If you’re spending several hundred thousand dollars on an education, you’ll want to know your investment is worth it. Choosing the right school can be a minefield, especially for engineering students. Not only do you have to consider the usual things like tuition fees, school reputation, and student-faculty ratios, you’ll also need to think about the quality of research labs available, areas of specialty, whether you can beef up your studies with an interdisciplinary approach, and what kind of opportunities the school offers outside of the classroom. Fortunately, help is on hand to navigate through the various options available. Each year, US News ranks the best schools in the nation, giving prospective students the heads up about which universities merit their attention, and which ones really don’t. Here, we take a look at the 20 top engineering schools of 2019.
20. Northwestern University (McCormick)
In at number 20 is Northwestern University (McCormick). The school offers multiple areas of research, including biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology, and service and infrastructure technologies. Along with offering 15 full-time master’s programs over 8 departments, the school also offers four part-time master’s programs in engineering management, information technology, product design and development, and project management. Outside of the classroom, students have the chance to relax at the school’s on-site beach, check out the attractions in nearby Chicago, or enjoy some relaxing hikes around Lake Michigan.
19. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania offers its students 6 research labs, more than a dozen research centers and institutes (including the Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration, the Institute for Medicine and Engineering, and the Penn Center for Bioinformatics), and 16 different master’s programs (including embedded systems, integrated product design, and robotics). Students also have the chance to beef up their studies with an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, or put their skills to the test through the university’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
18. Princeton University
Energy and the environment, health, security, and leader preparation are central to Princeton University’s master’s program, which pushes the bounds of the traditional engineering curriculum by focusing on entrepreneurism and technology. In addition to the exemplary hands-on experience afforded by the University’s various research labs (which include the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Combustion Energy Frontier Research Center, and Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education), the school offers a variety of activities and organizations for students to engage in outside of the classroom (including a chapter of Engineers Without Borders), along with monthly socials for graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, staff, and faculty.
17. Johns Hopkins University (Whiting)
Johns Hopkins University (Whiting) is a great place for students looking to enhance their studies with a range of complementary courses and research opportunities. Its interdisciplinary approach can be seen in the range of study options available at the other Johns Hopkins University’s schools (which includes the Peabody Institute, the Carey Business School, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health), as well as the number of institutes it has that combine engineering research with medical research. Outside of the classroom, students can elect to join any of the 15 engineering student groups, which include divisions of Engineers for a Sustainable World and Engineers Without Borders.
16. University of California - Los Angeles (Samueli)
With annual tuition at just $26,544, the University of California--Los Angeles (Samueli) offers a great return on investment. With 177 full time staff, a student-faculty ratio of 5.9:1, 10 different graduate programs (including aerospace engineering, materials science, and civil engineering), 10 research centers and institutes, and various fellowships, grants, teaching and research assistantships available to help ease the financial burden, it’s an excellent option for students looking for an affordable, but profitable, education.
15. Texas A&M University - College Station
Texas A&M University--College Station is notable chiefly for the sheer variety of programs it offers, which cover fields as far-ranging as health physics, industrial distribution, and safety engineering. Of all the courses it offers, biological and agricultural engineering, petroleum engineering and nuclear engineering are among its highest ranking. In addition to its many on-campus labs and facilities, it also offers extensive research opportunities at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, giving student’s an excellent opportunity for some hands-on experience.
14. Cornell University
Cornell University comes in at number 14 overall. With full-time annual tuition at $29,500 and a part time tuition of $2,274 per credit, it’s one of the least expensive options of any of those to make our list. Key areas of strength include Mechanical Engineering (which ranks #8), Materials Engineering (#8), Industrial/ Manufacturing/ Systems Engineering (#10), Electrical/ Electronic/ Communications Engineering (#9), Computer Engineering (#9), Civil Engineering (#11), and Biological/ Agricultural Engineering (#3).
13. University of Texas - Austin (Cockrell)
With 307 full-time faculty staff and a full-time enrolment of 2,011, the University of Texas--Austin (Cockrell) offers an excellent student-faculty ratio of 5:1. While it performs well across the board, key areas of excellence include Chemical Engineering (placing #4 overall), Environmental/ Environmental Health Engineering (#4), and Petroleum Engineering (#1).
12. University of California - San Diego (Jacobs)
Choose the University of California--San Diego (Jacobs) for your studies and you’ll enjoy a range of six academic fields to specialize in; a student-faculty ratio of 5.4:1; the option to complete joint M.D./M.S. and M.D./Ph.D. programs alongside the UCSD School of Medicine; several highly regarded research centers (including the Center for Wireless Communications and the Center for Energy Research); and the opportunity for an internship at The Von Liebig Center and industry partners such as Cisco Systems Inc.
11. Columbia University (Fu Foundation)
Offering an Ivy League education at one of the world’s biggest centers for high-tech research and development, New York’s leading hub of learning, Columbia University, comes in at number 11. The school focuses on a highly interdisciplinary approach to study, while its various world-class research spaces (which include the Columbia Nano Initiative, the Soft Matter Lab, the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Lab, the Data Science Institute, the Center on Artificial Intelligence, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute) presents plenty of highly diverse research opportunities.
