Top 25 Best Value Residential Engineering Master’s for 2020



A bachelor’s degree in engineering can be an entry into a high-paying, rewarding career in the applied sciences field, but as in most professional fields today, the bachelor’s is only a starting point. As more people recognize the importance of a college degree, and more working adults return to school to improve their credentials with a higher degree, the need to raise your status on the job market becomes more important. The most obvious way to stand out is with a master’s degree.

Because engineering is a highly specialized, technical, and hands-on field, a residential graduate program, rather than online, is still the most common choice. The most reputable engineering schools will provide graduate students access to laboratories, libraries, and other key resources to enhance their education. Most research universities, particularly those in the top tier of high or very high Carnegie Foundation research status, will have opportunities for graduate students to take part in professional research projects with faculty members, either through research assistantships or in class. Real research experience is a significant advantage on your resume.

Residential programs have the added advantage of providing significant employment opportunities. The state of contemporary engineering prioritizes cooperation between academic, government, and corporate research, which means most engineering schools today have multiple connections to industries in the region that can translate into jobs after graduation. Particularly if you have worked successfully as a graduate student on a cooperative project, the network your institution provides can make the difference between success and struggle on the job market.

Our Method: How We Ranked the Best Engineering Master’s Degrees 

The Value Colleges Best Value rankings are designed to guide future students to the most trustworthy, most financially sound choices. The colleges, universities, and institutions ranked by Value Colleges are all fully accredited, financially transparent, and highly reputable.

Best Value ranking is based on 3 metrics:

  • Reputation (U.S. News & World Report)
  • Actual tuition (IPEDS)
  • Alumni Salary (College Scorecard) 

Our formula gives us the best balance between cost and return, so that students can count on receiving a solid education and earning a degree that will be respected and competitive on the job market, ultimately providing a positive return on the investment of time, money, and hard work that is higher education.

1. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers one of the best Masters in Engineering degree programs to adult students who work a full-time job and care for their families. Students who are trying to earn their Masters degree look for degree programs that offer them the techniques and tools they need to take on the most complex jobs available. The best Engineering Masters programs offer well-rounded course curriculums and state of the art technology allow adults who are working 40 hours plus a week an opportunity to advance into a higher paying position.

The University of California is well-known for its academic program and professional faculty members. The school has a respected tradition of providing online students with the same type of learning experience that others receive on campus. Faculty members commit themselves to assist students who want to advance their careers. The classes offer the best possible opportunity for advancements for students who are ready for the next step.

Program: 11 concentrations

2. Auburn University

Auburn University offers the best Engineering Masters degrees. Students can choose from ten different concentrations, including Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial, Biosystems, and Aerospace programs. The university offers state of the art laboratories and in-depth classwork that provides students with tools and skills they need to succeed. Attending class on campus offers beneficial programs to enhance their learning experience. The best Engineering Masters degrees provide a degree of excellence that is unrivaled.

Auburn University is one of the most prestigious schools when it comes to engineering programs. Faculty members are award-winning professionals who have many years of experience. Students attend a classroom setting that is conducive to providing the best learning opportunities possible. Every learning advantage is provided to offer students the most advanced degree programs possible. With one of the top degree programs in the country, students can pursue their professional goals and take on additional responsibility.

Program: 10 concentrations

3. Northwestern University

Northwestern University offers the best engineering Masters programs in the Midwest. There are 21 different concentrations to choose from that will allow the student to complete their degree program and further their career. All of the concentrations offer unique skills and tools that are required by specific professions. Students are also offered programs that provide them hands-on experience. For those who are employed and enrolled in work-study program, gaining hands-on experience is easy. Being enrolled in the best Masters of Engineering program is the best way to bring both worlds together.

Northwestern University is one of the best universities in the United States for students who are working towards their Masters of Engineering degrees. With the award-winning degree programs and professional faculty members, students have access to excellent educational resources that they can rely on to help them gain a competitive edge when they enter the workplace. New opportunities will present themselves as the graduate begins to show their skills and talents.

Program: 21 concentrations

4. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University provides students with 13 different concentrations of Masters of Engineering degree programs. Once a student chooses their primary type of degree program, they will be given the tools and skills they need to effectively manage both projects and operations. They will be given leadership skills they can use to handle any task they are given in an efficient and productive manner. Choosing to enroll in one of the best Masters of Engineering degree programs in the country, provides the most viable opportunities for advancement allowing them to pursue the career of their choice.

Johns Hopkins University’s G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering is well-known across the world for its advanced learning protocols and state of the art laboratories. Students are able to work with faculty members who are professionals in their own right and bring many years of experience to the table. Degree programs are designed to meet the strictest standards when it comes to excellence in education. Students and faculty alike work together to create a learning environment that is second to known in the country.

