Mechanical Engineers conduct research, design and develop prototypes, and test their devices.
They use creativity and good listening skills to solve problems. Engineers have high aptitudes for mathematics, sciences, and mechanicals. Engineers work at least full-time with 33 percent exceeding the standard 40-hour work week.
Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Degrees
||Georgia Institute of Technology
||Johns Hopkins University
||University of Southern California
||Los Angeles, CA
||University of California Los Angeles
||Los Angeles, CA
||New York, NY
||North Carolina State University
||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
||Stevens Institute of Technology
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Why should I study mechanical engineering?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field of mechanical engineering will grow 9 percent between the years 2016 and 2026. This statistic fits within average growth rates. Anticipate higher rates at engineering firms and in automotive design for hybrids, electric cars, and driverless vehicles.
Look for emerging careers in robotics, alternative fuels, and nanotechnology. The latter field includes medical device engineering and designing the latest computer components. One key to job stability is keeping abreast of the latest software for designing and running simulations. Industry experts advise students to learn 3-D printing.
How much can I earn by studying mechanical engineering?
The BLS tracks salaries in all career fields. For the year 2016, the median wage for all Mechanical Engineers was $84,190. Reported earnings ranged from $54,420 to $131,350.
Salaries also vary by industry. Engineers in research and development bring in a median of $96,360. Electronics manufacturing yields $89,330.
Architectural engineers report $87,670. The vehicle manufacturing industry pays a median of $84,940. Finally, machinery manufacturers pay $75,480.
Information from the BLS tells us which states hire more Mechanical Engineers (MEs). At the top of the list is Michigan with 42,080 MEs (mean salary $88,700). Next, California has 24,830 MEs ($102,650). Texas ranks third with 19,690 MEs ($103,060). Ohio has 14,920 ($78,770), and Illinois comes in fifth with 14,500 ($92,290).
Alaska pays the highest salaries to Mechanical Engineers with an annual mean wage of $138,370 for 530 jobs. The District of Columbia pays $108,340 (780 MEs). New Mexico’s MEs make $108,140 (1,200 MEs). Louisiana’s 1,990 MEs report earnings of $104,020. Texas makes the list in fifth place with $103,060 (19,690 MEs).
Where can I find a job with a mechanical engineering degree?
Any industry that develops working parts needs engineers. A few well-known companies hiring Mechanical Engineers:
- General Electric
- Lockheed Martin
- Northrop Grumman
- General Motors
Industries with high numbers of Mechanical Engineers include aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, electronics, and energy. MEs have skills for many careers including project management, software development, cybersecurity, healthcare, and intellectual property rights.
What are the requirements for a mechanical engineering degree?
All Mechanical Engineers start with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering or a closely related field. Engineering majors take a heavy load of coursework in mathematics, science, design, and engineering. Seek out programs accredited by ABET.
A Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering provides upward mobility into Team Leader and Project Manager roles. Some Master’s programs focus on advanced engineering methods. Others take an interdisciplinary approach with other sciences or business classes.
All states require engineers who work with the public to hold a license. To become a licensed Professional Engineer, obtain a degree from an ABET-accredited program. Next, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exams.
Each state has its own requirements for work experience. Expect to need four years of engineering employment. States may require engineers to pass continuing education classes for license renewals. Licenses usually work across state lines if both states have similar licensing requirements. Professional societies provide certificates, classes, volunteer opportunities, and conferences.
What are the best colleges for an Online Master’s in Mechanical Engineering?
CollegeChoice.net studied each college and university. We considered the net price of a Master’s degree, graduation rates, and the school’s reputation in producing great engineers. Many of the best schools require graduate students to submit a high GPA, solid GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.
Important factors in deciding on a great Mechanical Engineering program include research expenditures, faculty qualifications, and the variety of offered courses. Online courses should be taught by the same faculty as on-campus classes. A low student-to-faculty ratio, livestreaming video, and online labs indicate successful degree programs. Those interested in online education should check out College Choice’s Best Online Colleges and Universities.
Finally, we consulted experts at U.S. News, the National Center for Education Statistics and its IPEDS database, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and ranking websites like OnlineCollege.org. Each institute, college, and university provided invaluable access to their schools of engineering and programs for graduate students.
And now, we present the 25 best Online Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering for 2018.
