Compare Engineering programs

I need help comparing engineering schools. Outside of what the research tells me, I’d love opinions on: (reputation, etc)
NCSU, UofSC, UTK, Clemson

Any particular type of engineering? Strengths in various programs can vary.

NCSU, Clemson, and UTK all have strong overall programs; USCe generally takes a back seat to Clemson’s engineering, at least within South Carolina. But so long as the program you’re interested in is ABET accredited – and all of them should be at these schools – you should be fine.

Are you a NC resident (just guessing based on your handle)? If so, it may be hard to beat NCSU for price unless you are getting some good money from the other places. Also, have you been able to visit any of these places?

Thank you! Not 100% sure but likely chem or biochem. UofSC will cost a little less than NCSU, UTK and Clemson a little more. As NC residents, all the OOS would have GPA requirements to keep the scholarships, without which we can’t afford. Have visited UofSC and NCSU (spring of soph year for regular campus tours, currently at UofSC for admitted student tour and going to NCSU for self-guided admitted student tour), has not been to UTK or Clemson. Mostly concerned about reputation since all of them are similar types of schools and cost.

I know one person who attended Clemson on a Calhoun scholarship; she got a degree in biomedical engineering and is now finishing medical school. I also know a current student – a friend of my son – who is studying chemical engineering at USCe; he seems to like it, and gets decent money from USCe (they are actively trying to boost the ranks of their undergraduate population with scholarships to good students), but I don’t know anything about the reputation of that program. (Of course, what a person gets out of a college is really more a function of that person than the school; but that’s another discussion for another day.)

I live in Knoxville, TN, and know a number of kids who are at UTK for engineering – mostly mechanical, though; but the College of Engineering has always been a strong point for UTK, and I think that it has been getting better in recent years. Lots of new construction for the College of Engineering in the recent past; and there are research opportunities in Oak Ridge, for example, and there is a teaching hospital here also.

If you plan to come to Knoxville for a visit, I will be happy to recommend places to stay near campus; just let me know.

Also, as you are in North Carolina, have you looked into Virginia Tech? I don’t know what the costs would be for you; but it is a highly rated school for engineering (getting more competitive to get into, also), and might be worth a look if you haven’t already.

NCSU has secondary admission to specific engineering majors. The following can help show which ones are more or less competitive.

Well, if you are on an admitted student tour at one or more schools, then it’s probably too late to think about applying to another school such as Virginia Tech! Sorry for not reading a little more carefully!

She loved Virginia Tech, but only got a small engineering scholarship so it is way too expensive.

What are the GPA requirements to keep scholarships. They vary pretty widely. I’ve seen everything from “stay off probation” to 3.5. They might go even higher. If the GPA is too onerous, I’d be inclined to pass it over, as all the schools are solid and comparable.

3.0, Which I think is reasonable for a high achieving student, but I have no idea what it will be like for her in college versus high school!

Most students college GPAs are lower than their (unweighted) high school GPAs, because colleges take mostly students with 3.0-4.0 high school GPAs and spread them across the 2.0-4.0 college GPA range.

However, a top scholarship student at a college is likely (though not certain) to comfortably exceed a 3.0 college GPA. A 3.5 college GPA threshold (the level that pre-meds need to meet at a bare minimum) would be considerably more stressful.

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It also depends very much on the school. At Brown, where the average graduating GPA is above 3.6, that would be no problem. Purdue and Cal Poly are schools known for grade deflation. Their graduating average GPAs in engineering hover around 2.7. No bad students get into either of those schools. A 3.0 is certainly doable at either however, it’s just harder than at a school with grade inflation. You need to know what the baseline is. I’d see if you can find out what the graduating GPA averages are for the schools that have thresholds. Good luck.


Keep in mind the lower thresholds are per the culture of each school. Lots of great high school kids get a full grade below their high school GPA unweighted their first semester to year. Engineering is tough. Some get their first Cs in basic class’s. So if they are getting mostly Bs with some As and a C… Then for engineering they are doing great! Don’t expect their same high school grades. As they go to sophomore to junior status the GPA usually climbs up. But for “most” companies they want kids at 3.0 GPA or higher. So… That tells you right there they understand the rigor and difficulty of engineering.


That is exactly what I have told her, not to expect all A’s in college like she got in high school. That was my logic on a 3.0 being reasonable. All Bs with an a and a C is doable. I think!

D20 had some of the same schools; we were NC residents as well.
D20s take from tours:
NCSU: competitive culture, great engineering program, competitive 2nd admit for various engineering programs (she was leaning BioE at the time; they only took 80/year). It was. the cheapest, but she didn’t care for the separate engineering campus by bus and the large/more urban-ish feel, although she loved the engineering library. Many of her close friends chose NCSU engineering and are happy.
UTK: collaborative program, great campus, though lots of hills, lol. They really did a lot for the admitted honors students, so it was hard to separate the fun from the academics.
Clemson: collaborative, no engineering major is closed as long as you meet the GPA minimum threshold. Losing the scholarship was a concern. She liked the collaborative hands on approach.
UofSC: honestly we couldn’t get her to apply. We tried, a lot, because of the scholarships. We’d gone to touring broadway productions there for years, so she loved the campus theatre, but she couldn’t picture herself in Columbia.
She ultimately chose Clemson based on the career center, research opportunities and most importantly, fit; it just felt like home to her, but it’s not for everyone. It’s the most “rural” of the schools on your list. People seem to either love it or hate it.
You really can’t go wrong with any of them. I know at this point you’re probably splitting hairs; when D20 got to that point we emphasized fit, since we knew she would get a good education at any of them. Good luck!

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Wow, thank you so much!

Hope I didn’t overwhelm you with info.

I’m already overwhelmed! Hard to decide when the pros and cons are so different. Direct admit vs second admit with risk of not getting in, reputation, etc. And cost is similar enough to not be a deciding factor. Oh, and distance from home isn’t too different either. Ahh, this is fun.

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It will be ok. Next year at this time you’ll be worrying how on earth she’s going to complete 7 projects and a paper in the next 2 weeks :wink: