2023 Best Undergraduate Engineering Schools in California

2022-2023 Engineering Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 5, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: California Polytechnic State University | California State University, Fullerton | California State University, Long Beach | Loyola Marymount University | San Francisco State University | San José State University | Santa Clara University | University of California, Davis | University of California, Irvine | University of California, Santa Barbara | University of California, Santa Cruz | Frequently Asked Questions

Unsurprisingly, today’s labor trends suggest that there is strong and consistent growth across engineering professions, which are increasing their demand for talented, diverse, dedicated individuals. That’s why we at Colleges of Distinction are proud to announce our 2022-2023 selection of excellent schools for engineering majors in California!

These colleges and universities have demonstrated a commitment to the Four Distinctions, which ensure quality and student success throughout it programming. And, as California Engineering Colleges of Distinction, they enrich their engineering programs with a multidisciplinary, collaborative, and well-connected curriculum. Prospective students know that an education from a 2022-2023 California Engineering College of Distinction will prepare them for their futures as innovators.

What makes a 2022-2023 California Engineering College of Distinction?

Stability and quality of these programs are evidenced by their accreditation by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

Practical experience is a given through internships, co-ops, and experiential learning, all of which help students apply their knowledge to the real world.

Multidisciplinary options are available to students, such as civil engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Collaborative work is encouraged in the classroom, so students learn to be effective team members and leaders.

Soft skills—such as communication, leadership, and teamwork—are emphasized to ensure that students are not just skilled engineers, but also resilient and capable professionals.

Facility investments keep schools’ technology up to date while supporting students along their academic journey.

Dedicated advising and counseling is available to be specifically geared toward engineering students.

High-impact practices, which are intrinsic to every College of Distinction, are fully embraced within the engineering curriculum that are important to all colleges of distinction are incorporated in the engineering curriculum.

Industry connections cultivate an environment for students to create a valuable professional network.


California Polytechnic State University

San Luis Obispo, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Cal Poly’s Guiding Philosophy, “Learn by Doing,” pushes students to take responsibility over their individual academic journeys. Thanks to California Polytechnic State University’s rigorous, success-oriented academic environment, the University ensures that students are actively involved in unique educational experiences.

SERVICE AND COMMUNITY-BASED LEARNING
Service-learning takes students out of the classroom and into the community, challenging them to take their wealth of knowledge and use it to solve the issues that currently face their community. By connecting curriculum with the greater community, they practice turning theory into problem-solving tactics.

Nine faculty were recently selected to further Cal Poly’s service-learning initiative, leading to the creation of nine new service-learning courses that relate directly to STEM.

STUDY ABROAD
Some of the standout programs offered by Cal Poly include: Architecture in Rome, Construction Management in Prague, Sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic, Architecture in Switzerland, and Architectural Engineering in Lithuania.

Acceptance rate  38%     •     Net price  $20,491     •     SAT Range  1220-1410     •     Students submitting SAT scores 80%
Total Undergrad Population 22,440     •     Setting Public     •     Suburb
4-year Graduation rate (6 year)  83%     •     Retention rate 94%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 21:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 1,303

Engineering Majors Offered

Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Agricultural Engineering
Architectural Engineering
Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical Electronics and Communications Engineering
Engineering Science
Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
Materials Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Industrial Engineering
Manufacturing Engineering
Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians


California State University, Fullerton logo, Titans, CSU

California State University, Fullerton

Fullerton, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year


As part of the world-class California State University system, Cal State Fullerton prepares its diverse student body for success in a global society. Titans actively engage in hands-on learning, research, clubs and organizations, and volunteer work that enriches the local community.

Cal State Fullerton may be the largest CSU campus with more than 34,000 undergraduate students, but its mission to provide high-impact immersive learning ensures personal, fulfilling experiences for every student. Located in Orange County, CSUF is near Los Angeles, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the beautiful California coastline. Students thrive with the support of one-on-one academic advising, college career specialists, and student success initiatives.

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
With a resource-rich campus and more than 80 research conferences that are available for students to attend, CSUF undergraduates have numerous outlets through which to make new discoveries in their areas of interest. Undergraduate students are encouraged to take part in research opportunities, and they can reach out to professors to initiate the process. The Titan Research Gateway, home to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, is a one-stop shop for students to gather information about how to begin a research project, collaborate with a faculty mentor, and find information about research grants and scholarships.

TITAN TAKEOVER
The Titan Takeover job shadowing program is an opportunity for students to make the most of their spring break. Here, students can get a feel for a day in the life of a professional in their desired careers. This is a great way for them to make meaningful networking connections while getting familiar with areas of interest outside of the classroom.

