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Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering | Context - Context
Online Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering
Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering In Context

Involved in product development, the aerospace industry, construction, and many other innovative functions, mechanical engineers play an important part in keeping the modern world moving forward. As with all engineering degrees, the Master of Mechanical Engineering is best suited to students with technical and advanced mathematical skills. [1] Earning a Master of Mechanical Engineering can help you pursue a satisfying career in your preferred industry. It can also prepare you to pursue higher earnings, with the national average salary for mechanical engineers reported recently to be $84,190. [2]

In every industry, the mechanical engineer serves as a problem solver, responding to rising issues with smart designs and effective manufacturing. Mechanical engineers fill a range of industries, from determining how and where the heating and ventilation system should be installed in a building to creating devices used in the aerospace and automotive industries. The role of mechanical engineers can also include product development and testing. With a Master of Mechanical Engineering, you can narrow the focus of your degree to suit your specific career goals.

Who studies for a mechanical engineering master’s degree?

The mechanical engineering master’s degree provides engineers with an opportunity to pursue additional expertise in the field. Is it often the degree earned following the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, but it is also suited to those who hold other degrees in engineering or math, science, and technology. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for the majority of mechanical engineering jobs, but a master’s in mechanical engineering can prepare you for advanced roles by updating your technical knowledge and enhancing your leadership skills. [2]

Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology comprise the expertise that powers STEM fields, which have historically been male-dominated. According to Data USA, that’s still true today, with 86.5% of all mechanical engineering degrees are awarded to males. [3] Attempts to introduce more diversity in the field have seen many scholarships, grants, and other support awarded to female students seeking STEM degrees, including a Master of Mechanical Engineering.

These diversity initiatives have been successful overall, with the number of women in mechanical engineering degree programs, including those for the M.Eng., growing steadily. The Engineering Workforce Commission has estimated that there was an over 2% growth in the number of women studying for engineering degrees over the past five years, with similar growth expected going forward. [4]

Why earn a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the need for mechanical engineers to grow steadily from 2014 to 2024, at a rate that exceeds projected growth in other engineering fields. This positions M.Eng. graduates to become more competitive for an increasing number of jobs. As the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, one of the country’s largest engineering organizations, points out, excellence is quickly replacing “qualified” as the standard in the American workforce. [2] [5]

Completing the M.Eng. degree can help show prospective employers that you’re prepared to take on a leadership role and have the understanding of the field to do so. It can also help prepare you for licensing exams; earning an ABET-accredited M.Eng. can help you meet some licensing criteria to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exams. [6]

As technology changes and evolves, mechanical engineers will be at the forefront of change. By holding an M.Eng. degree, you will be better prepared to be a leader in the industry. Whether your interests take you to aerospace, bioengineering, nanotechnology, or manufacturing, having the additional expertise that comes with the M.Eng. can prepare you to pursue career advancement or even provide a path to achieve the independence of running your own firm.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Career Advancement
The diversity of mechanical engineering roles may be what drew you to the field. With work in everything from aerospace to product development, holding a mechanical engineering degree can prepare you for an engaging and well-paid career. The BLS estimates a 5% growth among mechanical engineering occupations between 2014 and 2024, equating to roughly 14,600 new jobs being created in this time. This is in addition to the current mechanical engineering roles, which number over a quarter of a million. The average salary for mechanical engineers is $84,190, more than double the overall national average wage of $37,040. [2]
Types of careers in mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers create and test machines, engines, and tools to serve a variety of industries. Some of the most common careers for those who have earned an M.Eng. degree are: [7]

  • Senior Mechanical Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Design Engineer
  • Engineering Group Manager
  • Project Manager
  • IT Manager
  • Operations Manager
Popular industries where mechanical engineers work

Research and development

With an average salary of $96,380, research and development is potentially the most lucrative industry for mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineers are needed for product development, as well as development of manufacturing processes. [19]

Aerospace industry

Another popular industry for mechanical engineers is the aerospace industry. Here, engineers are responsible for creating the product and parts manufacturing systems. Mechanical engineers are often responsible for keeping the aerospace industry at the cutting edge of technological advancements. These engineering roles have a median wage of $93,910. [19]

