Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author
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.