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New master’s of engineering degree at NMSU offers flexibility, benefits to students, working engineers


The College of Engineering at New Mexico State University offers a program specifically designed to help those who already have a bachelor’s degree in engineering earn a professional master’s degree, formally called a Master’s of Engineering or M.E.

The flexible M.E. degree can be earned for any engineering discipline offered in the college and can be pursued on-campus or online with many of the courses offered via NMSU Global and more being added going forward.

The M.E. differs from the traditional Master of Science degree in that it is all course based, typically requiring 10 courses, or 30 credit hours. Five of those courses must be taken within the major being pursued with the remaining five courses chosen to fit specific student interests.

“The M.E. provides a roadmap for a multi-disciplinary degree,” interim College of Engineering Dean David Jauregui said. “It can be structured at the discretion of the student and adviser, and this flexibility applies across the board for all of our M.E. degree programs. A traditional M.S. degree focuses more in a specific area through courses mainly from a specific engineering discipline. The M.E. degree is broader and more accessible, offering breadth of courses designed to fit the professional objectives of the student. Courses may be taken from other engineering departments or outside the college with the approval of an adviser.

“For example,” Jauregui explains, “a student working toward an M.E. in civil engineering will take at least five of the 10 classes in areas related to civil engineering. If the student is interested in project management, they may take the remaining courses in industrial engineering, such as topics in engineering administration, advanced engineering economics or systems engineering. Such courses provide a broad background that apply to all the degrees.”

The benefits are many.

One benefit for current students is that New Mexico offers full-tuition scholarships via a STEM Graduate Fellowship to full-time graduate students who have graduated from a New Mexico high school. It works much like the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship for undergraduate students. The M.E. would be a fast track for engineering students who want to continue after completion of their undergraduate degree.

Adriana Rios Miranda graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in December 2023 and began working on her M.E. this spring.

“I believe it will help me make a smooth transition to the work force. As a graduate student, you take fewer classes and have more time to work and gain experience. I also think it will not hurt to have a master’s degree; it would actually increase my probability of being hired and along with that enhance my salary,” said Miranda, who also works in the College of Engineering. “I will have more knowledge than what I had as a bachelor student. I will also have more work experience because I had an additional summer as a student that I can take advantage of by completing another summer internship.”

The M.E. is particularly useful for engineers already working in disciplines, such as civil, surveying, electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering, which require state board licensure. This degree would count as one year toward New Mexico’s four-year state requirement of working under the supervision of a professional engineer. Gaining licensure can often garner a 10 to 20% boost in salary, and some employers will foot the bill for higher-education programs.

“Recently, we’ve been seeing many more practicing engineers enrolling in M.E. degree programs,” Jauregui said.

One of them is Luis Guigon Canseco, who recently graduated with the M.E. in civil engineering. Canseco is currently working at Horrocks, a nationwide infrastructure design firm, as an engineering information technologist in the transportation area.

“It is a great opportunity to extend the civil engineering knowledge and it is also great to find good job opportunities. It was very beneficial because I learned a lot in several diverse topics that were interesting for me that right now are very helpful in my daily work.”

Additionally, the M.E. program provides engineers already in the workforce a mechanism to further their education through online coursework. It may also satisfy professional development hours required for continuing professional licensure.

“Engineering is advancing on a day-to-day basis so it is necessary for practitioners to stay at the forefront of state-of-the-art technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, unmanned aerial vehicles, data analytics and cybersecurity; these are all becoming more mainstream in the workplace,” Jauregui said.

Not surprisingly, most employers hire students with graduate degrees at higher positions. Considering future earnings and bonuses, it makes long-term financial sense.

“I believe that the master’s degree is becoming what the bachelor’s degree was some 20 years ago,” Jauregui said. “It’s just necessary to be competitive, even for entry-level positions. A master’s degree might enable a new hire to qualify for an engineering position that is more challenging but also more rewarding.”

­­For more information about the M.E. degree, contact Umaima Al Aqutash, adviser for the program, at 575-646-3171 or