Industrial engineering focuses on the optimization of complex systems and processes. Sometimes industrial engineers are referred to as manufacturing engineers, as many focus on complex machinery that are involved with the manufacturing process.
Industrial engineers also use mathematical models to develop new systems and improve current ones. These engineers must also apply health and safety procedures to the manufacturing process. Because of the wide variety of skills that industrial engineers use, it is imperative that they are excellent in computer systems, mathematics, and management.
What kind of Industrial Engineering degree should you get?
The majority of graduate Industrial Engineering degrees will either be a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering. An MS is a slightly more academic program that often requires research; this degree is ideal for future PhD candidates. In contrast, an ME is considered a more professional degree that emphasizes more hands-on learning.
Both degrees can be taken either in person or online. An online degree is preferred for those who are already working and may find it difficult to take classes during a traditional schedule. Online programs allow students to complete their classwork and tests on their own time. Many are also able to complete the degree part-time.
If you’re not set on Industrial Engineering, but know you want an affordable online degree, check out College Choice’s list of the Most Affordable Online Grad Schools.
How much do people make with a degree in Industrial Engineering?
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not differentiate salaries for this career based on bachelor’s or master’s degree holders, as of May 2017 the mean salary for industrial engineers is $90,340. According to Salary, the range of a Master’s degree holder is anywhere from $119,519 to $127,000. The industries with the highest average salary include natural gas distribution ($127,720) and pipeline transportation of natural gas ($120,500).
Location by state is also an important factor when it comes to salary. The top three states with the highest mean salaries are Texas ($108,330), Washington ($106,730), and California ($106,650). Experience is also important; those who stay in the field at least 10 years can expect to receive a significant pay increase.
What can you do with a degree in Industrial Engineering?
In the beginning, most industrial engineers work for a manufacturing or production company under senior engineers. Some daily tasks include collecting and analyzing data. After a few years, engineers are able to get involved with the problem-solving process more and even move into some beginning management positions. Senior engineers are in charge of organizing and assigning tasks to other colleagues. The most successful in the field will move on to becoming senior-associates or presidents of consulting firms.
Industrial engineers work in both the public and private sector. Some common positions as an industrial engineer include management engineer, ergonomist, operations analyst, or a quality engineer. According to the BLS, jobs in this industry are expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 until 2026.
What are the requirements for a degree in Industrial Engineering?
Admission to a graduate Industrial Engineering program requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, preferably in engineering, math, or other related field. Most schools look for candidates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition to supplemental essays and letters of recommendation if applicable, students must take the Graduate Record Examination.
Within the program, students are required to take core engineering classes along with several electives depending on if they are specializing in an area. Most master’s programs are between 30 to 36 credit-hours and have either a thesis or non-thesis track. While some degrees may require a residency or internship, most online programs do not. Students can expect to finish in roughly two years depending on full or part-time status.
What are the most affordable online Master’s in Industrial Engineering?
College Choice has compiled a list of the 15 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering programs. Well we organized this list by Data was collected and compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, Payscale, the U.S. News & World Report, and individual college websites.
See our rankings methodology page.
SUNY at Binghamton
Average Net Price: $6,630
The State University of New York at Binghamton was established in 1946 to meet the needs of the veterans who returned from WWII. The college was then brought into the SUNY system. It has since been a vibrant place of innovation, excellence, and diversity. Binghamton also works to have a positive impact on the local community and state, generating about $1.5 billion yearly. The university is also recognized internationally as a premier public university, ranking #8 on Forbes’ Best Value ranking in 2016.
Binghamton’s online Master’s of Engineering in Industrial Engineering degree is a practical program designed for full-time professionals.
- Opportunity to partake in research with the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence
- Rolling fall and spring admissions
- Sample Courses: Applied Probability and Statistics, Modeling and Simulation
Some notable companies that graduates have entered into following completion of this degree include IBM, BAE Systems, and Mayo Clinic.
Louisiana Tech University
Average Net Price: $9,497
Louisiana Tech University is a Tier One public research university that was founded in 1894. Within the university lies eight research centers, all of which encourage its students at both the undergraduate and graduate level to get involved. The College of Engineering & Science, which houses its Industrial Engineering program, aims to create a culture of interdisciplinary research that solves the problems of this world. Louisiana Tech is among the Top 100 Best Values in Public Education according to Kiplinger’s magazine.
Louisiana Tech’s online MS in Engineering with a concentration in Industrial Engineering degree combines engineering practices with business knowledge.
- Ability to obtain the Six Sigma Black/Green Belt professional certifications
- Thesis and practicum course options
- Sample Courses: Facilities Planning, Engineering Computational Methods, Engineering Administration
This program is ranked among the Best Online Colleges For Value in 2018 by the SR Education Group.
New Mexico State University-Main Campus
Average Net Price: $10,213
New Mexico State University is the NASA Space Grant College that has the first Honors College in the state. As a Hispanic-serving institution, NMSU values cultural diversity and outreach. NMSU also is a major leader in interdisciplinary research, having spent about $128.8 million in award expenditures in the year of 2014. For the past five years, NMSU has been ranked among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings.
