The 10 Best Engineering Schools in the World

Illustration of a university surrounded by lightbulb and cog icons

With the global and domestic demand for STEM graduates higher than ever, it’s fair to say that a career in engineering is a good bet. It’s not just about the job security or high rates of pay, either; there is the potential to pursue a wide range of exciting projects and opportunities, as well as the chance to shape and develop the world which we live in.

Such rewards don’t come without rigour, though; engineering degrees require a lot of dedication, talent and hard work. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a university or college that offers high-quality teaching, the right levels of support and the right industry connections to get your career off to the best possible start. 

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 engineering schools in the world.

10. National University of Singapore (NUS)

Location: Singapore, Singapore

Singapore is one of the hottest economies in the world and a country with a diverse education system. After assessing the National University of Singapore (NUS), it is easy to understand how Singapore accomplished this feat.

The NUS is the city-state’s flagship academic institution, which was founded in 1905. The university attracts students from all over the world. The latest figures show it has more than 38,000 students from 100 countries attending its 17 broad-based schools, including businessdentistrylaw, public health and, of course, engineering.

While Mandarin and Tamil are the main languages spoken in Singapore, but English is just as common to find – inside and outside of the school system.

9. Tsinghua University

Location: Beijing, China

Formed in 1911, Tsinghua University has a global reputation for excellence in engineering and computer science and is a core member of the Chinese C9 League of elite universities. It is particularly noted for its research contributions in electrical engineering, which play a massive role in the development and maintenance of China’s vast state power grid.

Due to the political influence that many of its graduates go on to seize (Xi Jinping, is a chemical engineering alumnus), Tsinghua is a popular choice for ambitious candidates; as a result, it has one of the most competitive admissions processes in the country. Those who do make it in, though, will spend their next three years at one of the most resource-rich universities in the world, as well as making life-changing connections.

8. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU)

Location: Singapore, Singapore

The youngest school on this list, the Nanyang Technological Institute was founded in 1981 before merging with the National Institution of Education in 1991; the result is a world-renowned institution, particularly within the engineering disciplines.

In fact, the school’s College of Engineering is one of the biggest in the world, with over 10,500 undergraduates and 3,500 graduates studying across 12 single programmes (as well as an array of mixed, double and integrated courses).

Pulkit Jaiswal, a highly successful drone engineer and entrepreneur, is among its recent alumni.

7. Imperial College London

Location: London, England

Imperial College London is often described by the post-secondary industry as being a one-of-a-kind institution. Why? Because the school concentrates on the most in-demand and toughest subjects in college: business, engineering, medicine and science. This perhaps explains why students flock to this institution.

The Faculty of Engineering, which offers post-graduate programmes, is one of the most celebrated schools in the country and from around the world. Who knew that when it was founded in 1907, it would spawn 14 Nobel laureates, three Fields Medallists, one Turing Award winner and dozens of fellows belonging to the Royal Academy of Engineering?

6. University of Oxford

Location: Oxford, England

The University of Oxford usually lands a spot on every best-of university list. The university has done an incredible job with its brand recognition since being established nearly 1,000 years ago (early estimates suggest it was founded in 1096).

The connection between Oxford and intelligence is obvious, thanks to the 72 Nobel Prize laureates, six Turing Award-winner sand three Fields Medalists. 

Oxford maintains a celebrated engineering school that has churned out graduates that have participated in some of the most important engineering projects in the world. Oxford’s appeal is its world-renowned science department.

This is one of the reasons why more than one-third of its student body consists of international students: learners want to study at the best of the best – and you can’t go wrong with Oxford.

Put simply, if you enrol in an engineering programme at Oxford, your career will already be mapped out.

5. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

Location: Berkeley, US

The University of California is typically one of the go-to institutions for US-based students. At the same time, it is also one of the top schools for foreign students who wish to study in the United States.

UCB was founded in 1868, and it presently has ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Over the years, it has produced 99 Nobel laureates, 23 Turing Award winners and 14 Pulitzer Prize winners. Like other schools overseas, UCB focuses on the sciences, creating incredible research institutions, such as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Space Sciences Laboratory.

While you can attain a degree and participate in intensive classroom settings, many students want to participate in its research projects.

4. ETH Zurich

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Perhaps best known for being the university at which Albert Einstein received his education, the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich – or ETH Zurich, to keep things simple – is more than just a footnote in history; it continues to be one of the most successful and influential STEM schools in the world.

Along with its sister institution in Lausanne, ETH utilises a more theoretical approach to teaching, with many of its programmes featuring a high amount of mathematical training; there is also a reputation for heavy workloads and tight schedules. On the plus side, though, the school’s 9,000 undergraduates, 6,000 graduates and 4,000 PhD researchers are exposed to regular conferences and guest lectures at the school’s campus, often from some of the most distinguished leaders in the STEM field.

3. University of Cambridge

Location: Cambridge, UK 

A frequent staple of all ‘best universities’ lists, there are few subjects where the University of Cambridge fails to excel, and its 800-year-plus record of achievement across the STEM fields ensure that engineering is one of them.

There are currently around 1,200 undergraduates within the university’s engineering department, with around 300 admitted each academic year. They are typically given a broad education in the fundamentals of engineering before specialising in their third year. In addition, there are around 800 undergraduates and 300 PhD researchers in the school at any given time.

Some of the world’s greatest engineering feats have been achieved by Cambridge alumni, including the invention of the jet engine (Sir Frank Whittle), plasticity theory (John Baker) and the hovercraft (Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell).

2. Stanford University

Location: Palo Alto, US

Given its geographical location at the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Stanford University is the place to be for prospective engineers. The school, opened in 1926 as a means of recategorising independent departments, offers courses in nine disciplines (encompassing the traditional areas of electrical, mechanical and structural engineering), although it’s in hardware and software engineering that the university has had perhaps the most impact.

This is highlighted by its history of involvement in pioneering computer projects, such as the development of ARPANET (a precursor of the modern internet), Google (originally a PhD research project for Sergey Brin and Larry Page) and Sun Microsystems (a systems and software firm that was responsible for the creation of the Java programming language, among other things).

Although there are limited places within the school (Stanford has a notoriously competitive admissions process), its unique cross-disciplinary approach to education ensures that graduates are well-placed to succeed either in their own venture or somebody else’s, earning it a top spot on this college ranking.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Location: Cambridge, US

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – or MIT, as it is commonly abbreviated – is a traditional powerhouse in the fields of applied sciences and engineering, with countless academic prize winners, astronauts and public servants among its glittered alumni.

Indeed, just a brief look at some of the companies that have roots in MIT gives an immediate sense of its prestige; electrical engineer Amar Bose founded the sound system giant which bears his name, for instance, while such household names as Qualcomm, Koch and Hewlett-Packard were created or co-created by MIT engineers.

As you can see, you won’t be spoilt for global choice if you decide to pursue engineering at one of the world’s elite institutions; that is if you can manage to secure yourself a spot in the first place.

In truth, though, there are many fine engineering schools not on this list; the key is to ensure that your chosen university is accredited, with good links to industry and easy access to modern facilities and resources. That, coupled with the determination and ability required to succeed at university, should see you take some fairly stable first steps in an exciting new career upon leaving school.

Should your university be on this list? Let us know why in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 2 January 2019 was written in collaboration with Andrew Moran.