What's the best college for engineering?


Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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Some of the nations top engineering programs can be found at: Purdue University, Cornell University, MIT, University of Texas–Austin, Texas A & M, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Princeton, Virginia Tech, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern, Rice University, and UC Berkeley.

This list is by no means complete; these are just among the nations most highly regarded. You may want to go deeper and learn which schools are best for a particular specialty. For example, the University of Pennsylvania ranks number 1 for Nanotechnology, a newly emerging area of study To find the best fit, you'll need to know what area of engineering you plan to specialize in.

Engineering degrees are offered in:

  • Bio-medical Engineering
  • Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Management Science and Engineering
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering

You'll also want to research and consider interdepartmental engineering degrees like engineering physics, for example.

Finally, you'll need to decide how much time you're willing to devote to earning the degree. Engineering degrees come with a certification. At some schools like Dartmouth, you can graduate in the typical four years with an engineering degree, but you won't be certified. Depending on the industry you hope to be employed by, this may or may not be an issue. If you want the degree and to be certified, Dartmouth requires you attend school for five years. That's because Dartmouth believes the first two years of your college life should be devoted to the basics, and a thorough grounding in the liberal arts. Coursework in your major does not ramp up until junior year, which is why by senior year you haven't amassed enough of the engineering requirements to be considered certified. Many schools take this approach.

The other approach has you graduate in four years as a certified engineer. But there is a catch. You do so at breakneck speed. Engineering students in these programs typically carry one extra class more per semester than other students at the university. This can make for a very daunting four years. Also, engineering study begins immediately. At these schools, the course of engineering study is intense and pre-professional. You will probably not have the more dreamy, expansive education of your peers at five year programs.

Another way to become a certified engineer is to begin study at a school with a 3 + 2 program. You can begin college at a school where you knock out liberal arts requirements and major in a related science. After 3 years, you are automatically enrolled in an engineering school to complete an intensive 2 year course of engineering classes.

Finally, you will want to consider the ROI of your engineering degree. Engineering graduates are in high demand. But be sure to check out who the big hirers are at a particular school. After all that hard work, you'll want to reap the rewards of a fantastic job.

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Brittany Maschal, College Admissions Expert, Founder of B. Maschal Educational Consulting and College UnDocumented

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You may also want to research 3-2 programs. 3-2 engineering programs allow students to attend a liberal arts college for three years and obtain a bachelor’s degree in a science-based major (typically). You then transfer to an engineering school for an additional two years to earn an additional bachelor’s degree in engineering. These are great programs that are not all that well-known!!!

Here are a few resources to explore:



Will Carington, works for Noodle

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There are many excellent engineering programs in the US – determining which one is "best" depends on your particular values and goals. Opportunities for financial aid, location, school size, and selectivity are all examples of factors to consider when identifying the program that would be the best fit for you. That said, there are plenty of organizations that publish rankings for engineering programs, and while these lists are by no means definitive, they can help give you a sense of which programs are the most highly regarded:

To give you some ideas, I've picked a few programs located throughout the country at both public and private universities:

To find more programs, try browsing colleges by major on Noodle. Once you've found a list of colleges with engineering majors, you can then filter your search using other criteria that are important to you, such as location, cost, etc. Hope this helps, and good luck with your search!

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