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Online Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of engineering’s major subfields focusing on the design, manufacture, operation, and analysis of mechanical systems. This can include anything from heavy machinery to aircraft. Students enrolled in this type of program will learn concepts in physics, mathematics, mechanics, structural analysis, and materials science. Most positions for graduates of an online masters degree program in mechanical engineering will be in the private sector, though some positions are available with government agencies. Note that those interested in teaching mechanical engineering at a four-year college or university will need to continue on to a doctoral program.

It usually takes one to three years to complete an online masters degree in mechanical engineering. However, time to completion can vary based on the specific number of courses required for graduation, level of enrollment, and whether or not a student opts to take any breaks from the program. In some instances, schools may allow adult students to apply some of their professional experience towards their degree, accelerating the track to graduation. However, not all schools offer these type of portfolio reviews, so it is best to verify with the individual institution before anticipating this type of credit.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Students earning their masters degree in mechanical engineering will have a solid foundation in mathematics and the natural sciences. At the graduate level, common foundational courses include design, manufacturing and materials processing, and computational techniques. The curriculum will most likely be a combination of survey, laboratory, and research courses. Some examples of possible classes required for a masters degree in this area include:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Computational Biomechanics
  • Mechanics and Vibrations
  • Optimization in System Science
  • Systems, Measurement, and Control

Most accredited online masters degree programs will also require a thesis or capstone research project. This independent study in the student’s chosen area of interest is designed to demonstrate the ability to apply the theoretical concepts learned throughout the program to practical engineering issues. The student will work with a faculty advisor to shape, conduct, and present this research during the final term of study.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Graduates with an online masters degree in mechanical engineering are equipped with the knowledge base and technical skills to pursue careers in engineering management or teaching. With a master’s degree, engineering graduates may be qualified to work as instructors at community or junior colleges. However, a doctoral degree is required to teach at a four-year college or university. The majority of mechanical engineers will work in private industry. This could be in areas such as architecture, manufacturing, oil and gas, or transportation, to name a few options. Some positions for mechanical engineers are also available with government agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an expected 9% growth in employment for mechanical engineers from 2010 to 2020. The median annual wage for mechanical engineers in 2010 was $78,160. Those who worked for the federal government earned the highest salaries at a median of $91,910. Note that actual starting salaries and job openings depend on a number of factors such as past work experience, education, geographical location, and the type of employer.

While many positions for this field only require a bachelor’s degree, having a masters degree in mechanical engineering is often needed to move into management and other higher-level positions. With a growing number of engineering master’s degrees being offered online, working adults can move towards advancing their career without taking a break from work. Some employers may even offer tuition reimbursement plans to help pay for the cost of this type of advanced degree.

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