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People have been using mechanical engineering since ancient times to create groundbreaking inventions, such as the wedge and the wheel. Today, the profession of mechanical engineering continues to grow, thanks to the rapid development of technology. While mechanical engineers enjoy a higher than average salary and being part of a growing industry, it takes dedication and hard work to join their ranks.

However, if you critique a product’s design and think about how you would build a better model, a degree from one of the best mechanical engineering schools will set you up for a career in engineering.

Mechanical Engineering Schools FAQ

Mechanical engineering contains many fields, including bioengineering, computational fluid dynamics, control theory, design, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, manufacturing, materials science, robots, solid mechanics, and thermodynamics. The best mechanical engineering schools include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, in addition to engineering and design. By providing students with a solid practical and theoretical foundation, graduates of the best mechanical engineering schools can take their knowledge and apply it to whichever field they prefer.


1. What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the design and development of the physical and mechanical systems of machines and the tools and processes necessary to build it—making it a very broad field. Besides designing the wheels, axles, and pumps necessary to power a product, mechanical engineers also design and develop the systems that produce power for a specific product (such as car engines and steam turbines).


2. What Types of Projects Do Mechanical Engineers Work On?

Mechanical engineering might be a broad field, but it is also a very exciting one. Projects being worked on by mechanical engineers range from creating robots that can go into dangerous situations (such as forest fires or hurricanes) and send back vital information to developing innovative medical devices that make smaller incisions and allow a patient to recover faster.


3. How Do I Become a Mechanical Engineer?

To become a mechanical engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. If you plan to sell services to the public—or work for a company that does—all states and the District of Columbia require that you be licensed by the ABET.


How We Reviewed

To help you identify the best mechanical engineering schools for undergraduates, we chose 10 of the top institutions and analyzed the school’s program as related to its cost. Each of the schools we reviewed is fully accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). 

What We Reviewed

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • University of California—Berkeley
  • University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign
  • Purdue University—West Lafayette
  • Cornell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

massachusetts best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private institution founded in 1861 in Cambridge, MA. The institution is consistently ranked as one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the world, offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.

MIT has a very diverse student body, partly because of the school’s commitment to meeting the financial need of each admitted undergraduate student—making it possible for students of many backgrounds to receive a degree from this world-renowned institution.

  PROS   

  • Almost half of all engineering undergraduates are women
  • Need-based scholarships available to all admitted undergraduates
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum

PROS 

   CONS

  • MIT does not use the Common App
  • Admissions are competitive
  • Early action does not give applicants an admission advantage

Tuition

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate students at MIT are $$$. However, when factoring in need-based scholarships, the cost comes down significantly. In 2016, the average need-based scholarship was approximately $$.


Georgia Institute of Technology

georgia best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$ to $$

Our Rating

Program Description

Founded in 1885, Georgia Institute of Technology (often called Georgia Tech) is a public institution in Atlanta, Georgia. Long considered one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the United States, Georgia Tech’s engineering college is also the largest in the U.S. Mechanical engineering undergraduates work alongside renowned faculty on meaningful interdisciplinary research projects with real human benefits.

  PROS   

  • Additional campuses in France, Ireland, Costa Rica, Singapore, and China
  • Proximity to many types of internship and work opportunities
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship training
  • Both the Coalition and Common Applications are accepted
  • Georgia residents receive tuition breaks

PROS 

   CONS

  • Tuition higher for out-of-state students
  • Competitive acceptance rates
  • Unequal gender distribution (approx. 60 percent male and 40 percent female)

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at Georgia Tech is approximately $, while out-of-state undergraduate students pay approximately $$. Room and board are an additional $. Approximately 40 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid at Georgia Tech, with the average amount being around $.


Stanford University

stanford best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Located in the town of Palo Alto in California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford University is consistently ranked as one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the world. Stanford’s School of Engineering offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and all students take part in groundbreaking research and innovations, both at campus facilities and off-campus through local business partnerships.

PROS   

  • Access to Silicon Valley and tech companies
  • High employment rate after graduation with a high median salary (approximately $70,700)
  • Beautiful campus with state-of-the-art research facilities
  • 50/50 ratio of male to female students
  • Stanford accepts both the Coalition and Common Applications

PROS 

   CONS

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area have one of the highest costs of living in the world

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for undergraduates at Stanford University is approximately $$$. Room and board are an additional $. Approximately half of the full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average amount being approximately $$$.


University of California—Berkeley

berkeley best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Founded in 1868, the University of California—Berkeley (also called UC-Berkeley or Cal) is a public institution that offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering. The UC-Berkeley campus is centered in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most exciting areas in the world for a mechanical engineer to start their career.

Besides its rigorous curriculum, UC-Berkeley’s research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, governmental agencies, and global high-tech industries—making it one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the country.

  PROS   

  • Access to Silicon Valley and tech companies
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum
  • California residents enjoy more affordable tuition

PROS 

   CONS

  • For out-of-state students, tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • The San Francisco Bay Area has some of the highest costs of living in the world
  • Common App not accepted

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at UC-Berkeley is approximately $, while out-of-state undergraduate students pay approximately $$$. Room and board are an additional $. A little less than half of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid at UC-Berkeley, with the average amount being around $.


