The best mechanical engineering schools – 2024

Mechanical engineers develop machines and mechanical systems to solve real-world problems. Read on to discover the best colleges for mechanical engineering in the country, by value for money. These top mechanical engineering schools provide the optimal combination of affordability and high earning potential

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Is mechanical engineering a good major?

Mechanical engineering is a great major in terms of economic value. People with a mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree earn 61% more than the average bachelor’s holder just 4 years after leaving school.  

This puts mechanical engineering in the top 20% of all majors by value for money, as captured by our economic score metric, which shows the return on investment (ROI) value of college degrees. 

Were you born with a deep desire to take things apart to figure out how they work? Are you still secretly (or openly) obsessed with Legos? If this sounds like you (and you don’t mind sitting behind a computer), mechanical engineering might be the perfect major. 

A 2024 study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York determined that mechanical engineering majors have an underemployment rate of just 20.3%.  

Underemployment is when you have a job, just not one you need your degree for. 

Use our college major comparison tool below to compare industrial engineering with other majors – like industrial engineering, economics, or computer engineering. 

    Click on a degree card to reveal more information.
    Very Good Value
    Mechanical Engineering
    AVERAGE SALARY $82,172
    COST $18,860

    Top 20% of all degrees by ROI

    EARNINGS PLUS

    EarningsPlus compares student earnings after college against a benchmark that Degreechoices adjusts based on each school’s unique mix of academic programs and the in-state/out-of-state composition of the student body.

    $24,632
    PAYBACK

    Payback measures how long it takes the average student to pay back the total cost of attending college with marginal earnings. Marginal earnings are the difference between what the average student would have earned before attending college and what they earn afterwards.

    2.1
    ECONOMIC SCORE

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    1.49
    add-plus
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    How we ranked mechanical engineering programs

    We ranked all the accredited mechanical engineering bachelor’s programs in the U.S. that are registered with the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS (under CIP code 14.19). 

    We evaluated 295 bachelor’s programs and ranked them by value for money, as reflected by our economic score metric. The lower the economic score, the better.  

    Mechanical engineering programs with a low economic score provide the optimal combination of affordability and high earnings after graduation.  

    Note that our cost figures relate to net cost, which is the average amount students pay after financial aid. It includes room, board, and other expenses.  

    All data on net cost and post-graduation economic outcomes is sourced from IPEDS and College Scorecard. 

    All programs on this list are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.  

    Read more about our methodology here. 

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    The best mechanical engineering programs in the U.S.

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    #1 in Mechanical engineering | #1 in Engineering

    CUNY City College

    New York, New York

    Economic score 0.35

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $3,434

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $84,427

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 63%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    CUNY City College is a public university in Manhattan, New York City. It is part of the City University of New York system, which is well known for the high quality and affordability of its degrees.  

    The B.E. in Mechanical Engineering at City College provides unparalleled value, training highly qualified engineers at a very affordable price. Students learn all about micromechanical systems, energy conversion, environmental control, automation, manufacturing, and much more. City College also offers a popular 4+1 master's program for students who want to dive right into grad school. 

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    #2 in Mechanical engineering | #139 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.44

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $5,441

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $90,393

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 57%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    #3 in Mechanical engineering | #3 in Engineering

    Stanford University

    Stanford, California

    Economic score 0.46

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $10,851

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $115,915

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 97%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    Stanford University is a highly selective, prestigious private university in California’s Bay Area and Silicon Valley. It is often equated with the Ivy Leagues due to its global reputation, cutting-edge research, and stellar academic standards.  

    The curriculum of its world-famous mechanical engineering program encompasses energy science, propulsion, sensing and control, nano- and micro-mechanics, computational simulation, and much more. Students are encouraged to participate in staff-supervised research. Students who want to look beyond mechanical engineering can choose a B.S. in Product Design or a B.S. in Biomechanical Engineering in the same department. 

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    #4 in Mechanical engineering | #2 in Engineering

    University of Florida

    Gainesville, Florida

    Economic score 0.56

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $6,275

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $83,832

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 89%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of Florida (UF) is a public research university in Gainesville, a fun college town in the north-central part of the state.   

    UF’s mechanical engineering program is one of the best in the country by value for money. Mechanical engineering majors learn all about motion and the processes through which other types of energy are converted into motion. Required classes include thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, dynamics, statics, and others. 

