The Top 10 Ivy League Schools for Engineering

Top 10 Ivy League Schools for Engineering

For high school students everywhere that want to go into engineering, the Ivy League represents the ultimate dream in college education. There are eight official Ivy League schools, as well as a few very prestigious schools that carry the same level of respect as Ivy League names.

The official members of the Ivy League are Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and Dartmouth College. 

The beginnings of the Ivy League started in 1945, with a commitment from the eight schools to not offer athletic scholarships, instead of focusing on need-based aid. They also agreed on similar (very high) standards for admission and academics. This agreement was called the Ivy League Agreement, and it was formalized into the Ivy League in 1954. 

Ivy leagues aren’t the only ones that have excellent engineering programs, however. Some other well-respected names are schools like Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and California Institute of Technology. Each of these schools is different and they all come with pros and cons in their engineering programs. Keep reading to find out which of these Ivy League schools has the best engineering degree, and why. 

10 Best Ivy League Schools for Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

One of the most respected research universities in the world, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is consistently ranked at the top of university and college rankings. MIT has engineering degrees in eight different disciplines, including aeronautics, chemistry, civil and environmental, and nuclear engineering. 

Quick Facts About MIT:

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $18,000
  • Founded in 1861
  • Total Students: Around 11,000 
  • Ranked number one on the QS World University Ranking List
  • 6.7% acceptance rate

One of the major selling points for studying engineering at MIT is that it is known for turning ideas into businesses. It has one of the best graduate employability rankings in the country with 89% of job-seeking graduates reporting employment within three months. MIT is overall and excellent school, which means that they only accept the best of the best. They have a holistic admissions process that values meaningful accomplishments over more traditionally recognized ones. At the end of the day, MIT is looking for passionate students who have found creative and interesting ways to express their passions. 

Stanford University

Unlike the Ivy League schools, Stanford University is on the West Coast rather than the East. Stanford has nine departments in engineering, which encompass eight undergraduate degrees, most of which are interdepartmental. One of the things that makes Stanford’s engineering program desirable is their focus on the big picture issues of the current world, and their dedication to finding real-world solutions. 

Quick Facts About Stanford:

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $12,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Total Students: about 17,000
  • Founded in 1891
  • Official name is Leland Stanford Junior University

Stanford is organized into seven different schools, which cover 40 academic departments for undergraduates and four graduate schools. Their unique approach to learning allows students to design their own courses across multiple departments. This approach has clearly been successful, as evidenced by almost 20 of their graduates going on to win Nobel prizes. 

With their blended learning approach, it’s no surprise that they also value a holistic review when it comes to admissions. This is good news for potential students which less than perfect test scores, but less good news for those with only limited extra-curriculars. If Stanford is your dream school, focus on developing extra-curricular activities you’re passionate about instead of only striving to get perfect grades. 

Cornell University

Cornell is the first of the Ivies on our list. Widely recognized as the best Ivy League school for engineering, Cornell is seventh for engineering in the United States according to the QS World University Rankings and 14th overall. They are known for having the largest engineering department in the Ivy League with 14 majors and 20 available minors. They also sponsor student project teams throughout the academic year. 

Quick Facts About Cornell:

  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $30,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Total Students: about 22,000
  • Founded in 1865
  • Offers 14 different engineering majors

One of the things that makes Cornell popular with students who want to go to an Ivy League school, is that it is a little bit easier to get into than some of the other Ivies. While schools like Yale and Harvard have acceptance rates in the single digits, Cornell’s is 11%. For students looking to go into engineering, this is an added bonus because they have a higher chance of getting in but won’t be sacrificing anything when it comes to the quality of the academics. 

Princeton University

Princeton is the only Ivy League School located in New Jersey. It also has one of the best engineering departments in America. Founded before the revolutionary war, Princeton has been a beacon of education for almost 200 years. The history of Princeton brings a lot of weight to their engineering degrees, making Princeton one of the best schools for employability as well as further education after a bachelor’s degree. 

Quick Facts About Princeton:

  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $9,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Total Students: about 9,000
  • Founded in 1746
  • 4th oldest university in the United States

Not only does Princeton have stellar academics, but they also have one of the most generous and comprehensive financial aid programs of any private college. Tuition without any aid is nearly $75,000 (fairly typical for a school of this caliper) but the average student receives around $65,000 in financial aid like grants and scholarships. Princeton has been the choice of several people who went one to make large impacts in our society, including Jeff Bezos and Michelle Obama. 

Columbia University

Columbia University is the most urban school in the Ivy League, located in the heart of New York. It’s also one of the oldest, only a few years younger than Princeton. It was built on the former site of the Trintity Church in Manhatten and is consistently ranked as one of the best colleges in the United States. Columbia’s engineering department was founded in 1864, making it one of the oldest applied science programs in the country. 

