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If you’re interested in a career as an engineer, a postgraduate Engineering Masters could help you qualify at an advanced level.
The MEng, or ‘Master of Engineering’ and the postgraduate MSc (Eng) are professional Masters degrees in Engineering. They are available in different forms in different countries, but usually serve as a pre-requisite for work as a chartered engineer.
Here you can read an introduction to the MEng degree and the MSc (Eng) degree, including information on international variants and professional accreditation standards.
Or, to compare other types of Masters degree, start with our overview of Masters-level qualifications.
The MEng is a highly specialised Masters degree in Engineering. Students who study an MEng almost always intend to become professional engineers, or work in related fields.
As a result, MEng programmes are usually accredited by official bodies responsible for overseeing these professions.
|Type||Practice-based / Professional|
|Subjects||Engineering & Technology|
|Qualification Level||6 &7 (NQF)|
|Length||4 years (undergraduate)|
|Credit Value||480 CATS|
|Availability||UK (as integrated Masters)|
Different countries have their own names and formats for the MEng degree, but most share the same common features.
An MEng is usually:
Most of the advice on this page focusses on the UK, where the MEng follows a very specific format. We’ll refer to some international differences, but the range of Engineering degrees around the world makes it difficult to deal with them all in depth. Don’t worry though: you can find more detail in our guides to Masters study abroad.
The most common international titles for a Masters in Engineering are:
Despite being a Masters degree, the MEng is not always a postgraduate qualification.
Some countries offer integrated MEng programmes. These begin at undergraduate level and run for four years (the equivalent of a Bachelors and a Masters). This is the case in the UK and in some parts of Europe.
Other MEng programmes are more conventional postgraduate degrees. They require an existing Bachelors degree (in Engineering or a related subject) and run for up to two years.
The integrated Masters degree can seem like a strange concept – especially when you’re reading about it on a website dedicated to postgraduate study! Integrated, or ‘undergraduate’, Masters degrees are actually quite common in some situations though. Check out our guide to learn more.
The exact entry requirements for a Masters in Engineering will depend on whether the programme is an undergraduate (integrated) or postgraduate qualification:
In the UK, where the MEng is an integrated Masters, universities often offer ‘standalone’ Masters degrees in Engineering. Such programmes are for students with an existing undergraduate degree, looking to train as an engineer.
|Type||Taught / Professional|
|Subjects||Engineering & Technology|
|Qualification Level||7 (NQF)|
|Credit Value||180 CATS / 90 ECTS|
To distinguish them from four year MEng programmes, postgraduate Engineering courses will usually be specialised MSc degrees. They will often be labelled as ‘MSc (Eng)’.
Combined with an appropriate Bachelors degree, an MSc (Eng) should provide equivalent expertise to an MEng. Completing an MSc (Eng) will also prepare you for further professional accreditation with the UK Engineering Council.
It’s perfectly possible to train as an engineer at postgraduate level in the UK (without an integrated MEng). But you should make sure the Masters you apply for can lead to professional accreditation. Usually this means studying an MSc (Eng). A standard MSc in Engineering may be an academic, rather than professional, qualification. You can check the details for individual Engineering Masters in our database.
Unlike an MEng, an MSc (Eng) is a postgraduate qualification. This means that you will need a relevant Bachelors degree to apply.
Usually this degree should be in Engineering or a related science and technology subject.
Most countries have a recognised Masters-level Engineering qualification, as part of a professional accreditation pathway.
These take various forms, but the following is a quick outline of postgraduate engineering qualifications in various parts of the world.
There are two main types of Engineering Masters in the UK: MEng degrees and specialised MScs.
The UK MEng is normally an integrated degree. Instead of studying a Bachelors before a postgraduate Masters you will simply enrol on one four-year undergraduate degree.
Some programmes offer the opportunity to study the MEng as a five-year ‘sandwich’ degree, with one year spent on a professional placement. This is quite common in Scotland.
In either case, your course will award the MEng as a Masters-level qualification.
An integrated MEng is therefore the only degree required to become an engineer in the UK. (Though you will still need to complete further professional training after graduation).
Alternatively, you can study a Bachelors degree in Engineering (such as a BEng or appropriate BSc) before a professional postgraduate MSc in Engineering.
These are normally one to two years in length and labelled as MSc (Eng) courses, to distinguish them from academic programmes.
Both qualification pathways can prepare you to qualify as an engineer in the UK, provided your Masters is recognised by the UK Engineering Council (UCUK).
You will normally have to complete further training and professional qualification before gaining Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.
As well as being recognised by the Engineering Council, many British Engineering Masters also carry EUR-ACE accreditation. This is a European professional standard, allowing you to work abroad.
European Engineering Masters are gradually being brought into line with the Bologna Process, operating across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). This organises qualifications into separate undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral ‘cycles’.
Prior to this, most Engineering qualifications were ‘long cycle’ degrees, often labelled as Diplomas in Engineering. These combined undergraduate and postgraduate study, in a similar manner to the UK’s integrated MEng.
Some long cycle Engineering Masters are still available, but most members of the EHEA are now moving to more conventional postgraduate degrees. These normally run for up to two years after an appropriate Bachelors degree.
