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Best Top-Tier Universitites for Engineering

If you, as a high school student, possess the right mix of aptitudes and interests, then consider a degree in engineering from a top-tier school as an excellent way to begin a successful, rewarding career. The starting salaries of engineering graduates are the highest of the top ten most common majors. For example, the 2015 engineering graduates of MIT (22% of MIT graduates) earned an average of $85,000 yearly as starting salaries. The top employers were blue chip companies, mostly in the technology and consulting sectors, including Google, Oracle, Amazon, McKinsey, Accenture, Apple, Boeing, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Boston Consulting, Morgan Stanley, Booz Allen, Goldman Sachs, and Intel.

MIT is on the top of everyone’s list of the best engineering schools, but other top engineering schools are close behind in the ROI of a student’s educational investment. However, you need to possess not only the right abilities but also be ready to devote your best effort to your work. Engineering isn’t for the faint of heart.

You should be mindful that it’s your decision to major in engineering. There have been many sources touting an engineering education in recent years. Parents and guidance counselors may do so due to the ROI motive noted above. Businesses seek a steady supply of trained engineers to help them grow and adopt new technologies. Federal agencies foster engineering and other STEM subjects to improve the nation’s competitiveness internationally. This cacophony of voices has induced more students than usual to declare engineering as their major. But the only voice that matters is the one within you. Is engineering what you really want to do? If so — then go for it. But don’t do it in response to extrinsic influences.

Engineering courses are rarely available at the high school level. Still, you may feel that you’re a prospective engineer due to your skills in mathematics combined with a strong interest in a science. You seek feedback from your high school guidance counselor and/or a private college admissions counselor such as IvySelect.

To follow through on your decision to become an engineer, you’ll need to build a target list of those engineering schools that suit you best. In building your target list, it would be helpful to have an idea of the engineering category that appeals to you the most, even if only in a general sense. There are five main categories of engineering; civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, and environmental. Within these main categories, there are many specific types of engineering taught in American universities. The types of engineering degrees granted by American universities include the following:

Agricultural Bioengineering Architectural Aeronautical
Aerospace Civil Computer Construction
Electrical Electrical Environmental Industrial
Manufacturing Marine Materials Mechanical
Metallurgical Mining Nuclear Geological
Hydraulics Chemical Automotive Electronics

Not even the biggest engineering universities offer all of the specialized engineering degrees listed above… not even close! So if you’ve chosen to concentrate on one of them, please be sure to advise your college admissions consultant. At IvySelect, we consider this to be vital input to the critical task of building the list of the best 12 or 13 schools to which you should apply.

In the table below, Column A ranks the top national universities (ignoring ties) and Column B lists the top 20 engineering universities according to the most recent U.S. News and World Report college rankings issue (September 2016). In parentheses after each engineering school is the ranking that that university received in the national universities rankings. Please note that there is nothing absolute about the U.S. News rankings or any similar college rankings. They’re used here solely for the purpose of making the comparison described above.

No. Best National Universities No. Best Engineering Universities
1 Princeton 1 MIT (7)
2 Harvard 2 Stanford (6)
3 Chicago 3 Berkeley (20)
4 Yale 4 Cal Tech (12)
5 Columbia 5 Carnegie Mellon (24)
6 Stanford 6 Michigan (27)
7 MIT 7 Georgia Tech (34)
8 Duke 8 Illinois Urbana-Champaign (44)
9 University of Pennsylvania 9 Purdue (60)
10 Johns Hopkins 10 Texas (56)
11 Dartmouth 11 Texas A&M (74)
12 Cal Tech 12 Cornell (15)
13 Northwestern 13 Univ. of Southern California (23)
14 Brown 14 Columbia (5)
15 Cornell 15 UCLA (24)
16 Rice 16 UC San Diego (44)
17 Notre Dame 17 Princeton (1)
18 Vanderbilt 18 Northwestern (13)
19 Washington University of St. Louis 19 University of Pennsylvania (9)
20 UC Berkeley 20 Johns Hopkins (10)

You’ll notice that that there is substantial overlap on the lists. Half of the top 20 national universities appear again on the list of top 20 engineering schools. The other 10 engineering schools range on the national universities list from #23 (University of Southern California) to #74 (Texas A&M). US News considers the 5 best engineering universities in the country to be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Cal Tech, and Carnegie Mellon. None of these are in the top 5 among national universities except for Stanford, which is tied for #5.

Only four of the Ivies are among the top 20 engineering schools; Cornell, Columbia, Penn and Princeton, with Cornell having the highest engineering ranking at #12. Cornell is #15 on the national universities list, an excellent ranking but last of the Ivy League institutions. One reason that Cornell excels in engineering among the Ivies is its long tradition, beginning in 1870, of treating engineering as a core competence. The other Ivies didn’t form engineering departments until the 20th century or, in one case, the 21st century.

As IvySelect works with you to build your target list of engineering universities, we’ll help you to understand the variety of engineering schools. Together, we’ll identify the ones that are best matches for you based on such factors as the types of engineering degrees offered, curriculum requirements, the nature of the student body and the campus, faculty accessibility and mentorship, research and internship opportunities, and jobs obtained by graduates.

IvySelect will help you to define your options, discover your best fit, and demystify the process of selecting the right engineering school for you. Working with your IvySelect college consultant will reduce your stress and increase your confidence that your target schools are all great matches for you.