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Best Mechanical Engineering Degree Colleges in the U.S. 2017

Students with a passion for math and science often turn to careers in engineering to put their knowledge into practice. Since engineering provides so many opportunities and career paths, learning about the specifics of each type can help when trying to find the engineering major that best corresponds to interest. Here, we give the full scoop on one popular option, mechanical engineering.

The Best Mechanical Engineering Colleges of 2019

Rank School Name Location Description
1 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Atlanta, GA

The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Before enrolling in Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering (CoE), take preconceived notions about traditional classroom structure and turn them the opposite way -- literally. As part of the program’s commitment to outside-the-box thinking, many courses employ a “flipped” classroom. Students view lectures online beforehand and use class time for problem solving and direct interaction with the instructor. Similar examples of dedication to innovation and hands-on training abound, from research opportunities at one of CoE’s 150-plus interdisciplinary centers to the annual Capstone Design Expo in which teams of senior undergrads display and pitch inventions with real-world applications. A popular undergraduate option is the five-year co-op program, which alternates semesters of on-campus study with full-time paid employment related to the discipline. This hands-on experience pays off big time when grads go on the job market. The average starting salary for someone with a Georgia Tech BSME is $62,000.

2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA

Department of Mechanical Engineering

It’s no coincidence that MIT’s mascot is a beaver. The critter purposely was selected because of its "remarkable engineering and mechanical skill and its habits of industry." The prestigious institution has a variety of programs that are well regarded, but engineering is its soul. In fact, about 60 percent of MIT’s undergrads and 45 percent of grad students are enrolled in the School of Engineering. The distinguished scholars teaching in the mechanical engineering department are also cutting-edge researchers. From helping to bring clean water to rural India by designing a solar-powered desalination device to creating a humanoid robot for disaster and rescue missions, they use their knowledge to solve real-world problems. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program gets interested students in on the action too; perhaps you’ll help design low-cost radio-frequency identification chips or figure out a better way to harness wind power. If creative problem-solving energizes you, MIT might be your ideal place.

3 Stanford University Stanford, CA

Department of Mechanical Engineering

A top-notch faculty, nationally ranked programs, some 65 state-of-the art university centers and labs, along with intelligent and supportive classmates – what else could an engineering major want from a school? Well, how about a pristine campus located in sunny California in the heart of Silicon Valley where opportunities for internships, learning experiences, and employment abound? Stanford’s School of Engineering has been at the forefront of innovation for nearly a century -- engineering faculty and graduates have founded an estimated 12,700 companies over the decades -- and shows no signs of slowing down. Engineering is one of the university’s most popular majors, and roughly 1,600 undergraduates and 3,200 graduate students seek degrees through the school’s nine academic departments. The mechanical engineering department centers itself around five themes: biomedicine, computational engineering, design, energy, and multi-scale engineering. Curiosity-driven research that crosses disciplines or even schools is encouraged, as seen by the School of Engineering’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, which brings together students and faculty in engineering, business, education, medicine, and the humanities to learn design thinking and work together to solve big problems in a human-centered way. Think outside the boundaries, and you may be on your way to being Stanford’s next successful alum!

4 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH

Thayer School of Engineering

Walk into Intro to Engineering at this Ivy League school and you’re immediately tasked with collaborating with classmates to design a device or system that solves a real-life problem, such as saving energy or purifying water. Some ideas produced over the years have been so promising that they’ve been patented and marketed! Encouragement to think in novel ways continues throughout one’s time at the Thayer School of Engineering, which purposely does not divide itself into departments in order to foster cross-disciplinary innovation. This team-centered, free thinking approach to engineering has helped Thayer attract a large number of women. Females received 42 percent of the engineering degrees granted to the class of 2015; the national average is 19 percent. In line with broadening horizons, most engineering undergrads leave Dartmouth with two degrees: a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of engineering. Thayer also offers master’s programs and the nation’s first PhD Innovation Program – five years of financial support to earn a doctorate and build an enterprise based on technical innovation.

