Best Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Degrees

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Interested in creating cutting-edge solutions for the world’s greatest problems? Consider a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

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Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and most general forms of engineering. It is involved in the analysis, design, and production of any system that has a moving part.

If you like to innovate, a career in mechanical engineering might be for you. Mechanical engineers power the devices you use daily, from electric generators to internal combustion engines, elevators, and even refrigeration systems.

You might design or implement equipment, test or evaluate theoretical designs, or teach others how to think just like you do. Better yet, mechanical engineers are in high demand, with companies all over the country searching for qualified, competent employees.

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Top 10 Best Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Degrees

What kind of mechanical engineering degree should you get?

Graduates from mechanical engineering programs will never be short of work. This is especially true if you pursue and receive an advanced degree. Graduates with master’s degree have the ability to nearly double their salaries over a lifetime–a significant consideration to make when shopping for the best program.

Depending on your needs and lifestyle, most graduate programs in mechanical engineering are available either on-campus or online.

While on-campus study provides the best opportunity for innovative, interactive research, an online degree promotes flexibility for busy working adults or first generation learners. If you’re considering an online program, check out our list of the top online engineering degrees.

How much money do people make with a mechanical engineering degree?

Mechanical engineers are one of the highest paid starting positions in the country, earning a median salary of $83,000, with the lowest earning no less than $50,000. While pay varies depending on level of experience and industry (for example, mechanical engineers working in oil and gas extraction or information services will make the highest salaries), earning potential is high with this degree.

What can you do with a degree in mechanical engineering?

A person with a degree in mechanical engineering has a wide host of career options. Mechanical engineers work in aerospace, automobile, biomedical, construction, power, railway, information services, and even academic industries.

The most in-demand fields are in software, civil, environmental, aerospace, and biomedical engineering. Mechanical engineers work in all sectors, including the government, private and public industry, and academia. Graduates might be hired by companies such as NASA, Google, Boeing Apple, the Department of Energy, or hundreds of other companies.

Employment is expected to grow by about five percent, as fast as average, but will grow higher in more in-demand fields, such as information services.

What are the requirements for a degree in mechanical engineering?

Generally, graduate applicants must have at least four years of undergraduate in a related field. Some schools don’t require a relevant background, but will substitute additional prerequisite courses to make up for potential deficits in mathematics or engineering.

Masters degrees generally take around two to four years, but can be completed more quickly when combined with an undergraduate or doctoral program (often known as 2+3 or accelerated programs). Furthermore, departments will seek graduate candidates who have strong technical and mathematical skills, along with creativity, problem solving abilities, and the ability to work under pressure. Good communication skills are always a plus, too!

What are the best mechanical engineering degrees?

The best mechanical engineering degree will be one that fits your budget, timeframe, and career goals. Some programs allow for flexibility when designing course schedules, allowing students to specialize and customize their degree paths for optimum job search success.

In addition, the best mechanical engineering degrees contain high levels of both theoretical education and hands-on research. Students need both in order to be exposed to the real-world challenges tackled every day by mechanical engineers. A good program will also include ample financial aid (including opportunities for fellowships or assistantships) and professional services, such as career networking and student organizations.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    In addition to outstanding undergraduate degrees in various concentrations of engineering, the department offers an exceptional Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. For students wishing to study further, two post-master’s degrees are available in Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy. The Mechanical Engineering program provides students with an integration of intellectual and practical experiences, allowing them to work in biomechanical engineering, pollution control, transportation, or other multidisciplinary fields.

    Program Features

    Students may undertake research projects throughout their studies at Stanford, namely through classes such as Engineering Problems and Experimental Investigation of Engineering Problems. Leading to a final forty-five units of coursework, other required courses include, but are not limited to:

    • Micro/Nano Systems Design and Fabrication
    • Design and Manufacturing
    • Introduction to Mechatronics
    • Smart Product Design Fundamentals
    • Internal Combustion Engines
    • Computer-Aided Product Creation
    • Modeling and Identification of Mechanical Systems for Control

    Notables

    Students at Stanford have access to some of the best academic resources in the country. Experimental facilities include the Structures and Solid Mechanics Research Laboratory, which includes vehicle crash and earthquake simulators, the Center for Materials Research, and dozens of others. Most of these facilities and laboratories are available to support instruction and graduate research work. Significant financial assistance is available to students as well, with a number of fellowships and assistantships available each year.

  2. California Institute of Technology
    Location

    Pasadena, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The research-oriented Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology is selective, but is at the top of our list for a reason. This program promotes high job selection success among graduates, with thirty percent entering tenure-track academic positions, twenty percent continuing on to engage in further postdoctoral research, and fifty percent going on to work in industry.

