15 Best Colleges to Pursue an Environmental Engineering Degree

Thursday, January 25, 2024
15 Best Colleges For Environmental Engineering


If you are a high school student and have always dreamed of working for and with the environment, you might have already begun thinking about your future career goals in college. To be an environmental engineer is to make a difference in the world and change it for the better, little by little. 

Environmental engineers help solve global problems related to air, land, and earth pollution and work to keep both human beings and the earth healthy. This is why quality college programs in environmental engineering are so important.

Students interested in environmental engineering degrees have a variety of college programs available. But just to streamline your searches, we have investigated 15 of the very best colleges for pursuing an environmental engineering degree.

To help fund these programs, students can look for specific scholarships like the NSHSS STEAM Scholarship, which is focused on helping students interested in subjects like engineering afford college tuition.

For now, here is a list of those 15 programs and some information on each one’s mission and focus.


University of California - Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a minor program in environmental engineering to be combined with a major in a corresponding program like civil engineering or biological sciences.

The minor allows students to learn quantitative methods in environmental engineering and prepares them for a graduate program at Berkeley or elsewhere. Though UC Berkeley only offers a minor, it is the top-ranked school in environmental engineering studies.


Stanford University

Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a comprehensive undergraduate program to prepare students for a professional career. The program focuses heavily on sustainability and protecting the necessities of human life.

As a private research university near Silicon Valley's tech and start-up scene, Stanford is a top-notch university for any field, especially engineering. Students can choose an undergraduate program in civil engineering or environmental systems engineering, both preparing them for a career in environmental engineering. 


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Undergraduates at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor can major in civil or environmental engineering. Students also have the option to minor in environmental engineering. All programs prepare students for careers in the engineering field with a focus on water and atmospheric systems. 

Students who perform well in this program are encouraged to continue with graduate study in environmental engineering at Ann Arbor, where it remains a top-ranked option in the field. 


Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech’s bachelor of science program in environmental engineering prepares students for a career working with sustainability of land, air, and water resources; human health; and the restoration of the environment.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Georgia Tech is a top-ranked public engineering school that prepares students for their professional careers and has connections to various companies looking to hire Georgia Tech graduates.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT’s civil and environmental engineering undergraduate degree trains students to address global challenges like food shortages and climate change and explores the ways artificial intelligence and machine learning can provide solutions to those problems. 

As a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT is highly rated and will prepare students to become well-rounded in the engineering field and ready to help tackle the world’s engineering challenges. 


University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

UIUC’s Grainger College of Engineering focuses its Civil and Environmental Engineering program on preparing students to address water, land, and air pollution by following sustainable engineering practices. 

Since UIUC is a trusted university for engineering, students will be well prepared for any engineering challenge they may be asked to help tackle. UIUC’s professors in environmental engineering also focus on giving students a global perspective by 

partnering with colleagues from around the world.


University of Texas - Austin

The University of Texas in Austin focuses its environmental engineering program on mitigating the effects of the human race on the earth’s physical landscape. Students in the program learn how instrumental they are as engineers in addressing environmental problems. 


Cornell University

At this private Ivy League research institution, students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program can choose to major in civil or environmental engineering. The program focuses heavily on research and innovation within these fields and boasts world-class facilities and professors.


Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has designed its Civil Engineering curriculum to cater to students’ personal goals. Students can design the curriculum to suit their individual needs and hopes for their future careers. 

Undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon can also work toward their MS when they enroll in the Integrated MS/BS Program. 


Virginia Tech

The Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, requires all undergraduate students to get their degree in civil engineering, which covers important aspects of environmental engineering.

In fact, all engineering students are admitted first into the general engineering program and apply for the civil engineering program after freshman year.


Purdue University - West Lafayette

First-year engineering students at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, also complete a year of foundational engineering coursework before choosing their specialty major.

Then, students can pursue the Environmental and Ecological Engineering major at Purdue, where they learn cross-disciplinary problem-solving skills from an integrated systems perspective to help solve global environmental issues.


Pennsylvania State University - University Park

At Penn State University, University Park, undergraduate students pursue a BS in civil engineering, which includes the technical areas of: environmental engineering,  geotechnical and materials engineering, structural engineering and mechanics, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering. Penn State then offers a graduate degree program in environmental engineering. 


Yale University

The undergraduate environmental engineering program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, takes a broad view of environmental engineering and is working to integrate the discipline with human health, green design and pollution prevention, carbon sequestration and climate changes, and the development of alternative energy. 

Undergraduate environmental engineering students are also encouraged to be involved in related extracurricular activities and faculty research.  


Duke University

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, offers an environmental engineering undergraduate program focusing on hands-on design, data science, computing, research, and entrepreneurship to prepare students to solve complex societal problems.

Students at Duke can also earn their BSE and Master’s degrees in five years by enrolling in the 4+1: BSE+master’s degree program.


Rice University

At Rice University in Houston, Texas, undergraduate students interested in environmental engineering can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Civil Engineering, or a Minor in Energy and Water Sustainability.

These programs allow students to study environmental engineering within challenging and flexible programs while following the track of their choice and integrating engineering studies with their other interests.


So, Where to Begin? 

When it comes to lending a hand to save the world, it begins with your training ground. But when it comes to actually finding the right school, there can be many choices. These 15 options can be a lot to choose from, so it is best to go with your gut. You should look at what university works best for you based on locations, areas of interest, cultural impacts, and even financial concerns. There is no right answer, there is only the path that you will find through commitment and trusting your own compass. Here at NSHSS, we want to help guide you toward that path. For more information on scholarships, internships, or other degree-related FAQs, visit us, and we will do our best to help you along the way.