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Schools for Aspiring Environmental Engineers: How to Choose

Environmental engineering schools teach students to develop solutions to environmental problems. A bachelor's degree is generally required to become an engineer; master's and doctorate degree programs are also available.

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Environmental engineers attempt to prevent and design solutions for pollution problems in water, soil and air. Comprised of multiple concentrations, environmental engineering programs give students the chance to choose an area of study which relates to their interests.

Top Environmental Engineering Schools

The following are all schools offering environmental engineering programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Tuition and fees are for undergraduate programs, based on the 2015-2016 school year:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees*
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 in-state, $38,139 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 Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,054 in-state, $30,214 out-of-state
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $9,806 in-state, $34,676 out-of-state
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,204 in-state, $32,396 out-of-state
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $48,710
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,116

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

The following information should help prospective students choose an appropriate environmental engineering program:

  • Students may wish to select a school which offers the most depth in their desired concentration, such as contaminant control, biotechnology, environmental facilities and water resources.
  • Investigation of the types of research options available at each school considered can lead to enhanced career opportunities.
  • Some schools offer courses designed to prepare students for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
  • Students can verify that a school meets quality standards by checking its accreditation status with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
  • To ensure a school employs highly qualified faculty, students may visit the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors website, which lists all of the schools where its members teach.

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering

Some schools offer environmental engineering studies as part of a civil engineering degree curriculum, while others offer a bachelor's degree solely in environmental engineering. The environmental engineering degree program prepares students to become certified PEs. Students may be required to complete a senior design project at the end of the program.

Master of Engineering

Students pursuing a Master of Engineering take core engineering courses supplemented by completion of an environmental engineering track. The Master of Science in Environmental Engineering degree option offers similar instruction. These research-oriented programs culminate in either independent study projects or the completion of a thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering

Students may enter Ph.D. programs after earning either a bachelor's or master's degree. If the student's degree isn't in engineering, he or she may be required to take extra coursework to make up for any engineering coursework deficiencies. Once Ph.D. students complete and defend a dissertation, they're eligible for graduation and may enter the field of research or obtain appointments as professors.

To recap, environmental engineering programs can be found at 4-year colleges and universities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Schools are endowed with different types of research labs and levels of funding that determine whether opportunities are available in each concentration.

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