Best Colleges for Engineering
The best colleges for engineering are located all across the country. With so many great programs out there, it can be hard to find the top engineering colleges for you. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best engineering schools—where they are, what they offer, and how to maximize your admissions odds.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the best colleges for engineering. We’ll look at:
- What the top engineering colleges are
- How to apply to the best colleges for engineering
- What you can do with an engineering degree
- What are the best engineering colleges by major
Throughout this “Top Engineering Colleges” guide, we’ll also discuss how to choose the best school for majors like engineering. We’ll also offer useful tips to help you choose the right engineering program for you.
Finding the best engineering programs for you
As you consider our list of top engineering colleges, remember that these rankings are ultimately subjective. So, the best universities by major for one person won’t always be the best for another.
When trying to find the best colleges for engineering, remember to think about your needs. So, as we discuss the best universities for engineering, don’t get too hung up on rankings. Instead, think critically about each program when looking for the best colleges for engineering for you.
For example, one student might research the best engineering universities and fall in love with Cornell’s programs. Another student might look for the best engineering schools and decide that Purdue is a perfect fit, coming in at the top of their personal best colleges for engineering list. When it comes to the best colleges for engineering, it’s all about what matters to you.
Considering college size and resources
Often, the best colleges for engineering will be larger universities. However, this isn’t always the case—take schools like Harvey Mudd, for instance, which is one of the best engineering colleges out there. As you build your college list, look at these factors alongside the strength of the degree program.
You should also think about research and job opportunities at each of the best engineering colleges. Depending on the size of the university, many of the best colleges for engineering will offer different programs. Reflect on your own goals as you decide which of the best engineering colleges is right for you.
Exploring the engineering major
Engineering majors at the best engineering colleges will have courses that focus on math and science. Within engineering, students can choose from many different focus fields.
Remember that when exploring the best engineering universities, you’ll have many different majors to choose from. The best engineering colleges on our list offer plenty of room to specialize.
So, what are the subcategories of the engineering major? Well, later in this “best engineering colleges” guide, we’ll explore these different areas in more depth. However, some majors within engineering include software engineering, civil engineering, aerospace engineering, and mechanical engineering.
When picking a focus field, you will want to consider future careers you might pursue after graduating from one of the best universities for engineering. See what you might do as a software engineer or a civil engineer.
Selecting a program
Most of the top engineering colleges with the highest rankings will offer similar courses. However, you’ll find that each of the best engineering colleges has its own unique benefits.
For this reason, research every school on your list, including these best universities for science. Even if certain schools are named the best colleges for engineering, that doesn’t mean they’ll meet all your needs. So, think about every school’s offerings as you read about the best engineering schools. That way, you can create a personal list of your own best engineering universities.
And, if you’re not positive what you want to major in, check out our article on how to choose a major. After all, you want to choose a college major that reflects your true interests.
Choosing engineering as a college major
Engineering is one of the popular college majors, and the best colleges for engineering offer students a lot of opportunities. A degree from one of the best engineering schools will give you the skills to succeed in many jobs.
As you look at the best universities by major for engineering, you’ll see a lot of top schools. So, if you’re applying to one of the best colleges for engineering, you’ll need to work hard. The best colleges for engineering all have high standards for applicants. If you want to get into the best engineering schools, you should ensure you have high grades and scores, especially in STEM fields.
Planning for the admissions process
As with any college, before you apply to one of the best engineering colleges, you should make sure the school fits your needs. After all, it’s not worth attending one of the top engineering colleges if you don’t think you would succeed there.
The best engineering colleges can open a lot of doors. Many of the best engineering schools also have strong alumni networks, which can help you secure employment after you graduate. This makes the best engineering schools even more attractive for applicants.
If you attend one of the best engineering schools, you can choose from a wide variety of job roles. Engineering also gives students a lot of transferable skills, which makes them even more employable. After going to one of the top engineering colleges, you could choose to pursue any of these career paths, among others:
- Software engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Chemical engineer
- Civil engineer
- Aerospace engineer
However, engineering is a vast field, and the best engineering schools all have things that make them unique. This means that the best colleges for engineering will all have specific programs that are stronger than others. If you are interested in the best colleges for engineering and the best universities for engineering, you will need to narrow your interests before selecting your major in college.
Narrowing your interests
When you attend one of the best engineering colleges, you’ll choose a focus field. Your options will depend on which of the best engineering colleges you attend. There are so many different types of engineering to choose from, from chemical to software to civil to mechanical. So, as you research the best engineering schools, you should consider the best universities by major for your interests. That way, you can find the best college for engineering for you.
