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Should you pursue an international MS Engineering degree?

Katie Schenk - September 30, 2016

Asian Indian engineer

We wouldn’t recognise the world if we took every aspect of engineering out of it. There would be no internet or television. Skyscrapers would be a thing of the past, as would cars and trains. We would plunge into the days before the Middle Ages.

And modern engineering demands and increasing number of engineers (especially given that so many worldwide are reaching the age of retirement). It’s little wonder that engineering is a draw card for undergraduate (and, subsequently) post-graduate education. It should guarantee you a job.

Except it doesn’t.

Wait before you panic. You will certainly get a job with an MS Engineering degree; you just need to be choosy about where you study for that degree. The level of education varies between colleges and countries. And, you don’t want any old MS Engineering degree.

If you’re looking for a job for life, an increase in salary, or a career that’s as fulfilling as it possibly can be, you should consider options carefully.

Educational disparities exist

In countries with relatively few higher education institutions, you won’t find the same resources, research, professors, or opportunities that you will in areas of the world where you can barely walk without bumping into a university.

Even in countries like India where there are plenty of engineering programmes, there is a vast difference between the educational levels provided in countries like the United States.

Using those two countries as an example (though you could substitute other countries relatively easily), you can see the differences rather clearly.

In India, students pursue an MS Engineering degree to get a job for life. Universities almost exist to provide this – even though employers consistently complain that graduates just aren’t equipped for the positions they’re meant to fill.

Several factors stand in the way of skilled MS Engineering grads. For a start, there is a great deal more focus on theory than practice in the education and coursework. Because the competition for jobs is so incredibly fierce in the Indian workplace, grades and marks matter more than understanding or putting theories into practice. Research falls by the wayside which detracts high-level professors from employment at these institutions.

That’s not to say that Indian engineering programmes don’t have their merits.

Anyone focused on the theoretical aspects of engineering can easily progress to doctoral education which opens even more doors for education (albeit after additional schooling, often outside the country). And, you will secure a job because that’s what higher education in India is meant to achieve. It’s unlikely that MS Engineering grads will receive the same salary or employment opportunities as international engineering students have.

International engineering degrees are possible

So, why aren’t all Indian MS Engineering candidates considering international education? Is it really just about securing a job?

Yes and no. International engineering degrees also secure graduates jobs. They are also more likely to attract higher salaries – and certainly a network of contacts across the globe. It’s the increased cost of the study that stops many candidates from looking abroad (though there are plenty of undergraduate colleges where it’s almost known that an MS Engineering degree from an American university is on the cards).

It’s true that the costs are higher, but so are the returns. And that’s why American engineering programmes record such incredibly high rates of international students among their ranks. It also suggests that it’s possible for people from all over the world, including students from China, Ghana, India, Romania to finance this investment in the future.

Should you pursue an international MS Engineering degree?

The international experience isn’t right for every student. But, it offers more experience than a domestic degree in any country by virtue of the challenges involved. So, it’s something to consider strongly – no matter where in the world you live or want to work.

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