Program: 13 concentrations

5. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan provides the best Engineering Masters degrees in the state with 11 concentrations to choose from. The coursework is designed to exceed global standards when it comes to providing the information new graduates will need when it comes to the everchanging world we live in. Future engineers, no matter what their concentration, must be able to adapt and grow along with technology and the needs of their industry. Students can earn the best Engineering Masters degrees by attending the University of Michigan and completing one of their specific engineering programs.

The University of Michigan is considered a leader when it comes to innovative teaching methods and state of the art resources and teaching tools. Award-winning faculty members work to provide students with the leadership skills they need to succeed. Faculty members are well-known for setting the standards students need to follow while at the same time supporting their efforts to excel on every level.

Program: 11 concentrations

6. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona provides students with 17 different concentrations of Masters of Engineering degree programs for students to choose from. These degree programs offer leadership and organization skills that provide students with necessary skills to succeed within their chosen career. They also receive technical skills that can be used to help them establish new protocols and practices that keep projects running as smoothly as possible. Students that choose the best Engineering Masters degrees are guaranteed to be able to advance within their profession.

The University of Arizona is rated as one of the highest colleges and universities when it comes to engineering degree programs. On campus classrooms offer a hands-on approach to learning that is unrivaled by other colleges making the University of Arizona a top choice for many students who want to earn their Masters degree. Faculty members are experienced in their fields and are good at working with each student to ensure they understand the course materials and are ready to take on the world after graduation.

Program: 17 concentrations

7. Columbia University

Columbia University has some of the best engineering Master’s programs in 15 unique concentrations in the United States. Students receive courses within each concentration that provide the necessary skills and resources that will allow them to pursue their degree and have the knowledge required to excel. After graduation, they are able to use the leadership skills they have acquired to organize and manage large operations while at the same time, establish new processes that keep tasks running smoothly as possible. By earning one of the best Masters in Engineering degree programs in the country, each student can enter the workforce with confidence.

Columbia University has been providing excellence in educations for many years. Their reputation for providing innovative and technologically advanced course work is well-known throughout the world. Graduates are able to work hand in hand with faculty members who make it a priority to ensure that each student is more than ready to face any future challenge they may encounter.

Program: 15 concentrations

8. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines offers 19 concentrations when it comes to the best in Engineering Masters programs. Each concentration offers detailed courses that allow for hands-on learning. This ensures that each graduate has what they need to enter the workforce once they have earned their degree. Learning in a technologically advanced environment allows students to grow within their industry, adapting to changes as they occur. By choosing one of the best engineering Masters degree programs, students are guaranteed to have the necessary skills they need to find the job of their dreams.

Colorado School of Mines has a sound reputation for providing quality education to students who are ready to move forward and earn their Masters degrees. The university’s faculty are some of the best known within their fields. They are passionate about making sure their students are well-prepared for their future and have the tools they need to become professional engineers.

Program: 19 concentrations

9. Iowa State University

Iowa State University offers eight concentrations of engineering Masters degree programs for students who are interested in pursuing their education and exploring new opportunities within their profession. Students have access to programs and resources where they can learn more about the future of their specific concentration and the skills that may be needed to continue to advance. Degree programs provide valuable information to students that enable them to make the best possible choices about where they want to be in the future. The best Engineering Masters programs are available at Iowa State University.

Iowa State University puts excellence in education, especially when it comes to the best curriculum and laboratory tools. The University goes above and beyond to provide each student with a classroom experience that is second to none in terms of faculty professionalism and classroom learning environment. Students receive what they need to ensure their continued growth and advancement in the years to come.

Program: 8 concentrations

10. Rice University

Rice University offers 12 Master’s in Engineering concentrations. By choosing one of these concentrations, students can earn a Masters degree that will allow them to meet and exceed the standards and requirements necessary to be eligible for the highest-ranking positions in their field. Students who earn their Masters degrees have the ability to perform any task required of them. The tools and talents they receive give them what they need to adapt as their profession continues to change.

Rice University is well-known across the country for its excellent educational programs and prominent faculty members who have spent many years honing their skills. The George R. Brown School of Engineering offers every student access to technology and course materials they can use to excel in whatever position they choose to take on once they have graduated with their degree.

Program: 12 concentrations

11. University of Florida

The University of Florida provides 16 concentrations of the best Engineering Masters programs available in the country. Students are able to choose a degree program in the industry of their choice and then pursue career options they qualify for once they have earned their diploma. Many skills and abilities are included that allow them to pursue multiple career options making it easier to find the perfect job. This also ensures they have the tools they need to apply for jobs that have maximum growth potential.