More and more of Cal State Fullerton graduates are also interested in being entrepreneurs, thanks to the success of so many young people on the West Coast who have become successful in creating wealth via technology. At Cal State Fullerton’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, you will learn, invent and explore possibilities. And when you graduate, you’re going to be ready to take on a challenging and rewarding career. You will be ready to change the world.

Acceptance rate 68%      •      Net price $8,322      •      SAT Range 1000-1180      •      Students submitting SAT scores 97%
Total Undergrad Population 42,051      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 69%      •      Retention rate 89%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 27:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 412

Engineering Majors Offered

Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Mechanical Engineering


California State University, Long Beach

Long Beach, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

California State University, Long Beach is dedicated to providing a high-quality education founded on the principles of superior teaching, research, and service for the people of California and the world. Motivated by the values of diversity, integrity, and service, CSU Long Beach strives to make its world-class education accessible and inclusive. The university looks to change lives by expanding educational opportunities, fostering creativity, and preparing future leaders.

CSU Long Beach is proud of the tight-knit community it has cultivated over the years. With a population of 37,000—and even its own zip code!—the 323-acre campus beckons those who are ready to learn, explore, and succeed. CSU Long Beach boasts a beautiful campus with state-of-the-art research facilities, performing arts centers, and the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden. Students and members of the surrounding community are encouraged to experience all of the beauty and inspiration the campus has to offer.

Acceptance rate 42%      •      Net price $10,568      •      SAT Range 1020-1240      •      Students submitting SAT scores 95%
Total Undergrad Population 40,069      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 73%      •      Retention rate 89%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 24:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 758

Engineering Majors Offered

Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering Computer
Engineering Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Manufacturing Engineering
Engineering Technologies/Technicians General
Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technologies/Technicians
Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians
Construction Engineering Technology/Technician
Computer Engineering Technologies/Technicians


Loyola Marymount University logo

Loyola Marymount University

XX, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Los Angeles, CA ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Loyola Marymount University is rooted in its Roman Catholic tradition—a relationship that is directly connected to the school’s personal and academic goals and success. LMU promotes both the intellectual and personal growth of each student. The University’s commitment to Catholicism drives a socially conscious mindset and students are taught to become contributing members of the global community.

FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE
LMU’s first year experience takes a holistic approach to preparing students for successful college careers. Students explore themselves while also engaging with their peers. LMU students learn how to utilize different resources and explore the foundations of critical thinking.

COMMON BOOK
Every incoming freshman is required to finish a common reading assignment prior to arriving on campus. Students must also attend a presentation by the author within the first two weeks of school. The common reader is a shared experience among students, who will learn how to think critically and engage with their peers.

Seaver College of Science and Engineering offers a rigorous academic experience to ambitious students committed to lives of meaning and purpose. We welcome you. This year Seaver College is celebrating 50 years of STEM education at LMU! Join in the festivities!

Acceptance rate 50%      •      Net price $48,758      •      SAT Range 1210-1390      •      Students submitting SAT scores 65%
Total Undergrad Population 9,686      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%      •      Retention rate 83%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 83

Engineering Majors Offered

Civil Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Engineering Physics
Mechanical Engineering


San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

San Francisco State University, part of the California State University system is a public institution in northern California. Over 23,000 undergraduates explore opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.

The College of Science & Engineering offers students supportive academic experiences of thinking, learning and doing by providing them with engaging instructional programs, research-enriched experiences and inspiration to participate in and lead the workforce of the future.

The College of Science & Engineering envisions an environment which reflects the ethnic, economic, and cultural diversity of the region; develops the intellectual capability, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving ability of our students to prepare them for the future workforce, while also increasing the scientific literacy of all graduates of San Francisco State University to pave their way for success in a world that is influenced by rapidly changing technologies.

Acceptance rate 84%      •      Net price $14,757      •      SAT Range 930-1130      •      Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 27,349      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 55%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 22:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 254

Engineering Majors Offered

Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians


san jose state university logo

San José State University

San Jose, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

San José State University is situated in the entrepreneurial heart of Silicon Valley, one of the most innovative regions in the world. Named as one of the four most transformative universities in the country, San José State has been meeting the evolving needs of the community for more than 160 years. The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San José State began modestly in 1946 with initial programs designed to support construction, manufacturing, and food processing.

Today, this vibrant college community has grown to nearly 400 faculty and staff supporting more than 7,000 local and international students. Together they lead the charge towards addressing real-world, global challenges such as designing smart cities, reenvisioning transportation, securing cyberspace, facilitating space technology research, engineering intelligent medicines, and providing practical solutions to underserved populations.