Individual countries in Europe have their own standards for professional accreditation. You should check these requirements if you plan to work abroad as an engineer.
Many European Engineering Masters are also accredited using the EUR-ACE label, via the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE).
In the USA, the MEng is a professional graduate program, often offered by professional graduate schools. It is not an integrated degree and requires an appropriate Bachelors.
Some of these graduate schools offer MEng and MSc degrees alongside each other, as part of broader graduate programs in Engineering and Technology. Students pursue the professional or academic qualification according to their career goals.
The MEng is normally a final (‘terminal’) degree and a recognised step towards professional accreditation as an engineer.
The main body overseeing professional accreditation for Engineering in the USA is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Some research-based Masters in Engineering are also available.
In Australia, these are usually equivalent to an MPhil (and may be labelled as such). They are intended to prepare students for academic rather than professional careers.
Universities in New Zealand may also offer the Masters of Engineering (ME). This is also a research-based programme, focussing on a thesis.
Australian Engineering qualifications are accredited by Engineers Australia. New Zealand Engineering qualifications are self-regulated, but Engineering as a profession is represented by the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).
Unsurprisingly, the Master of Engineering is commonly awarded in. . . Engineering. But it’s not quite as simple as that.
Engineering at modern universities is a very broad field. In fact, it’s as much an academic discipline as a specific subject.
This means that you’ll be able to select from MEng degrees and other Engineering Masters in a broad range of specialisms.
Many programmes will be specifically designed for particular branches of the Engineering profession – from Civil and Construction Engineering to Chemical and Molecular Engineering.
Professional Masters degrees like the MEng or MSc (Eng) (and their equivalents) can be quite different to more academic programmes.
You’ll still complete taught units and individual project assignments. But everything you do will be designed to develop a specific set of skills and competencies. This will ensure that you have the experience and ability necessary to become a professional engineer.
That’s not to say that you won’t have any choice as an Engineering postgraduate. Engineering is a very broad field, remember, with the opportunity to select from specialised programmes.
But once you’ve begun an MEng (or similar degree) you’ll need to complete specific units, projects and placements in order to satisfy the professional accreditation requirements for your course.
Of course, much of your experience as an Engineering postgraduate will depend on whether you study an integrated (‘undergraduate’) MEng, or a postgraduate Masters in Engineering.
In the UK, an integrated MEng will start you at undergraduate level. You won’t be expected to have an Engineering background.
Instead the first part of your programme will provide a basic grounding in the subject. Many of your modules at this point will probably be compulsory.
From there you will move to more advanced work. Often this means having the opportunity to specialise into different pathways.
The final year of your programme will be at Masters level – you can think of it as having completed a Bachelors and moved directly to a one-year Masters.
Your programme will usually conclude with a final project – the equivalent of the dissertation component of a taught postgraduate Masters. Here you’ll combine theory and practice to solve a significant engineering problem.
Many MEng degrees also include an industrial placement. This may be part of a module or it may be an additional ‘sandwich year’ within your degree. Some MEng students actually complete their final project as part of their industrial placement.
Students who don’t wish to complete the final ‘Masters-level’ year of an MEng may be able to graduate with a BEng instead.
This will limit your ability to qualify as a chartered engineer in the UK. (BEng graduates may become incorporated engineers – a lower level of accreditation).
However, BEng graduates can go on to study a separate MSc, with the option to then progress to PhD work – or a career in various fields.
Most MEng degrees are four years long. You will complete the first three years at undergraduate level, before continuing to a final ‘Masters year’.
An integrated MEng is worth 480 credits in the UK. This is equivalent to a three-year 360 credit Bachelors degree, plus 120 credits at Masters level.
Postgraduate Engineering qualifications like the MSc (Eng) are much more like traditional Masters degrees.
Your course will commence after an appropriate undergraduate degree and will expect you to have sufficient experience to tackle Engineering at Masters level.
Taught modules will be similar to those on the final year of an MEng. In fact, many UK universities run their MSc (Eng) and MEng programmes in parallel.
This allows students with an existing Bachelors degree to ‘join’ the final part of an MEng programme as an MSc candidate.
An MSc (Eng) will normally include the same professional projects and placements as an equivalent MEng.
You’ll normally have the chance to spend a significant part of your course in industry and this experience may inform (or even enable) your final project.
That project itself will ask you to independently solve a significant Engineering problem. You’ll have support from a supervisor (and perhaps an industrial partner) but will need to prove that you can work professionally as an engineer in your own right.
As a postgraduate Masters, an MSc in Engineering will be at least one year long (in the UK).
An MSc (Eng) will normally be worth the same number of credits as a standard MSc – 180 in the UK.
The choice between studying an undergraduate or postgraduate Engineering Masters will probably depend on your circumstances and career goals:
Remember that it’s also possible to keep your options open by studying a separate Bachelors in Engineering. You can then decide whether to qualify professionally with an MSc (Eng) or take another MSc with different career applications.
Similarly, it’s possible to exit an MEng after three years and graduate with a BEng. You can then consider MSc courses in other fields.
Last updated - 16/05/2019