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    #5 in Mechanical engineering | #4 in Engineering

    Florida State University

    Tallahassee, Florida

    Economic score 0.61

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $6,450

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $80,969

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 84%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    Florida State University (FSU or Florida State) is a large public university in Tallahassee, the state capital. It is one of Florida’s oldest universities. 

    FSU’s B.S. in Mechanical Engineering program is perfect for students who want to invent and innovate with machines and mechanical processes. The curriculum focuses on thermal sciences, mechanics, dynamic systems, and design. A large emphasis is also placed on communication skills and familiarity with the software used on the job.   

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    #6 in Mechanical engineering | #10 in Engineering

    New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, New Mexico

    Economic score 0.70

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,495

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $91,131

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 56%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    New Mexico State University (NMSU) is a public research university in Las Cruces, a college town not far from El Paso, surrounded by stunning scenery on the edge of the Chihuahua Desert.  

    NMSU’s Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Enginering prepares students for careers in research and development, design, management, production, and a wide range of other areas. The curriculum emphasizes solid mechanics, thermal sciences, fluid mechanics, materials science, math, design, engineering analysis, and communication.  

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    #7 in Mechanical engineering | #7 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.70

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,601

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $88,618

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 51%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) is a public university in Odessa, a small city in the sweeping, arid landscape of West Texas. The area is home to a major oil field, ensuring jobs for engineering students who want to stay in the area. 

    It is home to a mechanical engineering bachelor’s program that is one of the best in Texas. Students learn to design, model, and analyze exciting new technologies; graduates go on to work in many different technologies, including robotics, aeronautics, energy generation, material design, and many more. 

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    #8 in Mechanical engineering | #5 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.73

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $5,385

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $78,721

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 71%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    California State University, Los Angeles, a public university in Los Angeles, is an affordable institution widely recognized for its equitable policies that help low-income students earn high-quality degrees

    The university is also home to an outstanding mechanical engineering program. Its Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering teaches students the basics of science, engineering, design, and analysis. They can choose from several areas of specialization, including applied mechanics, thermal systems engineering, aeronautical engineering, and biomechanical engineering. 

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    #9 in Mechanical engineering | #9 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.81

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,722

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $83,193

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 75%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    Florida International University (FIU) is a public research university in University Park, Florida, on the state’s sunny Atlantic coast. It is one of the largest universities in the country and home to an outstanding mechanical engineering program.  

    Students pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at FIU learn all about fluid/thermal science; mechanics, materials, and design; and robotics and manufacturing. Graduates go on to work in the energy industry, robotics, manufacturing, and more. 

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    #10 in Mechanical engineering | #14 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.82

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,293

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $87,847

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 70%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is a large public university in Los Angeles, California.  

    It offers an affordable B.S. in Mechanical Engineering program that emphasizes hands-on experience, with design projects being an integral part of the curriculum. Typical courses include electrical engineering, mechanics, engineering materials, machine design, fluid mechanics, mechatronics, and many more. 

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    #11 in Mechanical engineering | #11 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.84

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $6,744

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $81,554

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 71%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    California State University, Fresno, usually referred to as Fresno State, is an affordable, yet highly respected, public university in the Golden State’s Central Valley.  

    It is home to a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a curriculum that includes plenty of opportunities for experiential learning and professional practice. Many students complete internships, and seniors participate in a capstone design project. 

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    #12 in Mechanical engineering | #12 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.84

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $7,485

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $83,094

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 81%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) is a public research university in Orange Country, conveniently located by downtown Los Angeles and Disneyland.  

    CSUF has a popular B.S. in Mechanical Engineering that prepares students for both private-sector and government jobs in manufacturing, transportation, energy, food processing, and biomedical science. Typical classes include dynamics, statics, electric circuits, solid and fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and many more. Students also complete design projects. Labs are an important part of the curriculum. 

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    #13 in Mechanical engineering | #15 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.87

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $9,203

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $81,750

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 77%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of South Florida (USF) is a large public university based in the Tampa area, on the shores of Tampa Bay and its beautiful white-sand beaches. 

     USF’s Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering students learn all about thermodynamics, heat transfer, instrumentation, computer-aided design, manufacturing, and vibrations. Labs are an important part of the curriculum. Graduates go on to work in industries such as aeronautics, paper and textile production, food processing, petrochemicals, and many more. 

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    #14 in Mechanical engineering | #16 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.89

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,721

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $85,474

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 83%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    California State University, Long Beach, usually referred to as Long Beach State University, is a public research university in Long Beach, California, just south of Los Angeles. It is an officially designed Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). 

