Frequently Asked Questions About ME-EM Online Programs

Why online from Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics?

We are experienced in online learning, we have had distance and online graduate degree and non-degree programs since 1995. The content of the program can be custom tailored to your professional interests whether it is a degree, a certificate, or non-degree courses focused in one or more areas for enrichment or to “re-tool”. Our online classes are the same as those offered on campus maintaining the rigor and pedigree of the ME-EM degree and courses. The degree that is awarded is the same as that awarded to on-campus students. Blended programs can also be designed that include online and on-campus offerings and experiences.

What are my options?

Depending on your background and academic qualifications, you may pursue an online research-based PhD, research-based MS, coursework-only MS, coursework-only Certificate, or one or more standalone courses to update or broaden your knowledge and professional stature. In some R&D environments, promotion or advancement requires an advanced degree. While the requirements for the various degree options are shown below, the commonality is that participation assures you are taking the same courses taught by the same ME-EM faculty as our on-campus students, and are being advised in your graduate program the same as on-campus students.

What are the online degree requirements?

The PhD requires a total of 30 semester credits past the MSME or a closely related technical MS. The PhD can also be pursued with a BSME or a closely related technical degree by completing a total of 60 semester credits. In each case, the total credits are combined course and research credits. An MBA, for example, does not provide the technical content at the MS level to be applicable toward the PhD. The PhD requires a rigorous research component so online students are normally engaged in research where they work or have access to research facilities or equipment. If not, they may need to come to campus to conduct the research. We have a mechanism in place to generate funds for the PhD faculty advisor to travel to the students’ site as needed. The final public dissertation defense, at minimum, must take place at Michigan Tech. More details can be found in our FAQs.

The research-based MS requires a total of 30 semester credits past the BSME or closely related technical degree. This option can be completed as a research and thesis with a minimum of 20 credits of courses, or research and report with a minimum of 24 credits of courses. Each option requires a research component similar to, but not as extensive as, the PhD. Nevertheless, the student should be in a research-type environment. We have a mechanism in place to generate funds for the MS faculty advisor to travel to the students’ site as needed. The final public thesis or report defense, at minimum, must take place at Michigan Tech. More details can be found in our FAQs.

The coursework-only MS requires 30 semester credits of courses past the BSME or closely related technical degree. This option does not have a research component and has no requirement to visit Michigan Tech during the degree. More details can be found in our FAQs.

How long does it take to complete a degree?

There is no single answer to this question except perhaps, how motivated are you? While working, we recommend online students take no more than a single 3-credit course per semester, or 1-3 research credits per semester. Graduate courses are more rigorous and normally require a greater commitment of time and energy than undergraduate courses. So, the basic math would say that the MS options take a minimum of 10 semesters (approximately three full time calendar years) to complete. There is a 5-year limit for the MS. The PhD is even more uncertain because of the prior degree options and the conduct of the PhD research. There is an 8-year limit on completing the PhD.

What are other online opportunities?

We currently have the Graduate Certificate in Automotive Systems and Controls that relies on ME-EM courses and can be pursued online. Certificates require a total of 15 semester credits of courses from a structured list. A student pursuing a Graduate Certificate does not need to pursue a graduate degree; however they are required to be admitted to the Graduate School and to the specific certificate program of interest. A Certificate can be pursued in conjunction with a degree program or as a standalone program. More details can be found at Degree Schedules for Graduate Certificates and at Policies and Procedures for Certificate Programs.

Students who want to enrich or broaden their knowledge and get university credit for doing so can take online courses as a non-degree seeking (NDS) student. Details on NDS status can be found at Admissions Options for Prospective Students.  If an online student successfully passes courses and later wants to pursue a certificate or a degree, up to 1/3 of the course credits required for the certificate or degree (MS and PhD included) may be taken as a NDS student. This approach allows students to again familiarize themselves with the rigors of advanced courses prior to formal pursuit of a degree

How are exams and other graded work handled in online courses?

Routine assignments such as homework are normally scanned by the online student and uploaded to the course website. Should a computer program be required, that too can be uploaded as an executable file. Exams must be proctored with procedures approved at the start of the course. If the online student is working, the proctor is typically someone in the company’s HR or training organization. It may not be a relative or family member. Exam proctoring is also offered by many public libraries, sometimes for a small fee. In any event, the proctoring arrangements must be in place by the time the course starts. More detailed information is located at Testing Center Proctors.

What are the costs of online courses and degrees?

Online courses have the same basic tuition and fees costs as on-campus courses. There isn’t a differential between resident and non-resident tuition. There is however an additional technology fee that supports the equipment and network costs to place courses online. Tuition and fees are updated annually at Cost of Education Calculator. The cost of a 3-credit course would be 3-times the per-graduate-credit rate, plus the online technology fee (currently $38 per credit).  While it varies, many companies pay for employees to pursue online graduate degrees or certificates related to the technical aspects of their jobs.

Can courses taken at another university count toward a Michigan Tech online graduate degree?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Each situation will be different and there are several restrictions that come into play. First, a student can transfer no more than 1/3 of the non-research credits (course credits) required for a graduate degree. For all of the degrees and options, this is never more than 10 semester credits, and may be fewer for MS thesis or MS report options. Secondly, no course may be transferred with a letter grade lower than B or 3.0/4.0 scale. The third point is whether the course content is still technically relevant. In any event, credit transfer requires official transcripts to be sent and the course content to be reviewed prior to the credit transfer. If the course(s) were awarded as quarter-term credits rather than semester credits, then the semester transfer equivalency is 2/3 of the quarter credits, rounded down to the nearest credit.

Are degrees, certificates, and courses offered outside the US?

At present we offer these programs within the US and those residing in Canada or Australia. This is due to various legal agreements and restrictions too detailed for here. If however you are working and living in the US and have a temporary job assignment outside the US, courses can still be pursued during that time with proper prior arrangements. More details are at State Authorization on the Online Website.