As the oldest branch of engineering, mechanical engineering is a broad field that offers numerous employment opportunities. Virtually every system that includes moving parts has been designed, manufactured or maintained by mechanical engineers in some capacity.
To work as a mechanical engineer, you'll typically need at least a bachelor's degree. While one benefit of the field is that it teaches skills which can be used across industries, many mechanical engineering degree programs allow students to specialize their studies. They may focus on a certain sector or specific area such as design, energy systems or even nuclear engineering.
Some institutions also offer online mechanical engineering degrees for those are unable to study on-campus. Whether you are interested in traditional or online degrees for mechanical engineering, keep reading to learn more about this versatile field of study. We've compiled a list of the top schools for mechanical engineering as well as information on careers, professional organizations and financial aid options.
Best Colleges for Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs
To find the best colleges for mechanical engineering degree programs, Schools.com surveyed institutions for a variety of program accessibility and student success factors. Using this methodology, the following ten institutions rise to the top.
With a scenic campus in Celina, Ohio, Wright State University - Lake Campus takes the top spot among the best schools for mechanical engineering. Enrolling only about 1,300 students, the school is a good choice for anyone seeking a small learning environment.
The Lake Campus mechanical engineering program is relatively new, but it has been expanding rapidly. That may be because of its focus on providing a rigorous education using modern equipment and classes that are small. Engineering students have studied overseas in Germany and Taiwan, and the school encourages internships and part-time employment to complement classroom studies.
Wright State University - Lake Campus has the lowest tuition rate among the schools listed here. It is also notable for its flexible scheduling options and student support services.
The University of Wisconsin - Platteville is another school that ranks high for affordable tuition, student support services and a prominent mechanical engineering program. The four-year school is also the fastest growing member of the University of Wisconsin System.
Mechanical engineering is one of the most popular majors at the school. Its bachelor's degree program was created in 1975 and is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Students learn in a state-of-the-art lab using a curriculum that emphasizes hands-on projects and activities. For those interested in online mechanical engineering degrees, the University of Wisconsin - Platteville has a collaborative engineering program that combines online classes with in-person instruction.
UW-Platteville was founded in 1866 and enrolls nearly 8,500 students. Its campus is in Platteville.
As part of the University of Missouri System, the Missouri University of Science and Technology is known for its excellent engineering programs. It ranks high for both its prominence and its graduation rate.
Students at Missouri S&T get hands-on experience that starts in their freshman year. The school emphasizes design and build experiences and open-ended projects. Seniors in the undergraduate program complete a capstone project prior to graduation. There are also graduate degrees available through the university, including online degrees for mechanical engineering. The online master's degree in mechanical engineering is available in both a thesis and non-thesis option.
Missouri S&T was founded in 1870 and has the distinction of being one of the first technological institutions in the nation. Its campus is in Rolla.
Iowa State University prides itself on providing a student-centered education. Its nearly 37,000 students have access to hundreds of clubs and organizations which complement their academic studies.
Engineering was one of the first programs offered at ISU, and the school has the seventh largest program in the country by enrollment. Nearly 10,000 students study the field at Iowa State University. Its mechanical engineering program offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Those earning a bachelor's degree can choose from four areas of study: design and optimization, materials and manufacturing, thermal fluids and dynamic systems.
ISU ranks high for affordable tuition and its graduation rate. It has the third highest graduation rate among the best colleges for mechanical engineering degree programs.
Located in Bozeman, Montana State University enrolls more than 16,500 students. That makes it the state's largest university. The school was established in 1893 and is part of the Big Sky Conference for athletics.
The mechanical engineering degree programs at MSU are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are available. What's more, undergraduate students can select from either a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology. The curriculum is deigned to be challenging and provide real-world skills needed by employers today.
Montana State University has the third lowest tuition rate among the top schools for mechanical engineering. It is also notable for supporting its students through services such as academic advising and career placement assistance.
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology ranks high for its low student-faculty ratio. It also has the ninth most prominent mechanical engineering program among all the schools surveyed.
Known simply as Mines to many, the school's mechanical engineering program relies on a design-based curriculum. Students can also participate in one of 13 teams that create drones, cars and other vehicles. Accredited programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Those studying for a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering can specialize in one three areas: controls and robotics, thermal science and solid mechanics.
SD Mines was founded in 1885 and has its campus in Rapid City. It is a public institution.
More commonly known as New Mexico Tech, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers both traditional and online mechanical engineering degrees. Its accredited program is popular and ranks fifth for prominence. New Mexico Tech also has the second lowest tuition of the colleges on this list.
The institute's Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering is intended to prepare students for graduate school as well as employment in government or industry. There is also a master's degree and doctoral degree available in the field. The master's degree can be earned on-campus, or classes are streamed live on the internet for online students.
New Mexico Tech was founded in 1889 and enrolls more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Its campus is in Socorro.
Low tuition, small classes and strong support services all helped the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs rank among the best colleges for mechanical engineering degree programs. The school is one of four campuses within the University of Colorado System and was established in 1965.
Mechanical engineering degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students learn a comprehensive core curriculum and then can specialize their learning through electives. They are also invited to join the UCCS active chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Society of Automotive Engineers. For students who want to earn both bachelor and master's degrees, an accelerated program is available.
UCCS enrolls approximately 12,000 students in its six colleges. Its campus is in Colorado Springs.
Based in New York City, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art typically goes by the shortened name of Cooper Union. The school was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, a philanthropist who envisioned a public learning center that would enrich the city.
Cooper Union's Department of Mechanical Engineering offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. These are intended to produce broadly educated students through a rigorous curriculum. Its graduates may go on to work in industries such as aerospace, biomedical engineering or utilities. The mechanical engineering degree programs at Cooper Union are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
At 9-1, the student-faculty ratio at Cooper Union is the best among the schools listed here. It also has the second best graduation rate among the top colleges for mechanical engineering.
Rounding out the best colleges for mechanical engineering degree programs is Grove City College. The Christian institution was founded in 1876 and prides itself on being an independent institution that runs without federal financial aid.
The mechanical engineering program at Grove City College has been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science through a curriculum that prepares graduates for careers in research, production, design and more. About a third of all students spend a semester studying in France at the College's European Study Center.
Grove City College has the best graduation rate among the top schools for mechanical engineering. Its campus is in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
A bachelor's degree is considered the entry-level education for mechanical engineers. Some students may go directly to graduate studies after earning their undergraduate degree, but it's usually not necessary to get a job.
Career Outlook for Mechanical Engineering Majors
Engineering is integral to many fields, but job growth for professionals may depend on their specific specialty. Here's a look at the projected career outlook for graduates of mechanical engineering degree programs.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians||$59,160||42,820||2.6%|
|Drafters, Engineering Technicians, and Mapping Technicians||$60,320||679,310||1.6%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Mechanical Engineering
Many college mechanical engineering departments offer scholarships, grants and other aid. In addition, there are national scholarship programs for mechanical engineering students. These include awards offered by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education and SAE.
Recipient must maintain acceptable academic standing and full-time status to retain fellowship.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015