Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

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List of Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

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Admissions Requirements for Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

While there are some variations in admissions criteria for online mechanical engineering programs, they typically are the same as their on-campus counterparts. Here is a brief overview of what admissions committees typically call for in the application process:
  • Online application(s)
  • Official transcripts from highest degree achieved, ideally in engineering or a related discipline
  • Proof of prerequisite classes (e.g., geometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Test scores (e.g., SAT/ACT for bachelor’s degree programs; GRE for master’s programs; TOEFL for ESL students)
  • Personal statement or letter of intent (500-600 words)
  • Letters of recommendation from professors, supervisors, employers, or others (especially relevant for graduate-level programs)
  • Resume or CV (particularly for graduate engineering programs)
  • Application fee
Please note that some programs have additional requirements such as candidate interviews or portfolio reviews.

Program Accreditation in Mechanical Engineering

Prior to enrolling in an online mechanical engineering program, students are strongly encouraged to verify the program’s accreditation and “state authorization” statuses.

First, accreditation is the voluntary process whereby a program or school is evaluated by an external organization for markers of quality (e.g., student outcomes, comprehensiveness of curricula, prestige of faculty, condition of facilities, etc). There are two general types: programmatic and institutional. For programmatic accreditation of mechanical engineering programs, the gold standard is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which typically evaluates bachelor-level programs and a few master’s programs as well.

There are limited distance-based programs which have secured ABET accreditation, but online schools are subject to institutional accreditation, the second type. For this, students are advised to seek out programs approved by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). A handful of these organizations include:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC)

Curriculum & Specializations in Mechanical Engineering

Online degree programs in mechanical engineering generally have the same coursework as their on-campus versions. Here is a sampling of coursework common to mechanical engineering programs.

Bachelor’s degree level:
  • Introduction to engineering computing
  • Chemistry of energy and materials
  • Experimental physics
  • CAD and fabrication
  • Materials science
  • Statics and structures
  • Linear algebra and differential equations
  • Dynamics
  • Solid mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Circuits and electronics
  • Heat transfer
  • System dynamics
  • Data analysis and measurements

Master’s degree level:
  • Applied mathematics in mechanical engineering
  • Energy policy, regulation, and incentives
  • Numerical linear algebra
  • Feedback control design
  • Introduction to control design techniques
  • Advanced dynamics and computation
  • Digital control systems
  • Thermal engineering fundamentals
Also, particularly at the graduate degree level, it’s common for students to seek out mentors in a more targeted research area of interest. Some of the various mechanical engineering specializations include:
  • Automatic controls
  • Mechanics and structural systems
  • Biomechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Controls and dynamic systems
  • Design methodology
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Energy systems
  • Heat transfer
  • Solid mechanics
  • Dynamics
  • Robotics and kinematics
  • Materials and stress analysis

Featured Online Mechanical Engineering Schools

As mentioned above, a majority of online mechanical engineering programs are concentrated at the master’s degree level. Once a student has mastered the fundamentals in an undergraduate program, he or she is generally better equipped for the relative autonomy of a distance-based degree program. That said, there are some exceptions (e.g., University of North Dakota’s online BS in mechanical engineering).

Here are five standout institutions which offer online mechanical engineering programs, as well as profiles of some exceptional professors in the field.

1Purdue University

Purdue University of West Lafayette, IN provides a distance-based master of mechanical engineering (MSME) program, which is the top-ranked online engineering program by U.S. News & World Report (2020). Designed for working professionals, students learn about acoustics and noise control; automotive systems; design and computer-aided design; biomechanics; fluid mechanics; and heat transfer, among other subjects.

As soon as students begin their studies at Purdue University, an academic advisor is assigned to them, so they can work together to create a Plan of Study (POS) that helps them meet their career objectives. This 30-credit-hour program is also offered as an interdisciplinary degree (MSE/MS) with an emphasis on mechanical engineering.

To be eligible for this online degree, students must have an undergraduate degree in the area of mechanical engineering from an ABET accredited program.

  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Estimated Tuition: $3,417 per three-credit course for residents, and $4,044 for non-residents

Dr. Arezoo Ardekani is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University whose research interests include biofluid liquids; multiphase flows; microfluidics; complex fluids; and bioengineering, among other areas. She earned her PhD and MS from the University of California, Irvine, a BS from Sharif University of Technology.

Notably, she is the recipient of numerous prestigious honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE 2016); the College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Award for Graduate Student Mentorship, (2020); and the Schlumberger Foundation’s Faculty for the Future Grant (2010).


