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2021 General Engineering Degree Guide

Does math and science come easily to you? Do you love figuring out the science behind cars, robots, airplanes, and bridges? Engineering is not just about being good at math, rather it appeals to the person who loves to understand the process of how things work, how structures are built, and the math that it takes to design new buildings, products and systems. This major allows you to learn how things actually run and work. It teaches you to create and build things that we need. This includes items such as bridges, but also can get as technical as robots that are small enough to fit into the human body.

Courses will vary depending on the institution you attend, but some of the basics include: chemistry, engineering, economics and ethics for engineers, engineering law, geology, geophysics, and introductions to computer programming, numerical methods, physics, and some business courses.

You may also choose to major in pre-engineering which prepares you to transfer into a four year program in any of the numerous fields in engineering.

A Recent Jump in General Engineering Degrees

#78 Most Popular Major
11.7k Degrees Awarded
4.2% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, general engineering was the 78th most popular major nationwide with 11,739 degrees awarded. This is a difference of 494 over the prior year, a growth of 4.2%.

Approximately 449 colleges in the U.S. offer a general engineering degree of some kind. Our 2021 Best Colleges for General Engineering ranking analyzes 30 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for general engineering students. Explore this or one of our many other custom engineering rankings further below.

General Engineering Degree Requirements

Engineers use math and science concepts to analyze and solve practical problems. These problems will be as vast as oil-drilling techniques, to MP3 players and everything in-between. This means you should have some natural ability in both math and science. Algorithms will become part of your life. You should be willing to work hard to figure out complex problems. Students will need to be dedicated and determined, and learn to relish the joy of discovering something new or making a breakthrough on a problem.

Most engineers work in teams to complete projects. You will find it necessary to acquire good communication and collaborative skills. Successful Students will listen to recommendations from classmates and teachers, while pulling their own weight in completing group-work. For many upper level classes you will get to pick your teams to design and build your project. It is important to pick classmates who you can work well with in order to accomplish the task at hand. Strong speaking skills will come in handy when giving presentations on your findings.

As a general engineer major, you will learn how to gather and interpret data. Challenging math and science courses will be present in every semester of college. Many colleges require a certain grade point average in order to stay in the program. This is a major for people who are innovative, creative, flexible, and focused.

Many schools will require you to obtain some sort of internship in engineering either over the summer or during the semester.

Getting Accepted Into a General Engineering Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most engineering degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Specific engineering careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of General Engineering Degrees

Engineering degree levels vary. You can get anything from a associate's degree in general engineering to the highest engineering degree, a professional practice doctorate. Depending on the general engineering degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to engineering, with approximately 36.0% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for engineering workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 43.9%
Master’s Degree 21.6%
Doctoral Degree 13.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 8.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.5%

Most workers in engineering have at least a master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in general engineering careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the engineering career you are seeking.

Engineering Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$66.2k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

As a general engineer, you will study many different fields of engineering briefly. Some choose to get a master's degree in a more specialized field. However, you may get a job working with other engineers on a team to create a product or even to help market that particular product. You are also well prepared to work in a non-engineering field like law.

Rate of pay and growth in the career field vary greatly depending on what field of Engineering you choose to specialize in.

Growth Projected for Engineering Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your engineering degree? General Engineering careers are expected to grow 7.1% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to general engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Engineers 141,000 6.4%
Engineering Professors 54,600 14.7%

How Much Money Do Engineering Grads Make?

Recently graduated general engineering students earned an average of $66,152 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $46,800 to as high as $108,200. As you might expect, salaries for engineering graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Engineering Careers

Salaries for general engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers engineering grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Engineering Professors $113,680
Engineers $99,410

Getting Your General Engineering Degree

With over 840 different engineering degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased engineering school rankings to help you with this.

One of 38 majors within the Engineering area of study, General Engineering has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406

View All Engineering Related Majors >


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