Can You Get A Doctorate In Engineering

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 8 minute read

Getting a doctorate takes years of hard work and sacrifice. Additionally, engineering doctoral students must make a major decision on the sort of Ph.D. program they will enroll in.

It’s possible to get a Ph.D. in philosophy, but you can also get a Ph.D. in engineering, which is called an EngD or Deng degree.

Inevitably, there are some parallels between the Ph.D. and EngD tracks. A terminal degree is the greatest level of academic study one may get.

A doctorate in engineering might help you progress in your career, but the distinctions between the two Ph.D. degrees can be rather substantial. 

If you choose the Doctor of Engineering degree over the Ph.D. program, some of the advantages include a stronger focus on practical application in professional engineering practice, more extensive preparation for industry job opportunities, and differences in when students undertake doctoral study and how long it takes to earn your degree.

What Is a Doctoral Degree in Engineering?

Everyone has heard of the Ph.D., the most well-known doctoral degree outside of those offered to physicians by medical institutions to the majority of people.

An academic doctorate is known as a Ph.D., and it can be earned in a wide range of academic disciplines. While many PhDs go on to engage in academic research, this is not the case for all PhDs.

For many engineers, the Doctor of Engineering degree is an excellent alternative to the Ph.D. Eng. Ds are doctorate degrees with a focus on practice rather than research.

As a result, they place greater emphasis on the practical application of technical knowledge and research than on the theoretical advancement of the discipline. 

Professional engineers who are looking to further their careers in industry rather than academics can consider pursuing a Doctor of Engineering (Ph.D.) degree.

There were 10,476 engineering PhDs awarded in 2020, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

Doctor of Engineering vs. Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

In order to get a Doctor of Engineering or a Ph.D. in engineering, you must complete rigorous coursework that goes deep into a specific engineering field and hone your research abilities.

However, there is little doubt that these degrees range greatly, notably in their areas of specialization, the employment prospects they prepare graduates for, and the length of time it takes to achieve the doctoral degree.

Professional versus Research-Oriented

The Eng. D is a professional degree, but the Ph.D. is a research degree, and this is the most significant distinction between the two.

Doctor of Philosophy degrees focuses on engineering theory and scholarship, with an emphasis on original research that might take years to complete.

In the field of engineering, a professional doctorate, also known as an applied doctorate, aims to provide students with advanced knowledge and practical experience. In certain cases, EngD degree programs are provided in a variety of specializations.

For example, a doctorate in engineering management might help you advance your career in a leadership position.d, According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing business employs more engineers than any other industry in the United States, with more than 578,000 engineers working there. 

Doctor of Engineering degrees is also available in engineering fields such as biomedical, civil, electrical, chemical, or mechanical. This is similar to pursuing a PhD in a specific engineering field.

A professional doctorate in engineering degree focuses on studying and using research and theory to address real-world industrial issues.

Not to argue that students in a doctoral program don’t have to undertake research. You may be required to write a dissertation for your EngD degree exactly as you would for a standard Ph.D. degree, depending on your engineering school. 

However, gaining an EngD degree does not prepare you for a career in theoretical research and academics, but rather teaches you how to be a technical leader.

As part of a Doctor of Engineering degree program, students may be required to submit their designs and blueprints as well as their user guide or computer simulation in order to get a patent for their inventions. 

Aspiring entrepreneurs may use this engineering resume to show off their abilities and vision to potential employers or investors if they want to establish their own company.

Alternative Employment Opportunities

Engineering PhDs were traditionally reserved for those who wished to pursue tenure-track university or industry research positions. 

They were engineers that worked in private enterprises and the corporate sector that sought a doctorate in engineering.

Although this degree may theoretically allow engineers to teach at the college level, the majority of them instead pursued advanced engineering practice roles or leadership positions.

However, the differences between a professional doctorate and a Ph.D. in terms of career consequences are not as clear-cut as they used to be.

In the corporate sector, some PhDs work, whereas, in academia, certain EngDs are hired for research and teaching positions. 

Because of the similarity in job prospects, engineering’s two Ph.D. programs are a good indicator of the field’s breadth.

In addition to making it easier for potential doctoral students to determine whether they want to pursue a Ph.D. or an EngD, it also makes it easier for them to avoid limiting their future choices by picking the wrong educational path.

As a general rule, if you’re interested in performing new research, a Ph.D. is the best option, whereas students who want to advance in the workplace choose a Doctor of Engineering. 

With an EngD, you’ll be well-prepared for a senior-level position because of your extensive technical training and understanding.

