The Best Engineering Schools in Boston

Today’s world is, more and more, connected with technical and social challenges. Solutions to these problems and items that are used in everyday life benefit from engineering. Engineers use a translational approach that integrates applied research to meet society’s needs. Through research, development, and prototyping cycles, new innovations are made to build upon past work. 

Engineering schools worldwide are responsible for preparing the next generation of engineers. Students can choose from many areas of study, including biological, chemical, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. This interdisciplinary curriculum includes technical courses ranging from math to science to business. Throughout their education, engineering students are taught how to solve problems and communicate effectively as part of a team. The best engineering schools will allow undergraduates to perform hands-on activities through laboratory research, maker labs, co-ops and internships, and student organizations.

As an international hub of academia, medicine, and technological innovation, Boston has one of the highest concentrations of engineers in the US. In addition, thousands of students from around the globe pursue their degrees at universities in the area. This collection of backgrounds and knowledge from engineers in the region inspires innovation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state employs over 70,000 engineers and architects, making a median annual salary of $99,000 in 2020. 

With many top schools in the city, it can be challenging to decide which is suitable for prospective engineers. Here are the best engineering schools within a 10 mile radius of Boston, according to their placement in the US News Engineering Schools list.

5. Tufts University School of Engineering

Tufts University School of Engineering
NicholasWoofington, SEC Tufts, CC BY-SA 4.0

Tufts University engineers are known for their passion for innovation by integrating diverse ideas and interdisciplinary environments. The relatively small size of the university and academic diversity allow for flexible and collaborative research opportunities. In particular, the engineering department at Tufts is known for its prominence in research areas such as energy, human health, intelligent systems, human-technology interfaces, and learning science.

The SilkLab at Tufts exemplifies the school’s commitment to interdisciplinary research. Recently, biological and chemical engineers have created a leather-like material from silk proteins that is sustainable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. The lab has created other biomaterial-based applications, including implantable electronics, food preservation techniques, compostable technology, and medical therapeutics.

For engineering students interested in seeing how their work directly impacts people and society, Engineers Without Borders is a popular option. This student organization includes liberal arts and engineering students to integrate conceptual and technical skills to solve problems. The group develops and implements sustainable water supply, treatment, and distribution systems. Along with designing technologically sound projects, engineering students work alongside community partners to build meaningful relationships.

Engineering students at Tufts are encouraged to seek out a global perspective that supports their engineering education. The study abroad programs have been offered for over five decades. Today, students have the option to choose from hundreds of approved programs run by external providers. Amazingly, 40% of Tufts undergraduates decide to go abroad at some point in their college careers. Recently, engineering students have traveled to places such as Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Ghana, and Turkey.

4. Boston University College of Engineering

Boston University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Boston University ranks #10 in research expenditures per faculty member among private engineering schools, with $99 million spent on engineering topics alone. Students have the opportunity to perform research alongside faculty members in cutting-edge facilities. The school has spent over $180 million in new laboratories, providing over 15 state-of-the-art research centers for students to follow their interests.

For students interested in pursuing their own ideas, the Engineering Product Innovation Center provides the resources necessary for new discoveries. The 15,000 square foot maker space is equipped with the latest industry technology, including a CAD studio, demonstration areas, fabrication facilities, 3D printers, robotics, and laser processing. Students learn the entire innovation process from idea conception to production and deployment. The center partners with big names in the industry such as GE and Procter & Gamble to improve their undergraduate curriculum and advanced manufacturing abilities.

BU Engineering has also been recognized for its commitment to including historically underrepresented groups to create a talented engineering community. In 2019, the department was recognized with the American Society for Engineering Education Diversity Bronze level award. The award was created to acknowledge engineering colleges that make significant progress in increasing diversity, inclusion, and degree attainment outcomes of their programs. 

Throughout the curriculum, engineering students are challenged with design projects in sophomore and senior year. The College of Engineering includes real-world practice so undergraduates can gain new abilities and insight into their field. In the Senior Design Project, engineering students work with businesses to address their needs, then formally present their project to an audience. They learn how to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and build prototypes.

