Engineering management is a complex field that bridges the gap between business and engineering. Engineering itself is a very broad discipline, and it is typical for students to focus on the technical or more practical aspects of engineering at the undergraduate level. Because there is so much to learn, there is little room for an undergraduate engineering student to explore concepts in business and management.

But at the graduate level, students have the opportunity to build upon their technical expertise by pursuing a degree in engineering management. This type of degree program is designed to help them understand finance, accounting, and organizational behavior; equip them with leadership, communication, and management skills and; continue to expand their existing technical knowledge.

There is an increasing demand for engineers that have solid education and experience in management. Employees that are capable of analyzing problems and creating solutions on the technical side are already incredibly valuable. Those employees that also understand coordination, planning, organizing, staffing and leading an organization are nearly irreplaceable on the job. This field is growing at a rapid pace and if you’re someone that is ready to take the next step in your engineering career, taking the next step academically is a great way to do so.

PhD in Engineering Management

A PhD in Engineering Management is a unique degree that allows you to investigate this multifaceted field on a deeper level. You could use this degree to work in high-level management positions in a variety of different engineering environments. You could also use it to work as a professor, teaching a topic that you researched in depth as you were earning your degree.

The core curriculum of an engineering management degree program might cover topics in engineering design, entrepreneurship, business law, corporate finance, and operations management.

Many of the available PhD programs in Engineering Management will also allow you to choose an area of specialization, such as engineering development and design, systems engineering, and so on. When you choose a specialization, you will take focused courses and conduct your research around this particular area of the field.

Whatever you choose to specialize in, earning your PhD will pave the way for career advancement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that engineering management is a very slowly growing field; having the highest level of education in your field will help you to stay on top and be a better candidate for jobs. It’s a great thing to do. But, if you’re someone who has already decided to get your PhD in Engineering Management, you understand that it’s a massive undertaking. But, it doesn’t have to disrupt your life.

Online Degrees in Engineering Management

Online PhDs in Engineering Management are on the rise as institutions adapt their offerings to meet the needs of a diverse and growing student population. However, they are still not very popular. The benefits of studying online are very easy to see. You don’t have to relocate or commute, many programs allow you to work according to your own schedule, face-to-face meetings are minimal, and online programs typically cost less than traditional programs. However, finding the right program can be difficult.

We have done the research and ranked the Best Online PhD Programs in Engineering Management, to help you curate a list of prospective schools to consider. All of the institutions featured were ranked according to the following.

Methodology

In order to rank the best online PhD programs in engineering management, we started by researching all of the schools in the country that offer relevant degrees. In order to be eligible for placement in this ranking, each school had to have proper accreditation, not operate as a for-profit institution, be based in the United States and had to offer at least one relevant program online whether fully-online or in a hybrid format.

Once we had collected a list of schools, we assigned them a score based on three factors:

  • Freshman Retention Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Graduation Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Affordability (⅓ of final score)

Each factor could have an individual score of 100 points, which were then added together to get the composite score we used to rank each school. The maximum possible score was 300 points. We collected all of this information from the school’s website when it was available. In some cases, we also used the databases of the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. News & World Report, and Niche.com. All of the cost data used to calculate affordability and provide you with the average cost of attendance for each school was collected from CollegeData.com. Once each school was scored, they were placed in order accordingly.

We’d like to mention that no school we have featured in this ranking (or in any of our other articles) has been given preferential treatment for any reason. Some schools may not be present due to incomplete information or according to their own request; however, the results we reached can typically be repeated by following the methodology above.

  1. MERIT: 231
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,462

    PhD in Systems Engineering

    Colorado State University offers an online PhD in Systems Engineering. This program requires 72 credits beyond undergraduate study, and it is geared towards those of you who are already in management level positions. While this doesn’t focus directly on management, it is a highly customizable degree which is why we opted to include it. You work with an advisor to mold the program to fit your personal interests and professional goals.

