Best engineering schools in california ranking

Last Updated on June 3, 2022

Are you looking to study Engineering in California? Are you wondering which schools have the best Engineering program? You’ve landed on the right page. The main purpose of this blog is to provide information about Engineering with a specific emphasis on Engineering programs in California.

The state of California is home to many of the best engineering schools in the country. When looking for a school to earn a degree in engineering, you’ll want to consider factors like program type, student body size, and total cost. This guide explores top-rated engineering schools in California, including how their curricula and programs differ.

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Best engineering schools in california ranking

Stanford

Stanford University’s School of Engineering includes 65 research centers and institutes. It offers engineering degrees in the following specializations: Aerospace and Aeronautical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Materials, Mechanical, and Petroleum. Stanford engineering students work on projects in California and around the world; the school provides an annual budget of more than a billion dollars to fund engineering development projects.

Stanford is one of the most competitive universities in the country with a current acceptance rate of less than 5%. However, Stanford’s popularity and competitiveness should not deter you. If you are one of the best students at your high school with a passion for science and mathematics, a strong GPA, and good test scores, there is no reason not to consider Stanford. You will have access to some of the finest research institutions on the planet and be able to work alongside many current and future industry leaders. Furthermore, Stanford is located in Silicon Valley, meaning there are ample opportunities for internships and postgraduate employment in the immediate area.

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology, colloquially called Caltech, is located in Pasadena, just outside northeastern Los Angeles. Caltech has a massive engineering department and is one of the leading engineering research centers in the country. You can choose to specialize in any of the following engineering degrees: Aeronautics and Space, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Environmental, Material, Mechanical, and Medical.

Caltech is an institute of technology, which means it is more of a research institute than a traditional college. You will get a more math- and science-focused education at Caltech than you might at a school like Stanford. This is, of course, extremely useful if you are already sure you want to pursue engineering as a career. You will have access to funding for research projects and be able to participate in industry leading research with faculty members. Caltech administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, which ensures that it is always at the vanguard of Aeronautics and Space Engineering research.

University of California – Los Angeles

The University of California includes ten campuses throughout the state of California. All of these public schools frequently rank in the top 100 of American public colleges, but the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is generally the most exceptional of the lot.

The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering is named after alumnus Henry Samueli who sponsored the renovation and modernization of the school in the last couple of decades. The Samueli School has become one of the leading public research institutions in America and offers engineering degrees in Aerospace and Aeronautical, Architectural, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Environmental, Geological, Manufacturing, Materials, Mechanical, and Structural.

The Samueli School of Engineering famously declares that it is the birthplace of the internet; its research team, led by esteemed computer engineer Leonard Klienrock, developed ARPANET, one of the forerunners of the internet. This tradition of innovation continues today; UCLA students are currently at the forefront of quantum research and computer engineering.

University of California – Berkeley

The other shining light of California’s public college system is the University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley is located just north of Oakland, and across the bay from San Francisco. This means you will be ideally located to take advantage of the Bay Area’s diverse engineering opportunities. Alumni from Berkeley include founding members or CEOs of Apple, Google, Boeing, Intel, Tesla, the Cato Institute, and most recently, Doordash.

Berkeley is consistently ranked among the leading engineering colleges in the country. In particular, its Civil and Environmental Engineering school is incredibly well regarded and is currently considered the best civil engineering school in America. Other specialties available for engineering students at Berkeley include Bioengineering, Chemical, Computer, Electrical, Industrial, Materials, Mechanical, and Nuclear. Because of Berkeley’s immense reputation, admission is extremely competitive; less than 10% of students who apply are admitted.

At Berkeley, you can also expect more of a liberal arts education than you might experience at Caltech. Berkeley is also a well-renowned school for humanities and offers many interdisciplinary opportunities. The Jacobs Institute of Design and Innovation is one of the leading interdisciplinary departments in the country. You will be able to collaborate with academics from many different backgrounds and explore the intersection of your science, math, and design skills.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (USC) is located in the heart of Los Angeles. It is one of the largest engineering schools in the country and offers degrees in a massive variety of specializations, including but not limited to Aerospace and Aeronautical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical, Petroleum, and Systems.

