An online Ph.D. in Engineering Management is a degree that is in high demand from both employers and graduate applicants. With so many expansion and construction plans taking place, both in the private and public sectors, professionals with the proper skills and education are sorely needed. And with the industry expected to increase six percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is now more important than ever to provide students with affordable, high-quality avenues to earn this doctoral degree.
From transportation to energy, modern medicine to modern communications, engineering impacts every facet of contemporary life. And while business schools have paved the way in management programs in areas such as technology management, leadership in the field of engineering requires more technical mastery and understanding than a business degree alone can provide.
Online degrees for engineering managers are plentiful, but unfortunately, many are expensive. Still, several schools have found a way to make the doctoral degree in engineering management affordable and accessible for those applicants who have demonstrated their passion and unique talent for the field. The 15 schools listed below include private, public, and state universities and represent the best online options available.
The methodology used for the following ranking includes data compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator database using the search term “Ph.D. in Engineering Management degree online.” This database provides information on everything from the average length to complete the degree to tuition rates to student retention rates, enabling us to make a full analysis for each and every program considered. Since we were provided with an initial pool of 15 schools, we did not need to narrow down our list any further. The following schools are ranked in order of most expensive to least expensive based on in-state graduate tuition.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Engineering Management Ph.D. Degrees
15. Southern Methodist University
Online Doctor of Engineering With a Major in Engineering Management
Ranked among the top national research universities, Southern Methodist University offers an online Doctor of Engineering with a major in engineering management. Provided through the Lyle School of Engineering, the program is designed to prepare students to meet doctoral standards in an engineering or applied science practice. Students are required to complete 24 credit hours of engineering management courses, 18 credit hours in a technical specialty, nine credit hours of business/economics courses, 15 credit hours of electives, and 12 hours of praxis. Before graduating, students must also satisfactorily complete a preliminary counseling examination, a doctoral qualifying examination, and the defense of the doctoral praxis.
14. Worcester Polytech Institute
Online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering
Worcester Polytech Institute’s online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering is offered in a blended format for the convenience of those who are already working in the field of engineering. This delivery style allows students to study part-time in a distance format while maintaining their current positions; almost all courses are available online, students interact closely with their advisors, and research seminars can be taken in an interactive electronic environment. Students must complete at least 60 credits beyond the master’s degree in two separate focus areas. WPI also helps to financially support students’ travel for national conferences where they may present their research. In addition to completing online coursework, students must also travel on-campus to Worcester to publicly defend their dissertation.
13. Western New England University
Online Ph.D. in Engineering Management
The hybrid engineering management Ph.D. program at Western New England University is a practice-based degree that focuses on both implementation and research of new technologies in the real world. Due to the blended format, students must attend lectures in Springfield, Massachusetts, so students located in the area are best-suited for this degree. With a total of 87 credit hours of required coursework, a dissertation, and a qualifying exam, students have up to seven years to finish the program. The degree also includes a research component, providing students with the opportunity to work on real-world projects while simultaneously furthering their education. Sample courses for this program include Project Management, Advanced Engineering Cost Estimation, and Engineering Supply Chain.
12. George Washington University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering
The online Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering at George Washington University brings the school’s internationally acclaimed engineering program to working professionals in a convenient, flexible distance format. Whereas the school’s Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management provides students with an applied, practice-oriented doctorate that helps them apply advanced knowledge and learning to real-world problem-solving, the Ph.D. in Systems Engineering is deal for public servants, leaders, and researchers to further develop their understanding of the workings of complex systems. The Ph.D. in Systems Engineering consists of a minimum of 54 credit hours divided into two stages: the research phase and the classroom phase.
11. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Business Administration in Management of Engineering and Technology
The online DBA in Management of Engineering and Technology at Northcentral University combines technology and business into a practical education. Students will learn how to utilize both disciplines to their advantage when they enter the workplace, seeking positions as business owners and engineering managers. There are no residency requirements for this program, so students may earn their degree entirely online. The program consists of 54 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and research, all of which can be completed with 39 months; however, students may take up to seven years to finish the program. Students can expect courses in areas such as business research design and methodology, directed qualitative research, and business leadership and strategy.
