Top Engineering Schools in the U.S.

Schools that Frequently Top the Rankings for Engineering

Killian Court and the Great Dome at MIT
Killian Court and the Great Dome at MIT.

andymw91 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0


If you want to study in one of the country's top-ranked engineering programs, check out the schools listed below first. Each has impressive facilities, professors, and name recognition. The schools are listed alphabetically to avoid the arbitrary distinctions often used to decide who should be number 7 or 8 in a top ten list, and because of the unreasonableness of comparing a small STEM-focused institute to a huge comprehensive university. That said, CalTech, MIT and Stanford are probably the most prestigious schools on the list.

Realize that the schools below represent just a few of the many excellent engineering options in the United States. You can also check out these additional great engineering schools along with this SAT comparison chart for admission to top engineering programs. For schools where the focus is mostly on undergraduates rather than graduate research, take a look at these top undergraduate engineering schools.

California Institute of Technology

Beckman Institute at Caltech
Beckman Institute at Caltech. smerikal / Flickr

Located in Pasadena, California, The California Institute of Technology frequently competes with MIT for the top spot on rankings of engineering schools. With under 1,000 undergraduates, Caltech is by far the smallest college on this list, and you will most likely get to know your professors and classmates better than you would at a place like UIUC. The institute has an impressive 3 to 1 student/faculty ratio, a statistic that translates into lots of research opportunities for students. One other perk is the school's location near Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.

You're going to need to be an extremely strong student to get admitted. The Caltech admissions process is highly selective with a single digit acceptance rate and SAT/ACT scores that tend to be in the top 1%.

Carnegie Mellon University

Aerial view of Carnegie Mellon University
Aerial view of Carnegie Mellon University. presented by Zolashine / Getty Images

If you're not 100% sure that engineering is for you, then Carnegie Mellon University could be a great choice. The university is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, near Duquesne University. Carnegie Mellon is certainly well known for its impressive science and engineering programs, but CMU is a comprehensive university with strengths in areas such as art and business as well. Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering are among the most popular majors at the university.

Like all the schools on this list, the Carnegie Mellon admissions process is demanding and admitted students tend to have combined SAT scores well above 1400, and fewer than one out of five applicants will get in.

Cornell University

Libe Slope, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Libe Slope, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Dennis Macdonald / Getty Images

Cornell University (arguably) has the strongest engineering programs of the eight Ivy League schools. Agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and information engineering are all extremely popular. And students who aren't looking for an urban location will appreciate Cornell's beautiful campus overlooking Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca College sits across the valley from Cornell.

As would be expected with an Ivy League school, admission to Cornell University is extremely selective. Only one out of nine applicants gets in, and SAT scores over 1400 are typical.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology Library West Commons
Georgia Institute of Technology Library West Commons. Wikimedia Commons

Georgia Tech has strengths that go beyond engineering, and the school ranks among the top public universities in the United States. Top-notch academic programs combined with state tuition make the school an impressive value, and city lovers will like the 400-acre urban campus in Atlanta, Georgia. As an additional perk for sports lovers, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference.

Georgia Tech admissions are highly selective. Like other schools on this list, far more students are rejected than admitted, and you'll want to have a combined SAT score over 1400 or an ACT composite score over 30.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Getty Images

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology typically ranks #1 among the nation's engineering schools, and some organizations rank it as the top university in the world. The institute is a research powerhouse with more graduate students than undergraduates, so undergrads will find plenty of opportunities to help out in the lab. The long and narrow MIT campus stretches along the Charles River and overlooks the Boston skyline. Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern, and many other colleges are within walking distance.

Getting in is challenging. The MIT admissions process has a single-digit acceptance rate, and an 800 math score on the SAT is typical.

Purdue University, West Lafayette Campus

Armstrong Hall of Engineering Purdue Univ, Indiana
Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering Purdue University, Indiana. Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

As the main campus of the Purdue University System in Indiana, Purdue University in West Lafayette is a city unto itself. The school is the home to roughly 40,000 students and offers undergraduates over 200 academic programs. For in-state applicants, Purdue represents an exceptional value (the tuition mark-up for out-of-state is pretty steep). The campus sits about 125 miles from Chicago and 65 miles from Indianapolis. Like several schools on this list, Purdue has a NCAA Division I athletics program. The Boilermakers compete in the Big Ten Athletic Conference.

A quick glance at Purdue admissions reveals that the school is easier to get into than others on this list, but keep in mind that engineering is more selective than the university as a whole.

Stanford University

Stanford University,Palo Alto,California,USA
Stanford University,Palo Alto,California,USA. Topic Images Inc. / Getty Images

Stanford University is another excellent choice for students who aren't 100% sure about majoring in engineering. Along with top engineering programs, Stanford's programs in the sciences, social sciences and humanities are all hard to beat. The big challenge will be getting in—Stanford admissions rival Harvard for selectivity, and only about one out of every twenty applicants will receive an acceptance letter. Stanford has a single-digit acceptance rate. The attractive Stanford campus near Palo Alto features Spanish architecture and a lot less snow (none) than many schools on this list.

University of California at Berkeley

Hearst Memorial Mining Building
The Hearst Memorial Mining Building at the UC Berkeley, is the home of the Materials Science and Engineering Department of UC Berkeley. Yiming Chen / Getty Images

Arguably the best public university in the United States, UC Berkeley has impressive strengths across the disciplines. In engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering are the most popular. Berkeley's vibrant campus is located in the San Francisco Bay area, and the school is well known for its liberal and activist personality. In athletics, the Berkeley Golden Bears compete in the NCAA Division I Pac 12 Conference.

Admission to Berkeley is highly selective, and engineering is more selective than the university as a whole.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Main Library University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Main Library University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Wikimedia Commons

UIUC, the flagship campus of the University of Illinois, frequently ranks among the top public universities in the country, and its engineering programs are exceptionally strong. The university graduates over 1,800 engineers annually.

With nearly 50,000 students (34,000 of them undergraduates), the university is not for the student looking for an intimate college environment. The school's size and reputation, however, come with many perks such as an attractive campus, more than 150 different majors, a massive and impressive library, and numerous strong research programs. Also, unlike many schools on this list, UIUC has a thriving Division I athletics program. The Fighting Illini compete in the Big Ten Conference.

When you look at UIUC admissions statistics, keep in mind that engineering is more selective than the university as a whole. An SAT math score over 700 is typical for engineers.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

University of Michigan Tower
University of Michigan Tower. jeffwilcox / Flickr

Like several of the universities on this list, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has strengths that go well beyond engineering. With over 42,000 students and 200 majors, the university provides students with lots of academic options. That said, engineering specialties in aero/astro, biomedical, chemical, electrical, industrial, and mechanical are all quite popular.

University of Michigan admissions are highly selective, and about a quarter of admitted students had a 4.0 high school GPA. On the athletic front, the Michigan Wolverines compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference.

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Grove, Allen. "Top Engineering Schools in the U.S." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Grove, Allen. (2023, April 5). Top Engineering Schools in the U.S. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Top Engineering Schools in the U.S." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).