The University of Florida has one of the best engineering programs available in the country. The Herbert Weitheim College of Engineering is well-known across the world for offering advanced programs in terms of technology, leadership skills, and best practices. Students are taught by instructors who are consummate professionals and have the expertise that is needed to teach them how to handle diverse situations.

Program: 16 concentrations

12. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University has several of the best engineering Masters programs with 10 different concentrations that provide students to choose their degree program based on their interest and industry choice. The skills and abilities they gain provide them with an advantage over others in the workplace because of the technology they used during the learning process. Students also obtain hands-on experience through on-campus programs and laboratories they can use to test their theories and protocols. The best Engineering Masters programs offer all of these benefits and more.

Texas Tech University and the Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. College of Engineering are ranked at the very top when it comes to the best Masters of Engineering degree programs in the country. Instructors who teach at the school are extremely passionate about the subjects they teach to their students. The ultimate goal is to ensure that each student has everything they need when they receive their diploma. After graduation, students can enter the workforce and be confident when applying for even the toughest position.

Program: 10 concentrations

13. CalTech

CalTech has 7 Engineering Master’s concentrations for students who want to move forward on their career path. Each concentration equips students with management skills, leadership skills, and technological advancements that allow them to gain both experience and growth. Earning a Masters degree in a chosen concentration is like getting to the top of the mountain and looking out over the future. The opportunities that are awarded to graduates who earn the best engineering Masters degrees are endless.

CalTech is a nationally accredited institution of learning that is globally known as one of the best schools in the world for engineering and technology-based degree programs. Instructors have won numerous awards and are always looking for new ways to inspire their students and push them beyond their boundaries. With an engineering degree from Caltech, graduates are able to stand alongside their peers and continue to advance with confidence.

Program: 7 concentrations

14. University of Connecticut

At the University of Connecticut, students can find a selection of the best engineering masters programs in the country. The college has degree programs for both masters level and doctoral level. The university has 11 concentrations to choose from, including chemical engineering, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, polymer science, and computer science and engineering. The college boasts a 100 percent success rate for graduate fellowships and assistantships. Each year, the graduate department at the University of Connecticut confers more than 200 masters and doctoral degrees.

The University of Connecticut is a rural campus that was first founded in 1881 to provide a public education to students in the state. The campus is very active with over 30 fraternities and sororities as well as dozens of clubs for undergraduate and graduate students. The public research institution receives millions in  grant funding for research on waterways. Multiple departments are highly ranked at the university, including education, economics, and biology.   

Program: 11 concentrations

15. University of Washington

The University of Washington has the best engineering masters degrees for those looking for a broad selection. Since the university is a public research college, numerous engineering research studies take place on campus. There are 11 specializations available through the University of Washington with nine of the programs ranked nationally as a top 25 program. The college is also ranked as the 11th best engineering school in the world. Engineering departments at the graduate level include mechanical engineering, bioresource engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, human-centered design and engineering, and electrical engineering. The University of Washington promises a high return on investment with a near-perfect graduation rate at the masters level.   

University of Washington is one of the top higher education picks on the west coast. The public college has a campus within the urban area of Seattle with buildings spread across more than 600 acres. Satellite campuses are available in the cities of Bothell and Tacoma for commuting students. The college is well-known for being a top choice for those looking to pursue a degree in engineering, education, and technology.

Program: 11 concentrations

16. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University has multiple engineering departments with a total of 11 programs available for graduate study. Program highlights include chemical engineering, computer engineering, materials science engineering, and civil engineering. The college has a few unique graduate-level engineering programs including information networking and engineering and public policy. Graduate programs are held on campus with approximately two years required for degree conferment with full-time study. The college’s engineering departments are highly ranked with 100 percent positive outcomes.

Carnegie Mellon University is located in the industrial capital of the nation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Famed industrialist Andrew Carnegie established the college at the turn of the 20th century. The college is made up of seven different schools, but the university is best known for having exceptional science and technology departments. Grants and summer fellowships are awarded to the study body to allow them to participate in research projects during school breaks.

Program: 11 concentrations

17. Georgia Tech

Out of all southern colleges, Georgia Tech offers some of the best engineering masters programs. With 10 different concentrations, graduate students have their pick of degrees. Major options include aerospace, materials science engineering, nuclear engineering, chemical engineering, and biomedical engineering. Graduate students are given an option to choose a minor to expand their learning base. All engineering programs are highly ranked with majors considered among the top 10 in the field. As a tech college, numerous unique learning experiences are available to engineering students, including competitive internships.