    This is a multidisciplinary degree program that covers topics in information technology and project management, engineering risk analysis, systems engineering processes, and more. By working with your advisors, you can structure the program in such a way that it helps you to learn as much as you can about management and how to apply that to your career and use your skills to advance.

    This degree program is customizable in other ways too. Many of the courses offer optional in-person instruction for those who are close to campus; you can also choose from synchronous or asynchronous delivery formats for many of the courses. You can also switch it up and take some classes live and complete others according to your schedule. The degree is available entirely online; however, some dissertations may have to be defended in person.

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  2. MERIT: 231
    View Profile Average Cost: $30,930

    PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering with a concentration in Engineering Management

    University of Tennessee

    The University of Tennessee offers an online PhD program in Industrial Systems & Engineering with a concentration in Engineering Management. The entirety of the core coursework, as well as all of the requirements for the concentration, can be completed online. For those who already hold a master’s degree, this program will require you to complete between 24 and 36 credits. If you have not yet obtained your master’s degree, your requirements will be unique to you based on your academic experience.

    The curriculum of the program is designed to help you synthesize your technical knowledge and experience with the critical components of management and to cultivate a deeper understanding of business. You will cover topics in project management, financial management, organizational behavior, quality improvement, and more.

    This online PhD in Engineering Management is completed asynchronously through videotaped lectures and interactive distance learning assignments and other digital course materials. The majority of the courses you take are ones that you select in collaboration with an advisor, making sure that you get the most relevant education that you can apply directly to your professional environment.

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  3. MERIT: 228
    View Profile Average Cost: $22,348

    PhD in Systems & Engineering Management

    Texas Tech University

    Texas Tech University is home to an online PhD in Systems and Engineering Management. The mission of the program is to equip graduates with all that they need to excel in engineering management in the industry, as consultants, or educators and researchers. It is presented in a hybrid format, so there is some on-campus instruction required in order to complete all of the requirements to earn your degree.

    The on-campus requirements include two summer residency terms. Each of them takes place over the summer and last for a duration of two weeks each. While this is unquestionably mandatory, the remainder of your courses and all of the electives are offered online. This is a 72-credit program. Your core courses account for 30 of those credits and include subjects like Productivity and Performance Improvement in Organizations, Advanced Theoretical Studies in Systems Management, Research Methods in Science and Technology, and more.

    You will work with an advisor to create a minor for this program, and that will fulfill another 30 credits. Your dissertation research accounts for the remaining twelve credits. Your minor can center around the field that you want to work on, or you can use it to explore other areas of engineering management and business to help prepare you for a career change. You are not required to have an engineering degree in order to be eligible to apply; however, there are some prerequisites that are considered mandatory. You can learn more about that on the school’s website.

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  4. MERIT: 211
    View Profile Average Cost: $25,633

    PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering

    14 UAH-logo

    The University of Alabama Huntsville offers a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a specialization in Engineering Management. This is a hybrid program. UAH describes their hybrid programs as being 51% or greater presented online. Unfortunately, the information as to what courses you’ll take online and what the on-campus requirements are were not available on the program website.

    This degree consists of a total of 78 credits. The first component of the degree is the engineering major. This includes courses such as Engineering Management Theory, Engineering Project Management, Research Methods in Survey Development, Engineering Management Structures and Systems, and more. You’ll also take 15 credits of supporting courses.

    You will take 15 credits of a supporting minor. Current options for areas of study are Industrial Engineering, Quality Engineering, Reliability Engineering, Systems Simulation, Operations Research, and Human Factors. Other areas of study may be approved, but they must be cohesive, designed with the support of your advisors, and approved by a committee. You will take a second minor in mathematics and statistics. Coursework accounts for 60 credits; the remaining 18 are reserved for your dissertation.

