Don’t quit your day job: Bagley’s online degree options offer flexible educational opportunities

July 24, 2017

Even with three decades of experience in the engineering industry, John Wilson was looking for ways to enhance his professional skill set.

He knew he wanted to pursue an advanced degree in one of a few specific programs, but taking time off of work to pursue that degree wasn’t feasible.

“As a working engineer and executive, it is very difficult to maintain a fixed schedule of classes. Customer and corporate demands often impact my ability to make class,” Wilson said.

The answer? An online program that offered the option of earning a Ph.D. in engineering while Wilson kept his “day job.” While initially researching graduate programs, the Madison, Alabama, resident had a few specific requirements for his future alma mater.

“I was looking for an online program with a path to a Ph.D. in systems engineering or operations research from a good school,” Wilson added.

Enter the online degree program at Mississippi State’s Bagley College of Engineering. Ranked 24th in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 listing of top online graduate programs in engineering, the Bagley College’s online program offers a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom setting. The online program boasts twelve degree options for both prospective masters and prospective doctoral students and includes Mississippi’s only masters of engineering degree.

“The presence of those factors, along with the excellent reviews I heard from other graduates of Mississippi State’s systems engineering online program, were the clinchers for me in choosing MSU,” Wilson said.

The appeal of enrolling in Bagley’s online graduate program was only enhanced by the university’s overall accolades, which include earning the top research activity designation of “Very High Research Activity University” from Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and being ranked 51st in engineering research expenditures from the National Science Foundation for 2017.

Once Wilson began taking courses during the 2015 fall semester, he joined more than 275 individuals also pursuing a degree through Bagley’s online learning programs.

While college enrollment is on the rise for students in all age ranges, the highest enrollment growth rate is composed of adults whom are juggling multiple responsibilities with careers, families, and now – education. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that a number of students in the 25 – 34 age group has grown 52 percent from 1998 to 2012 and is projected to grow another 23 percent by 2023.

With online courses designed to reach people from all walks of life, Bagley College’s online graduate program makes higher education attainable for the non-traditional student. With class delivery built to maximize convenience, students have access to both live and recorded class sessions.

The ability for students to tailor study times to their own personal needs is a benefit that Wilson has found particularly helpful in his own experience of balancing duties as a senior systems engineer at 4M Research, Inc. with a return to academia.

“With the structure of Bagley’s online program, I can flex my schedule and work classes into a time that’s more convenient for me,” Wilson explained.

To Wilson, the flexibility in class structure has an additional benefit associated with course comprehension.

“One of the biggest benefits built into the flexible structure is the ability to essentially stop the class for review, in order to clarify points and maintain very complete notes,” Wilson said.

With 18 hours of coursework completed, Wilson is looking forward to earning a Mississippi State doctoral degree and exploring the added value it will bring to his skill set as both an engineer and manager.

“The whole program, especially from the systems engineering aspect, promotes a mindset of growth and mastery, which I believe is essential in striving for continued excellence,” said Wilson.

Individuals interested in the admissions process for Bagley College of Engineering’s online graduate program can visit for more information.

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By: Amanda Meeler