A Comparison: Engineering Management Certificate vs. Engineering Management Degree

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For engineers who are looking to advance their careers, a management position is often the next logical step. Becoming an engineering manager may require and emphasize new skill sets, such as the ability to effectively lead people and projects. Where do you gain these skills? If you’ve ever found yourself Googling “engineering management certificate vs. engineering management degree,” then Ohio University is an excellent place to find the answer.

In this post, we’ll look at two options to help you decide which credential is right for you — the online Master of Engineering Management degree or the online Master of Engineering Management graduate certificate.

The Master of Engineering Management Degree

The online Master of Engineering Management at Ohio University is an advanced degree program that blends technical content and management coursework to produce highly skilled and knowledgeable graduates. A thoughtful and comprehensive curriculum teaches leadership and management skills as they relate to engineering process improvement, project management, effective communication, and innovative solutions.

This 10-course, 34-credit degree program is fully online and can be completed in one year and eight months for students who take the normal schedule of two courses per semester. Students should plan to dedicate 10 to 12 hours a week for each class.  There are three possible starting points during the year: January, May, and August.

Degree program courses

Introductory courses include:

  • EMGT 6000 Foundations in Engineering Management: This course teaches the management skills students need to effectively lead projects and people. Aspects of globalization are discussed, including how culture changes engineering management.
  • EMGT 6010 Engineering Writing: This course teaches students the critical thinking skills to understand, develop, and produce effective communication as an engineering professional.
  • EMGT 6100 Statistics for Engineering Management: Students learn to design statistically valid experiments and analyze the results. Topics include basic probability theory, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, regression, and analysis of variance.
  • EMGT 6200 Information Systems Engineering: This course introduces students to information systems, a primary source of data and technical reference for management. Students learn about the design and implementation of information systems, as well as methods for keeping up to date with the fast-paced IT world.

Core courses in the degree program include:

  • EMGT 6110 Principles of Six Sigma: This course introduces students to the Six Sigma problem-solving methodology, including examples of how it is applied in a wide range of organizations. Topics include tools and techniques for product and process improvement and the application of basic and advanced statistics to problem-solving.
  • EMGT 6300 Project Management: Here, students learn how engineering managers get things done. Students learn the five stages of project management — initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing — and examine the 10 knowledge areas of project management.
  • EMGT 6600 Applied Accounting and Finance for Engineering Management: This course examines the principles and techniques of accounting, finance, performance measures, and decision-making, and how they are applied in an engineering management context.

In addition, students will select two elective courses from the following:

  • EMGT 6120 Quality Systems: This course focuses on the concepts, philosophies, and frameworks of quality management; incorporating quality into strategic planning, leadership, process measurement and management; continuous quality improvement, and ISO 9000.
  • EMGT 6210 Database Information Systems: This course presents methods and procedures for storing and retrieving manufacturing data in large computer databases. Topics include database design, normalization, and SQL. Students will build a database using MS Access.
  • EMGT 6220 Data Acquisition and Predictive Analytics: In this course, students learn modern methods for data analysis and predictive analytics. Students gain the knowledge to develop advanced queries and apply statistical methods and machine learning to analyze the data and make predictions in the engineering management context.
  • EMGT 6400 Engineering Law: Students learn how to shape their legal and business environments to resolve disputes and avoid peril. Topics include intellectual property policy (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets), torts and liability, contracts, and administrative law.
  • EMGT 6500 Lean Thinking Methods: Through group discussions and project practice, this course teaches students about the tools for applying lean thinking, lean principles, and lean methods in manufacturing and service systems.
  • EMGT 6700 Engineering Leadership: Students will explore, develop, and reinforce their leadership skills through an examination of selected reading, supplemental videos, interviews of experienced leaders, reflections, discussions, and case studies.

The engineering management degree program requires students to complete a Capstone project course (EMGT 6949). In this culminating experience, a student identifies a real-world problem in their workplace or similar settings. Then they will design a solution, implement that solution, and document the results. These activities bring together all of the knowledge, skills, and industry-standard practices taught in the engineering management program and emphasize learning by doing.

Degree program admission requirements

To be accepted into the online Master of Engineering Management degree program, prospective students must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or physical sciences from an accredited four-year program. (Applicants with bachelor’s degrees in other fields may also be eligible with proof of sufficient calculus work, GRE scores, and technical work experience.)
  • A 3.0 or higher GPA (a GPA of 2.75 is acceptable with a GRE quantitative reasoning score of 155 or higher).
  • Two letters of recommendation, one preferably from the applicant’s current supervisor and another from an individual who has supervised, mentored, or taught the applicant.