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  5. MERIT: 207
    View Profile Average Cost: $70,443

    Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management

    George Washington University

    George Washington University is home to an online Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management. This degree is centered on application rather than research. You will use modern engineering management tools and key concepts to solve a real-world problem rather than conduct research that is more theoretical. The program culminates in a praxis or case study rather than a dissertation.

    This degree is presented in a format that is meant to suit the average working professionals. You will take synchronous courses on Saturdays and have 24/7 access to your other course materials so that you can study according to your own schedule. You also have the benefit of earning your degree from one of the largest engineering management programs nationwide.

    You will progress through this online engineering management degree program in a cohort model. It consists of a total of 45 credits, and the courses are all taught via distance learning. The curriculum includes topics in data analysis, knowledge management, technology marketing, entrepreneurship, and more. While class attendance is expected, there are morning and afternoon classes. All lectures are also available online after the session has ended.

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  6. MERIT: 192
    View Profile Average Cost: $22,265

    PhD in Technology Management

    Indiana State University is the host university of an online PhD in Technology Management program that is presented in a consortium of the four other universities. The universities that partner with ISU include North Carolina A&T State University, Bowling Green State University, East Carolina University, and the University of Central Missouri. ISU describes the program as being primarily online and consisting of 66 credit hours. There are five areas of study to choose from, which are Construction Management, Digital Communications, Human Resource Development, and Industrial Training, Manufacturing Systems, and Quality Systems.

    The on-campus requirements for the program include two ‘long-weekend’ executive style seminars. One of these is to be completed early on in the program, and the other is to be completed when students are close to being finished with their coursework. As for the program of study, it is student-specific, and you will carefully develop your degree plan with an advisor, exploring the available courses to maximize career relevancy of the degree you earn.

    Online students of this program are eligible for financial aid. Because each program is highly specific to each student’s career needs, it is difficult to determine the amount of time it will take you to complete your degree; however, most students can complete the program in just four and a half years of part-time study. Once all of your coursework is completed, you will be required to complete and defend a dissertation successfully in order to graduate.

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  7. MERIT: 192
    View Profile Average Cost: $52,547

    PhD in Engineering Management

    3 WNE-logo

    Western New England University offers a PhD in Engineering Management. This program has been designed to prepare its graduates for success as researchers, practitioners, or educators. This is a hybrid program that will require an extensive amount of traditional instruction that is supplemented with online instruction and learning modules.

    In order to complete the program, students are required to complete at least 30 credits hours beyond their master’s degree as well as a minimum of 27 credit hours for their dissertation. Core courses you will take as part of this program are Optimization Methods, Design of Experiments, Project Management, Research Methods for Engineering Management, and Engineering Risk Analysis.

    You have optional electives as well, such as Risk Assessment, Enterprise and Complex Systems for Engineers, and Scheduling and Sequencing, among others. You are also able to enroll in a few MBA courses. On top of these requirements, you will conduct in-depth research related to your desired career field.

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Is Engineering Management a Good Degree?


Engineering management is a great degree option for those of you who want to advance your business knowledge but have a background in engineering. Previously, the best option for people who wanted to gain a better understanding of business and then apply that professionally was to enroll in an MBA program. While these are great degree programs on their own, they don’t have anything to do with engineering which is a very specific and technical field.

Because of the unique nature of engineering, an MBA may not provide you with the skills you need in order to move up to higher-level management positions. Additionally, MBA programs don’t build upon your background in engineering in any way.

The creation of the engineering management degree was the perfect answer to that. These degree programs include a curriculum that builds on your technical expertise in your area while adding to that with skills in accounting, economics, project management, organizational behavior and leadership, and more. Engineering management programs also offer areas of focus on their own, so you have the opportunity to find a program that is specific to your field.

In order to move up to the managerial positions you’re after, you will need an academic foundation to support that. Degrees in engineering management provide you with the foundation you need, but the curriculum is designed to put it in context according to your industry. There is nothing better than an industry-relevant degree that advances your knowledge and increases your career prospects.