5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL

Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering

A Wall Street Journal survey of employers puts University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign engineering graduates among the top five most prepared for the workforce. Look at the school’s program and it’s easy to see why. Freshmen get their feet wet immediately with the Illinois Engineering First-Year Experience. After four weeks of Engineering 100, students spend the rest of the course on a customized project. Past participants have done everything from creating a Helix wind turbine prototype using a 3D printer to building a machine to spread condiments on bagels. Such hands-on experiences continue in courses such as Learning in Community in which teams of students work on projects proposed by nonprofit organizations. You might help design a more cost-efficient prosthetic arm or construct foot bridges for underprivileged Chinese villages. While all aspiring problem solvers are welcome to apply, the mechanical science and engineering department is making a large effort to attract more women. The last six years has seen a remarkable 68 percent increase in enrollment of female undergraduates. The nine new women professors who have joined the department in the last five years undoubtedly influenced some of those aspiring engineers. Regardless of gender, employment prospects look good. Engineering students on average receive two or more job offers, and the starting salary for those with a B.S. in engineering from U of I is about 8 percent higher than the national average.

6 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN

School of Mechanical Engineering

Can a re-engineered football helmet prevent brain damage? How might portable, 3-D technology contribute to crime scene investigations? The inquisitive minds at Purdue ponder these questions and a multitude of others as they apply their knowledge to real-life problems. Perhaps fitting of a university hosting the largest academic propulsion lab in the world (the 24-acre Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories), Purdue encourages far-reaching experiences. Forty percent of mechanical engineering undergrads participate in a global education experience with international partner institutions. Skills get put to the test on such projects as developing a water harvesting system in Tanzania or fabricating prosthetics for amputees in Guatemala. Back on campus, the fact that 39 percent of enrolled undergrads are international further contributes to Purdue’s global vibe. By graduation, 90 percent of mechanical engineering seniors have 4-18 months of industrial experience. Such training pays off on the job market to the tune of a $62,838 average starting salary!

7 Kettering University Flint, MI

College of Engineering

Aspiring mechanical engineers who want to customize a degree may want to check out the specialty concentrations available at Kettering. Courses on automotive powertrains, body and chassis systems, and crash safety can put you on your way to becoming an automotive engineer. Or perhaps you’d like to prepare for a career in medical products design by combining traditional mechanical engineering skills with an understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Whichever route you choose, the leaders at Kettering know that many students are eager to get to work. Thus, co-op and experiential learning opportunities can begin during the first year of enrollment through a program known as the Kettering Advantage. You could accumulate as much as two and a half years of hands-on experience by the time you graduate! And with places such as Fisher-Price, General Motors, and Stryker taking students under their wings, grads are sure to possess resumes worth a second look.

8 University of Florida Gainesville, FL

The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

When the University of Florida Athletic Association wanted to fix the permanent seat backs for their season ticket holders at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium but discovered that replacement parts were no longer available, where did they turn for help? They contacted the mechanical engineering department, of course. A team of innovative students there reverse-engineered the original parts, improved the design, and manufactured them in their laboratory. Cheering the Gators to victory is now more safe and comfortable than ever! With 1,600 undergrads and more than 450 graduate students (including 200 PhD students), UF has more aspiring mechanical and aerospace engineers than many colleges have total enrollees. As might be expected at a place this large, something exciting is always happening. Five dedicated undergraduate teaching labs provide ample space for students to test out their ideas, and a full-time mechanical engineering faculty of 50-plus ensures plenty of guidance. Outside the classroom, students get involved in discipline-related extracurriculars such as the UF chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Whether you’re into building a robot, designing a human-powered vehicle, or coming up with the next advancement in biomedical technology, there’s a team waiting for you. Football players definitely aren’t the only great competitors at UF!

