Online Mechanical Engineering Master’s Degree

Online Mechanical Engineering Master’s Degree

    Online Mechanical Engineering Master’s Degree

    Online Mechanical Engineering Degree: An Overview

    Mechanical engineers are employed in a wide range of industries and are responsible for designing and building anything with moving parts, from air conditioners to automobiles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineering managers are among the highest-paid professionals in the nation, bringing in an average of $134,730 a year. Some senior mechanical engineers also command salaries of nearly $100,000.

    These senior positions usually require education beyond the undergraduate level. While some entry-level jobs may be open to those with a bachelor's degree, a master's is typically preferred or required for high-level management positions. Earning a mechanical engineering master's degree online is a way to acquire the specialized skills needed to pursue these positions.

    An online mechanical engineering master's program offers flexibility for students who are also working professionals. Web-based programs typically follow the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to similar advancement opportunities for graduates. The online format is also ideal for students who must tackle additional commitments – such as child or family care – on top of their work and class schedules.

    How long does it take to earn a master's in mechanical engineering online?

    On average, students must complete 30 credits to earn a mechanical engineering master’s degree online. However, the length of an online master’s in mechanical engineering program depends on numerous factors, including format and delivery method. While most full-time students are able to earn their degree in two to four years, some self-paced and accelerated programs can be completed in as little as 18 months.

    How much does a master's in mechanical engineering cost?

    The cost of an online mechanical engineering master’s degree depends on several factors. State residency is an important consideration, since many colleges and universities charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. However, some schools charge flat tuition for online students regardless of state residency. Technology fees are another key factor; these fees often apply to online students but not their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

    Per-credit costs for an online mechanical engineering degree typically range from $450 to $1,600. Students should expect to pay between $14,000 and $48,000 in total tuition.

    Online master's in mechanical engineering admissions requirements

    While admissions requirements vary, most schools prefer applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field from an accredited college or university. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is usually required, and some schools also request GRE scores.

    Although work experience is not typically mandatory, some mechanical engineering master’s degree online programs may require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from former instructors or colleagues.

    Choosing an accredited online mechanical engineering master’s degree program

    Accreditation status is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. Colleges and universities in the U.S. receive accreditation from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education; the accreditation process involves an extensive review of a school's educational programs and student services.

    A school's accreditation impacts course credit transferability, as well as student eligibility for federal financial aid, so students should ensure the school offering the program has earned national or regional accreditation.

    Online Coursework

    An online master's in mechanical engineering builds off the core concepts introduced in undergraduate coursework and offers a more in-depth look at advanced topics in engineering.

    The typical master's in mechanical engineering curriculum includes coursework in quality control, mathematics and fluid mechanics as well as other subjects that are commonly encountered by engineers in professional settings.

    Some mechanical engineering master's online curricula cover concepts in business administration, which can be useful for those who want to pursue positions in management or project engineering. Mechanical engineers with project management skills are in high demand, and these professionals typically enjoy a higher average salary than their counterparts.

    Mechanical engineering degree specialization

    Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering specialities and can prepare graduates for careers in several different industries, such as biotechnology, automotive, nuclear energy and aerospace. Some online mechanical engineering master's programs allow students to customize their degree with a concentration to help them meet their career goals.

    For example, those who want to pursue a career in materials engineering may pursue a concentration in the mechanics of materials, while prospective heating and cooling, or HVAC, mechanical engineers often specialize in thermofluids.

    Example concentrations
    Robotics and controls
    Solids/mechanics of materials

    Capstone experience

    Unlike many other graduate programs in different fields, the majority of online mechanical engineering master’s programs do not include a required capstone experience or internship. Instead, students may need to complete a thesis project to graduate.

    Professional Associations in Mechanical Engineering

    Students earning a mechanical engineering master's online can join professional associations to gain access to a wide variety of membership benefits. These organizations offer several resources including certification programs, webinars and career assistance for recent graduates. Below are three professional associations that can be beneficial for mechanical engineers.

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers: ASME is a source of continuing education, advocacy and support for its 130,000 members. Student members have access to digital resources through ASME’s AccessEngineering database, as well as career services, publications and special events for college students.
  • ASM International: ASM International was founded in 1913 and connects materials professionals from around the world. This organization offers members access to the ASM Desk Editions Online, where they can find authoritative answers on properties, processing, analysis and testing; volunteer opportunities and a career center.
  • SME: Formerly the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, SME promotes professionalism among manufacturing engineers through education and technology. This organization has chapters in nearly every state, allowing members to expand their professional networks locally or develop nationwide contacts at the SME conference. Other member benefits include free webinars and publications, certification programs and exclusive job boards.

  • Example courses

    • Applied fluid dynamics
    • Mechanical vibration
    • Structural analysis
    • Computational fluid dynamics
    • Quality control

    Job Outlook and Salaries for Graduates

    Graduates with a mechanical engineering master's degree online enjoy better job prospects and higher salaries than their counterparts with only a bachelor's. According to the BLS, mechanical engineers with a master’s degree earn roughly 9 to 13 percent more than those without.

    Earning an online mechanical engineering master's degree is a good option for professionals who want to stand out in this competitive field, which is projected to experience a 9 percent job growth rate from 2016 to 2026.

    What can you do with a master's in mechanical engineering?

    Mechanical engineers are employed in a variety of industries and settings, from machinery and electronic product manufacturing to scientific research and development.

    Some choose to specialize in one or more subfields of mechanical engineering, such as heating and cooling systems or robotics. According to PayScale, an online salary database, the following occupations are popular among graduates with a master's in mechanical engineering.

  • HVAC mechanical engineer: HVAC mechanical engineers are responsible for assessing a client's needs, space limitations and budget before designing a customized HVAC system. They work alongside installation teams to troubleshoot and identify any design issues.
  • Manufacturing engineer: Manufacturing engineers emphasize productivity and research emerging technology to determine which machinery and process can maximize efficiency. They are also responsible for training other engineers on these topics.
  • Mechanical design engineer: These professionals are employed in numerous industries and are tasked with developing prototypical designs for products and systems that meet the defined regulations and goals. Some mechanical design engineers may direct design teams, while others work alone.
  • Mechanical engineer: Mechanical engineers are responsible for creating new product designs and testing mechanical prototypes. Other common duties include writing technical reports and estimating project budgets.
  • Project engineer: While duties can vary considerably from company to company, most project engineers use their knowledge of engineering to assess a project's risks, material requirements and costs. These professionals must have at least a bachelor's degree, though a master's degree is generally preferred.
  • Project manager, engineering: Engineering project managers are responsible for the development of product strategies and plans. These professionals direct engineering teams, design product proposals and ensure that standards are met on a project. Most of these project managers have a master's degree and at least seven years of relevant experience.

  • Licensure and certification

    Mechanical engineers in every state must be licensed. While licensing regulations vary from state to state, most require that candidates pass two exams: Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practices of Engineering. A period of employment or education under a licensed professional engineer is also typically required.

    How much do mechanical engineering master’s graduates make?

    Median salaries
    Job title
    HVAC mechanical engineer

    Manufacturing engineer

    Project engineer

    Mechanical design engineer

    Mechanical engineer

    Project manager, engineering