A Guide to Different Types of Engineering Degrees

03/07/202314 minute read
A Guide to Different Types of Engineering Degrees

Whether it's civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or any other specialization, the field of engineering offers endless opportunities for individuals passionate about pushing boundaries, creating new technologies, and improving the quality of life for people around the globe. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of engineering, exploring different types of engineering degrees and shedding light on the remarkable achievements and career prospects within each discipline.

Engineering is a dynamic and multifaceted field that lies at the forefront of innovation and problem-solving. From designing towering skyscrapers to developing life-saving medical devices, engineers play a vital role in shaping the world we live in. Rooted in the application of scientific principles and mathematical concepts, engineering encompasses a vast array of disciplines, each with its own unique focus and areas of expertise. Whether it's civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or any other specialization, the field of engineering offers endless opportunities for individuals passionate about pushing boundaries, creating new technologies, and improving the quality of life for people around the globe. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of engineering, exploring different types of engineering degrees and shedding light on the remarkable achievements and career prospects within each discipline.

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Types of Engineering Degrees

In the past, engineering could be divided into four major branches: Mechanical, Chemical, Civil and Electrical, with sub branches of each discipline. Today however, the number of engineering degrees available have increased dramatically. There are now six major branches of engineering: Mechanical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Management, and Geotechnical, and literally hundreds of different subcategories of engineering under each branch.

1. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering encompasses the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers play a critical role in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, energy, robotics, and manufacturing. They are involved in designing and improving mechanical systems such as engines, turbines, HVAC systems, industrial machinery, and consumer products. More specialized types of mechanical engineering degrees include, aerospace engineering, biomechanical engineering, automotive engineering and mechatronics engineering.

2. Chemical engineering

Chemical engineering applies principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics to design, develop, and optimize processes and systems involving chemical transformations. Chemical engineers work across a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, energy, food processing, and environmental engineering. Degrees in chemical engineering include, environmental engineering, agricultural engineering, materials engineering, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering.

3. Civil engineering

Civil engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and natural built environment. It encompasses the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects such as buildings, bridges, roads, dams, airports, water supply systems, and wastewater treatment plants. Degrees within civil engineering include structural engineering, architectural engineering, marine engineering, transportation engineering and construction engineering.

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4. Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering combines principles of geology, soil mechanics, and civil engineering to assess and manage the interaction between the ground and structures. Geotechnical engineers provide essential expertise in designing foundations, assessing ground stability, and mitigating geological hazards, ensuring the safe and successful implementation of construction projects. Subfields of geotechnical engineering include petroleum engineering, nuclear engineering, mining engineering, ceramics engineering, geomatics engineering and geological engineering.

5. Engineering Management

Engineering management, also known as management engineering or technical management, is a specialized field that combines principles of engineering and business management. It focuses on the application of management principles and techniques to engineering projects, teams, and organizations. Related multidisciplinary degrees include industrial engineering and systems engineering.

6. Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that deals with the study, design, and application of electrical systems and components.Electrical engineers work with electrical circuits, devices, and systems to generate, transmit, and utilize electrical power efficiently and safely. Other types of electrical engineering degrees include computer engineering, electronics engineering and robotics engineering.

Best Engineering Schools By Stream
Chemical/Electrical/MechanicalCivil Geotechnical EngineeringEngineering Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)University of California, Berkeley (UCB)University of Texas, AustinGeorgia Institute of Technology
California Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignTexas A&M UniversityUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Stanford UniversityGeorgia Institute of TechnologyColorado School of MinesUniversity of California, Berkeley (UCB)
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)University of Texas, AustinNorth Carolina State UniversityMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Georgia Institute of TechnologyStanford UniversityUniversity of OklahomaStanford University

Levels of Engineering Degrees

Engineering degrees are offered at various levels of education, each providing different levels of specialization and career opportunities. These levels typically include:

  • Associate or Certificate degree: Many engineering positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but you could transition into a bachelor's program with an associate degree. An associate degree allows you to complete general education requirements and take some engineering courses to prepare for the next step in your education. 
  • Bachelor’s degree - At the undergraduate level, you can pursue a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) or the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.Sc.Eng.), which serves as a solid foundation for a career in engineering. These programs typically span four years and provide a comprehensive understanding of fundamental engineering principles, mathematics, and core technical skills. 
  • Master’s degrees - Moving to the postgraduate level, a Master of Engineering (MEng) or a Master of Science (MS) in Engineering provides students with an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and expertise in a specific engineering discipline. These programs typically last one to two years and often require a research component or thesis. 
  • Doctoral or Ph.D. degrees - These programs typically focus on advanced research and innovation, requiring students to undertake significant independent research and produce a doctoral thesis. Doctoral degrees in engineering provide individuals with the expertise to become leaders in academia, research institutions, or specialized industries. 

It's important to note that the specific naming and structure of engineering degrees may vary between countries and universities. Some institutions may offer integrated programs that combine undergraduate and postgraduate studies, allowing students to complete both degrees in a shorter time frame.

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The Importance of Engineering Degrees

Engineering degrees hold immense importance in today's society, shaping the world and driving progress in nearly every aspect of our lives. These degrees provide individuals with a deep understanding of scientific principles, mathematical concepts, and technical skills that are essential for addressing complex challenges and finding innovative solutions. Engineering graduates possess the ability to analyze problems critically, think creatively, and design practical solutions that improve efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Moreover, engineering degrees equip individuals with valuable transferable skills such as project management, problem-solving, and teamwork, which are highly sought after in various industries. Whether it's constructing vital infrastructure, developing cutting-edge technology, or creating sustainable systems, engineering degrees empower individuals to make a tangible impact, transform ideas into reality, and contribute to the advancement of society as a whole. With the ever-evolving nature of our world, the importance of engineering degrees continues to grow, offering a pathway to exciting and rewarding careers that shape the future.

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Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the world of engineering is a diverse and fascinating realm, offering a multitude of paths for those passionate about problem-solving, innovation, and making a meaningful impact. Throughout this article, we have explored various types of engineering degrees, each with its own distinct focus and exciting career prospects. From civil engineering, shaping the physical environment we inhabit, to biomedical engineering, revolutionizing healthcare with groundbreaking advancements, the possibilities are boundless. It is important to recognize that engineering is not limited to a single discipline but thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration and integration. The future of engineering holds immense promise, with emerging fields such as sustainable engineering, data science, and artificial intelligence presenting new frontiers to explore. Whether you are drawn to the intricacies of mechanical systems, the intricacies of coding, or the complexities of environmental sustainability, there is an engineering path waiting for you. So, embrace your passions, leverage your skills, and embark on a journey that combines technical expertise with creativity and critical thinking. The world needs your talent, ideas, and dedication to shape a better future. Pursue your chosen engineering degree with confidence, knowing that you are joining a global community of innovators who are transforming our world, one engineering marvel at a time.


Are engineering schools harder to get into?

Many students aspire to pursue engineering degrees, which can make the admissions process more competitive. The specific level of difficulty can vary depending on factors such as the reputation of the school, the number of applicants, and the available spots in the program.

While some engineering schools may have tougher admission criteria, each school has its own set of requirements.

Who accredits engineering programs?

In the US, the main accrediting agency for engineering programs is ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Accreditation by ABET signifies that an engineering program meets certain criteria and prepares students for professional practice in the field.