There is no denying that an engineering degree can set you up for a good job. But the best colleges for engineering offer more.
More prestige leads to more recognition from recruiters from top companies. This then leads to better pay, even some of the highest-paid jobs in the world.
Engineers are among the most well-paid, with fresh graduates earning a median annual wage of US$93,000.
It’s a big sum — that unlike some fields like computer science that’s at risk of being replaced by AI like ChatGPT — that many, not just a few, can achieve.
The US Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that the engineering field will grow with over 146,000 new jobs over the next decade.
To maximise your chances of landing one of these jobs, you’ll need a good degree — especially one from the best colleges for engineering around the world.
Best colleges for engineering in the US
For many years the US has consistently ranked as the #1 study abroad destination for international students.
This comes as no surprise, as the country is home to many prestigious universities – many of which excel in the field of engineering.
Whether you are interested in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, petroleum engineering or any specialisation within the field, the US is the perfect place to explore that interest and further your education.
Here are the three best colleges for engineering in the US:
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ranked the best college for engineering in the US and the second-best university overall in the country.
MIT graduates in electrical, electronics and communications engineering earn a median starting salary of US$116,000 annually.
The university is divided into five schools, among which the School of Engineering is the biggest.
The undergraduate programmes offered include:
- Chemical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Mechanical Engineering
- Nuclear Science and Engineering
In 2022, MIT was ranked the #1 university for Engineering and Technology by the QS World University Rankings.
It also gained the#1 spot in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programme US News & World Report in 2022-23.
However, getting into MIT is not easy as the admissions are highly selective. The university has an acceptance rate as low as 4% for international students.
2. Stanford University
Stanford University ranks #3 in the QS University World Rankings.
Engineers who graduate from Stanford University are among the highest-paid in the country — especially those who pursued mechanical engineering.
The median starting salary for mechanical engineering graduates from Stanford is around US$78,200.
The private university is home to seven schools, including its School of Engineering, with more than 16,000 students enrolled. The school offers a long list of engineering programmes across different areas, including:
- Bioengineering (BioE)
- Civil Engineering (CE)
- Electrical Engineering (EE)
- Mechanical Engineering (ME)
Since its establishment in 1885, Stanford has been at the forefront of research, education and innovation, focusing on research areas such as bioengineering, information technology, data analysis and many more.
As one of the most prestigious universities in the country, having produced 60 Nobel Laureates, 17 astronauts and 30 billionaires, getting into Stanford is no easy feat.
The university has an acceptance rate of 3.9% for international students, making it more selective than MIT.
3. University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university renowned for its College of Engineering. Known as Berkeley Engineering, the school consistently ranks among the top engineering schools in the country and the world.
According to US News & World Report, the University of California, Berkeley, is the third-best school for engineering in the US.
Here, undergraduate students can choose from a wide range of programmes, which include:
- Aerospace Engineering
- Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
- Materials Science & Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
Those who pursue Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering are said to earn the highest with a median starting salary of US$116,600.
As one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the world, getting in is tough. The university only accepts 9% of applicants from abroad.
This comes as no surprise as the university has produced some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including the co-founders and CEOs of larger companies such as Apple, Boeing, Google, Intel and Tesla.
Best colleges for engineering in the UK:
In the UK, the engineering-led industry contributes about 40% of its gross domestic product and is a key part of the national economy.
Rolls-Royce, McLaren, BAE Systems, Aston Martin and Airbus are among the top engineering companies in the UK.
These are the top three universities in the UK for engineering:
1. Imperial College London
Imperial College London is a public research university in the UK with a strong focus on science, engineering, medicine and business. The university is among the top 10 universities in the world according to QS World University Rankings.
The university is home to a faculty of engineering, where world-class education and research are offered across many different areas in the field.
Ranked as the #1 university for engineering in the UK, Imperial College London offers various engineering degrees for undergraduate students. This includes:
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Design Engineering
- Earth Science and Engineering
All follow a four-year structure, with the first two years focusing on the fundamentals and the third and fourth years allowing students to specialise in a specific area.
As part of the faculty of engineering, students will have access to excellent facilities, including the university’s space engineering lab, wind tunnel and flight simulator.
All of this plays a role in landing well-paid jobs for Imperial graduates. Their median salary is US$41,880, according to the latest figures compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
The University of Cambridge is the second-best institution in the UK for engineering. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP
2. University of Cambridge
Isaac Newton, Stephan Hawking, Charles Darwin and Alan Turing. The University of Cambridge has produced many graduates that have gone on to create history.
It is no wonder this university is ranked #2 in the UK by the QS World University Rankings.
