Help identify some engineering program reach schools for DD'19

DD’19 is interested in civil or environmental engineering and has a 4.3 GPA, 32 ACT superscore, decent ECs, awards in school every year, and leadership positions. We need help identifying reach schools. Location and size not a big concern although smaller would be better. Thanks!

A start for you

Reaches and high matches but not impossible with your d basic profile. This includes a few top state flagships without microscopic oos chances

Lehigh Olin Harvey Mudd U Rochester Smith
Purdue UIUC Northeastern UWash. UWisc Madison u Miami cwru

Cost constraints?

Unweighted GPA?

State of residency?


Why does it need to be a reach? She’s qualified for plenty of engineering schools. Why not go with what she likes?

Most (all?) US states should have at least one public university with a civil engineering program, which could be anywhere from acceptable to great in terms of quality. That will most likely be the least expensive option.

If smaller is better, then small schools with CivE tend to represent the following general categories:

  1. Traditional liberal arts colleges with engineering. Cozy undergraduate-focused campus atmosphere may be attractive. However, technical depth in CivE may be limited, especially at LACs like Smith or Swarthmore, which have general engineering but not CivE specifically. Other LACs, like Bucknell or Lafayette, do have traditional CivE programs, but depth may still be limited compared to larger schools.
  2. LAC-sized but engineering-focused schools. Examples: Harvey Mudd, Olin, Rose-Hulman. As with traditional LACs, may have general engineering (Mudd, Olin) or CivE specifically (Rose-Hulman). Tend to have nerdier campus atmospheres than traditional LACs. Rose-Hulman, like many tech-focused schools, has predominantly male enrollment.
  3. Small traditional universities. Examples: Case Western, Lehigh, Tufts. Good technical depth in CivE but still small by university standards. Lehigh may have the most traditional campus atmosphere, including Division I sports.
  4. Small engineering-focused universities. Includes privates (RPI, WPI, Stevens) and state schools (Colorado School of Mines, Missouri S&T). Good technical depth in CivE, but still small by university standards. Tend to have nerdy campus atmospheres and predominantly male enrollment, which may or may not be appealing.

If any of these categories seem like particularly good or bad fits, that might help to narrow it down.

Re: #4

Would categories 2 and 4 be basically the same type of school? (Also, wouldn’t the “mines” schools in SD and NM be additional low cost options in this category?)

Cat2 schools like Mudd or Olin don’t actually have a CivE major, which seems very different from Cat4 schools like RPI or Stevens. I could see Rose-Hulman as an unusually small Cat4 school. There are no 'bright lines" here.

NM Tech and SD Mines are public schools with a reputation for strong OOS merit aid. However, these schools are significantly less selective than the others, and seem like “safeties”, rather than “reaches” for a 32 ACT.

The post was not intended to provide an exhaustive listing of all possible options in each general category. The idea was that the OP might have a preference for one general category or another, in which case additional options could potentially be suggested.

She could look at a reach school like Cornell. She’d have a good chance of merit $$ at WPI and RPI.

Academically she has a decent shot at getting in anywhere. She’s going to have to decide what she really wants in a school first.

Good luck, she’ll do great!

Dunno, college counselor said to pick at least 1 from each category.

Thanks! We’re both weary of the process already!

@ucbalumnus -

In the Carnegie classification system, the Basic Classification (used by US news) categorizes schools by the level of degree offered, based on that criteria

Group 2 offers Batchelors degrees

Group 4 offers Phd degrees

Rose Hulman has some small masters programs, but those programs are not big enough for it to be classified as a masters university

In terms of size of their Batchelors Engineering programs,
Rose Hulman is about the same size as Stevens
WPI and RPI are much bigger
Mudd and Olin are much much smaller

For both Civil and Environmental Engineering your daughter is going to want to have the option of getting licensed to maximize career flexibility and advancement. This means that she will need to attend a school with at least an ABET accredited Civil Engineering degree program, but preferably, it should also offer an ABET accredited Environmental Engineering degree. These are not very common.

Here is a list of schools that offer ABET accredited Environmental Engineering Degrees

It is also good to look into how female friendly the program is.

Good luck!

Mudd is a pretty high reach with a superscored 32.

Harvey Mudd is a top school. They just announced the hiring of two new computer science professors. Their undergrads? One went to UC Riverside and one went UNevadaLas Vegas. I think the desire and need to seek out ABET accredited engineering from “reaches” shouldn’t consume the young student.

If she is very environmentally inclined, SUNY ESF could be worth a look. It’s a small school in its own right (1800 students) and environmentally focused (no traditional CivE, but several enviro engineering majors including Environmental Resources Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering)… but its students can also take advantage of cross-registration at Syracuse University (which has its own Civil & Environmental Engineering department), and participate in the campus life of Syracuse in addition to ESF. Syracuse itself could be a possibility as well, but it’s a lot larger and a lot more expensive.

