It should come as no surprise that in our highly technical and automated world, there is a continual and growing demand for mechanical engineers.
The field of mechanical engineering is one of the broadest of the engineering disciplines. You can find mechanical engineers working in every industry—from transportation, energy, telecommunications, and electronics to bioengineering, manufacturing, and commerce.
But no matter what your career goals are— whether they be in academia or in industry—getting a Master’s degree Mechanical Engineering can be a great investment in your future. You’ll receive both the technical expertise and leadership strategy to help thrive in your segment of a rapidly growing global industry.
What kind of Master’s in Mechanical Engineering degree should you get?
As you peruse the College Choice ranking, you’ll notice that there are both Master of Science and Master of Engineering degrees. The main distinction between the two is an emphasis on research—most M.S. programs offer a thesis option, which is an asset if you want to continue on to doctoral studies. M.Eng. programs, on the other hand, have more of a practitioner orientation.
You’ll also need to decide between a campus-based program and an online program. Both have advantages, but the online programs on our ranking offer the added benefit of convenience.
All the universities on this ranking are highly regarded, accredited institutions—and your diploma will not specify that you completed your coursework online. You’ll do the same work and be held to the same high standards as students in the classroom. But you’ll be able to do it on your time.
For more information on online education, check out our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Colleges for a Graduate Degree.
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering degree?
This is a good time to become an engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026. But here’s the kicker: job prospects are best for those who stay abreast of the most recent advances in technology. That’s where your master’s degree comes in.
In terms of pay, there is a wide salary range which will depend on your education and experience— as well as the industry you want to work in. But the BLS puts the 2016 median pay for mechanical engineers at a healthy $84,190 per year.
What can you do with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering?
Mechanical engineering is a broad field, and mechanical engineers tend to be creative, flexible individuals that can work in a wide spectrum of industries, including:
- Food Processing
- Product Manufacturing
As a mechanical engineer, you’ll use the principles of science and mathematics to design and develop new materials, devices, processes, and systems. You’ll also analyze, troubleshoot, and improve on existing ones. From the development of medical equipment to innovations in alternative energy using nanotechnology, we depend on mechanical engineers to propel technology forward to make our world safer and more convenient.
What are the requirements for a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering?
Requirements for admission to programs vary slightly from school to school. However, there are a few constants.
You’ll need good GRE scores to get into a good program. And most Master’s in Mechanical Engineering programs want students to have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical or Aeronautical Engineering—or a closely related field (like another engineering field or mathematics).
But don’t despair if you don’t have the right academic background. Many programs offer alternative routes—including a set of prerequisite courses that would prepare you for the rigors of an engineering program. And many schools review admissions on a case-by-case basis, so make your case!
What are the most affordable Master’s in Mechanical Engineering degrees?
At College Choice, we take numbers seriously. We’ve scoured the internet for online master’s programs in Mechanical Engineering and ranked them according to their net price. The net price takes into consideration extra fees on top of the per-credit tuition rate, so you can feel confident that these truly are the most affordable degrees available.
We hope our ranking helps you find a great—and affordable—Mechanical Engineering program!
University of Washington
Average Net Price: $10,068
Located in the rainy seaport town of Seattle, WA, the University of Washington is a large public research university that ranks among the top public schools in the U.S. The University is home to many prestigious graduate programs, including one of the top engineering schools in the country (#25 according to U.S. News and World Report).
UW’s College of Engineering offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering that is intended primarily for working mechanical engineers. You’ll need an academic background in Mechanical Engineering (or a closely related field like Aeronautical Engineering) to be admitted to this program. Online students can attend on a full- or part-time basis and enter the program in any quarter. Courses include:
- Mechanical Engineering Analysis
- Finite Element Analysis
- Computational Fluid Dynamics
UW’s online MSME program is comprised of 42 credits—with a thesis or course-only option. If you’re interested in UW’s online MSME program but don’t have an academic background in Mechanical Engineering, UW offers an alternative. UW encourages those with standard math, natural science, and engineering fundamental courses to apply to the MSE degree which has the same curriculum and graduation requirements as the MSME. Check out the program website for details.
Average Net Price: $11,693
Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University is a top-ranked public research university. Purdue University, which historically has a STEM focus, has a robust online presence and is currently home to one of the top five online graduate engineering programs in the country (according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 ranking).