NMSU’s online MS in Industrial Engineering degree is composed of engineering management courses that prepares graduates for higher positions in their careers.
- 30 credit-hours
- Three Options: project, course-only, or thesis
- Sample Topics: Operations Research, Quality Control, Project Management
Alumni from NMSU’s Department of Industrial Engineering are currently employed at companies such as Intel, Ford, Boeing, and Texas Instruments.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Average Net Price: $11,322
The University of Michigan-Dearborn sits atop a 200-acre campus with a total of over 9,000 students enrolled yearly. Founded in 1959, one of its first three degree programs consisted of Industrial Engineering. From the 60s onward, the university expanded their degree programs, introducing education in the liberal arts. Today UM-Dearborn is a nationally recognized university, with its master’s programs being ranked #6 among Midwest public universities by U.S. News & World Report.
UM-Dearborn’s online MSE in Industrial & Systems Engineering degree is designed for experienced engineers who wish to design and improve large integrated systems.
- 30 credit-hours
- Full and part-time options
- Sample Specializations: Human Factors, Information Systems Management, Program Management
UM-Dearborn dependents can receive 50 percent off tuition and fees.
Average Net Price: $11,693
Purdue University is a nationally recognized university that began in 1862. Its College of Engineering has won numerous awards due to its excellence in teaching and outstanding research. Purdue partners with local and international schools and research institutions to encourage its students at all levels to participate in discovering new solutions to problems. In 2015, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Purdue’s online engineering master’s program #5.
Purdue’s online Master of Industrial Engineering program is a flexible degree that allows students to specialize in an area they find interesting.
- MS in Industrial Engineering or Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in Industrial Engineering
- Ability to take time off from studies and/or take only one course at a time
- Sample Topics: Operational Research, Production Systems Engineering
Purdue’s industrial engineering program is consistently among the top ten online programs for this degree according to the U.S. News & World Report.
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Average Net Price: $11,789
Texas A&M University-Kingsville provides a strong liberal arts education at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Located in the southern part of Texas, the university’s population reflects the diversity of the area. Dedicated to excellent teaching and research, A&M Kingsville spends over $820 million annually on externally funded research, impacting a large part of the state’s economy. Due to its strong academic programs, the university continues to grow. Since 2008, the number of graduating students from the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering has grown 192 percent.
Texas A&M Kingsville’s online MS in Industrial Engineering degree is an intermediate program for experienced engineers who wish to become proficient in modern engineering principles.
- Engineering Project Management Professional Certificate available
- Two Options: thesis track (30 credit-hours) or coursework track (36 credit-hours)
- Sample Courses: Supply Chain Management, Advanced Problems in Industrial Engineering
This program is ranked #9 in the nation according to the 2014 Best Graduate Online Engineering Programs ranking by the U.S. News & World Report.
University of Texas at Arlington
Average Net Price: $11,952
The University of Texas at Arlington is a rapidly growing public research university with students enrolled all around the globe. Beginning as Arlington College in 1895 in a small rural town, the university has grown to one which has over 210,000 alumni. UTA is classified as an “R-1: Doctoral Universities—High Research Activity,” whose annual expenditure exceeded $94 million in 2017. Out of that total, about $45 million is dedicated to just research in engineering.
UTA’s online MS in Industrial Engineering encourages students to learn the fundamentals of the field in addition to pursuing a specialization.
- Three options: thesis (30 credit-hours), thesis-substitute (33 credit-hours), and non-thesis options (36 credit-hours)
- Sample Courses: Dynamic Optimization, Systems Engineering, Human Engineering
- Sample Specializations: Ergonomics, Logistics, General Industrial Engineering
UTA’s College of Engineering’s programs are ranked among the best in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report.
Arizona State University
Average Net Price: $13,007
As the nation’s most innovative school, Arizona State University takes the “students-first” approach when it comes to education. Throughout their time at ASU, students are encouraged to get involved within their academic field of interests, as well as follow their outside passions. ASU offers accelerated degrees, degrees with concentrations, and online degrees. The university is also affordable, being the “Best Bang for Tuition Buck” according to the Princeton Review.
ASU’s online MS in Industrial Engineering degree develops students’ abilities to analyze and resolve problems with complex systems.
- 30 credit-hours
- 9 classes; 15 weeks per class
- Sample Courses: Simulating Stochastic Systems, Regression Analysis, Web-Enabled Decision Support Systems
This program is part of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, which is among the top 25 percent of all engineering programs in the nation.
North Carolina State University
Average Net Price: $13,066
North Carolina State University began as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1887. Today, NC State is known as “a powerhouse in science, technology, engineering, and math.” The university annually adds $6.5 billion to the state’s economy, in addition to creating new jobs and partnerships with local businesses and institutions.
NC State University’s online Master’s in Industrial Engineering degree is a professional-oriented program for students who already possess a degree in engineering or the sciences.
