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The Online MBA in Engineering Explained

Engineering Management

Engineers are often quant nerds. Don't worry, that's pretty cool nowadays. After all, these are the folks who make all the innovative technology on which we've grown to rely. Think smart phones, apps, and the kitchen gizmos that help you make dinner. Some of these engineers also build bridges, improve roads, and do all sorts of other stuff to make our lives easier and more wondrous.

Often, the projects that engineers execute go so well that their supervisors want them to take on more responsibility. Or they themselves becoming intrigued by the idea of being a manager of such projects. Or they have a great invention that drives them into a startup of their own. The problem is that most engineers don't have the training or leadership skills to take on such a task, even though they are good with numbers and the technical aspects surrounding projects.

That's when engineers turn to MBA programs. While some might enroll in traditional MBA programs, others prefer online dual degree programs that don't require taking a break from their careers and can help them fine-tune their engineering skills along the way.

What is an online MBA in engineering?

In general, online MBA programs have people virtually attending classes from the comfort of their homes and offices at times that are convenient for them. Online learning platforms allow students to watch filmed lectures, participate in forum discussions, and attend an occasional live event online. Usually, professors still require students in these programs to participate in group projects. Some programs might even include campus-based workshops or face-to-face lectures to augment the online learning with hands-on training.

Most engineering MBA programs will have you earning an M.S. degree and an MBA simultaneously from the engineering and business schools. You'll have to take courses specific to each subject. Of course, you'll encounter the usual business core, such as strategy, marketing, finance, and operations management. Then, there will be engineering classes, such as design of experiments (DOE), industrial application of statistics, advanced mathematics, computer communication networks, and product design.

Who is a good fit for this program?

The ideal student is well-rounded and interested in accelerating an already blossoming engineering career. Perhaps, he or she aspires to overseeing bigger projects or wants to enter the C-suite. While dual degree students want to learn how to manage businesses -- reading financial statements, setting and keeping a budget, creating a company vision, and inspiring employees -- they also want to stay sharp when it comes to quantitative skills and design. Typically, they have proven themselves both inside and outside the office, but they are pursuing that next big leap -- a promotion, a startup, or a chance to lead.


What are the admissions requirements?

Applications to these dual-degree programs are similar to those for traditional MBA programs. Ultimately, you have to show that you are both a good match for the school's specific engineering MBA program and that you can handle the academic rigor. Many admissions committees require applicants write essays explaining their interest and goals, provide recommendations from superiors, and submit undergraduate transcripts and standardized test scores, such as results from the GMAT. Because so much of the engineering coursework requires exceptional mathematical skills, admissions committees will zero in on your quantitative skills. If you had weaker scores as an undergraduate, you might want to take additional courses before applying to prove you can handle the work.

Many of these programs aim to help students become the "whole package," someone who can invent and build an innovative product or service as well as oversee its production to create a profitable business. The most important aspect of the application process -- from applicants' point of view -- is to find the program that best suits their specific needs. In other words, you should look for a school that offers the dual degree program that seems best capable of helping you achieve your career goals as both an engineer and businessperson.