If you’re looking to study for a degree in 2018, you’d be smart to choose an engineering qualification.

Why should you study for an engineering degree? What are the benefits of getting a degree in engineering before you enter the field? And, once you’ve decided to study, which are the best universities and the most useful degrees to get?

Studying engineering is an intelligent choice for anyone looking for a long and prosperous career. There are plenty of excellent technical universities over the world who offer world-class degrees. In fact, the UK and US are home to some of the very best engineering schools, and there’s a surprising range of specialisms and programmes available at foundation, undergraduate, masters and PhD level.

What can you do with an engineering degree?

Engineers work across a broad range of industries including oil and gas, renewable energy, power, manufacturing, construction, life sciences, and IT to name just a few.

There are various engineering disciplines that you can choose to specialise in at university, depending on the university and course. The main four discplines are electrical, mechanical, chemical, and civil and then there are a number of sub-disciplines which fall under each of these, such as computer engineering (electrical), aerospace engineering (mechanical), petroleum engineering (chemical), environmental engineering (civil). There’s also a number of different engineering functions to choose from, including analysis, production, design, test, sales and operations.

An engineering degree also gives you a variety of transferable skills, which means that you can open the door to other professions too. To become an engineer you will learn how to discern a problem, develop solutions and how to implement them. Knowing how to use your knowledge to solve problems is a valuable skill that any industry will recognise.

What do you need to get accepted onto an engineering degree?

Although this will vary across different universities, most will look for students to have a relevant qualification in mathematics. The science subjects are also usually relevant dependent on the course, although physics is often held in highest regard in relation to engineering degrees.

get these grades you can take a Foundation course or an additional assessment test.

Other subjects may help you get into an engineering degree at university, for example design and technology. Anything that will help you develop design, written or oral communication, presentation and teamwork skills is useful.

You may also want to consider participating in extra-curricular activities that build on your understanding of engineering, such as reading engineering books, listening to courses online and attending conferences. For many universities, it will help to prove that you have an active interest in the field.

Top Universities for Engineering

Below we look at the top five ranking universities for engineering in 2018 according to Times Higher Education (THE), and look at some of the courses they offer. You can find the full list here.

5th - University of Cambridge (UK)

Students can specialise in a wide range of engineering topics, including manufacturing, chemical, aerospace, computer, electrical, structural, and environmental. Flexible study options are available, which means you can combine various topics. More than 300 students apply here a year, with an average of seven applications per place.

THE scores for The University of Cambridge:

  • Overall - 93.2
  • Research - 97.8
  • Teaching - 87.8
  • 18,389 students
  • 35% international students
  • 10.9 students per staff

4th - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

The School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has produced a huge number of new technologies and products to help solve engineering problems. The MIT Innovation Initiative has launched only a few years ago, which has increased the schools focus on innovation. The school is also focused on encouraging students to develop their creativity, through an initiative that gives students access to educational experiences, mentoring, funding and support to develop their projects. Degrees offered include electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil and general engineering with specialist subjects chosen at the end of the freshman year.

THE scores for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

  • Overall - 92.5
  • Research - 91.6
  • Teaching - 87.3
  • 11,177 students
  • 34% international students
  • 8.7 students per staff

3rd - University of Oxford (UK)

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford has a world-class reputation for research and a top-level quality assessment rating for teaching. The University of Oxford offers students a four-year course in engineering science in the following fields: biomedical, civil, information, mechanical and chemical engineering. For most graduates from Oxford, an engineering degree leads to a career in a professional engineering. However, many graduates also enter consultancy and business industries. It’s worth bearing in mind that half of the applicants for this course get an interview and only 15 percent secure a place. It’s a highly competitive university to enter, with an extremely rewarding degree.

THE scores for The University of Oxford

  • Overall - 93.5
  • Research - 97.1
  • Teaching - 91.6
  • 20,409 students
  • 38% international students
  • 11.2 students per staff

2nd - California Institute of Technology (US)

The California Institute of Technology is one of the smallest universities in the world, but it is known for its ambition and innovation.  With five engineering majors and an interdisciplinary studies programme enabling studies to create a bespoke course of study, it’s easy to see why. The California Institute of Technology offers undergraduate degrees in civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical with specialist subjects chosen at the end of the freshman year.

THE scores for California Institute of Technology:

  • Overall - 93.0
  • Research - 97.5
  • Teaching - 90.3
  • 2209 students
  • 27% international students
  • 6.5 students per staff

1st - Stanford University (US)

Stanford University's School of Engineering has been at the forefront of innovative new technology and for the past century. With nine departments in the school and additional research centres, lavatories and institutes, and eight undergraduate programmes, it’s no wonder that Stanford is a leader in engineering research. Their research is centred around exploring ten of the most daunting human challenges of the coming decades. They define these as bioengineering, climate change, information technology, systems design, networking security, robotics, urban design, materials and matter, computation and data analysis and affordable and accessible healthcare.

THE scores for Stanford University:

  • Overall - 93.0
  • Research - 96.7
  • Teaching - 89.1
  • 15,845 students
  • 22% international students
  • 7.5 students per staff

Top 10 Most Valuable Degrees in the UK

Although money shouldn’t be the primary reason you study a particular field of engineering, it can certainly help to know which are well paid. The below is a table from a job search engine which analysed which degrees are the most valuable immediately after leaving university. Although some entries are not engineering related, the table is otherwise dominated by engineering degrees.


Average annual earning potential after graduation

Computer Engineering


Electrical Engineering




Chemical Engineering


Computer Science


Information Technology


Software Engineering


General Engineering


Civil Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Are you considering working the oil and gas industry when you graduate? Visit our graduate guide to find out more about the industry or check out our latest engineering vacancies.

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