Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with how energy is converted into motion. Mechanical engineers might work as an automotive engineer, in machinery manufacturing, or scientific research and development services. Mechanical engineering programs train students to design, test, and manufacture systems or devices that alter, transform, or utilize energy. Ten of the best mechanical engineering schools in the country are highlighted in this article.
Top 10 Mechanical Engineering Colleges
The following four-year public and private institutions offer degree programs in mechanical engineering:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge, MA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$51,832 (Undergraduate) $51,520 (Graduate)|
|Stanford University||Stanford, CA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$51,354 (Undergraduate) $50,703 (Graduate)|
|California Institute of Technology||Pasadena, CA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$52,362 (Undergraduate) $50,487 (Graduate)|
|University of California - Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$14,184 (In-state undergraduate) $43,176 (Out-of-state undergraduate) $11,442 (In-state graduate) $26,544 (Out-of-state graduate)|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||Atlanta, GA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$12,424 (In-state undergraduate) $33,020 (Out-of-state undergraduate) $13,788 (In-state graduate) $28,568 (Out-of-state graduate)|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$15,262 (In-state undergraduate) $49,350 (Out-of-state undergraduate) $23,128 (In-state graduate) $46,678 (Out-of-state graduate)|
|University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$15,094 (In-state undergraduate) $31,664 (Out-of-state undergraduate) $15,068 (In-state graduate) $28,221 (Out-of-state graduate)|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$55,465 (Undergraduate) $43,815 (Graduate)|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$55,188 (Undergraduate) $29,500 (Graduate)|
|Purdue University - West Lafayette||West Lafayette, IN||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$9,992 (In-state undergraduate) $28,794 (Out-of-state undergraduate) $9,208 (In-state graduate) $28,010 (Out-of-state graduate)|
*Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Choosing the Best Mechanical Engineering Schools
Students interested in mechanical engineering programs may want to keep these considerations in mind:
- Undergraduates should look into specialization options within mechanical engineering programs. Prospective graduate students should make sure that they can find a faculty advisor with expertise in the specific subfield that they want to research, such as computational and mathematical mechanics, energy and environment, automation engineering technology, and applied mechanics.
- Depending on whether they want to pursue a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree, students should make sure that they meet the previous education requirements for admission.
- Students should choose between programs based on their future career goals. A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and appropriate licensure qualifies students for most entry-level positions in the industry, but a master of engineering may improve job prospects. For students who want to pursue university-level research and teaching positions, a PhD is required.
- Undergraduates who want to pursue research in the future may explore the undergraduate research opportunities offered by the school. Prospective master's degree students may consider either a thesis or a non-thesis program, depending on whether they wish to conduct independent research.
How Many Years of College to Be a Mechanical Engineer?
A career in mechanical engineering will require a different amount of schooling depending on the specific goals of the individual. Although it is possible to have a successful career in this field with only a four-year bachelor's degree and certification, a master's degree, which generally takes about two years, can help candidates stand out or result in career advancement. Additionally, some may choose to spend further time in education by obtaining a doctoral-level degree. Those with PhDs in the field will have the qualifications to conduct research and teach at the university level.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering provide a comprehensive introduction to the field. Students begin with basic math and science courses in calculus, physics, and chemistry; more advanced courses require them to apply their skills to solve engineering problems and design systems. Many programs allow students to choose a specialization or minor within the field, such as aerospace, biomechanics, robotics, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, materials science, or automation. Specific options depend on the school. Some programs culminate in an advanced senior design project. Aspiring mechanical engineers can also pursue related degrees, such as degree programs that focus on renewable technology.
Master's Degree Programs
At the master's degree level, students can earn either a Master of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering or a professional Master of Engineering (MEng) in Mechanical Engineering. In MS programs, students take advanced coursework in the field, and they may be able to choose between thesis- and non-thesis tracks at some schools. Students who choose the thesis option dedicate a significant amount of time to independent research and writing, while non-thesis students generally take more coursework and may be required to complete a practicum.
MEng programs are specifically intended for students who want to pursue industry jobs after graduation, so they combine advanced engineering courses with studies in business and management. Also, they usually include an internship in an industry setting.
Students who want to conduct advanced research in mechanical engineering can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Mechanical Engineering or Doctor of Engineering Science (EngScD) in the field. Some of these programs also award an MS as an intermediate degree on the way to a PhD. Once enrolled in a doctoral program, students take graduate-level engineering courses and choose a faculty advisor to supervise their research in a particular area of interest. Based on this research, they write a publishable dissertation and defend in a final oral exam. At many schools, students must also fulfill a teaching requirement. In most cases, graduates find work in academia as university professors.
Mechanical engineering degree programs are available for study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. Aspiring mechanical engineers should consider credentials, future career paths, and specialty options when selecting a school to attend.