Best Online Master’s in Mechanical Engineering

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Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Program Options & Timelines

Mechanical engineers have the opportunity to work with a variety of technology, ranging from cutting-edge innovations to behind-the-scenes support for everyday life. To become a mechanical engineer, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required, but earning an online master’s in mechanical engineering degree will expand upon the skills and knowledge learned in undergraduate studies while providing additional opportunities for specialized training and in management instruction for those wanting leadership roles. Read this guide to the master’s in mechanical engineering degree to get help finding the right online program, learn what to expect from a master’s in mechanical engineering education and find out what career paths and opportunities are available for graduates.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Mechanical Engineering

Rank School Location
1 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
2 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
3 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI
4 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
5 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
6 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
7 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
8 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
9 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
10 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
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Top Online Master’s in Engineering: 2017


  • OUR METHODOLOGY +


    To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
    Accredited at the institutional level
    Private nonprofit or public school
    Minimum of 1 online master’s degree in subject area
    Schools were then scored on factors such as:
    Cost & Financial Aid
    Number and variety of online program offerings
    Student-teacher ratios
    Graduation rates
    Placement and support services offered
    Academic/Career counseling services
    Employment services
    Loan default rates
    These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.

All else being equal, every student would prefer to attend the “best” school for them. But what does it take for a school to be considered the “best”? The following list looks at schools offering an online master’s in mechanical engineering degree and ranks them based on a variety of factors such as student-to-faculty ratio, cost and career placement services available to graduates. Explore the top online master’s in mechanical engineering for 2017 in the list below.

  1. Illinois Institute of Technology
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    The Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering department maintains two research facilities: the Fluid Dynamics Research Center and the Thermal Processing Technology Center. Mechanical engineering graduate students will have access to an academic resource center that provides tutoring, supplemental instruction, exam review and workshop requests. The Entrepreneurship Academy is an organization that spans the entire campus and bridges all units and departments. Graduate students will also be able to take advantage of the school's career services center, which offers a graduate placement survey, as well as access to a global network of employers and alumni.

  2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    The mechanical engineering program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has recently enjoyed an influx of new research funding and new faculty members. The program follows a multidisciplinary approach that engages students with a combination of coursework, real-world learning and research. Although some students pursue dual degrees in combination with graduate programs like the School of Natural Resources and Environment in the Engineering Sustainable Systems, most graduate students pursue only a single degree. Student services are available to help graduate students balance the needs of their specific mechanical engineering program with the broader requirements of the Rackham Graduate School.

  3. Michigan Technological University
    Location

    Houghton, MI

    The MS in mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University can serve as preparation for entry into a PhD program, or as the basis for immediate entry into fields like testing, manufacturing, design or simulation. Students will have access to the school's multiple high-level research facilities, as well as those at satellite locations. Spending on the department's dynamic research community totals more than $13 million a year. Home to one of the largest mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics departments in the country, the university exposes students to multidisciplinary research in the areas of mechanics of multi-scale materials, advanced power systems, space systems, and multi-scale sensors and systems.

  4. University of Dayton
    Location

    Dayton, OH

    While studying mechanical engineering at the University of Dayton, graduate students pursuing a master of science degree will have the chance to work with industry and academic leaders from across the field. Students will have access to many laboratories and facilities on campus and at private facilities, as well at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Air Force Research Laboratories and the University of Dayton Research Institute. Graduates will be able to pursue doctoral-level education or enter the workforce as aerospace, mechanical, and clean and renewable energy engineers. For some programs, graduate assistantships are available.

  5. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Students pursuing a master of science in mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California will choose from one of three fields of study: engineering design, thermal and fluid sciences, and mechanics and materials. Graduates will be qualified to pursue a doctoral degree or continue to advance in their careers. The Distance Education Network offers the degree to distance learners, who can earn their master's online. The Viterbi School of Engineering maintains high-level global partnerships with entities such as the Kuwait Oil Company, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Boeing Company, Saudi Aramco and the U.S. Military.

  6. Lehigh University
    Location

    Bethlehem, PA

    To get the most out of engineering courses at Lehigh University, adults are encouraged to consider the types of careers they want to enter or continue to grow in. Engineering degrees are awarded through the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. The non-thesis curriculum leads to a Master of Engineering degree. Engineering science and design are narrowly defined areas of study in this degree. A thesis is required to earn a Master of Science in Engineering. Both of these degrees provide the framework to get accepted into a doctorate engineering program.

  7. University of Cincinnati
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    The University of Cincinnati-Main Campus masters in mechanical engineering degree is available to both full and part-time students. Students can get either a master of science or a master of engineering. The master of science option allows for a thesis. The master of engineering option allows for students to specialize in the practice of engineering to enhance direct job-related skills. Students can either focus on depth of study or breadth of interdisciplinary study. The master in science program focuses on four research focal points: Advanced Vehicle Technologies, Intelligent Prognostics and Autonomous Systems, Micro, Nano and Bio-Health Systems and Integrated Product and Process Development. State-of-the-art laboratories aid in research.

