Univ Alabama Huntsville Enginering ... seeking thoughts and insight

Looking to get some insight on the enigineering program at UAH. I have not really heard much about it but they have really good Merit scholarships (close to full ride) that make it hard not to consider. My son is a senior and looking to go into Civil Engineering. 35 ACT 3.95 UW GPA and NHRP scholar. He already is looking at (all OOS) GaTech, ND, Ohio State, Kentucky, Dayton, Purdue, CU Boulder, Iowa ST. With NHRP he gets 4 years tuition and first year room and board at Kentucky automatically.

Not your question, but why CU Boulder? Their OOS merit aid is quite limited. In that region look at Utah (he’d get full tuition and have a shot at the competitive full ride Eccles scholarship) and Arizona instead.

I am not holding high hopes of great merit aid from Boulder but he wanted to apply there. Boulder is the farthest from us (we are in MO)and really is a longshot as far as him attending.

He does not want to go to Mizzou or Missouri S&T(Rolla). He spent a week at S&T this past summer and did not like it at all.

Huntsville is a highly educated community. Nice rolling hills & lakes. The campus is neither great nor bad, but the education is fine & free.

I have been to Rolla a couple of times. I did not like the area. Can you expand on your thoughts & impressions about Rolla or S&T ? Thanks !

He did not like the feel of campus or the town. Knowing the type of auto merit scholarships he can get at other schools we are not going to push the in state schools.


Echoing what @Twoin18 posted, you should add Arizona State (ASU) to your list because:

  1. ASU is ranked #19 for Best Undergraduate Civil Engineering Program by US News.
  2. Your son will get four years of full tuition scholarship as a NHRP.
  3. ASU's Barrett Honors college, which your son will likely be admitted to with his stats, is widely considered the Gold Standard among honors college.

Note that there are two Alabama public universities in the Huntsville area, both with civil engineering. UAH gets mentioned a lot here, but AAMU may have better scholarships.

He did look at ASU but I think the distance may have swayed him away from that one. Now that he has confirmed NHRP he may reconsider but at this point I think he really does not want to keep adding schools. From my understanding the UAH offers pretty much full ride for NHRP.

Students who are selected as National Merit Finalists, National Achievement Finalists, or National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars qualify for the Platinum Award of Academic Distinction. This 4-year award is valued at full tuition (up to 18 credit hours per semester), and also includes a course fee stipend (up to $1000), an on-campus housing allowance, and a meal plan allowance. Renewal is based on satisfactory academic progress and full-time student status.

I have a nephew who was designated as a NHRP. Visited ASU, the University of Arizona and UAH. Decided to go to in-state flagship as a full pay resident to stay closer to family & friends.

A concern about ASU is the air quality. A very recent study revealed that Phoenix & surrounding areas have the worst air quality of any US city ( Burlington, Vermont has the cleanest air). (The 50 U.S. Cities With The Best Air Quality Livestrong.com also has a companion list of 50 US cities with the worst air quality.)

https://waqi.info/ may give some idea of air pollution in various locations.

Have him add University of Pittsburgh to the list and have him apply asap online, have his school send his transcript on Monday, order test score report today!

There are three short answer questions for merit consideration.

Two additional essays for honors college application but it is not really necessary for him to be in honors for engineering.

@SnowflakeDogMom can you share your D’s experience at UAH?

On paper, UAH was a top contender for my DS who was chasing merit. DH and he made the effort to visit and afterwards crossed it off the list.

Pros (in addition to the money):

  • Lots of supportive companies in the area. Many opportunities for off-campus, career-related jobs, internships, etc.
  • Peer group of many others from OOS who were “chasing merit” and not just local students


  • The program has expanded rapidly in student size due to its reputation for generous merit aid. Other parts of the program (number of faculty in particular) have not kept up. The class sizes were large, and although they were hiring many new faculty, DH and DS had concerns about the rapid changes. UAH isn’t a top ranked program, and they were concerned with the quality of teaching that was coming with hoping to quickly hire a bunch of professors.
  • There’s a low graduation rate because some students just end up going to work for one of the companies recruiting there and don’t return. At least that’s how it was explained.
  • There’s no football team and other activities that they saw on other campuses. They knew there wasn’t football going in, but the reality of that, and the number of students who leave on weekends changed that into something DS decided he actually wanted. (Which surprised me, but it was totally his choice.)

Also look at UA. He would get full tuition and another $2,500 for engineering and $1,000 for NHRP I believe.

The more likely reason for the low graduation rates (about 52% for six year graduation for fall 2012 frosh; 57% for those not using Pell or direct loan, 42% for Pell, 54% for direct loan but no Pell; see section B of https://www.uah.edu/images/administrative/provost/oir/CDS/cds_2018-2019.pdf ) is that UAH (and other Alabama public universities) is not very selective at the baseline for admission (see section C of that common data set), so that it has some academically weaker or less well prepared students are less likely to graduate.

@ucbalumnus - I didn’t buy the story about the low graduation rate, but that was what they were claiming.

The engineering facilities are in dire need of an update, but the internship opportunities are plentiful.

I would recommend the Honors college at UAH if you decide to attend. The application is easy but good to get in earlyish as it isn’t a slam dunk. The biggest benefit is early registration after the first semester. That helps you get into the classes you need with the best professors. The second best benefit is the other kids in the program.

My kid found her tribe right away in the Honors dorm & is finding the social scene pretty busy there (in the Honors community). She’s not a football person, so no football team was a major plus.

Visiting really made it clear it was her place because of the professors & students she met.

How long has yours been there? We have not visited campus yet, but we plan to in Jan as it is 12 hours away and we need several days free.

Any tips for our visit? Things to ask to see?

This is such a big decision, but the financial side is so good, I cannot see passing it up. We did honors application a few weeks ago after acceptance, how long before you typically hear about whether you get in?

Mine is a freshman so she hasn’t been there long. I would suggest you talk with a dean or at least a professor in your kid’s proposed major while you are on campus.

Mine thought sitting in on a class was helpful. You can ask Admissions to help with this. I’d pick an area of interest and a non-entry level class. Mine gave admissions a couple of choices. Ended up the kids in the class really sealed the deal for her. The prof was great, too, but she found many of the other students to be her type of people / very friendly. And that is what she’s found now that she is there, too.

We were also able to arrange to take a current student (a junior at the time, now a senior) out to eat to talk pros and cons of the school. We arranged that ourselves through a parent from a message board (like this). That was really helpful because the student was very honest about the challenges & opportunities. Plus, my kid had a person on campus to ask questions of before she arrived this fall.

The school is growing quickly so there are definite challenges. For example, they’ve reduced the housing requirement to only one year because they don’t have enough room for everyone if they stay on campus two years. On the flip side, that means some upper classmen who need to stay on campus (no car) can’t because there is not enough room. There are off campus apartments associated with the university but no shuttle/bus system and some of the apartments are far enough that it isn’t convenient to even bike back & forth. Definitely something to consider long term.

I don’t remember how long it took to hear from the Honors College.

My daughter had a full COA offer from UCF that was very tempting, but could not turn down the “fit” that UAH promised. She is loving the experience so far.

Thank you, we plan to be on campus in 2 weeks. I am nervous and excited!