Engineering Degrees in Los Angeles with Course Descriptions

The Los Angeles area has more than ten colleges and universities that offer engineering programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools, all located within 15 miles of downtown Los Angeles, to make an informed education decision.

Los Angeles Engineering Schools

Near Los Angeles there are many colleges and universities offering engineering programs. Several offer undergraduate and graduate degrees with specialties ranging from aerospace engineering to mechanical engineering. This article focuses on three of these schools all of which are within 15 miles of downtown Los Angeles. A table compares the three schools in terms of cost, enrollment size and other aspects.

  • University of California - Los Angeles, located about 13 miles from downtown Los Angeles, offers many different areas of study through its bachelor's, master's and PhD programs.
  • The University of Southern California also allows students to choose between many engineering disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels. USC is less than four miles from the city center.
  • California State University - Los Angeles offers bachelor's and master's degrees in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. CSU is located about eight miles away from the city's center.

Comparison of Schools

The table below gives information on aspects of all three schools including cost, enrollment size and acceptance rates.

University of California - Los Angeles University of Southern California California State University - Los Angeles
School Type Four-year; public Four-year; private, not-for-profit Four-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 44,027* 45,687* 28,531*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $13,226 in-state; $42,218 out-of-state* $56,225* $6,749 in-state; $18,629 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 65%* 64%* 91%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 16%* 16%* 46%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 97%* 96%* 79%*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (students began Fall 2011) 91%* 92%* 47%*
Distance from Downtown 13.4 mi. 3.7 mi. 8.3 mi.

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

University of California - Los Angeles

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science conducts research in a variety of areas, including healthcare, water, renewable energy and security. Students can pursue undergraduate degrees in nine areas of study or graduate degrees in about 20 different areas.

Bachelor of Science in Engineering

Some of the undergraduate engineering disciplines available include aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and electrical engineering. Each area of study has unique requirements, and students may find some engineering programs that offer more elective course options than others. For example, aerospace engineering students are required to complete an extensive 187-credit curriculum that covers fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, aircraft propulsion systems and flight structures. UCLA's mechanical engineering program is 185 credits and includes courses in feedback and control systems, intermediate heat transfer and manufacturing processes. Students in the mechanical engineering program also are required to complete a 2-part senior design course. The civil engineering program requires from 188 to 190 credits and allows students to take elective courses throughout their senior year.

Master of Science in Engineering

In addition to the undergraduate areas of study, master's students may also choose to concentrate in options such as bioengineering or manufacturing. There is also an online master's degree program, which gives students flexible scheduling options and allows them to choose a specific area of focus or pursue a multidisciplinary education.

The amount of time needed to complete each program varies; for example, full-time students typically complete the chemical and biomolecular engineering programs in six quarters, but full-time students can complete the civil and environmental engineering programs in one year. Each program also has specific curriculum requirements. Some programs require field experience in addition to thesis and comprehensive examination requirements. Students interested in a particular area of study can check the school's website to see specific requirements for their desired area of study.

PhD in Engineering

Students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree may choose from studies in eight different areas, including bioengineering, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, materials engineering, aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. PhD applicants should have a master's degree in their intended field of study, although some exceptions may be made. All PhD candidates must complete oral examinations and a dissertation, but coursework for each program varies, depending on the focus area. Regardless of a student's chosen specialization, the PhD programs typically take 12-18 quarters (4-6 years) to complete.

University of Southern California

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is home to the Information Science Institute, which is the birthplace of many Internet advances. Students can choose from a variety of specialties at the bachelor's, master's and PhD levels.

Bachelor of Science in Engineering

Undergraduate students can choose engineering specialties from ten different areas of study. Some options include biomedical engineering, astronautical engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Students may also find additional concentration options within particular engineering specialties; for example, biomedical engineering students can specialize in biochemical, electrical or mechanical engineering.

All programs take four years, or eight semesters, to complete and require general education courses in addition to major courses. For example, astronautical engineering coursework covers space mission design and spacecraft dynamics, while the biomedical engineering curriculum includes courses in linear circuits and physiological systems. All engineering programs require a varying amount of math and science courses as well.

Master of Science in Engineering

There are 13 engineering program options for master's students to choose from. These areas include petroleum engineering, electrical engineering and financial engineering. Within each option, students may focus their studies by concentrating in a particular field. For example, civil engineering students can choose studies in structural engineering, construction engineering and transportation systems, while electrical engineering students may have the choice to focus on computer networks or wireless health technology. Many programs are also available online. Each program has different requirements, and students can check the school's website for more info about course options for a particular program.

PhD in Engineering

Aspiring doctoral students may choose to earn a PhD in any of the same concentrations as master's students. Within each discipline, there are a number of research areas to choose from. For example, chemical engineering students may choose to study porous media or statistical mechanics. Civil and environmental engineering students may be interested in earthquake engineering or tsunamis and water resources.

Although specific program requirements vary, students can generally expect to complete about 60 units of coursework beyond the undergraduate level. PhD programs in engineering also require students to complete a screening exam, qualifying exam and dissertation.

California State University - Los Angeles

California State University - Los Angeles's College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology offers degree programs focused on civil engineering, electrical and engineering and mechanical engineering. There are many laboratories available for students, and students may also have internship opportunities from large companies like Boeing.

Bachelor of Science in Engineering

There are three bachelor's degree programs available at California State University - Los Angeles: civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Students may be able to further specialize, depending on the program. For example, mechanical engineering students can focus their studies on thermal systems, applied mechanics, biomechanical engineering or aeronautical engineering.

Master of Science in Engineering

Master's degree programs are available in civil engineering, electrical engineering, materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering. Students should be prepared to continue their studies at the doctoral level or pursue careers in design, research and development. Most of the master's programs require a total of 30 credit hours. Students in any of these programs can expect to also complete a comprehensive examination and/or a thesis project.

Other School Options

Engineering degree programs are also available at Los Angeles City College and at Loyola Marymount University, which are both located about nine miles from downtown.


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