There are numerous excellent Engineering Management Master’s Degree programs. Perhaps you’re struggling to choose one of them and get started on the next phase of your education. To find the right degree program for your unique situation, there are 5 sets of questions you can ask yourself that can help to narrow the field.

1. Does Your Schedule Demand an Online Degree Program, and Does the Institution You’re Considering Offer One? How Much Face-to-Face Time Will Be Required? How Much of Your Coursework Can Be Completed Online?

Time constraints are one of the most important considerations you’ll have to address when choosing a suitable degree program. If you’re already working at an engineering job, an online Master’s Degree program designed for working professionals is ideal. Online programs typically allow you the flexibility to keep your current job and complete your coursework in the evenings, on weekends and during holidays.

Even with an online degree program, it’s important to verify if any face-to-face time will be necessary to complete your required coursework. There are many engineering management programs that are available completely online. However, some may require fieldwork that needs to be fulfilled offline. Others might include in-person class trips, research or projects. It’s good to understand these obligations upfront to make sure you can plan your schedule accordingly.

It’s also important to consider the intensity of the coursework and the number of years required to earn your degree. Some programs require more credit hours than others. There are two-year degree programs, like RMIT’s online Master of Engineering (Management) program, that are extremely rigorous; there are also three-year to five-year degree programs, like Stanford’s Master of Science program in Management Science and Engineering, that allow for a comfortable pace of learning but take a longer duration of time to complete.

Your unique academic style might be better suited to a specific pace of learning. You can safely eliminate any of the degree programs that you worry you wouldn’t be able to finish quickly enough; or you could eliminate any that seem like they’d be too intense, or too lax, for your preferred pace of learning.

2. Do You Meet All the Prerequisites to Enroll in This Degree Program?

Some engineering management programs are more technical, and they require applicants to have earned an undergraduate degree in engineering. Others focus more on the management principles an engineering manager will need to know; they might require previous business management courses or experience. Some are flexible, and simply require an undergraduate degree with some relevance to either topic.

The easiest course of action when selecting your degree program is to simply eliminate all programs from consideration if your background isn’t perfectly suited to the program. However, it might also be possible to take additional coursework to prepare yourself for a specific degree program you’re interested in.

3. Will This Program Help You Achieve Your Most Important Learning Objectives?

It’s a no-brainer to eliminate any degree programs from consideration if they aren’t going to teach you the skills you really want to gain to advance your career in the specific ways you’re hoping to. If the technical aspects of engineering are what interest you most about the job, you may find it preferable to choose a highly technical degree program rather than one that focuses most on management principles. On the other hand, if you feel your management skills are weakest, it could be a mistake to choose a program that prioritizes teaching you the technical aspects of engineering over the management coursework you need most.

4. The Professors: What Are Their Research Specialties and Current Projects of Interest? Do Their Pet Projects Align Well With Your Academic Goals?

Your instructors will dramatically influence what you learn, how you learn it and your entire experience throughout the course of your learning experience. Make it a high priority to meet the professors you’ll be working with to see if their classes would be a good fit for you. You can safely eliminate any programs if you don’t like the professors, or if you get the feeling that there’s a mismatch between the work they’re focused on doing and the type of work you want to do in the future.

5. How Much Help Will This Institution Give You With Financial Aid? Can You Realistically Afford to Pay for the Program?

Research whether grants or scholarships are available to you through each institution you’re considering. Some programs also offer fellowships to their Master’s degree candidates, although you’ll need to carefully consider whether that’s a viable option to you given your work and academic schedule. You can safely eliminate any program that is too expensive.

By the time you’ve worked your way through this list of questions, hopefully you’ve eliminated the degree programs that obviously won’t work for you; you’re then left with a much easier choice. Hopefully this information will help you narrow it down to the best engineering management Master’s Degree program for your needs.