10. University of Alabama at Huntsville
Online Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering
The ISEEM Department at the University of Alabama at Huntsville offers a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering with concentrations in systems engineering, industrial engineering, and engineering management. UAH has made its expertise accessible as each of these concentrations is available online, though some may require on-campus visits to allow students to defend a dissertation, for example. Each concentration consists of its own set of core courses and supporting courses, but students are required to complete a total of 78 semester hours of coursework, regardless of the path chosen. UAH’s reputation for online education is quickly growing, earning national attention from numerous publishers.
9. University of Tennessee Knoxville
Online Doctoral Industrial Engineering Program With an Emphasis on Engineering Management
The doctoral program in industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville emphasizes engineering management, providing practicing engineers with an educational experience that balances technical depth with project management, financial management, and leadership skills as well as team relations, ethical and legal perspectives, and organizational behaviors. In order to pursue the engineering management concentration, students must have two years of relevant experience as a practicing scientist or engineer. The Ph.D. program requires the completion of 72 graduate hours of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, including a minimum of 36 graduate hours of coursework and 24 to 36 hours of doctoral dissertation and research work.
8. Oklahoma State University
Online M.S./Ph.D in Industrial Engineering and Management
Oklahoma State University offers both an online M.S. and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Management. The M.S. degree consists of core courses in performance measurement systems, financial and advanced capital investment analysis, project management, and managing engineering and technical functions — courses that pave way for doctoral work in the field. The Ph.D. program is designed for students looking to become leaders and managers, and the hybrid program requires a residency, the length of which is determined by a student’s educational experience and prior work. Students are also required to participate in an on-campus dissertation defense. The 60-credit-hour Ph.D. includes one doctoral seminar, 18 hours of dissertation research, and a qualifying exam that students take at home.
7. University of Central Missouri
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management
With its mission to meet the needs of Missourians everywhere, the University of Central Missouri has become nationally known for its online degree programs. The school offers an online Ph.D. in Technology Management through an exceptional consortium partnership with Indiana State University, Bowling Green State University, and two other universities. All five campuses are linked, providing resources and expertise to one another, resulting in even greater access to information than any one college could provide. Specifically, the program consists of at least 87 credit hours of coursework, 30 of which come from the master’s degree. Included in the curriculum are a dissertation, a residency requirement, professional studies, a technical specialization, a research core, and a general technology core. Students can choose from five concentrations: Quality Systems, Manufacturing Systems, Human Resource Development and Industrial Training, Digital Communications, and Construction Management.
6. Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Indiana
Online Ph.D in Technology Management
Together with a consortium, Indiana State University offers an online Ph.D. in Technology Management. The degree is supported by four other institutions, so students may take courses from any of the five universities in order to finish the program as quickly as possible. The Ph.D. in Technology Management is a practical degree that allows students to work on real-world projects, complete a dissertation, and do research, all while completing most of the program’s requirements online. ISU, along with the other schools, does have a residency requirement. However, students must complete at least two nine-hour semesters of coursework in order to graduate from the program. The online Ph.D. consists of 66 credit hours, including a dissertation, a qualifying exam, a research project, and coursework in areas such as technology assessment and innovation, legal aspects of the industry, and international and cultural technological development.
5. Texas Tech University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Systems & Engineering Management
Texas Tech University is well-known nationwide for its affordable, high-quality degree programs for online students. The school offers an online Ph.D. in Systems and Engineering Management, a practice-based program that aims to prepare students to tackle leadership roles in the private and public sectors. The degree consists of 72 credit hours of coursework that can be completed at the students’ home, and a dissertation is also required. However, there are four courses that must be taken on-campus; these take one month each to complete and are taught only during the summer. Students can expect coursework that covers topics in advanced theoretical studies in systems management, systems theory, and systems management in a global environment.
4. Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio
Online Ph.D. in Technology Management
Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio offers an online Ph.D. in Technology Management that satisfies the goals and needs of full-time students. The web-based program was specifically designed for online education, and it is conferred by a consortium. The Ph.D. in Technology Management program consists of five specializations: quality systems, manufacturing systems, human resource development and training, digital communications, and construction management. Students must complete 66 credit hours of coursework either at BGSU or another consortium university. A qualifying exam and a dissertation are also required. Prospective students should note that at least 18 credits must be completed at BGSU; most of these can be completed within the first two years of the program.
