For the student who wishes to pursue a career in engineering, finding the right school is of the utmost importance.
After all, virtually every single working-class engineer in the US and abroad today went to college for engineering.
Some of these schools have significantly higher placement rates into the workforce immediately after graduation. The very best schools have alumni who command top starting salaries with the most prestigious of companies.
Of course, one consideration for engineering schools is the specialty you would like to pursue. Some schools are better for aerospace engineering, while others are the very best for electrical engineering, others at nuclear, environmental, and mechanical engineering.
This list is a ranking for overall quality of the undergraduate engineering program.
How we made this list: this list is essentially an “average” of 8 other online lists. You can read more about our methodology as well as see the sources for the rankings at the end of this article.
Here are the 10 of the best colleges for engineering in the US.
10. Princeton University School of Engineering and Applied Science (Princeton, NJ)
Widely considered one of the top schools worldwide, in many years Princeton is ranked #1 on the US News and World Report list.
With good reason, too. Princeton accepts just 7% of all applicants.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton is regularly ranked among the top 10 programs worldwide, including in a 2019 list by Times Higher Education.
Alumni of the engineering school include the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos as well as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Additionally, faculty at the school are among the most decorated in all of academia. They include MacArthur fellows Claire Gmachl, known for her work with lasers, and Naomi Leonard, a highly regarded aerospace engineer.
9. Carnegie-Mellon University College of Engineering (Pittsburgh, PA)
One of the largest engineering colleges at a university in the country, Carnegie-Mellon enrolls approximately 4,000 students at any given time in its engineering school.
Widely regarded a top engineering program, it consistently ranks in the top 10 in US News’ Engineering rankings.
Carnegie-Mellon’s faculty frequently appear in major news publications. In the last few months alone, this list includes Chemical Engineering Professor Neil Donahue, who was interviewed in the New York Times, and Vyas Sekar, who was interviewed on NBC.
It’s no wonder that faculty at CMU are regularly profiled in top publications; innovation is at the heart of Carnegie-Mellon’s program.
Recent engineering advances made by CMU people include using sensors to detect illness in pigs, creating autonomous habitats in space, and lunar robots funded by NASA.
HONORABLE MENTION: Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, WI)
One of the top schools for engineering in the country, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, known as the MSOE, is one of the most prestigious institutions for engineering worldwide.
Although the school offers 16 unique Bachelor’s degree, 10 of them are focused on engineering. Some of the most renowned engineering programs at the school include Architectural Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, among many other renowned programs.
The school does not have your typical large-lecture-hall style of teaching. Rather, the school boasts more labs than classrooms for a reason – they want to teach students how to be doers, not just thinkers or academicians.
Because of this, the program is extremely hands-on, having attained a number of partnerships with Milwaukee based companies, such as Harley-Davidson and Snap-On. Getting a job within a year of graduation is the norm for many students at this school, as 260+ companies come to recruit students for internships at the school’s annual career fair.
One of the great opportunities this school offers includes amazing study-abroad opportunities for engineering students. Engineering students have the chance to study in New Zealand, Italy, or even the Czech Republic for a quarter.
8. Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Cambridge, MA)
Harvard’s list of highly-accomplished engineering alumni are among the greatest of any school. Here is a partial list of the school’s most famous graduates.
With nearly $1bn endowed for the Engineering School alone, Harvard is home to one of the most selective programs in the country. The engineering school is named after investor John Paulson, who donated a staggering $400m to the program four years ago.
A graduate-degree granting program only, Harvard only accepts admission for Master’s and Doctoral degree engineering programs.
7. Purdue University College of Engineering (West Lafayette, IN)
Purdue’s excellence in engineering is best demonstrated by its impressive track record.
No less than twenty-four of America’s astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, attended Purdue University’s engineering program. US News consistently ranks Purdue in its top 10 engineering schools in the country.
Faculty in the program are at the forefront of innovation. Here is an article from Medium published by Purdue’s Engineering program about how the school is developing solar power technologies to benefit agriculture.