    Program Features

    The program requires fifty-four elemental course units in mechanical engineering, with an additional thirty in free electives and a graduate seminar. Many of these include research as integral components. Sample coursework might include studies in:

    • Fluid Mechanics
    • Mechanics of Structures and Solids
    • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
    • Heat and Mass Transfer
    • Combustion
    • Mechanical Systems and Design
    • Controls

    Notables

    Nearly every single graduate student in this program receives some sort of financial support. Many receive full tuition remission along with a stipend for living expenses. This is usually offered in the form of a fellowship or assistantship. Graduating with very little debt, graduates tend to work in large firms (usually in aerospace, energy, or semiconductor industries) or for small high-technology startups.

  3. University of California, Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Masters of Engineering program at Berkeley prepares professional leaders who understand all technical, environmental, and social issues related to mechanical engineering. This program can be earned in conjunction with a PhD or by itself. In addition, Berkeley has some of the most generous financial aid programs in the country.

    Program Features

    A unique feature of Berkeley’s graduate programs is its Student Mentoring and Research Teams program. This groundbreaking endeavor partners graduate students with undergraduates to assist with original research and summer funding. In addition, students will take classes in subjects such as:

    • Advanced Tissue Mechanics
    • Advanced Structural Aspects of Biomaterials
    • Introduction to MEMS Design
    • Deformation and Fracture of Engineering Materials
    • Experiential Advanced Control Design
    • Nonlinear Systems
    • Hybrid Systems and Intelligent Control
    • Advanced Technical Communication: Proposals, Patents, and Presentations

    Notables

    Berkeley Mechanical Engineering is one of the top ranked public programs in the world. Faculty and students hail from diverse backgrounds and work in the most innovative teaching and research laboratories. Faculty are experts in the field and most continue to conduct critical research in mechanical engineering as they teach. This provides students with the most hands-on experiences possible.

  4. Cornell University
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Cornell’s Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering is one of the most hybridized and customizable programs in the country. Graduate students can cross department boundaries to design programs that meet their unique career and academic goals. This program, hosted on campus in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York, boasts a diverse student community with many international students. Graduates frequently go on to high-ranked academic, leadership, research, and industry positions.

    Program Features

    The program, which takes around two years to complete, combines a strong research element with academic rigor. Students will undertake original research with a field faculty member, which is eventually documented in a master’s thesis. Other required classes, leading to forty-eight total credits, include:

    • Thermodynamics
    • Mechanical Synthesis
    • Dynamics
    • Introduction to Circuits for Electrical and Computer Engineers
    • Introductory Fluid Mechanics
    • Heat Transfer
    • Mechanics of Engineering Materials
    • Experimental and Applied Mechanics of Structures

    Notables

    Nearly five hundred students study in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell. Students engage with tenure-track faculty, lecturers who are industry experts, and technical research staff. The university is committed to diversity, with over fifty percent of the first-year class containing women. The university is ranked thirteenth in the country by U.S. News and World Report, and even allows students to spend a semester or two studying abroad.

  5. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The department of mechanical engineering at Northwestern builds on core disciplines in the field, with specific emphasis on the areas of design, biosystems and health, energy and sustainability, multiscale simulation, and nano/micro science technology. At Northwestern, students benefit from the best of both worlds: world-renowned professors who perform cutting edge research, while also teaching small, interactive classes and providing personalized attention.

    Program Features

    While most students choose to pursue the stand-alone Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern also offers a myriad of programs in Product Design and Development Management, Engineering Design and Innovation, Robots, and Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. Most programs can lead to an eventual PhD, if desired. Students may pursue specializations within the general degree including:

    • Energy and Sustainability
    • Simulation-Driven Engineering
    • Robotics and Control
    • Nanotechnology
    • Biology and Bio-Inspired Engineering

    Notables

    Students are given multiple opportunities to succeed at Northwestern, and thrive on a beautiful campus just twelve miles from downtown Chicago. A variety of service programs are available outside the classroom, including Design for America and Engineers for a Sustainable World. Students lead projects like installation of solar panels and founding start-up companies. These experiences provide students with the necessary knowledge of the design of creative and sustainable systems, preparing them for long-term careers and personal advancement.

  6. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Georgia Institute of Technology allows students to complete their graduate studies in a variety of settings They may do so at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Georgia Tech–Savannah, on the main campus in Atlanta, or by viewing video and online course offerings. Most degrees can be completed in a year or two.

    Program Features

    Many graduate course offerings are electives, allowing students to take a wide variety of courses. Students may take a non-thesis or thesis option. The thesis option allows students to work with a faculty mentor to work in a laboratory or research environment. Regardless of the pathway chosen, students will take classes such as:

    • Designing Open Engineering Systems
    • Optimization in Engineering Design
    • Computer-Aided Design
    • Modeling and Simulation in Design
    • Finite-Element Method: Theory and Practice
    • Principles of Continuum Mechanics
    • Inelastic Deformation of Solids

    Notables

    Georgia Tech is ranked within the top ten public universities in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. It is also regarded internationally for its engineering programs, and has been recognized as the “smartest” public college in the United States, based on standardized test scores of its applicants.

