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Mechanical engineers are creative professionals with a breadth of knowledge that covers topics like machine processes, product manufacturing, and energy use and generation. Because of their versatile skill set, mechanical engineers are invaluable members of multidisciplinary teams in fields like healthcare and environmental conservation.
The following guide ranks the best online master's in mechanical engineering programs to help you find a school that fits your schedule, budget, and career goals. Profiles discuss information like a college's admission requirements, tuition, and student resources. Read on to learn more about these programs, including common concentration options and capstone requirements.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Stanford University||Stanford, CA|
|2||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|3||Georgia Institute of Technology||Atlanta, GA|
|4||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD|
|5||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|6||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA|
|7||University of Washington||Seattle, WA|
|8||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA|
|9||Boston University||Boston, MA|
|10||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC|
- How We Rank Schools
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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Programs
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|Stanford, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Stanford is a renowned private research institution that has offered distance education since 1995. Today, its degree options include a master of science in mechanical engineering that can be completed partially online. Part-time students can graduate in 3-5 years. Through a 45-credit curriculum, candidates gain the advanced skills needed to occupy leadership and research positions in automotive, biomedical, industrial, and HVAC engineering fields.
Required coursework covers topics like design and manufacturing, experimental stress analysis, and mechanics of biological tissues. Master's in mechanical engineering candidates also explore smart product design with an emphasis on computer-aided creation methods. They fill out remaining credit requirements with electives and can engage in independent research and practicum experiences.
Applicants need a bachelor of science in engineering, physics, or a related scientific field. Admission materials include a statement of purpose, GRE scores, a resume/CV, and three recommendation letters.
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
Based in Gainesville, UF serves over 52,000 students each year, many of whom earn their credentials remotely. The school's graduate catalog includes an online master of science in mechanical engineering. This highly flexible, 30-credit program allows students to pick the majority of their coursework, aligning classes with their research interests and professional goals.
Master's in mechanical engineering candidates choose a thesis or non-thesis track. Course topics include mechanics of composite materials, data measurement and analysis, and computational fluid dynamics. Students can use up to six credits for thesis research and project completion.
UF requires applicants to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and adequate standardized test scores. The university provides a variety of financial aid opportunities, like graduate assistantships and research funding.
Georgia Institute of Technology
|Atlanta, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
Georgia Tech maintains its flagship campus in Atlanta, educating about 33,000 students annually. Distance learners can enroll in the school's online master of science in mechanical engineering program. The 30-credit curriculum teaches candidates the advanced analytical skills needed to engage in complex problem-solving and research development.
Similar to other master's in mechanical engineering programs, Georgia Tech's degree lets students choose from thesis and non-thesis tracks. The degree plan covers topics like computer-aided design, nonlinear control systems, and wind engineering. Candidates can use electives to complete a complementary minor or pursue specialized topics in the major.
Georgia Tech offers fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Applicants must submit GRE/GMAT scores and a professional resume or CV. They also need to submit a personal statement that explains their career goals and why they want to attend a graduate engineering program.
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
As one of the top private research institutions in the world, Johns Hopkins provides comprehensive academics across its 10 schools. Its graduate programs include an online master's in mechanical engineering that offers four focus areas. Distance learners may complete a fully remote curriculum or create a hybrid experience by taking some classes at one of the university's four regional campuses.
Core coursework includes mathematical methods for engineers and topics in data analysis. Students take advanced courses in their chosen track, with options like biomechanics, fluid mechanics, and manufacturing. They can also pursue the robotics and control focus area, which covers mechanized assembly and spacecraft design.
This master's in mechanical engineering program operates a holistic evaluation process that considers an applicant's overall academic strength and professional achievements. However, successful candidates typically hold at least a 3.3 GPA.
University of Southern California
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
Headquartered in Los Angeles, USC powers distance education with the Blackboard platform. Its degree offerings include an online master of science in mechanical engineering that prepares candidates for many careers, including those at automotive manufacturing plants, consulting firms, and warehouse distribution facilities. With flexible, blended course delivery, remote learners can earn their credentials in 18 months.
This master's in mechanical engineering program allows students to pursue one of three specialized tracks. Options include engineering design, thermal/fluid sciences, and mechanics and materials. Students who choose the mechanics and materials option take classes like applied elasticity, mechatronics systems engineering, and random vibrations.
USC offers fall and spring start dates. Applicants must submit GRE scores, a resume or CV, and a personal statement. They can also send in recommendation letters to bolster their application portfolio.