For example, let’s look at one of the top engineering colleges—Cornell. Cornell is one of the best universities for engineering. As one of the best engineering schools, they have a wide variety of programs available. On their website, they list the different engineering majors they offer. These include engineering physics, mechanical engineering, and biological engineering.
Other top engineering colleges will have similar offerings. So, as you look at each school on our “best colleges for engineering” list, you should ensure that they have programs that meet your needs. Remember—the best engineering schools are not all the same.
Below, you’ll find a list of the 10 top engineering colleges. Use this as a guide as you make your own “best engineering colleges” list.
Top Ten Best Engineering Universities
Next, let’s look more closely at the best engineering schools.
As we’ve seen, there are many college majors you can pursue at top engineering colleges. The best engineering colleges will all offer a range of college majors. So, as you select one of the best engineering schools, keep your interests in mind. Every program will be slightly different, even at the best universities for engineering.
In this “Best Colleges for Engineering” guide, we focus on the best universities for engineering overall. Then, we’ll share the best colleges for engineering for specific areas.
Here are the top ten best colleges for engineering:
Top 10 Engineering Colleges
Described as the “best place in the world to be an engineering student,” MIT engineering majors will have plenty of fields to choose from. In fact, this elite STEM university in Boston is widely known as one of the best engineering schools in the world.
Students don’t apply to a specific department or declare a major until sophomore year. Additionally, students are encouraged to take all kinds of courses (including those in the humanities, social sciences, etc.). However, 70% of students at MIT end up choosing engineering as their major.
Another of our best undergraduate engineering schools, Stanford, doesn’t require students to apply directly to the engineering department. Students will later declare engineering among the many Stanford majors.
Engineering students will learn how to develop and apply engineering principles to today’s largest challenges.
Like with all schools in the UC system, UC Berkeley applicants will apply using the general application. However, UC Berkeley majors in engineering will still need to apply to a specific engineering program during this process.
As one of the best engineering universities in the nation, applicants will have their pick of quality UC Berkeley majors. They can also pursue tracks in a variety of focus areas.
It may come as no surprise that among the top Cal Tech majors is engineering. In the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cal Tech majors will use science fundamentals in order to create cutting edge technology. Applicants don’t need to specify Cal Tech majors when applying.
Since the school is so small, applicants to Cal Tech engineering will need to show an interest and potential in that area.
Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering offers 11 different college majors to choose from. Like many of the other top engineering colleges, students at Georgia Tech don’t need to officially declare college majors when applying. However, they will need to specify a first and second major in college. Still, they won’t be bound to these college majors.
Among the top Carnegie Mellon majors is, of course, engineering. Students who declare Carnegie Mellon majors in engineering will learn to be not only knowledgeable, but also creative engineers. Those who choose Carnegie Mellon majors in engineering will also enjoy an interdisciplinary education, taking not only STEM courses but those in the humanities as well. Carnegie Mellon also offers a top graduate program in engineering.
Unlike at many of the other best engineering schools, students who apply to UIUC majors in engineering will apply directly to the Grainger College of Engineering. So, if you’re interested in engineering most among all the UIUC majors, be sure to explore the UIUC majors in engineering and learn more about the application process. The Grainger College of Engineering is ranked #7 in overall undergraduate degree programs. Check out Grainger’s site for more information.
As a #1 public university, students will enjoy one of the best engineering schools in the nation at Michigan Engineering. Students will apply directly to the engineering program when completing their application. Accepted students will receive an engineering education that centers around “elevating all of humanity.”
As an Ivy League college and one of the best engineering universities in the nation, students will have their choice of 14 college majors and 22 minors in this field. Cornell is extremely selective, and the Cornell Engineering school is no different. Hopeful applicants should be sure they have taken the required math and science courses in high school, as students apply directly to the engineering program.
Purdue University is another top public university that makes our list of best engineering schools. Students will apply directly to the engineering program, entering the First-Year Engineering program if accepted. From there, students will enter into engineering specialties and disciplines.
Finding your fit
This list of best colleges for engineering and best engineering schools shows the top engineering colleges overall. As you’ll notice, many of the best engineering schools are located within larger state universities. Other schools on the list of best engineering colleges, like Cornell, will offer a tighter campus community. So, as you choose between the best universities for engineering, think about your other priorities. That way, you can find your own best colleges for engineering.
