Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

Best Schools for Mechanical Engineering in the US

7 minute read

Choosing the right Mechanical Engineering program is crucial. This guide explores prestigious institutions and exceptional public universities alike. We'll also unveil hidden gems with unique engineering specializations. Don't just focus on rankings; we'll help you navigate cost, fit, and career goals to find the perfect program to launch your educational journey.

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What Are the Best Mechanical Engineering Schools?

So, what are the top schools in Mechanical Engineering in the US? The list is below: 

#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tuition: 55,878 USD

MIT’s curriculum combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on experiences, preparing students for real-world applications. Alumni from MIT's mechanical engineering program include renowned figures like Dr. Amar Bose, founder of Bose Corporation, and Ellen Swallow Richards, a pioneer in environmental engineering.

Polygence research program mentors:

Humberto C: Every time a plane flies over, I look up! I am a passionate aviation nut who loves all things air and space. My research primarily focuses on hypervelocity impacts and delves into the effects of space debris impacts on orbiting satellites. I have also researched hypersonic reentry and EDL (entry, descent, and landing) systems that will take the next generation of astronauts to Mars and bring them back safely to Earth.

Richard P: I'm a recent PhD graduate from MIT, Materials Science program currently working as a technology investor for a venture capital firm. I'm excited by both the intersection between technology and commercial markets, as well as on fundamental scientific questions that matter. 

#2 Stanford University

Tuition: 56,169 USD

Stanford's School of Engineering's commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and its state-of-the-art facilities contribute to its prestigious reputation. Notable alumni, such as David Baszucki (founder of Roblox) and Josh Giegel (Virgin Hyperloop), showcase the impact of Stanford's mechanical engineering program on the tech and automotive industries.

Polygence research program mentors:

Nick R: I have an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s degree from Stanford University in Management Science and Engineering. I currently work as an Aerospace System Engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute in the Applied System Laboratory. My academic passions started out around 3D design of physical products and finding innovative ways to manufacture them. It then evolved to innovative business models and entrepreneurship. Currently, my research interests lie in aerospace engineering. I work on innovative aircraft platforms and the architectures and protocols that enable them.

#3 California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Tuition: 58,680 USD

Caltech's mechanical engineering program emphasizes research-driven learning and fosters an environment where students engage in groundbreaking projects. Alumni and key faculty on campus include Theodore von Kármán, a key figure in aerodynamics, and Qian Xuesen, a pioneer in rocket science underlining Caltech's legacy of producing leaders in this field. 

#4 Georgia Institute of Technology

Tuition: $12,852 in-state, $33,964 out-of-state

Georgia Tech's mechanical engineering program is renowned for its integration of theory and practical application. The school's strong industry connections and emphasis on experiential learning make it a top choice. The mechanical engineering department at Georgia Tech is known for its robust research initiatives. Students have the opportunity to engage in groundbreaking projects, working alongside leading experts in areas such as robotics, materials science, and thermal sciences.  Notable alumni include astronauts Eric Boe and Michael Clifford.

#5 University of California, Berkeley

Tuition: $14,226 in-state, $43,980 out-of-state

Berkeley’s location in the San Francisco Bay Area also provides unique opportunities for partnerships with leading technology and engineering companies, creating a dynamic and innovative learning environment. Famous mechanical engineers with UC degrees include Andrew Ng (a leading figure in AI), Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), and Eric Schmidt (former CEO of Google).

Polygence research program mentors:

Henry S: I am a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley studying Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. I am interested in the intersection of nanotechnology, data science, and biology. In particular, I am developing delivery tools for genetic manipulation of plants.

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What are the Top Public Schools in Mechanical Engineering?

Top public universities for mechanical engineering, such as UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, and others, are popular choices for high school students due to their consistent academic excellence, robust research opportunities, strong industry connections, and diverse specializations within mechanical engineering. These institutions boast state-of-the-art facilities, global reputations, and successful alumni networks, providing students with a comprehensive and high-quality education. The emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship, and interdisciplinary collaboration, coupled with a supportive campus environment, makes these universities attractive for those looking to pursue a rewarding career in mechanical engineering.      

Popular state schools for Mechanical Engineering are:

#1 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

What is this school known for? 