  8. Purdue University
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Research and innovation are strategies that faculty repeatedly cover and stress during Purdue University's graduate mechanical engineering courses. Three master's degree options are found at the school, among which is the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering is required before students can start taking master's courses. Chance to contribute to engineering magazines is open, particularly to students who excel in class. There is also an engineering computer network that students can join. Within the network, students work in a computer lab and help to maintain computing environments at the university.

  9. University of Kentucky
    Location

    Lexington, KY

    The University of Kentuckys mechanical engineering masters program prides itself on internationally recognized faculty members. The school has several programs that provide real-world experience, like learning aerospace technology in the Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR programs. Students also learn sustainable manufacturing through the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing and environmental solutions through the Institute of Research for Technological Development. The Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky also broadens power and energy education, as it developed some of the new courses. The program is designed for students who already have a bachelors degree in engineering. There is a thesis and non-thesis option with the non-thesis option contains 30 credit hours, while the thesis program requires 24 credit hours along with the thesis.

  10. Missouri University of Science and Technology
    Location

    Rolla, MO

    At Missouri University of Science and Technology, students have a thesis and non-thesis option in their masters studies in mechanical and aerospace engineering. The thesis track allows students to complete research in state-of-the-art laboratories under faculty supervision. Students focus on an original investigation within the field of engineering that will result in a scholarly product that could be placed into academic publications. The non-thesis masters is for those who would like to update and deepen their technical skills. The programs are available to distance learners.

Find Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Programs Online

Choosing the best school at which to get an online master’s in mechanical engineering degree can sometimes be a daunting task, given the enormous number of programs available. In order to make things a bit easier, the following search tool narrows down potential schools by certain criteria, such as tuition, school type and number of students attending. 

Timeline to The Online Mechanical Engineering Master’s Degree

An online master’s in mechanical engineering degree takes about two years and approximately 30-35 credits to complete. The first step involves applying, which requires many different elements that must be planned out well ahead of time. The next section will give an overview of the typical timeline.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Each school will have its own unique admissions requirements, although most mechanical engineering programs will have the same basic steps for applying to their program. Let’s discuss some of the most common steps.

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree

    All applicants for a master’s in mechanical engineering degree will first need to complete a bachelor’s degree. Most programs will not require the bachelor’s degree to be in engineering; however, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science might boost the chances of admission, since students will need a strong educational background in advanced science and math courses. If students don’t have a relevant bachelor’s degree, some programs will require students to take the following classes before admission, such as calculus, heat transfer, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.

  • Take the GRE

    Most master’s programs will require a GRE test score. The higher the score, the better the chances of getting accepted. Aspiring students must plan ahead to coordinate testing with when they will apply to a mechanical engineering program and which GRE testing date is appropriate to ensure they have enough time to prepare for the test.

  • Have a great undergraduate academic record

    Undergraduate GPA is one of the biggest factors admissions officers consider. In fact, many master’s in mechanical engineering programs require applicants to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Those who are admitted often have much higher GPAs. In addition, the course selection and overall rigor of the previous bachelor’s degree studies will be considered.

  • Write a statement of purpose

    A statement of purpose and/or an essay is typically required, and this is an excellent opportunity for applicants to explain why they should be accepted and why they want to attend that particular school and program. A statement of purpose provides a unique opportunity for the student to stand out, as admissions officers can learn more about the student than what they see on the application forms.

  • Gain work experience

    Though this is not an absolute requirement for most schools, it is strongly recommended and preferred. Most admissions requirements recognize the importance of hands-on work experience by asking for applicants to submit a resume and at least one letter of recommendation completed by an employer.

  • Gather letters of recommendation

    Most schools require two or three letters of recommendation. Obviously students need to find someone who will give a glowing review, but should keep in mind that the person writing the letter should be able to speak specifically to the applicant’s work and aptitude in the world of mechanical engineering. Letters like this take time, so students should get in touch with their potential recommenders very early.

YEAR 1 MILESTONES

Most online master’s in mechanical engineering programs are self-directed, meaning that outside of a set number of required courses, students get to choose what other classes they take. The bulk of their required core classes will be taken during the first year.

  • Complete the bulk of the core coursework

    Depending on the school, about half of the first year curriculum will be comprised of mandatory coursework in mechanical engineering subjects. Courses commonly taken during the first year include engineering efficiency, advanced fluid dynamics, automatic control systems, simulation models and advanced mechanical systems.

  • Begin taking electives

    In many master’s in mechanical engineering degree programs, over half of the required coursework will be up to the student. This means that students will often have the chance to start taking their electives during their first year of their master’s program.

  • Choose a minor

    Some schools have programs at the master’s level that allow students to choose a minor for their degree. Assuming a minor is chosen, a large portion of the student’s electives will need to focus on completing the minor requirements.

YEAR 2 MILESTONES

By the second year, studies are in full swing and requirements are being met as time progresses. Self-directed study opportunities make up the bulk of this year’s work.

  • Complete core coursework

    Since most mechanical engineering programs at the master’s level last only two years, the second year is the final opportunity for students to finish mandatory core course requirements.

  • Finish taking elective courses

    Electives are an integral part of the curriculum in mechanical engineering. In fact, some schools require students to take electives that are outside the mechanical engineering subject area. This provides a fantastic opportunity for students to tailor their studies to their interests and needs.

  • Work on the thesis

    Many master’s programs have thesis options, but also allow substitute plans of studies. However, if a student decides to go the thesis route, they will work on the thesis during the second year; many of the core courses will be devoted to enhancing research, project and writing skills.

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

The graduation requirements for most programs are fairly straightforward. Besides completing the required coursework, students must also meet the following general requirements in order to graduate.

  • Maintain a minimum GPA

    Almost every program will require its students to have maintained above a particular GPA while taking courses in the master’s degree curriculum. For most programs, the minimum GPA is a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and maintaining this GPA throughout the program is a requirement to graduate.

  • Complete the master’s degree on time

    The typical length of time to get a master’s degree is two years. However, many programs with accelerated classes have shorter timelines, often just 18 months. Despite this expedited time frame, some students still take too long to complete their studies. That’s why many schools put a cap on the amount of time it will take, requiring graduation within three to five years.

  • Complete a thesis

    Students often get to choose whether they would like to take the thesis or non-thesis curriculum plan. If choosing the thesis option, students will need to conduct their research and write a publishable quality paper. Upon completion of the thesis, students must then present and defend their thesis to a thesis committee, which may require travel to the school.

  • Complete an additional coursework of independent study

    If a student chooses not to take the thesis route to complete their degree, they will usually be required to complete an independent study project. Depending on the program, this may include taking additional classes, research and work in the field to complete the project.

Career Options Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Grads

The mechanical engineering field is one of the broadest engineering fields available. The career path of mechanical engineers is wide open, and working in either private or public sectors is possible. By getting a master’s degree, mechanical engineers are prepared to work in more specialized fields and take on management or leadership roles. Some of the following careers are possible with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

BROWSE MASTER’S IN PROJECT MECH ENGINEERING CAREERS

Senior Mechanical Engineer

This engineering specialty focuses on designing, building and testing mechanical devices. Senior mechanical engineers take lead roles in mechanical engineering projects. They lead and oversee projects which can include analyzing problems and finding solutions, designing machines or vehicles pursuant to specifications and analyzing designs to determine if they meet intended requirements.

Mean Annual Wage $83,590

Growth Potential 5%

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers work primarily with aircraft, rockets, and other vehicles that take to the sky. Typical tasks include designing prototypes to specifications, ensuring quality control on projects, determining if certain projects are scientifically and financially realistic and examining defective or malfunctioning aircraft and other vehicles for investigative and diagnostic purposes.

Mean Annual Wage $107,830

Growth Potential -2%

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers work to improve production processes in a variety of industries. They look for ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency and reduce waste by taking a wide spectrum of factors into consideration. Tasks can include development of quality control measures, redesigning current production systems and identifying inefficient processes in a given production system.

Mean Annual Wage $83,470

Growth Potential 1%

Source: BLS

Core Principles & Skills Learned in an Online Mechanical Engineering Program

Master’s in Mech Engineering

  • Learn management skills

    Not every student will enroll in a master’s in mechanical engineering program to learn leadership skills, but there is usually an option available for students who would like to take on managerial roles within the mechanical engineering realm. Often, moving into a management position leads to higher pay and career advancement.

  • Develop research skills

    With the opportunity to complete a thesis or engage in an independent study project, students will have the opportunity to enhance their research ability. This is most pronounced when completing a thesis and will be especially helpful should a student decide to get a doctorate degree.

  • Gain knowledge in a related engineering field

    A large portion of the online master’s in mechanical engineering degree curriculum is self-directed; however, some programs strongly encourage students to take engineering courses in a field other than mechanical engineering. This is great for students who want to become familiar with another engineering field.

  • Gain specialized knowledge within the field

    Some students might want to learn more about a specific subfield, whether for their career aspirations or simply to expand their base of knowledge. The options for these subfield studies are wide and varied; for example, students will get the opportunity to take courses in subjects such as bioengineering, turbomachinery, carbon sequestration, nanofrabrication and digital signal processing.

Bachelor’s Degree in Mech Engineering

LEARN MORE ABOUT ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Additional Resources

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Serving as an international non-profit organization, the ASME fosters collaboration among mechanical engineers to improve the lives of others and promote the field of mechanical engineering.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

The IME is a worldwide organization intended to improve society through mechanical engineering. It works to support students, sponsor training events and promote professional improvement.

Pi Tau Sigma

Pi Tau Sigma is an international honors society for mechanical engineering students. Only a small selection of college students are invited and allowed to become members.

SME

SME (formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) works on behalf of the manufacturing industry by taking steps to improve technology and education of professionals within the industry. They foster educational pursuits by offering several scholarships for students.

Society for Experimental Mechanics

Made up of members from various countries and disciplines, including academia, SEM focuses on promoting and developing experimental methods concerning engineering, physical phenomena, materials and systems.

Popular Resources

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