2020 Best Online Master's in Industrial Engineering Degrees
Industrial engineering is all about maximizing efficiencies while controlling costs, two objectives common to virtually every business, government, and nonprofit organization. The diversity and versatility inherent in industrial engineering create numerous job opportunities, and students who earn master’s degrees in this multidisciplinary field are well suited for management, leadership, and other specialized roles. Read on for more information about the best online master's in industrial engineering programs, the importance of accreditation, recommended certification and licensure, and frequently asked questions for industrial engineers.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's in Industrial Engineering Degrees
The following 24 schools offer the best online master's in industrial engineering programs, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Graduates of the #1-ranked school, Clemson University, reported a median salary of $151,300. Tuition for Clemson University's Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering is $12,960 per year. In the #2 spot, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus offers a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management for only $13,146 per year, making it an affordable choice for distance learners who are looking for a high quality and affordable education.
2020 Online Colleges Offering Industrial Engineering Degrees - Ranking Details
Online Master's Degrees in Industrial Engineering
Students with an analytical mind and a knack for understanding systems may want to consider pursuing an online master’s degree in industrial engineering. Broadly speaking, this complex field combines elements of business, technology, mathematics, and science to solve the issues that arise when humans work within technical systems. More specifically, industrial engineering focuses on optimizing the systems of technology, materials, facilities, and people used in nearly every major type of organization to produce the goods and services we need.
Online master’s degree programs in industrial engineering are generally open to students who have earned undergraduate degrees in engineering, science, or mathematics. Although students who have earned bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines may be accepted into an IE master’s program, they may be required to complete prerequisite courses, such as calculus, probability and statistics, and computer programming, before starting on the core courses of the industrial engineering program.
When applying to an online master’s in industrial engineering program, students are typically asked to submit letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a current resume in addition to the application form and fee.
An online master’s in industrial engineering program can take anywhere from two to five years to complete. The core courses in online industrial engineering degree programs vary widely but often include production methods, quality management, systems analysis, statistics, and computer software in engineering systems. The exact mix of courses often depends on the areas of concentration offered. Popular concentrations in this major include logistics or supply chain management, facilities management, manufacturing engineering, and operations. Some programs also invite students to choose electives in math, business, or computer science.
Choosing a Master’s in Industrial Engineering Program
It’s important to choose the right degree program when pursuing a master’s degree in industrial engineering. Not all online programs are the same in this field, so it is essential to do thorough research about a prospective degree program and choose one that fits with the student’s interests and career goals. Students should consider what the program entails, such as courses of study and areas of concentration offered.
Other factors to consider relate to a student’s personal needs and preferences, such as schedule of classes, part-time options, duration of the program, and whether the program requires field experience, on-campus residencies, or internships. The school's graduation rates and hiring percentages are also important indicators of students' experiences. Finally, applicants may want to research potential instructors and their expertise in the field of industrial engineering.
Financing a Master’s in Industrial Engineering Degree
One of the challenges of going for a graduate degree is figuring out how to pay for it. Fortunately, students have plenty of options for financing their online master’s in industrial engineering online degrees. For most students, it is possible to pay for education by seeking out grants, applying for financial aid via the FAFSA form, taking out student loans, and applying for scholarships. There are many scholarships specific to the engineering field available through professional engineering organizations, and other scholarships offered by the private sector.
Why is Accreditation Important for Online Master's in Industrial Engineering Degrees?
Accreditation is an important aspect that students should take into account when considering enrolling in an online industrial engineering degree program. The accreditation process involves a thorough, independent evaluation of all aspects of an undergraduate or graduate degree program. For industrial engineering programs, students should look for accreditation from ABET.
Students who choose an accredited school can feel confident that they will receive a quality education and that their degree will be recognized by other academic institutions and potential employers. Although accreditation from ABET isn't required for an industrial engineer, enrolling in an unaccredited program can negatively impact both academic prospects and future employment opportunities. In addition, in order to apply for student loans or to transfer credits to another institution, students must attend an accredited school.
What Specializations are Available in the Field of Industrial Engineering?
Because the field of industrial engineering is broad, many people choose to specialize within the field. Some potential areas of expertise include:
Ergonomics: Within the broader scope of manufacturing processes, there is a concern for workers related to their productivity, safety, comfort, and job satisfaction. This is the domain of ergonomics, which deals with creating an optimal working environment. Industrial engineers who specialize in ergonomics analyze, for example, how work stations can be arranged to maximize a worker’s productivity while safeguarding the employee from accidents or injuries. They also study how overall systems can be arranged to benefit employees and the employer and ensure efficiency.
Manufacturing Engineering: Manufacturing systems use a variety of technologies and processes, many of which are automated, to make a product. Manufacturing engineers study these systems to determine how to maximize efficiency, cut costs, and maintain a safe work environment for employees. Manufacturing engineers typically need familiarity with computerized systems, robotics, AI, and other advanced technologies.