  • Renowned for its strong engineering programs

  • Extensive research opportunities and state-of-the-art facilities.

  • Well-established connections with industry, offering current students valuable internships and job placement.

#2 University of Wisconsin

What is this school known for? 

  • Strong emphasis on research and innovation.

  • Collaborative environment with access to cutting-edge technology.

  • Excellent faculty with expertise in various mechanical engineering disciplines.

#3 University of Texas at Austin

What is this school known for? 

  • Emphasis on hands-on learning and practical applications.

  • Diverse campus community and a vibrant student life.

  • Proximity to a thriving tech industry in Austin provides ample internship and job opportunities with undergraduate admission.

#4 Purdue University

What is this school known for? 

  • Recognized for its top-notch engineering programs.

  • Strong ties with industry leaders for internships and co-op programs.

  • Extensive alumni network, providing valuable connections for future career opportunities.

#5 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

What is this school known for? 

  • Cutting-edge research facilities and a commitment to innovation.

  • Strong focus on interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • Well-regarded engineering faculty with a wealth of experience.

#6 University of Florida

What is this school known for? 

  • Growing engineering program with a focus on sustainability.

  • Opportunities for research and collaboration with industry partners.

  • Florida's growing aerospace and technology industries offer excellent career prospects.

#7 University of Washington

What is this school known for?    

  • Located in a hub for technology and innovation (Seattle).

  • Strong ties with local industries, providing real-world applications for students.

  • Emphasis on sustainable and clean energy technologies.

#8 Texas A&M University

What is this school known for? 

  • Strong emphasis on engineering ethics and professionalism.

  • Extensive industry connections, particularly in the energy sector.

  • Large and active engineering community.

#9  University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

What is this school known for? 

  • Proximity to the thriving aerospace and entertainment industries.

  • Emphasis on research and entrepreneurship.

  • Diverse and dynamic campus life.

#10 Pennsylvania State University

What is this school known for? 

  • Strong engineering programs with a focus on innovation.

  • Collaborative research opportunities with faculty.

  • Extensive extracurricular activities and engineering organizations.

All state school tuitions for undergraduate programs range from around $10,000 USD per year for in-state students, to approximately $30,000 for out-of-state students. While tuition rates vary drastically for each public university, scholarships, merit awards, and need-based aid are widely available for most schools, whether public or private. 

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What are some Lesser Known Schools in Mechanical Engineering? 

Attending lesser-known schools that may not be top-ranked can offer unique advantages for students depending on their individual goals, preferences, and circumstances. Two of the many reasons students can choose to attend a lesser-known mechanical engineering school are due to their specialized program and easier competition. These schools might have specialized programs or unique strengths in specific areas. Students interested in niche fields may find that these schools offer specialized expertise and resources. Smaller schools may have less intense competition for research opportunities, projects, or leadership positions, allowing students to stand out more easily and take on meaningful roles. A few schools that fit this category are:

#1 North Carolina State University

  • Strong engineering programs with a focus on research and innovation.

  • Collaboration with nearby Research Triangle Park provides valuable industry connections.

  • Emphasis on hands-on learning and practical experience.

#2 Ohio State University

  • Large and diverse engineering program, from chemical engineering to electrical engineering, with extensive resources.

  • Strong industry partnerships for internships and co-op programs.

  • Emphasis on cutting-edge research and technological advancements.

#3 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech)

  • Specialized focus on engineering and applied sciences.

  • Strong emphasis on hands-on learning and field experience.

  • Opportunities for research in areas like mineral engineering and geophysics.

#4 South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

  • Known for its strong engineering and science programs.

  • Small class sizes and close-knit communities foster personalized learning.

  • Emphasis on practical skills and real-world applications.

#5 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Unique focus on engineering challenges in arctic and subarctic environments.

  • Opportunities for research in areas like renewable energy and cold regions engineering.

  • Strong ties with local industries, especially in resource and energy sectors.

#6 University of Wyoming

  • Strong engineering programs with an emphasis on energy and natural resources.

  • Research opportunities in areas such as energy production and environmental sustainability.

  • Beautiful and inspiring natural surroundings.

#7 Montana State University

  • Strong engineering programs with a focus on research and practical applications.

