Top Engineering Colleges in USA for Indians | Detailed Guide

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engineering in USA

Not only one of the most attractive destinations, there are many top engineering  colleges in USA. With some of the best engineering schools in the world welcoming students from around the world, you can take advantage of a world-class curriculum and a large international community as well (read Indian!).

Why the US?

If you look at the world ranking of the best engineering schools and colleges, you will find the engineering colleges in USA featuring quite prominently. Some of the best reasons for picking the US as your destination:

  • The number of programs featuring unique and in-demand specializations (consider Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Aerospace, Earth sciences, Mathematics and so on).
  • The availability of funds and state-of-the-art research facilities
  • Focus on creativity and application-based learning
  • Internships and job opportunities for graduates
  • High demand for engineers

Apart from this, one of the key attractions is the option to work for an extended period after you complete your bachelor’s degree. Consider OPT.

OPT (Optional Practical Training) or STEM OPT, in this case, allows graduates to complete a 12-month OPT on their F1 visa (the visa is given an extension for the period). This can be further extended by 24 months provided the requirements as mentioned by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) are fulfilled.

You’ve decided it is going to be the US- What next?

It is time to have a look at the best Engineering Programs in USA.

As per the U. S. News rankings, here are the top engineering schools in USA for the year 2019:

Ranking School Name Tuition Fees ($) Average SAT Scores GPA Acceptance Rate
1 MIT $53,790 1528 4.16 6.7%
2 Stanford University $53,529 1465 3.94 4.8%
3 University of California- Berkeley $43,176 1430 3.87 15%
4 California Institute of Technology $54,600 1560 4.22 7.7%
4 Georgia Institute of Technology $33,794 1295 4.02 23.4%
6 Carnegie Mellon University $57,119 1495 3.77 22.2%
6 University of Illinois- Champaign $33,352 1420 3.96 62.4%
6 University of Michigan- Ann Arbor $51,200 1415 3.84 28.6%
9 Cornell University $57,222 1470 4.05 12.7%
9 Purdue University- West Lafayette $28,794 1282 3.75 57.4%
11 University of Texas- Austin (Cockrell) $38,228 1275 3.68 36.5%
12 Princeton University $51,870 1500 3.91 6.4%
13 Northwestern University, Evanston, IL $56,691 1490 4.09 9.2%
13 Virginia Tech $32,835 1268 3.97 70.1%
15 Columbia University $61,850 1515 4.14 6.10%


As you can see the list is exhaustive as it provides information about the approximate tuition costs and the kind of scores you need to get into these colleges. The acceptance rate gives you an idea about how many applicants are accepted each year. For example, in the case of MIT, for every 100 applications, only 6.1 received admit calls.

What about eligibility?

Broadly, the documents and eligibility criteria for such programs (Engineering in USA) are the same. However, there may be additional documents or information based on the program or college you are targeting. Therefore, it is important to understand the specific requirements of the college you are interested in.

Broadly, this is what you need before you begin the application process.

  • Personal profile- Application Form
  • Attested copies of marks sheets- Class X and XII
  • Extra-Curricular Activities- Details of courses/programs; time spent honing other skills
  • Score Cards- SAT/ACT (Subject Proficiency, General Preparedness)
  • IELTS/TOEFL Scores (English Language Proficiency)
  • Proof of Funds (to cover expenses of education)

What do these look for in an applicant?

Students declaring an engineering major, especially, in a US school, need to take care of a lot of pre-requisites and exceed expectations of the admission committee. These programs are exclusive and require an extensive application process- they are particular about the skill set you have to offer, what kind of academic and extracurricular you were a part of with scores, and how well do you perform under pressure (something to be reflected in your LORs), high achieving test scores (IELTS, SAT, GRE/GMAT), and an analysis o your background to be submitted in the form of a well-structured resume. 

The final score of grades IX, X, XI, and XII midterms should be top-notch and above 90 percentile. If you are applying for a Master’s degree, then Grade XII and UG academics need to be in the top category of achievement. Submitting a well-researched paper, showing credible internships under a successful professional, and 2 strong Letters of Recommendation (if applying for a Master’s program then preferable to attain LORs from professors), would definitely change the game in your favor. SAT is again a must for the USA, alongside, a few APs since SAT II has been cancelled effective from 2021 June.

GRE/GMAT are also some crucial factors involved in the process for a Master’s applicant – try to achieve at least a 730 and above in GMAT, and at least a 320 in GRE, to have an upper hand during the listing. Statement of purpose (SOP) is reflective of your background in terms of highlighting the ups and owns in your academic, professional and personal life – try to list as many accomplishments as possible, and your specific interest in the field you have applied to while giving reasons and providing pieces of evidence of the interest you ave just spoken about. Strong SOP means sharing your profile holistically so that the admissions committee can make an informed decision about your application.

What if my profile is not impressive?

If there is any part of the application that causes the most stress, then it has to be the SAT scores. Go through the list above and you will find that the lowest average featured here is 1268 (Virginia Tech). If you are targeting any of the above schools above; have scored below 1268, then it may be discouraging. However, schools always consider all the aspects of an application and not just a single score. Therefore, it is important to look at these numbers as information and purely as a guide so you can prepare accordingly for the test.

Your plans to sign up for engineering colleges in USA may hit a roadblock with a really low SAT score. However, all hope’s not lost! consider these options:

  1. Work on other aspects of the application: All colleges consider their application process to be a holistic one. This means that you may still have a chance to get in. Make sure you include great recommendation letters, provide proof of interesting extra-curricular activities, attach records of academic excellence in challenging courses and so on.
  2. You can think about retaking the test: These standardized tests can be taken more once and you must take advantage of that opportunity. Work harder to improve your score and chances.
  3. How about attempting ACT? Both the SAT and ACT exams have been designed to give schools and colleges a good idea of your preparedness for the undergraduate program. By attempting ACT and accompanying the same with proof of your academic excellence, you may be able to convince the admission committee to ignore the low score.

Similarly, a Low GPA or not having sufficient extra-curricular activities can cause quite a bit of grief for applicants. A low GPA can be managed by working on the essays or using the best recommendation letters you can muster up. If you are yet to complete Class 12, then ask around about how you can improve your GPA. If that ship has sailed, then work extra hard on the SAT to ensure you make up for the low GPA!

Not having extra-curricular activities may present a challenge. However, when you think about it, introverts or those who despise ‘non-bookish’ activities can certainly come up with things they do when they are not at school. Think about it as you consider the below:

  • Extracurriculars do not necessarily have to be sponsored by your school. So, if you signed up for a book writing session and have a passion for it, this is the time to include it in!
  • Imagine you worked part-time and therefore could not sign up for extra-curricular activities. You have possibly made an impact on your family’s living/financial conditions through this effort. This is definitely a plus point. Consider highlighting this in your application.
  • Social Media taking up your time? Well, your blogging can be turned into something positive. Creating awareness about products/services or a social problem can be projected accordingly.

While the above are a few pointers to guide you in the right direction, a little bit of thought, dedication and effort can transform a regular application into a stellar one.

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