Undergraduate Program

Required Courses

The requirements for graduation are summarized in formal checksheets that are maintained by the Registrar. Our latest approved checksheets are located on the Registrar’s website:

2018 Checksheet      2019 Checksheet
Note that prerequisite and course offering information on the newer checksheets is for reference only and is subject to change.

The ME department makes unofficial degree path sheets to summarize the requirements contained in the formal checksheets in a flow chart. The degree path sheets summarize prerequisite and corequisite requirements, which may change without notice. These are only for reference only to aid you in planning your courses:

Please consult your ME advisor if you choose to deviate from the degree path sheet.  Dropping the wrong course can cause a 1 year delay in graduation, as senior courses are only offered once per year.  Some courses must be completed before a set number of attempted required credits to avoid academic probation and should be considered a priority – see the degree path sheet or graduation checksheet for details.

Alternate Course Plans

Transfer information

Transfer students will be assigned a General Engineering (GE) advisor when they start at Virginia Tech as a GE student until they move into the ME major.  Non-ME students are free to contact ME advisors during walk-in advising hours or through e-mail.  We encourage you to seek our help if you have questions about the ME curriculum or about your long-term course plans.

The Transfer Guide includes information on course equivalencies for transfer and AP, IB, CLEP, and Cambridge exams.

For current students interested in taking transfer courses over the summer through a Virginia Community College School System (VCCS) school, please see the combined timetable for the VCCS colleges .  Be sure to fill out a transfer credit request form before enrolling in the transfer course to ensure you have selected the correct course.

Transfer credits are not awarded until after the Registrar’s Office receives an official transcript from your transfer school showing a final grade of C or higher.

Co-Op Course Plans

Military Course Plans

Some students may wish to spread out their schedules and delay their graduation. An excellent way to lighten semester course loads while getting engineering work experience is to accept a full-time, paid engineering co-op position.

Students can work for virtually any company as a co-op as long as the company agrees to the meet the employer requirements set by Career Services. Signing up for a formal co-op position through Career & Professional Development allows the student to be considered as a full time student for insurance and other purposes.

Below are sample course plans for co-op students:

Military students who have additional course requirements above the 130 credits required for a BSME degree often spread their schedules out to 5 years. A 5 Year Military Plan keeps the required BSME courses at or below 15 credits per semester, with the lightest loads taken while the student is taking sophomore and junior level engineering courses.

For strong military students or those with AP credits to significantly reduce the course load, a sample 4.5 Year Military Plan may be considered. Caution is advised with this and any alternate schedule; if a student does not stick to this schedule and needs to repeat certain critical courses, graduation will be delayed.

Please consult your academic advisor if you need help making a personalized schedule or if you are planning to drop a course and would like to know how this may impact your schedule.

CLE Elective Courses

Technical Electives

ME students must choose humanities courses to satisfy the University Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements and must take these courses in the A/F grading system unless the courses are only offered P/F. Electives should include:

  • 6 credits Area 2 (Ideas, Cultural Traditions, & Values)
  • 6 credits Area 3 (Society & Human Behavior)
  • 1 credit Area 6 (Creativity & Aesthetic Experience) , and
  • 3 credits Area 7 (Critical Issues in a Global Context).

Be sure to choose courses from the CLE guide for the year you enter VT. All other CLE requirements not listed above are met by taking the required ME courses. (ME4015, ME4016, and ME4006 cover the writing intensive course requirements.) AP credits and transfer credits may be used to satisfy CLE requirements.

To see which Core Curriculum Areas you have/have not satisfied: Please apply for a degree through Hokie SPA if you have not done so already – this is NOT the same as selecting ME as your major. (Note that you can update your application for degree at any time to change your graduation date if your plans change.) A Degree Audit Report available through Hokie SPA will show you which courses counted towards the various areas and which areas are still unfulfilled.

Note: A single course cannot fulfill two CLE requirements unless it is an Area 7 course that also fulfills Area 2 or 3.  For example, GEOG1014 (World Regions) meets both Areas 3 & 7 and HIST2054 (Engineering Cultures) meets both Areas 2 & 7. A student taking one of these courses would meet both requirements, but would need 3 credits of free electives to reach 130 credits. Please see the ME checksheets for a full list of graduation requirements.

Our technical elective lists are included at the bottom of our graduation checksheets:   2019 checksheet
Note that some technical electives listed may have major restrictions or prerequisites that may prevent you from enrolling in that course.

A total of 15 credits of technical electives is required for graduation.  A limit of 6 credits may be selected from List #2, which includes “soft” technical classes such as independent study (ME4974), undergraduate research (ME4994), 2000-level technical electives, and ENGL3764 (technical writing).

If you wish to receive technical elective credit for a course that is not on this list, please fill out a Request for Technical Elective Credit form and return it to 113 Randolph.

Technical electives should be selected to match your career interests. Popular areas include:

Note that prospective employers will be more impressed if you have taken courses that meet their needs than if they saw an unrelated minor listed on your resume. You can always bring attention to your choice of technical electives on your resume by including a statement such as: “I concentrated in automotive engineering by taking the following courses …” (That would certainly get an auto manufacturer’s attention more than a math minor would!)

If you are not sure what area you would like to specialize in, you should consider taking general technical electives in a variety of areas and pursue engineering internships or co-op jobs as a means of exploring potential careers.

Are you interested in automotive engineering? Would you like to have a summer experience studying automotive engineering at Germany’s top Mechanical Engineering institute? Consider taking the Automotive Engineering summer program at Technische Universitat Darmstadt.

