Online programs in industrial engineering are unavailable at the bachelor's degree level due to accreditation issues, but these programs are available at the master's degree level. Online master's-level programs in industrial engineering may still require an on-site internship. Applying to these typically requires a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or similar field. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum educational level required to work as an industrial engineer. Some schools offer 5-year, on-campus programs that lead to both a bachelor's and a master's degree in industrial engineering.
Students who are seeking a fully online bachelor's degree will need to consider related fields of study instead of engineering. For example, online programs in logistics are available, including bachelor's degree programs in operations management with a logistics focus and in logistics and supply chain management.
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Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering
Bachelor's degrees in industrial engineering are not available in an online format. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) does not fully accredit any distance learning programs due to their inability to offer opportunities for fulfilling laboratory work requirements. Some schools may offer select coursework online, or allow students to transfer credits from online coursework at the graduate level. However, online master's degree programs are much more prevalent because they are intended for students who have already completed laboratory work in undergraduate programs.
Graduates of an undergraduate degree program in industrial engineering or a similar field can further their education entirely online with a master's degree in industrial engineering. Specific degrees offered include a Master of Industrial Engineering (M.I.E.) and a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Industrial Engineering. Students enrolled in these programs learn about subjects such as manufacturing processes, engineering management and enterprise computing.
Information and Requirements
A master's degree in industrial engineering program consists of about 30-40 semester hours. It is available entirely online, though some in-person work may be required in the form of an internship. Online materials are generally presented in an asynchronous format which allows students to watch archived lectures and work on assignments at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Students can interact with their instructors and peers through online message boards, chat rooms and e-mail.
Common Master's-Level Industrial Engineering Courses
The curriculum of a master's degree program in industrial engineering typically consists of a combination of industrial engineering core and elective courses. Additional credits come from a final project or seminar, an internship and some non-major courses.
Students learn how to apply linear programming skills to economics and engineering. Topics such as the simplex method, sensitivity analysis, integer programming and duality matrix games are examined. Special attention is paid to Lagrange multipliers, polyhedral sets and cones, decomposition principles and equilibrium prices.
This course focuses how human performance is affected by physical and psychological elements. Problems are identified in the cycle of systems development. Topics such as signal detection theory, maintainability design, human-machine function allocation and human reliability modeling are studied in depth. Methods for reducing stress and increasing productivity are examined.
The analysis of engineering factors from a financial viewpoint is the emphasis of this class. Topics such as tax and inflation, the time value of money, risk assessment and asset evaluation are defined as they relate to various engineering decisions. The criteria necessary to make those decisions and apply knowledge to real-world situations is also highlighted.
While a bachelor's degree is considered sufficient for employment in most entry-level positions, completing a master's degree in industrial engineering provides quicker entry into management, research and development positions. Additional licensure may also be required following graduation from an ABET-accredited engineering program before officially becoming a professional industrial engineer. Industrial engineers who work for the U.S. government must be licensed, but other industrial engineers typically are not required to earn the Professional Engineer (PE) credential.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015 there were 247,570 people employed as industrial engineers at all levels (www.bls.gov). An average yearly salary of $86,990 was reported. The BLS predicts an occupational growth of one percent, indicating little to no change, for industrial engineers between the years 2014 and 2024.
Continuing education credits in industrial engineering can be taken online. Courses such as global integrated systems engineering and life cycle assessment can be taken online or in blended format. Students interested in research or teaching careers in the industrial engineering field can pursue doctoral degrees online.
Bachelor's degree programs in industrial engineering cannot be found online; they typically require completion of in-person coursework. Master's degree programs in the field are available online, as well as bachelor's-level programs in related fields like logistics.