Computer and electronic product manufacturing

Another field you may work in when you have a Master of Mechanical Engineering is computer and electronic product manufacturing. While computer science fields may focus on the development of technology in electronic products, ensuring that they can be manufactured effectively requires the expertise of mechanical engineers. This field is a growing area of manufacturing and has an average wage of $89,330. [19]

Machinery manufacturing

With a median salary of $75,480, a career in this sector positions you to earn double the overall average annual wage. [19] It is also one of the more traditional and longest-standing areas for mechanical engineers. What’s more, it offers a varied career path. Machinery manufacturing allows a mechanical engineer the opportunity to develop manufacturing systems for any type of industry. Engineers in these jobs may offer generalized services, improving systems for any industry, or specialized services, offering expertise to a particular industry.

Engineering services

Another viable career path for those with an M.Eng. degree is engineering services. Working in engineering services can often mean bringing your expertise in how things work to support others in the field with your ability to solve problems. A mechanical engineer in this field can expect to earn a median wage of $86,270. [19] They may work alongside architects, other engineering disciplines, and construction professionals, among others.

Where do mechanical engineers work?

Mechanical engineers work in a variety of settings, including offices and worksites. Where you work can often depend on your industry sector and the services you are providing. It’s estimated that of 277,500 mechanical engineers employed in 2014, the most common work settings and percentages of engineers employed were as follows: [8]

  • Engineering services (17%)
  • Machinery manufacturing (15%)
  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing (7%)
  • Research development (6%)
  • Aerospace products and parts manufacturing (6%)

From the automotive industry to telecommunications, many of the world’s biggest companies rely on mechanical engineers. This includes old field services giant Halliburton, car manufacturers Ford and General Motors, technologies company Lockheed Martin and many more. [9]

In the past 50 years, the aerospace industry has changed a lot, but its need for mechanical engineers remains strong. Engineers are responsible for manufacture of end products, be they airplanes or spacecraft, as well as the design and development of internal systems. A mechanical engineer may be required to oversee the development of a new heating system suitable for a long-distance flight, as well as developing the process for its manufacture and installation.

Computers, smartphones, and the future of technology are only made possible through effective manufacturing. Every tech giant replies on mechanical engineers to help develop the best possible manufacturing processes. With a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree, you can specialize in the types of engineering required by the tech industry. Along with manufacturing of components, this could include the development of technological systems for use in other industries.

As a key part of infrastructure and progress, engineers with master’s degrees are key players in many government bodies. Mechanical engineers work for governments in designing defenses, planning improvements to industry, and reducing the environmental impact of industry. The M.Eng. prepares you not just for working out the technical problems, but also for taking a leadership role as a professional engineer. [10]

Whether a small local firm or a large multinational, consulting firms rely on mechanical engineers for much of their work. This can include working within the construction industry to ensure that building systems are designed and installed correctly. Some consulting firms specialize in a specific area of mechanical engineering, or engineering in general; other firms work mainly with manufacturers to improve their existing systems.

The military and associated industries regularly need engineers for the work they do. From vehicles to arms, the design and manufacture of military equipment require precision, attention to detail, and efficiency. For all of these reasons, mechanical engineers are an essential part of these industries.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Curriculum
The Master of Mechanical Engineering is generally completed by taking a set of core courses along with electives that will focus on your chosen specialization. Some courses may also require additional research and some will require a final thesis at the end of the program.
Core courses

The core courses for most MEng degree programs will be focused on mathematics and advanced levels of courses that you may have taken in an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree program. These may include thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, machine design, manufacturing processes, and other fundamentals of the field.


Along with core courses, you will also be required to take elective courses that will give you a deeper knowledge of your chosen area of mechanical engineering. As the field’s needs can vary so greatly, the M.Eng, elective courses will allow you to focus your expertise on a specific area of mechanical engineering.

