Best Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering Programs

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Updated October 24, 2022

Mechanical engineers apply expertise in mathematics and physics, which they develop while earning a bachelor's in mechanical engineering.

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Mechanical Engineering Online

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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Frequently Asked Questions About Mechanical Engineering

What is 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.

How long does it take to earn a bachelor's in mechanical engineering?

Full-time students typically complete mechanical engineering bachelor's programs in approximately four years. Part-time learners often graduate in 5-6 years.

Can I study mechanical engineering online?

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.

What is the difference between mechanical engineering and civil engineering?

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 Salary Potential
Career Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10%
Mechanical Engineers Less than $57,130 $88,430 More than $138,020

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Mechanical Engineering Degrees

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.

  • Electrical Basics

    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.
  • Computer-Aided Drafting

    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.
  • Elements of Thermodynamics

    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.
  • Instrumentation and Measurements

    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.
  • Materials Science

    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.

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Best Online Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering

#1 Best Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama provides a flexible, competitive education to students near and far. The school supports programs that equip students with theoretical and practical knowledge, preparing them for careers in their field of choice. Students can benefit from the collaborative nature of the master of science in mechanical engineering program, and can pursue research projects and other learning opportunities while enrolled.

Degree-seekers have the option to complete the mechanical engineering program in-person or online. Leading in online education, the college supports 43 online programs. While enrolled, students benefit from academic and professional guidance through academic advising, career services, and other campus resources.

The University of Alabama at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 214

Number of Online Programs: 43

Admission Rate: 83%

Graduation Rate: 71%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 79%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $9,249

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 38%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,408

Average Price After Aid: $20,623

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,780
Out-of-state
$30,250
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
38,100
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of North Dakota provides diverse learning opportunities from its main campus in Grand Forks. The master of science or engineering in mechanical engineering prepares students for professional advancement through industry-relevant coursework, lectures, and projects. In the mechanical engineering program, learners benefit from rigorous coursework and opportunities to collaborate with faculty, through research and more.

The mechanical engineering program accommodates both in-person and remote study. Of the school's programs, 30% allow for fully online study. In-person and remote students can access campus resources while enrolled, including career services and academic advising.

University of North Dakota at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 226

Number of Online Programs: 67

Admission Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 61%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 92%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $5,686

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 45%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,672

Average Price After Aid: $15,654

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,212
Out-of-state
$14,371
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
13,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs

Arizona State University Online

  • Scottsdale , AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Arizona State University Online is a Scottsdale-based college supporting academic programs in dual modalities. The college's master of science in industrial engineering provides students interested in a mechanical engineering career with a world-class education. Learners benefit from a good student-faculty ratio, with many chances to interact closely with professors.

The program accommodates both in-person and remote study. The institution notes that many of its programs enable online study. In-person and remote students can access campus resources while enrolled, including career services and academic advising.

As an accredited institution, ASU offers financial assistance to all eligible students, including those enrolled remotely. Prospective applicants should reach out to the financial aid office to see what funding options they might qualify for.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
No

#4 Best Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs

Old Dominion University

  • Norfolk, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A public institution, Old Dominion University operates a main campus in Norfolk, Virginia. It's master of science or engineering in mechanical engineering prepares students for professional advancement through industry-relevant coursework, lectures, and projects. Students can pursue collaborative learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects, to supplement their classroom experience.

Enrollees seeking further opportunities for study can pursue internships or collaborate with faculty on research projects. To date, the college supports 62 online programs. Regardless of learning modality, distance learners can access institutional resources, such as career services, geared towards student success.

Old Dominion University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 177

Number of Online Programs: 62

Admission Rate: 89%

Graduation Rate: 53%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 94%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $8,021

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 56%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,034

Average Price After Aid: $16,681

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,029
Out-of-state
$26,664
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
23,675
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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