6 Best Online Mechanical Engineering Degrees [2021 Guide]

Through real-world applications and rigorous core instruction, students pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology can complete their degree entirely online and still maintain a high-quality education.

Mechanical Engineering Degrees

If you look around you, nearly everything you use, see, hear, or feel has moving parts that you can learn to design and operate with an online degree in mechanical engineering. This engineering degree online can help open the door to many versatile career paths that will allow you to solve problems that impact our world and its future.

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Not only do mechanical engineers have opportunities to research and develop new devices, they have great potential to rewarded both creatively and financially for their important work.

Online Mechanical Engineering Degrees

Mechanical Engineer working in a power plant

Mechanical engineers have almost endless career choices. They can design robots, build energy efficient cars, explore new ways to heat and cool buildings, plan systems to explore outer space, create faster and scarier amusement park rides, or improve the way movies are made, just to name a few.

Because Online Mechanical Engineering degrees are so adaptable, they typically require foundational courses in a broad range of basic subjects. Degree requirements differ, but most entail taking courses in basic communication and the humanities plus science, math, computer science, business and engineering.

Typical degrees require English composition and technical writing, plus humanities classes including history and language. You will also likely need to take chemistry and physics; advanced math including calculus, equations, and linear algebra; and business classes such as accounting and marketing.

The final degree component is the mechanical engineering core that will likely include classes that provide a solid foundation for many career paths.

These may include Engineering Principals, Materials Science (molecular and atomic structures), Thermodynamics (the pressure, density and temperature of heat), Fluid Dynamics and Transfers (how heat, liquids and gasses move).

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Once you have the basics, you may want to specialize. If so, there are plenty of options because the specializations within mechanical engineering degree programs are as varied as potential mechanical engineer jobs.

The specialization you choose affects not only what classes you take during your education, but also what skills you develop and, in turn, what career options may be open to you after you graduate.

Other core courses may include Statics (how forces impact immobile bodies), and Dynamics (how various forces affect bodies in motion), Analysis of Structures and Mechanical Designs, plus classes in Circuits, Electronics, Instrumentation, and Vibrations.

Students might also be required to take Computer Science classes so they can be up to date on current developments in software and hardware design and use.

In addition to foundational courses, many colleges also offer electives to better prepare students to succeed in specialty mechanical engineering fields such as aerospace, transportation or the environment. Senior design projects or internships may also provide hands-on experience.

Mechanical Engineering Careers & Salaries

Mechanical Engineering Careers & Salaries

An Online Mechanical Engineering Degree can open doors in wide-ranging fields. Because this degree is designed to teach students how to design, manufacture, test, and oversee projects in so many fields, career choices abound.

Here are a few places where Mechanical Engineers Work:

  • Waste Management
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Energy systems
  • Automotive engineering
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Defense manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Biomechanical systems and dynamics
  • Robotics
  • Computers

It is clear that a degree in Mechanical Engineering can lead to many different employment options. Here are samples of job categories and average salaries for employment in a variety of Mechanical Engineering fields across the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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According to BLS, the median annual wage for mechanical engineers is $90,160. Here are additional salaries:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Petroleum Engineer $137,330
Patent Lawyer $126,930
Aerospace Engineer $118,610
Sales Engineer $108,830
Construction Manager $97,180
Engine Designer $92,650
Biomedical Engineer $92,620
Manufacturing Engineer $88,950
Management Consultant $87,660
Project Management Specialist $77,420

The job outlook for mechanical engineers is projected to be 4% for the next ten years, which is similar to the projected growth of all occupations. Please remember that higher paying jobs and supervisory positions are likely to require advanced degrees.

Choosing an Online Bachelor of Engineering Degree

Bachelor of Engineering Degree student studying online

There are many factors to consider when choosing your Online Mechanical Engineering program. In your search for the best fit, you want to select a program that:

  • Offers you all the basic courses that employers will look for when hiring entry-level positions
  • Has classes in all the specialty fields you are thinking about
  • Employs qualified and notable faculty who will be able to teach you the most-up-to-date curriculum
  • Provides opportunities for independent research and discovery
  • Gives you a chance to demonstrate your new knowledge and skills by designing and creating actual products
  • Grants credit for internships or other opportunities for hands-on training
  • Has financial aid, scholarship and work-study opportunities
  • Includes academic support services such as academic advisement and tutoring
  • Has an active alumni network that will help you in your job search

These are just a few of the factors that you should consider when making this important decision. It might help to create your own chart that ranks these factors according to which are most important to you. Then fill in the chart for each online degree program you are considering.