The Davidson College of Engineering prepares graduates from all walks of life to be career-ready collaborative team players with a strong sense of cultural awareness and social responsibility. The college launches more graduates into Silicon Valley careers than any other college or university. With its hands-on learning environments, applied research opportunities, and interdisciplinary projects with industry professionals, the Davidson College of Engineering continues to earn top rankings among national public engineering programs.

Acceptance rate 67%      •      Net price $15,995      •      SAT Range 1010-1240      •      Students submitting SAT scores 93%
Total Undergrad Population 36,208      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 66%      •      Retention rate 86%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 25:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 1,024

Engineering Majors Offered

Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Materials Engineering Mechanical Engineering
Industrial Engineering
Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians
Engineering-Related Fields


Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university, offers its students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering as well as engineering Ph.D.s and master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, SCU strives to educate citizens and leaders who will build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.

SCU, founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus, was established on the site of Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the eighth of 21 California missions. Today, the University is committed to promoting academic excellence, enriching its educational experience through the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person, fostering an engaged community, and realizing opportunities available through its location in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

Whether it’s bringing solar-powered lights to classrooms in Ghana, treating post-traumatic stress disorder with virtual reality, delivering life-saving medicines to rural hospitals via drone, or designing houses that create more energy than they consume: most of the solutions that change the world come from engineers, and some of the best engineers in the world come from right here.

Acceptance rate 51%      •      Net price $48,284      •      SAT Range 1270-1450      •      Students submitting SAT scores 68%
Total Undergrad Population 8,616      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 92%      •      Retention rate 93%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 221

Engineering Majors Offered

Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Engineering Physics
Mechanical Engineering


uc davis logo

University of California, Davis

Davis, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

University of California, Davis is a public university in northern California. UC Davis has over 30,000 students studying 107 academic majors. Over 50% of undergraduate Aggies participate in meaningful research.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis should be a national and international leader in education and research to address the engineering challenges in the 21st century through high-impact research programs and curricular innovations in cutting-edge areas of information technologies.

At UC Davis, faculty and students are well-positioned to pursue exciting innovative approaches to meet these challenges. They benefit from our proximity to Silicon Valley, which supplies a valuable resource for connections with world leaders in the electronics industry, as well as the Northern California Central Valley and Coastal regions which are the most productive agricultural regions in the world. The school’s interactions keep us well informed about today’s needs for innovation and provides us with opportunities for collaborations and the transformation of ideas into products. The department also benefits from UC Davis’ world-renowned strength in the life and agricultural sciences.  

Faculty and researchers have pioneered new engineering approaches and disciplines, examples of which include nanoscale devices and sensors, MEMS/NEMS, energy scavenging circuits, reconfigurable terabyte computers, integrated analog and digital electronics, implantable biosensors, embedded systems, terahertz science and technology, ultra-fast intra-chip communication, high frequency and high power RF technology, big data, cyber-physical systems, wireless sensor networks and networking protocols that control the energy demand of smart appliances.

Acceptance rate 51%      •      Net price $48,284      •      SAT Range 1270-1450      •      Students submitting SAT scores 68%
Total Undergrad Population 8,616      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 92%      •      Retention rate 93%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 221

Engineering Majors Offered

Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Engineering Physics
Mechanical Engineering


University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

University of California, Irvine is home to 29,000 undergraduate students. With over 85 bachelor’s degrees offered UCI students have many academic options. UC Irvine is a public university in Orange County, California.

Founded in 1965, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering educates more than 4,600 students (3,728 undergraduates and 961 graduates) with an integrative approach that blends fundamentals, research and hands-on experience. The school’s aim is to unleash innovation, create opportunities and inspire ingenuity. The Samueli School’s faculty members are leaders in their disciplines who have achieved worldwide recognition for their research and dedicated teaching.

The school includes six academic departments: biomedical engineering; chemical and biomolecular engineering; civil and environmental engineering; electrical engineering and computer science; materials science and engineering; and mechanical and aerospace engineering. Under the leadership of Dean Magnus Egerstedt, the school pursues research that is timely, socially responsible and cutting edge, and works in partnership with industry and state and federal agencies to promote the transfer of research to applications that benefit society. Current research thrusts include Communications and Information Technology, Energy and Sustainability, Human Health, and Advanced Manufacturing and Materials.

