Engineering is a popular field of interest for many prospective college students, and for good reason. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a need for an additional 140,000 new engineers between 2016-2026. In addition, the mean income for all engineers in the U.S. in 2020 was $103,380.
The most popular types of engineering fields include civil, mechanical, and industrial. However, there are many types of exciting engineering career fields available.
If you are looking for a top engineering school to kick-start your career, you are in luck! This article will examine California’s ten best engineering schools in 2022 and answer any questions you need to know before heading off to college.
What is Engineering?
Have you ever wondered how new technologies such as cars, roads, machines, or computers become part of society? It’s safe to say that most of our modern conveniences were the brain-children of innovative engineers. Engineering is a career that, at its core, has helped everyday life become possible.
Engineering is a branch of science and technology that involves construction and design to create solutions to real-world problems. In a nutshell, engineers are inventors, designers, and builders.
An engineer’s many tasks include new product development, helping an organization run more efficiently, improving current technology, and so much more.
Great engineering programs must foster excellent science and math skills in their students, and it is essential for engineering programs to be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to ensure a quality engineering education.
What Different Types of Engineering Are There?
There are various types of engineering programs and specializations that you can major in. As of 2022, there are four main branches of engineering, including mechanical, chemical, electrical, and civil.
Mechanical engineering uses math and physics to design, manufacture, and analyze various mechanical systems.
Some examples of what a mechanical engineer makes include:
- Engine parts
- Aircraft engines
- Control systems
- Prosthetic devices
- Machine tools
Chemical engineers use chemistry, physics, biology, and math to solve problems surrounding many products, such as chemicals, drugs, food, and fuel.
Some areas a chemical engineer may work in include:
- Disease treatment
- Cleaning water
- Energy generation
- Food production
Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and manage electrical equipment. This branch focuses on how to create equipment and devices that use electricity and electronics.
Products that electrical engineers develop include:
- Power generators
- Electric motors
- Traffic lights
- Power grids
Many would say that civil engineering is responsible for how our civilization was created and continues to evolve. You might see a civil engineer overseeing large construction projects and using devices such as traffic counters, tape measures, and distance meters.
Civil engineers plan, design, construct, maintain, and supervise significant infrastructure, such as:
- High-rise buildings
However, there are also many different subtypes of engineering, such as:
- Computer hardware
- Health and Safety
Top 10 Engineering Programs in California
There are so many great colleges in California, but we have examined hundreds of schools to empower you to make the best decisions when choosing a college. We rank colleges based on essential metrics, such as admissions, retention, financial resources, and more!
For more information about our ranking methodology, check it out here.
10. Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a 4-year, private, not-for-profit university. The school of engineering offers eight undergraduate majors, twelve master’s programs, and three doctorate degrees. The undergraduate program provides students an opportunity to complete some units towards the master’s degree while still enrolled as undergraduates. Tuition is approximately $55,200 per year.
9. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo offers 14 undergraduate engineering and 11 master’s degree programs. They pride themselves on having over 80 state-of-the-art laboratories! There are also roughly 250 engineering faculty on campus. In-state tuition is $9,943 per year, and out-of-state tuition is $23,833 per year.
8. San Jose State University
Located in Silicon Valley, San Jose State University offers 10 undergraduate engineering programs and 11 graduate programs. The university serves over 7,100 undergraduate and graduate engineering students with its 390 faculty and staff members.
San Jose State tuition starts at $7,8582 per year, which is affordable considering it is one of the top engineering programs in California.
7. University of California-Davis
The University of California-Davis College of Engineering is one of the largest engineering programs in the United States. The program offers 12 undergraduate engineering majors:
- Aerospace Science and Engineering
- Biochemical Engineering
- Biological Systems Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science and Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
There are currently 4,404 undergraduate and 1,159 postgraduate students enrolled. Full-time in-state tuition is about $36,00 per year, and out-of-state tuition is about $67,000 per year.