3. Missouri University of Science and Technology
Online Ph.D. in Engineering Management
Founded as the largest land-grant research institution in the state, Missouri University of Science and Technology offers an online Ph.D. in Engineering Management program that provides busy working professionals with the opportunity to earn a terminal degree without attending on-campus classes. This interdisciplinary program gives students a strong foundation in areas like risk assessment, modeling and simulation, data analytics, and other skills that make graduates valuable in settings such as government, academic research, business, government, and more. Mixing original, hands-on dissertation research, specialized courses, and theory courses, students in this program are well-prepared to solve problems with strong engineering-based leadership and reasoning skills.
2. North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, North Carolina
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management
North Carolina A&T State University and Indiana State University offer a joint Doctor of Philosophy consortium degree program in the field of technology management. What sets this program apart from others is that students have the opportunity to tailor their course of study based on their needs and interests, choosing classes in Internet security, e-commerce, and web design, to name a few. The program pulls together knowledge and experts from human resources, business, computer engineering, and other related disciplines to prepare students for leadership roles in the field of technology. Students must complete at least 90 credit hours of study based on their technical specialization. A residency and internship are also required once the student completes his or her coursework, and the degree culminates in a final doctoral dissertation.
1. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Online Ph.D. in Technology Management
East Carolina University is a member of a consortium, along with Indiana State University and Bowling Green University, that offers a hybrid Ph.D. in Technology Management. Students must complete two semesters of on-campus study, and they have the opportunity to choose from five specializations: quality systems, digital communications systems, construction management, manufacturing systems, and human resource development. Those who are already working in a specialized field and are looking to move into leadership positions would most benefit from this program. Along with the use of a fantastic virtual portal that links all five schools and the coursework together, students will have the opportunity to be taught by leading professionals with decades of experience in the field of engineering and technology management.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Ph.D. in Engineering Management Degree?
Although an online Ph.D. in Engineering Management can open doors for graduate students, it is also important to know that many degrees come with career-based options. In other words, providing specific career paths and tailoring the curriculum to a certain goal serves to help the students focus their education as best they can.
“Practice-based” programs refer to degrees that will pave a way forward toward working as an engineering manager in the business sector. Students may also seek leadership roles in companies that work in the engineering industry. Graduates may also hold employment as consultants who freelance for the business sector or as contractors who work for the government.
“Academic-based” programs refer to degrees that enable students to work as researchers and academics in the engineering management field. These programs aim to prepare students for careers as professors at the university level or as researchers employed by companies devoted to development and research. Graduates may also be employed by the government as analysts, helping to solve critical infrastructure issues.
Regardless of the path pursued, graduates can also become authors, whether for publications, nonfiction books, or textbooks. Graduates from both types of programs may also become entrepreneurs in the field of business technology, although some business acumen is often required for these types of roles.
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for engineering managers was $137,720 per year, or $66.21 per hour, as of May 2017. The highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $88,050.
These salaries can be further broken down by industry:
- Government: $128,450 per year
- Architectural, engineering and related services: $135,770
- Manufacturing: $137,790
- Management of companies and enterprises: $143,360
- Scientific research and development services: $159,400
However, due to the different pathways available after one earns his or her doctoral degree, salaries may differ based on the technical recognition of the program. In addition, some engineering managers may receive more benefits such as bonuses and expense accounts than non-managerial employees.
What Are the Various Disciplines of Engineering Management?
Since engineering management is an industry that combines business and engineering, students may find a number of disciplines in their curricula such as math, science, research, computer science, engineering, and more.
However, not all degrees take the same approach; there are different pathways depending on the disciplines offered, mainly because students will be faced with these various disciplines after they graduate, and they must learn about them at the university level prior to earning their degree. For instance, students taking a practice-based pathway can expect disciplines in accounting, management, and business. Students looking to work for a multicultural company may benefit from cultural courses. Similarly, students attending prestigious schools may have the opportunity to take advanced-level language courses to further develop their knowledge.
On the other hand, academic-based degrees focus more on academic and research, exposing students to different theories and allowing them to put these theories into practice in a laboratory setting. Academic-based degrees also include the disciplines of statistics, finance, economics, academic writing, and more, and they typically require a foundational understanding of the history of engineering.
What Are the Requirements for Admission into a Doctorate in Engineering Management?
Although no two online Ph.D. in Engineering degree programs are alike, many of the requirements are shared by universities across the country:
- One to three years of work experience in the field of engineering
- Personal essay
- Official transcripts from previously attended institutions
- An ABET-accredited graduate or undergraduate degree
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
The GRE requirement is often debated in terms of whether it should be considered as a standard for admission into these programs. In fact, more schools are dropping the GRE requirement for doctoral programs, explaining that students enter a doctoral program after earning a master’s degree, thus there really is no need to request these scores for admission.
