Updated December 13, 2022

Find the best value small college to earn your degree in electrical engineering from this list of the top 20 schools.

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Electrical engineers bring their expertise to various industries, including commercial, medical, military, and scientific organizations. Electrical engineers receive high compensation for their technical skills, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 median pay for electrical engineers is more than $97,000 a year.

To make our list of the 20 best small colleges for electrical engineering majors on a budget, the colleges have to meet our high standards. Each of the schools on our list offers at least one program for students who are looking to study electrical engineering. Each also has an undergraduate graduation rate of at least 40%. All of the programs on our list have an estimated annual cost of less than $35,000 a year as reported on College Navigator.

Curious to see which is the least expensive of them all? Scroll down to #1 to see if you feel the spark.


Each of these top schools offers at least one targeted program or concentration for students seeking a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (this also includes computer, software, hardware, and electronics engineering). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 40%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education - which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $35,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for an electrical engineering degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!

#1 United States Coast Guard Academy New London, CT
#2 New Mexico Tech Socorro, NM
#3 Virginia Military Institute Lexington, VA
#4 Christian Brothers University Memphis, TN
#5 St. Mary's University San Antonio, TX
#6 Oklahoma Christian University Edmond, OK
#7 Johnson C Smith University Charlotte, NC
#8 Claflin University Orangeburg, SC
#9 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
#10 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA

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  1. United States Coast Guard Academy

    New London, CT

    The US Coast Guard Academy is inarguably one of the best colleges for an electrical engineering degree. One reason why? You won't pay tuition! The trade-off is that you must work in the Coast Guard for five years after graduation, but many undergrads see this as a worthwhile exchange. After all, the USCGA offers a free education that not only builds students' academic knowledge, but also their leadership abilities, character, and physical health - and provides guaranteed work experience. As an electrical engineering major, you'll concentrate in either computers or systems; both offer rich opportunities for hands-on experience. Both also feature a unique capstone design course that requires majors to solve real problems that the Coast Guard (or another federal agency) poses.

  2. New Mexico Tech

    Socorro, NM



    The affordable small college electrical engineering program at New Mexico Tech is a great choice if you want to work closely with a small group of students, as the number of electrical engineering grads hovers around 20 each year. Like many small colleges, NMT's size is one of its greatest strengths, and undergrads enjoy opportunities that are rare at larger universities. For example, engineering majors can work side by side with experienced professionals as they work to solve problems. Along the way, they'll gain skills that range from refining circuitry and electrical systems to building robots. Beyond this hands-on experience, NMT ensures that its graduates receive a balanced education by incorporating both theory-based and design-focused coursework.

  3. Virginia Military Institute

    Lexington, VA



    If you're preparing for a military career - or want a disciplined college experience that follows a strict code of conduct - VMI is an ideal choice. Beyond participating in four years of ROTC, the school's citizen soldiers also perform community service. This culture of going above and beyond extends to academics. VMI's B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering is rigorous in its own right, and an optional concentration in microelectronics only amplifies the challenge (and the payoff) it offers. The concentration even provides the chance to participate in a paid summer exchange internship. On top of everything else, this top small college for computer engineering majors also offers generous merit-based scholarships to offset tuition costs.

  4. Christian Brothers University

    Memphis, TN



    Christian Brothers provides some of the most flexible options on this electrical engineering degrees ranking. Although electrical engineering and computer engineering are technically separate tracks, this university's four-year dual-degree program lets you earn a BS in each field simultaneously. You'll even qualify for a minor in math! Other options include minors in physics and video game design. But students who don't have time in their schedule to earn a minor shouldn't worry; highly focused classes in areas like app development and database management will still help them acquire specialized skills. Finally, students will wrap up their degree with a senior capstone course in which they design a project through each stage of development.

  5. St. Mary's University

    San Antonio, TX



    It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes St. Mary's a top undergraduate computer engineering school because it has so much to offer. Whether you major in electrical or computer engineering, you'll have access to top-notch labs and facilities like the Prototyping and Development Laboratory. Program members can also participate in faculty research, hone their skills by tutoring younger students, and join professional societies for access to lectures (among other benefits). And if you intend to pursue graduate studies, take a look at St. Mary's five-year combined bachelor's/master's programs. With a little planning (and the willingness to take summer courses), you can start graduate work during your senior year and earn your master's in just a few semesters.

  6. Oklahoma Christian University

    Edmond, OK



    Oklahoma Christian University has high confidence in its computer and electrical engineering program, calling it "the best place we know of to get your degree." Why? For one, this Christ-centered college boasts a 100% job placement rate for engineering graduates. The school also offers a software engineering emphasis, a unique option that helps distinguish it from other similar programs on this affordable electrical engineering degrees ranking. OC developed the emphasis in direct response to a plea from Oklahoma City engineers who wanted to see more young professionals with software experience. In other words, the demand for software engineers is there; pursuing this emphasis is a great way to increase your marketability on graduation.

  7. Johnson C Smith University

    Charlotte, NC



    An HBCU located in historic Charlotte, North Carolina, JCS easily ranks as a top small college for computer engineering majors. By incorporating both hardware and software elements, the program gives students ample opportunity to design, code, and operate their own inventions. But JCS really separates itself from the pack with a thoughtfully crafted set of minors that pair exceptionally well with the CE major. The minor in Bioinformatics, for example, prepares you to work with molecular data, while the minor in Cybersecurity will train you for the front lines of computer network and systems security.

  8. Claflin University

    Orangeburg, SC



    If Claflin isn't on your radar, it should be. South Carolina's oldest HBCU, this affordable undergraduate computer engineering school receives consistent recognition from U.S. World and News Report. Among its many strengths are an emphasis on visionary leadership and an aim to develop students who are global change agents concerned with the greater good. On campus, you'll find no shortage of ways to enlarge your skillset. One option is to join the honors college, which helps motivated undergrads achieve higher levels of academic and leadership success. You might also considering joining the National Society of Black Engineers, a member-owned and -run organization dedicated to "increasing the number of culturally responsible Black engineers."

  9. LeTourneau University

    Longview, TX



    At LeTourneau University, both electrical and computer engineering concentrations are up for grabs - and both offer some fantastic opportunities for project-based work. This hands-on learning finds its roots in a robust set of student design groups, such as the autonomous robotics team. As part of this club, you'll work with fellow majors to design and build a robot that can complete a designated task. Then, you'll put your robot to the test in a nationwide competition. And these activities aren't just for fun - they're also to prepare you for serious academic challenges like the multidisciplinary capstone senior design project. All in all, LeTourneau is a top college for an electrical engineering degree if (like most engineers) you learn best by doing.

  10. California Institute of Technology

    Pasadena, CA



    Beyond name recognition and one of the best graduation rates on this list, Caltech has lots to offer its engineering majors. The top small college electrical engineering program dates back to 1910 and focuses on both the physical and mathematical components of the field. No matter your area of interest, it's likely that Caltech has someone working in the field. From bio-electronics to neural networks to robotics, cutting-edge breakthroughs are part of everyday life on campus. And undergraduate electrical engineering majors are in on the action, spending nearly equal time in the classroom and lab. As a result, Caltech grads often surpass their colleagues at other universities when it comes to both theoretical understanding and research experience.

Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small college electrical engineering programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.


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See also: 50 Best Value Engineering Schools 2019

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