Universities Offering Masters Degrees in Structural Engineering: How to Choose
Students interested in a structural engineering career may select either a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering in the field. The Master of Science prepares students for a range of careers within structural engineering; the Master of Engineering puts students straight on the track to becoming a professional, licensed civil engineer. Most schools require about 30 credit hours of coursework and completion of an engineering project, thesis or series of final exams.
How to Select a Structural Engineering School
Students interested in structural engineering should look for schools offering the type of master's degree that will be most useful to their career goals. The Master of Science in Structural Engineering offers students a background in civil engineering with a focus on the structural aspects. Students in this program can pursue a career as a practicing engineer but may also want to work in other areas in the structural engineering field, such as structural health monitoring. Those interested in a professional degree that is made up almost entirely of classes pertaining specifically to becoming a structural engineer and licensure preparation may want to pursue the Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering.
Students may want to pursue programs that allow them to choose a specialization. Prognosis, simulation and mechanics are a few options that students may select as a concentration. Schools with programs that offer a thesis option for the Master of Science degree may appeal to students who eventually want to earn a Ph.D. in engineering. Students who do not want to do a thesis may choose a program that culminates with a series of final examinations. Many programs offer both options for students who have not yet decided if they would like to do a thesis or final exams.
Structural engineering programs that lead to either a Master of Science or the Master of Engineering should cover a broad spectrum of topics within structural engineering. Students want to choose a program that trains them in design, analysis, mechanics and structural behavior among other topics. Programs should teach students how to work with a variety of structures, such as bridges, dams and buildings, and how the environment affects and interacts with these structures.
Structural Engineering Program Overviews
Master of Science in Structural Engineering
Most program participants hold a bachelor's in engineering. Some programs admit students with bachelor's in other areas but may require additional courses to supplement the student's background. Students complete approximately 15 credit hours of study in structural and civil engineering courses.
Students may take courses in structure dynamics, prestressed concrete, bridge structures, earthquake engineering and random vibrations. Students may also be required to take a math-oriented course, such as matrix algebra, advance calculus or liner programming.
Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering
The M.Eng in Structural Engineering focuses on preparing students for professional practice as a structural engineer. Students graduating from the program may seek licensure (P.E). Licensure requirements may vary by state and information can be found on the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) website (www.ncees.org).
Programs often encourage or require students to minor in a subject with professional emphasis. The M.Eng requires about 30 credit hours of coursework. At the end of most programs, students complete a structural engineering project, often accompanied by a report or presentation.
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