    Students of Long Beach State’s B.S. in Mechanical Engineering program learn to create innovative solutions to real-world problems, translate ideas into working engineering systems, and work effectively in a team. Courses include fluid mechanics, power plant design, heat transfer systems design, and many more. 

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    #15 in Mechanical engineering | #17 in Engineering

    University of North Florida

    Jacksonville, Florida

    Economic score 0.91

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,852

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $79,536

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 69%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of North Florida (UNF) is a public research university in Jacksonville, a buzzing metropolis on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The UNF campus is nestled amidst a large natural preserve. 

    The UNF B.S. in Mechanical Engineering program focuses on the principles of transforming energy and designing machines that move. Core requirements include modern computation methods, dynamics, the strength of materials, and thermodynamics. Seniors complete a capstone project. 

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    #16 in Mechanical engineering | #19 in Engineering

    Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton, Florida

    Economic score 0.94

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $8,636

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $78,738

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 67%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    #17 in Mechanical engineering | #22 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.95

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $9,949

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $82,542

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 78%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a public research university in Orange County, Florida, in the Orlando area. Its campus features a picturesque lake and many acres of woodland. 

    Students pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at UCF obtain an in-depth understanding of mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, and electricity. Professionally, students go on to design various machines like industrial equipment, cars, aircraft, robots, medical equipment, and much more.  

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    #18 in Mechanical engineering | #18 in Engineering
    Economic score 0.98

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $15,637

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $97,701

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 93%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA, is one of the most prestigious and selective public universities in the country. Often termed a Public Ivy, it has a global reputation for cutting-edge research and academic excellence.  

    The B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA imparts a basic knowledge of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, solid mechanics, mechanical systems, manufacturing, and much, much more. As a capstone project, students design and build a mechanical or electromechanical device. 

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    #19 in Mechanical engineering | #20 in Engineering
    Economic score 1.03

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $7,007

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $74,167

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 55%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a public research university with several campuses in southern Texas. It is an officially designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).  

    It is home to one of the top mechanical engineering programs in the country. Its B.S. in Mechanical Engineering features many opportunities to participate in internships, professional organizations, supervised research, and co-op experiences. Classes include statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, engineering materials, mechanics of solids, and more. 

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    #20 in Mechanical engineering | #33 in Engineering

    San Diego State University

    San Diego, California

    Economic score 1.04

    Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

    Cost $12,721

    The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

    Earnings $91,140

    Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

    Graduation rate 82%

    Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

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    Mechanical engineering programs in your state

    Highest earning states for mechanical engineering graduates

    State Average salary
    New Mexico $89,648
    Maryland $89,272
    California $88,150
    Massachusetts $86,744
    Michigan $86,009

    What jobs can you get with a mechanical engineering degree?

    Below, we list some common jobs for people with a mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree.  

    $130,720
    Aerospace Engineers
    $99,510
    Mechanical Engineers
    $165,370
    Architectural and Engineering Managers
    $74,740
    Cost Estimators

    Mechanical engineering vs electrical engineering

    Mechanical and electrical engineers both use math and science to design things that make our lives better, like machines, gadgets, and systems.  

    Where they differ is the types of systems and machines they work with: a mechanical engineer focuses on things like car engines, robots, or manufacturing equipment, while an electrical engineer is more likely to design smart phone components or new home appliances.  

    Electrical engineers are paid a little more, but according to the BLS, mechanical engineering jobs are growing faster. 

    See an early-career salary comparison of different branches of engineering below. 

    • Electrical engineering   - $90,590
    • Computer engineering - $90,189
    • Chemical engineering - $86,902
    • Industrial engineering - $86,315
    • Mechanical engineering - $82,261
    • Biomedical engineering - $80,681
    • Materials engineering - $77,514
    • Civil engineering - $76,683
    • Environmental engineering - $65,898

    Source: IPEDS data 

    Mechanical engineering salary info

    People with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering earn an average salary of $82,261, 4 years after leaving school, according to IPEDS data. 

    Meanwhile, getting a master’s in mechanical engineering unlocks an average salary bump of 17% 4 years on, which is a higher earnings premium than many other engineering fields. 

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks median earnings at all career levels, mechanical engineers earn $99,510 on average. 

    Associate Bachelor Master
    N/A $82,172 $96,579

    Propel your career from anywhere.

    Take our quiz to find the online degree that’s best for you. Compare hundreds of schools and apply to your dream college today.