MEng vs MSc: What’s the Difference?
MEng vs MSc: What’s the Difference?

MEng vs MSc: What’s the Difference?

If you are considering a career in engineering, you may be struggling to decide which qualifications to work towards.

Navigating career choices and course websites can be confusing. There are often multiple route options and several terms for the same thing.

Working out the difference between MEng and MSc is one such area.

Both are degrees that are key to working in the engineering world. They both offer a similar result, in terms of leading to a master’s qualification, but each takes a slightly different approach.

Much of the decision-making process regarding which degree to choose will come down to your personal circumstances and where you see yourself in the future.

Whether you are a school leaver or a mature student, your intended area of engineering and even where in the world you want to work are important factors when it comes to deciding between MEng and MSc courses.

What Is an MEng?

An MEng, or Master of Engineering, is a degree course often chosen by those looking to embark on a career in engineering.

If you are considering becoming a chartered engineer, then you need to complete the MEng course.

As with many courses, if you are studying internationally, the MEng may go by other names.

In Europe, it is often referred to as a Diploma in Engineering, while Asian countries will offer a Master of Technology (MTech).

MEng Course Length

The length of an MEng course varies depending on where in the world you study.

In Europe, it is a four-year degree, consisting of a three-year undergraduate program and a one-year master’s.

In other parts of the world, it is classed as a postgraduate degree and would be completed after your undergraduate course. In the US, for example, it is a one-year postgraduate degree.

If you sign up to the four-year program but do not complete the master’s section of the course during the final year, then you will not be able to gain an MEng, but may well be able to graduate as BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) instead.

This will not give you the qualifications that you would need to become a chartered engineer, but will still give you options for a career in certain areas of engineering.

If you took this route and then decided that you wanted to add to your qualifications, you could go on to complete an MSc.

How and Where to Access an MEng

As with all degree-type courses, to study an MEng you must attend a specialized, accredited institution, such as a university.

Entry requirements will vary from location to location, but will usually depend on achieving specific grades on completion of high school.

This is usually calculated using a points system, where your grades are converted into points and the total value is used to confirm entry.

The exact system may vary, but in the UK, for example, this would be based on the UCAS system.

If you are studying in a country that classes MEng as a postgraduate course, you must have completed a relevant bachelor's degree course before starting the MEng.

Your bachelor’s degree would usually be focused on engineering, science or technology.

What Will You Learn During an MEng Course?

If you are studying an MEng as part of a four-year undergraduate program, you will not be expected to have any previous knowledge of engineering.

The course introduces you to engineering and offers a broad variety of specialties depending on which area of engineering you are aiming for. There are programs for everything from civil engineering to molecular engineering.

Generally, the course will be made up of a combination of units, projects and placements, giving you a well-rounded knowledge of engineering.

You are also likely to complete an industrial placement, which will give hands-on experience in the areas which you have previously covered as well as an opportunity to acquire new skills.

After completing the first three years of the MEng, you will be required to choose your specialty.

This will be what you study in your fourth year, when you will also complete a dissertation and gain first-hand knowledge from work placements.

Benefits of Choosing an MEng

Although the MEng is longer than the MSc, it is often the best choice for a career as a chartered engineer or if you want to have a more in-depth knowledge of engineering.

By studying for over four years, you will learn in more detail and gain a wider breadth of knowledge.

It is also a popular choice for those who leave school knowing that they definitely want to have a career in engineering. It gives a direct route to their chosen career path.

MEng Assessments

During the four years of studying an MEng, you will be required to undertake a variety of assessments.

These fall into three main categories:

  • Coursework
  • Practical work
  • Written work

You will also be expected to undertake regular progress assessments, end-of-year exams, oral reports and practical tests, which will help to show both your knowledge and understanding.

MEng vs MSc: What’s the Difference?
MEng vs MSc: What’s the Difference?

What Is an MSc?

An MSc in engineering is a postgraduate degree, also known as a Master of Science in Engineering. It is studied after completing a bachelor's degree.

The MSc course is popular with university students who have already been studying before deciding to change their degree path.

It is also a good choice for more senior students who previously gained a bachelor’s degree in engineering but now wish to complete a master’s to further their career.

MSc Course Length

As it is a postgraduate degree, the MSc course is shorter than the MEng.

Depending on where you choose to study, the MSc will usually take one to two years to complete.

How and Where to Access an MSc

To study for an MSc, you will need to have already completed a relevant bachelor's degree course.

This is normally a degree in engineering, science or technology.

As it is a postgraduate degree, you will need to study either full or part-time at a university or another accredited institution.

What Will You Learn During an MSc Course?

As the MSc is shorter than the MEng, you will not gain the same breadth of knowledge. This is simply because it is not possible to fit four years’ worth of knowledge into a one or two-year course.

However, the course does aim to give participants as wide a range of knowledge as possible, as well as practical skills.

Whereas the MEng devotes a certain amount of time to learning within a lecture setting, the MSc course focuses more on practical skills and gives opportunities to practice what you have learned.

Similar to the MEng, you will usually spend time working on projects and within placements.

Towards the end of the course, you will complete a final project which will require you to independently solve an engineering-related problem. This will show that you are capable of working as an engineer in your own right.

Benefits of Choosing an MSc

The MSc course is often popular with those wishing to seek a career overseas as it tends to be a qualification that is better recognized internationally.

It is also a good choice for those who already have a degree in another discipline but wish to change specialties, or for those who have an undergraduate degree but have decided that they would like to pursue a career in engineering.

Many who have a BEng will later decide to take an MSc to achieve a master’s-level qualification.

It is also popular with those who wish to further their careers but need more extensive qualifications to do so.

MSc Assessments

You will be expected to complete a range of assessments during the MSc course, including mid-unit and end-of-year examinations, coursework, laboratory exercises, and oral examinations.

These assessments will demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of all the areas covered by the course.

What Are the Key Differences Between MEng and MSc Courses?

MEng MSc
Length 4 years (UK and Europe); 1 to 2 years (US) 1 to 2 years
Type Undergraduate course Postgraduate course
Reason for studying Required for becoming a chartered engineer Beneficial if planning to work overseas
Content Specialized areas of knowledge A broad range of knowledge
Learning methods Lectures/projects/placements Projects/placements

Do Recruiters View an MEng and an MSc Differently?

As with all jobs, different recruiters in engineering will have their own preferences when it comes to hiring.

If you wish to undertake a career as a chartered engineer, an MEng is vital. Those looking for a career in research will find more benefit from an MSc.

The MSc gives a wide range of theoretical knowledge which can appeal to some employers, while others will prefer the more in-depth technical knowledge of a specific subject which is gained through the MEng.

Choosing the Right Path: MEng vs MSc

When deciding which type of course to choose, you need to weigh up a variety of options, including your intended career path and whether or not you already have a degree.

If you are considering a career abroad, or potentially emigrating to another country, then an MSc could be the right choice for you as it is more internationally recognized when compared to the MEng.

For those who wish to become chartered engineers, the MEng will be the better choice.

While it is possible to become a chartered engineer with an MSc, it is generally considered easier to achieve accreditation if you have an MEng.

If you are aiming to become a chartered engineer, it is worth noting that, even with your degree, you will need to meet the requirements for chartered-engineer status (CEng).

Many courses will meet the requirements, but it is always worth making sure.

Final Thoughts

When looking into which course is right for you, you will need to consider what you wish to gain from studying.

Each course has its benefits, but one will be more suited to your individual circumstances and preferences.

Both courses will offer you the option to pursue a PhD in the future if you wish to do so.

Whichever route you decide to take, there will be plenty of opportunities for future employment in the engineering field.