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering, named after Qualcomm founder Andrew Viterbi, is one of the leading research centers for engineering in the country, particularly for postgraduate students. You will have access to many research projects, not to mention a diverse range of opportunities for work experience and post-graduate employment in the greater Los Angeles area. USC also offers state-of-the-art research in rocket science and computer engineering.

California Polytechnic State University

California Polytechnic State University, commonly called Cal Poly, is located in San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is a stunning location for a college campus; it is a small town that is centered around the life of the university. Unlike many other Californian engineering schools, Cal Poly is ideal for students who favor a quieter college experience.

This does not mean, however, that Cal Poly does not offer a wide range of opportunities for developing engineers. It offers degrees in 14 different engineering programs, so you can be sure that whatever specialization you prefer will be available. It also offers you the opportunity to experiment with classes in different engineering disciplines. Finally, because Cal Poly is dedicated to technological innovation, it receives many outside sponsorships and contracts. There will be ample opportunity to explore your interests.

Cal Poly has been criticized in recent years for the lack of diversity on campus. Unlike most other engineering schools in California, its student body is overwhelmingly male and white. Seventy-five percent of undergraduates in the engineering school are male and 55% are white.

University of California – San Diego

The University of California in San Diego (UCSD) is located in La Jolla, which is in northern San Diego. It is one of the most popular schools for studying engineering in the country and, through the Jacobs School of Engineering, offers undergraduate engineering degrees in thirteen different disciplines.

The Jacobs School comprises seven different departments: Bioengineering, Computer Science, Electrical Science, Mechanical and Aerospace, Nanoengineering, and Structural. Of particular note is the school’s Nanoengineering department, which is one of the leading research centers for nanotechnology in the country. If any of those examples align with your interests, then you should absolutely consider applying to UCSD.

UCSD also offers many interdisciplinary opportunities. The Jacobs School collaborates with many other departments and you will also be encouraged to work with engineers with different academic backgrounds to pursue interdisciplinary development.

University of California – Santa Barbara

The last school from the vast California public universities system is the University of California in Santa Barbara. Located just northeast of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is one of the leading research institutions in the world. Its College of Engineering comprises five departments that reflect the university’s expertise: Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer, Materials, and Mechanics.

Santa Barbara receives numerous research projects and outside contracts and is an industry innovator in computer science. If you are a student who is interested in nanotechnology or quantum mechanics, there are few schools in the world that are better set up to meet your needs.

Additionally, graduates from Santa Barbara can look forward to a diverse range of opportunities in both Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Many recruiters come directly to campus and there is a strong connection between the faculty and leading research institutions around the world. If you attend Santa Barbara you will be extremely well supported in your pursuit of a future career.

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is a private not-for-profit Jesuit school in Silicon Valley. It is commonly cited as the oldest college in Californian history, and the architecture of the school reflects its root in the Spanish Mission tradition. However, the recent history of Santa Clara University is far more cutting edge.

Santa Clara alumni include the creator of Javascript and the founder of Nvidia, reflecting the school’s expertise in computer sciences and engineering. Of the several hundred engineering graduates each year, more than half major in computer engineering. If you want to be an innovator in modern computing, Santa Clara offers opportunities, unlike any other school. However, if you are looking for a degree in civil or general engineering, you may find better options at other schools on this list. Santa Clara offers engineering degrees in Biomedical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, General, and Mechanical.

Santa Clara is another school that has recently been criticized for the lack of diversity among its student body. In the 2018-2019 academic year, there were two African-American students in the entire Engineering school. The recently formed Office of Diversity and Inclusion demonstrates Santa Clara’s determination to address this issue.

Harvey Mudd College

As the smallest school on this list, Harvey Mudd College enrolls less than a thousand undergraduates a year to study for a Bachelor of Science degree and less than one hundred to study engineering. It is part of the Claremont Colleges campus network, which also includes the famous liberal arts school, Pomona. Claremont is located in the Greater Los Angeles area, so graduates from Harvey Mudd can expect to choose from many locally available employment opportunities. Indeed, the average starting salary for an engineering graduate is $82,000; graduates earn the highest median salary of any college in California.

Admissions to Harvey Mudd is quite competitive with an annual acceptance of less than 15%. But students with high GPAs and test scores should definitely consider applying.