Its excellent alumni list is not all the University of Cambridge is known for. According to US News & World Report, the university also ranks as the second-best college for engineering in the UK.
An engineering undergraduate course at Cambridge is four years long.
During the first two years, students will receive a broad engineering education before specialising in a specific area in their third and fourth years.
Students can choose to specialise in areas including:
- Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering
- Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering
- Information and Computer Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
What’s more, students will be given the opportunity to complete a six-week placement during their course.
Study abroad opportunities are also available during the third year with one of Cambridge’s exchange schemes in Paris or Singapore.
Cambridge graduates’ median salary is US$37,629, according to the latest figures compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
3. University of Oxford
Here, the study, teaching and research of all branches of engineering are brought together at the Department of Engineering Science.
This broad take on engineering was established based on a scientific approach to the fundamentals and has been a tradition at the university since 1908.
The four-year Engineering Science programme is divided into two. During the first two years, students will take compulsory topics to ensure they gain the necessary skills and knowledge engineering students should have.
During the third and fourth years, students can choose to specialise in one of six branches of engineering. These branches are:
Fifteen months after graduation, the 2017-18 cohort reported an average annual salary of US$52,017, with a median of US$44,639.
Best colleges for engineering in Canada:
Hosting nearly half a million international students, Canada produces a large number of engineering graduates each year.
Canadian universities are well-known for their outstanding research.
Engineering majors like Mechanical, Electrical, and Electronics require students to complete numerous research projects, and international students have the opportunity to participate in exciting projects and experiments.
For example, many universities offer co-op opportunities to their engineering students as part of the programme for students to gain real-life skills.
Here are three of the best colleges for engineering in Canada:
1. University of Waterloo
The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo is ranked #44 Best Universities for Engineering in the World by the US World and News Report.
The largest engineering school in Canada is home to over 8,000 students. Students can choose from 15 undergraduate programmes and 14 professional engineering degrees, including:
- Architectural Engineering (BASc)
- Biomedical Engineering (BASc)
- Electrical Engineering (BASc)
- Nanotechnology Engineering (BASc)
- Systems Design Engineering (BASc)
As one of the best colleges for engineering, the university places an emphasis on research and experiential learning through world-class facilities and co-op opportunities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
In fact, the Engineering faculty received external research funding from local and international partners amounting to 86.8 million Canadian dollars in the year 2019-20.
According to CollegeDunia.com, graduates here earn an average base salary of 67,000 Canadian Dollars.
2. University of Toronto
Ranked #18 in Best Global Universities by US World News and Report and #27 under the QS World University Ranking for Engineering and Technology, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering is one of the best colleges for engineering.
The faculty offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that integrate cutting-edge classroom technologies and engaging teaching methods that continue to spark students’ interest in the subject. Some of the programmes include:
- Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Materials Engineering
- Minerals Engineering
Apart from faculty members who are experts in their field, engineering students are provided limitless experiential learning opportunities through summer research internships and a 20-month co-op.
The faculty has over 160 partner universities globally for study or research opportunities.
Those who do a co-op under the faculty of applied science and engineering earn around CA$55,000.00.
There is no specific figure on how much engineering graduates earn, but according to The Global University Employability Ranking 2022 offers some hints.
U of T grads are the world’s 11th most employable, first in Canada and first among public universities in North America.
3. University of British Columbia
If you are looking to kickstart your engineering career, where better to do it than at one of Canada’s top institutions for engineering?
According to US News & World Report, the University of British Columbia is the third-best college for engineering in the country.
Some of the engineering programmes offered include:
- Civil Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Geological Engineering
- Integrated Engineering
Here students benefit from exceptional campus resources, top-tier educators and unparalleled opportunities for hands-on design, innovation and experiential learning.
Students have the opportunity to complete a co-op earning a maximum median monthly salary of CA$6,142.
Best colleges for engineering in Australia:
Universities in Australia that offer engineering programmes are globally recognised for their strong focus on interdisciplinary research. Pursuing an engineering degree in Australia could lead to a successful career.
If you have plans to work in the country post-graduation, 2023 is a good time to do so. Due to the pandemic, the country faces skills shortages in the field. The vacancies have increased, with Queensland at 67%, New South Wales at 54%, and Victoria at 44%.
According to the Jobs and Skills Australia’s Internet Vacancy Index, Australia is still facing a shortage of engineering skills.
Engineering vacancies have grown by 80% nationally over the past two years and the labour demand is predicted to grow by 42,000 in 2023.
These are three of the best colleges for engineering in Australia:
1. Monash University
Monash University is the leading public university in Australia and is currently ranked #1 for engineering by the Times Higher Education for the year 2023.
