Mechanical engineers began designing machines with moving parts more than 200 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. During the following decades, technological advances gave these professionals access to electricity, composite materials, and advanced manufacturing methods. Modern mechanical engineers collaborate with engineers in other subfields, such as electrical, chemical, and nuclear engineering.
The mechanical engineering field contains many specialization areas, including biomechanics — the study of how living things resemble mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers who specialize in biomechanics develop devices such as prosthetic limbs.
Mechanical engineers apply expertise in mathematics and physics, which they develop while earning a bachelor's in mechanical engineering. Professionals in the field also need problem-solving and teamwork skills, along with a passion for professional development. These abilities can lead to success in a variety of positions available to graduates of mechanical engineering programs.
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Top 5 Best Online Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering
|#1||The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL|
|#2||University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND|
|#3||Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ|
|#4||Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA|
|#5||National University La Jolla, CA|
Frequently Asked Questions About Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineers design and develop physical products in many industries. These professionals use their expertise to determine the best materials and manufacturing process for each project.
Full-time students typically complete mechanical engineering bachelor's programs in approximately four years. Part-time learners often graduate in 5-6 years.
Many of the best mechanical engineering bachelor's programs are available in an online format. Accredited schools provide online and on-campus learners with equivalent educational experiences.
Civil engineers specialize in the construction of buildings and other large-scale infrastructure projects. Mechanical engineers collaborate with civil engineers to ensure that all moving parts work correctly.
Career and Salary Outlook for Mechanical Engineering
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for mechanical engineers to increase 4% from 2019-2029, about as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations. This data indicates that graduates of bachelor's in mechanical engineering programs should enter a reliable job market.
Although the job responsibilities of mechanical engineers vary by employer, duties typically include investigating engineering problems, designing prototypes, and analyzing test results. These professionals develop products such as automobiles, HVAC systems, and robots. Individuals qualify for positions in subfields by earning a specialization during their mechanical engineering program.
Mechanical engineers can advance their career by earning a master's degree, attaining work experience, and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam. Engineers also complete continuing education credits to qualify for state licensure renewal. Experienced professionals may earn a doctorate and teach engineering at the college level.
|Career||Lowest 10%||Median Annual Salary||Highest 10%|
|Mechanical Engineers||Less than $57,130||$88,430||More than $138,020|
Prospective bachelor's in mechanical engineering students should only consider colleges and universities that have regional accreditation. Institutional accreditation demonstrates that a school meets set standards for academic quality. Many employers only recognize degrees earned from accredited schools, and learners at unaccredited institutions cannot qualify for federal financial aid.
Schools that offer online mechanical engineering bachelor's programs should hold national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Online and on-campus programs at DEAC-accredited institutions deliver quality education and learning outcomes.
The best mechanical engineering bachelor's programs hold ABET accreditation, which indicates that the program provides an excellent educational experience and prepares learners to succeed in the field.
Courses in a Mechanical Engineering Bachelor's Program
The best and most affordable mechanical engineering bachelor's programs feature comprehensive curricula that emphasize technical skills and knowledge. Students take general education courses to hone transferable skills. Major coursework introduces learners to mechanical engineering topics, and degree-seekers complete specialization or elective courses in a mechanical engineering subfield. Students can also complete a minor in an unrelated academic subject.
The following sample curriculum describes five typical courses in bachelor's in mechanical engineering programs. Course names and requirements vary among programs. Learners should consult their prospective school's course catalog or contact an academic advisor before applying.
Mechanical engineers must understand fundamental electrical engineering concepts. This course covers topics including Ohm's law, voltage, resistance, and currents. Students also analyze theorems and concepts that influence the decision-making of electrical engineers. Some programs pair this course with a lab that may require on-campus visits.
Most modern mechanical engineers do not draw blueprints and schematics by hand. Professionals typically use software such as AutoCAD. This introductory class explores AutoCAD fundamentals. Students learn about graphic design and computer design models, and they demonstrate mastery of course concepts through a series of projects.
Thermodynamics deals with the way that energy, work, temperature, and heat interact within a system. Mechanical engineers need a strong grasp of thermodynamics to understand how energy creates work and vice versa. This course emphasizes the relationships between energy and entropy, gases and liquids, and power cycles. This class typically requires prerequisites in mathematics and physics.