Purdue has another unique distinction; it was the first school to have a specific Women In Engineering Program (WIEP). The aim of this program is to inspire engineering trends in women and young girls in a field that has been predominantly male. The program has been in place for 50 years and has been a major career development hub for aspiring female engineers.
6. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering (Urbana, IL)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the most cited engineering school in the world, meaning that more official papers have cited the research at UIUC than at any other school.
Founders of the some of the biggest companies in the world have studied at this prestigious school, including Oracle, Tesla, PayPal, Mozilla, and even YouTube.
One of the unique facilities at this school is the Grainger Engineering Library, known as the largest library in the world dedicated solely to volumes and texts in engineering.
The faculty at the school are among the most noted engineers in the world. 34 current faculty are members of the National Academy of Engineering, the renowned non-profit in which new members are elected based on their scientific contributions.
The school spends over $200,000,000.00 annually on research and development, placing it in the top 5% of all colleges in the nation.
The school places a large emphasis on interdisciplinary research, with some of their research centers diving into advanced fields such as supercomputing, genomic biology, and even technology entrepreneurship.
Every year, over 100 companies participate in the school’s “Employment Expo” in which students of the school have the opportunity to interview for internships and jobs with the top STEM organizations in the world.
HONORABLE MENTION Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO)
Perhaps the most hidden-gem program on this competitive list of top engineering colleges, Missouri University of Science and Technology is well-known for its approach to experiential learning.
Popular Science magazine named dubbed the school as having one of the best college labs in the country, citing the amazing “experimental mine” lab that teaches students how to implode buildings, run pyrotechnics, and create fireworks displays.
One hallmark of the school is in its creative engineering projects, for which it is world-renowned. One of the highest achievements the student body has produced is the solar powered car, a car outfitted with solar panels making it run completely on renewable solar energy.
With this invention, the school competes in the American Solar Challenge, regularly placing in the highest ranks of this week-long competition of solar cars.
The school is also home to a partnership with top companies such as Apple, Cisco, and IBM. The established partnership is known as Missouri S&T Electromagnetic Compatibility Consortium, a program in which companies such as the aforementioned fund important work in electromagnetic compatibility.
What we like about this school is that it does not involve itself solely in hours of theoretical research – rather, this program is all about giving hands experiential, hands-on learning for a future designed around innovative science and technology.
5. University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
With 57,000 living graduates of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, it is easy to see why it is known throughout the world as one of the very best engineering schools.
With 14 different buildings used as facilities for this expansive program, the engineering offerings are tremendous at UC Berkeley. They include civil, energy, nuclear, and mechanical engineering departments, as well as another 10 dedicated engineering departments.
Some of the top executives working in the biggest name companies started their education at UC Berkeley. These executives include Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, Eric Schmidt, billionaire and former Chairman of Google, and Paul Jacobs, former Executive Chairman of Qualcomm.
UC Berkeley is known for having some of the most innovative faculty in the world. They include Carlo Sequin, a recognized pioneer in the design of computer processors, Richard Karp, well-known computer scientist who won the coveted Turing Award for his work in computation theory, and Ken Goldberg, one of the today’s leaders in the field of robotics.
With an acceptance rate of less than 10% for undergraduate students applying to UC Berkeley’s engineering school, this is one of the most competitive programs in the country for any specialized major.
4. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
California Institute of Technology, more often known as CalTech, is regularly ranked among the top schools throughout the world.
In 2011 alone, the school managed an impressive $332,000,000.00 in sponsored research funding, demonstrating the school’s commitment to bridging scientific advancement with involvement from both faculty and students.
There are 53 current (non-emeritus) faculty members at the school who have been named to a US National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Some of the greatest scientists and thinkers in the world teach at CalTech.
The school is also the number one school in the country for students who eventually earn a PhD.
3. Georgia Institute of Technology School of Engineering (Atlanta, GA)
Established over 125 years ago, the program in engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology is among the most widely regarded worldwide.
Entrepreneurship is one of the main themes of Georgia Tech’s program, best demonstrated by CREATE-X, a startup incubator for companies run by students.
In this program, students apply for a grant with a company idea. If accepted, the students get funding for their startup. In 2018, some of the funded companies include Vails, which are 3D-printed artificial nails customized through an app, and Convexmind, an app that helps children eventually become literate.