The College of Engineering at Purdue University offers two affordable online programs: a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and an Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering. These online programs are designed for professional engineers who want to advance their skills in Mechanical Engineering—without taking a break from their careers. Course options include:
- Acoustics and Noise Control
- Energy Utilization and Environmental Control
Purdue University’s online master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering are both 30-credit programs with thesis and non-thesis options. Both programs are highly affordable and impressively flexible. Students tailor their plans of study (with help from an academic advisor) to best fit their career and educational goals. And you can work on a part- or full-time basis and take time off if necessary.
The University of Texas at Arlington
Average Net Price: $11,952
Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, the University of Texas at Arlington is the second largest university in the University of Texas system. The school is a research powerhouse and is home to many prestigious graduate schools, including a top-ranked College of Engineering (U.S. News and World Report). UT Arlington also has a strong online presence with several highly ranked programs.
UT Arlington offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree which provides professional development for working mechanical engineers. The program enhances technical competence and will offer hands-on, collaborative training in design, development, research, and experimentation. Online students work with faculty and peers to hone their skills in the discipline of mechanical engineering. Areas of study include:
- Thermal Science
- Fluid Science
- Mechanical Design and Manufacturing
UT Arlington’s Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree is a 30-credit, research-oriented program with a mandatory thesis. The program offers a high level of flexibility— once admitted to the program, you’ll work with a faculty advisor to plan a program of study that works with your own technical interests. And as a UT Arlington student, you’ll have access to all campus resources and benefits.
University of California-Riverside
Average Net Price: $12,841
Located in the L.A. suburb of Riverside, the University of California, Riverside is a nationally-ranked public research university and a part of the University of California system. UC Riverside’s College of Engineering ranks among the top 33 percent of engineering schools nationally (according to U.S. News and World Report) and their Mechanical Engineering programs also rank highly (#85 nationally).
UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Engineering with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering. The program combines traditional courses on topics such as engineering management and systems with a focus on the challenges faced by the engineers of the 21st century, such as sustainability. Students encounter a combination of leadership strategy and advanced technical skills. Courses include:
- Design and Analysis of Engineering Experiments
- Sustainable Product Design
- Secure and Reliable Control Systems
UC Riverside’s online MSE in Mechanical Engineering is a 36-credit program, with four core courses, four ME courses, and one design project. The program is designed to be completed in 13 months and there are three available start dates. Whether you’re already a mechanical engineer or wanting to shift from a different engineering field, this program can help you become a cross-functional engineering leader who can manage teams across multiple disciplines.
North Carolina State University
Average Net Price: $13,066
Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, North Carolina State University is a public research university that ranks among the top 85 national universities in the country. NC State is a leader in Engineering programs—home to both one of the best engineering schools in the country and one of the top ten online graduate engineering programs nationally (U.S. News and World Report).
The College of Engineering at NC State offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering for students with a B.S. degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering. The program will broaden your expertise and expand your knowledge, preparing you for a career in mechanical and thermal systems design, analysis, and manufacturing. Students can specialize in one of twelve areas, including:
- Applied Mechanics
- Design and manufacturing
NC State’s online M.S.M.E. degree is a 30-credit, non-thesis progrma designed to prepare students for professional engineering careers (rather than an academic career). NC State’s online courses are identical to on-campus courses in terms of content, requirements, and academic rigor—with no final oral exam or on-campus attendance requirements. Students can complete the program on a part- or full-time basis.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Average Net Price: $13,340
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology (also known as Georgia Tech) is one of the nation’s leading STEM-focused research universities. According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 ranking, Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering ranks at #7 nationally, with their Mechanical Engineering programs coming in at #6 in the country.
The Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering for students with a background in Mechanical Engineering or a related field. As a student, you’ll learn methods of advanced analysis, learn to apply innovative techniques to solve problems, and develop skills pertinent to the research process—as well as work collaboratively and communicate effectively. Course possibilities include:
- Engineering Design
- Optimization in Engineering Design
- Mechanics of Contact
- Thermal Radiation Heat Transfer
Georgia Tech’s online M.S.M.E. is a highly-flexible program—most graduate coursework is elective, though students must meet the Woodruff School’s requirements of breadth, depth, and level. The non-thesis option is completed by taking ten classes according to the M.S. degree requirements. The thesis option involves working with a faculty member on a project in a wide range of research topics being investigated by Woodruff School faculty members.