Mechanical engineers use a variety of instruments and tools, each with specific measurement systems. Students in this course practice using physical and software tools to understand what measurements signify and to extract essential data. Coursework emphasizes statistical analysis and culminates with a design project during which learners use various instruments to take multiple measurements.
Choosing the right materials is crucial to a project's success. This class explores the interactions among the structures and properties of various materials. Coursework may focus on metals, since mechanical engineers commonly design products with metal parts. Learners also examine case studies.
Even students in the most affordable mechanical engineering bachelor's programs often need financial assistance. Learners can apply for institutional funding, federal aid, and private scholarship opportunities. Many organizations offer awards for students pursuing a degree in science, mathematics, or technology. Some scholarships renew annually, as long as learners remain in good academic standing.
Who Can Apply: Graduating high school seniors who plan to major in mechanical engineering can apply for this award. Students can apply in January or February, and scholarship winners receive funding for the following fall semester.
Who Can Apply: BWM and SAE International offer this scholarship to undergraduate students enrolled in an ABET-accredited program. Applicants need a minimum 3.75 undergraduate GPA and satisfactory SAT or ACT scores.
Who Can Apply: The engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi awards funding to high school seniors who plan to enroll in an undergraduate engineering program. Applicants need SAT or ACT scores in at least the 90th percentile.
Best Online Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering 2021
Located in Tuscaloosa, UA offers an online bachelor of science in mechanical engineering through their Bama by Distance program. Students complete 126 credits mostly online, with just three weekend labs required.
Students complete general education and elective courses along with computer courses to cover the basics. Notable mechanical engineering options include small-scale engineering graphics, engineering materials, static machine components, and mechanical engineering design. Students take electives both within the department and in other subject areas.
First-year applicants must send high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores to begin the admissions process. Students with at least 24 transfer credits need a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify for admission. Applicants can transfer a maximum of 12 upper-division credits into the program.
UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Based in Grand Forks, UND offers an online bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. Students take the majority of courses online and come to campus for 1-2 weeks during the summer to network with peers and professors.
Students complete general education courses and electives along with an introduction to mechanical engineering. From there, students take courses such as fluid mechanics, machine component design, fundamentals of heat and mass transfer, and engineering design. During the summer campus visit, students participate in labs and simulations for hands-on training. Online participants can take advantage of online tutoring and student support services.
The school prefers first-year applicants to possess a minimum GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Students must also submit SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students need a minimum of 24 transfer credits with a 2.0 GPA to apply. UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Phoenix, ASU offers a bachelor of science in engineering in mechanical engineering. Students complete 120 credits online with no need to come to campus for labs.
In addition to mechanical engineering fundamentals and general education courses, students complete training in different mechanical engineering fields. Notable courses include system dynamics and control, computer-aided engineering, and advanced mathematical methods for engineers. The curriculum also includes a course entiteled math and materials fundamentals as well as electives from outside the department.
First-year students must possess a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, with a 3.0 GPA in competency courses, to qualify for admission. Students may also prove eligibility with a top 25% high school rank, a minimum ACT score of 22, or a minimum SAT score of 1150. Transfer students need a minimum GPA of 2.5 to apply.
ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Based in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU offers an online bachelor of science in engineering technology with a concentration in mechanical systems design as a degree completion program. Students may also complete a minor in mechanical engineering technology.
Students take general education courses as required, but the degree completion program begins with mechanical engineering foundations. Notable courses include solids modeling, manufacturing processes, computer-aided drafting, and industrial materials. The mechanical engineering minor requires 18 credits in the series. Students gain a thorough understanding of fluid mechanics, thermal applications, and design of machine elements.
Applicants need at least some transfer credits, and the school prefers students to hold an associate degree to apply to the program. Applicants may transfer in all but 30 credits toward their degree. ODU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Based in San Diego, California, NU offers a fully online bachelor of science in manufacturing design engineering. Students complete 180 quarter credits in convenient four-week terms, allowing focus on just one class at a time.
Students begin with prerequisite courses such as physics, chemistry, and trigonometry, as well as any general education core requirements. Notable department courses include legal aspects of engineering, scientific problem-solving, computer-aided engineering, and project management fundamentals. A senior capstone project offers students hands-on experience and the chance to demonstrate skills mastery.
First-year applicants must hold a high school diploma and a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply for the program. Applicants with a lower GPA may apply for conditional admission. Students do not need to send SAT or ACT scores unless they wish to use them for course placement exams.
NU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.