Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering 2021

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Mechanical engineers began designing machines with moving parts more than 200 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. During the following decades, technological evolution gave these professionals access to electricity, composite materials, computer drafting, 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 10 Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Rank School Location
1 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
2 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
3 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI
4 University of Delaware Newark, DE
5 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ


  • 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 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 hold 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.

Scholarships for Mechanical Engineering

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.

The Berto Diaz Engineering Scholarship

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.
Amount: $1,000

BMW/SAE Engineering Scholarship

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.
Amount: $1,500-$6,000

Tau Beta Pi/SAE Engineering Scholarship

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.
Amount: $1,000

Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering 2021

  1. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

    Lowell, MA

    University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s program in engineering allows students to gain a BSE degree in mechanical engineering. The program focuses on a hands-on approach through its Build-Design-Test methodology, where students actually build and then test their designs, as the name suggests. Through this methodology, students are prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation or go on to graduate school. Graduates will be prepared to apply the fundamental principles of mechanical engineering in a work environment. Students start with courses in basic math and science, and work their way up to application courses relating to engineering. Students also take general education courses in the humanities.

  2. The University of Alabama

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    The University of Alabama’s mechanical engineering program prepares students to test, manufacture, design and analyze products that society uses. The program also focuses on the conservation of energy that drives machines. Students will be able to use a solid background in math and science to build practical machines. Students will conduct experiments, interpret data and design systems. Graduates go on to work in a wide variety of fields like construction, mining, automation, electronics, robotics, manufacturing and aerospace. Students can work in entry-level jobs in these fields upon graduation, and they start engineering courses in their first semester.

  3. Siena Heights University

    Adrian, MI

    Siena Heights University has an engineering program with a mechanical engineering option. The program is in collaboration with the University of North Dakota in that students take in-person fundamentals like math, science and general education at Siena Heights University, and then they take online engineering courses through the University of North Dakota. The material is complemented by face time with instructions at Siena Heights. The program culminates in two degrees, one from Siena Heights and another from the University of North Dakota, and takes about five years to complete. This allows students time to customize their education with complementary courses like information technology or business that can help them succeed as an engineer.

  4. University of Delaware

    Newark, DE

    University of Delaware’s mechanical engineering program helps students gain a wide array of skills and knowledge in one of the most diverse fields of engineering there is. Students will learn to design and analyze machines, materials and structures using the knowledge they gain in physics and materials science. Students learn a truly diverse level of areas to match the diverse field that is mechanical engineering, areas of study like dynamics, fluid mechanics, materials, solid mechanics, clean energy, nanotechnology and robotics. The program is highly customizable to make sure students are focusing on their areas of interest, like in the formal concentration in aerospace engineering.

  5. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Northern Arizona University’s bachelor’s in mechanical engineering helps students become designers who are knowledgeable about the principles of motion, force and energy through mechanical solutions. Students learn about topics like fluid sciences, thermodynamics, solid mechanics and energy systems. The program has a solid base in mathematics and physics to help students go on to design the machines that power society. The school has an innovative Design4Practice Program, which helps students gain solid technical, professional and managerial skills. Students participate in hands-on projects like building an unmanned aerial vehicle to gain appropriate skills for entering the workforce.

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