University of California, Los Angeles
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Founded in 1919 as a teacher training school, UCLA is now a comprehensive research institution. Graduate students can choose from over 150 degree options at UCLA, including an online master of science in mechanical engineering. Through a broad curriculum, candidates gain knowledge related to key technical and research areas.
Required courses include advanced strengths of materials, linear elasticity, and composites of manufacturing. Master's in mechanical engineering students individualize their degree plans by choosing at least six electives. These options include analytical fracture mechanics, computational aerodynamics, and digital control of physical systems.
UCLA requires prospective students to hold a bachelor's degree in mathematics, physics, or an engineering discipline. Applicants also need a minimum 3.0 GPA and adequate GRE scores.
University of Washington
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
As a preeminent public higher education institution, UW supports over 54,000 students every year. The school powers distance education with Blackboard Learn. One such online offering is a master of science in mechanical engineering. This program offers part-time and full-time schedule options, and students have the ability to begin degree work at the beginning of any quarter.
This option stands out from many other master's in mechanical engineering programs by letting candidates choose between all-coursework, project-based, and thesis tracks. Required courses include finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, and applied parallel computing for numerical analysis and digital design.
Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and stellar GRE scores. They must also submit a one-page statement of purpose, a current resume, and three recommendation letters.
University of Virginia
|Charlottesville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Based in Charlottesville, UVA educates more than 20,000 students each year. In addition to comprehensive campus-based academics, the institution offers online degrees, including a master of engineering in mechanical and aerospace engineering. This flexible program totals 30 credits and allows candidates to take half of their coursework at partnering schools, including Old Dominican University and Virginia Tech.
The curriculum contains classes like finite element analysis, multibody mechanical systems, and linear state space systems. Students also examine mathematical concepts for engineers and scientists. To earn their online master's degree in mechanical engineering, candidates must also complete and submit plan of study, engineering analysis, and technical writing assessment forms.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Application documents include GRE scores, a resume/CV, a personal statement, and three recommendation letters.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
BU enrolls about 35,000 students in over 300 academic programs each year. Its graduate catalog contains a master of science in mechanical engineering that comes with eight concentration areas. Candidates can complete many of their classes online.
Totaling 32 credits, the master's in mechanical engineering curriculum includes required coursework like manufacturing processes and advanced product design. Students pursue specialized topics in their chosen concentration, with options like nanotechnology, aerospace engineering, and technology innovation. They can also enroll in an energy technologies track, learning how to develop and maintain wind systems and other forms of renewable power.
BU requires prospective learners to hold a relevant bachelor's degree and adequate GRE scores. Students can apply for federal aid and institutional merit-based scholarships.
North Carolina State University
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
NC State is a leader in distance education, providing more than 100 remote certificates and degrees. Graduate students can earn an online master of science in mechanical engineering. Designed for working professionals, this flexible, 30-credit program does not require candidates to attend campus or complete a thesis.
Students work with a personal advisor to pick coursework that supports their research interests and professional goals. Options include heat theory transfer and applications, advanced solid mechanics, and design of electromechanical systems. Master's in mechanical engineering candidates can also explore design optimization methods for single and multiobjective problems.
NC State prefers applicants with a relevant bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with undergraduate credentials in an unrelated field can still enroll but will need to complete designated prerequisites.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Program?
The curriculum of a master's in mechanical engineering program generally includes a few required core classes, with the remaining credits dedicated to electives or a concentration.
Most online master's in mechanical engineering programs require at least 30 credits. This process often takes about two years, depending on a student's enrollment status and prior academic/professional experiences. Some online colleges deliver accelerated nonthesis tracks for experienced engineers. These tracks may allow students to graduate within just 12 months.
The curriculum of a master's in mechanical engineering program generally includes a few required core classes, with the remaining credits dedicated to electives or a concentration. Core courses cover topics like mechanical engineering design and finite element analysis. Students may also need to take a foundational math class, such as linear algebra, data science, or computational physics.
Depending on the school, specialization options may include materials manufacturing, controls and mechatronics, vibrations and dynamics, and biomechanics. Internships and other practicum requirements differ based on a program's goals. Many master of science programs culminate in a thesis; however, master of engineering programs may require a portfolio project and/or cumulative exam.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Programs
Applicants typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field, like physics or mechanical design. Many programs feature a GPA cutoff, with minimum requirements usually falling between 2.5 and 3.0. Some schools may also have standardized testing requirements, although these are becoming less common.
In addition to transcripts, prospective students typically submit 2-3 recommendation letters, a current resume or CV, and a personal statement that details relevant accomplishments and professional goals. Check out BestColleges' Graduate Admissions Guide for more information about this process.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Program?
