Engineering Masters Degrees – A Guide |
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The MEng and other Engineering Masters Degrees

Written by Mark Bennett

The MEng, or ‘Master of Engineering’ is a 4-year professional Masters degree in Engineering, which usually serves as a pre-requisite for work as a chartered engineer.

There are also a number of other professional Masters degrees in Engineering, including the postgraduate MSc (Eng). They take various forms in different countries, but are all designed to help students qualify as Engineers at a high level.

Here you can read an introduction to the MEng degree and the MSc (Eng) degree, including information on international variants and professional accreditation standards. We’ve also included information on the different specialisms you can study, from Civil Engineering to Mechanical Engineering.

What is a Master of Engineering (MEng)?

MEng stands for 'Master of Engineering'. The MEng is a highly specialised Masters degree in Engineering for students who intend to become professional engineers, or work in related fields.

As a result, MEng courses are usually accredited by official bodies responsible for overseeing these professions.

Master of Engineering (MEng)
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:

  • Offered by a specialised institution, or by a specialised faculty within a larger institution. In the UK and USA universities deliver MEng programmes through dedicated faculties or graduate schools. In other countries MEng degrees are often offered by Universities of Applied Science or Universities of Technology: institutions which specialise in technical and professional training, rather than academic research.
  • A terminal (final) degree. Doctorates in Engineering do exist, but aren’t normally required for work as a chartered engineer.
  • Accredited by a relevant professional body. In some countries full professional accreditation requires a further period of work-based training after graduating with an MEng.

International Masters in Engineering

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.

Alternative names for the MEng

The term ‘MEng’ is most common in the UK and USA. Other countries may use their own titles to distinguish professional engineering programmes from academic Masters programmes such as the MSc.

The most common international titles for a Masters in Engineering are:

  • The ‘Diploma in Engineering’. Versions of this title are used in some European countries. They may refer to a modern postgraduate Engineering Masters, or to an older integrated degree that pre-dates the Bologna Process.
  • The ‘Master of Technology’ (MTech). This title is used in India and some other Asian countries. It refers to a professional Masters degree in Engineering and Technology, awarded by specialised institutions.

Integrated MEng degrees

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.

This system is sometimes used in countries including the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Postgraduate Engineering Masters in the UK are more likely to be labelled as MSc or MSc (Eng) programmes.

What is an ‘integrated Masters’?

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.

Entry requirements for an MEng

The exact entry requirements for a Masters in Engineering will depend on whether the programme is an undergraduate (integrated) or postgraduate qualification:

  • An integrated MEng will follow an undergraduate application process (through UCAS, or its equivalent). You’ll need suitable A Levels (or other secondary qualifications) with subjects and grades defined by your university.
  • A postgraduate MEng will require an appropriate Bachelors degree. Your university may stipulate that this is a BEng (Bachelors in Engineering) – particularly if you are studying a specialised MSc (Eng).

What is an MSc (Eng)?

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.

Master of Science in Engineering (MSc MEng)
Type Taught / Professional
Subjects Engineering & Technology
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 1-2 years
Credit Value 180 CATS / 90 ECTS
Availability Worldwide

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.

MSc & MSc (Eng)

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.

Entry requirements for an MSc (Eng)

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.

MEng vs MSc (Eng)

The choice between studying an MEng or MSc (Eng) will probably depend on your circumstances and career goals:

  • If you’re beginning university and fairly sure you wish to qualify as an engineer, an integrated MEng will normally make sense. This will provide a solid grounding in the subject across four years – and prepare you for full chartered engineer status (in the UK).
  • If you’ve already completed a Bachelors degree, the choice will be more or less made for you. A postgraduate MSc (Eng) will be a much more efficient route to qualification than enrolling as an undergraduate again.

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.

Which countries award Engineering Masters degrees?

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.

Engineering Masters degrees in the UK

There are two main types of Engineering Masters in the UK: MEng degrees and specialised MScs.

UK MEng degrees

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).

UK MSc Eng degrees

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.

Accreditation of UK Engineering Masters

Both qualification pathways can prepare you to qualify as an engineer in the UK, provided your Masters is recognised by the UK Engineering Council.

You will normally have to complete further training and professional qualification before gaining Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.

Is the MEng recognised abroad?

If you study a MEng that is accredited by the Engineering Council in the UK, it will be recognised in many countries across the world. This is because the Engineering Council is a signatory to several international engineering agreements, such as the Washington Accord, which facilitate the mutual recognition of Engineering qualifications around the globe.

Many British Engineering Masters also carry EUR-ACE accreditation, which is a European professional standard

Engineering Masters degrees in Europe

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.

Accreditation of European Engineering Masters

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).

Engineering Masters degrees in the USA

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.

Accreditation of US Engineering Masters

The main body overseeing professional accreditation for Engineering in the USA is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) ABET is also a signatory of the Washington Accord, recognising American Engineering qualifications around the world.

Engineering Masters degrees in Australia and New Zealand

Australian and New Zealand universities offer Masters in Engineering as postgraduate courses. Most are up to two years long and combine coursework, research and practical projects.

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.

Accreditation of Engineering Masters in Australia and New Zealand

Australian Engineering qualifications are accredited by Engineers Australia. New Zealand Engineering qualifications are self-regulated, but Engineering as a profession is represented by Engineering NZ. As with the USA and the UK, the Australian and New Zealand Engineering bodies are signatories of the Washington Accord, ensuring mutual recognition of qualifications across the world.

Which subjects award MEng and MSc (Eng) degrees?

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:

Engineering Masters fees and funding

In the UK, MEng courses are treated the same as traditional undergraduate programmes when it comes to fee and funding arrangements. This means that tuition fees are capped at £9,250 per year, with funding handled through the undergraduate student finance system.

MSc (Eng) courses, on the other hand, are not treated as undergraduate programmes. In practice, this means that tuition fees vary between universities (and courses), and are likely to be higher per year than the MEng equivalent. These programmes are eligible for postgraduate loans from the UK government.

What’s it like to study an Engineering Masters?

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.

What’s it like to study an integrated MEng?

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.

MEng projects and placements

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.

How long is an MEng?

Most MEng degrees are four years long. You will complete the first three years at undergraduate level, before continuing to a final ‘Masters year’.

How many credits is an MEng worth?

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.

What’s it like to study an MSc (Eng)?

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.

MSc (Eng) projects and placements

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.

How long is an MSc (Eng)?

As a postgraduate Masters, an MSc in Engineering will be at least one year long (in the UK).

Some MSc (Eng) are longer than other MSc or MA degrees, lasting up to two years. This extra length usually accommodates industrial placements and / or project work.

How many credits is an MSc (Eng) worth?

An MSc (Eng) will normally be worth the same number of credits as a standard MSc – 180 in the UK.

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Last updated: 11 July 2023