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Arkansas State University

MBA or MEM for an Engineering Career?

For an aspiring French chef who is passionate about advancing the art of cooking coq au vin and ratatouille, attending a general culinary school is not an option. It is either Le Cordon Bleu or bust.

Similarly, for engineers who feel the same commitment to engineering, but want to move up into roles of greater authority, a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) is the preferred degree. This comprehensive graduate engineering degree blends engineering skills with the business knowledge required to develop innovative solutions to complex problems.

Whereas the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree prepares graduates for leadership roles in a broad range of industries and functions, an MEM provides both broad and focused training. With a concentration of courses dealing specifically with engineering management concepts and concerns, this degree prepares graduates for technical leadership roles. It provides a deeper foundation in the skills required to manage engineers and emerging technologies, while assessing business needs and devising appropriate solutions.

A look at a typical curriculum for an MBA in comparison to the Arkansas State University Online Master of Engineering Management degree program reveals the difference in training. An MBA curriculum provides a broad-based, flexible and versatile business education, while the MEM curriculum provides the broad foundation along with specific expertise that employers in engineering firms require of leaders. This training is often in great demand, which explains the high six-figure salaries many engineering leaders command.

The MBA Curriculum

The MBA has become the predominant post-graduate degree around the world and within the United States. Because of their ubiquity and broad-based approach to advancing careers, “MBAs are no longer rare, and as such are no longer a guarantee for employment,” according to The Economist.

With reputable universities across the United States and around the world offering executive, full-time, part-time, and online Master of Business Administration degree programs, you would expect to find some diversity and commonalities in course offerings.

The following are the common course clusters (and sample common courses within each), according to the Graduate Management Admission Council:

  • Economics (Macroeconomics, Managerial Economics, Microeconomics).
  • Finance and Accounting (Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting).
  • Information Systems (Management Information Systems, Competing in Networked Environment).
  • Marketing (Marketing Management, Marketing Strategy).
  • Operation and Supply Chain (Operations Management, Supply Chain Management).
  • People and Government (Organizational Behavior/Leadership, Strategic Management).
  • Statistics and Decision Science (Analysis for Managers, Statistics).

The Arkansas State University Online Master of Engineering Management Curriculum

This top-ranked MEM curriculum is designed for engineers on management career paths as well as those managing technology in engineering, manufacturing and high-tech organizations. In short, these are the skills required to lead in technology-based organizations.

To enable a comparison with a typical MBA curriculum, we have broken down the curriculum for this program by cluster. The courses in bold are designed to provide graduates with engineering expertise to advance into management roles in a range of fields.

  • Finance and Accounting (Survey of Accounting, Survey of Finance).
  • Marketing (Integrated Communication Strategies).
  • Operation and Supply Chain (Operations Research, Quality Control and Improvement).
  • People and Government (Administrative Leadership, an elective).
  • Statistics and Decision Science (Analysis for Managers, Statistics).
  • Law (Survey of Law).
  • Engineering (Engineering Statistics, Engineering Management I, Engineering Management II, Special Problems in Engineering Management, an elective).

One of the primary differences between an MBA and an MEM is that the Economics, Information Systems, and Statistics and Decision Science clusters from the typical MBA program are addressed in an MEM as they pertain to engineering, in more specialized courses. Most MBA programs also include a Survey of Law course, similar to what this program offers.

As the analysis shows, if you possess the zeal for engineering management, the MEM is engineered for your career objectives.

Learn more about A-State’s online Master of Engineering Management program.


GMAC: Curriculum Variation in MBA Programs

The Economist: Nothing Special: MBAs Are No Longer Prized by Employers

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