For example, if you know you want to study engineering in Boston, specifically look at the best engineering universities there.
Each of these top engineering colleges will give you a different experience. As we mentioned, just because a school is one of the best engineering colleges doesn’t mean it will be the best engineering school for you. So, do your research to find the best engineering school for your skills and interests.
Plus, as we mentioned, the best colleges for engineering will have different specialties. If you are interested in materials science, you’ll have a particular “best universities for engineering” list. By contrast, if you’re interested in information science, you’ll have a different “best engineering universities” list.
Top Engineering Colleges by Specialty
You may be looking for programs in a particular kind of engineering as you research the best engineering colleges. Logically, this may change which are the best engineering universities for you.
If you know your focus within engineering, then it can be helpful to check out the best colleges by major. Though all of our top 10 best engineering schools have many quality engineering programs, the best electrical engineering schools could be different from the top mechanical engineering schools or best colleges for software engineering.
But, before we look at some of the best colleges by major, let’s look at some of the common types of engineering degrees. First of all, before going into any engineering college majors, you should have a love of math and science. Are you an innovative, analytical thinker? If so, then engineering could be a great fit.
Specializations within engineering
Within engineering, there are a myriad of specializations: electrical engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. Depending on your major, your courses will vary–especially once you get to junior and senior year of your undergraduate studies.
Electrical engineering, unsurprisingly, will revolve around electrical equipment: designing, creating, testing, and installing. Within electrical engineering, you could choose to study computer engineering, electronics engineering, or robotics engineering.
Software engineering is actually a branch of computer science. Those studying this major will learn how to design, create, and test software for computers. Programming will play a large role in this field.
Mechanical engineering focuses on the building of machines. Sounds like that encompasses a lot, right? Well, it does. Mechanical engineers may work on anything from elevators to air conditioners. Some even more specialized concentrations in this field include aerospace, biochemical, and automotive engineering.
Civil engineering focuses on designing and building infrastructures: roads, bridges, water systems, airports, and more. The main focus is making these sure they’re safe for the public. Specialties within civil engineering include architectural, marine, transportation, and construction engineering.
Best colleges for software engineering
One of the fastest growing fields of engineering is software engineering. Most of the top engineering colleges will offer it as a major. But, what makes this such a flourishing major?
Well, software engineers design and create software for computers and applications. So, as technology continues to advance, they’ll stay in high demand. Graduates who study software engineering at the best engineering schools will also have flexibility as to which industry they work in. They could even have the flexibility to work from home with certain companies.
If you’re interested in software specifically, take a look at this list of best colleges for software engineering, too. The best colleges for software engineering, like the top engineering colleges, are quite competitive.
Here are the top ten best colleges for software engineering.
Top Ten Software Engineering Colleges
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of California – Berkeley
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of California – Irvine
- Stanford University
- North Carolina State University
- Purdue University
These ten schools are the best colleges for software engineering. If you’re interested in software development, one of these best colleges for software engineering might be a great fit.
However, don’t just apply to a school because it’s on a list of the best colleges for software engineering. Instead, make sure you find the right program for you—regardless of whether it’s listed as one of the best colleges for software engineering.
Interested in an Ivy League school? Well, although normally known for its liberal arts education, those looking into graduate programs might consider Harvard for software engineering.
Top Mechanical Engineering Schools
As you consider the top engineering colleges, best engineering universities, and best undergraduate engineering schools, you might wonder about the top mechanical engineering schools in the nation. But, first things first, what will students at top engineering colleges for mechanical engineering study?
The study of mechanical engineering focuses on movement. This could include particles, machinery, or even the human body. Innovative problem solving skills will come in handy, as much of your time will be spent in the lab at the best undergraduate engineering schools.
Now, let’s look at the 5 top mechanical engineering schools according to U.S. News:
Best Mechanical Engineering Schools
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT is one of the best engineering schools in the world, so it may come as no surprise that it’s also one of the top mechanical engineering schools. This school’s cutting edge and collaborative research spans across seven areas. The school’s lauded faculty and endless resources give students a top quality education.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering is among the top mechanical engineering schools for both undergraduates and graduate students. Students have access an exceptional research environment with plenty of resources. The school also offers a variety of optional concentrations within mechanical engineering.