Electives vary by institution, but some common elective courses include:

  • Biomechanical engineering
  • Precision manufacturing
  • Micro-electro-mechanical systems
  • Oceanic waves
  • Design methods
  • Dynamics
  • Robotics
  • Materials

Mechanical engineering is a very diverse field, and the M.Eng. degree can prepare you for opportunities in a variety of industries. As part of the Master of Mechanical Engineering degree, you will be expected to choose a specialization. Depending on the institution, you may be expected to start the program with a specialization in mind. Some institutions will allow you to choose your specialization while studying.

For most courses, there will be a set number of specializations available to study. These generally fall into the following areas:

  • Design and manufacturing
  • Dynamics and controls
  • Solid mechanics, vibrations, and materials
  • Thermal fluids
  • Bioengineering
  • Computational engineering
  • Energy and the environment
  • Micro/nanotechnology
  • Product development
  • Robotics

Internships and fieldwork

If your chosen program requires an internship as part of the degree, it will give you an additional experience of working as a mechanical engineer. Your internship will usually be focused on your specialization, working alongside those already practicing in that area.

Like internships, much of the fieldwork required by some Master of Mechanical Engineering programs will take you out of the classroom and provide you with real-world insight into and experience of what an engineer does. This sort of fieldwork might be working on a research project undertaken by the university or a specific project with a related industry.

Research project

While internships and fieldwork may bring you in contact with existing projects, other degree programs will expect you to create your own project. This may be a research project that you lead, either alone or as part of a team. A research project may be a significant part of your master’s degree, as it is a way to demonstrate all that you have learned in the coursework.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Transfer credit

Whether or not transfer credit is accepted will be determined by the program you select and the credit you have accumulated at another institution. In general, your external credit might be applicable to some of the core coursework or may be used to demonstrate certain prerequisites, such as writing ability.

Many M.Eng. programs will expect you to complete the majority of requirements during your time at that university. If you transfer to an M.Eng. program from within the same institution, you may find that more of your credit is transferable.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admissions requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Alternative Degree/Field of Study
Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome. The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.

The MS in Engineering may be a good fit for those who have a BS in a related field but lack the previous engineering coursework that is required by most M.Eng. programs. If you are moving to engineering from a mathematics, physics, or other science discipline, the Master of Science in Engineering degree can often be a good point of entry. It is also considered the best option if you want to continue on to a doctorate in engineering or another field.

The Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree combines business and engineering courses to help engineers advance. This degree is geared towards those looking to take on a management role in an industry, serving as the bridge between the technical expertise of engineers and a wider business function. These programs will not have the same level of specialization within engineering as you would experience in an M.Eng. program.

Another related option would be a combined MBA and M.Eng. degree program. Like the MEM degree, this option includes both business and engineering elements. The joint degree option, though, would offer the specialization of the M.Eng. degree along with the specialization of the MBA program, with the aim of preparing you for a very technical management role in the field.

While this does give you expertise in both areas, it also requires significantly more coursework than the M.Eng. on its own. However, if your aim is to move into management, the additional business training may be worth the extra commitment.

You may also want to explore other areas of engineering. While an M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering offers opportunities to explore many different fields, you may also want to consider a different type of engineering. Biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, and robotics are all related fields that can overlap with the coursework of the Master of Mechanical Engineering.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Relevant Industry Associations/Organizations Overview
As a master’s in mechanical engineering student, it can be helpful to connect to engineers involved in these industry associations and organizations:

Founded in 1880, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is one of the country’s largest engineering membership organizations. Of its 130,000 members, 32,000 are students. Along with advocacy to instill a higher quality of engineering across the field, the organization also offers advice for students and those already working in the field. [11]

One of the fastest growing engineering groups, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was founded in 1847 and now has over 115,000 members. It works closely with mechanical engineering students at all levels, as well as those working in the field. Their aim is “to improve the world through engineering.” This includes promoting engineering to the next generation and advocating for excellence in engineering. [12]

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers works with manufacturers to promote better technology and shared knowledge. It works to connect the innovations developed by mechanical engineers in otherwise far-flung spheres.