Atlanta is home to Georgia Tech, one of the best technological colleges in the nation. Campuses are located in both Atlanta and Georgia with satellite colleges all over the world, including Ireland, France, and Costa Rica. The university if very active in the field of research with federal funding for projects in the field of computers, science, and economics.

Program: 10 concentrations

18. University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico offers the best engineering masters degrees for those interested in the fields of nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, and electrical engineering. The engineering department as whole has been ranked 13th in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. The competitive degree tracks are very comprehensive with students given access to research projects, seminars, and honors society. With a low in-state tuition rate, graduate engineering students receive a solid return on investment.

The University of New Mexico is one of the best public schools in the southwest. The urban campus has academic buildings across more than 700 acres of city blocks. The public college’s academic departments are highly rated with top picks being health majors, social sciences, and psychology. Recently, the college expanded its online catalog to provide more options to students interested in virtual learning.

Program: 6 concentrations

19. Ohio State University

At Ohio State University, graduate engineering students are able to choose from 14 specializations in the field. This is one of the highest number of engineering majors offered out of all public colleges in the United States. Graduate programs within the engineering department are very flexible with students able to choose a minor or participate in a dual degree track. Students are able to select interdisciplinary courses in majors such as landscape architecture, nuclear engineering, biological engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. Ohio State University boasts a low tuition price and high graduation rate among engineering majors.

Those looking for a solid education at a high-rated public university should consider Ohio State University. Located in the state’s capitol, the college has a total enrollment in excess of 61,000 students. The university has a diverse catalog of course offerings, including 160 undergraduate majors. A personalized study option is also available to allow students to design their own programs.

Program: 14 concentrations

20. North Carolina State University

Choose from more than 12 concentrations when enrolling as an engineering graduate student at North Carolina State University. The engineering department is the highest populated for the college with more than 3,000 students enrolled in the master and doctoral programs. Departments include computer science, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, textile engineering, and nanoengineering. Engineering students are given access to top research tools in the field, including a state-of-the-art virtual and augmented reality laboratory.

Undergraduate and graduate students attending North Carolina State University will pay very low tuition rates if located within North Carolina. The public college has a student body of more than 35,000 and a campus spread out across 2,100 acres in the state capitol. Students are provided with multiple options when enrolling at the state college with a catalog of over 100 majors.

Program: 12 concentrations

21. University of Pennsylvania

The east coast has some of the best engineering masters degrees, including the available 17 specialization options at the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania has one of the largest major options in the entire country for engineering students. Graduate degree options include nanoengineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, aerospace, robotics, systems engineering, and integrated product design. Course requirements for the graduate degrees are completed within two years of full-time study and require a master thesis for conferment. The University of Pennsylvania has almost 100 percent graduation rate for engineering students.

Located in the city of Philadelphia, the central campus for the University of Pennsylvania is home to over 10,000 undergraduate students. The Penn Quakers compete in more than 25 NCAA Division I leagues. The college is home to 12 schools with top-ranked programs being engineering, education, and business. University of Pennsylvania is very selective with only 8 percent admissions rate.

Program: 17 concentrations

22. Michigan State University

Pursue any of the 11 engineering graduate-level majors available through Michigan State University. Choices include civil engineering, nuclear engineering, computer science, and nanotechnology. Michigan State University provides several degree options for students including the chance to earn a BS and MS in engineering simultaneously. Online programs and accelerated degree tracks are also available. Engineering students are invited to take part in cutting-edge research projects.

Michigan State University has a very large student body of more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate enrollees. The college’s football team has an exceptional reputation within the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference with numerous former players getting drafted to the NFL. Admission to the college is very competitive with only 23 percent of all applicants getting accepted.  

Program: 11 concentrations

23. Cornell University

Students who choose to attend Cornell University are gaining access to one of the best engineering masters programs in the country. Cornell’s engineering graduate school has six concentrations available with programs following a two-year course of study. Available majors include chemical engineering, applied physics, geological sciences, civil engineering, and biological engineering. Research projects, fellowships, and teaching positions are all offered to engineering students at Cornell University.

As a private college, Cornell University has a higher tuition rate than public colleges. However, the university aims to provide a well-rounded education to all of its students. There are more than 1,000 clubs and organizations offered on campus. The athletic department has exceptional teams for ice hockey, wrestling, and lacrosse. Numerous notable alumni have graduated Cornell University including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Program: 6 concentrations

24. University of Utah

Choose one of seven engineering concentrations when applying to the University of Utah’s graduate school. Options within the department include civil engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science engineering, and computer science. The University of Utah has research programs to help advance the careers of engineering students. With a low tuition rate and a higher graduation average, the University of Utah has the best engineering masters degrees in the southwest.

