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Study a graduate program in electrical engineering

What will I study in a graduate electrical engineering program?

Electrical engineering is, as you might suspect, all about electrical power. Engineers in these fields are involved in everything from the latest smart phone, to the energy supplies that make large-scale manufacturing possible.

When completing an electrical engineering postgraduate course, you can choose to specialise in electronics, which is engineering of smaller electrical technology such as computers, or electrical which is larger-scale and industrial.

Common electronics topics include: analogue and digital circuit design, wireless technologies, nanofabrication, computer programming and signals processing.

Common electrical topics include: different methods of energy generation and transmission, magneto-statics and electrostatics, and electrical installations in building design.

Within electronics and electrical engineering, you can further specialise in:
  • Computer systems
  • Energy distribution
  • Communications systems
As well as several others; the courses you complete will contain a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical lab work, often using computer simulations.

Length of program

Depending on which country you study in, electrical engineering postgraduate courses will vary in length. Here are some examples of country and length:
  • UK- 1-5 years
  • US – 2-3 years
  • China – 1-4 years
  • Canada – 2-4 years
Many Masters programs lead straight into PhDs, which will prolong your study by normally at least a further two years.

Entry requirements

Students will need a strong background in maths and physics. Many courses will start with some foundation modules designed to ensure this background knowledge is up to the required standard.

Furthermore, it will almost always be necessary to have completed a relevant undergraduate course with at least a 2:2 honours – so either an engineering undergraduate course, or one concerning maths or the physical sciences.

Career development

Electrical engineers are employed in many industries, with the main areas being: electronics, IT, manufacturing, power, transport, construction and building services. Opportunities are also found in telecommunications, research and development and petro-chemicals.
There are several job options directly related to the postgraduate course:
  • Electrical engineer
  • Electronics engineer
  • Broadcast engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Control and instrumentation engineer
However, there are many career sectors that can also be approached with an electrical engineering masters, including those in sales, accountancy and management.

Many graduates work towards ‘Chartered Engineer status’, as once you are chartered you have access to the best engineering jobs with the highest salaries. In order to be chartered you need to have completed your postgraduate course and have several years of relevant experience.

Fees and funding

The cost of a graduate electrical engineering program varies widely, depending on the country, the institution and the course. Furthermore, you may have to pay higher fees as an international student.

Here are some examples of countries and how much their average graduate electrical engineering program costs:
  • UK - £5,000 - £16,000 (national or international)
  • USA - $20,000 - $35,000
  • China – RMB 17,000 – 35,000
  • Canada - $17,000 – $25,000

What to do next

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