Dr. Andres Arrieta is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. His research interests include adaptive structures, robotic materials, mechanical metamaterials, programmable structures, structural nonlinearity, and multistable structures. He has received many awards such as the ETH Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (2012), and ASME’s Best Paper Award (2019). He has published in influential journals such as Applied Physics Letters and Nonlinear Dynamics. He completed his PhD from University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

2Columbia University

Columbia University in New York City provides several distance-based engineering programs, including a master’s, a PhD, and a certificate in manufacturing engineering or sustainable energy.

The 30-credit master’s degree program in mechanical engineering offers instruction in the principles of applied mathematics; partial differential equations; functions of a complex variable; and an introduction to probability and statistics, among other subjects. The faculty teaching this program have been keynote speakers at international and national conferences, and also won various awards for their papers and professional work.

For admission, students require a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or other related field from an accredited academic institution, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, GRE test scores, three recommendation letters, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement. For students who have not earned a degree from an undergraduate or graduate institution in which the instructional language was English, they may be required to take the TOEFL/IELTS.

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,104 per credit-hour

Dr. Sunil Agrawal—a mechanical engineering professor from Columbia University—directs the Robotics and Rehabilitation Laboratory (ROAR). He teaches courses such as advanced topics in robotics, introduction to robotics, and machine design. His research interests include rehabilitation robotics, optimization, dynamic, and differential flatness.

Dr. Agrawal has been published in prominent journals such as the Journal of Biomechanics, Clinical Rehabilitation, and Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. He earned his PhD from Stanford University and is the recipient of numerous awards such as the White House’s NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Bessel Prize; and the IEEE International Conference’s Best Student Paper Award. He completed his MS from Ohio State University, and BTech from Indian Institute of Technology.


Dr. Gerard Ateshian is a professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Columbia University. He is also the director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Lab, where his active areas of research include analysis of articular cartilage mechanics, bioreactor design, cartilage tissue engineering cell mechanics, remodeling of biological tissues, among other topics. He teaches courses in biomechanics, computer-aided design, the mechanics of machines, and elasticity, among others. He has received many awards such as YC Fung Young Investigator Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1997), and Great Teacher Award by the Society of Columbia Graduates (2002). No stranger to his employing institution, he completed his PhD, MPhil, MS, and BS at Columbia University.


Dr. James Hone is the Wang Fon-Jen professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University. He studies nano-materials, particularly atomically thin 2-D materials such as graphene. He aims to establish new functionalities with these nano-structures such as their opto-electronic applications and how to create flexible electronics. He’s the recipient of various honors, including Columbia’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award (2015) and Caltech's Millikan Fellowship in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics. He has published his research in prominent journals such as Nature Materials and Nature Nanotechnology. He completed his PhD at University of California, Berkeley, and a BS at Yale University.

3Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology of Atlanta has an online master of science (MS) in mechanical engineering with coursework in engineering design; vibration-mechanical systems; computer-aided design; robotics; inelastic deform solids; conduction heat transfer; acoustics; combustion; and wind engineering, among other topics.

This 30-credit-hour program helps students develop the ability to apply innovative tools, decode data, and make informed decisions.

To apply, students need to submit official transcripts from each institution attended, standardized test scores, specific career goals and objectives, and a current resume. Applicants must verify their lawful presence  in the United States prior to enrollment.

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,100 per credit-hour

Dr. Cyrus Aidun is a professor of fluid mechanics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on direct numerical simulation of suspension hydrodynamics, and he has also worked as a research consultant through NSF’s Supercomputer Center at Cornell University. His other interests include direct numerical simulation (DNS) of suspension hydrodynamics and the enhancement of convective and boiling heat transfer, among many other topics.

Notably, he pioneered the Lattice-Boltzmann (LB) technique for nonlinear dynamical systems. He has received many awards such as the Presidential Young Investigator Award (1992-1997) from the National Science Foundation. He has published in impactful journals such as the Journal of Fluid Mechanics and the Journal of Statistical Physics. He earned his PhD from Clarkson University, and his MS and BS from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Dr. S. Mostafa Ghiaasiaan is a professor of heat transfer, combustion, and energy systems at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, MSc from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and a BS from Sharif University of Technology. His chief areas of interest include multiphase flow; nuclear reactor thermal-hydraulics and safety; microscale heat transfer; aerosol and particle transport; and cryogenics, among other areas of study. He has published in influential journals such as Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research and the International Journal of Multiphase Flow.

4Kansas State University

Kansas State University of Manhattan, KS offers a 100 percent online master of science (MS) in mechanical engineering, ideal for working professionals who wish to advance their skills without relocating. Graduates of this program have gone on to work in electronics; product manufacturing; aerospace; and construction.

Classes include indoor environmental engineering; intermediate fluid mechanics; finite element applications in mechanical engineering; thermal systems design; thermodynamics of modern power cycles; and intermediate heat transfer, among others. All online courses offered in this program are exactly the same as the courses offered on campus.

