best engineering schools

10 Best Engineering Schools | Top Choices For Your Career

Engineering is one of the most popular career choices today, thanks in part to the rapid rise of modern technologies. If you are interested in a professional engineering career, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree from one of the best engineering schools that is ABET-accredited and a professional engineer (PE) license. Certain engineering positions require a master’s degree, so some students study for bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously in five-year programs.

What Is Engineering?

students of the best engineering schools on their hats and uniforms

Engineers use the creative application of scientific principles to build structures, machines, and processes. From designing more energy-efficient cars to writing algorithms used in artificial intelligence software, not a day goes by we don’t interact with something built by professionals from the best engineering schools.

Engineering Disciplines

an electrical engineer working on a circuit

Thanks to industrial and technological advancements, there are now many new disciplines within the engineering field—such as biomedical engineering, computer science, cybersecurity, data science, robotics and space systems engineering. However, for this article, we will focus on the four main disciplines of engineering

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers apply the principles of physics, chemistry, and biology to chemical processes to produce, transform, and transport materials. Thanks to many industries that depend on synthesizing and processing chemicals and materials, chemical engineers are in great demand. Chemical engineers might work on the refining of petroleum, biomolecule production, or creating specialty chemicals for commercial use.

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers use computer software to create and test infrastructure prototypes that will be built into private and public works. In addition, civil engineers often oversee the construction and maintenance of the facilities they develop.

A civil engineer might work on projects involving buildings, bridges, tunnels, and dams, as well as harbors, airports, railways, and highways. Once a structure is built, issues relating to water power and supply, irrigation, drainage, and disposal all fall under the purview of a civil engineer.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers design and develop electrical and electronic components and systems, such as power systems, communications systems, control systems, circuits, and computers.

As the largest field within the engineering profession, electrical engineers work in a variety of fields such as acoustics, aerospace, automotive, communications, consumer electronics, energy resources, environmental issues, medical and biotech, power, signal processing, space, and underwater systems.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers design and develop the physical and mechanical systems of machines and the tools and processes necessary to build it—making it a very broad field. In addition to designing wheels, axles, and pumps necessary to power a product, mechanical engineers also design and develop the systems that produce power for a specific product (such as car engines and steam turbines).

Our Review Method

students of engineering course working on a project

To help you pick the best engineering schools, we chose 10 of the top institutions and analyzed the school’s features as related to its cost. Education is an investment, and it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each school before embarking on this exciting chapter of your life.

Reviews of the 10 Best Engineering Schools

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  • 1
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • 2
    Stanford University
  • 3
    The University of California-Berkeley (UCB)
  • 4
    California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • 5
    Southern Utah University
  • 6
    Princeton University
  • 7
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 8
    Carnegie Mellon University
  • 9
    Yale University
  • 10
    Johns Hopkins University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Features

Consistently ranked as one of the best engineering schools in the country, MIT offers both undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in a wide variety of programs from aerospace engineering to nuclear engineering. MIT is a private institution founded in 1861 in Cambridge, MA. MIT’s School of Engineering has 2,500 undergraduate students,1,000 graduate students, and 2,000 doctoral students, all of whom are full time.

Pros

  • Almost half of all engineering undergraduates are women
  • Offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees
  • Dual degree programs available
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • The cost of living in the Boston metropolitan area is higher than average

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduates are $67,500. Graduate students should expect to pay around $80,000 a year, a higher figure because they live off-campus in market-rate housing.

Website

Stanford University

Features

Located in the technology and engineering capital of Silicon Valley, Stanford University’s School of Engineering has been ranked as one of the best engineering schools since the institution was founded in 1885. Stanford’s School of Engineering has approximately 3,400 full-time undergraduate students, 1,500 full-time graduate students, and 1,900 full-time doctoral students working to solve major challenges being faced by an ever-changing modern world. Stanford engineering students take part in groundbreaking research and innovations, both at campus facilities and off-campus through local business partnerships.

Pros

  • Access to Silicon Valley and tech companies
  • Offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees
  • Dual degree programs available
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area have one of the highest costs of living in the world

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduates are $69,100. Graduate students should expect to pay around $85,000 a year, a higher figure because they live off-campus in market-rate housing.

Website

The University of California-Berkeley (UCB)

Features

Founded in 1868, the University of California-Berkeley (also called UCB) is a public institution that offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in engineering. UCB’s proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, combined with its rigorous curriculum and innovative research programs, make it one of the best engineering schools. A public institution part of the prestigious University of California system, the UCB engineering school has approximately 5,100 full-time undergraduate students, 800 full-time graduate students, and 1,350 full-time doctoral students.

Pros

  • Access to Silicon Valley and tech companies
  • Research-oriented curriculum
  • California residents enjoy more affordable tuition

Cons

  • For out-of-state students, tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • The San Francisco Bay Area has some of the highest costs of living in the world

Cost

For California residents, the estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduates are $37,100. Graduate students should expect to pay around $43,000 a year, a higher figure because they live off-campus in market-rate housing. For out-of-state students, non-resident supplemental tuition fees apply.