With a focus on hands-on learning and research, students at Stanford will learn about practical applications of the knowledge they gain. Stanford Mechanical Engineering prepares students to address societal needs and make the world a better place.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Mechanical engineering at this large public university has a straightforward focus: make the world work better. Students will learn how to do just that and become leaders in their field. At UMich, students will learn from world-class professors and have access to bountiful resources.
University of California–Berkeley
The undergraduate UC Berkeley mechanical engineering program focuses on providing students with a broad education that serves as a strong foundation for future progress. Students will be prepared for entry-level work or continued studies in a variety of areas: industry, national laboratories, state and federal agencies, and academia.
As you may have noticed, the top engineering colleges for mechanical engineering are among the best undergraduate engineering schools in the nation. However, they are also some of the best engineering universities for graduate students as well. And, many mechanical engineering graduates decide to continue their studies at the best engineering universities with top graduate programs.
Check out the career outlook for mechanical engineers.
Best Electrical Engineering Schools
Considering the best engineering schools in the world but interested specifically in the best electrical engineering schools? Next, let’s dive into the top 5 best electrical engineering schools in the nation according to U.S. News.
But first, let’s review what electrical engineering majors study. Simply put, electrical engineering is the study of electrical systems. Since electrical engineers design and develop electrical devices that improve our daily lives and the future, coursework will center around building the foundations to do just that. Like all STEM majors at the best engineering colleges, there will be a heavy focus on math, science, and research.
You’ll notice the list is nearly the same as our best colleges for engineering for mechanical engineering list. That’s because many of the best engineering colleges have top programs in a variety of engineering disciplines.
Let’s check out the five best electrical engineering schools:
Top Colleges for Electrical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Studying at MIT EECS will give students the foundation to solve society’s critical problems. With a motto that says, “EECS is where the future is invented,” students know they are learning to be leaders in the field.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science makes the top five best engineering universities in the nation both for undergraduate and graduate programs. In fact, ECE at the Georgia Institute of Technology produces the most electrical and computer engineers in the world.
University of California–Berkeley
The UC Berkeley EECS program focuses on “collaboration, close ties to industry, and a supportive culture.” Highly motivated students learn from experienced staff in one of the best electrical engineering schools.
Students in the Electrical Engineering program at Stanford make up the school’s largest department of engineering. Faculty and graduates have been at the forefront of technological innovation and advances in the field. Students will receive a top-quality, interdisciplinary electrical engineering degree.
California Institute of Technology
Students studying EE at Caltech will be in good company not only among the other high quality Cal Tech majors, but also in this specific program. The department is known for “innovation and excellence” in the field. With an emphasis on multi-disciplinary education, students will study and research in many fields, giving them a well-rounded education.
Again, our top best electrical engineering schools are leaders for not only undergraduate but also graduate studies. Students considering any of these best engineering universities will receive one of the best educations in the world. They’ll learn from experienced faculty and enjoy access to cutting edge research facilities.
How to apply to top engineering schools
Now that you have an idea of some of the best colleges for engineering, you’re probably wondering what the application process looks like. After all, the top engineering colleges are all quite competitive. How do you actually get into one of the best colleges for engineering?
To get into top engineering colleges, you’ll need to do a lot of work. The best engineering colleges are all hard to get into, with many acceptance rates dropping to the single digits. These programs also often have their own admissions processes with slightly different requirements.
Applying to engineering majors
For many top engineering colleges and best engineering schools, you need to apply to the specific engineering major you’d like to pursue. Your intended major in college can affect your odds of admission based on how selective the program is.
If you’re applying to the best engineering colleges, the program is likely to be selective. So, as you research the best engineering schools, try to get some insight into which programs are the most selective. You should make sure you build a balanced college list with “safety,” “match,” and “reach” schools.
At some schools, you may just use the regular application. In these cases, you’ll simply specify your intended major on your application. That’s the case for engineering when using the UC application and in many other schools.
Applicants to the top engineering colleges and best engineering universities should strive to have a high GPA and STEM-related extracurriculars and interests. When applying to the best engineering schools in the world, you’ll be among a pool of high-achieving students. So, make sure you craft an application that showcases your impressive STEM capabilities and potential. That way, you can show that you’ll fit right in at one of the best colleges for engineering.
How the best engineering colleges evaluate students
The college admissions process at top engineering colleges will focus on applicants’ grades, courses, test scores, and extracurriculars. Whether attending one of the best colleges for engineering or any school, an engineering major in college requires you to have strong math and analytical thinking skills. The best engineering colleges will look for strength in these areas especially carefully.