3. Northeastern University College of Engineering

Northeastern University College of Engineering
Piotrus, Snell Engineering, Northeastern University, CC BY-SA 3.0

Northeastern University is renowned for its cooperative education program that has been in place since 1970. Due to its reputation, the school has amassed over 2,000 employer partners as of 2020, placing over 3,000 engineering students in positions nationwide. Some employers include Bose Corporation, Boston Scientific, Johnson and Johnson, and Intel. US News ranks Northeastern as #1 in internships and co-ops. While on co-op, engineering students work within their profession full-time for up to 8 months, providing real-world experience and the ability to finance their education.

While in classes, students learn from professors who are committed to developing the next generation of engineering leaders in classes. The College of Engineering consists of over 185 accomplished faculty members across five departments. Many professors are at the top of their fields with dozens of professional society fellows, national academy members, and young investigator awardees. Faculty members collaborate beyond traditional boundaries and work with academic, government, and industry partners. 

Outside of the classroom, over 50 engineering-specific student organizations provide resources to students of different backgrounds, majors, and interests. Northeastern’s ChemE Car team has a rich history and sends a team to the national competition almost every year. The main goal is to build a car powered by a chemical reaction and stops at a given distance, as controlled by kinetics. In 2020, the Northeastern team placed in the top 3 in their regional conference.

The Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education helps students develop commercially viable ideas and pitch them. The center provides the education and resources necessary to foster creativity through a series of events, workshops, and courses led by faculty members and industry innovators.

2. Harvard University John Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Harvard University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

While Harvard is recognized as a prestigious liberal arts university, the Ivy League university is also ranked #3 worldwide for engineering and technology by Times Higher Education. This is due to the school’s citations, industry outcome, international outlook, research, and teaching. The school has produced numerous research discoveries and distinguished alumni, including connections to over 45 Nobel Laureates.

The engineering department at Harvard spends $105 million in research across all departments, with the biggest expenditures in biological, civil, electrical, and materials engineering. There are plenty of opportunities for undergraduates to research as a part of their coursework or individual projects alongside professors. Students can engage in hands-on learning and apply the engineering knowledge learned in the classroom.

Harvard is home to 600,000 square feet of interconnected laboratories, classrooms, and offices for engineering students to use. Recent investments resulted in upgraded laboratories from Integrated Quantum Materials to Robotics. Recent computer engineering research focuses on improving multi-robot coordination and communication for use in real-world environments. In 2020, their work was awarded an Amazon Research Award that provides unrestricted funds and AWS Promotional Credits.

The Harvard Quantum Initiative supports a community of researchers interested in advancing engineering and applications for everyday life. Knowledge of quantum laws has enabled the development of groundbreaking technology from GPS navigation to Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The center prepares future leaders through research initiatives, community development, educational programs, and interdisciplinary collaboration. 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering

MIT School of Engineering
John Phelan, MIT Building, Pierce Engineering Laboratory, Cambridge MA, CC BY 3.0

As a well-known technical school, it comes as no surprise that MIT tops the list. The engineering department accounts for roughly half of all students and provides plentiful opportunities and resources for students. Many MIT engineering programs are ranked #1 nationwide by US News, including aerospace, chemical, computer, electrical, materials, and mechanical engineering. The school’s mission is to educate the next generation of engineering leaders, teaching them how to tackle problems that serve society.

92% of engineering students participate in an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, where they work on cutting-edge research. This program creates research partnerships between undergraduates and faculty. Students choose to join an established research project or pursue their own ideas for credit, pay, or as a volunteer.

Engineering students can sharpen their hands-on prototyping abilities through the 130,000 square feet of maker spaces. Learning by doing is an integral part of the MIT experience. Project Manus was started with the goal of creating the gold standard in academic maker systems. The design spaces include tools for routing, 3D printing, glassblowing, wood and metalworking, mold making and casting, robotics, circuitry, textiles, and more.

MIT engineering is linked to many notable alumni, including over 90 Nobel Laureates, famous astronauts, and inventors. Amar Bose graduated from MIT with a Bachelor’s degree and PhD in electrical engineering. He went on to become the founder and chairman of Bose Corporation, known for his extensive speaker technology research and psychoacoustics, which continued to be the industry standard for decades later. His work has earned him dozens of patents and can be found in Olympic stadiums, Broadway theaters, the Sistine Chapel, and space shuttles