Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

ASO Staff WritersASO Rankings Team
Updated September 20, 2023
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Mechanical engineers help design nearly every piece of technology you use in your day-to-day life. Often specializing in a subfield, mechanical engineers can explore various opportunities for professional advancement. Most entry-level jobs in this field require a mechanical engineering degree.

An online mechanical engineering degree offers more benefits than just career prep. Top online programs have many advantages compared to on-campus programs, such as asynchronous courses. You may also pay a lower tuition rate than your on-campus peers.

What Is Mechanical Engineering Exactly?

Mechanical engineers work on technological and mechanical products throughout the development life cycle. These professionals use their physics and math expertise to ensure that what they create meets all required specifications, such as safety and performance standards.

A mechanical engineering degree online program trains you in subjects like systems dynamics, advanced mathematical methods for engineers, and applied experimental statistics.

Foundational classes prepare you to branch out into one of mechanical engineering’s many subfields, such as biotechnology, control systems, and robotics.

Did You Know?

  • chevron-right Mechanical engineers earn some of the highest salaries in New Mexico, California, and Washington, D.C., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • chevron-right Master’s and doctoral mechanical engineering programs can open up new career opportunities and significantly increase your salary potential.
  • chevron-right In addition to big projects, mechanical engineers can also work on small projects — like nanomachines that aid with DNA analysis.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs

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#1 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

The University of Alabama

  • Location-markerTuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,780
  • Out-of-state$30,250
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate83%
  • Students Enrolled38,100
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment13%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Location-markerGrand Forks, ND
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,212
  • Out-of-state$14,371
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled13,581
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

Arizona State University Online

  • Location-markerScottsdale , AZ
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled0
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationNo
#4 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

Old Dominion University

  • Location-markerNorfolk, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,029
  • Out-of-state$26,664
  • Retention Rate80%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled23,675
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes

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Does Accreditation Matter for an Online Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Prospective mechanical engineering degree students should only consider colleges that are accredited. Institutional accreditation means a school meets set standards for academic quality.

Many graduate schools and employers only recognize degrees earned from accredited schools. What’s more, you can only qualify for federal financial aid if your school is accredited.

In addition to institutional accreditation, you should look for programmatic accreditation when applying to mechanical engineering programs.

The best online mechanical engineering degree programs will hold ABET accreditation. This indicates that the program meets quality standards to prepare students for STEM careers.

What Courses Do You Take for a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

The best mechanical engineering programs feature comprehensive curricula emphasizing technical skills and knowledge. You’ll take general education courses in addition to major-specific coursework.

Engineering courses introduce key mechanical engineering topics. You can choose a specialization or take elective courses in a subfield of mechanical engineering as well.

Here are some common courses you can expect to take for your mechanical engineering degree:

  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Electrical basics
  • Elements of thermodynamics
  • Instrumentation and measurements
  • Introduction to mechanical design
  • Machine design analysis
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Materials science
  • Renewable energy
  • Systems dynamic analysis and design

What Can You Do With an Online Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Most people who earn a mechanical engineering degree go on to become mechanical engineers. These professionals earned an impressive median annual salary of $95,300 in May 2021, according to the BLS.

How much you make as a mechanical engineer will vary depending on your experience and location. For example, mechanical engineers in New Mexico earned a median salary of $120,390 per year in 2021, whereas those in Montana earned just $75,230.

Job responsibilities for mechanical engineers typically include investigating engineering problems, designing prototypes, and analyzing test results. These engineers develop products like cars, HVAC systems, and robots.

You can advance your mechanical engineering career by earning a master’s degree or getting licensed. A professional engineering license prepares you for leadership and advanced technical roles and allows you to sell engineering services to the public.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mechanical Engineering Degrees and Jobs

question-mark-circleWhich degree is best for mechanical engineering?

You’ll need an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree to qualify for most entry-level mechanical engineering positions. Coursework lets you explore different mechanical engineering subfields.

You can specialize even further with a master’s in mechanical engineering. A master’s degree can qualify you for a promotion, raise, or leadership position.

If you wish to become an engineering professor or lead a large organization, you’ll want to get a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

question-mark-circleIs mechanical engineering a hard major?

Both on-campus and online mechanical engineering degrees require you to take many science, technology, and advanced math classes. You may find this major challenging if you have previously struggled with these kinds of classes.

In that case, concentrate your school search on programs offering a lot of academic support, such as virtual tutors.

question-mark-circleHow many years does it take to study mechanical engineering?

A typical bachelor’s in mechanical engineering degree requires four years of full-time study. You may be able to graduate sooner if you took Advanced Placement exams in high school. Other options include transferring credits and enrolling in an accelerated program.

Mechanical engineering programs at the master’s level last around two years. You may want to consider a part-time program if you plan to work while in school.

Most mechanical engineering Ph.D. programs take 3-5 years.

question-mark-circleDo mechanical engineers make a lot of money?

The typical mechanical engineer made more than double the median annual salary for all U.S. jobs in 2021, according to the BLS. However, many factors can impact your salary potential, including your experience, location, and specialization.

For example, mechanical engineers specializing in scientific research and development services earned a median annual salary of over $100,000 in 2021. In contrast, those who worked in machinery manufacturing made a median salary of around $80,000.

Some states also offer higher wages for mechanical engineers than others. You can expect to make more as a mechanical engineer in states like New Mexico and California than in Kentucky and Montana, for instance.

question-mark-circleWhat other jobs can you get with a mechanical engineering degree?

An on-campus or online mechanical engineering degree opens up many career paths, such as clinical technologist, project manager, and technology specialist. Other related jobs include entrepreneur and project lead.

Consider your career goals when comparing online mechanical engineering degree programs. Some mechanical engineering jobs require you to specialize in a specific area. Admissions counselors can answer your questions and help you make an informed decision.

All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the ASO Rankings Team.

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