  • Emphasis on sustainability and environmental engineering.

  • Opportunities to collaborate with nearby national parks and outdoor industry.

These schools may not be as large as some of the more well-known institutions, but they offer unique opportunities and specializations that cater to specific interests within the field of Mechanical Engineering. The emphasis on hands-on learning, research, and practical applications sets them apart, providing students with a solid foundation for their future careers.

The tuition for these lesser-known schools is approximately the same as the public schools listed above, with in-state tuition ranging from approximately $8,000/year, and out-of-state tuition coming out to about $25,000/year.

Personal Anecdote: Why did I study Mechanical Engineering? 

I enrolled in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering department at Princeton University because I wanted to do something in the intersection of physics and engineering. Princeton's approach to education (and engineering) starts with the fundamentals of math and physics, and gradually builds up to tangible real-world applications. It also helps that this department was a combined program in mechanical and aerospace engineering, which meant that I could take a wider range of courses in both programs. The curriculum was expansive and allowed for a diverse focus, leading me to take courses in various subfields in physics and engineering, such as Nuclear Physics, Optics and Lasers, Physics of Gases, Introduction to Robotics, Robotics and Swarm Dynamics, and even High-tech Entrepreneurship. The experience provided profound insights, shedding light on the extensive range of subjects within the field of mechanical engineering. I truly believe that this field equips you with the knowledge applicable to a wide range of areas, from designing spaceships and sending rovers to Mars, to working on electric cars and even building nuclear power plants (my current passion and profession)!

Why Choose Mechanical Engineering?

I've got a series of questions for you that might just pique your interest. Let's dive in:

  1. Are you fascinated by the idea of developing renewable energy solutions, such as wind turbines or solar-powered devices, to contribute to a more sustainable future?

  2. Can you imagine being part of a team that designs innovative robotics for manufacturing processes, making production more efficient and precise?

  3. Does the thought of creating advanced prosthetics or medical devices to enhance the quality of life for people appeal to you?

  4. Have you ever envisioned working on cutting-edge technologies for the aerospace industry, from designing aircraft to exploring futuristic propulsion systems?

  5. Can you see yourself contributing to the field of biomechanics, designing artificial limbs or enhancing the performance of sports equipment?

  6. How about exploring the intersection of mechanical engineering and virtual reality, creating immersive simulations for training or entertainment purposes?

  7. Can you picture yourself working on projects related to space tourism, contributing to the development of vehicles that make space travel accessible to civilians?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, it sounds like you might have a dynamic and expansive vision for your future as a mechanical engineer! Your enthusiasm for electric vehicles, space exploration, renewable energy, robotics, and various other innovative fields aligns perfectly with the multifaceted nature of mechanical engineering. 

Keep nurturing that passion, and who knows, you might be the driving force behind the next groundbreaking development that shapes the world we live in. So, without further ado, let me tell you about the best mechanical engineering colleges in the US.

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing an Engineering School?

For many, the cost of university tuition is a pivotal factor, with financial considerations playing a crucial role in determining the feasibility of attending a particular institution. Students often assess the return on investment, evaluating the long-term benefits of their education relative to the overall cost. Financial aid and scholarships can significantly impact the affordability of tuition, offering avenues for assistance. However, the decision is not solely based on cost, as students may prioritize the quality of education, alignment with career goals, and the overall fit of the institution. Factors such as personal values, campus environment, and available resources also play a role in the decision-making process. Ultimately, the significance of tuition varies among individuals, reflecting a balance between financial considerations and the perceived value of the educational experience.  

For me, the choice between where to go for my master’s degree came down to Princeton vs. UC Berkeley. The allure of Berkeley's Nuclear Engineering department and living in California clashed with the undeniable charm of Princeton. Eventually, I decided that I really wanted to go to Berkeley. Fast forward to a few months later when the financial aid packages arrived, Princeton had offered a full-ride and Berkeley did not. Ultimately this financial aid package that whispered promises of a debt-free education swayed me towards the orange and black. The weight of this decision wasn't just about the prestige of the institutions; it was about securing a future unburdened by financial constraints. So, with dreams in one hand and a full ride in the other, Princeton emerged as not just a choice but a life-changing opportunity to thrive academically without the looming shadow of student loans.