When 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: payscale.com)
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.
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