Degree program graduation requirements

To graduate from the degree program, students must complete the 10 courses and 34 credits with a grade of “C” or above and earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

The Master of Engineering Management Graduate Certificate

The online Master of Engineering Management Graduate Certificate is designed to strengthen knowledge and skills in specialized areas of engineering. A graduate certificate is a focused program to gain in-demand expertise. It introduces students to the key elements of engineering management as well as to business-related functions such as research and development, planning and managing production activity, ethics, and the effects of globalization on technical processes and markets.

Composed of three courses from the master’s degree program, the certificate is an affordable way to learn new skills and quickly earn a recognized industry credential. The certificate is valuable on its own or can serve as a stepping stone to the master’s degree. (Completing the certificate fulfills three of the 10 courses found in the full Master of Engineering Management degree program.)

Students may be able to complete the program in as few as two or three semesters by taking one or two courses a semester. Like the degree program, students may start classes in January, May, or August.

Students who are admitted to the certificate program may later seek admission to the degree program. They may also pursue one or both of the program’s other two certificates — Engineering Leadership and Certified Lean Six Sigma — which also “stack” toward the degree.

In effect, this means you needn’t choose between the engineering management certificate or engineering management degree. If you want the full degree later, your completed certificate will count toward the degree completion.

Certificate program courses

Courses in the online Master of Engineering Management Graduate Certificate program are drawn from the master’s degree program and include:

  • EMGT 6000 Foundations in Engineering Management
  • EMGT 6300 Project Management
  • EMGT 6400 Engineering Law

Unlike the engineering management degree, the engineering management certificate program does not have a capstone project. However, the curriculum does offer smaller projects that provide students opportunities to apply the knowledge they have learned.

Certificate program admission requirements

Admission requirements for the engineering management certificate program are the same as those for the degree program, except that the eight semester credit hours in calculus or post-calculus math are not required.

Certificate program completion requirements

To complete the certificate program, students must complete their three courses with a grade of “C” or above and earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students have three years to complete the certificate from the time they are admitted into the program.

Career Opportunities in Engineering Management

Supplementing your engineering skills with management expertise can greatly enhance your opportunities for advancement, both within your current company and with other employers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architectural and engineering manager positions are projected to grow 6% from 2016 to 2026. Growth in this field will likely depend on the growth of the various industries in which these engineering managers are employed.

In the engineering services industry, for example, management positions are expected to increase by 13%.

The competition for engineering management jobs is expected to be high in the coming years because employers find these roles so desirable. The job seekers who are best positioned to win those positions will be engineering managers who have the most education and work experience.

Engineering Management Certificate vs. Engineering Management Degree: Which Is Right for You?

The online Master of Engineering Management degree and certificate programs have a lot in common. Both teach valuable skills you can use in your current job today. Both are taught by experienced faculty and are online, offering you the flexibility to complete your coursework while having time for work and family.

In the final analysis, the decision of which credential to choose depends on your own career goals, interests, and schedule.

The Master of Engineering Management degree program provides a comprehensive education. It encompasses all aspects of engineering management yet can be completed in fewer than two years. If you are serious about taking your engineering management career as far as it can go, the master’s program may be for you.

On the other hand, if you are looking to boost your skills but are not yet ready or interested in pursuing a full master’s degree, the graduate certificate program may be a good choice. Its focused curriculum and shorter completion time make it a convenient and affordable way to quickly earn a valuable credential.

And don’t forget, certificate courses and credits can be applied toward earning the full Master of Engineering Management degree later if you wish.

Take Your Engineering Career to the Next Level

Once you’ve made up your mind to pursue a career in engineering management, you’ve set a course for the opportunity and future advancement. The best part is, you can choose how far and how fast you want to go. Engineering management certificate or engineering management degree? As it turns out, you can have both if you wish.

To learn more about the online Master of Engineering Management program from Ohio University, visit the program page and check out the recommended reading below.

Recommended Reading

Is the Online Engineering Management Degree Right for me?

Master of Engineering Management: Creating Leaders in Engineering

Six Sigma for Engineer Managers

What Is an Engineering Management Degree?


Ohio University, Online Master of Engineering Management

Ohio University, Online Master of Engineering Management Graduate Certificates

Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2017–2019, Engineering Management Certificate

Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2017–2019, Engineering Management—ME

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Architectural and Engineering Managers