  7. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Students at Columbia study and research in the most cutting-edge research centers for interdisciplinary research in the world. They work closely in partnership with other departments, experiencing the flexibility to ae classes within the engineering school, or directly at Columbia College. The engineering department is small, with a graduate student to faculty ratio of just seven to one. This allows students to be active participants in their own education, and to become involved in projects, research, and design competitions.

    Program Features

    In this program, graduate students have the choice between a standard track or a special track in Energy Systems, Micro/Nanoscale Engineering, or Robotics and Control. Depending on the track, students will customize a schedule including a sampling of the following classes:

    • Advanced machine dynamics
    • Small scale Mechanical Behavior
    • Transport phenomena in the presence of interfaces
    • Solar thermal engineering
    • Sensors, actuators, and electromechanical systems
    • Contact mechanics, lubrication of diarthrodial joints, and cartilage tissue engineering

    Notables

    The mechanical engineering program allows students to integrate a strong liberal arts educational core within their engineering coursework. Additionally, students will work with state-of-the-art equipment in the Computer Aided Design Lab and the Mechatronics Laboratory, among others. Students have the opportunity to branch out and expand their resumes through participation in extracurricular activities such as Solar Splash and Engineers without Borders.

  8. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Duke University’s mechanical engineering faculty’s research productivity is within the top 15 in the country, and for good reason. Students and faculty work closely in externally funded materials research centers, and have seen a massive increase in research awards in the past five years. Students at Duke don’t just learn–they learn by doing, and their success is echoed in an 88% job placement rate before graduation even occurs.

    Program Features

    The mechanical engineering program at Duke features extensive collaboration with other departments, bridging engineering, science, and management. Students will engage in core management courses, internships, and professional development workshops so that they are fully prepared for career success. Students may choose to concentrate coursework in one of five areas, including:

    • Aerospace
    • Materials Science
    • Mechanics, Dynamics and Controls
    • Robotics
    • Thermal Fluids

    Notables

    Students will engage in cutting-edge research with internationally recognized faculty. There are extensive opportunities for cross-disciplinary research as well. Students benefit from an inclusive, close-knit community with faculty-guided project-based learning. Additionally, becuase the university is located in the largest research park in the United States, there is no shortage of out-of-classroom opportunities.

  9. Rice University
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Brown School of Engineering at Rice is small, hosting just fifty graduate students each year. These students work alongside eleven tenured faculty, all of whom teach and continue to research extensively in energy, medical research, space exploration, and technology. Students benefit from Rice’s location in Houston, providing them connections to collaborative research projects, summer internships, and contacts for after graduation.

    Program Features

    Students will work with a thesis advisor from the very beginning of their studies. This advisor will help students determine the best possible pathways for achieving their career goals. Required classes include:

    • Nonlinear Systems
    • Vibration
    • Numerical Methods
    • Finite Element Analysis
    • Computational Fluid Mechanics
    • Introduction to Hydrodynamic Stability

    Notables

    Rice is consistently ranked among the United States’ top education and research institutions. Students are continuously evaluated to ensure that they are acquiring knowledge and skills, and engage in preliminary candidacy exams, qualifying exams, and thesis proposals. Students provide feedback through town hall meetings and ongoing surveys. Graduate programs are heavily influenced by industry feedback as well.

  10. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has one of the largest and most successful graduate programs. In fact, the university’s body of living alumni comprises over 540,000 individuals, one of the largest alumni groups in the world. Students in the Master of Science in Engineering program may pursue a personalized academic specialty. This allows for greater customization of their career paths and research in areas such as automotive, controls, dynamics and vibrations, energy, manufacturing, robotics, and many others.

    Program Features

    Students may choose to pursue coursework only, coursework with an individual research project, or coursework with a MSE thesis. All require thirty credits and allow students to communicate with a Graduate Coordinator to develop the best possible course to complete a degree pathway. Required classes include:

    • Introduction to Solid Mechanics
    • Thermodynamics
    • Introduction to Dynamics and Vibrations
    • Design and Manufacturing
    • Research, Innovation, Service and Entrepreneurship
    • Strength of Materials
    • Fluid Mechanics

    Notables

    Before graduating, students also have the privilege of completing an independent engineering design, analysis, or research projects. This project is long-term, requiring one and a half years to complete. The university also features easy, seamless pathways for students to transfer from an undergraduate degree to a master’s, as well as from a master’s to a PhD.

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