Schools with Car Engineering Programs: How to Choose

Car engineering, also known as automotive engineering, is the study of applying mathematical and scientific principles to the design and production of automobiles. Bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as graduate certificate programs, are available across the U.S. in automotive engineering. Students interested in automotive engineering should consider several factors when selecting a program.

Training to become a car engineer may begin with a bachelor's degree program in mechanical or electrical engineering, but master's degree and graduate certificate programs are other common education options. Bachelor's programs can qualify students for entry-level engineering jobs, while master's degree programs may lead to advanced positions, research work or academia.

Top 10 Automotive Engineering Schools

These institutions offer programs for aspiring automotive engineers.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-2016)*
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,204 (In-state) $32,396 (Out-of-state)
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,856 (In-state); $43,476 (Out-of-state)
University of California Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (In-state); $38,139 (Out-of-state)
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,047
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $46,320
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,485 (In-state); $29,129 (Out-of-state)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,116
Purdue University Indianapolis, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate $9,056 (In-state); $29,774 (Out-of-state)
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $17,514 (In-state); $31,346 (Out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Students seeking a shorter, more focused program can enroll in graduate certificate programs in automotive engineering, which are typically offered to current engineering students looking to specialize in areas such as automotive materials, structural design and emissions. The following are some important considerations to keep in mind when selecting an automotive engineering school.

  • Programs that incorporate courses from other engineering fields, such as civil, mechanical or aerospace, may appeal to students with broader interests or to those looking for an interdisciplinary education.
  • Programs with independent projects and research assignments may allow for a greater amount of freedom in a chosen area of automotive engineering.
  • Students are encouraged to enroll in automotive engineering programs that offer on-site laboratory settings for hands-on experience with engine, fuel and emission systems, as well as up-to-date computer labs for education in design, modeling and testing.
  • Students may want to research the internship or work experience opportunities a school offers, as some programs provide students the chance to work with professional automotive engineers in car manufacturing or racing companies.

Bachelor's Degree in Automotive Engineering

Bachelor's degree programs in automotive engineering include fundamental courses in mathematics and technical writing. Students learn how to design, build and test these systems. Internships may be required for completion.

Graduate Certificate in Automotive Engineering

Graduate certificates in automotive engineering are typically open to students with engineering bachelor's degrees or those currently enrolled in master's degree programs in an engineering discipline.

Master's Degree in Automotive Engineering

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. In addition to core engineering courses, students take classes in management, business and law.

Automotive engineering encompasses components of mechanical, electrical or materials engineering programs. Some schools may offer automotive engineering degrees, or may offer courses within mechanical engineering programs; it is important to review course options when selecting a program to ensure it has the course options desired.

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