Mechanical engineers design and build the machines and devices that make everyday life possible. An online mechanical engineering master's degree leads to employment opportunities in some of the newest and most innovative industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the industry will experience 5% growth by 2024, which is on par with the national average. Graduates are prepared for careers in a variety of manufacturing settings, including transportation and safety, alternative energies, aerospace, healthcare, nanotechnology, robotics, and manufacturing. Online master's in mechanical engineering programs emphasize mathematical and computer expertise, practical engineering, problem-solving, creativity, and the ability to work well under pressure.

What are the best mechanical engineering programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
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

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Stanford University

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 University

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 Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Program?

The curriculum for each online master's in mechanical engineering program will vary from school to school. Programs in this rapidly evolving field typically include courses in advanced mathematics, computational engineering, thermal systems analysis, heat transfer, combustion, renewable energy, nanotechnology, and robotics. Despite the wide variety of options, there are some courses that you will find in any online master's in mechanical engineering program. Below are a few examples of these fundamental courses.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering

  • Thermodynamics: This course reviews the first, second, and third combined laws of thermodynamics, the fundamental concepts of temperature, thermodynamic properties, and systems, and statistical thermodynamics. Students interested in thermodynamics may be interested in a career with NASA or a private contractor as an aerospace engineer.
  • Introduction to Renewable Energy: This survey course covers the developments in renewable energy, its applications, and its economic and societal impact. The course emphasizes principles and practices of energy conversion, including solar energy, bioenergy, wind, and hydrokinetic energy. The demand for this specialization is anticipated to increase within the next decade, especially for solar and wind power technical engineers.
  • Automation and Robotics: This course covers topics like robot kinematics and dynamics, design of sequential control circuits and ladder diagrams, robotic design and applications, and control of robotic equipment using electronics, programmable automation controllers, computers, hydraulics and pneumatics. This is another rapidly expanding specialization with new employment opportunities for mechanical engineers in fields like robotics software development.
  • Internal Combustion: In this course, students are introduced to the fundamentals of internal combustion engines, emission formation, combustion in homogeneous charged and in compression ignition engines, and the effect of design and operating variables, control, and instrumentation. Expertise in this area can lead to employment as a combustion/performance/emission engineer in a wide range of industries.
  • Air Pollution Engineering: This specialized course emphasizes the environmental aspects of combustion processes, air quality and emission control, pollutant formation, and control of pollutants, particulates, and contaminants. Students trained in air pollution engineering can pursue careers as pollution control specialists, who are responsible for designing, testing, and recommending equipment to companies and providing environmental impact assessments.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering?

The curriculum requirements for each online master's in mechanical engineering degree vary greatly from school to school. Some programs include only coursework, while others have internship or thesis requirements. In general, you should plan on earning your degree in one to three years. There are also other factors that can impact how long it takes to earn your degree, such as course delivery method and whether you plan on studying full- or part-time. Asynchronous course delivery can allow you to complete coursework at your own pace, which can make it easier to earn a degree in less time. On the other hand, synchronous course delivery makes it easy to predict how long it will take to earn a degree because of its fixed scheduling.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Degrees

When searching for the right school for you, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Academic accreditation shows that an institution is regularly reviewed by an accrediting agency, ensuring that they meet certain quality standards. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation and is typically earned by public nonprofit universities. On the other hand, national accreditation is usually pursued by for-profit colleges and trade or vocational schools. The best online mechanical engineering master's programs also hold specialized accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a nonprofit organization that evaluates degree programs in the natural and applied sciences, computing, and engineering.

In the U.S., academic accreditation agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ED is a cabinet-level agency that oversees policies and federal assistance to schools throughout the country. CHEA is a nonprofit organization affiliated with 3,000 schools that recognizes 60 accrediting agencies and advocates for self-regulation through these agencies. Both organizations perform important quality control functions in the areas of curriculum, admissions, degree requirements, faculty, facilities, finances, and more. You can access databases that include lists of all accredited institutions in the U.S. on the ED and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Mechanical Engineering Graduates

Mechanical engineers are in high demand, especially in industries that adopt the latest technological and software advances. To become a successful mechanical engineer, you must have strong competencies in mathematics, management, and computer design and application. You should also have demonstrable skills in problem-solving and applying creativity towards solving complex engineering tasks. The advanced training you'll receive while earning an online master's degree in mechanical engineering will prepare you for a variety of rewarding employment opportunities, including the following options.

Aerospace Engineers

These professionals are responsible for designing aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles and developing the software needed to create models and perform simulations. Aerospace engineers are employed in one of two broad specializations: aeronautical engineers work primarily with aircraft and propulsion, while astronautical engineers develop applications for space science and technology. Aerospace professionals who want to advance their career must obtain an advanced degree and other professional development opportunities.

Median Annual Salary:

Entry Level: $73,256
Mid-Level: $89,278
Late Career: $134,190

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers are responsible for improving operations, increasing production rates, implementing efficient practices, and eliminating waste in manufacturing. Many industries rely on these professionals for their ability to develop strategies that will enhance quality control, speed, and safety.

Median Annual Salary:

Entry Level: $62,196
Mid-Level: $73,864
Late Career: $85,050

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineering is the most in-demand and broadest engineering specialization and prepares students for a variety of career opportunities in research and manufacturing. Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing, building, and testing tools, engines, machines, and all types of other mechanical and thermal devices. Many industries now require a master's in mechanical engineering or a related discipline, along with industry-specific certifications and EIT licensing.

Median Annual Salary:

Entry Level: $64,681
Mid-Level: $77,258
Late Career: $98,926

Environmental Engineer

The need for environmental engineers continues to grow as businesses and government agencies push to protect our natural resources. These professionals use technology to manage land, air, and water resources, reduce pollution, and enforce environmental regulations. The more challenging and better paying opportunities require graduate training in mechanical engineering with a specialization in environmental science, ecology, resource management, or other related areas.

Median Annual Salary:

Entry Level: $59,132
Mid-Level: $71,254
Late Career: $100,872

Civil Engineer

The demand for civil engineers in the public and private sectors is consistently strong. These specialists are indispensable to all kinds of small and large-scale construction projects, such as buildings, roads, airports, bridges, waterworks, and sewer installations. The job outlook for civil engineers is promising, especially for those with a master's degree.

Master's in Mechanical Engineering Salary

Career Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Aerospace Engineer $73,256 $89,278 $134,190
Industrial Engineer $62,196 $73,864 $85,050
Mechanical Engineer $64,681 $77,258 $98,926
Environmental Engineer $59,132 $71,254 $100,872

Source: Payscale

Graduates with a master's degree in mechanical engineering have access to a wide variety of careers. Their median salary is $84,190, with compensation determined through a combination of skills and training, geographical location, and years of experience. Earning a mechanical engineering master's degree online can help advance your career and qualify you for a higher salary. When choosing between online mechanical engineering programs, pay attention to the kinds of specializations offered at each school and so that you can choose a degree that will help prepare you for your long-term career goals. In general, those who have professional work experience, graduate degrees, certificates, licenses, and other specialized training will command higher salaries than those in entry-level positions.

Financing Your Online Master's in Mechanical Engineering Program

For many students, the biggest challenge when pursuing a mechanical engineering master's degree online is paying for it. The first step for all students should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA). This can help you determine if you are eligible for scholarships, student loans, or work-study opportunities through the federal government. There are also funding opportunities that are targeted for certain demographics in STEM programs. The HENAAC Conference supports Hispanic students in STEM education, and the Society for Women Engineers and several corporations assist women in mechanical engineering programs. Finally, the Society of Black Engineers offers several scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.


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