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Best universities for engineering

Engineering requires specialist skills and knowledge gained over many hours in lecture halls and laboratories. We take a look at which universities in the world do this best.

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Engineering is a perennially popular subject for international students. The specialisations on offer and favourable graduate outcomes mean that engineering programmes around the world receive a significant number of applications every year. Naturally, some universities have developed a reputation for engineering excellence and top-quality degree programmes. In this article, we’ll take you through the best universities for engineering in the world and what makes them stand out. 


To put this guide together we’ve drawn on a few prominent university rankings including the QS World University Rankings by subject 2021, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, and the U.S. News & World Report rankings.  


Let’s jump in. 


University of California, Berkeley


Rated as a top-five university globally for engineering degrees by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the University of California at Berkeley offers 11 engineering subject majors at the undergraduate level. These include bioengineering, engineering physics and nuclear engineering. The College of Engineering at the university counts 24 per cent of its student cohort as international students, with 3,892 undergraduate students and 2,155 postgraduate students. 


In keeping with its reputation for high-quality research, the College of Engineering boasts 213 PhD students in the field. Further, as a top 10 university for engineering as per the QS World University Rankings 2021, the university received a QS research output rating of “very high”. To add to the allure of the institution is the fact that it has not dropped out of the top 10 for any engineering discipline in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Added to this is a number one ranking for postgraduate electrical, civil and environmental engineering on the same rankings. 


Explore some of the places where you could study engineering abroad


California Institute of Technology 


The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech as it is known, traces its roots back to 1891 and has developed a reputation as a specialist institution in the field of science and engineering. This is reflected with a top 10 ranking in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 for engineering and a place in the top 20 engineering universities worldwide in the QS World University Rankings 2021. 


The Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech is a buzz of activity with 411 undergraduate and 454 postgraduate students, who learn in the same place as 37 recipients of the Nobel Prize. Students get to choose from a wide variety of engineering specialisations including aeronautics, space engineering and medical engineering. Just in case you weren’t convinced about just how good Caltech is, the university is also rated as a top-five engineering institution by the U.S. News & World Report. 


Discover your study options for an engineering degree in the USA.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


You’re probably getting used to seeing MIT on lists and rankings of the best universities in the world. There’s a reason for this. The university consistently performs well in key areas such as teaching quality, curriculum development, research, graduate outcomes. It will not surprise you that MIT is the top-ranked university in the world for engineering on the QS World University Rankings and fourth globally by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.  


Places at the MIT School of Engineering are much coveted by students, but it’s no easy feat to get in. The school has just under 2,500 undergraduate students and 3,200 postgraduate students. The international cohort makes up around 1,500 students. The acceptance rate for engineering at MIT is just shy of seven per cent which is not surprising given that it is the top engineering school in the USA as per the U.S. News & World Report Best Engineering Schools 2022.


Find your ideal institution at which to study engineering in the UK


ETH Zurich 


Now, if you’re not that familiar with the institutions of choice for engineering, then ETH Zurich may not have been on your radar before. But, trust us, it is a very prestigious university for the subject. You don’t have to take our word for it though, as both the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings have ETH Zurich ranked in the top ten worldwide. It easily holds its own among Ivy League members and storied universities like the University of Oxford. 


The university has a diverse student community, hailing from over 121 countries. Over 35 per cent of students come to study in Zurich from abroad. The university offers several engineering qualifications, some of which would you expect, such as civil and electrical engineering. However, other specialisations include quantum engineering, process engineering, and micro and nanosystems.


If you still aren’t convinced, it’s worth remembering that ETH Zurich has had 21 Nobel Laureates associated with the university. They also had, as a member of the teaching staff, arguably history’s most famous scientist. Yes, that’s right, none other than Albert Einstein.  


Find out more about studying engineering in Canada


Princeton University


Princeton University also had a significant relationship with the aforementioned scientist, with Einstein a regular on campus and in the mathematics department. An Ivy League institution based in the U.S. state of New Jersey, Princeton consistently puts in a strong showing on the engineering front. The university is rated at number eight on the planet by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Further, it is placed in the top 30 for engineering by the QS World University Rankings 2021. 


Princeton is the fourth oldest university in the USA, with just over 9,000 postgraduate students and 5,000 undergraduate students. The university has also played host to 21 Rhodes Scholars in the last decade and is home to 643 international undergraduate students. The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers programmes in chemical, biological, computational, geological and aerospace engineering to name a few. 


If you complete a degree at Princeton you would join a list of illustrious alumni including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, and Alan Turing, widely considered to be the father of modern computing. 


Still feeling a little unsure of your study path? Why not check out our guide to matching your study ambitions with your career path or the traits every engineer needs. You can also keep your study abroad plans on track by keeping up to date with the latest student news


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