2 February, 2016
An engineer’s degree is an advanced academic degree in engineering that is conferred in Europe, some countries of Latin America, and a few institutions in the United States.
In Europe, the engineer degree is ranked at the same academic level as a master’s degree, and is frequently known literally as an “engineer diploma” (abbreviated Dipl.-Ing. or DI). In some countries of Latin America and the United States, the engineer’s degree can be studied after finishing a master’s degree and is usually considered higher than the master’s degree but below the doctorate in engineering (abbreviated Dr. Ing.) in Europe. In other countries of Latin America, there is no proper engineer’s degree, but the title of Ingeniero(engineer, abbreviated Ing.) is used for bachelor’s graduates in the context of an undergraduate degree.
In the United States, the degree of engineer or engineer’s degree is the least commonly attained advanced degree in engineering. It is usually preceded by a master’s degree and is not a prerequisite to a doctoral degree, serving instead as a terminal degree. The availability of degrees and the specific requirements vary significantly between institutions and between specialties within an institution. In the past, it was not uncommon for a would-be engineer to get an engineer’s degree as their first and only college degree. But since World War II this has fallen out of favor, and it becomes continually more challenging to find a school that offers this option. It is worth noting that Regulation and licensure in engineering in the U.S. usually needs an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) engineering program accreditation, which is only granted to bachelor degrees and, rarely, master’s degrees.
For graduate students in engineering, the two-year master’s degree is most commonly followed by a traditional research doctorate (Ph.D.). However, the engineer’s degree offers an alternative to the doctorate for professional engineers rather than academicians. Some graduate programs such as those offered at Stanford, Caltech and the Naval Postgraduate School require a thesis for the engineer’s degree but the research requirements are usually less than those of Ph.D. candidates and more comparable to those of master of science students. Other universities such as Santa Clara University do not have a particular research requirement. For this reason, some consider an engineer’s degree to be on a level between a master’s degree and a doctorate.
A degree with some form of the word engineer or engineering in the title is not automatically an engineer’s degree. Particularly, a “Master of Engineering” (M.Eng.) or “Engineering Doctorate” (Eng. D) degree is not an Engineer’s degree, nor is any other bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Rather, the engineer’s degree is in a category of its own. For example, a student with a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering might next earn the degree Electrical Engineer. The person would then have a B.S. in E.E., a M.S. in E.E., and an E.E. degree. The former two are degrees in engineering, and only the latter degree is actually an Engineer’s degree.