For those who love math and science, a mechanical engineering degree might just be the program you want to pursue in college. An undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering can offer students enough specialization in engineering to prepare them for future endeavors, while giving them the space they might need to nail down what, exactly, it is they want to do with their career.
If you fall into this group and are looking to study mechanical engineering during college, you’re in the right place. This list will help you find a few of the best colleges for mechanical engineering in the United States so that you can start your career on the right foot.
What should you look for in a mechanical engineering degree?
While there are many elements that go into making a program a good one, one of the most important factors in choosing a school to pursue your mechanical engineering degree is whether or not it is ABET accredited.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET for short), accredits schools around the nation to dole out degrees in science, technology, and engineering. This process helps to ensure a high standard of quality among degree programs that offer any program within these fields.
Students can find degree programs that are not ABET accredited that will still offer them a wonderful education in the field of mechanical engineering, but looking for schools that are ABET accredited will give you a sense of certainty that the program backs up what it’s advertising on its glossy brochures.
What can mechanical engineering majors do?
One of the awesome parts about an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering is that it provides you with the springboard to jump into other careers and areas of study. Many mechanical engineering majors go on to have fulfilling jobs after graduation, and many move on to graduate school to hammer down their interests.
What you pursue following graduation will depend entirely on you of course, but here are just some of the paths that may be available to you with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.
- Pursue higher education in graduate school
- Work in transportation
- Hold leadership roles
- Be a city or urban planner
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Students interested in pursuing mechanical engineering will want to consider attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This school is ranked as the number one college for mechanical engineering for good reason: their program rocks.
This school has not one but three undergraduate degree programs relating to engineering, with two focused solely on mechanical engineering. One of their courses offers students the chance to learn and grow within the field through all the normal classes you’ll find at most other schools, but it also lets students explore the field in the form of 48 units of electives that are the student’s choice. This is a luxury that not many college students get to have in their degree, so MIT certainly gets a few extra points in our book just from that.
But if mechanical engineering isn’t quite enough for you, MIT has another option too. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also offers a bachelor's degree in mechanical and ocean engineering. This course teaches students about mechanical engineering offshore so that they may be the purveyors of technology relating to the seas for years to come.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another school that gives students as many options for mechanical engineering as MIT does. The school scored a spot on our list because of its impressive accolades, and it should definitely snag a space on your list of best colleges for mechanical engineering for this as well.
California Institute of Technology
On the opposite coast from MIT lies the California Institute of Technology where you’ll find another world-class college that has a top-notch undergraduate degree program in mechanical engineering.
Caltech prides itself on giving students the education they need to pursue leadership roles, higher education, or career advancement after graduation. The school’s mechanical engineering program has a dynamic degree that students can engage with. Caltech provides students with classes that help them achieve proficiency in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
While that may sound broad, Caltech makes sure that its students are able to drill down in their area of interest by providing specialized tracks of study for students to focus on during their tenure at the university.
Design, Systems, and Mechatronics; Fluids and Transport; and Thermodynamics and Energy are just a handful of the elective tracks that are offered to students at the California Institute of Technology.
And if that’s not enough mechanical engineering for you, students can join other school-affiliated organizations such as the Caltech Magazine or the Caltech Undergraduate Research Journal to flex their knowledge of mechanical engineering inside and outside of the classroom.
With so many options in its degree, the California Institute of Technology stands out among many other well-known universities to make itself one of the best colleges for mechanical engineering on the West Coast and beyond.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Coastal regions of the United States aren’t the only places with state-of-the-art colleges for mechanical engineering. The midwest has a few great schools of its own, and none are better than the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
UIUC has a lot to brag about when it comes to its mechanical engineering program, but they should be especially proud of the faculty who teach there. With over 65 full-time faculty teaching across the university’s mechanical engineering degree and their sister degree in engineering mechanics, students can be sure that they’ll receive the care and attention they need from their instructors.
Instructors at this university also take the cake when it comes to the number of publications per faculty member, with many of these publications receiving some of the nation’s most prestigious awards. So not only will students have a lot of great teachers, but they will also have teachers who are incredibly experienced and knowledgeable about their field.
Prospective students should make sure to put the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on their list of potential schools to apply to for their undergraduate degree. Because UIUC is one of the best colleges for mechanical engineering in the nation.
Georgia Institute of Technology
To round out universities in all of the major geographic regions in the United States, we have the Georgia Institute of Technology. This school may not be as well known as some of its counterparts, but it has certainly earned a name for itself on this list of the best colleges for mechanical engineering in America.
Georgia Tech earns a spot on this list for many different reasons, but where it really stands out is in its areas of concentration for the degree. This university offers students the chance to take 15 units of concentration courses that will satisfy a variety of elective credits required for a mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree. And they have so many incredible options for students to study.
Concentrations include areas such as Nuclear and Radiological Engineering; Micro- and Nano-Engineering; and Mechanics of Materials. These don’t begin to encompass all of the areas that students can concentrate in, and that’s just in one area of electives! Imagine all that you can learn in the degree itself. The possibilities at the Georgia Institute of Technology are endless.
Something else worth mentioning about Georgia Tech is its cost. This university is one of the cheapest schools to attend in the United States for mechanical engineering, especially if you’re enrolling as an in-state student. For the budget-conscious student who still wants to get an A-lister’s education, make sure to keep the Georgia Institute of Technology on your radar.
Johns Hopkins University
To close out this list, we’re circling back to the East Coast to feature Johns Hopkins University, which has an amazing mechanical engineering degree.
At Johns Hopkins, students can opt to study one of two tracks offered within the mechanical engineering or engineering mechanics degree. These two tracks are Aerospace and Biomechanics. However, at Johns Hopkins University, you don’t have to choose one of these two tracks. You can simply take classes in both and explore two different but equally interesting areas of engineering.
This flexibility that Johns Hopkins offers its students helps to make it a competitive school in the world of engineering, and a college worthy of your consideration.
No matter which school you attend to get your bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, you can count on walking away with a degree that will lay the foundation for an interesting and dynamic career. The colleges on this list can help you get one step closer to where you want to go with your degree, be it close to home or across the world.