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Schools for Aspiring Ship Engineers: How to Choose

Ship engineering programs educate students on designing, constructing and repairing ships' mechanical and electrical systems. They also learn to design ports and shipyards. Ship engineers commonly have a degree in marine engineering and naval architecture.

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Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs can all prepare a student in the field of marine engineering, naval architecture or marine engineering technology. Many of these programs are offered at schools located near major bodies of water. Graduation from an ABET-accredited school is required for many professional work positions.

Top 10 Engineering Schools

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-2016)*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,431; Out-of-state $38,139
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $45,390
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $12,204; Out-of-state $32,396
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $15,054; Out-of-state $30,214
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $50,665
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $49,116
Purdue University - West Lafayette West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $10,002; Out-of-state $28,804
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,856; Out-of-state $43,476

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

When choosing a school with a ship engineering program, students may want to keep several factors in mind.

  • Associate degree programs can qualify students for some entry-level positions in marina and boatyard operations, marine electronics installation and other support services, but some engineering jobs require a master's degree, and Ph.D. programs are appropriate for would-be professors and people seeking a supervisory position.
  • Aspiring ship engineers may want to consider whether a program has been accredited by ABET, which is responsible for establishing the educational guidelines for marine engineering programs.
  • Working students may benefit from undergraduate programs that offer classes at night or permit students to attend part-time.
  • A school with a lab with marine engineering materials provides students with hands-on experience, thereby making graduates more comfortable working as an engineer.

Associate's Degree

Associate's degree ship engineering programs typically consist of 60 credit hours of study. Graduates are awarded as an Associate of Applied Science in Marine Engineering Technology or an Associate of Science in Marine Engineering. Students in these programs must complete general education, as well as field-specific coursework

Bachelor's Degree

Ship engineering bachelor's degree programs consist of 120 credit hours of general education and engineering classes. Some programs require students to complete internships or semesters at sea.

Master's Degree

Marine engineering master's degree programs typically require two years of study. Students in these programs may be able to focus their studies on marine mechanics or marine systems design. Some programs allow students to complete a comprehensive exam in lieu of writing a thesis based on original research. In addition to coursework, students complete labs covering topics such as nuclear energy or gas turbine use in ships.

Doctoral Degree

Students in these programs learn about environmental ocean dynamics and marine structural mechanics. Students must research and write a dissertation on a topic of their choice and complete written and oral examinations. The majority of Ph.D. classwork occurs in labs.

Ship engineers can opt to pursue studies towards a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in engineering. It may also be possible to pursue studies for an associate's degree, although a bachelor's or graduate degree are usually required for many positions.

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