Best Engineering Schools: The Top Schools You Have to Know

Engineering has existed since ancient times, when people created life-changing inventions such as the wheel and wedge. Building off those original ideas, modern engineering is applied to many disciplines in many ways. From pasteurizing and homogenizing milk at a dairy plant to designing optical fibers at a computer network company, not a day goes by we don’t interact with something built by professionals from the best engineering schools.

What Is an Engineer?

What Is an Engineer

Broadly speaking, engineers creatively apply scientific principles to build structures, machines, and processes.

Due to the fact that engineering encompasses many industries—and professions within each industry—it is often broken down into sub-disciplines. While many engineers become multi-disciplined through experience, when researching the best engineering schools’ students will need to select the specific area of engineering in which to specialize.

Engineering is made up of four main areas:

Chemical engineering

Civil engineering

Electrical engineering

Mechanical engineering

Education, Career Outlook, and Salary for Engineers

People interested in pursuing a career in engineering will need to have a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program and get a professional engineer (PE) license. Since a master’s degree is required for certain positions, some students train for a bachelor’s and master's degree concurrently in five-year programs.

The job outlook varies based on the specific subsector, industry, and region that the engineer is competing in. The information below outlines growth predictions between 2012 and 2022 and areas that will see growth or decline.

Civil Engineers: 

Electrical Engineers: 

Environmental Engineer: 

Mechanical Engineers: 

Nuclear Engineer: 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers make healthy salaries that often far exceed the national average. Here are the median salaries for different professions:

  • Civil Engineers: $82,050
  • Electrical Engineers: $91,410
  • Environmental Engineers: $83,360
  • Mechanical Engineers: $83,060
  • Nuclear Engineers: $100,470

12 of the Best Engineering Schools in the United States

When identifying the best engineering schools to apply, students should look into programs for science that pique their interest, understand the products they would work with, and the materials they would be specialize in using. The 12 schools listed below are considered some of the best engineering schools in the United States, both for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Founded in 1861, MIT is a private institution in Cambridge, MA. MIT’s School of Engineering is consistently ranked as one of the best engineering schools in the country, both for undergraduate and graduate degrees and counts many successful engineering professionals among its alumni, including Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut; Raymond Hood, the architect of New York’s Rockefeller Center and Chicago’s Tribune Tower. William R. Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard; and Jack Little, Co-founder of MathWorks which created and sells MATLAB.

Stanford University

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University’s School of Engineering has been considered one of the best engineering schools since its founding in 1885. Priding itself on being at the forefront of groundbreaking research and innovation, Stanford students apply engineering principles across many disciplines to tackle major challenges being faced in the 21st century. Notable alumni include Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google; Evan Spiegel, co-founder of Snap Inc.; and Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States.

University of California—Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California—Berkeley (also called UC Berkeley) is a public institution that overlooks the San Francisco Bay and offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering. Considered one of the most prestigious schools in the world, UC Berkeley is one of the best engineering schools for bioengineering (BioE), civil and environmental engineering (CEE), electrical engineering and computer sciences (EECS), industrial engineering and operations research (IEOR), materials science engineering (ME) and nuclear engineering (NE).

The California Institute of Technology (often called Caltech) is a private institution in Pasadena, California, and just a short distance from Los Angeles. Founded in 1981, Caltech is one of the best engineering schools for research as the school regularly receives grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Besides undergraduate degrees, Caltech’s graduate programs in engineering, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, mathematics, and physics are among the best in the country.

Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT)

Founded in 1885, Georgia Institute of Technology (often called Georgia Tech) is a public institution in Atlanta, Georgia. Like other best engineering schools, Georgia Tech is active in government and industry research. For students interested in studying abroad, Georgia Tech has campuses in France, Ireland, Costa Rica, Singapore, and China—besides its main campuses in Atlanta and Savannah.

Carnegie Mellon University

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 take part in research, receive grants, and work in summer fellowships to support research in their field of study.

University of Illinois—Urbana Champaign

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign is a public institution in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois. It’s College of Engineering has long been considered one of the best engineering schools in the country and the university itself is considered an institution with the highest level of research activity. Notable alumni Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube.

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor is a public institution that was founded in 1817. One of the best engineering schools for both undergraduate and graduate studies, the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor College of Engineering established some of the earliest programs in aerospace engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, and nuclear engineering. Besides its state-of-the-art laboratories, the College of Engineering also has 11 wind tunnels, an electron microscope and ion beam labs, a civil engineering test facility, and solid-state manufacturing facilities.

Cornell University

One of the eight Ivy League schools, Cornell University is a private institution that was founded in 1865. Located in Ithaca, New York, the Cornell Engineering prides itself on being one of the best engineering schools in the Ivy League. Cornell Engineering is home to many teams that compete in student design engineering competitions, including the Baja SAE, Automotive X-Prize, UNP Satellite Program, DARPA Grand Challenge, AUVSI Underwater Vehicle Challenge, Formula SAE, RoboCup, Solar Decathlon, and Genetically Engineered Machines.

Purdue University—West Lafayette

Purdue University—West Lafayette is a public institution that was founded in 1869 and is the main campus in the Purdue University system, which includes four other campuses throughout the state of Indiana. Purdue’s highly ranked School of Aeronautics and Astronautics within the College of Engineering has acquired the nickname "Cradle of Astronauts" for the 24 astronauts that are alumni of the school.

The University of Texas

The University of Texas—Austin is a public institution that was founded in 1883 and is one of the best engineering schools in the country, both for undergraduate and graduate studies. The Cockrell School of Engineering has departments in aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil, architectural and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and petroleum and geosystems engineering.


One of the oldest institutions in the United States, Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is consistently ranked as one of the best engineering schools in the country. Dedicated to using engineering and science to serve society, Princeton offers students the opportunity to study chemical and biological engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and operations research and financial engineering.


The work of engineers is all around us: whether commuting to work, heating lunch in a microwave, flipping through channels on TV, how engineers apply their scientific knowledge to solve everyday challenges is nothing short of remarkable. If contributing to this exciting 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.

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