6. University of California-San Diego
The Engineering School at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) offers an outstanding 41 engineering degree programs! There are currently 5,857 undergraduates, and 2,951 postgraduates enrolled in the UCSD engineering program. This program offers summer internships with local industries, including Cisco Systems. Full-time in-state tuition is about $36,00 per year, and out-of-state tuition is about $67,000 per year.
5. University of California-Los Angeles
The University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA) has a large program with 192 full-time faculty members. It is located in Westwood, Los Angeles. During the 2020-2021 school year, 3,331 undergraduate and 2,185 graduate students enrolled in the engineering program. In the summer of 2021, 940 undergraduates received engineering degrees. Full-time in-state tuition is about $36,00 per year, and out-of-state tuition is about $67,000 per year.
4. University of California-Irvine
The University of California-Irvine engineering school began in 1961 with a class of 75 students. Today, it is one of the most prestigious engineering universities. The school currently has 3,695 undergraduate and 926 graduate students enrolled in 11 undergrads and one graduate degree program. Full-time in-state tuition is about $36,00 per year, and out-of-state tuition is about $67,000 per year.
3. University of California-Berkeley
The College of Engineering at the University of California-Berkeley is one of 14 schools within the University of California system. The university is in the northern California bay area, near San Francisco. There are 55 engineering degree programs with an acceptance rate of about 9%. In 2020, there were 3,892 undergraduate and 2,155 graduate students enrolled in the engineering program. Full-time in-state tuition is approximately $36,00 per year, and out-of-state tuition is about $67,000 per year.
2. University of Southern California
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has eight engineering departments and 109 engineering degree programs. It is a large, private 4-year university in the heart of Los Angeles. The engineering research centers are known for their role in developing the internet, among various other technologies.
The USC School of Engineering graduated 673 undergraduate and 2,608 master’s degree students in 2020. Undergraduate tuition is about $60,000 per year.
1. Stanford University
Located within the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University produces some of the most successful engineers in the world. One includes Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and the first black woman to travel into space! The engineering program at Stanford is extremely competitive, with about 16% of applicants earning acceptance into the program.
There are nine central engineering departments at Stanford University, including aeronautics, bioengineering, chemical engineering, computer science, management science, civil and environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering. With over 50 centers and labs to study in, it’s no wonder Stanford produces great engineers. The annual price of tuition at Stanford is about $74,00.
If you’re looking for other schools that offer engineering programs, check out the Find Your Perfect “U” tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!
How Do I Pay For My Engineering Degree?
Higher education can be expensive, but there are good ways to reduce costs:
- Consider choosing a state program, because tuition costs tend to be less.
- Live at home while attending a university in your city.
- Get one (or more!) scholarships using our scholarship tool.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in less than 30 minutes to see if you qualify for financial aid or grants, that you may not have to pay back!
- Work part or full-time during your studies. Many programs offer flexible scheduling and allow you to take classes in the evenings or on weekends.
Remember that going to school is temporary, and you are making an investment in your future career earnings. You’ll gain knowledge and skills that you can use to make more money throughout your lifetime. Without an education, it can be tough to work as an engineer and will significantly limit your career opportunities.
Scholarships for Engineering Students
Scholarships are great. Here are three scholarships for students pursuing their engineering degree at a California school, with program descriptions and links to apply.
Barry Goldwater Scholarship
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship offers $7,500 for 300 students every year. The awards are a way to help students become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
To qualify, students must apply before starting their junior or senior year of college. Students cannot apply directly and must have a recommendation by a designated faculty representative at their university.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Scholarship Program
This scholarship program offers scholarships to students who wish to pursue careers in heating, ventilating, air conditioners, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) engineering. The scholarship offers $3,000 to $10,000 per candidate. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at an ABET-accredited engineering program with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
American Radio Relay League Foundation Scholarship
The American Radio Relay League Foundation offers scholarships to engineering students between $1,000 and $10,000. Most awards require enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program. However, some do provide money for community college students.