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2023 Mechanical Engineering Degree Guide

Mechanical engineers help develop, build, and improve machines. In this major, you learn how machines work and about the energy needed to make them run. Mechanical Engineers are the people responsible for imagining and building machine tools, manufacturing equipment, vehicles and more. You will learn what makes planes fly and the physics that is involved in roller coasters. This major will allow you to discover the secrets behind mechanical devices.

Every school will have different requirements, but some courses you can expect to come across include: circuits and electronics, chemistry, statistics, dynamics, differential equations, thermodynamics, materials science, principle of design, principles of engineering, and fluid mechanics and aerodynamics.

#21 Most Popular Major
46.2k Degrees Awarded
-3.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, mechanical engineering was the 21st most popular major nationwide with 46,178 degrees awarded. This represents a 3.1% reduction in ME degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 47,598.

Our 2023 Best Mechanical Engineering Schools ranking analyzes 313 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for mechanical engineering students. Explore this or one of our many other custom ME rankings further below.

2023 Best Colleges for Mechanical Engineering
2023 Overall Best Mechanical Engineering Colleges >

Best Mechanical Engineering Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor's Degrees in Mechanical Engineering
Master's Degrees in Mechanical Engineering
Doctorate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Mechanical Engineering

If you are creative and like to design and build unique pieces of machinery this will be a great major for you. You must be willing to think outside the box while being precise and having attention to detail. This will help when you start to make new discoveries as you address complex problems. You will rely heavily on your math skills and apply these advanced topics of mathematics to help analyze and design your work.

Students will spend a good deal of time working on group projects, studying in the library or writing up lab reports and research papers. Most schools will require you work a co-op, so it may take you five years as undergraduate student to graduate instead of typical four years. This so you can learn the mechanical skills necessary to join the workforce and tackle real world problems.

Getting Accepted Into a Mechanical Engineering Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Once you obtain your degree, additional ME certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Mechanical Engineering Degrees

ME degree levels vary. You can get anything from a in mechanical engineering to the highest ME degree, a . The time it takes to complete a ME degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to ME, with approximately 56.7% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to ME tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 61.0%
Master’s Degree 18.8%
Doctoral Degree 8.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.1%

About 94.4% of workers in careers related to ME obtain at least bachelor's degrees. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in mechanical engineering have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which ME career you choose.

ME Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$69k Average Starting Salary
9% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

This major will allow you to work in broad variety of fields. You could work with many diverse employers from NASA to large power plants to the biomedical field to environmental control to transportation. You could design tiny measuring instruments, large aircraft carriers or power plants.

It will be easier for you to obtain a job if you have experience with new software and recent technology.

Solid Growth Projected for ME Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your ME degree? Mechanical Engineering careers are expected to grow 8.6% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to mechanical engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Mechanical Engineers 314,100 8.8%
Cost Estimators 240,800 10.5%
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Aerospace Engineers 73,800 6.0%
Engineering Professors 54,600 14.7%

How Much Money Do People With a ME Degree Make?

Recently graduated mechanical engineering students earned an average of $68,998 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $36,383 to as high as $135,266. As you might expect, salaries for ME graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for ME Majors

Salaries for mechanical engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers ME grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Aerospace Engineers $117,100
Engineering Professors $113,680
Mechanical Engineers $92,800
Cost Estimators $69,710

Getting Your Mechanical Engineering Degree

With over 903 different ME degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased ME school rankings to help you with this.

One of 40 majors within the Engineering area of study, Mechanical Engineering has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Electrical Engineering 28,844
Civil Engineering 21,388
Computer Engineering 17,987
Chemical Engineering 12,917
Biomedical Engineering 12,811

View All ME Related Majors >


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