The Best Universities for Engineering
Published: Jan 10, 2018
Career and salary prospects for engineering graduates are excellent, and a degree in engineering opens the door to a versatile career, due to the wide range of transferable skills you will learn. However, selecting the right university to study engineering can be challenging, particularly due to the wide range of disciplines within engineering – with some universities only offering degrees in specific fields, and some offering a general engineering degree, which allows you to study a bit of everything and specialize later in the course. A whole range of factors are important when choosing the right university.
We’ve listed the top universities for engineering form the US, UK and worldwide and provided some insight into what makes them the best engineering schools in the world.
Here are a few key guidelines to consider when choosing which university is right for you:
- Reputation - No matter how good a course looks, if the university you’re considering isn’t respected within the industry you might have an uphill battle finding a job after graduation. All of the universities listed here are widely respected in the engineering sector. This will also impact the quality of the links the university has with the sector, which could influence guest speakers, funding and industry placements.
- Specialization - An amazing general reputation does not mean a university is one of the best for engineering. Look at the facilities for engineering and research to see if any members of staff are renowned in the field – this shows that the university cares about and is investing money into the course.
- Placements - Engineering is a vocational degree, which means that internships and placements are often critical to developing experience and skills. These placements can also often lead to job offers in the long term, so it is important to decide if this is something you want to do and whether the opportunities offered fit with your career plans and ambitions.
A US degree in engineering is typically 4 years long and involves studying a combination of core and specialized courses. Students also have the opportunity to study at liberal arts colleges, where they are required to take courses in a range of disciplines. This can be advantageous, as it demonstrates a wide range of skills however, some students would consider it a distraction from their main goal.
Best US Universities for Engineering:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of California, Berkeley
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Although you may already intend to study engineering, MIT admit students to their entire institute, meaning that, in their sophomore year, students will choose a major, although 70% of undergraduates choose to declare an engineering discipline. MIT offer a huge range of opportunities for undergraduates, with 90% working alongside faculty on research projects in a huge range of fields. They offer majors in a wide range of specialisations including diverse fields such as biological and nuclear engineering. The faculty has access to cutting edge resources and some of the world’s best professors. MIT offers cutting-edge research opportunities and access to infinite resources and some of the world’s best professors. For instance, the university has one of only three domestic tokamaks in the world, a world famous interdisciplinary research lab (combining the study of technology, multimedia, sciences, art and design) and a team of researchers and engineers who have created the first robotic cheetah.
Stanford, like MIT does not require students to declare a major until they are part way through their course. It offers 16 undergraduate majors, as well as the chance to design your own. It also offers a ‘Coterm’ programme, which enables students to simultaneously complete a bachelors and masters degree. They work to combine interactive learning with traditional lectures, focusing on developing fundamental skills, knowledge and tools. More than 200 undergraduates participate in research every summer, working on advanced topics with faculty and research groups. Around 50% of engineering majors take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad during the course, and also benefit from the proximity to Silicon Valley. Stanford has impeccable industry connections, with More that 80 labs, centers, and affiliate programs involving students in research and strong connections for placements and internships.
University of California, Los Angeles
UCLA is one of the best universities in the US and its engineering department is a top ranked research institution. UCLA claims to be the birthplace of the internet, and catalytic converter and its alumni are prominent innovators and leaders of industry across the world. Their curriculum recognizes the need for interdisciplinary understanding to solve complex problems, so emphasized breadth as well as depth. Its faculty members are world leaders in their field and a wide range of research opportunities are available. It has 10 majors, all of which have the opportunity to take courses from different disciplines to enrich understanding. The engineering department is also the home to around 10 research centres and institutes and has 169 members of full time faculty.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley's programme is world renowned, providing high quality training from faculty who are making ground-breaking discoveries. Berkeley emphasizes the importance of a strong grounding in science and mathematics but also provides a wide range of practical opportunities, including research and team activities. Students are required to apply to a specific programme, but there is an opportunity to apply to the ‘undeclared’ programme, and specialize later in the course. There are a wide range of internship and industry opportunities, with many students securing a job through these. Berkeley lays claim to supporting the construction of famous structures such as the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge. It also had an average starting salary of $92,190 for undergraduates joining the workforce and offers 11 single majors, including civil engineering and industrial engineering with operations research.