The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

michigan best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (also called Michigan or U-M) is a public institution that was founded in 1817. Mechanical engineering undergraduates at U-M have access to top-notch faculty, innovative facilities, and research opportunities.

The undergraduate mechanical engineering program is built on a foundation of fundamental principles—thermal and fluid sciences, solid mechanics and materials, dynamics and controls—making U-M one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the U.S.

  PROS   

  • Accepts both the Coalition and Common Applications
  • Flexible interdisciplinary degree programs
  • Combined bachelor’s/master’s five-year programs
  • Unique global study, travel and work opportunities
  • Tuition breaks for Michigan residents

PROS 

  CONS

  • Higher tuition for out-of-state students
  • Competitive admissions

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at UM is approximately $, while out-of-state undergraduate students pay approximately $$$. Room and board are an additional $. A little less than 40 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid at UM, with the average amount being around $.


California Institute of Technology

california best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Founded in 1981, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private institution in Pasadena, California that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. As one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the country, Caltech receives many grants from the United States government, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Mechanical engineering at Caltech shares a department with civil engineering, allowing students to apply the principles they learn to real-world problems.

  PROS   

  • Early acceptance rate is slightly higher (approximately 10%) vs. regular admissions (approximately 8%)
  • The entire school is focused on science and engineering
  • Heavy emphasis on research
  • They accept the Common App
  • Students can also apply through QuestBridge National College Match

PROS 

   CONS

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for Caltech undergraduates is approximately $$$. Room and board are an additional cost of approximately $. Approximately half of all full-time Caltech undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average amount being approximately $$$.


University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

illinois best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign (also called U of I, Illinois, or UIUC) is a public research institution in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois. The Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at U of I offer degree programs in engineering mechanics, mechanical engineering, and theoretical and applied mechanics.

Long considered one of the best mechanical engineering programs in the country, the mechanical engineering research being done at U of I impact the environment, health, manufacturing, security and defense, and transportation.

  PROS   

  • Multiple degree programs within mechanical engineering
  • Accepts the Coalition Application
  • In-state students receive tuition breaks

PROS 

   CONS

  • Does not accept the Common Application
  • Out-of-state students pay higher tuition fees

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at the U of I is approximately $, while out-of-state undergraduate students pay approximately $$. Room and board are an additional $. A little less than half of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid at the U of I, with the average amount being around $.


Purdue University—West Lafayette

purdue best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Purdue University—West Lafayette is a public institution that was founded in 1869 and is the main campus in the Purdue University system, which includes four other campuses throughout the state of Indiana. While Purdue’s College of Engineering is famous for its groundbreaking innovations in aerospace and space robotics, mechanical engineering graduates contribute to a wide variety of industries, from automotive and biomedical to manufacturing.

  PROS   

  • Co-ops and internships available
  • Study abroad opportunities
  • In-state students receive tuition breaks
  • Accepts both the Coalition and Common Applications

PROS 

   CONS

  • Out-of-state students pay higher tuition

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at Purdue is approximately $, while out-of-state undergraduate students pay approximately $$. Room and board are an additional $. A little over 40 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid at Purdue, with the average amount being around $.


Cornell University

cornel best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Founded in 1865, Cornell University is a private institution in Ithaca, NY. Undergraduates studying at Cornell’s Silby School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will receive a broad background in the fundamentals of mechanical engineering as a part of the school’s Common Curriculum requirements. Besides their studies, undergraduates students regularly design engineering competitions, such as the Baja SAE, Automotive X-Prize, UNP Satellite Program, DARPA Grand Challenge, AUVSI Underwater Vehicle Challenge, Formula SAE, RoboCup, Solar Decathlon, and Genetically Engineered Machines.

 PROS   

  • Elite Ivy League school
  • Accepts the Common and Universal College Applications
  • World-class facilities and research opportunities

PROS 

  CONS

  • High tuition and fees
  • Competitive admissions

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for Cornell undergraduates is approximately $$$. Room and board are an additional cost of approximately $. Almost half of all full-time Cornell undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average amount being approximately $$. 


Carnegie Mellon University

carnegie mellon best mechanical engineering schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Carnegie Mellon University is located in Pittsburgh, PA and offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. Founded in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the school’s Institute of Technology and School of Computer Science consistently rank as two of the best mechanical engineering schools in the United States.

Mechanical engineering undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon take part in research, receive grants, and summer fellowships to support research in their field of study.

  PROS   

  • K-12 STEM opportunities
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum

PROS 

   CONS

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Tuition

The estimated yearly tuition and fees for Carnegie Mellon undergraduates is approximately $$$. Room and board is an additional cost of approximately $. Less than 40 percent of all full-time Carnegie Mellon undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average amount being approximately $$.


Best Mechanical Engineering Schools: The Verdict

When choosing the best mechanical engineering school, it is important to consider your own unique circumstances — a school that is a good fit for your best friend might not be the best for you—and vice versa. For example, if you are an in-state resident of Indiana, the mechanical engineering program at Purdue University is both outstanding and affordable. However, if you want to have a career in Silicon Valley, Purdue University might not be the best option for you because it is located in Indiana.

You might be willing to pay more in tuition and fees to attend a school like UC-Berkeley that is right next door to Silicon Valley. Remember, education is an investment; it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each school as each relates to your own personal career goals before making your final decision.

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