Engineering Management vs. Project Management

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Considering grad school? Today’s grad students can choose from a plethora of programs. Will it be a highly specialized program that’ll prepare you for a focused career, or a broad degree to ready you for a wide array of positions across multiple industries or settings? With such a wide range of options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure about what degree would best suit you. Thankfully, there are resources to help you choose strategically for the career you want. This article will explore differences between Master of Engineering Management (MEM) and Project Management (PM) postgraduate programs.

Engineering Management vs. Project Management


MEM and PM degrees have a fundamental element in common. Both programs are designed to teach aptitudes, skills, and experiences necessary to manage people and projects. Management is, in itself, a skillset — and it requires a range of developed skills to be effective. Thus, both types of degrees include certain fundamental components.

  • Management theory: Both MEM and PM degrees should include courses concerning the fundamental frameworks needed to lead effectively. These might include problem-solving techniques, decision-making frameworks, methods of analysis, communication skills, and management theory.
  • Financial aptitude: Any professional in a management role must have at least a working knowledge of financial principles. Thus, business, accounting, and budgeting subjects should also be included in the curriculums of both types of degrees.
  • Hands-on learning: Both degrees should include chances for students to learn managerial skills in hands-on or applicative settings. Projects, internships, discussion-based or experienced-based activities — and opportunities to interact with professionals in the management field — provide critical chances to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world challenges.


MEM and PM are designed for particular uses, and it’s important to understand the nuances between the degrees.

The best way to choose a postgraduate degree is to first determine your end goal. How will you use your degree? Once you know, it’s easier to assess a degree program’s components and whether or not it’ll help you achieve your goals.

Project management degrees typically include a broader range of course types than do MEM programs. For example: Project management coursework often involves theoretical project management courses as well as accounting classes, computer methodology, human resources methods, additional financial or business classes, and more. And project management curriculums might not include a wealth of courses on any particular subject. Instead, they’re often designed to equip students with a more broad overview of management types and arenas where you might find yourself.

On the other hand, MEM coursework delves more deeply into a focused range of subject types. Engineering management degrees might involve more thorough explorations of management techniques and analytical frameworks – six sigma techniques, lean thinking strategies, quality control systems, and in-depth project management – with a specific bent toward engineering applications.

Engineering Management vs. Project Management Career Paths

You know your end goal now. What is each program’s prospective career path?

Master in Engineering Management degrees are designed within the context of a specific industry: engineering. They’re tailored to the needs of individuals who’ll one day hold leadership positions in engineering settings. The curriculum might assume a level of engineering proficiency. It will explore engineering-specific scenarios, present engineering professionals as guest speakers, or provide networking and internship opportunities specifically within the engineering industry. MEM students may often be current engineers who want to school to increase career growth opportunities. Though most MEM degree programs will accept students with a range of bachelor’s degree types, those with engineering undergraduate degrees are often best prepared. Others may need to complete certain prerequisites if their undergraduate studies didn’t include certain courses (requirements will vary by MEM program).

Conversely, general Project Management degrees are more universally applicable and will prepare you for a wide range of management positions. Project management programs usually include a wider array of course types and subject coverage. Students don’t receive in-depth training in a particular subject area, but they get at least fundamental exposure to a broader range of subjects and skill types. Graduates could enter a wide range of industries at the management level, to work in settings that range from corporate environments to nonprofits, government departments, start-ups, retail, agriculture, and more.

In today’s competitive employment climate, earning a postgraduate degree can provide an enormous advantage and open or strengthen career opportunities. Before beginning a program, make sure to explore the options available in order to choose the degree program that most closely aligns with your career goals.

Learn More

An advanced degree program for engineers who want to become leaders without losing their foundation in engineering, the online Master of Engineering Management from Ohio University focuses on leadership and management skills and their direct relationship to engineering process improvement, project management, effective communication, and innovative solutions.

Recommended Readings

Ohio University, “Engineering Leadership: More Than Management”
Ohio University, “Engineering Management in Humanitarian Logistics
Ohio University, “Women in Engineering Leadership”


U.S. News & World Report, “Online Engineering Management Master’s Degree: An Overview”
Chron, ” The Difference Between an Engineering Manager & a Project  Manager”