What's more beneficial? Master's in Engineering or Business Administration?

So, here’s a short synopsis of the last year and a half of my life. I got laid off of my Mechanical Engineering position soon after my daughter was born. My wife has a great job that pays well and neither of us wanted to see our daughter go to daycare, so I’ve been a full time stay at home parent.

Last July, our second child was born. I’m still a stay at home dad, but my wife and I decided that we’d rather move closer to home so our parents can see (and help out with) the kids more. And, we’ve also agreed that we’d both be happier if I were working and she stayed home with the kids - at least for the next year or two. So, I started looking for work back home.

Well, I’ve gotten a rather rude awakening when I found out that engineering jobs are quite difficult to get right now. I’ve got resumes out there all over the place. I’ve had a couple of phone interviews, but nothing in person and nothing even close to an offer.

As of now, I have 3 yrs experience in engineering and a BSME. The unemployment rate is high and apparently alot of companies aren’t even looking at the unemployed on the rare occasion that they are hiring. So, in an effort to make myself more marketable, and to grow as a person :rolleyes:, I’m going to get my master’s. Well, attempt to anyway.

So, all of that leads to my question. I know a few of my colleagues in engineering were pursuing their MBAs. It just seemed odd to me that they weren’t pursuing their Master’s in Engineering. So, which would be more useful to me and my career? Masters of Business Administration? Or Masters of Science in Engineering?

Also, does anyone here have their MSE? How challenging is it? Do I need to remember all the engineering I learned but haven’t used since somewhere between '02 and '06?

What about the MBA? What does that entail?

TIA for any suggestions.

Or, if anyone want to just give me a job - that would work too! :slight_smile:

Given that you have a family, the possibility of moving to Canada might not be in the cards. However, every second job I come across seems to be some kind of engineering position. The oils sands would snap up a mech with a master’s in second and provide piles of money for the privilege. Tasty commodities driven economy…

As an engineer currently in an MBA program, I would recommend you go for whatever you like best. It seemed to me that executive level positions would require an MBA. Frankly, your undergrad in engineering plus your experience probably gives you all the technical knowledge you’ll need if you want to pursue upper management type positions. I thought getting more hardware in engineering would limit me to…well…engineering. The MBA makes my skill set a little more diverse and, hopefully, will allow me to either quickly climb the ranks in my current company or find something somewhere else at the level I want.

If you do go the MBA route, I would recommend that you NOT get an online degree. If you’re like me, you have an utter lack of knowledge in finances/accouning/marketing and the classroom discussions with professionals from a wide array of the business world are priceless. Plus, I think online degrees are generally less credible.

The real question is this: “Will a masters get you a better job.”

I’m all for education provided YOU want it. Provided you say “I love what I’m learning and I have a need to learn more about it.” This is great.

But when your goal is a degree to earn more money or to get you a job, you need to be absolutely SURE that the time and money is going to be worth it.

One thing this recession has done is weed out the deadwood. Many former positons will never be refilled, as companies now have learned to do without them

This is what you need to do to test it out.

First of all get two Google Voice Phone numbers. If you don’t know this is basically a voicemail service but will also allow you to make calls from it, most for free.

Then pick the area code to which you will be moving and get two different resumes.

THEN, create two differnt resumes. Use fake names and use similar experience to you real resume. BUT add a masters degree in business and a masters degree in engineering.

Then wait and see if it makes any difference.

Does the addition of these degrees help? You will be able to see if having a masters will get you any more calls for interviews than you’re getting now. It may be it’s so slow no degree is going to help you.

Now if you want to get a masters to improve yourself, then do it. It’s a worth every cent, but if it’s only to get a job or more money, take a bit and research and find out if it is gonna help.

Remember don’t use your real info as someday you may need to apply to those jobs. But use a phone number in that area code and a street address.

And I know it may seem unethical, but no one is asking you to actually GO on the interview and waste people’s time, it’s basically to see if the degree will help you get more interviews

What do you want to do after you graduate?

It depends on what you want to do. If either: a) you want a complete career change away from Engineering; or b) you want to go for a high-performing job like management consulting or i-banking then you might consider an MBA. A lot of folks get MBAs because they are looking at changing careers and a good b-school program both grounds you in Business 101 and positions to you participate in their on-campus recruiting programs so you can get exposure to good companies. Also, a science/engineering background, coupled with an MBA is a classic recipe for being considered in management consulting, i-banking and other desirable jobs. They DO NOT CARE what your science/engineering major was; they care that you learned a structured, disciplined method-based approach to breaking down a problem. Coupled with a Biz 101 MBA and you can apply that disciplined approach to Consulting or Financial problems, or so the thinking goes.

So that is why the science undergrad + MBA recipe got so attractive. However you have to make sure that the b-school program you are interested in is recruited by the types of target companies you are interested in…

Hope this helps.

This really isn’t a question. Of course a masters degree will provide you with credentials that can land you a better job. That doesn’t mean someone is going to just hand you one though. I wouldn’t base your decision on trying to time the job market.

A Masters in Engineering makes more sense if you want to stay technical.

An MBA makes more sense if you want to go into management or switch careers to something like banking or management consulting.

Thanks for the advice! Based on what I’m reading here and what other research I’ve done, I’m thinking I’ll be pursuing my Master’s in Engineering - if I pursue a master’s at all. I really don’t want to get too specific about what I was doing and what I’m trying to do - or where I am or want to be. Like I said, my wife’s job is great, but if her employers knew we were trying to get out of here, it could be bad news for everyone.