Engineering students at Harvey Mudd all fall under the category General Engineering. But you should not be deterred if you have a specific specialization in mind. At Harvey Mudd College, you will take numerous high-level courses in engineering sciences and sequencing of systems. This will prepare you to take on a number of extremely complicated and specific graduate-level programs should you so desire.

Harvey Mudd College is a small school that is part of a tight-knit network of other small schools. This means that it offers some of the best of both worlds. You will have the feel of a small intimate community with access to a wide network of students and faculty.

Best engineering schools in the world

School #1: MIT

Located outside Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT focuses on scientific and technological research and is divided into five schools. The MIT School of Engineering is the largest of the total of five institutes at MIT. University research expenditures have exceeded $700 million a year, with funding from government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense.

The campus has about 20 research centers that encourage students to explore variable areas, including ocean engineering, soldier nanotechnologies, and cancer research. Some of the school’s most popular subjects are Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

In 2021, MIT was ranked #1 in the QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology. It was also ranked #1 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report, and also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#1), Chemical (#1), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#1), Materials (#1), Mechanical (#1), Computer (#2), Biomedical (#3), Civil (#3) and Environmental / Environmental Health (#7).

The Times Higher Education World University rankings place it #4 globally for Engineering and Technology.

Location

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tuition

Its tuition and fees are $53,818.

Acceptance Rate

Massachusetts Institute of Technology admissions is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 7% and an early acceptance rate of 7.4%

School #2: UC Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley is a public sector university established in 1931 and located in Berkeley, California. The College of Engineering is among one of the 14 schools and colleges of UC Berkeley and is recognized globally as a leader in engineering education.

Undergraduate Engineering options at the university include Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, Engineering Science, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research, Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering.

In 2021, it was ranked #2 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Environmental / Environmental Health (#1), Civil (#2), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#2), Materials (#2), Chemical (#3), Computer (#3), Mechanical (#5), Biomedical (#7), Industrial / Manufacturing (#8).

QS World University and Times Higher Education rankings both place it #5 globally for Engineering.

According to the UC Berkeley Engineering website, $110,000 was the median starting salary reported by 2020 undergraduates joining the workforce.

Location

Berkeley (San Francisco), California

Tuition

Its in-state tuition and fees are $14,226; out-of-state tuition and fees are $43,980.

Acceptance Rate

16%

School #3: Stanford University

Stanford University is a private institute for students from all US States and more than 90 other countries. Stanford’s School of Engineering is among one of the seven schools and has more than 16,000 students enrolled.

Since its foundation, Stanford has been at the forefront in the field of technology and innovation. The institute focuses on several research areas, including bioengineering, network security, information technology, materials and matter, computation, and data analysis. In 2021, it was ranked #2 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Environmental / Environmental Health (#2), Mechanical (#3), Computer (#4), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#5), Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#5), Biomedical (#5), Chemical (#6), Materials (#7), Civil (#8), Industrial / Manufacturing (#8).

The Times Higher Education World University rankings place it #3 globally for Engineering and Technology, and it was ranked #2 in the QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Location

Stanford, California

Tuition

Its tuition and fees are $56,169.

Acceptance Rate

4%

School #4: Harvard University

Dating back to 1636, Ivy League university Harvard is the oldest university in the US and is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the world. Engineering students at the John A. Paulson School Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences can complete their study in four broad areas: Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Computer Science, or Engineering Sciences.

In 2021, the Times Higher Education World University rankings place it 1st globally for Engineering and Technology. It was ranked #1 for Best Engineering graduate schools and #21 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (At schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report.

Location

Cambridge (Boston), Massachusetts

Tuition

Its tuition and fees are $54,002.

Acceptance Rate

5%.

School #5: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Georgia Tech, as it’s commonly known, is a very large university with over 14,000 undergraduate students. Within Engineering, there are around 20 options to choose from for specialization, including medical physics and aerospace engineering. Mechanical engineering is among the popular majors of the institute. Industrial engineering, biomedical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, civil and structural engineering are also among the institute’s highly ranked programs.

In 2021, Georgia Tech was ranked #4 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Civil (#1), Industrial / Manufacturing (#1). Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#2), Biomedical (#2), Chemical (#2), Mechanical (#2), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#4), Environmental / Environmental Health (#4), Materials (#4), Computer (#5).

