MS in Robotics and Autonomy

MS in Robotics and Autonomy

Student working on robot fish

The graduate program in robotics and autonomy from Drexel Engineering prepares professionals for applying deepened skillsets and knowledge that will further careers in the field.

What is a MS in Robotics and Autonomy?

A graduate degree program in robotics and autonomy educates professionals to take on the rapid changes advances in the design and use of robotic systems and technologies. Robotics engineering impacts many critical areas of society and industry, from medicine and healthcare to retailers like Amazon, and is becoming prevalent through the incorporation of Industry 4.0, advanced manufacturing, and the Internet of Things. As a student you will explore the frontiers and ideas that seek to address challenges and transformations in business and manufacturing with an eye for ways in which modern civilization can be impacted by robotic applications and automation of processes.

A robotics master’s program should provide an understanding of the forces governing industry, a global viewpoint, and the entrepreneurial, teambuilding and managerial abilities needed to advance careers in industry and in research, or as preparation for entry into a PhD program in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or in a related field.


  • On-campus
  • Full-time or part-time
  • The program will take approximately two years to complete on a full-time basis or can be completed on a part time basis in 3-4 years.

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Why choose Drexel for your MS in Robotics and Autonomy?

Student working in lab

The master’s degree program in robotics and autonomy delivers knowledge of the fundamentals and exposure to emerging subjects in robotics and autonomy. Through rigorous analysis and exploration, you will emerge prepared to take on the demands of industry or to continue study in related subjects.

The robotics and autonomy program is built upon the following concepts as the foundation:

  • Obtaining data from the robot’s surroundings (perception)
  • Reasoning about how that data yields information about the robot’s environment (cognition)
  • Mapping environmental information to a decision about how to react to the environment (control)
  • Translating that reaction decision into movement and an interaction with the physical environment (action).

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) partner to deliver this program with Drexel’s Colleges of Computing and Informatics and Arts and Sciences. Students are trained in the theory, integration and practical application of the core engineering and computer science disciplines that comprise robotics and autonomy. The interdisciplinary coursework turns out a well-rounded engineer that can draw from diverse fields to find creative solutions unique to each project or quandary at-hand.

At Drexel you are encouraged to be innovative and imaginative in identifying the problem and analyzing through critical thinking. The program aims to equip you with the tools for finding sustainable and achievable outcomes to address society’s biggest challenges while also making them relevant to your career goals.


The city of Philadelphia is our campus – a diverse urban environment with a variety of social, cultural and learning opportunities that will enrich your educational experience. Philadelphia is also a draw for talented instructors and researchers, meaning you will engage with some of the best minds in engineering and other disciplines. Learn more.

Graduate Co-op

Graduate co-op is an optional three or six-month work experience woven into academic studies for full-time master’s students. Drexel University co-op provides the opportunity to apply theory learned in class to a work experience before graduating. The insights help to direct the vision you have for your career and provide context for the remainder of your learning. You will take advantage of resources from the Steinbright Career Development Center, including programming that enhances your professionalism and resume writing and provides resources for your job search.

For more information, visit the Steinbright Career Development Center.

Curriculum and Requirements

Systems Courses 6 credits
Mathematics or Signal Processing courses 6 credits
Core Components: Perception, Cognition and Behavior, Action, Control (1 course each) 12 credits
Technical Focus Area 9 credits
Transformational Electives 6 credits
Mastery 6 credits : Thesis option or Non-Thesis option
  • The master’s in robotics and autonomy requires a total of 45 credits; 2 courses in mathematics and/or signal processing; 2 courses in robotics and autonomy from the perspective of full systems; 1 course in each of the four disciplines critical to robotics (Perception, Cognition and Behavior, Action, and Control). 3 courses in a maximum of two core component areas listed above; 2 elective courses that promote the development of leadership, communication, and ethics.
  • The remaining 6 credits can be completed through a coursework only, non-thesis option of additional concentration electives or with 6 credits of thesis research, recommended for those interested in doctoral study.
  • Dual graduate degrees are possible. Popular programs to combine include the MS in Computer EngineeringMS in Machine Learning EngineeringMS in Cybersecurity or MS in Systems Engineering.
  • Graduate advisors are available to guide your course selection and scheduling of core and elective courses. Learn more about the Master’s Thesis option.

Visit the Drexel Catalog for more information and sample study plans for areas of specialization or learn more about our admissions requirements.


All students in the master’s in engineering program are welcome to engage in research as part of their degree or as extra-curricular participation. Although not a requirement, if you are interested in eventually pursuing a PhD or entering a research-intensive career, you are encouraged to complete a master's thesis as part of your MS studies.

Our labs house research conducted by our world-renowned faculty, funded by the U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Commerce and Homeland Security as well as with many notable industry partners.

Learn more about current research areas in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering as well as other research activity at the College of Engineering.

Career Opportunities in Robotics and Autonomy

Robotics graduate programs prepare you for a career path that could include continuing your education in a PhD program or pursuing advanced technical positions research and development or project management.

Overall, most employees with graduate degrees can earn up to 28 percent more than bachelor’s degree holders over the course of their career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for robotics engineering jobs (grouped with mechanical engineers) is good, with demand for employment expected to grow 4% through 2029, with the average for the overall projections for all occupations.

The US Department of Labor figures from January 2020 show that 80% of all manufacturers are struggling to fill skilled positions which will continue to drive up demand as technology progresses. Automation engineers are a new position with growing demand and a higher-than-average salary in relation to other engineering disciplines. reports that robotics engineers with master’s degrees can earn 10% or more per year more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.


Drexel places a high value on industry connections and experience at every level. Teaching faculty in your program are experts with industry experience or are at the forefront of research and teaching.

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