So, if you’re applying to the best engineering universities, keep your grades up. The best colleges for engineering and the best colleges for software engineering all expect students to excel in high school. Once again, the top engineering colleges all have high standards, so your grades and scores will matter. You should also write strong essays—even though these schools are STEM-focused, a solid personal statement can help you stand out at top engineering colleges.
Tens of thousands of students will apply to top engineering colleges. So, find ways to highlight your skills on your applications to the best colleges for engineering. That way, you can maximize your chances of being accepted into one of the top engineering colleges. A strong score on the math sections of the SAT/ACT or AP exams can help demonstrate your abilities. Plus, you could take challenging coursework like advanced math and science. You should also choose extracurricular activities that highlight your skills and accord with the rest of your candidate profile.
Building your college list for engineering
As you research the top engineering colleges and best engineering schools, you’ll start building your dream list of top engineering colleges. As you do so, think about matters most to you. Rather than just taking a list of best universities for engineering at face value, do some research. Find the best engineering schools or best engineering colleges for you.
Many of the best engineering colleges will have similar programs, albeit with a few key differences. At any of the best engineering universities, you’ll find stellar faculty, research facilities, and more. If you want to be involved in research as an undergraduate, many of the best engineering schools will give you the opportunity to do so.
So, then, creating your college list of the best engineering colleges for you comes down to personal needs and preferences. Of course, you may want to research the best colleges by major if you know your area of interest. You’ll want to think about location, campus, college size, internships, and other important factors when looking at top engineering colleges.
Finding your fit at the best engineering colleges
If you’re set on a city or state, consider searching specifically for the best engineering colleges in that area. To help you get started, check out our guides on some of the best schools in Georgia, New York, California, and Boston.
Still, remember that all the lists of best engineering schools can’t tell you how you’ll feel on campus. So, like with any university, visit the best engineering colleges before making a decision. And, if you can’t visit in person, then take a virtual tour. Top engineering colleges will often offer this option. You wouldn’t want to be in your first year at one of the best undergraduate engineering schools only to find out you actually don’t like the campus.
Do some research
Additionally, do your research on the nation’s top engineering colleges. Look into the specific teachers, programs, facilities, and course content for each of the best colleges for engineering. Not all of the best colleges for engineering are the same.
Each of the top engineering colleges provide you with different opportunities and resources. For example, Carnegie Mellon majors may take different courses than Stanford majors, even though both are among the best engineering universities. However, the best universities for engineering will all have top programs.
When creating your list of the best engineering colleges, it’s also important to think about the college admissions process. Even though ranking and acceptance rate shouldn’t be the most important factors when choosing your top engineering colleges, they will affect the college admissions process. For example, a high ranking combined with a low acceptance rate means that the college admissions process will be quite competitive. In fact, when considering any of the best engineering universities we’ve mentioned, remember that they will be highly selective.
Best Colleges for Engineering: Final Thoughts
In this guide, we discussed the top engineering colleges and the best undergraduate engineering schools. However, all of these schools are among the best engineering schools in the world. That means that many of these top engineering colleges will not only offer excellent undergraduate programs but also graduate programs.
When considering studying at any of our top engineering colleges and best undergraduate engineering schools, remember that they are selective. Start preparing early in order to make sure you stand out at the best colleges for engineering. Logically, when looking into competitive STEM programs like those at top engineering colleges, your application should highlight your interest and potential in that area. How can you stand out when applying to top engineering colleges? Well, by showing off extracurriculars, internships, or even hobbies related to STEM.
Highlight your strengths
Finally, remember that you need to show what you will bring to the best colleges for engineering. Are you always fixing things around the house? Are you president of the robotics club? Do you obsessively read about the latest technologies? Do you want to use tech to create a better future? Highlight these attributes to top engineering colleges.
Since you’re looking at the best colleges for engineering, you’re likely focused on math and science. However, when applying to top engineering colleges, don’t be afraid to show off your writing talents in your supplemental essays. The best undergraduate engineering schools will use a holistic review process. So, grades, extracurriculars, and essays will all matter to top engineering colleges.
Overall, applying to the best engineering schools in the world may feel overwhelming. But, take it step by step to maximize your odds at the top engineering colleges.
As you consider the best colleges for engineering, make sure you use our resources. Additionally, if you feel like you need more support in applying to top engineering colleges, one of our expert advisors can guide you through the process. For help applying to the best engineering schools in the world, click here.
This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. If you want to get help with your college applications from CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts, click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.