It was #13 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Tuition

Its in-state tuition and fees are $12,682; out-of-state tuition and fees are $33,794.

Acceptance Rate

Georgia Institute of Technology has an acceptance rate of 21% and an early acceptance rate of 19.9%

School #6: California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

California Institute of Technology is a small, private sector institute with just under 1000 undergraduate students. Students can participate in research ongoing in research centers such as the Center for the Science and Engineering and Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering.

In 2021, it was ranked #4 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#3), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#3), Chemical (#4) and Mechanical (#6).

It was #14 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Location

Pasadena, California

Tuition

Its tuition and fees are $56,862.

Acceptance Rate

6%

School #7: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is a private-sector research university established in 1900 and located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Students can choose from 10 interdisciplinary majors. The institute also offers the option of the course-based or research-based graduate program. There are 30 research centers on the campus.


Shutterstock/Tupungato

The Carnegie Institute of Technology is ranked among the top institutes for engineering and technology. In 2021, it was ranked #6 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) by U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Computer (#1), Cybersecurity (#1), Electrical, Environmental, Materials and Mechanical.

It was #17 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tuition

Its tuition and fees are $58,924.

Acceptance Rate

15%

School #8: University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign is a public institution that was founded in 1867 and comprises 15 colleges and schools. Its School of Information Sciences, College of Engineering are generally considered among the best in the country.

Undergraduate engineering majors at The Grainger College of Engineering are ranked #6 overall in the U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Materials Science and Engineering (#2), Engineering Physics (#2), Agricultural and Biological Engineering (#6), Civil Engineering (#6), Environmental Engineering (#6), Industrial Engineering (#6), Computer Engineering (#7), Electrical Engineering (#7) and Mechanical Engineering / Engineering Mechanics (#8).

It was #27 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Location

The University of Illinois is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois, just a few hours from Chicago.

Tuition

Its in-state tuition and fees are $16,862; out-of-state tuition and fees are $34,312.

Acceptance Rate

University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign has an acceptance rate of 59%.

School #9: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Michigan Engineering is home to top-ranked departments that collaborate within the nation’s number one public research institution – the University of Michigan. Nearly all of the 19 schools, colleges and divisions, including Engineering, rank among the best in their fields.

All of the graduate and undergraduate programs are highly ranked and have a strong reputation for excellence. Michigan Engineering’s graduate and undergraduate programs rank 7th and 6th in the nation, respectively according to U.S. News & World Report and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Environmental / Environmental Health (#2), Industrial / Manufacturing (#3), Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#4), Mechanical (#4) Chemical (#4), Civil (#6), Biomedical (#6), Materials (#6), Computer (#7), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#8).

It was #33 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology 2021.

Location

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tuition

Its in-state tuition and fees are $15,948; out-of-state tuition and fees are $52,266.

Acceptance Rate

23%

School #10: Purdue University – West Lafayette

Purdue University—West Lafayette is a public institution that was founded in 1869. Purdue Engineering is consistently highly ranked for academics and in career preparation, and students receive a top-quality experience culminating in some of the industry’s most competitive starting salaries.


Shutterstock/ Ken Wolter

Students can choose from 17 engineering majors and several unique minors. They also have the option to customize their own major through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs.

Purdue University—West Lafayette was ranked #9 in Best Undergraduate Engineering programs and #4 in Best Engineering Schools (tie) by U.S. news & world report in 2021 and it is also ranked in the Top 10 for the following Engineering specialisms: Biological / Agricultural (#1), Industrial / Manufacturing (#2), Civil (#3), Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical (#5), Mechanical (#7), Computer (#10), Electrical / Electronic / Communications (#10).

It was #34 in QS World University rankings for Engineering and Technology.

Notable alumni include Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan (the first and last man on the Moon), Charles Ellis (designer of the Golden Gate Bridge), Lillian Gilbreth (the first lady of engineering) and Reginald Fessenden (father of radio broadcasting).

Location

West Lafayette, Indiana

Tuition

Its in-state tuition and fees are $9,992; out-of-state tuition and fees are $28,794.

Acceptance Rate

60%

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