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Master of Engineering Management (MEM) vs MBA

ISB vs IIM: Which is betterWhen it comes to choosing an international post-graduate (Masters) degree, not many would be familiar with the MEM (Master of Engineering Management) degree. This degree may not have got enough traction as it caters to a specific educational background.

The MEM degree can provide a good blend of advanced technical knowledge and expertise along with the required management concepts and business knowhow. For engineers looking for an advanced degree, the MEM promises to provide the best of both worlds, a claim that in our opinion should be taken with a pinch of salt.

On the one hand, it can hone your leadership & business management skills to help you take a leap in your career and reach senior management positions within the engineering industry. You could also explore opportunities within other businesses that may have tech-centric roles.

The MEM program is known by different names. Some may call it MSEM (Master of Science in Engineering Management), others may call it SDM (System Design & Management) or Master’s in Technology Management.

However, the ever-so-popular MBA degree too sees a lot of candidates coming from engineering (or STEM) backgrounds.

If you’re in two minds about which one (MEM or MBA) would be a better choice, then read on. We’ve provided insights into what each of these programs has to offer so that you’d be better equipped to decide which one would suit your long-term career goals.

MEM or MBA: Which is better for you?


1. Educational background

The MEM degree is mainly suited for those with their graduation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degree. It serves as a good post-graduate degree choice for engineers (primarily) or those wishing to take their career higher in the technology area. The MEM course offers management and leadership skills with a focus on technical disciplines.

An MBA, on the other hand, is a good option for graduates from any background, though we’d see an overload of STEM graduates crashing the party here as well.

2. Work experience requirement

If you’re planning to head straightaway for your post-graduation without any work experience, there are several MEM programs including the ones offered by Cornell university, Dartmouth college, Duke university, Stanford, University of South California. These universities do not require candidates to have any work experience. There are others like MIT that do have a minimum work experience criteria.

For applying to the top MBA program in the US, you’d need to demonstrate good work experience of at least 2-3 years inorder to get into a good b school.

3. Duration and cost

Most of the MEM programs including those offered by top universities like Duke, Cornell, Dartmouth among others can be completed within a period of 12-15 months. The tuition fees would be in the range of $50,000 – $60,000; the cost of living would also work out to be lower due to the shorter duration of the course.

However, a two-year full-time MBA program offered by the reputed US business schools would cost you close to $100,000 or above for the tuition fees in addition to the cost of living.

4. Course content

The MEM degree is an engineering degree offered in close collaboration with the associated business school. The curriculum is designed to provide students the right mix of advanced engineering courses with core business courses. These include among others operations and supply chain management, product design and development, technology strategy, product marketing, entrepreneurship along with finance and management related topics.

The MBA program has a comprehensive coverage of a wide variety of topics and does not particularly concentrate on technology or any particular area. The various aspects covered include finance, accounting, operations management, marketing, organisational behaviour, economics, corporate finance, strategy and leadership. You can opt for electives of your choice to specialise and explore a particular subject of your interest.

5. Career scope

The MEM’s multidisciplinary curriculum aims at providing a technology focus combined with the management perspective. This helps you develop skills that’ll facilitate a well-integrated approach so that you can use your acquired business skills along with your engineering background to lead projects and take the right decisions mainly in the technology area.

You need to introspect and explore where your long-term interest and comfort zone lies. If the technical area is where you see yourself, then this course is for you.

You can choose to work in a wide variety of industries and functions including technology, energy, healthcare/pharma, financial services, consumer goods, database engineering, manufacturing and design, quality assurance, research and development, systems engineering, staff systems, project management and in a variety of roles including that of an analyst (systems analyst, data analyst, business analyst), associate positions (rotational leadership associate, risk management associate) or you may start your own venture.

With an MBA, you can work in a variety of areas including technology, finance, marketing, strategy, operations or human resources. You take up a job in a new functional role within the same industry or make a complete shift to take up a role in a new industry after completing your MBA.

6. Salary comparison

The salaries after completion of MBA or MEM would depend on numerous factors, most importantly, your prior work experience in the field. In general, students pursuing MEM tend to be younger whereas MBA graduates have a greater work experience, so the salaries would vary accordingly.

The average salary for MEM grads ranges from $78,000 to $110,000. For MBA grads, the post-MBA salary would be highly variable and can start from $46,000 for junior positions like financial analyst and could go upto $224,000 for senior positions like CFO. (Source:

MEMPC: An introduction

The Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium (MEMPC) is a small group of some of the well-known MEM programs. Their aim is to spread awareness about the program and share some of the best practices as well as curriculum and networking.

In case you’re passionate about continuing to work in the technology area, go ahead with the MEM as you can leverage the knowledge and experience gained through this program for the years to come.

For those interested in MEM, do look out for our next post in which we’ll cover more on the various universities that offer the MEM course.

Related posts:
Top MS in Engineering Management (MEM, MSEM) programs with low GRE score
MS in Software Management at CMU Silicon Valley campus vs MBA vs MEM
MBA vs Masters in Management: Which is better?
MBA or MS after engineering ( B.Tech / B.E. )
CFA or MBA: Which is better?
MBA vs MIB (Master of International Business) – Which is better?

