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It’s true that a mechanical engineering degree is one of the more expensive degrees to attain. A majority of the classes required for a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering interlink with each other, and that includes the general education classes. That makes it more difficult to go to community college for transferrable credits and can cause a student to go to school for five years instead of four. However, it’s still possible to save money on your mechanical engineering degree.

The first step towards saving money on a mechanical engineering degree is to make a plan of action and look into the most affordable engineering schools with accredited programs. Don’t dismiss the thought of looking at the most affordable engineering schools. As long as the mechanical engineering program carries accreditation from one of the accreditation commissions under ABET, you can be guaranteed you’ll earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering that is recognized and accepted as valid by employers.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Mechanical Engineering Degrees

The editors of Bachelor’s Degree Center ranked the most affordable mechanical engineering degrees according to one crucial factor – tuition cost, according to current IPEDS data. However, since students need to know their degree will pay off, we feature only accredited, reputable institutions recognized for quality and student success.

1. University of Washington

The University of Washington College of Engineering offers a BS in Mechanical Engineering that is among the most innovative and affordable mechanical engineering degrees in the Pacific Northwest. The University of Washington’s College of Engineering is considered among the most affordable engineering schools on the west coast and beyond and offers three specialties – biomechanics, mechatronics, and nanoscience and molecular engineering. This graduate-level mechanical engineering degree is available for students who want to complete a thesis and those who do not. The total quarter credit units required for the University of Washington’s mechanical engineering degree is 180.

The University of Washington (UDUB) is one of the oldest institutions of higher education on the west coast, having been established in 1861, eight years before Washington was adopted as a state. The university is a land, sea, and space-grant school with a student enrollment that nears 48,000 each year.

What We Like: The University of Washington continues partnerships with tech giants nearby like Microsoft.

Degree: BS in Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

2. University of Utah

The University of Utah Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that is available with a four- or five-year study plan from one of Utah’s most affordable engineering schools. Featured classes for the University of Utah’s affordable mechanical engineering degrees include physics, engineering calculus, vector calculus, and the mechanics of materials lab, to name a few. Internships are encouraged but not a program requirement for graduation.

The University of Utah (U of U) is the flagship school of the state’s university system. Founded in 1850 as the University of Deseret, the University of Utah now serves nearly 33,000 postgraduate and undergraduate students each year.

What We Like: The University of Utah’s campus in Salt Lake City is a few miles from downtown, with 1,500+ acres serving the school, the student enrollment/body, and the university’s community.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

3. Purdue University

Purdue University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that is available from one of the most affordable engineering schools in Indiana and surrounding states. Students enrolled in Purdue University’s innovative and affordable mechanical engineering degrees have the opportunity to study abroad at one of the many available partnership sites around the globe. Sample coursework includes machine design lab, thermodynamics, electricity and optics, linear algebra and differential equations, and heat and mass transfer.

Established by John Purdue in the late 1860s, Purdue University now operates as the state’s flagship campus and land, sea, and space-grant institution of higher learning. Purdue University is consistently recognized to be among the top schools in the nation, especially for its quality engineering programs.

What We Like: The university’s campus is located near the Wabash River and serves nearly 50,000 students each year.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

4. Brigham Young University

The Brigham Young University College of Engineering is one of Utah’s most affordable engineering schools, offering a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that ranks among the leading programs in Utah. Students graduate from Brigham Young University’s affordable mechanical engineering degrees and enter the workforce working for companies like EXXON, ATT, GE, Ford, HP, and Lockheed, to name a few. Degree candidates complete the degree program with a two-semester senior design culminating project.

Brigham Young University is a private institution of higher education that was established in the 1870s by the LDS Church – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The online platform and Provo campus of Brigham Young University are home to more than 1,500 academic faculty and more than 33,550 students each year.

What We Like: Brigham Young University is home to several museums include culture, art, paleontology, and science, to name a few.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

5. Arizona State University

Arizona State University School for Engineering of Matter, Transport & Energy offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree in Mechanical Engineering that is among Arizona’s most affordable mechanical engineering degrees. As one of the state’s most affordable engineering schools, Arizona State University’s ABET accredited degree has two academic concentrations – energy and the environment or computational mechanics. Arizona State University’s graduate mechanical engineering degree requires a thesis and its defense but leads to doctoral studies or leadership positions in the industry.

Arizona State University is a research school that was founded as a teacher’s training institute in the mid-1880s – years before Arizona reached statehood. The university is comprised of seventeen colleges/schools that offer more than 800 academic degree and certificate programs.

What We Like: Arizona State University maintains multiple campuses in the greater Tempe and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

Degree: BSE in Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

6. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University College of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that is one of the leading affordable mechanical engineering degrees in the southern US. NC State is one of North Carolina’s most affordable engineering schools with featured classes that include mechanical engineering design, the principles of automatic control, fluid mechanics, the strength of mechanical components, and heat transfer, to name a few, plus a senior design project.

North Carolina State University is a member school of the state university that was established in the late 1880s as North Carolina’s land-grant institution of higher learning in the realm of agriculture and mechanic arts. NC State, along with Duke and the University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill, define the research triangle in North Carolina.

What We Like: More than 36,150 postgraduate and undergraduate students attend classes on North Carolina State University’s campus and online platform each year.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

7. Iowa State University

Iowa State University College of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that offers one of the most affordable mechanical engineering degrees in the upper Midwest and beyond. Interested students can opt for a concurrent dual degree with a Master of Science in Engineering or an MBA – a Master of Business Administration degree. Core classes included for this degree from one of Iowa’s most affordable engineering schools are solid & fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and materials and manufacturing, to name a few.

Iowa State University, a public higher institution of learned, was founded as an agricultural, land-grant school in the late 1850s. The. University’s Ames campus covers more than 1,800 acres and services approximately 33,150 students each year.

What We Like: Iowa State University is comprised of eight colleges/schools that offer more than 300 bachelors, master’s, and doctoral programs.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

8. University of California, Irvine

The University of California, Irvine Samueli School of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering that is among California’s most innovative and most affordable mechanical engineering degrees. This mechanical engineering degree is offered by one of the west coast’s most affordable engineering schools. The University of California’s bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical engineering typically require 3.5 to 4 years to complete. Graduates are prepared for further studies at the master’s level or gainful employment.

The Irvine campus of the University of California is a member school of California’s higher learning system that was established in the mid-1960s as a land-grant school. The student enrollment at the University of California’s Irvine campus exceeds 35,050 each year.

What We Like: The University of California Irvine campus was dedicated by LBJ, with a fifty-year commemoration speech delivered by President Obama.

Degree: BS in Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

9. Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science & Technology (MST) offers a BS in Mechanical Engineering that is among Missouri’s most affordable mechanical engineering degrees. As one of Missouri’s most affordable engineering schools, Missouri University of Science & Technology also offers an academic emphasis in manufacturing processes, systems integration, energy conversion, or mechanical design and analysis. Students interested in pursuing their graduate mechanical engineering degree have the option of early admission to the master’s program if they qualify.

Missouri University of Science & Technology is a research university in Rolla, Missouri, that was founded in 1870 as a school of mines and metallurgy. In addition, Missouri University of Science & Technology is a space-grant university with a student enrollment that exceeds 8,000 each year and has been ranked among the best value educational options in Missouri.

What We Like: Missouri University of Science & Technology is a member of Missouri’s university system.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

10. UCLA

The University of California at Los Angeles offers one of the most affordable mechanical engineering degrees on the west coast with its Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering that has received accreditation from ABET. Coursework for one of the best programs offered by one of California’s most affordable engineering schools includes the fundamentals of mechanical design, thermodynamics, solids mechanics, manufacturing, materials, heat transfer, and material controls, plus a culminating capstone project, to name a few.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) was chartered as a southern extension center of the UC system in 1919. When UCLA became a full-fledged independent school, it was the second to join and is now the second oldest of the ten schools in the system. UCLA is a space and land-grant school with an approximately student enrollment of 45,550 postgraduate and graduate students each year.

What We Like: The University of California at Los Angeles is comprised of thirteen schools and colleges and is considered one of the country’s public ivies.

Degree: BS in Mechanical Engineering

Interested? Visit the Program Site!

How Can I Save Money on a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

High school students who are interested in becoming a mechanical engineer can start saving on their degree by taking classes for college credit while they’re attending high school. The process starts by coordinating with a career counselor or teacher who can help guide the student towards the classes they need to take, and how to apply the credits towards the mechanical engineering degree. Some of the most affordable mechanical engineering schools are located within public universities in many states across the U.S., which can make it easy for a high school student to transfer the credits they earned into the mechanical engineering degree program.

How Much Does a Mechanical Engineering Degree Cost?

The average mechanical engineering degree cost varies depending on what type of school you’re interested in attending. A state school or public university is the least expensive option with an average cost of $9,700 for a state resident and $28,843 for an out-of-state student. Private schools can be anywhere from 10 to 50% higher than state schools. This is excluding other cost factors such as books and housing if the student is required to live on campus.

Students who are looking to save money on the cost of a mechanical engineering degree are best served by attending a state university. Many states are home to universities with highly regarded engineering programs, and students can rely on the alumni network to help them find employment after graduation. A student can also save money on their degree by applying for scholarships and grants that lower the mechanical engineer degree cost.

A mechanical engineering student who has taken out student loans to finance their education can expect to graduate with around $30,000 in debt if they attend a state school and take advantage of grants and scholarships. On the surface, this may seem like a lot of money to repay, but the average cost of a mechanical engineering degree is far outweighed by the potential salary that a graduate can earn in their first five years of employment.

How Much Can I Make with a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary for mechanical engineers was $90,160 in 2020 or $43.45 per hour. The average mechanical engineering degree salary is dependent on factors that include geographical location, engineering discipline, and experience. Someone who has just graduated from mechanical engineering school is going to earn a lower average mechanical engineer degree salary than someone who is in their fifth year. The school you graduate from can also affect your initial earning potential, but gaining experience can help you overcome the fact that you attended a lesser-known school. As your career progresses, and your engineering experience and knowledge base grow, you’ll earn more money and progress into higher positions.

Entering the management level can result in a significant boost in pay. The average managerial mechanical engineer degree salary is $161,026 with the highest percentile earning $187,174 and the lowest percentile earning $126,352. In the event you’re not interested in becoming a manager, but you want to maximize your earning potential, you’ll want to look into the highest paying jobs with a mechanical engineering degree. They include:

  • Automation engineer
  • Senior mechanical engineer
  • Senior design engineer
  • Instrumentation engineer
  • Radar signal processing engineer
  • Hydraulics engineer

Mechanical engineering is a field with a seemingly unlimited number of sub-disciplines. As you look into saving money on your engineering degree, you’ll find that you’re going to need to focus on an engineering discipline that aligns with your talents and aptitudes. Once you identify the engineering discipline you enjoy the most, you can work towards a strategy to save money on your degree while graduating into a field that pays well and enables you to pay off your education sooner than later.

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