To qualify for admission, students must have a bachelor's degree in mechanical or nuclear engineering (or an equivalent field) with a grade point average of 3.0 in the final two years or approximately the last 60 credit-hours. They must have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Application requirements include a personal statement, curriculum vitae, references who will provide letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts from each institution attended, and proof of english proficiency for students whose primary language is not English.

  • Location: Manhattan, Kansas
  • Estimated Tuition: $863.90 per credit-hour

Dr. B Terry Beck is a professor of mechanical engineering at Kansas State University. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Oakland University in Rochester, MI. He is the co-founder of the Non-Contact Precision Measurements Laboratory and the co-inventor of a “Portable High-Resolution Non-contact Modular Sensor for Surface Strain Measurement.” He focuses his studies on heat transfer, fluid mechanics, laser velocimetry and optical measurements. Notably, he has (co-)authored more than 100 conference papers, presentations, and journal publications. Dr. Beck has taught undergraduate as well graduate courses in mechanical engineering at Kansas State University.


Dr. William Dunn serves as the director of the Radiation Measurement Applications Laboratory; the department head; and the Steven. M. and Kay L. Theede chair in engineering at Kansas State University. His research focuses on radiation measurement and applications; Monte Carlo methods and applications; radiation physics; mathematical modeling; and inverse analysis. He has been awarded over 35 research grants from renowned organizations such as the NSF, the Department of Energy, and the National Cancer Institute, among many others.

Dr. Dunn has been published in journals such as Radiation Physics and Chemistry and Nuclear Science and Engineering. He holds his PhD and MS from North Carolina State University, and his BS from University of Notre Dame.

5Colorado State University

Colorado State University in Fort Collins provides a 30-credit online master of engineering (MEng) with a mechanical and materials engineering emphasis. This program helps students deepen their knowledge of engineering and apply it in innovative ways.

Students take courses such as metals and alloys; materials issues in mechanical design; advanced composite materials; and various electives (e.g., reliability engineering, bioengineering, bio-inspired surfaces). Students of this two-year program can become technically competent and able to balance business and management principles.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or an engineering-related field, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from every institution attended, and TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE academic tests scores for international students.

Graduates of this program can access employment opportunities in a variety of industries such as healthcare, manufacturing materials, automotive design, renewable energy, and aerospace. They are well-equipped to examine and test materials and structures for engineering purposes.

  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Estimated Tuition: $964 per credit-hour

Dr. Susan James is a professor and department head in mechanical engineering at Colorado State University (CSU). She earned her PhD in polymers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS from Carnegie-Mellon University. Her research focuses on polymeric materials and their biomedical applications (e.g., orthopedic, cardiovascular, tissue regeneration).

Notably, she and her students invented BioPoly materials, which have various clinical applications in knee implants, and she continues to explore hyaluronan-enhanced plastics—materials that don’t cause blood clotting unlike synthetic plastics.

She has taught courses in engineering materials, metals and alloys, materials issues in mechanical design, the structure and function of biomaterials, and bioengineering. She also has received several awards such as the Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award from Colorado State University and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.


Dr. Xinfeng Gao teaches mechanical engineering at CSU. Her research focuses on advancing CFD algorithms, specifically their application to efficient, low-emission chemical propulsion systems. She previously worked as a postdoctoral scientist at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence National Laboratory. Also, she’s a lifetime member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Gao holds a PhD in aerospace sciences and engineering from University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. She has published in notable journals such as the Journal of Computational Physics, the International Journal of Computational Fluid Dynamics, and the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids.

Other Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

In addition to the programs covered at length above, here are some additional online mechanical engineering schools across the country:

Campus Visitation in Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

Prior to enrolling in an online mechanical engineering program, students are strongly encouraged to check if there are any campus visits required. Many programs—particularly at the graduate degree level—are 100 percent online (e.g., Kansas State University) and all in-person assessments or research can be completed within a person’s place of work close to his or her home.

Some programs, however, are hybrid—i.e., a blend of online and on-campus experiences—and require students to attend face-to-face sessions periodically for intensive training or testing purposes. If this information isn’t readily available on a program’s website, students should reach out to program coordinators.

More on Mechanical Engineering

25 Top Professors of Mechanical Engineering

As with other engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering is complex, and the success of a mechanical engineering project can often be mission-critical. Given that, it is essential to learn from the best, and these professors represent the most accomplished and involved in the field, ready to inspire and impart their knowledge to a new generation of engineers.

Online Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering coursework explores manufacturing systems analysis, manufacturing design, manufacturing systems and analysis, metals and alloys, data analysis, and biofluid mechanics, among other topics.