2021 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.
Mechanical Engineering Degrees On The Rise
In 2018-2019, mechanical engineering was the 20th most popular major nationwide with 47,405 degrees awarded. This represents a 2.9% increase in ME degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 46,014.
There are 374 schools offering degrees in mechanical engineering in the United States. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Mechanical Engineering ranking analyzes 274 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for mechanical engineering students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of ME programs later in this article.
Mechanical Engineering Degree Requirements
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.
Prior Education for a ME Program
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most ME degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic mechanical engineering program qualifications, to serve in some ME careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.
Types of Mechanical Engineering Degrees
ME degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in mechanical engineering to something that takes less time like a associate's. 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. Find out other typical degree levels for ME workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||3.3%|
This of course varies depending on which ME career you choose.
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|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||190,000||5.5%|
How Much Money Do People With a ME Degree Make?
Mechanical Engineering graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $64,495 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $30,400 to as high as $108,700. 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 5 highest paying careers ME grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$148,970|
Getting Your Mechanical Engineering Degree
With over 866 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.
Top Ranking Lists for Mechanical Engineering
Highest Paid Graduates
Most Popular Colleges
Best for Non-Traditional Students
Best for Veterans
Majors Related to ME
Mechanical Engineering is one of 38 different types of Engineering programs to choose from.
Most Popular Majors Related to ME
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
Southern New Hampshire University
You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs ... Learn More >
Building on Purdue’s mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that’s tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from the prestigious Purdue University system—completely online ... Learn More >
Grand Canyon University (GCU)
With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments ... Learn More >
Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences ... Learn More >
Colorado Technical University (CTU)
CTU could help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional community, aculty who are real-world professionals, and innovative technology ... Learn More >