What is the Curriculum Like For an Online Ph.D. in Engineering Management Program?
Many online Ph.D. in Engineering Management programs offer coursework online and, in some cases, their entire degrees online. However, universities and colleges have been slow to change classroom studies into fully online studies simply because of the value that residency requirements hold. Ph.D. programs heavily rely on collaboration with advisors to help students guide and develop program research, finding a degree that closely matches their academic and career needs with classroom and online study. In addition to the Ph.D. degree, some students choose to follow the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) pathway in engineering management. Although both degrees are a doctorate, the Ph.D. focuses more on science, while the DBA emphasizes the business aspect of the industry.
A typical online Ph.D. in Engineering Management is offered in a webinar format, allowing students to receive online instruction by experienced faculty in live lecture settings. Using high-speed Internet access, students interact with classmates and instructors. Students may also collaborate via email as students consult with faculty during specified online office hours or discuss the lectures with their classmates. Courses in the Ph.D. in Engineering Management program typically include:
- Research Methods in Science and Technology
- Group Study in Systems Engineering
- Engineering Risk Analysis
- Engineering Support and Decision-Making Systems
- Foundations of Systems of Engineering
- Information Technology and Project Management
During the majority of three- to five-year Ph.D. programs, students are required to complete a doctoral dissertation on a topic relevant to their academic or career goals. Example dissertations cover areas such as improving project management, personal virtual communications, real-time terrain modeling, human behavior modeling in computer programs, and airport dynamics.
Why Should You Get a Ph.D. Instead of an M.S. in Engineering Management?
It all boils down to opportunities. Experienced engineers who earn a doctoral degree in engineering management can land desirable teaching positions and advance to leadership positions in their current organizations. Graduates may also choose to teach or conduct research at the university level. Teams of engineers are typically responsible for managing workflow in a global workplace, and so employers look for applicants who have experience and skills in handling a vast range of engineering situations. In most cases, workers from different countries collaborate on a team, looking for leadership experience and guidance from those who have developed these skills in the Ph.D. program in order to accomplish project objectives.
As an instructor, the Ph.D. program further enables students to participate in the development and presentation of new ideas to scholarly engineering communities and organizations. Teachers with Ph.D. degrees present research findings at conferences, advise students in research and study, and prepare lessons for field- or classroom-based instruction. Although some positions can be obtained with an M.S. in Engineering Management, through their ideas, research, and work, Ph.D. candidates are better-equipped to help shape the world in which we live.
Is Accreditation Important For an Online Ph.D. in Engineering Management?
Many students understand the importance of accreditation no matter the degree. In fact, doctoral degrees that are not accredited by an independent body can actually harm graduates who are looking for employment. Today, most employers prefer students who can show evidence that they hold a doctorate from a regionally or nationally accredited university or college.
Students looking to further their education by pursuing a doctoral degree in engineering management should consider programs that hold recognition from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Not only does ABET accreditation boost that specific program’s reputation and, therefore, a student’s work application, but it also signals an industry standard that is shared by that program’s outcomes and curriculum. Program-specific accreditation is also the mark of a rigorous, comprehensive degree that introduces students to more advanced concepts and ideas that are generally known in the engineering and technology field.
Compared to unaccredited degrees, accredited programs are usually more competitive, meaning that students are not always guaranteed a spot in the university or college. In turn, this competition results in a stronger focus on internships and education, enabling students to gain real-world, hands-on work experience while continuing their coursework.
Regardless of whether the program was conferred online or in-person, employers prefer accredited degrees. Therefore, it makes sense for students to try their best to secure a seat at a school that holds accreditation from a national or regional accrediting body. Thanks to the use of computers, accredited programs are easier to find than ever; all students need to do is to focus only on schools that have been recognized by the ABET.
Earning a doctorate in engineering management is a smart move for students who want to continue their education but who are also looking to cultivate a promising career. With the help of the AS staff, graduate applicants can have a sense of what these online programs are like, from the specializations and courses that are available to the month/year rotations. The above schools are not only among the most affordable in the country, but they have also gained national recognition and respect for their online Ph.D. in Engineering Management programs.