9 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA

Department of Mechanical Engineering

It may not be Silicon Valley yet, but the city of Pittsburgh is getting national attention for its transformation from a steel town to a tech haven. Much of the credit for this development must go to the exciting ideas coming out of Carnegie Mellon. Consider SolePower, for instance, which makes shoe insoles that harvest the energy taken with each step and stores it in an easily accessible battery. The start-up grew from a classroom project its CEO worked on during her senior year as a mechanical engineering student. Or step into one of the university’s many labs to witness the future, such as the possibility of creating electronics so thin and light that your next Fitbit could be a wearable sticker made on your home printer. To support such ground-breaking efforts, the university is in the midst of a $23 million renovation of its iconic Hamerschlag Hall. Its new MakerWing will include advanced manufacturing laboratories, collaborative research space, micro/nanosystems laboratories, and student-focused maker space. Not that Carnegie Mellon isn’t already dedicated to bringing people together. Its unique Integrated Innovation Institute – a joint initiative of the university’s College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts’ School of Design, and the Tepper School of Business – unites three disciplines to cross-train students to become elite innovators. One of its largest current projects is The Internet of Things, which researches not only how to deliver products that are functionally connected but that also excite the consumer and deliver emotional experiences.

10 United States Air Force Academy USAFA, CO

Imagine being part of a team challenged with designing, fabricating, testing, and launching a rocket into space. Students who thrive on such hands-on activities often find the Air Force Academy an ideal place to learn engineering. The Academy features some of the most cutting-edge technologies available anywhere to undergraduates. One such gem is the Applied Mechanics Laboratory. In this highly modern, well-equipped “workshop,” cadets learn how to use everything from a computer-controlled mill to composite material fabrication tools. Faculty – about 70 percent of whom are military officers -- provide guidance both in class and after hours. Instructors favor seminar-style classes over lectures, and they expect students to come to class ready to participate. (Curriculum guidelines suggest two hours of homework/study for every hour in class.) Cadets become second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation.

List of Mechanical Engineering Schools in the U.S.

Degree Levels
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master's
Program Length
  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years
Control Type
  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School Logo School Name Average tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
University Logo Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Atlanta, GA
23 : 1 25,034
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
8 : 1 11,331
Stanford University Stanford University Stanford, CA
6 : 1 16,980
Dartmouth College Dartmouth College Hanover, NH
8 : 1 6,350
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
20 : 1 45,842
Purdue University-Main Campus Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
20 : 1 40,472
Kettering University Kettering University Flint, MI
19 : 1 2,252
University of Florida University of Florida Gainesville, FL
20 : 1 50,645
Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
11 : 1 12,963
United States Air Force Academy United States Air Force Academy USAFA, CO 25 : 1 4,111
Stevens Institute of Technology Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
20 : 1 6,359
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
7 : 1 43,651
University of California-Berkeley University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
21 : 1 38,189
Columbia University in the City of New York Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
7 : 1 28,086
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus University Park, PA
16 : 1 47,307
Cornell University Cornell University Ithaca, NY
12 : 1 21,904
Northeastern University Northeastern University Boston, MA
15 : 1 19,940
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA
19 : 1 32,663
University of Southern California University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
16 : 1 43,401
University of Central Florida University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
41 : 1 62,953
University of California-Los Angeles University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
12 : 1 41,908
Ohio State University-Main Campus Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH
15 : 1 58,663
Michigan Technological University Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI
18 : 1 7,218
University of Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
12 : 1 24,876
The University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
18 : 1 50,950

Getting a Mechanical Engineering Degree Online

While opportunities do exist for undergrads to pursue engineering through online study, the most extensive offerings come at the graduate level. Institutions realize that practicing professionals benefit from flexible continuing-education options. In fact, 98 percent of students in the University of Southern California’s top-notch online graduate engineering program hold a job at the time of enrollment.

Mechanical Engineering Degree Overview

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