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If you’re a high schooler who’s good with numbers and comfortable in labs, engineering may be the college path for you.
Studying engineering is not only practical — with endless opportunities for specialization, engineering is a great option for students who want technical skills they can immediately put to work after graduation — but it’s also popular. Nearly 400 institutions gave out at least one engineering degree in 2018. Nationally, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and engineering technologies jumped 36% between 2011 and 2016.
And the pay isn’t too shabby, either. Recent grads who studied engineering earn average salaries of about $65,000, and they can net salaries above $100,000 depending on the sector, according to PayScale.
Unfortunately, because engineering is so trendy, it might be difficult to sort through the dozens of colleges that excel in it. To help you identify the right one for you, we’ve ranked the best engineering colleges in the country.
We started with Money’s 2020 Best Colleges list, which evaluated 739 four-year institutions on their quality, affordability and student outcomes. We pulled out colleges that were particularly good values, then analyzed the share of students earning degrees in engineering and their average salaries.
Here are the results — and the data points you need to know. Read on to see the top 10, then check out our full ranking of 50 best engineering colleges for your money here.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1540/35
- Estimated price with average grant: $19,800
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $81,600
MIT is well-known for its STEM focus, and there’s a reason for that: Some 70% of its undergraduates pursue engineering degrees. The School of Engineering is the largest at the Cambridge, Mass., college, featuring eight departments, more than 250 professors and a slew of amenities. Students can check out the MakerLodge, where they can learn how to use 3D printers, bandsaws and laser cutters, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, through which they can team up with faculty to take on innovative projects.
2. Georgia Institute of Technology
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1470/33
- Estimated price with average grant: $17,700
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $70,700
Georgia Tech offers 11 engineering-related degree tracks for undergrads across its eight engineering schools. Collaboration and travel abroad are encouraged, as are research opportunities: Yellow Jackets are able to work for credit or pay in labs focused on subjects like additive manufacturing and cybersecurity. A third of engineering undergrads take advantage of research opportunities during their time at Georgia Tech.
3. University of California, Berkeley
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1430/33
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $81,200
- Estimated price with average grant: $18,700
Berkeley Engineering‘s mission is all about transforming the lives of its students, the world’s technology and society at large. With nearly 80 faculty members in the National Academy of Engineering, it’s the second-largest college at UC Berkeley and is chock-full of research opportunities for undergrads. In the classroom, students can expect to learn about thermodynamics, supply-chain management, robotics, nuclear technology and more.
4. Colorado School of Mines
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1370/31
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $71,800
- Estimated price with average grant: $26,900
Colorado School of Mines‘ specialties are science and engineering, especially as they apply to the Earth, energy and the environment. Its roughly 6,000 students get a personal and hands-on experience in programs like geological engineering, metallurgical and materials engineering, and petroleum engineering while studying on a gorgeous campus in Golden, Colorado. Don’t miss the recently constructed CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering, which features a variety of study spaces, high-tech teaching labs and a colorful art installation.
5. California Institute of Technology
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1560/36
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $81,800
- Estimated price with average grant: $27,500
At Caltech, undergrads can choose from six engineering majors and get involved in research digging into everything from electronic skin to ultrafast cameras. The school was founded in 1891, but it’s a modern institution with world-renowned faculty — about 40 Caltech professors and alumni have earned Nobel Prizes. Students interested in space may find Caltech particularly attractive due to its partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is focused on exploring the solar system with robots.
6. Harvey Mudd College
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1530/35
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $80,900
- Estimated price with average grant: $40,500
Harvey Mudd offers a broad but rigorous engineering program; all courses are taught by professors and students can expect to do much as 10 hours of homework per course. Hands-on experience is key at Harvey Mudd. Students can use furnaces, manufacturing machines and other equipment at the RC Baker Foundation Machine Shop. They can also take part in the Engineering Clinic Program, which matches student teams with faculty advisors to tackle client-sponsored projects.
7. University of Tulsa
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1300/29
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $81,400
- Estimated price with average grant: $26,600
The University of Tulsa has been recognized for its petroleum engineering, gaming, solar power and cybersecurity programs, among others. Undergrads can start research projects as early as freshman year; they can also link up with interdisciplinary institutes focusing on topics like nanotechnology, sand management and paraffin deposition. The student experience is stellar, too: UTulsa’s college of engineering and natural sciences boasts a low student-faculty ratio and high placement rate.
8. Texas A & M University – College Station
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1280/28
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $73,900
- Estimated price with average grant: $20,000
Texas A&M’s engineering program dates back to the university’s founding in the 1800s. Now one of the largest in the nation, the engineering college boasts some 20,000 students across 15 departments. Texas A&M promotes collaboration — it just announced the creation of the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering — and research projects in areas like infrastructure, health care, energy systems and national security. Through the ENGR[x] initiative, Aggie engineers also pursue high-impact experiences that set them apart and, hopefully, land them jobs.
9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1330/29
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $73,300
- Estimated price with average grant: $16,500
Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering prides itself on its tight-knit nature and wide offering of majors. Students can pursue programs in areas like aerospace, industrial, and nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering. Hands-on is the name of the game: Through senior design projects, students tackle real-world issues for actual clients. They can also check out the roughly 2,000 research projects in progress every semester.
10. Stanford University
- Median SAT/ACT score: 1500/34
- Early career earnings for engineering majors: $77,900
- Estimated price with average grant: $18,000
Stanford was Money’s No. 2 overall Best College, so it’s no surprise it ranks here, as well. Stanford Engineering takes a multidisciplinary approach to education and research; some 10% of engineering undergrads double-major in another subject. Many departments offer a Research Experience for Undergraduates program where participants receive a stipend for summer research. Stanford students can dive deep into their area of choice at centers focused on everything from flow physics to nanoscale prototyping.