Engineering directors and program managers, both of which need strong leadership qualities, can benefit greatly from this training as well.

The source of research financing is another difference between the two-degree tracks. Students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering are more likely to receive support from business or the public sector than those pursuing a Ph.D.

Variations in Timing and Degree Duration

Another distinction between the EngD and Ph.D. degrees is the amount of time it takes a student to complete their undergraduate education and the time it takes an engineer to begin their doctorate work.

A professional doctorate in engineering usually takes at least three years of study, but this is still much less time than a Ph.D. program takes.

Despite the fact that Ph.D. programs are typically intended to last between three and five years, they can go longer.

According to CBS News, the typical doctorate student completes their Ph.D. in more than eight years, and just 57% of Ph.D. students complete their studies within the 10-year time limit.

They usually drop out of school if they don’t earn their Ph.D. degree within this time period. Often they have nothing to show for their years of hard work and dedication.

The shorter the time it takes to complete a degree program, the better your chances of completing it on time. Earning a degree in a shorter amount of time can save you thousands of dollars in additional tuition and fees, which can add up rapidly. 

Because you can put your doctorate to work sooner, you’ll get a return on your investment in graduate school more quickly.

For those who aim to work in business rather than academics, there is an opportunity cost to taking time out of employment while attending school. Reduce this opportunity cost by reducing the length of your schooling.

Another factor that affects the timeline of an engineering Ph.D. is the amount of time it takes to complete your dissertation.

Graduates pursuing an EngD vs. Ph.D. degree generally start their studies at different ages and stages in their careers.

For the most part, graduate students pursuing a typical Ph.D. degree begin their studies early in their professional lives. 

Typically, this involves delaying their entry into labor by a few years. There are many working professionals that enroll in a Doctor of Engineering degree.

As a result, these doctorate candidates have a wealth of professional experience at their disposal. In many cases, students who are seeking a professional Doctor of Engineering degree are utilizing it as a stepping stone to senior-level positions.

As a rule, students who begin their doctoral study at age of 25 are 33 when they complete their degrees, and their professional backgrounds are often lacking in comparison.

In contrast, many EngD students are in their late 30s or early 40s when they begin their doctoral studies, but they bring with them a wealth of practical experience from their previous positions. 

As a result, freshly enrolled EngD students may be older than Ph.D. grads in their profession, but they are still likely to spend less time in school overall and have greater job experience.

As reported by U.S. News & World Report, a large percentage of students who begin Ph.D. courses in engineering never complete them.

What to Anticipate from Doctor of Engineering Programs

Some of the most rigorous upper-level coursework at a university may be found in engineering Ph.D. programs.

Doctoral students can expect to finish a different curriculum based on the institution they attend and the engineering subject they choose to specialize in.

Because many Ph.D. programs allow for a great deal of specialization and customization, the coursework you attend may be tailored to your specific interests.

It’s possible for an engineering management student to attend classes on entrepreneurship and technology as well as logistics planning as well as research formulation for the development of technology commercialization as well as applied optimization modeling as well as uncertainty analysis. 

Students seeking a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering may focus on the fundamentals of systems engineering, systems engineering processes, systems engineering leadership and innovation, engineering project and program management, and engineering risk analysis.

There are a wide variety of electives and depth or emphasis courses that these students can pick from, ranging from cyber security to wind power grid integration.

Only a portion of a doctor of engineering program is devoted to classroom and laboratory instruction.

In most cases, students in these programs get the chance to put what they’ve studied into practice through praxis research or an internship with a business or government agency. 

In most cases, the student works with an adviser to select a research topic and then invests a significant amount of time and effort—though not necessarily on the same level as you might find in a Ph.D. program—to perform this study. 

Doctor of Engineering degree programs that require an internship instead of praxis research may demand an internship that lasts up to a year.

To get the most out of your Doctor of Engineering degree, you’ll need to make sure that all of your coursework, lab work, research projects, and professional internships complement one another.

There are a variety of factors to consider, not just EngD vs. Ph.D. programs, that determine whether you need a master’s degree before moving on to doctorate study. In certain cases, institutions offer courses that combine the two models. 

Students who have already achieved a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) are generally expected to take graduate-level technical elective coursework prior to applying to a Ph.D. program in engineering. If you’re comparing Doctor of Engineering programs, keep this in mind. 

A shorter EngD degree program is likely to require students to already have a master’s degree, which means that you may be looking at another one to two years of study—and maybe even more, if you take a master’s degree part-time—than what the Doctor of Engineering program actually includes.

An EngD student may alternatively work on a project or practice research instead of writing and defending a dissertation.

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