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!
20. Stevens Institute of Technology
Founded in 1870 and named in honor of an innovator who helped revolutionize the American transportation industry, Stevens has maintained a legacy of creative thinking for nearly 150 years. In addition to being a top small college for computer engineering majors, Stevens offers an equally strong program in electrical engineering. Degree seekers of both types benefit from an environment that emphasizes the need for research and collaborative projects. To this end, the department supports multiple labs and provides numerous opportunities for undergrads to get involved. One interesting "bonus" feature is the school's complementary minor in media engineering, which faculty developed along with experts from NBC/Universal.
Net Price: $34,935/yr
19. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
There's little doubt as to what draws students to Olin's top small college electrical engineering programs. Despite its relatively higher price tag, the school has a well-known reputation for student excellence, personal attention (total enrollment counts fewer than 400 undergrads), and a keen focus on STEM education. In fact, the school only offers three degrees, and they are all in engineering! This single-mindedness allows majors to acquire an unusually thorough introduction to their chosen field. The Electrical and Computer (ECE) curriculum in particular offers coursework in circuit analysis, signal processing, microelectronics, computer architecture, and much more. Upperclassmen take their skills even further, designing and implementing their own communication systems.
Net Price: $32,734/yr
18. Tuskegee University
Tuskegee offers students of color the chance to enroll in an HBCU that also happens to be one of the best colleges for an electrical engineering degree. One of the program's greatest assets is its concentrated coursework. With few required classes in other disciplines, EE majors are able to devote the bulk of their studies to the degree's four "thrust" areas: energy, microelectric, communication, and control systems. And while its overall net price is still somewhat high, the university offers a few special financial aid programs that directly benefit aspiring engineers. This includes a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support undergraduate STEM scholarships.
Net Price: $28,497/yr
17. Norwich University
Norwich University is not like most of the other schools on this top electrical engineering degrees ranking. To be sure, its academic programs are just as challenging as the other options listed here. But students at Norwich also face another challenge of an entirely different order: the Corp of Cadets. While not mandatory, participation in this strict lifestyle and training program is one of the university's defining features. And although students may prepare for a military or civilian career, the leadership skills that the Corp of Cadet will come in handy either way. The program also emphasizes teamwork and problem-solving abilities, which you will showcase in a collaborative senior exercise as you attempt to solve real-life problems in the industry.
Net Price: $26,733/yr
16. Lawrence Technological University
With its unique B.S. in Embedded Software Engineering, LTU carves out a niche for itself in one of the tech industry's fastest growing fields. As everyday household items become more sophisticated, embedded software makes its way into an increasing number of gadgets, from cell phones to washing machines. But this area of computer engineering is also fueling another, much more futuristic product: driverless cars. If you want to capitalize on the booming job prospects available in this cutting-edge field, LTU is a top undergraduate computer engineering school with plenty to offer. In addition to a highly specialized curriculum, you can expect to receive extensive hands-on laboratory training and applied research experiences.
Net Price: $26,248/yr
15. Lafayette College
Out of all the schools on this affordable electrical engineering degrees ranking, Lafayette stands out as an even-handed proponent of both liberal arts education and research-based training. On the one hand, all students complete the Common Course of Study, a sequence designed to ensure that you're well-prepared to write clearly, use quantitative reasoning, and contemplate moral questions. At the same time, STEM majors – like those in computer and electrical engineering – should also expect plenty of hands-on work. You'll have many opportunities to develop your skills, and faculty often invite undergrads to work with them in the lab. Another great resource is the two-semester Tech Clinic, where participants work in small groups to solve real-world problems on behalf of real clients.
Net Price: $24,993/yr
14. Walla Walla University
College Place, WA
Thanks to its affiliation with the Seventh-Day Adventist religion, Walla Walla is one of the best small colleges for computer engineering majors who want to pursue a degree in a faith-based environment. The school holds responsible citizenship as a core value, and this principle permeates every department. As an electrical or computer engineering major, you might even earn a supplementary certificate in Global Humanitarian Engineering. In this program, you'll complete coursework and an international study experience that teaches you how to engineer creative solutions to humanitarian problems. It's a fantastic way to put your skills to work for the greater good.
Net Price: $24,104/yr
13. Trinity College
Students who want additional focus in their science and computing coursework will find an opportunity to do so at Trinity. Advisors at this Hartford, Connecticut-based affordable undergraduate computer engineering school work with majors to craft a curriculum that fits their specific needs. This approach enables program members to take classes that touch equally on science and design. These two fields merge during senior year, when students embark on an ambitious capstone project to design, implement, and test an engineering system. While challenging, the course will help you integrate a holistic view of your chosen profession, from writing design specs to evaluating system performance.
Net Price: $23,980/yr
12. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
One of a handful of top colleges for an electrical engineering degree with ties to the Seventh – Day Adventist church, Andrews is on a mission to offer mission-based learning. That is, the school fosters a sense of purpose in its students so that graduates of all programs – engineering included – can use their skills to help others. One example of this service-centric philosophy is the Engineers without Borders group. Engineering majors who join this humanitarian nonprofit can sign up for a "student tour" to bring their science and design know-how to areas in need. Or you could choose a mission-focused theme for your senior project, like the recent alumnus who created a portable water treatment system for use on church missions.
Net Price: $23,491/yr
11. Illinois Institute of Technology
Unsurprisingly (given its name) IIT offers some of the best small college electrical engineering programs in the country. Alongside targeted degrees in both electrical and computer engineering, IIT offers motivated undergrads the chance to complete a dual degree in both subjects. This rigorous program requires 146 credit hours and features a relatively inflexible course schedule. The good news? If you're starting college with AP credits, you can expect to earn your dual degree in four years. But details aside, it's important to note that IIT takes an overall pragmatic approach to its studies. Topics with high relevance in the real world and a strong demand for jobs – like energy conservation and water usage – take center stage.
Net Price: $23,371/yr
10. California Institute of Technology
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.
Net Price: $23,213/yr
9. LeTourneau University
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.
Net Price: $23,024/yr
8. Claflin University
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."
Net Price: $21,743/yr
7. Johnson C. Smith University
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.
Net Price: $18,953/yr
6. Oklahoma Christian University
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.
Net Price: $18,758/yr
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.
Net Price: $17,164/yr
4. Christian Brothers University
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.
Net Price: $15,556/yr
3. Virginia Military Institute
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.
Net Price: $15,197/yr
2. New Mexico Tech
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.
Net Price: $12,489/yr
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.
Net Price: $0/yr
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.
See also: 50 Best Value Engineering Schools 2019