As part of the larger International Association of Engineers (IAENG), the Society of Mechanical Engineering (ISME) holds conferences and workshops to promote the field of mechanical engineering. As an M.Eng. student, these conferences can help connect you to other students, as well as established professionals in the field. The larger IAENG also brings together all engineering disciplines to promote cooperation between different fields and the overall advancement of technology. [13]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

ABET accreditation

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) monitors engineering degree programs to ensure they meet certain standards within the engineering field and that the education provided by the program will sufficiently prepare students to be a part of the profession. [14]

ABET accreditors come from the industry as well as from the academic world, meaning that the accreditation offers an assurance that the program meets academic standards as well as providing a practical education that will serve you as a professional.

Within ABET accreditation, four governing bodies ensure consistency across their respective areas of study. The two governing bodies responsible for accrediting engineering programs are: The Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) and Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC). Each is made up of industry professionals, representatives of engineering membership organizations, and academic leaders. [15]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Mechanical Engineering Certification/Licensure
The Master of Mechanical Engineering degree helps prepare engineers for licensing exams to achieve Professional Engineer (PE) status. These include the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exams. While it is possible to work as an engineer without state licensing, there may be limits to career advancement. Becoming licensed will allow you to take on additional responsibility within the field. In most states, the licensing process requires you to pass the exams mentioned above, complete a certain amount of work in the field, and hold a degree from an ABET-accredited program. While this degree doesn’t have to be an M.Eng. or other master’s-level degree, this additional education and training can help with your preparation for the licensing exams. [16]
History of the Degree

By 1825, the United States boasted three engineering schools, cementing the necessity of superior training for engineers as a core component of any functioning community. [17]

As technology has expanded, both in everyday life and manufacturing, the role of mechanical engineers and the training available to them have also expanded. Knowledge sharing grew first with professional organizations. The first mechanical engineering association in the U.S., the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), was formed in 1880, making it the third engineering organization in the country. [22]

Not long after that, universities began offering mechanical engineering programs. Purdue University established their School of Mechanical Engineering in 1882, making it the oldest graduate program in the nation. [23] A few years later, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering was offered at the Georgia School of Technology in 1888. [21]

Today there are more than 300 ABET-accredited Mechanical Engineering programs in the U.S. [20] Modern mechanical engineers play an important role in the development of new technology and improving manufacturing, aerospace, computer electronics, and many other industries that rely on product development, testing, and improvements. [19] Mechanical engineers are also at the forefront of modern environmental innovations, like hybrid automobiles and improved sources of renewable energy.[18]

Providing these key services, it’s easy to see why the coursework and practice-based training of the Master of Mechanical Engineering degree have long been a part of engineering education.

Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Mechanical engineering courses at postgraduate levels allow students to develop specialist knowledge in a particular area, including research, software, and innovations. Mechanical engineers who hold a master’s degree can take jobs as an instructor at colleges and universities or research and development positions at a private firm. [24]

Key factors to look for include:

  • Accreditation: Is the program accredited?
  • Flexibility: Is the program on campus or online? If online, does the institution require synchronous sessions or is it asynchronous?
  • Student support: What support systems are in place for your success?
  • Travel requirements: Will you need to pay for additional travel arrangements to meet degree requirements?
  • Interactive learning: What type of learning management system is used?
  • Faculty expertise: Do the faculty have a strong theoretical and practical knowledge base in the field?
  • Fees: Are there any additional fees outside of tuition?

To be eligible for any mechanical engineering master’s program you must have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, or a closely related program.

Completion time usually ranges from 18 to 24 months depending on the program and the number of semesters you attend.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your particular school before applying.

Online synchronous learning happens in real-time. There is a required time that you would need to log in or be present to participate. For example, you would log in to watch a faculty presentation at a specific time for a live question and answer session.
In an asynchronous online format, you are not required to be online at a certain time, allowing you to participate according to your schedule. There will still be due dates, but students are solely responsible for their own time management.

Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded.

Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and the potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.

No, attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 5% from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects may be best for those who stay abreast of the most recent advances in technology.

If you are pursuing a degree in engineering, computing or applied science, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that sets the global standard for post-secondary programs in computing, engineering, and applied science. [25]

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also a requirement for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [26]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through CCNE or SARA (if they are a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.