See our rankings methodology page.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Tech, as it is widely known, handed out its first Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1925. Today, the school’s program ranks sixth in U.S. News’ “Best Engineering Schools” for 2017. Note that Georgia Tech boasts the second lowest tuition in the top six programs ranked by the magazine. Within its graduate program, 39 percent of students complete their degrees fully online.
To obtain a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME), candidates must complete 30 credit hours. Students have both a thesis and non-thesis option.
Courses of interest in the MSME program at Georgia Tech:
- Advanced Orbital Mechanics
- Rotary Wing Aerodynamics
- Turbulent Combustion
The faculty of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering hold over 200 patents. The National Science Foundation has honored 34 staff members with its Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) and Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) awards.
Johns Hopkins, a Maryland Quaker and abolitionist, bequeathed $7 million to fund the university and hospital we know today. The Whiting School of Engineering awarded its first degrees in 1915. In the U.S. News rankings of “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs,” Johns Hopkins moved from number 21 to 19 in the last year.
Johns Hopkins requires students to choose a focus area in Manufacturing, Robotics and Controls, Solids/Mechanics of Materials, or Thermofluids. Students have options to finish their degrees fully online or utilizing both online and campus classwork.
Courses in the Master of Mechanical Engineering program at JHU:
- Kinematics and Dynamics of Robots
- Orthopedic Biomechanics
- Symmetries of Crystalline Solids
The typical graduate student in engineering earned a 3.3 GPA as an undergraduate. To receive the Master’s degree, each candidate successfully passes ten courses. Engineering majors have five years to finish their graduate degree.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) graduated its first engineer in 1908. Today’s Viterbi School of Engineering hosts 5,600 graduate students. The DEN@Viterbi system gives students the chance to earn 40 different graduate degrees online.
MSME candidates specialize in one of the following: Thermal and Fluid Sciences, Engineering Design, or Mechanics and Materials. To graduate, students must pass 27 credit hours with a 3.0 GPA. Course requirements vary depending on whether the student takes the thesis option.
Interesting classes in USC’s Mechanical Engineering catalog:
- Applied Elasticity
- Dynamics of Incompressible Fluids
The admissions staff requires applicants to provide transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, GPA, and grades in undergraduate engineering classes. The university lists several sources of scholarships on its Tuition and Funding page. Master of Science graduates enter careers in various industries including aerospace, biomedicine, and nuclear power.
University of California Los Angeles
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) created the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1945. The school proclaims itself the Birthplace of the Internet. U.S. News ranks UCLA in second place for “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.”
The Mechanical Engineering program at UCLA provides an online Master’s degree only for its non-thesis track. Students complete 36 units and choose from two options. One is a Capstone Project, and the other requires passing three examinations in three separate classes in Mechanical Engineering.
Courses available to graduate students in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA:
- Composites Manufacturing
- Dynamics of Structures
- Material Failure in Mechanical Design I: Power Transmission
Students graduate in two full school years plus one additional quarter. They enroll in two sessions during the summer. Refer to the school’s degree requirements for more information.
One of the oldest Mechanical Engineering departments in the country resides within Columbia University in New York City, New York. The school builds its reputation upon research into control theory, thermofluids, and biomechanics. The graduate-student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. BestColleges.com ranks Columbia’s online Master’s program in engineering fourth in the country.
Students in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science need 30 points to graduate. These consist of a minimum of ten classes over two to three semesters full-time. Graduate students choose from the Standard Track, or Special Tracks in Energy Systems, Micro/Nanoscale Engineering, and Robotics and Control.
Courses available for the M.S. in Mechanical Engineering:
- Carbon Nanotubes
- Mechatronics and Embedded Microcomputer Control
Check out the Columbia Video Network to learn more about obtaining an online engineering degree. The Fu Foundation faculty also teaches online classes. Columbia uses rolling admissions but requests two months for the application process.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University (NCSU or NC State) started its engineering program in the 1920s. U.S. News ranks NC State ninth in “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.” The school hosts 625 graduate engineering candidates. About thirty percent of all graduate students take classes online according to the IPEDS database.
Mechanical Engineering students complete 30 credit hours with no thesis, no need for campus presence, and no oral examination at the end of the program. All students take course MAE 586, Project Work in Mechanical Engineering.