Iowa State University
Average Net Price: $13,623
Located in the city of Ames, IA, Iowa State University is a major public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Having earned the designation “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University,” Iowa State offers nationally ranked programs through its eight colleges. And their Mechanical Engineering programs currently rank in the top 50 nationally (U.S. News and World Report).
The College of Engineering at Iowa State University offers an affordable, online Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. This professionally-focussed program is designed for working professionals and individuals seeking to become an outstanding engineer. As a student, you’ll have a huge amount of flexibility in choosing courses, allowing you to tailor the degree to your professional needs. Areas of study include:
- Design and Optimization
- Dynamic Systems and Controls
- Materials Processing and Mechanics
- Thermo-Fluid Sciences
ISU’s online M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program with no thesis requirement. And there is no set list of required courses—you’ll work with a faculty advisor to create a study plan that best fits your education and career goals. Up to 15 credits of the degree can be taken at another accredited institution. And students may take up to nine credits as a non-degree seeking student, so it’s possible to begin your studies before being formally admitted into the program.
Missouri University of Science & Technology
Average Net Price: $13,874
Located in Rolla, Missouri, the Missouri University of Science & Technology (Missouri S&T) is the STEM-focused campus of the University of Missouri System. The University places emphasis on leadership opportunities, research projects, and practical education through co-ops and internships. And their online graduate engineering programs rank among the top 25 nationally (U.S. News & World Report).
The College of Engineering at Missouri S&T offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering which offers a comprehensive education in a wide variety of areas. The curriculum offers lots of flexibility in terms of course selection and area of study. And for students who want a more research-oriented program as a basis for postgraduate studies, there is a thesis option. Course possibilities include:
- Advanced Finite Element Analysis
- Theory of Plates
- Viscous Fluid Flow
Missouri S&T’s online M.S. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program with both a thesis option and a non-thesis option. The thesis option is comprised of 21 credits of lecture courses (determined by student and faculty advisor), a thesis, and an oral examination. The non-thesis option is comprised of 30 credits of lecture courses, 24 of which must be from the Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering department.
University of California Los Angeles
Average Net Price: $14,236
Established in 1919 as the Southern branch of the University of California, the University of California-Los Angeles, known as UCLA, is a top-ranked national university. UCLA houses a much-lauded School of Engineering and Applied Science and their online graduate engineering programs consistently rank among the very best in the country (currently #2 according to U.S. News and World Report).
UCLA’s School of Engineering offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering that offers students an advanced education in a number of areas. Online students take the same program of study as campus-based students—with the same courses, same instructors, and same grading standards as on campus. The M.S. Mechanical Engineering degree also offers the flexibility to build your own program of study to best suit your professional needs. Possible courses include:
- Microscopic Energy Transport
- Mass Transfer
- Nuclear Reactor Theory
UCLA’s online M.S. in Mechanical Engineering is a 36-credit program with no thesis requirement. Students do complete a Capstone Project course, and five courses must be from the Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering department, but there is no set list of core course requirements. Students are expected to complete the degree within two academic years and one quarter—up to a maximum of three years.
University of Idaho
Average Net Price: $14,787
Located in Moscow, Idaho, the University of Idaho is the oldest university in Idaho and the state’s flagship research university. The University’s School of Engineering has been offering leading engineering programs for over 125 years—with world-class learning and research opportunities for students at the undergraduate through postgraduate levels.
Through their Engineering Outreach program, the University of Idaho’s School of Engineering offers an affordable, online Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. The program is a design-oriented degree for engineers with industrial experience (rather than a research-oriented program that would prepare you for postgraduate study). Students will gain the knowledge and skills to work as a project manager or project engineer in an industrial setting. Courses include:
- Engineering Acoustics
- Fluid Dynamics
- Mechanical Engineering Analysis
The University of Idaho’s online M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program with no thesis requirement—though all students complete a three-credit design project. The program is designed to be completed in three to four semesters and is recommended for students with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering (or a closely related field) from an ABET-accredited program. Applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, though, so if you don’t have an ME background, you may still be admitted.
Old Dominion University
Average Net Price: $15,218
Old Dominion University is a public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia. Old Dominion has been a pioneer in technology-delivered distance learning since the mid-1980s and has been offering highly regarded online degree programs since 2003 through ODU Online. Their online graduate engineering programs currently rank among the top fifty nationally (U.S. News & World Report).