Also, UVM is a relatively small flagship U (12K students) with twice as many out-of-state students as Vermonters, and particular strength in all things environmental. Beautiful setting and great vibe. Their Civil & Environmental Engineering department could be a great option for your daughter, combining some of the best attributes of a public flagship and a private U.

It’s true that you probably want to be licensed these fields, which in turn means that you want an ABET degree. However, it won’t matter if the degree is ABET-accredited for Civil or Environmental specifically; the only box that state licensing boards need to check is “ABET-accredited engineering program” in general.

In other words, you could qualify for either the Civil or Environmental PE exam with a degree that was ABET-accredited in either field. In fact, you could even qualify with an ABET-accredited degree in a completely unrelated branch of engineering, like Nuclear or Industrial.

It’s not unusual for top schools to be ABET-accredited in Civil, but not in Environmental. UCLA, Stanford, and Wisconsin are examples.

At many schools, environmental engineering is treated as an elective subarea of civil engineering.

Just to be clear, ABET accreditation is important independent of the selectivity of the school. This is because a large percentage of the jobs in this area are on public works projects where professional certification is required for all but the junior roles (which are supervised by a certified professional engineer). Note that this is not true for other branches of engineering.

Here is a list of smaller (less than about 10,000 undergrads) private schools with ABET accredited Civil Engineering Programs with at least a concentration/minor in Environmental Engineering. Acceptance rates for engineering are included. There is an East Coast bias to the list because that is the portion of the country that I am most familiar with.

Manhattan 80% (engineering)
Rose Hulman 61% (engineering)
Villanova 48% (engineering)
RPI 43% (entire school)
WPI 41% (engineering)
U Miami 42% (engineering)
Lafayette 31% (entire school- engineering does not have separate admissions)
Lehigh 28% (engineering)
Bucknell 25% (engineering)
Cooper Union 22% (engineering)
Tufts 11% (engineering)

Here is the background data. Each line includes:
Undergrad population/Number of engineering grads, Highest level of degrees offered, Types of degree(s) offered.

Schools are grouped by their Carnegie Classification for Undergraduate Instruction Program. The higher the percentage of Arts and Science majors, the more “liberal artsy” the culture of the school. Note that for tech schools (such as Mudd) this means more “sciency”, as there are virtually no Arts and Humanities majors. Cooper Union offers three majors: Engineering, Architecture and Art, so it is more “artsy” than the other schools in its group. Depth and breadth of course offering is related to the size of the engineering program, the highest level of degree offered and the number of related programs.

Arts and Science Focus (less than 20% professions)

1500/35 Swarthmore -,Baccalaureate, only General Engineering
2250/75 Union College - Baccalaureate, no Civil or Environmental
2500/25 Trinity College - Baccalaureate, only General Engineering
2500/35 Smith - Baccalaureate, only General Engineering
2500/175 *Lafayette - Baccalaureate, ABET Civil with Environmental Concentration
5500/175 *Tufts - Doctoral Level 1, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental, Environmental Health (non ABET)

Arts and Science plus Profession (20-40% professions)

850/75 Harvey Mudd - Baccalaureate, only General Engineering
3500/175 *Bucknell - Baccalaureate/some Masters, ABET Civil, Environmental (non ABET)
6500/275 U Rochester - Doctoral Level 1, No Civil or Environmental

Balanced (40-60% professions)

5000/425 Case Western - Doctoral Level 1, ABET Civil
7000/275 *Villanova - Doctoral Level 3, ABET Civil with Environmental Concentration
11000/250 *UMiami - Doctoral Level 1, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental

Professions plus Arts and Science (60-80% professions)

1000/100 *Cooper Union - Baccalaureate, ABET Civil with Environmental Concentration
3500/225 *Manhattan College - Masters Level 2, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental
5000/400 *Lehigh - Doctoral Level 2, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental
4500/700 *WPI- Doctoral Level 2, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental
6250/800 *RPI - Doctoral Level 2, ABET Civil, ABET Environmental

Professions Focus (more than 80% professions)

100/20 Webb Institute - Baccalaureate/Engineering - (Marine Engineering only)
375/80 Olin College of Engineering - Baccalaureate/Engineering, No Civil or Environmental
2500/425 *Rose Hulman - Baccalaureate/Engineering, ABET Civil, Environmental Minor

Stevens has both ABET accredited civil and environmental engineering programs. On your list, it would fit into the “Professions plus Arts and Sciences” category, Doctoral Level 2, 37% acceptance rate (university wide, Stevens didn’t publish acceptance rates by major).

“We need help identifying reach schools.”

If you’re just interested in reach schools, then Cornell, Carnegie Mellon for private would be ones to consider, any top public OOS like Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, GA Tech would also be reaches but you mentioned preferring smaller campuses.