Quick Facts About Columbia:

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $23,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Total Students: about 32,000
  • Founded in 1754
  • Formerly known as King’s College

Since the beginning, the engineering department at Columbia has strived to combine both the creative and practical sides of engineering. They are in the top 15 engineering schools, making it into the top 10 in biomedical engineering, according to the USA News ranking system. Students who want to go into engineering, but still want to be challenged to think creatively to solve some of the worlds most pressing issues may fit in perfectly at Columbia. 

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) is another of the few pre-revolutionary American universities. It has a slightly higher acceptance rate than schools like Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, and is probably most well known for its medical school. However, it’s engineering program is nothing to sniff at either. Like Columbia, it is ranked in the top 20 engineering schools. 

Quick Facts About UPENN:

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $25,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Total Students: about 26,000
  • Founded in 1740
  • Founded by Benjamin Franklin

As one of the oldest schools in the country, UPENN has a rich history behind it, including that it was the first college to build a student union building and the first to build a double-decker football stadium. It also has an endowment of $14.65 billion (2019), which was the sixth-highest in the country. Another popular aspect of UPENN is that students are allowed to enroll in classes in any department regardless of their major, thanks to the “one university policy”. If you’re looking for a well-funded school with high-quality academics and a history to match, UPENN may be the place for you.

Harvard University

Harvard is possibly the most well-known of the Ivy League schools, and for good reason. It is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and is well-known as one of the best universities in the world. Because of its reputation, Harvard graduates are likely to find employment easily in their chosen field. 

Quick Facts About Harvard:

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $16,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Total Students: about 26,000
  • Founded in 1636
  • Oldest university in America

Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering is world-renowned for providing incredibly detailed degrees in six undergraduate engineering programs, and seven graduate options. They also offer two professional engineering programs in business analytics and artificial intelligence. Throughout its nearly 400-year history, Harvard has been at the forefront of scientific research, and it has a well-funded engineering school allowing students to participate in new and groundbreaking science. 

Yale University

Like Harvard, Yale is known around the world as one of the best schools you can go to for just about any subject. It also has a similar reputation among employers, making job prospects very good for graduates. Yale has been an education center for over 300 years, and it has always been at the forefront of innovation and scientific discovery. 

Quick Facts About Yale:

  • Location: New Haven, Connecticut
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $19,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Total Students: about 12,500
  • Founded in 1636
  • Most well-known for its music and theatre programs

Engineering is one of the most popular majors at Yale, which means that the admission process is highly competitive. However, if you are admitted to the school of engineering, the education is worth it. The school of applied sciences at Yale says in its mission statement that they believe the best way to advance science is by framing it in the context of “critical societal needs.” This mission has led them to train their students on how to use their knowledge for the good of society and the improvement of peoples’ lives around them. 

Brown University

Brown is one of the world’s leading research universities and is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. It offers a large variety of degree options, one of it’s most highly regarded being the computer science program. They are also known for producing entrepreneurs in a variety of fields, including the founder of CNN, Ted Turner. 

Quick Facts About Brown:

  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $32,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Total Students: about 9,000
  • Founded in 1764
  • Values creativity and flexibility over rigid learning structures

Unlike several others in the Ivy League, Brown values a creative approach to learning rather than traditional rigid learning. This approach makes Brown popular with engineering students who appreciate the value of interdisciplinary thought and learning. According to USA News, Brown comes 51st place for engineering overall.

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth is one of the lesser-known schools in the Ivy League, but that doesn’t mean its reputation for rigorous academics is anything less than stellar. Because it is slightly smaller than the “big three” of the Ivy League (Harvard, Yale, and Princeton), admission is slightly less competitive, but only just. 

Quick Facts About Harvard:

  • Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Average Tuition After Financial Aid: $31,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%
  • Total Students: about 6,500
  • Founded in 1769
  • Offers a liberal arts curriculum 

As the smallest school in the Ivy League, Dartmouth is known for its community feel, despite its high-profile reputation. The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth is in the top 100 of engineering schools. Because they include engineering in a larger liberal arts curriculum, it is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on creative problem solving and producing leading graduates in their field. 


Going to an Ivy League school for engineering is a sure-fire way to get a high-quality education. The standards are high, and the admissions are competitive, but Ivy League graduates gain the reputation of their chosen schools, which can help massively with employment prospects. For future engineering students, going to one of the schools on this list is a solid start to any engineering career.

Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is a writer for HKS Siblab, an education and business blog. He has a MSc in Cyber Security & Digital Forensics from the University of Hertfordshire and has been working in the cyber security industry since 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar and spending time with his family.

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