What are the Different Types of Mechanical Engineering Degrees?

Mechanical engineering degrees are divided into four categories: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor of philosophy (PhD). According to the amount of education required, the degrees are listed in ascending order. Each of the mechanical engineering degrees builds on the previous degree’s coursework to provide a strong foundation of knowledge. An associate’s degree takes the shortest amount of time to complete, usually two years.

Even though all four mechanical engineering degrees may be offered at a single large university, associate’s degrees in mechanical engineering can be earned in vocational programs, community colleges, or technical institutes. If an associate degree student wants to work in a highly specialized field like tool and die design, he will almost always need additional hands-on training or an apprenticeship. In this case, the additional training could take another two to four years.

A career as an engineering technician is common after earning an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers repair, modify, and create new products, which is one of their responsibilities. Setting up and running tests, writing reports, creating drawings, and using machine tools are some of the tasks that may be performed during a typical workday.

Mechanical engineering bachelor’s degrees are typically earned at four-year universities and colleges. Mechanical engineering students will learn how to determine the strength and behavior of materials, how fluid and heat flow, and the fundamentals of engine design, among other things. Students can learn circuits and controls like an electrical engineer, management like an industrial engineer, and programming like a computer engineer in mechanical engineering.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, a mechanical engineer can pursue a master’s degree attending graduate school for one or two years. He usually chooses an engineering topic to study in greater depth, such as fluid dynamics or heat transfer. A master’s student in mechanical engineering will frequently assist professors with their research or teach undergraduate engineering students. A mechanical engineer with a master’s degree will have more job opportunities available to him, particularly in the aerospace industry.

A PhD or doctoral degree usually takes three years or more to complete. It is usually the highest mechanical engineering degree that universities offer. A mechanical engineer must conduct his or her own original research and present it to his or her peers in academia in the form of a dissertation or thesis. In most cases, a PhD candidate will work under the supervision of an advisor.

Admission to a PhD program is typically more difficult than admission to other mechanical engineering degrees, requiring strong academic performance, letters of recommendation, and relevant coursework. Fellowships and grants from various private and public agencies are common sources of funding for doctoral students. A doctor of mechanical engineering typically pursues a career as a professor or scientist after completing the PhD program.