Construction Management vs. Engineering Management

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Despite what some may think, engineers do not work alone. Project development encompasses many different departments, not all of whom speak the same language. The individual who conceptualizes and funds a project is not always the best suited to build and market it, and vice versa. To achieve the best results, it is necessary to work in teams, and teams need leaders. That is where construction management and engineering management come into play.

Construction management and engineering management have several things in common. They both focus on product development, hold leadership roles, and act as the link between different stakeholders in an end-to-end process. Despite this, they also diverge in critical ways, namely in scope and scale.

Similarities, Differences and Overlap

Construction management is a specialized form of project management that oversees all aspects of a building project from beginning to end. Whether it is a residential, commercial, or industrial property, construction managers act as a liaison between three key stakeholders: owner, architect, and general contractor. With a complete fluency in the fundamental and sometimes siloed processes of building projects, a construction manager must oversee all components and ensure cost and time budgets are met.

Engineering management is a study and practice of project management that is not as tethered to a specific discipline. Engineering managers may specialize in a particular area, such as biomedical, mechanical, or structural engineering, but the core skills of business and management are tailored to the field of engineering as a whole. These are engineers with management training. They often act as translators between the business and the engineering world, shepherding projects from concept to rollout.

Both disciplines offer numerous different degree options. Construction management students can pursue a bachelor’s of science (BS) or bachelor’s of arts (BA) in construction management, or go for graduate-level study with a master’s of construction management (MCM), a master’s of engineering (MEng) specializing in construction management, or a master’s of science in construction management (MS).

Engineering management students can pursue a bachelor’s of science in engineering (BSE), a master’s of engineering management (MEM), or a master’s of science in engineering management (MSEM). There are also masters of business administration (MBA) sub-specializations for each field.


Arizona State University
  • Engineering Management (BSE)
  • Operations Management (Applied Science BAS)
  • Construction Management (MS)
  • Engineering: Engineering Management (MEng)
Ohio University
  • Online MEM - Engineering Management
Southern New Hampshire University
  • Online BS - Operations Management
  • Online BS - Technical Management
  • Online MSM - Construction Management
  • Online MBA - Engineering Management
  • Online MBA - Project Management
Vanderbilt University
  • Online M.Eng - Engineering Management
Georgetown University
  • Online MPS - Technology Management

Side-by-Side Comparison

Read on to get a side-by-side comparison of the two fields.

Construction Management Engineering Management

How do the fields define themselves?

Construction management is a specialized form of project management that oversees a building project from beginning to end.

Engineering management acts as the intersection of business and engineering, leading engineering projects from inception to rollout.

In what department is the program?

Most construction management programs are housed within a school’s engineering department.

Most engineering management programs are housed within a school’s engineering department.

What bodies of knowledge will the student focus on while studying?

Construction management programs typically focus on areas such as:

  1. Project management
  2. Alternative project delivery methods
  3. Advanced procurement systems
  4. Information technology in construction
  5. Risk management
  6. Sustainable site development

Engineering management programs have core curricula that focus on areas such as:

  1. Project management
  2. Finance
  3. Marketing
  4. Qualitative analysis
  5. Intellectual property
  6. Supply chain management
  7. Information systems
  8. Contract management

Is project management part of the curriculum?

Project management is essential to the field of construction management and makes up a large block of the curriculum.

Project management is covered in virtually all dedicated engineering management programs.

What specializations are available in pursuit of this degree?

Construction management can be viewed as its own specialization of civil engineering. However, a few dedicated construction management programs do offer further specializations in:

  1. Occupational safety and health
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Commercial and residential building
  4. Construction methods

Engineering management has a wide range of specializations and concentrations, including:

  1. Design and manufacturing
  2. Infrastructure Management
  3. Operations and supply management
  4. Biomedical engineering
  5. Structural engineering
  6. Information systems

What established occupations can graduates pursue?

Graduates of construction management programs are prepared for jobs as:

  1. Construction managers
  2. Architectural engineers
  3. Real estate developers
  4. Sustainability consultants
  5. General contractors

Engineering management graduates are prepared for jobs as:

  1. Engineering department managers
  2. Project managers
  3. Entrepreneurs
  4. Research and development directors
  5. Quality assurance managers

In which industries will graduates be able to work?

Construction management is applicable in any industry where residential, commercial, and industrial building projects take place.

Engineering management is a broad field of study with applications in each sub-discipline of engineering.

Are there any emerging occupations that graduates can seek?

Recent graduates of construction management programs can seek out opportunities in sustainable building, 3D-print manufacturing, and the optimization of supply chain logistics.

Engineering is becoming synonymous with innovation, meaning that all industries will need professionals who can speak the language of both the business and engineering world.

How much time should students expect to spend pursuing a degree?

Undergraduate degrees in construction management typically take four years to complete. Graduate-level degrees in construction management can typically be completed in one to three years, depending on the program and intensity of study.

Undergraduate degrees in engineering management typically take four years to complete. Graduate-level degrees in engineering management can typically be completed in one to three years, depending on the program and intensity of study.

Which schools offer online degrees in these fields?

  1. Indiana State University (BS)
  2. Rowan University (BA)
  3. Arizona State University (MS)
  4. University of Alabama at Birmingham (MEng)
  5. University of Southern California (MCM)
  6. University of Texas at Arlington (MCM)
  7. Purdue University Polytechnic Institute (MS)
  1. Arizona State University (BSE)
  2. Johns Hopkins University (MEM)
  3. University of Central Florida (MSEM)
  4. Ohio University (MEM)
  5. University of Massachusetts (MSEM)
  6. Drexel University (MSEM)
  7. Duke University (d-MEMP)

What is the bottom line?

Construction management is a dedicated field of study and practice. Construction managers need a detailed understanding of each branch of a building project, and its undergraduate- and graduate-level programs reflect that. This is a degree for someone committed to working with key stakeholders on building projects.

Engineering management takes a customizable approach. While an undergraduate degree in a specific engineering discipline is often a requirement, master’s-level programs focus on skills that apply across several different areas. This is a degree for someone looking to take on a leadership role in product development.

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