- 33 credit-hours
- No final exam or thesis required
- Sample Courses: Occupational Biomechanics, Applied Engineering Economy, Linear Programming
This program has four application times: fall, spring, and two in the summer. NC State is the #1 Best College for Your Money in the state according to Money.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Average Net Price: $13,340
The Georgia Institute of Technology is a leading public research institution that specializes in STEM programs and degrees. Established in 1885, Georgia Tech rapidly changed the agrarian economy at the time and pushed for more technological innovation. Today the college serves over 25,000 students, both traditional on-campus students and ones who participate in their online programs.
Georgia Tech’s online MS in Industrial Engineering degree focuses on problem-solving in the area of manufacturing and supply chain systems.
- No thesis or capstone project
- 20 students admitted yearly
- Sample Courses: Scheduling Theory, Manufacturing Systems, Biostatistics
This is the #1 graduate program according to the U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges ranking. Georgia Tech’s online master’s in engineering programs consistently rank in the top 10 by the U.S. News & World Report. They are also ranked #1 for annual return on investment (in-state) according to Payscale.
Iowa State University
Average Net Price: $13,623
Iowa State University began as an agricultural college that focused on industrializing the local economy via new technology. IA State continues to offer a technology-driven education to its over 36,000 enrolled students. Some of its famous discoveries include developing the first electronic, digital computer and the world’s highest resolution virtual reality lab.
Iowa State’s online ME in Industrial Engineering degree is a 100 percent distance learning program developed for professionals.
- 30 credit-hours
- Median completion time: 2.25 years
- Sample Courses: Wind Energy Manufacturing, Human Factors, Network Analysis
This program is offered through Iowa State’s supportive Engineering-LAS Online Learning department that provides one-on-one counseling. In addition to its excellence in innovation and teaching, IA State is a best college value in Iowa according to Money due to its affordable degrees.
Oklahoma State University
Average Net Price: $13,951
As a land-grant institution, Oklahoma State University believes in pursuing new research in order to drive economic impact and enrich the lives of the community. Research does not just involve traditional on-campus students, but also the many students that are enrolled in their online degrees. OSU Online provides flexible and affordable degrees that can be earned on a schedule that is right for you.
OSU’s online MS in Industrial Engineering and Management degree contains a strong engineering technical component as well as a portion dedicated to business practice theories.
- Three options: thesis (30 credit-hours), creative component-independent study (33 credit-hours), or creative component-coursework (33 credit-hours)
- Specializations: General Industrial Engineering, Engineering Management, Operations Research, or Supply Chain & Logistics
Students can satisfy the thesis/dissertation workshop by watching an online video of the workshop rather than participating in person. OSU reports that 87 percent graduates are full-time with an average salary of $45,000.
University of Alabama Huntsville
Average Net Price: $14,190
The University of Alabama in Huntsville is a Tier 1 public university that was founded in 1949. Within just a few months of its founding, UAH rapidly increased its enrollment and severely began to impact the economy of the town and state. Today the university sits atop a beautiful 505-acre campus that offers 16 high-tech research labs.
UAH’s online MS in Engineering with a specialization in Industrial Engineering degree takes a multi-faceted learning approach, blending theory and application in its curriculum.
- Thesis and non-thesis tracks
- Extensive research lab available
- Sample Courses: Managing Change in High Tech Organizations, Teams in Action
UAH is part of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers professional membership society. The university is also routinely ranked as having the best return on investment in the state.
University of Florida
Average Net Price: $14,761
The University of Florida is a major research institution and a powerful economic force in the state. UF currently has over 200 research centers, which has received a record number of $724 million in research award during the previous year. In addition to its impressive dedication to innovation, UF is also an affordable school that has been recognized as the #2 Best Value College in 2016 by Forbes. About 56 percent of UF students who stay enrolled during their entire college career have no debt upon graduation.
UF’s online Master’s in Industrial & Systems Engineering has flexibility in mind when it comes to its course delivery.
- No thesis required
- Partial tuition waiver for new graduate students based on academic merit
- Potential Career Areas: consulting, aerospace, finance, energy
UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering is ranked #16 by the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s best Online Public Engineering Graduate Education ranking.
Texas Tech University
Average Net Price: $15,235
Texas Tech University is classified as a one of the “Highest Research Activity” universities, pushing for meaningful research and innovative projects. Founded in 1923, it is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the western two-thirds of the state. Over 37,000 students are enrolled today at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Its online college has been ranked nationally for its quality programs. In 2018, Texas Tech is ranked as having the #1 best online college in the state according to Guide To Online Schools.
Texas Tech’s online MS in Industrial Engineering degree is an individualized academic program for advanced engineers.
- 30 credit-hours
- Two options: thesis and non-thesis
- Sample Specialty Areas: Engineering Management, Manufacturing and Quality Assurance, Operations Research
Students can conduct a senior design project for three credit-hours in which they synthesize communications, professionalism, and ethics.