Mechanical Engineering Curriculum and Courses

Mechanical Engineer working on her robotics project

Each university creates its own path to graduation, but most of them have a similar core. In your online studies, expect to find the following:

  • Calculus: Calculus is a math class that teaches students how to find and apply information about the changes between values that have the same function.
  • Physics: Physics is a science class that focuses on the mechanics and composition of matter and energy and includes information about heat, light, sound, atomic structure, electricity and magnetism.
  • Chemistry: This course covers atomic and molecular structures, principles of compound formation, and chemical reactivity.
  • Computer-Aided Design(often includes lab): Introduces engineering graphics and modeling tools engineers use to create drawings of parts and assemblies.
  • Engineering Statics: This course is designed to help students learn to analyze how forces are distributed within bodies and begin learning about material strengths.
  • Electrical Engineering: A series of courses that explains all aspects of electrical circuitry, including operations, theorems, and responses and how power, energy, and phasors relate to circuit design.
  • Materials: A series of classes that build on each other to help students understand the various structures and properties of metals, ceramics, polymers and composites.
  • Thermodynamics: Thermodynamics is a branch of physics concerned with the heat and temperature of solids, liquids, gases and mixtures and their relation to energy.
  • Fluid Dynamics: This course explains the physical principles related to the movement of liquids and gases.
  • Senior Design: This capstone course is designed to allow students to practice performing the functions they will use when they are practicing mechanical engineers.

As you can see, in freshman and sophomore years, students typically gain necessary tools and take similar classes that are found in a chemical engineering online degree program or civil engineering online degree program. In junior and senior years, coursework usually zeroes in on more advanced areas.

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Courses build on each other as you learn new concepts, skills and principles that require understanding of what you learned in the previous course.

 Admissions Requirements

Mechanical Engineering student studying in a library

In order to get accepted into an online mechanical engineering degree program, either a high school diploma or a General Education Diploma (GED) are most often a compulsory requirement. Beyond that, schools vary widely on other qualifications, but may include:

  • Official transcripts for all previous academic work
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) that will vary by institution
  • Completion of basic math courses such as geometry, trigonometry, statistics, algebra and calculus
  • Completion of basic science courses such as physics, chemistry and biology
  • Attainment of certain grades in key prerequisite courses
  • Some schools may require recent SAT or ACT scores (and possibly SAT Subject tests)
  • English proficiency for foreign applicants
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form that is required for financial aid

Remember to read the specific admission requirements for each institution you might want to attend. They are all different and have different deadlines you do not want to miss.

Accreditation

Mechanical Engineering Degrees Accreditation

Regional accrediting organizations assure that mechanical engineering programs meet acceptable quality standards in such areas as faculty, facilities, and curriculum. They create evaluation criteria and personally inspect institutions to determine whether those criteria are met. Those that pass are accredited.

In addition to general accreditation, institutions with engineering programs may also seek accreditation from a professional organization called the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

ABET evaluates and approves collegiate programs that effectively prepare students to succeed. ABET accreditation is an important indication that the program provides students with a thorough learning experience.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for mechanical engineering degrees students

Everyone knows that college is pricey. Many students are overwhelmed and intimidated by the process that lets them know about financial aid and/or scholarships. Fortunately, the federal government is posting an online, interactive Free Application for Financial Aid Form (FAFSA) to assist you.

You will be well served by conducting a thorough online search for available state, institutional, work-study, loans and private and nonprofit grants and scholarships. Many colleges review FAFSA applications when they review aid applications. Be sure to meet all deadlines.

Whether you planned ahead with a college savings or not, you can learn more about financial aid and scholarships, StudentAid.gov is a good place to begin.

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Mechanical Engineer designing for a project on her computer

Your mechanical engineering degree can help you obtain the expertise to know how things work. What could be more practical?

Your degree can help you pursue work in a wide variety of engineering jobs, including aerospace, energy, transportation, electronics, materials and construction. It is very versatile and typically leads to high-paying jobs in disciplines with high career satisfaction.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for mechanical engineers is $90,160 and also projects annual job growth of 4% over the next decade.

How Much Does an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Cost?

Tuition costs vary depending on whether you will be attending attend public or private college and whether you are a resident of the state in which your college is located. Many, but not all institutions, charge more for out-of-state students.

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Also, there may be additional fees so be sure to read tuition descriptions carefully. While things change very rapidly, tuition currently ranges from about $210 to $410 per unit. The total tuition for four years will likely be between $26,000 and $51,000, but remember that financial aid, work-study and scholarships are designed to defray the cost of attending.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering?

Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering student studying on her laptop

Your time to graduation will depend on whether you become a full-time or part-time student. Most online computer engineering degree programs require between 120 and 127 units for graduation.

Since the majority of courses grant three to four units, it should take four years to graduate if you take a full load of 15 units per 16-week semester at institutions that are on a semester program. You will enroll in fewer units at institutions that are on the quarter system.

Also, credits may be earned in summer school, so if you attend year-round, you can speed up your time to graduation.

