Top 10 Undergraduate Engineering Colleges

The schools listed below have a majority of students who major in engineering or other technical fields, and the highest degree offered at each school is a bachelor's or master's. Unlike bigger research universities, these schools have an undergraduate focus much like a liberal arts college.

For engineering schools like MIT and Caltech that have robust doctoral programs, you need to look at the very top engineering schools.

Some schools that don't have engineering as a primary focus still have excellent undergraduate engineering programs. Bucknell, Villanova and West Point are all worth a look.

Air Force Academy (USAFA)

United States Air Force Academy
PhotoBobil / Flickr

The United States Air Force Academy, USAFA, is one of the most selective colleges in the country. To apply, students will need a nomination, usually from a member of Congress. The campus is an 18,000-acre air force base located just north of Colorado Springs. While all tuition and expenses are covered by the Academy, students do have a five-year active service requirement ​upon graduation. Students at USAFA are heavily involved in athletics, and the college competes in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.

Annapolis (United States Naval Academy)

Annapolis - United States Naval Academy
Michael Bentley / Flickr

As the Air Force Academy, Annapolis, the United States Naval Academy, is one of the most selective colleges in the country. All costs are covered, and students receive benefits and a modest monthly salary. Applicants must seek a nomination, usually from a member of Congress. Upon graduation, all students have a five-year active duty obligation. Some officers pursuing aviation will have longer requirements. Located in Maryland, the Annapolis campus is an active naval base. Athletics are important at the Naval Academy, and the school competes in the NCAA Division I Patriot League.

Cal Poly Pomona

Cal Poly Pomona Library Entrance
Victorrocha / Wikimedia Commons

Cal Poly Pomona's 1,438-acre campus sits on the eastern edge of Los Angeles Country. The school is one of the 23 universities that make up the Cal State system. Cal Poly is made up of eight academic colleges, with business being the most popular program among undergraduates. The guiding principle of Cal Poly's curriculum is that students learn by doing, and the university emphasizes problem-solving, student research, internships, and service-learning. With over 280 clubs and organizations, students at Cal Poly are highly engaged in campus life. In athletics, the Broncos compete at the NCAA Division II level.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Center for Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
John Loo / Flickr

Cal Poly, or the California Polytechnic Institute at San Luis Obispo, is consistently ranked as one of the top science and engineering schools at the undergraduate level. Its schools of architecture and agriculture are also ranked highly. Cal Poly has a "learn by doing" philosophy of education, and students do just that on the sprawling campus of just under 10,000 acres that includes a ranch and vineyard. Most of Cal Poly's Division I NCAA athletic teams compete in the Big West Conference. Cal Poly is the most selective of the Cal State schools.

Cooper Union

Cooper Union University new building

 Gip3798/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

This small college in the East Village of downtown Manhattan is remarkable for several reasons. In 1860, its Great Hall was the location of a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln on limiting the practice of enslavement. Today, it's a school with highly regarded engineering, architecture, and art programs. More remarkable yet, it's free. Every student at Cooper Union gets a scholarship that covers all four years of college. That math adds up to a savings of over $130,000.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach (ERAU)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

 Longbowe/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

ERAU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, frequently ranks highly among engineering schools. As its name suggests, ERAU specializes in aviation, and popular bachelor's programs include Aerospace Engineering, Aeronautical Science, and Air Traffic Management. The university has a fleet of 93 instructional aircraft, and the school is the world's only accredited, aviation-oriented university. ERAU has another residential campus in Prescott, Arizona. ERAU has a 16-to-1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 24.

Harvey Mudd College

Entrance to Harvey Mudd College
Imagine / Wikimedia Commons

Unlike most top science and engineering schools in the country, Harvey Mudd College is focused entirely on undergraduate education, and the curriculum has a strong grounding in the liberal arts. Located in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd is a member of the Claremont Colleges with Scripps College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pomona College. Students at any of these five highly selective colleges can easily cross-register for courses on the other campuses, and the schools share many resources. Because of this collaboration, Harvey Mudd is a small college with the resources of a much larger one.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE)

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Dori/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 us


MSOE, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, often ranks among the country's top engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's. The downtown Milwaukee campus features the 210,000 square-foot Kern Center (MSOE's fitness center), the Grohmann Museum (featuring artwork depicting "Man at Work"), and a library that holds the world's largest light bulb. MSOE offers 17 bachelor's degree programs. Students come from all over the world, although about two-thirds are from Wisconsin. Personal attention is important to MSOE; the school has a 14-to-1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 22.

Olin College

Olin College

Olin College

A lot of people haven't heard of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, but that's likely to change. The school was established in 1997 by a gift of over $400 million by the F. W. Olin Foundation. Construction began quickly, and the college welcomed its first class of students in 2002. Olin has a project-based, student-centered curriculum, so all students can plan to get their hands dirty in the lab and machine shop. The college is small with a 9-to-1 student/faculty ratio. All enrolled students receive an Olin Scholarship covering 50% of tuition.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Barbara Ann Spengler / Flickr

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, like several other schools in this list, is one of the rare engineering colleges in the U.S. that focuses almost entirely on undergraduate education. Top schools like M.I.T. and Stanford place far more emphasis on graduate student research. Rose-Hulman's 295-acre, art-filled campus is located just east of Terre Haute, Indiana. For years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rose-Hulman #1 among engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "Top 10 Undergraduate Engineering Colleges." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, August 27). Top 10 Undergraduate Engineering Colleges. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Top 10 Undergraduate Engineering Colleges." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).