Undergraduate Research & Independent Study

Independent Study (4974) or Undergraduate Research (4994) courses provide students an opportunity to work individually with a professor. In order to enroll in one of these, the student and professor must work together to fill out an undergraduate research/independent study form which must be signed by the Instructor, Instructor’s Department Head, Student’s Department Head (if different from Student’s), and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The deadline for the submission of this form to the Student’s Academic Advisor (Sarah Deisher for ME students) is the first day of classes in the semester that the course is to be taken. Students must have a 2.5 overall GPA and a 2.0 in-major GPA to participate in Undergraduate Research or Independent Study.

A total of up to 6 credits of Independent Study and/or Undergraduate Research may be used as List #2 technical elective credits. A maximum of 6 credits may be selected from List #2; all other technical elective credit must be selected from List #1. If a student wishes to do more than 6 credits of Independent Study and/or Undergraduate Research, these credits would count as free elective credits.

Minors and Second Majors

Some students have a strong interest in an area outside of the ME Department that they wish to pursue as a minor or as a second major. To sign up for a minor or major, please see the department offering that program. Note that you need to either complete all requirements for that major/minor or drop the major/minor in order to receive your ME degree.

Some of the more common minors earned by ME students are:

  • Nuclear Engineering: Courses are being taught for a Nuclear Engineering minor which is still under development. The effective date will be announced once the minor has received formal approval from the University.
    The Nuclear Engineering Minor will require 6 courses (18 credits), all of which will be List #1 technical electives for ME students. Non-ME students should contact their departmental advisor to find out about the possibility of counting the nuclear engineering courses towards their department’s technical elective requirements.
    Students considering employment in the nuclear industry should consider concentrating their technical electives in the nuclear engineering area. Suggested courses include:

    • NSEG 3145/NSEG 3146 – Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering – Parts I (Fall) and II (Spring)
    • NSEG 3604 – Radiation Detection and Shielding
    • NSEG 4214 – Nuclear Power Plant Operations
    • NSEG 4424 – Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
    • ME 4204 – Nuclear Fuel Cycle
    • MSE 4984 – Nuclear Materials
    • ME 4974/ME 4994 – Independent Study/Undergraduate Research on a nuclear-related project (requires college and departmental approval on an individual basis).

Mechanical engineering students can also choose to work on a nuclear engineering-related senior design project (ME 4015/ME 4016). Note that ME and MSE 4984 course numbers will change when courses receive final University approval as permanent courses; the subject code will eventually change to NSEG.
For more information, please contact Mark Pierson, the faculty member leading the Nuclear Engineering Program.

For a complete list of Minors available, please find your program in the Minor Checksheet list provided.

Math (requires 9 credits of math courses beyond the required courses for an ME degree; courses can be selected to also count as ME technical electives); please see the Math Minor listing in the Undergraduate Catalog for more information.

Industrial Design (requires 18 credits total including a 6 credit summer studio; 6 credits (IDS2034 & IDS2044) may also count as List #2 technical electives); please see the Industrial Design listing for more information.

Green Engineering (requires 18 credits which can count towards technical electives and Area 7); please see the Green Engineering listing for more information.

Engineering Science & Mechanics (requires 12 credits which may also count as technical electives); please see the Minor in Engineering Science and Mechanics listing for more information.

Physics (requires 16 credits of physics courses beyond the required courses for an ME degree; courses can be selected to also count as ME technical electives); please see the Physics Minor listing for more information.

Business (requires minimum of 24 credits beyond the required courses for an ME degree if ECON2005/2006 are taken as Area 3 electives); please see the Business Minor listing for more information.

Students can double major in any two majors as long as they meet the requirements for both degrees. Please see the Graduation Requirement listings page for checksheets summarizing the requirements for any major at Virginia Tech. Students wishing to double major in two similar majors (like Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering) should consider a bachelors (BS) degree in one major and a masters degree (MS) in the second major.

If a student meets the requirements for two majors and also earns 30 more credits beyond the credits required for the for the primary major, they can earn a double degree (two separate degrees rather than one degree with both majors listed). Students listing ME as their primary degree would need 160 credits for a double degree. For more information about degrees and second majors, please see the Registrar’s website.

ABET Accreditation

The Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) degree program at Virginia Tech is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

Student Outcomes for Undergraduates

Upon graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) degree, the students will have obtained:

  • An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  • An ability to apply the engineering design process to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration for public health and safety, global, cultural, social, environmental, economic, and other factors as appropriate to the discipline
  • An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  • An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  • An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  • An ability to recognize the ongoing need to acquire new knowledge, to choose appropriate learning strategies, and to apply this knowledge
  • An ability to function effectively as a member or leader of a team that establishes goals, plans tasks, meets deadlines, and creates a collaborative and inclusive environment

Please refer to the Undergraduate Course Catalog and Academic Policies to learn more about the Mechanical Engineering department’s objectives, employment opportunities, course offerings, and policies.

For More Information

For additional information please contact Sarah Deisher (students last names A-G) , (540) 231-8592, Linda Vick (students last names H-O), (540) 231-7747, or Heather Whedbee (students names P-Z), (540) 231-2555 the Academic and Career Advisors in Mechanical Engineering.


Information on this website is unofficial. University catalogs and other official documents take precedence over the information that is available here. The material presented here is to aid you in planning your academic program to best fit your interests. Ultimately you are responsible for making sure that you fulfill the graduation requirements. We present these aids to help you achieve your goal of a degree in mechanical engineering.