Courses for the online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering at NC State:
- Acoustic Radiation
- Airfoil Theory
- Finite Element Analysis
Online students receive material through videos. NCSU’s WolfWare site facilitates communication with faculty and peers. Students take tests at proctoring sites or online.
OnlineCollege.org awarded Boston University for “Best Online Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in Faculty Accessibility.”U.S. News ranks BU’s Engineering program eleventh for research investments. The magazine also places Boston’s engineering school in the top twenty percent in the nation.
Graduates working on their Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering need 32 credit hours. Students take three classes in the Mechanical Engineering Core, two in engineering management, and three electives in engineering or science.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University:
- Advanced Aerodynamics
- Phase Transformations
- Skeletal Tissue Mechanics
Students in Distance Learning at BU may select live video conferencing, video streams after class, or attending the occasional class on campus. Enrollments in the university’s Master’s program jumped 70 percent in the last four years.
Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lehigh University was founded in 1865. The school attracts 1,979 graduate students to its programs. Admission for the online Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering requires official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
Students enrolled online need 30 hours of credits. There are thesis and non-thesis options.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh University:
- Advanced Fluid Mechanics
- Heat and Mass Transfer
- Integrated Product Development
The non-thesis program requires 15 credit hours in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. A thesis option consists of 15 credits in core classes and nine credits in electives. Completing the thesis earns another six credits. The university accepts up to nine credits for transfer students.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Since 1870, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) offered degrees in engineering mechanics and mechanical engineering. The department added theoretical and applied mechanics in 2006 to become the MechSE Department. U.S. News ranks the university thirteenth in “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.”
The thesis option takes 32 credits while non-thesis students need 36 credit hours. Non-thesis students enroll in an Independent Study course for the additional four credits.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at UIUC:
- Advanced Gas Dynamics
- Combustion Fundamentals
- Energy Conversion Systems
For admission into the graduate program in the MechSE Department, candidates need an undergraduate degree in engineering. The minimum GPA is 3.25. In addition to transcripts, applicants need three letters of recommendation.
Stevens Institute of Technology
Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology focuses on research. Current work in the Department of Mechanical Engineering includes nano/microfabrication, robotics, plastics/polymers, and sustainable energy. A Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering can be completed on campus or fully online.
The thirty credits needed for graduation break down into two core classes, four classes in a concentration, and four electives. Students at Stevens tailor their Master’s degree with one of seven concentrations.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology:
- Finite-Element Methods
- Power Plant Engineering
- Solar Energy-System Designs
Graduates pursue careers as civil, mechanical, aerospace, and automotive engineers. Stevens provides a Graduate Enrichment Series free of charge to all graduate students. Faculty of the institute have held talks on technical writing, formatting a thesis, and many other topics. Many of the lectures can be accessed online.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was established in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1865. The school hosts 2,210 graduate students. Of those, 21 percent take all courses online while 11 percent enroll in one or more distance classes.
The two-year online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering has no thesis requirement. Students need 30 credit hours in mechanical engineering, math, and electives.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute:
- Applied Numerical Methods in Engineering
- Control of Linear Dynamical Systems
- Fundamentals of Axiomatic Design of Manufacturing Processes
Graduates with a Master’s degree from WPI report average salaries of $71,149 right after leaving school. Just a few of the employers hiring WPI graduates are Tesla, BAE Systems, Fitbit, Nissan, the U.S. military, and Otis Elevators.
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University (SMU) bills itself as a global research university. The Lyle School of Engineering educates more than 1,000 graduate students every year. The Engineering program boasts an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The Lyle School offered distance education as early as 1967.
To obtain the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, students need 30 completed credit hours. Both thesis and non-thesis options exist.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at SMU:
- Microfluidics and Microfabrication
- Nontraditional Manufacturing Processes
- Optimal and Robust Control
Graduate students in the program select from three concentrations: Design and Dynamic Systems and Controls, Mechanics and Manufacturing, and Thermal and Fluid Sciences. The LOGin learning management system streams video to anywhere in the world.
Villanova University honors the Roman Catholic faith. Its College of Engineering began in 1905. The Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) program enrolls 55 students.
Full-time course loads result in graduation within two years. Part-time schedules stretch the timeline to three years. All students choose a thesis or non-thesis track for their 30 credit hours.
