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?
Mechanical engineers earn some of the highest salaries in New Mexico, California, and Washington, D.C., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Master's and doctoral mechanical engineering programs can open up new career opportunities and significantly increase your salary potential.
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
These rankings include
#1 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs
The University of Alabama
- 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
#2 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree 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
#3 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree 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.
#4 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs
Old Dominion University
- 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
Get Started on Your Engineering Degree Today
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
Which 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.
Is 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.
How 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.
Do 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.
What 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.