Online master's in mechanical engineering programs require students to complete courses covering fundamental topics like applied research methodologies and engineering design and analysis. The remaining curriculum is usually flexible, allowing students to pick advanced classes based on their professional goals and chosen concentration.
- Machine Learning
Fulfilling a core math requirement, this course introduces engineers to theories, methods, and tools related to applied data science and machine learning. Students engage with open-source data software and canonical machine learning algorithms. They also learn how to analyze data to develop practical applications that improve workflow.
- Mechanical Engineering Design
In this foundational class, students learn the design processes behind various engineering systems and components, with an emphasis on mathematical modeling. The course also covers open-ended design problems in contemporary mechanical engineering. Additionally, students gain technical communication and project planning skills centered on collaborative design methodology.
- Fluid Mechanics
Students are introduced to core concepts in fluid properties and motion, as well as their applications in engineering design. Since fluids exert force, engineers must consider their dynamics when designing objects, including bridges, dams, and buildings. Other covered topics include boundary layers, mass and momentum conservation, and hydrostatics.
- Computer-Integrated Design
This class is usually part of a manufacturing concentration and focuses on the automation of design and development processes. Students delve into the capacities, limitations, and economic considerations of these methods for modern manufacturing facilities. They may explore related topics like material resource planning, information management, and quality control.
- Medical Robotics
This specialized course examines the development of robotic use for surgery and other health services. Students learn the fundamentals of robot design, including acceleration and velocity analysis and forward and backward kinematics. Learners also gain the skills needed to design control and safety systems for medical robots.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Degree?
Technical communication skills and specialized knowledge in areas like computer-aided product design allow mechanical engineers to work in various industries. For example, with the right training, you could pursue a position with a homeland security agency, a warehouse distribution chain, or a nuclear power provider. You might also pursue a career designing robots and the control systems that bring them to life.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 4% job growth for mechanical engineering occupations between 2019 and 2029. These professionals make a median annual salary of $88,430, with the top 10% of earners taking home more than $138,020 per year. Earning a master's in the field can help set candidates apart on the job market and qualify them for more lucrative salaries.
Learn more about mechanical engineering careers and see where a master's in mechanical engineering degree can take you.
- Biomedical Engineer
These professionals use biological and medical principles to design healthcare equipment, systems, and software. Due to growing healthcare needs among older Americans, the BLS projects that bioengineering and biomedical engineering positions will grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029. Major employers of these professionals include medical supplies manufacturers and research laboratories.
- Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineers may create machines and manufacturing processes. They also manage how machines generate and use energy. According to the BLS, they earn a median annual salary of $88,430.
- Robotics Engineer
Professionals who work in this mechanical engineering speciality design and build robots for a variety of applications, including manufacturing, exploration, and laboratory research. According to PayScale, these engineers make an average annual salary of about $84,000.
- Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers use their problem-solving and mechanical skills to extract natural resources from the earth. Between 2019-2029, the BLS projects 3% job growth for these professionals, who earn a median annual salary of $137,720.
- Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design, build, and troubleshoot airplanes and spaceships. The BLS projects 3% job growth for aerospace engineering positions between 2019-2029. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $116,500.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Mechanical Engineering Programs
- Is a master's in mechanical engineering worth it?
The worth of a graduate degree depends on your career goals. Master's in mechanical engineering programs tend to be flexible, allowing students to create individualized degree plans by choosing from electives and concentration options. A graduates' degree type and specialization can have a significant impact on their earning potential.
- What can I do with a master's in mechanical engineering?
Mechanical engineering encompasses the motion of systems (like ocean tides) and objects (like a car or the human body). Because of this breadth, mechanical engineers can work in many fields, including information technology, aerospace defense, petroleum extraction, and rail transportation. They may also pursue a bioengineering position, growing organs from tissue or designing state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment.
- Are mechanical engineers in demand?
The BLS projects that mechanical engineering occupations will grow by 4% between 2019-2029. This growth translates to the creation of about 12,400 new jobs. Mechanical engineers are often employed by architecture firms, machinery manufacturers, warehousing and transportation providers, and research institutions.
- How much money can I make with a master's in mechanical engineering?
According to PayScale, professionals with a master's in mechanical engineering earn an average annual salary of $84,770. However, factors like geographic location, industry, and specific role/occupation can affect a worker's earning potential. Experience also affects wages, with top-earning senior mechanical engineers making more than $133,000 each year.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in mechanical engineering?