Is Mechanical Engineering a Good Degree?

Mechanical Engineers working in a power plant

Yes, many find a Mechanical Engineering degree to be personally and financially rewarding. Your studies in mechanical engineering can lead you to a career in nearly every field where engineers are active. And that includes designing, creating and implementing a huge range of products and systems.

Mechanical engineers invent new and better products, improve delivery systems, create better energy systems, solve environmental problems and help us explore the potential of outer space.

They have had a hand in developing every household or business device with moving parts. And most mechanical engineers reap both financial and personal rewards.

Can You Become a Mechanical Engineer Online?

Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering student studying on his laptop in a library

Absolutely! As college enrollment continues to escalate because of the value of a college education, the number of students seeking online degrees continues to increase as well. Many engineering executives agree that online degrees are every bit as credible as traditional ones. There are also benefits.

They are typically less expensive both in tuition and because they eliminate the need for room and board. Online degrees also are usually more flexible because you can better balance school with other responsibilities. In short, you can do it with confidence that pursuing an online degree may be the right choice for you.

What Degree Do You Need to Be A Mechanical Engineer?

Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering students studying together

A bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering is a baseline requirement for entry-level jobs. In addition, all states require mechanical engineers to be licensed. You can apply for a license if you graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering college.

You will also be required to pass a national exam offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. When you have been practicing for four years, you can take an additional exam to become a Professional Engineer.

If you want to advance in your profession and earn higher pay, in most cases you will want to pursue a graduate degree.

Is a Degree in Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

Mechanical Engineer working on an aircraft

Yes, a degree in mechanical engineering is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a job growth of 3% in architecture and engineering occupations over the next 10 years. Some industries for mechanical engineering careers in this field include petroleum engineering, energy systems, automotive engineering, defense manufacturing, robots and dozens of other related sectors.

Depending on the subspecialty you select, you can work in a team environment where you can solve real-world problems and use your education and creativity to make a genuine difference.

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Although you may be concerned with the financial benefits of your degree, it is just as important to make a career choice based on your interests and passions.

Mechanical engineers have been involved in the research, development and implementation of practically any machine or system you can imagine. And they are imagining more of them each day to improve our quality of life and solve our global problems.

Universities Offering Online Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

ECPI University campus

Acquiring a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering technology through East Coast Polytechnic Institute University can help open doors to a high-demand industry in as little as two and a half years.

Through real-world applications and rigorous core instruction, students pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology can complete their degree entirely online and still maintain a high-quality education.

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology

ECPI University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Indiana State University

Indiana State University campus

Indiana State University’s virtual Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering technology program has two main focuses. One is a mechanical aspect. This area of study teaches students about the tools, machines, and commodities needed to be successful in the field.

The second area of focus is management. Management trains students to become leaders and teachers in their field.

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology

Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

An undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering technology from Old Dominion University focuses on manufacturing systems and manufacturing designs. Students enrolled in this program will also add a concentration in engineering or science to their curriculum.

This degree is thirty credit hours and can be completed using a distance learning platform.

  • BS in Engineering Technology – Mechanical Engineering Technology

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

A bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology from the University of Alabama can lead to various employment opportunities in the field of engineering and computer science. This degree is very versatile and can be applied to product manufacturing in an array of areas, including automotive, robotics, and textiles.

A BSME is available virtually at the University of Alabama.

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell campus

Expanding career opportunities by offering an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering technology, the University of Massachusetts -Lowell helps to make students meet their professional and personal goals.

Students who participate in this program will use comprehensive practices, advanced technology, and investigative studies to work towards becoming specialists in the field of mechanical engineering.

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota campus

The University of North Dakota is a front-runner in STEM technology and offers a variety of courses that utilize these areas to build a new generation of industry leaders.

UND’s BS in mechanical engineering technology is a widely respected program that combines hands-on learning with the latest technological innovations in design, thermal sciences, engineering, and aerospace.

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering

The University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Getting Your Mechanical Engineering Degree Online

Mechanical Engineering Degree student studying online at home

An online mechanical engineering degree may be a great investment in your professional and financial futures. If you have always been interested in how things work and what machines and systems can do, this career can give you the chance to learn, create, and achieve.

In this versatile field, you can invent and improve products and systems, solve environmental problems, improve transportation, and even explore new worlds.

You will need to work hard to get this degree and take classes that both inform and challenge you. But your diligence should pay off as you gain entry into a respected lucrative, expanding profession.

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Maureen Rubin
WRITTEN BY
Maureen Rubin
Maureen has a Juris Doctor, Master's in Public Relations, and a Bachelor's in Journalism. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and enjoyed a career working in public information at nonprofits, and in Congress & the White House. She welcomes an opportunity to share educational or uplifting information with readers.