What Colleges Offer Engineering Management?


There are a number of colleges that offer engineering management degrees. They have been growing in popularity over the past several years due to greater demand for engineers who have the appropriate business knowledge to rise up and fill management roles. Schools like Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Duke University, and so many others have begun offering these types of programs. There are Master of Engineering Management degrees as well as two types of doctorates in engineering management, which are a Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Management.

Because we focus on online education, we’re going to talk about the schools that offer these types of degrees online. At the master’s level, your choices are nearly endless. Stanford, UCLA, Old Dominion University, Lehigh University, USF, USC, UNC, Texas A&M University, Drexel University, and so many others all have online master’s programs in engineering management.

At the doctoral level, your options thin out. We have included all of the schools where you can earn an online doctorate in engineering management in this ranking. Schools will continue to adapt to the needs of their students, but for now, the universities we’ve written about in this article are the extent of your options.

What Are the Subjects in Engineering Management?


Engineering management is a somewhat complex area of study where the concepts of business and management meet the technical aspects of engineering. The courses you take, the topics you’ll study, and the knowledge you obtain throughout your own course of study are relative to the area of engineering you are building your career in. There are a few main areas of engineering management, though.

  • Industrial Engineering: This area focuses on the optimization of organizations, systems, or processes. This is about making efficient use of time and resources.
  • Management Science: This area focuses on using scientific research and analytical methods to make the best possible management decision when it comes to solving complex organizational problems.
  • Operations/Supply Chain Management: This area focuses on managing the process of production or the process of planning and managing the flow of goods from the point of origin to the end consumer.
  • Product Engineering: This area is centered on the complete process of creating a new product. Engineering management is used to manage the design, development, and eventual delivery of new products.
  • Systems Engineering: This area is very interdisciplinary and is focused on how to design and manage systems over time. This can apply to all areas of engineering and a variety of different types of systems.
  • Technology Management: This area is focused on managing innovation and technological change in a particular area of engineering, a particular organization, or complex system.

What Do You Need to Be an Engineering Manager?


Engineering is a growing industry, and because of that, there is a growing need for qualified engineering managers. It is a very broad field that encompasses a lot of business education as well as many different specific areas within the field of engineering. There are some vital skills to succeed in this kind of career, as well as a concrete academic framework that must be followed in order to become qualified.

The skills you’ll want to have in order to find success in this career field include leadership, communication, problem-solving, evaluation, marketing, and more. It is important that you can analytically critique existing processes, come up with a new and more effective approach to solving these problems, and finally, communicate your findings and take the initiative to make sure that the appropriate changes are being implemented.

On the academic side, you will need to start with earning your bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related area. From there, you will want to take a graduate-level program in engineering management. Each program has different requirements about how much work experience you’ll need in the field you are trained in, so work experience is key. From there, you will need to make sure that you have any licensure your state requires.

If you’re interested in taking your career even further by earning a PhD in Engineering Management, you will need to make sure that you have met all of the academic prerequisites of your chosen program, of course. However, there is an even more extensive amount of work experience required, with some programs calling for as much as 4,000 hours in the field.

What is the Role of an Engineering Manager?


The most basic description of the role of an engineering manager is to lead a team of engineers as they develop, test, adapt, and implement solutions to technical problems in their specific field.

However, there are a lot more responsibilities that go into that. You can see a list of some basic responsibilities of an engineering manager below.

  • Hire, train, and mentor engineers or support staff within an organization
  • Oversee research and development in their respective field
  • Create and communicate project plans
  • Analyze resources, budgets, contracts, expenditures, etc.
  • Improve, innovate, and advance their fields through research, evaluation, and so on
  • Establish administrative systems through policies, procedures, standards, and so on
  • Evaluate the technical quality and accuracy of the work their subordinates do

These are just a few responsibilities. The role you may play as an engineering manager depends on the field you work in, the organization you work for, and more.