Website

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Features

Founded in 1981, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private institution in Pasadena. Caltech is one of the best engineering schools for research as the school has many grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Caltech Engineering and Applied Science division has seven departments: aerospace, medical engineering, applied physics and materials science, computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering, environmental science and engineering, and mechanical and civil engineering.

Pros

  • Dual degree programs available
  • The entire school is focused on science and engineering
  • Heavy emphasis on research

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduates are $68,900. Graduate students should expect to pay around $83,800 a year, a higher figure because they live off-campus in market-rate housing.

Website

Southern Utah University

Features

Founded in 1987, Southern Utah University is a public institution in Cedar City, UT. The school’s Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and uses a curriculum based on teaching students the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and communications.

Pros

  • Affordable tuition for Utah state residents
  • High acceptance rate
  • Rolling admissions

Cons

  • A lower starting salary for graduates
  • No doctoral program for engineering

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate Utah residents are $14,000. Out-of-state undergraduates should expect to pay around $27,800.

Website

Princeton University

Features

One of the oldest institutions in the United States, Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is consistently ranked as one of the best engineering schools in the country. Dedicated to using engineering and science to serve society, Princeton’s engineering program has approximately 1,400 full-time undergraduate students, 50 full-time graduate students, and 600 full-time doctoral students.

Pros

  • Prestigious Ivy League institution
  • Smaller classes
  • High employment rate after graduation

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate engineering students at Princeton are $67,100. Graduate students should expect to pay around $75,700 a year, a higher figure because they live off-campus in market-rate housing.

Website

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)

Features

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a public research institution in Madison, WI. The College of Engineering has approximately 4,400 full-time undergraduate students, 350 full-time graduate students, and 800 full-time doctoral students. Faculty and staff work together with students to ensure UW-Madison engineers are better equipped than ever to apply their learnings to many challenges, from healthcare, the environment, security, energy, and others.

Pros

  • Offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees
  • Research-oriented curriculum
  • Wisconsin residents enjoy more affordable tuition

Cons

  • For out-of-state students, tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive
  • Winter in Wisconsin is cold

Cost

As a part of the University of Wisconsin school system, state residents receive tuition breaks. For in-state students, yearly expenses and fees for undergraduates are $27,100 and $31,100 for graduate students. Yearly expenses and fees for out-of-state undergraduates are $52,000 and $44,400 for graduate students.

Website

Carnegie Mellon University

Features

Founded in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University is located in Pittsburgh, PA, and offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for engineering students. The Carnegie Institute of Technology and School of Computer Science are ranked as two of the best engineering schools in the United States, and undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in research, receive grants, and summer fellowships to support research in their field of study.

Pros

  • K-12 STEM opportunities
  • High employment rate after graduation
  • Research-oriented curriculum

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate engineering students at Carnegie Mellon $70,800. Graduate students should expect to pay around $65,915 a year.

Website

Yale University

Features

Founded in 1852, the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science has five departments: biomedical engineering, chemical and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical engineer, and mechanical engineering and materials science. For the 2018-2019 academic year, Yale has approximately 590 undergraduate students and 350 graduate students.

Pros

  • Prestigious Ivy League institution
  • Smaller classes
  • High employment rate after graduation

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate engineering students at Yale are $70,600. Graduate students should expect to pay around $71,000 a year.

Website

Johns Hopkins University

Features

The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering teaches students to think creatively while drawing on their knowledge of mathematics and science to tackle difficult, real-world problems. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Johns Hopkins has approximately 1,800 full-time undergraduate students, 1,860 full-time graduate students, and 3,050 part-time graduate students.

Pros

  • Committed alumni contribute time and resources to students 
  • Emphasis on research at the undergrad level
  • Diverse student body
  • Student/faculty ratio of 9:1

Cons

  • Tuition and expenses are high
  • Admissions are competitive

Cost

The estimated yearly expenses and fees for undergraduate engineering students at Johns Hopkins are $70,500. Graduate students should expect to pay around $70,900 a year.

Website

The Verdict

chemical engineering students doing their laboratory project

From walking into a high-rise office building to walking across a new pedestrian footbridge, the work of engineers is all around us. If contributing to this ever-evolving industry is something you want to make as a career path, enrolling in one of the best engineering schools will equip you with the tools you need to turn your career as an engineer from a dream into reality.

Choosing the best engineering school for you will depend on your own personal factors. For example, if you are planning to pay for your education yourself, a school that is more affordable (such as Southern Utah) might be a good option. If you are confident the high cost of a prestigious school—such as Stanford or MIT—will lead you to a more lucrative career path, higher tuition might not be your primary concern. An education in engineering is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, so take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of each school before making the investment.

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