Engineering education is on a growth spurt: The number of undergraduate degrees awarded by U.S. colleges in engineering fields has increased by nearly 50% since 2014, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.
It’s little wonder why. For students who are good with numbers and comfortable in labs, engineering offers ample room for specialization and the type of hands-on, technical training that prepares students for good jobs right after they leave school.
Job placement rates for engineers are high, and salaries are, too. Five of the 10 top-paid bachelor’s degrees last year fell under the engineering umbrella, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Overall, Payscale reports that the average entry-level pay for engineers is $65,000.
To help aspiring engineers sort through potential schools, we’ve ranked the best colleges for studying engineering in the U.S. We started with our 2022 Best Colleges list, which focuses on value and scores schools on 24 data points, including graduation rates, the average price of a degree, typical borrowing and median earnings. We then ranked colleges based on the median salaries of recent alumni with engineering degrees, as well as the number and share of recent graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering.
Read on to see the top 10, then check out our full ranking of 50 best engineering colleges for your money here.
1. Georgia Institute of Technology
Estimated price with average grant: $18,400
Graduation rate: 88%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $73,800
Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering is one of the largest in the country, with more than half all the undergraduates on campus earning an engineering degree. Its size helps it claim the distinction of awarding more degrees in engineering to women and minorities than any other college. Collaboration and travel abroad are encouraged: A third of engineering undergrads take advantage of research opportunities during their time at Georgia Tech, and 56% study abroad.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Estimated price with average grant: $21,100
Graduation rate: 94%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $85,100
MIT is perhaps the country’s best-known STEM school, and the School of Engineering is the largest of the institute’s 6 schools, featuring eight departments, 350+ faculty members and a slew of amenities. A staggering 90% of engineering undergraduates team up with faculty to take on innovative projects through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
3. Colorado School of Mines
Location: Golden, Colorado
Estimated price with average grant: $29,200
Graduation rate: 79%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $69,500
The Colorado School of Mines‘ curriculum specialties are science and engineering, especially as they apply to the Earth, energy and the environment. Its more than 5,000 students get personal and hands-on experience in programs like geological engineering, metallurgical and materials engineering, and petroleum engineering. A favorite campus tradition is E-Days, or Engineering Days, which takes place every spring and features activities like a cardboard boat race in a nearby river, concerts, a Tesla coil demonstration and fireworks on campus.
4. Purdue University
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Estimated price with average grant: $13,000
Graduation rate: 78%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $68,100
One of the largest engineering schools in the country, Purdue prioritizes giving students real-world experience. Through its co-op program, students intersperse periods of full-time work with traditional coursework, while the Engineering Projects in Community Service program places students in local (and global) organizations to work on community and environmental needs. Purdue can count 27 astronauts among its engineering alumni, including Neil Armstrong, the first person on the moon, and Gene Cernan, the most recent astronaut with that distinction.
5. Missouri University of Science and Technology
Location: Rolla, Missouri
Estimated price with average grant: $14,200
Graduation rate: 65%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $67,000
Roughly three-quarters of undergraduates at Missouri S&T study engineering. Students have 15 different engineering degrees to choose from, including civil, geological and petroleum engineering. Another cornerstone of campus life at S&T is its many design teams, made up of over 1,300 students who collaborate with industry professionals to build everything from dirt bikes to robots to remote-controlled aircrafts.
6. Texas A&M University-College Station
Location: College Station, Texas
Estimated price with average grant: $21,000
Graduation rate: 82%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $72,100
Texas A&M’s engineering program dates back to the university’s founding in the 1800s. Now the largest college at one of the country’s largest universities, the engineering programs boast some 20,000 students across 15 departments. Outside of class, students can join one (or several) of the 90 engineering student organizations on campus. The Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering, created in 2020, prepares students to work on issues that span engineering disciplines, while research projects in areas like infrastructure, health care, energy systems and national security give students hands-on learning experiences.
7. Princeton University
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Estimated price with average grant: $19,700
Graduation rate: 96%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $87,200
There is little Princeton University doesn’t excel at, and engineering is no exception. About one in five graduates of this Ivy League college earn a degree in engineering. But unlike many of the other colleges on this list, Princeton does not require a strict STEM focus, allowing many students to choose an interdisciplinary focus that combines entrepreneurship, liberal arts and public policy with their engineering studies.
8. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
Estimated price with average grant: $48,400
Graduation rate: 87%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $72,900
Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been practicing project-based learning long before it was a higher education catch phrase. Since 1970, students at this tech school have mixed classroom learning with the chance to solve real-world programs through team-based projects and research experiences. One recent example: A team of engineering students developed a product local governments can use to detect, analyze and measure potholes.
9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Champaign, Illinois
Estimated price with average grant: $14,300
Graduation rate: 84%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $72,900
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, biological and industrial engineering. Hands-on is the name of the game: Through senior design projects, students tackle real-world issues for actual clients. But students don’t have to wait until their upperclassmen to get started: There are roughly 2,000 research projects in progress every semester across the campus’s 60+ research institutes and labs.
10. New Jersey Institute of Technology
Location: Newark, New Jersey
Estimated price with average grant: $19,400
Graduation rate: 81%
Median earnings for recent engineering graduates: $66,500
New Jersey Institute of Technology, the state’s public polytechnic university, is best known as a breeding ground for future engineers and architects. The College of Engineering offers 18 different undergraduate degree programs and produces an estimated one in four of the professional engineers in New Jersey. Among colleges on our best engineering list, NJIT is a standout for economic mobility, propelling the many low- and moderate-income students it enrolls into well-paying jobs.
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Money/Witlytic calculations and Peterson’s. Salary figures are averaged from program-level earnings of alumni within three years of graduating, as reported in the federal College Scorecard.
More from Money:
© Copyright 2021 Ad Practitioners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This article originally appeared on Money.com and may contain affiliate links for which Money receives compensation. Opinions expressed in this article are the author's alone, not those of a third-party entity, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed. Offers may be subject to change without notice. For more information, read Money’s full disclaimer.