioned benefit of flexibility can also be a drawback for some students. Not all students thrive when given the freedom to determine their own study schedules. Those who struggle to effectively manage their time run the risk of falling behind in their online studies. Particularly in the engineering space, many students prefer a more rigid structure that maps out their agenda for them.   

When determining if an online master’s degree is the right fit for you, it is important to take all of the above considerations into account. Online engineering master’s programs are gaining popularity for many reasons, but the realities of distance learning may not suit everyone.

Developing a clear understanding of which mode of study suits your personality, budget and career goals, among other considerations, will help you make the right choice.