Engineering Degrees – The Four Qualifications of Engineering

An engineering degree is required for anyone wishing to become a qualified engineer. While the course structure and subjects may vary depending on each university, the following qualifications are standard for all English language countries. Some countries include professional accreditation as part of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, while some require an additional qualification for a bachelor’s graduate to be considered a professional engineer.

All engineering degrees are challenging and require a significant time commitment in comparison to most other university courses. If you are unsure about the type of degree you should choose, it is a good idea to scan job advertisements to identify the qualifications required for the positions that interest you.

Bachelor (4 years)
A Bachelor of Engineering is considered the minimum academic requirement for any student wishing to work as an engineer. All students get the opportunity to choose and complete a major project during a bachelor’s degree. The project is self-directed and allows you to apply the concepts learned throughout the course. Typical length for this course is 4 years, which usually includes some form of industry placement in an engineering company.

Any further study beyond a bachelor’s degree is known as a graduate or postgraduate course. Postgraduate courses in engineering are divided into two main categories: Masters and Doctor (PhD) dissertations.

Master (5 – 6 years)
A Master of Engineering can be completed in two options; by research or coursework. Coursework involves taking an advanced series of classes in a chosen discipline, allowing you to further enhance your knowledge and gain a more in-depth understanding of technical concepts and applications. Masters by research involves undertaking a somewhat small project and producing a thesis detailing the work you have undertaken. The aim is to research and develop a new technique (or addition to an existing technique) that does not exist in the technical literature. This is similar to a PhD, but less innovation is required (due to the smaller time constraints).

Doctor – PhD (7 years)
The Doctor of Engineering (PhD) is the king of all engineering qualifications. The main purpose is to produce a thesis detailing the new research that you have undertaken, similar to the masters by research but much more innovation and contribution is required. A PhD by coursework can be undertaken, although it is not very common. To complete a PhD will usually require three years (full-time) to complete in addition to the four-year bachelor’s degree. Universities require students to maintain excellent academic records to be considered for a PhD.

Diploma (1 – 3 years)
Engineering Diplomas are a fantastic alternative to those unable to meet the entry requirements of a bachelor’s degree. The diploma features more practical coursework than the degree programs and is usually broader in its content. Diplomas may be a valuable qualification in some countries, while it is often used as a doorway program for entry into a Bachelor’s degree. In most cases a sustained level of academic excellence in a Diploma is required for a student to then transfer into a degree course.


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