The Faculty of Engineering at Monash has five main departments – Chemical and Biological Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Engineering degrees are also accredited, meaning students work in any other signatory country, without the need to requalify.
To help students better prepare to enter the workforce, the university offers initiatives and programmes such as the Monash Engineering Career Ready Series, the co-op programme, and the Monash Industry Team Initiative, all designed to help students become well-rounded engineers.
The average full-time salary for bachelor’s degree graduates from the university in 2018 was 65,691 Australian dollars.
2. University of Queensland
Located in Brisbane, the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology is ranked one of the best colleges for engineering.
Engineering programmes at UQ are hands-on and extend beyond the classrooms. The university’s unique makerspace, UQ Innovate, is an example of this.
Here, state-of-the-art equipment is provided to encourage innovation and collaboration.
Other experiential opportunities under the Faculty include exchange programmes and placement opportunities. Students can even engage the EAIT Student Employability Hub, which gives them an edge in employability upon graduation.
UQ graduates have reported earning a median starting salary of A$58,000, with some earning even higher.
Engineering graduates who pursue a career as Mining Engineering Consultants earn around A$130,000.
3. University of New South Wales
The University of New South Wales, also known as UNSW Sydney, is home to the largest engineering faculty in Australia. The engineering faculty has eight schools that offer more than 25 undergraduate and 140 postgraduate engineering specialisations.
Undergraduate students can choose between flexi or double degrees across many different areas. This includes:
- Bioinformatics Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Mechatronic Engineering
- Renewable Energy Engineering
UNSW School of Engineering consistently ranks number one in the country for engineering and top 50 in the world. Engineering graduates are the most employable students in Australia and are highly sought after internationally.
UNSW graduates have one of the highest undergraduate median salaries in the country, earning around A$67,500.
Best colleges for engineering in New Zealand
New Zealand has some of the world’s best engineering programmes, according to QS World University Rankings.
Studying engineering in New Zealand will give you a wide range of job opportunities to choose from.
The country is home to Rocket Lab, whose technology aims to propel small satellites into orbit, Para Sea Anchors, the world’s best sea anchors and the Hamilton jet, one of the most advanced and innovative marine propulsion systems.
Not all of the country’s best colleges for engineering listed below publish specific figures for graduate salaries.
However, a 2014 government report offers some insight.
Civil engineering graduates reported the fifth highest median earnings five years after leaving study, at 66,800 New Zealand dollars annually, according to the report.
Engineering and technology graduates earn NZ$63,600.
“Young domestic graduates in electrical and electronic engineering and technology, and geomatic engineering have median earnings which are higher than the median earnings for all young domestic bachelors graduates in the first four to five years after study,” wrote the report.
“Those who have studied electrical and electronic engineering and technology reach NZ$72,200 after seven years while geomatic engineering graduates have a median of NZ$61,100.”
Similar to Australia, there is a growing demand for engineers in the country. New Zealand is in chronic need of engineers to match the growing economy.
1. University of Auckland
The Engineering Faculty at the University of Auckland is made up of five departments – Chemical and Materials Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering.
As New Zealand’s largest research organisation, the university has 33% of the top-rated researchers in the whole country, according to the New Zealand government’s assessment of research output and quality, the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF).
This is where discoveries of new therapies for mothers and babies, medical breakthroughs on how to prevent fractures in older people, and more are made.
2. University of Canterbury
When considering the best colleges for engineering in New Zealand, the University of Canterbury should be on your list.
The Faculty of Engineering offers a wide range of courses, from diplomas to PhD studies and even postgraduate certificates.
Students from the University of Canterbury are career-ready by the time they graduate, thanks to their 800-hour work experience placements, which are a degree requirement.
The average salary for the University of Canterbury graduates is around 55,000 New Zealand dollars.
Other than that, final-year projects that are often industry-based will enable students to learn the relevant skills and competencies they need to practise as a professional.
3. Auckland University of Technology
Auckland University of Technology is one of the top universities in the country for engineering. The Bachelor of Engineering Technology is designed to prepare you for a successful career as an engineer.
Here, students can choose from several majors, including:
- Architectural Engineering
- Construction Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Maritime Engineering*
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mechatronics Engineering
- Software Engineering
The best part is that this degree is accredited by Engineering New Zealand, ensuring that students have the necessary skills for a professional engineering career in the country.
In the final year of the four-year course, students will complete an individual industrial project, working on a piece of engineering design and analysis for organisations like Mighty River Power, Fletcher Building, BECA, SKM, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Spark or Auckland Airport.