Mechanical Engineering Colleges, Schools and Universities in the U.S.

Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with how energy is converted into motion. Mechanical engineering programs train students to design, test and manufacture systems or devices that alter, transform or utilize energy.

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Students can find mechanical engineering programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Learn about schools that offer programs in this field and find out what prospective students should think about when selecting a program.

Top 10 Schools with Mechanical Engineering Programs

The following 4-year public and private institutions offer degree programs in mechanical engineering:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $45,390
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (In-state) $38,139 (Out-of-state)
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,204 (In-state) $32,396 (Out-of-state)
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,856 (In-state) $43,476 (Out-of-state)
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,054 (In-state) $30,214 (Out-of-state)
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $50,665
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,116
Purdue University - West Lafayette West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,002 (In-state) $28,804 (Out-of-state)

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

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 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.

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.

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.

Doctoral Programs

Students who want to conduct advanced research in mechanical engineering can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 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.

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