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About Swati
After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.

19 thoughts on “Master of Engineering Management (MEM) vs MBA”

  1. Hi Sameer ,

    Have heard a lot about you and I require your valuable insights for my higher study decision. I am writing to seek your help regarding the MEM course in USA.
    Below is a brief about my profile followed by certain doubts.

    BTECH: DCE 2014 67%
    Current employer : PwC (Consulting )
    GRE : 323
    TOEFL: 110
    I understand that this course is not at par with the traditional MBA however my inclination towards this course is due to the fact that it is much less costly than the MBA and also the MBA requires typical 4-5 years of work ex which I do not have as of now.

    Generally speaking this course would cost me somewhere around 30-35 lakhs (INR) and would be going for loans for this kind of money Would require specific inputs from you on the following points:

    Could you provide me with more information on this course –MEM- as to how good is this course in terms of placements. ? Is it a good decision for me to go for MEM rather than MBA as of now ?

    Also please provide any other inputs which you think might help me

  2. Heyy!! I have done my BBA in may 2015 with 68% ..but I have dropped my 1 year after my graduation..
    Now I want to do mba in abroad but I have no experience…so plzz tell me what is the procedure in detail, and fee structure

  3. Hi,

    I have two years of experience as a Software Engineer with GMAT score-720. I want to pursue MBA.
    How good are my chances?
    Should I be considering programs like MiM and MeM as well?

  4. @Vertika: For an MBA the experience requirements are higher than for MeM. Work for a few years before preparing for MBA applications. here are the details you wanted: MBA abroad requirements and entrance exams.

    @Priety: The MBA degree is meant for students with experience, unlike other Masters degrees like MiM and MeM. Find out more about each before you decide which one best fits your career goals.

  5. In most of the colleges the mem course is for a year. Would that be a problem for me if i intend to come back to India and work after completing the course? If i am not wrong the AIU decided to not recognize courses with duration less than 2 years in UK. Can something similar happen here?

  6. I have a experience of 2 years and m willing to do a MEM degree because I have an engineer background and also my current job profile is technical.
    Should I opt for an MBA instead?

  7. Have completed btech in Production Department started working at hero motors tell me how much work experience would be required to pursue masters in engineering management in canada

  8. Does MEM requires bachelor’s in mechanical? Because most of the electives that I’ve seen in some programs are related to mechanical. I have my undergrad in ECE. Can I opt for MEM?

  9. hi sir ,iam preethi .iam interested to do engineering and management in MS at parents are asking that y cant u do that in indian universities.according to my search ,i came to know in india engineering and management is offered as an MBA course.i want u to give me gud points that to make my parents understand that doing in ms is more proficient than in mba(india)

  10. @Tanmay: We’ve covered this in point 5 of the article. Apart from that check out the official websites of MEM programs where you can find more details about the salaries, type of jobs and companies where their MEM graduates have joined.

    @Preethi: Your parents are asking a very valid question. They probably know that the risks involved in an international degree are far greater than an Indian degree. If you do not have a solid rationale to give them, it wouldn’t be right to ‘outsource’ (for lack of a better word) the job of convincing them. Spend some time talking to folks who’ve chosen India and UK. Ask them about their experiences. That should give you enough insights to be able to take a decision, either ways, and convince your parents too.

    • Zoheb – Companies do not hire you for your degree – they hire you for what you can do for them. Will a VC firm hire you? Likely not as a VC unless you have experience. But – will they put you to work helping? Yes. Degrees do not matter. Many VCs are actually lawyers anyway.

      To work with a VC firm, I would focus on helping and getting involved in your entrepreneurial community wherever you are. Be part of the ecosystem of startups. The VCs will be there so you will get to know them. Also, start reaching out on LinkedIn to connect with VCs and start meeting them and asking for advice.

      While I run an Engineering Management program and have an MBA – I can tell you that no one really cares about degrees – they are a tool to learn. The best thing you can learn is to connect. Do that and you will be with a VC soon enough.


  11. I am a student willing to pursue masters after my bachelor’s degree in mechanical.My current % is 68,which is the best egg and management course to pursue.

  12. I am an engineer and have an experience of 8 years in an engineering firm where I was involved in both technical and managerial works. Though my inclination is towards technical courses, I’m afraid that pursuing MEM and getting a job after won’t do justice with my 8 years of experience and will land me in a junior position and less salary than what an MBA degree might help me get.

  13. Could you please tell me if the M Sc in Engineering Management at George Washington University (in Washington DC) is a good program?

  14. I have graduated as a EEE engineer and have 2+ years of experience in business development in Schneider electric mainly on the automation products, I am planning to perceive my masters but I am not sure to take up a complete technical subject which would deviate from my work experience or to take up some course like MEM which would go in hand with my work experience.

    Please help me decide upon something, Thanks in advance for your valuable inputs


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