But, I do like the field Im’ in and do want to stay on the technical side of things. My only real fear at this point is whether or not I can keep up with a master’s program. I’ve been out of school for a good 4 yrs. I guess I’ll take a couple of classes in the spring and see how I do.

I wouldn’t worry about that too much, unless you really struggled in school. Four years isn’t too long, and you have the great advantage of having applied this stuff to the real world, which people going straight into a masters program from undergraduate school do not. I also suspect you are more mature.

I’m glad you decided to do what you like the best. I once was a temporary second level manager, and I hated it. Far from the technical stuff, all built around budgets and other crap. Plus, it is not clear to me that MBA jobs are all that plentiful - middle managers are often the first ones to go. Hell, even the market for lawyers is bad these days.
Good luck!

Biology undergrad with an MBA from a top 20 U.S. school. My opinion is that the MBA is a ‘safer’ route, but I will admit total bias on that.

With the Biology undergrad, I was working as a lab tech in a pharmaceutical company and as myself and my co-workers all got older, got married, etc. we all decided to go for the big bucks. Some took the GRE and went to get a Ph.D., struggling for years and getting pigeon holed into esoteric areas of research. Meanwhile, some of the group took the GMAT, got MBAs in two years, and got high paying jobs in a variety of industries. Having taken both the GRE and GMAT, I can tell you the latter was also easier. While it is a sample size of one, I can tell you that my best friend was a mechanical engineer who got a Master’s of Engineering at San Diego State, which is not even that good of a school. He told me that if the Civil War was supposed to abolish slavery, that his Engineering program clearly hadn’t gotten the memo and described the experience as Hell on Earth. He ultimately still couldn’t make a decent living with it and went back for a law degree as well.

By comparison, already having a science degree, I found most of the work relatively easy, and the MBA program specifically WANTS you to have worked for a few years before going back to get some work experience. As such, I think you would actually find it easier to get into a good program (I had six years in pharmaceuticals before I went back). Now I work in defense, a totally different industry, doing business development, which was where all the money went after 9/11. With the MBA, I can also switch industries as well, so when the current mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, on to ‘energy’ or whatever the next big wave will be!

Based on my observations (and my admittedly biased view of feeling that a Master’s isn’t really worth it for mechanical engineering), it seems the people doing M.Eng programs at McGill all a) have no idea what they want to do with their lives or b) want to stay in academia. It’s theory, not practice, and you have to write a thesis too! I’m taking a combo grad/undergrad course this year in composite materials, and it’s all stresses and strains based on undergrad knowledge. The other grad level classes available area all much more math, tensor algebra and math!

If you feel you’d be a good manager or want to go more on the business side of things, then an MBA might be a better call, but honestly, around here, BEng+MBA are a dime a dozen and for technical jobs, the MBAs aren’t getting hired because it’s assumed they want to end up in management and therefore won’t stick around long enough to make it worthwhile to train them. It’s clear things are different where you are, since there are quite a lot of engineering jobs available here too, but from the point of view of someone on the cusp of graduation (but an older student, with a whole other degree and abandoned career, lest you dismiss my opinion), neither one are really worth it unless you can be pretty sure they will lead you to a specific position/job that you want.

Another thing you might want to try to get is your PE license.

I found it interesting that when I was getting my MBA in the evenings, the tech mooks at my company couldn’t really grasp the purpose of it. These were people in their late 40s or older who spent their entire careers in IT. Their understanding (like many IT people) of “career” is that they basically float from one project to another developing whatever application they were supposed to develop. At best they thought I might do something in “sales”.

An MBA opens opportunities that would normally not be open to you if you were a purely technical resource. You shouldn’t be looking at the same technical jobs non-MBAs are applying for. You should be looking at management jobs in your industry or associate jobs at consulting firms.

You can both.

I have both an MSME and an MBA and I suppose I am the bearer of gloom. I am unemployed with almost no real prospects. In my searches, I find only two kinds of jobs: Sales (almost always meaning cold sales/annoyance marketing) and programming.

The key to getting any other kind of job is either to already have such a job (in which case competitors might try to steal you) or to have some nepotism (in a broad sense) working for you. Most everyone already will tell you ‘it’s who you know’ and that is truer than even believed by the average person.

That being said, my advice to you is that which ever way you go, do whatever you can (including finding ways to blow off classwork) and be sure to meet all of the recruiters who come to campus. That is one of the few occasions you will have to meet people who are actually hiring and who are willing to look beyond their ‘nepotistic’ network. Of course, you might be more willing than I am to cold-call people through an extended network to find work. Oh! This paragraph is also in support of not doing an online MBA.

Which is more beneficial? When I got out of MSME school I got five interviews (out of ~150-200 resumes) and one job offer. After MBA school (more recent, May 2007) I have had only four events that you might even judge to be interviews and it is unlikely you would count them all. Apathy is all I find out there.

I wish I had found a way to meet the on-campus recruiters when I was an MBA student, but when the Associate Dean is directly threatening you (specifying me but also the whole class generally) with F’s and he follows through will several in the first semester, you spend a lot of time doing classwork. I ended up graduating cum laude and in Beta Gamma Sigma (a national honor society), but who cares? Not the employers. The students who did less work and got lower grades found time to meet the recruiters and they have jobs. Except of course, the student who had to leave the program because of an F. Actually, there are three students in my class who (I believe) never got regular jobs and they all ended up graduating with honors and in Beta Gamma Sigma. The repeated moral of MBA is that it shouldn’t be about classwork, it should be about making connections.

Coming out of MSME, I had little help from the school but that is because there is far less job-hunting infrastructure at engineering school than at business school. I found almost all of my submissions by myself. However, the economy was a bit better then and I low-balled myself at that job fair to ensure the offer.