Old Dominion University offers an affordable, online Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Design and Manufacturing. This unique program helps students become competitive in the rapidly evolving fields of computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies. Old Dominion’s program emphasizes Product Lifecycle Management for the collaborative data environment—and graduates are prepared for practice in many industries, including:
Old Dominion University’s online M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program which is comprised of 12 credits of core courses and 18 credits of electives. ODU Online use many of the same tools and strategies as face-to-face courses—from lectures and reading to online discussions. For admission, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in engineering or a related field—or you can complete Mechanical Engineering prerequisites for graduate study at ODU.
Texas Tech University
Average Net Price: $15,235
Located in Lubbock, Texas, Texas Tech University is a public research university and the flagship institution of the Texas Tech University system. The University recently received Tier One status from The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning and ranks among the top 100 public schools nationally (U.S. News and World Report). And Texas Tech’s online graduate engineering programs currently rank among the top twenty in the country.
The Whitacre College of Engineering at Texas Tech offers an affordable, online Master of Mechanical Engineering with specializations in the area of either Materials and Mechanics or in Design. The program features a focus on hands-on applications through the department’s specialized three-course lab and software sequence—and students collaborate to make contributions to the field of mechanical engineering. Courses include:
- Elasticity (Materials and Mechanics major)
- Fracture and Failure Analysis (Materials and Mechanics major)
- Advanced Engineering Design (Design major)
- Probabilistic Design
Texas Tech’s online Master of Mechanical Engineering is a 36-credit program with either a course-only option (which includes a comprehensive exam) or the Master’s Report option. Students choose from set courses within their chosen major area as well as free electives. And students can study on a part-time or full-time basis. Online courses are delivered in an asynchronous format so you can access them as your schedule allows.
Texas A&M University
Average Net Price: $15,455
Located in College Station, TX, Texas A&M University is a preeminent public research university that ranks among the top 75 national universities. With one of the top 20 Mechanical Engineering programs in the country (U.S. News and World Report), Texas A&M is also home to a top-ranking graduate engineering program (currently #8 in the U.S.).
Texas A&M University offers an affordable, online Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering that gives students the opportunity to specialize in a technical area of interest. This is a practitioner-oriented degree with no thesis option. Students hone their applied knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering, learn to solve engineering problems—and gain essential communication skills. Possible core courses include:
- Advanced Product Design
- Theory of Elasticity
- Continuum Mechanics
Texas A&M University’s online M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program which consists of a minimum of 24 credits of ME courses, as well as two electives and a portfolio for assessment. Texas A&M provides a list of ten designated core courses for students, but it is an optional list—students can choose courses that work best for their educational and professional goals.
University of Central Florida
Average Net Price: $15,533
A relatively young and innovative institution, the University of Central Florida is a large public research university located in Orlando, Florida. The school offers a plethora of highly regarded, and often highly-ranked, programs. Among these, the pioneering College of Engineering and Computer Science ranks among the top 75 nationally (U.S. News and World Report).
The College of Engineering and Computer Science at UCF offers an affordable, online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. For students with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, there are two available tracks. The Mechanical Systems track covers mathematical methods, mechanics of materials, dynamics and continuum mechanics. And in the thermofluids track, you’ll learn about mathematical methods, heat transfer, fluid mechanics and classical thermodynamics. Courses include:
- Mathematical Methods in Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering
- Intermediate Mechanics of Materials
- Intermediate Fluid Mechanics
UCF’s online M.S. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program with thesis and non-thesis options. All students take 12 credits of required courses and 12 credits of electives. UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering research portfolio is supported by external grants and contracts from highly competitive funding agencies and laboratories—and as a graduate student, you’ll engage in intellectually stimulating research projects.
University of Houston
Average Net Price: $15,571
Located in Houston, TX, the University of Houston is a major public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. The University has a robust online presence and is home to the highly ranked Cullen College of Engineering—which offers graduate programs in Mechanical Engineering that rank at #69 in the nation (U.S. News and World Report).
The University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering which propels students to positions of leadership in industry, government, and academia. The program provides an education grounded in the engineering sciences and prepares graduates to systematically apply those sciences to real-world problems. The program provides advanced study and research in the areas of:
- Applied Mechanics
- Control of Dynamical Systems
- Materials Science
- Thermal and Fluid Sciences
- Biomedical Engineering.
The University of Houston’s M.S. in Mechanical Engineering is a 30-credit program with a thesis and a non-thesis option. All students take 21 credits of coursework in Mechanical Engineering, other engineering or science electives, and graduate level mathematics. To be unconditionally admitted to the M.S.M.E. program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering or a related field.