The University of Utah is one of the top national universities in the country. The public college is home to 26 research laboratories with endowments in excess of $9 million. Located in Salt Lake City, the campus has a rural vibe with many students taking advantage of the close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. The college is very competitive with award-winning education, technology, and business academic departments.  

Program: 7 concentrations

25. University of Maryland

University of Maryland is another pick as one of the best engineering masters programs. With 13 majors to choose from, graduate students also have flexible learning options. Top picks for the masters of engineering degrees from the University of Maryland include bioengineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, and project management. Online programs and professional certification options are also available at the university. The graduate engineering department has 100 percent post-graduation job placement rate.

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, the University of Maryland is a top choice among prospective federal employees. College Park is a suburban campus, but both cities are a short commute away. The campus is very active with over 800 clubs and 60 fraternities and sororities. Athletics at the University of Maryland is a big part of campus living with the teams winning multiple NCAA Division I titles.

Program: 13 concentrations

How Do I Choose the Best Engineering School? 

Once a person decides to further his or her education and earn a master’s degree, it’s important for him or her to compare school options to find the best engineering masters programs. For one, a person needs to look into the best engineering master’s degrees based on the types of degrees the school offers. When finding the best engineering masters programs, a person should also take into consideration the school itself. It’s important to look into what the degree programs and school offer. For instance, the best engineering master’s degrees may offer mentorship. This gives a student insight and knowledge from a person who thoroughly understands engineering.

Additionally, when looking for the best engineering master’s degrees, a person should look into what type of industry connections a school has. This is beneficial once a student graduates because these schools can help a graduate find a job easier. Another aspect to consider when comparing the best engineering masters programs is to look into the research and labs that the school provides. Better resources allow a student to learn more and have better opportunities to learn engineering through hands-on experience. 

How Do I Choose a Specialization?

When a person is choosing between the different types of engineering degrees, it’s important for the individual to take into account his or her interests and career goals. Another aspect to keep in mind is the salary associated with each one. Certain types of engineering degrees can earn a person more than others. For instance, a mechanical engineer tends to make more than a civil engineer. On the other hand, a chemical engineer earns more than both of them. A person should also take into account the need for a field when comparing the types of degrees for engineering. For example, the need for civil engineers is expected to increase more than electrical engineers. When a person questions what type of engineer should I be, they should first determine their options. Some programs are available online or on campus while others are only on-campus programs. 

When comparing the types of degrees for engineering, a person should understand that a civil engineer is an individual who works with structures like dams, bridges, and other similar structures. A mechanical engineer deals with machinery. An electrical engineer works with devices that use electromagnetism or electricity, or they work with electronics. An environmental engineer finds solutions to issues that negatively impact the environment. These are just a few of the different types of degrees in engineering. 

Besides determining what type of engineer should I be, a person should figure out what degree level he or she would like to obtain. Is a bachelor’s degree enough, or should the individual look into the types of engineering masters degrees? The different types of degrees in engineering at this level allow a person to specialize. In addition, the types of engineering masters degrees include the option to earn a degree in engineering management. 

What Will I Learn in a Master’s in Engineering Program?

Mathematics is a huge part of the core courses in a master’s degree program. This is one of the masters in engineering requirements because math is a vital part of working as most types of engineers. Science is also a vital component. Certain courses are only masters in engineering requirements based on the type of degree program. For instance, a masters in mechanical engineering may include courses in mechatronics, microelectronical systems, solid and fluid dynamics, and micro-mechanics. On the other hand, the masters in engineering requirements for an electrical engineer may include computer software, circuits and devices, bio-electronics, and computer hardware. A person studying in a masters program to gain management skills will learn skills necessary to be a team lead. The person will learn business and management skills. 

As mentioned above, the programs vary based on the type of degree a person chooses. They also vary from school to school. In most cases though, a person has to complete a thesis project to earn his or her master’s. A thesis project is an in-depth writing project that states something a person believes and uses facts as proof. The requirements vary from school to school. To figure out if a thesis project is a requirement, a person may often find this information when looking up information about the program on the school’s website.  

In some cases, a person who wants to earn a masters in engineering will need to complete an internship. This helps the person gain real-world experience working underneath a seasoned engineer. The person learns from witnessing and doing while applying what he or she learned in college. An internship can give a person valuable knowledge that can’t be taught in a classroom. It also can be used on a resume as experience. 

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Value Online Engineering Master’s

25 Most Affordable Online Engineering Master’s