Courses for the MSME from Villanova:
- Biomechanics of Hard Tissues
- Feedforward Control
- Optimization for Engineers
Admission requirements include a 3.0 GPA, recommendation letters, and GRE scores. Villanova reports that an MSME can net graduates an average annual income of $105,616. The top three employers of Villanova’s graduates are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
U.S. News ranks the Whitacre College of Engineering’s online Master’s program sixteenth in the nation. The program follows the same deadlines as on-campus classes, but students view class materials on their own schedule. Viewing classes as they livestream allows for real-time discussion.
Students in the online Master of Mechanical Engineering program choose a specialization in either Design or Materials and Mechanics. In addition, they have options for coursework only or coursework plus a report.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech:
- Physical Metallurgy
- Probalistic Design
- Vehicle Dynamics
Texas Tech wants unofficial transcripts and GRE scores attached to its online application. Only after acceptance will students need to produce official documents. Whitacre specifically requires three reference letters from all applicants in Mechanical Engineering.
Auburn University, AL
Auburn University ranks fifteenth in the U.S. News list of “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.” Nineteen percent of graduate students take all of their classes online according to the IPEDS database. Veterans should look into the school’s Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits package for graduate students.
Auburn’s Master of Mechanical Engineering (M.M.E.) requires no thesis, residency, foreign language, or minor. Students coordinate a plan of study with their three-person advisory committee. Thirty credit hours include 21 hours in Mechanical Engineering courses and 9 credits of independent study.
Courses for the M.M.E.:
- Analysis of Plates and Shells
- Boundary Layer Theory
- Friction, Wear, and Lubrication
Candidates for the M.M.E. need to submit GRE and TOEFL scores, if applicable. Students living near the Auburn campus may utilize research laboratories. Facilities include robotics, acoustics, a vibration lab, and thermal/fluid testing.
Case Western Reserve University
The Case School of Engineering began 125 years ago. In that time, it produced impressive alumni such as the engineer behind Gmail, Herbert Dow from Dow Chemical, and the originator of Craigslist. Online students earn a Master’s degree in 16 to 20 months.
Graduate engineering students take nine classes for 27 credit hours. In addition to seven core requirements, each student selects two technical electives.
Courses for the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Case Western Reserve:
- Bio Manufacturing and MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)
- Theory and Design of Fluid Power Machinery
- Vibration Problems in Engineering
CWRU’s Case School of Engineering awards scholarships of $10,000 to $15,000 to graduate students. They added this incentive for online students in the 2017-18 school year. Graduates of the program enter careers in research and development, product design, government, and education.
Neil Armstrong graduated from the Purdue College of Engineering. Purdue ranks fifth in the U.S. News list of “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.” The college sits in eighth place nationally.
The online Master of Mechanical Engineering (MSME) requires 30 credit hours. Choose a thesis or non-thesis option. An Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering with a focus on Mechanical Engineering has the same requirements as the MSME.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue:
- Air Breathing Propulsion
- Human Motion Kinetics
- Reliability-Based Design
Applicants need three recommendation letters, a Diversity essay, and a statement of purpose. All candidates need GRE scores, resumes, and transcripts. International applicants need a TOEFL score at or above 77 or an IELTS of 6.5 and higher.
Texas A&M ranks eighth in the U.S. News list of “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.” The College of Engineering invests over $200 million in research and conducts 5,000 research projects. Online labs and videos provide the same quality of instruction as campus students receive.
A&M provides opportunities for an online Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering. Students complete 24 credit hours in Mechanical Engineering and six hours in electives.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at A&M:
- Continuum Mechanics
- Energy Management in Industry
- Theory of Elasticity
The College of Engineering enrolls more students than any other department at A&M. The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) ranks the college fifth in graduate enrollment. Engineering students make up 60 percent of A&M’s National Merit Scholars.
The University of Houston (UH) grew from humble beginnings in 1927 to a large public university serving over 43,000 students. The school offers 120 Master’s degrees. Ten percent of graduate students take some or all of their courses online.
UH’s M.S. in Mechanical Engineering focuses on the energy industry. Graduate students need 30 hours with a GPA of 3.0 or better to receive their degrees. UH requires the GRE.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston:
- Computational Modeling
- Control System Analysis and Design
- Convection Heat Transfer
The Cullen College of Engineering lists projected salaries with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. The national mean salary is $75,391. In Houston, where UH is located, the mean salary for entry-level employees is $85,000.