UK bachelor degrees are typically focussed on a single, or occasionally joint, subject. This is selected when you apply to university – this means there is no requirement to study outside of the engineering discipline, though many courses will offer optional modules in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Most degrees include some flexibility, even if the degree is in a specific engineering discipline. However, as departments are often smaller there is typically less choice of courses than in the US. Exams are usually twice a year, though both Oxford and Cambridge place heavy emphasis on exams at the end of the course.
Top Universities for Engineering in the UK:
Cambridge University offers some of the best engineering training in the world, which is scientifically rigorous and develops important skills including research, team work and data analysis. Cambridge has the highest concentration of world-leading engineering research in the UK and a fantastic research environment. It has strong links with industry, with many graduates playing a large part in growing the city of Cambridge as a center for technology in the UK. Cambridge’s course is unique in covering all the major engineering disciplines and allowing students two full years to develop an impressive breadth of knowledge, before concentrating on an area of specialisation for the final two years. 99% of Cambridge engineers find a job within six months of the end of the course and the average starting salary is £31,000.
Like Cambridge, Oxford has a world class reputation for research. Rather than separating teaching into separate disciplines, for the first two years of the course students are taught ‘Engineering Science’, integrating all disciplines into a single area of study, enabling students to make links between topics in diverse fields and strengthening fundamental understanding. In third year students have an opportunity to specialize in one of six areas, and industrial placements and international study are both strongly encourage. Research projects emphasize developing practical skills alongside the strong theoretical basis offered by traditional teaching. The course is 4 years, but will lead to a Masters of Engineering degree. There are opportunities for accreditation from a wide range of institutions depending on specialisation and course choices.
Like all the universities on this list, Imperial is academically rigorous. It also offers a more unusual focus on enterprise and business, employing tutors who have experience of running their own companies as well as high quality teaching skills. This means that students are fully exposed to the practical elements of engineering which are key to success in the workplace. The faculty believes that sound understanding of basic principles allows engineers to be truly innovative, so fundamentals are integrated with team based projects to develop practical skills. There is a heavy emphasis on mathematics throughout the course. The university offers 10 separate engineering focuses, with students applying to a specialized course. All degrees offer accreditation with the relevant professional bodies. Graduate prospects are excellent, with Imperial graduates having one of the highest average starting salaries in the UK.
These two universities are the most renowned for engineering outside of the US and the UK. They may have additional language requirements and the process to apply will vary from country to country. If you are considering an application to one of these universities contacting their admissions department is an excellent first step, as they will be able advise on any visa requirements alongside their admissions process.
Best universities for Engineering worldwide:
Although ETH Zurich offers less options for specialization than many of the universities on this list, its engineering department is still one of the strongest in the world, with first class teaching and graduates in a range of fields across the world. Although students must apply to a specific discipline, there is still a focus on two more structured year followed by a year with greater opportunities to pursue specific interests and specialize. Depending on your chosen degree, basic subjects such as mathematics, physics and computer science will be weighted differently in the first two years, laying the basis for your specialism. You will need a strong grasp of German as many introductory courses are taught in it, however from the second year some courses are taught in English.
Nanyang Technological University
Nanyang is renowned for engineering education and research, repeatedly ranked in the top ten in the world for engineering, with each of its six schools also receiving international recognition. The university offers an interdisciplinary approach which encourages problem solving and entrepreneurial flair, whilst also developing a strong fundamental understanding of engineering principles. Students have the opportunity to take part in group projects or assist with faculty research students; this provides hands-on research experience and invaluable insights into designing and managing complex projects. Nanyang also offers a number of more unusual specialisms such as pharmaceutical engineering and food science. The university also encourages participation in international exchange programmes and has strong links with other universities and industry leaders around the world.
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