Acceptance rate 30%      •      Net price $13,106      •      SAT Range 1230-1430      •      Students submitting SAT scores 91%
Total Undergrad Population 36,303      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 85%      •      Retention rate 94%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 1,030

Engineering Majors Offered

Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
Materials Engineering
Mechanical Engineering


University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

UC Santa Barbara is a noted institution located on the edge of the Pacific, a perfect natural environment for research. The serene atmosphere is conducive not only to academic success, but also many outdoor and recreational activities.

The mid-sized College of Engineering at UC Santa Barbara is consistently ranked among the upper echelon of engineering schools in the world. UCSB Engineering provides students with the direct academic mentorship they need to build a successful career and to complete degree programs on time. We are an interdisciplinary campus, where a culture of innovation drives the development of both fundamental science and applied technology solutions, while adding value to the economy in our region, our state, and the world. UCSB Engineering has proven itself to be one of the most successful environments for public-private research partnership in the nation; the deep, varied, and numerous connections forged with industry have resulted in hundreds of intellectual properties.

COE researchers produce a great deal of first-principles science and theoretical research, but also focus sharply on application and are known for moving theory rapidly into important scalable technology. That powerful balance of foundational research and indispensable application is largely the result of the long and ever-expanding tradition of interdisciplinary cooperation among departments both within and beyond the COE. Our deep ties with industry, which appreciates that collaborative orientation and our ability to advance indispensable technologies, has resulted in nearly 100 startups being founded on UCSB technology and more than 750 foreign and domestic active patents.

Acceptance rate 37%      •      Net price $17,223      •      SAT Range 1230-1460      •      Students submitting SAT scores 82%
Total Undergrad Population 26,179      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 84%      •      Retention rate 91%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 243

Engineering Majors Offered

Chemical Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
Mechanical Engineering


University of California Santa Cruz logo

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

UC Santa Cruz has a steadfast commitment to the intellectual growth of its students, all while promoting environmental stewardship and active engagement with the community. Such impactful work is led by faculty who care for each student as capable, hard-working individuals.

The Baskin School of Engineering includes departments of Applied MathematicsBiomolecular EngineeringComputational MediaComputer Science and EngineeringElectrical and Computer Engineering, and Statistics. A close interrelationship exists among all departments, and with the other divisions of UC Santa Cruz. A collegial atmosphere encourages cooperative interaction as School of Engineering faculty and students carry out joint research projects with faculty of other divisions and with other universities as well as industry and government research laboratories. A commitment to academic excellence with a focus on engineering for social good gives meaning to our work.

The faculty, staff, researchers and students of the Baskin School of Engineering comprise a diverse group of individuals with a wide array of interests in teaching, research and extracurricular pursuits. But we share many common goals: to be the best educators, engineers and administrators that we can be; to lead the way in areas such as big data, cyber-physical systems, genomics and computational media; and to work together to ensure that each person has opportunities to collaborate, contribute and grow within our community.

Acceptance rate 65%      •      Net price $17,842      •      SAT Range 1160-1360      •      Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 19,161      •      Setting City: Small      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%      •      Retention rate 85%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 25:1
Total undergrad engineering degrees granted last year 171

Engineering Majors Offered

Biomedical/Medical Engineering
Computer Engineering Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering


What it’s like to attend engineering school in California and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in California?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in California is $3,908 for in-state students at public institutions, $19,968 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $22,781 for students at private institutions.

What are the fastest growing job markets for engineers majors in California?

Biomedical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Petroleum Engineering
Environmental Engineering
Computer Software Engineering

Top Engineering Employers in California

AECOM
Northrop Grumman
SpaceX
Boeing
Lockheed Martin Corporation
BKF Engineers
Google
HDR
Stantec

Most popular engineering degree programs in California

Mechanical Engineering – 3,882 degrees awarded in 2020
Electrical Electronics and Communications Engineering – 2,423 graduates
Civil Engineering – 2,159 graduates
Computer Engineering – 2,103 graduates
Biomedical/Medical Engineering – 1,065 graduates

Cheapest engineering degree program in California

California State University, Fullerton has an average net price of $8,322 making it the least expensive engineering degree program in California that made our list.

Easiest engineering degree program to get into in California

Cal Poly Humboldt has an acceptance rate of 85%, with an SAT range of 970-1190, making it the least exclusive college with an engineering program on our list.

Engineering degree program with lowest student debt in California

University of California, Davis has a median total debt after graduation of $13,199. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

See The Top Engineering Colleges of Distinction of 2022-2023

Best Undergraduate Engineering Schools by State

Texas | Florida | New York | Pennsylvania | Illinois | Ohio

Best California Colleges by Award

Top Business Schools in California 2023
2023 Best Nursing Schools in California
Best Colleges for Education Majors in California