Colorado State University
Greenwood Village, CO
Colorado State University (CSU) opened a division for distance education over 50 years ago. In addition to 40 degrees, online students may select certificates, digital badges, and MOOCs (massive open online courses). Of the 6,679 graduate students at CSU, 29 percent attend fully online.
The online Master of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering emphasizes materials engineering. The faculty teach their students to consider the environment, project budgets, and business skills.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at CSU:
- Aerosol Physics and Technology
- Cell and Tissue Engineering
- Metals and Alloys
Graduates of the Master’s program find careers in healthcare, aerospace, energy, design, and manufacturing. All students choose electives best suited to their career goals. Diplomas are conferred after the completion of 30 credits.
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS
Mississippi State University (MSU or MSState) began as a land-grant institution in 1878. The original mission included Mechanics, Agriculture, Horticulture, and Military Science. Today, the Department of Mechanical Engineering enrolls 114 graduate students. Twenty-nine percent of all graduate students complete their degrees online.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering provides an online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Students and their advisors arrange a plan of study either with or without a thesis.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at MSU:
- Casting and Joining
- Power Generation Systems
Thesis students need 24 credit hours of classwork and 6 credit hours for the thesis. Non-thesis students complete 33 hours of classwork. The school also offers an online PhD in Engineering with a focus on Mechanical Engineering.
The University of Texas at Arlington
At the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA or UT Arlington), the goal is growing a reputation for research excellence. The College of Engineering spends over $31 million on research activities annually. A total of 2,700 enrolled in Master’s programs in the Fall of 2017. Forty percent of UT Arlington’s graduate students take all classes online.
The Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering courses all appear online. Candidates for admission need GRE scores, a 3.0 GPA, and an essay. Each student chooses a Supervising Professor.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering at UTA:
- Fundamentals in Electronic Packaging
- Intro to Rotocraft Analysis
- Viscous Flows
The College of Engineering has a long tradition of raising banners to its rafters to recognize the country of each student who ever enrolled. Currently, over 150 banners hang overhead in Nedderman Hall. The College graduated two astronauts who flew in space shuttles: Kalpana Chawla and Robert L. Stewart.
University of Central Florida
Since its inception in 1963, the University of Central Florida (UCF) has expanded to 66,000 students. Twenty-four percent of graduate students enroll only in online classes. In addition to its online programs, UCF has campuses in Orlando and 12 other sites in Central Florida.
The Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) offers three tracks. The Accelerated B.S. to MSME allows for dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. A Mechanical Systems track focuses on math, mechanics, dynamics, and continuum mechanics. Finally, the Thermofluids track concentrates on math, heat transfer, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics.
Courses for the MSME at the University of Central Florida:
- Materials Kinetics
- Mechanical Behavior of Materials
- Polymer Science and Engineering
Forty-four percent of all students graduate without any debt. The Carnegie Classification system rates UCF in Doctoral Universities with the Highest Research Activity. Seventy-eight percent of the faculty have doctoral degrees.
The University of Idaho (UI) began in 1889 in Moscow, a city in northern Idaho. One quarter of all graduate students take 100 percent of their classes online. Engineering Outreach is the school’s online engineering program.
An online Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering best suits working engineers. This non-thesis program needs 30 credit hours for graduation.
Classes in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho:
- Engineering Acoustics
- HVAC Systems
- Robotics: Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control
To be admitted, present a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering or a similar field. The Department of Engineering wants a minimum 3.0 GPA. GRE scores are optional if the undergraduate degree program was ABET-accredited.
University of California-Riverside
At the University of California, Riverside (UCR or UC Riverside), annual research expenditures top $115 million. The Bourns College of Engineering makes the U.S. News rankings for “Best Engineering Schools” (no. 67) and Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs” (no. 51).
UCR offers an online M.S. in Engineering with a Mechanical Engineering specialization. The program combines complex engineering techniques and business leadership. Students graduate in 13 months without ever stepping foot on campus.
Classes in Mechanical Engineering at UCR:
- Plasma-Aided Manufacturing and Materials Processing
- Secure and Reliable Control Systems
- Sustainable Product Design
Graduates from UCR find work in transportation, fabrication, electronics, design, hydraulics, and aerospace. They gain the knowledge to move into management roles. UCR has been designated as “Military Friendly 2018” by Victory Media.