Outside of entrepreneurship, the school is working on innovative sciences potentially impacting health worldwide, including a new HIV treatment.
Admission into Georgia Tech is highly selective; only 26% are accepted into the school, making it among the most difficult in the country for admission.
HONORABLE MENTION: Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO)
Now we have arrived at the number one school in the country for engineering, the Colorado School of Mines. A school entirely devoted to engineering and science, the Colorado School of Mines is one of the top schools in the country for return-on-education-investment.
In fact, PayScale.com recently rated Colorado School of Mines as the 8th best school in the country for a return on investment for residents of Colorado. For residents outside of Colorado, it is in the top 15.
Beating out universities such as Princeton, Harvard, and Dartmouth, this one unique rating demonstrates an unparalleled bang-for-your-buck excellence in education.
Although it is heralded for a number of engineering programs, it is best known for its mineral engineering program.
Faculty accolades demonstrate just how excellent this school is. The head of the mining program, Priscilla Nelson, recently was awarded a prestigious award for excellence in teaching from the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration.
The environment of the school is one that fosters close connections among the faculty and students. A new tradition of the school, Oredigger Camp, is an event where 600 incoming students of the school spend a few days in the Rocky Mountains tackling various science and outdoors related projects.
Creative activities like these are the hallmark of this exemplary institution, which fosters unique young thinkers today to become top engineers for tomorrow’s bustling economy.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN)
Consistently ranked by US News and World report as the best undergraduate school in the world for engineering and technology, this primarily undergraduate institution is among the most innovative, forward-thinking engineering programs in the world.
One of the great hallmarks of the Rose-Hulman program is student employment outcome at the school. Every single year, 98% of graduates are placed into the ranks of working professionals. This exceptionally high placement rate showcases the solid reputation this school has with employers in the STEM fields.
Adding to its solid reputation is the fact that, according to payscale.com, the school is among the top 30 of all universities in the whole country for the best return on investment.
This prestigious school is constantly advancing itself and its facilities. A recent $15,000,000 gift to the school is being used to create an impressive 60,000 square foot space outfitted with flexible classrooms, workspaces, design studios, and more. The building will be open to students in 2021.
One great feature of this school is the excellence and dedication of the faculty to the student body. One such faculty member is Renee Rogge, the Chair of the Biomedical Engineering program, who has involved countless Rose-Hulman students in a number of important, innovative research projects advancing biomechanics.
Alumni of the program are among the most accomplished in the country with many going on to work for, and even become executives of, the top companies worldwide.
2. Stanford University School of Engineering (Palo Alto, CA)
Stanford’s academia, experience, and atmosphere is unparalleled in the world of college engineering.
Because of its presence in Silicon Valley, Stanford Engineers have access to many of the world’s greatest companies for internship and employment after graduation; they include Google, Facebook, SpaceX, and countless more.
Stanford itself is at the forefront of technology and engineering; a recent publication on the Stanford website showcases a faculty interview with James Landay about the “human-computer” interaction.
When we put together this list, we aggregated eight top-10 lists that have been read online by millions of viewers. Stanford placed in nearly every list, making it a unanimous choice as a top engineering school in the country.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering (Cambridge, MA)
The largest school within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the School of Engineering is among the most impressive institutions of any kind in the world.
Boasting 130,000 square feet of what the school calls “maker spaces,” the school is at the forefront of excellence in everyday student life as well as groundbreaking research.
One of the flagship programs at the school includes the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, known around the school as UROP. An impressive 90% of the students participate in this program, in which students partake in experiential learning opportunities in direct collaboration with the school’s faculty. This allows for a deeply personalized learning experience not available to students at every engineering school.
As one of the most famous and prestigious schools, it also among the most selective. For the fall of 2018, just 6.7% of applicants were admitted into the school.
This list is represents a “weighted average” of 8 other lists online about the top engineering schools in the country.
You can read our methodology to find out more about how we make these rankings.
Here are the lists themselves, sourced in August 2019. Any updates to these lists since that time was not accounted for when making this ranking.