10. University of Illinois - Urbana - Champaign
In addition to offering a broad scope of research, service opportunities, and student activities, the University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign gives students the chance to choose from 15 programs across 12 departments, varying from Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering to Systems Engineering and Design and Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering. As well as ranking at an impressive 10th place on our list, a quick glance at the school’s website reveals an impressive list of accolades, including 3rd place in the Wall Street Journal’s listing of graduates top-rated by recruiters, and 10th place on Time's list of the 25 Best Public Colleges for Big Paychecks.
9. University of Southern California (Viterbi)
According to its official website, the University of Southern California (Viterbi) currently has 188 full-time tenure track faculty, 116 non-tenure track faculty, 96 endowed chair and professorships, 74 NSF grant recipients, 3 National Academy of Sciences Members, 9 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) members, 9 recipients of the Presidential Early Career award for scientists and engineers (PECASE), and 13 MIT TR-35 recipients. If that formidable list isn’t enough to convince you of the school’s merits, maybe its 15 BS programs, 17 active minors, 60 master’s programs, 13 doctoral programs, and place as the 9th best engineering school in the country will.
8. Purdue University - West Lafayette
Some quick facts about Purdue University: 24 of its graduates are now NASA astronauts, 3 of its faculty members have received a National Medal of Technology, 23 of its alumni are NAE members, it’s one of four new ERCs 2017, it has one Truman Scholar and one Marshall Scholar, it has the largest academic propulsion lab in the world, it has the 1st (and only) nuclear reactor in Indiana, it’s the 4th nationwide in graduating female engineers, it has the 1st high voltage research lab in the US, it’s the first US university to have a Women in Engineering program… if you still need more justification for its position at number 8, maybe the fact it graduated the world’s first man on the moon will do?
7. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology offers a diverse range of programs (20 in total) taking in everything from medical physics to aerospace engineering. While students can elect to complete their full studies on campus, they also have the opportunity to avail of a semester or two at one of the university’s partner schools abroad, which include France’s Institut d’Electronique de Microelectronique et de Nanotechnologies, Germany’s TU-Munich, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Ranking 6th overall, the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor deserves a special mention for the areas of Aerospace/ Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering, Environmental/ Environmental Health Engineering, Industrial/ Manufacturing/ Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering, for which it ranks #5, #3, #2, #5, and #1 respectively.
5. California Institute of Technology
In at number 5 is the California Institute of Technology, a school which offers a student-faculty ratio of 5.1:1, a fast track option for students wishing to earn their masters of science in a year, and the opportunity for students interested in a medical career to take a joint M.D./Ph.D. program with either UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine or USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Outside of the classroom, there’s plenty of activities for students to get involved with, many of which center on the various events hosted by its numerous on-campus research centers, including the Center for the Science and Engineering of Materials and the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering. While it ranks well across the board, particularly noteworthy areas of specialty include Aerospace/ Aeronautical/ Astronautical Engineering (#3), Chemical Engineering (#2), Electrical/ Electronic/ Communications Engineering (#4), and Mechanical Engineering (#4).
4. Carnegie Mellon University
Like several of our other entries, Carnegie Mellon University offers a robust graduate program that allows students to beef up their engineering studies with interdisciplinary majors completed in tandem with other departments at the university. Should they wish, students can also choose to round off their education with a global research program at one of the university’s partner intuitions in Chile, Portugal, and Japan. Although the cost of tuition at Carnegie Mellon is among the most expensive of all our entries ($47,300 per year), it does offer students the chance to reduce the financial burden by fast-tracking their studies on a one-year master’s program.
3. University of California - Berkeley
With annual tuition at just $26544 and a 3rd place ranking, the University of California—Berkeley offers great ROI. Its range of advanced degrees include Industrial Engineering & Operations Research and Applied Science & Technology, all of which can be completed in just one year under the accelerated Berkeley Engineering Professional Master’s Program.
2. Stanford University
Stanford University may charge students $54,015 for the privilege of enrollment, but few would argue it’s not money well spent. Ranking #1 for Aerospace/ Aeronautical/ Astronautical Engineering, #2 for Civil Engineering, #2 for Electrical/ Electronic/ Communications Engineering, #1 for Mechanical Engineering, and #2 for Petroleum Engineering, it’s undoubtedly earned its reputation as one of the best engineering schools in the nation. With multiple student groups and access to various research and mentorship opportunities, the university guarantees a rounded, balanced college experience.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In first place position is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most popular schools at MIT for students and faculty alike. Offering 15 top ranking areas of study (including Aerospace/ Aeronautical/ Astronautical Engineering (#1), Biomedical Engineering/ Bioengineering (#1), Chemical Engineering (#1), Computer Engineering (#2), Electrical/ Electronic/ Communications Engineering (#1), Materials Engineering (#1), Mechanical Engineering (#1), and Nuclear Engineering (#2)), 20 research centers covering everything from cancer research and ocean engineering to soldier nanotechnologies, and a $100K Entrepreneurship Competition for enterprising students, it’s a university that undoubtedly deserves its place as the top engineering school in the country.
Written by Garrett Parker
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