Operations Research: Operations research, decision science, and management science are terms often used interchangeably to describe the application of mathematical techniques to decision making in industrial settings. Some of these techniques include mathematical modeling and statistical analysis. The objective of operations research, as with all industrial engineering, is to aid in making business decisions that maximize efficiency and quality while minimizing risks and costs.
Quality/Reliability Engineering: As important as efficiency is, quality and reliability are equally critical to the success of any organization, which is why some industrial engineers choose to specialize in this area. Quality engineers focus on developing tests and control systems to maintain quality levels. They also interact with suppliers and customers, using feedback and information to continually improve their quality levels and processes.
What Certifications Can Help a Career in Industrial Engineers?
Besides earning an online master's in industrial engineering, professionals in this field can also add certifications and licenses to their resume that may enhance their reputations and help them stand out from other job candidates. Here are some credentials that industrial engineering professionals can earn during their career:
- Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certificate: This certificate requires a written exam, four years of experience in the field, and college-level coursework.
- Certified Quality Engineer: To earn this credential, individuals must have at least eight years of experience in the field. Graduate degrees can substitute for five of those years.
- Certified Production Technician: This certificate shows a high level of commitment to the standards of the industry, including safety, quality control, and green practices.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Master's in Industrial Engineering
What do industrial engineers do?
Industrial engineers find ways to maximize efficiency in production processes. They study the systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and other resources to make a product or provide a service, and they look for ways to eliminate any wastefulness or inefficiencies. With so many variables involved, industrial engineers must possess a fairly broad base of knowledge in diverse subjects such as production processes, computer systems, and math and statistics. To be successful, they must also have strong communication skills, the ability to work well with others, and an analytical mind with a propensity for problem-solving.
Among the many tasks involved in industrial engineering are:
- Analyzing production processes to understand the activities involved and how they can be enhanced
- Reviewing production schedules for improved efficiency
- Developing control systems to monitor time and quality
- Establishing procedures for resolving problems and minimizing expenses
- Industrial engineers will often confer with other employees or clients in order to better understand processes and systems and to communicate changes meant to improve systems.
What can I do with a master’s degree in industrial engineering?
Earning an online master’s degree in industrial engineering may open the door to better-paying jobs, particularly in management or other leadership positions, in a wide range of industries. Production and manufacturing probably offer the most job opportunities, but there are many openings in healthcare, transportation, and logistics as well. Some graduates prefer to work with one particular employer, while others may choose to work as consultants, offering their expertise to many clients. Additionally, master’s graduates with a great deal of experience may be able to move into academia, especially after the completion of a doctoral degree in industrial engineering.
What is the job outlook for graduates with online master’s degrees in industrial engineering?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for industrial engineers is promising. In the United States, industrial engineer jobs are expected to grow by approximately 8% over the next decade, which is slightly faster than average. As of May 2019, the median salary for an industrial engineer was $88,020 per year, and the highest 10% earned more than $134,070. Master’s degree holders usually go into management-level positions, which often translate into higher salaries.
Are there any professional associations for industrial engineers?
In the field of industrial engineering, there are several industry associations or organizations governing professional practices and setting standards. Students and graduates may want to consider the networking and continuing education benefits of joining one or more of these organizations:
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers: Since 1948, the IISE has been a global association for productivity and efficiency professionals who specialize in industrial engineering, healthcare, ergonomics, and other related professions. IISE creates a forum in which professionals working in these varied fields can network, obtain additional training, and share their knowledge.
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers: The SME is a nonprofit group with members at all levels of the manufacturing industry, from students to executives. In addition to networking and career advancement opportunities, the SME provides members with resources and information on trends and new developments and creates a forum through which members can share and resolve pressing issues and problems.
- Society of Women Engineers: Women engineers can find leadership opportunities and more in this society dedicated to promoting diversity and the inclusion of women in the engineering and technology professions. Members stay up-to-date on professional development, outreach, and advocacy programs through the organization’s rich blog and magazine content.
- National Society of Black Engineers: The National Society of Black Engineers is dedicated to bringing more people of color into the engineering profession. Memberships are available to professionals, college students, and youth. Academic support, networking opportunities, and job search assistance are among the many benefits available to members.
Online Master's in Industrial Engineering Overview
Online master's degree programs in industrial engineering can be found at many colleges and universities. There are several flexible online options available for working professionals who wish to complete their degree while remaining employed. In order to be admitted to an online master's program, a student will need to have a bachelor's degree in a related subject with a GPA of at least 3.0. A statement of purpose or admissions essay is also a standard requirement. Depending on the school, prospective students may also need to take a graduate admissions test such as the GRE and provide letters of recommendation.
Typical coursework includes classes in factory simulation, production science, lean manufacturing, human factors in engineering, and mathematical programming. Upon completion of a master's degree, graduates will be qualified for advanced management positions in the field and may also find work teaching or conducting research.