15 Best Automotive Engineering Schools

Embarking on a career in automotive engineering is an exciting journey filled with innovation, design, and a commitment to shaping the future of transportation. Whether you’re drawn to traditional, electric, or hybrid vehicles, the best automotive engineering schools pave the way for hands-on experience, cutting-edge research, and a wide array of career opportunities. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top 15 automotive engineering schools, shedding light on their unique programs, industry connections, and potential career paths.

Automotive Engineering: A Roadmap to Success

Overview of Automotive Engineering: Automotive engineers are the masterminds behind the vehicles that navigate our roadways. They design everything from the traditional to the cutting-edge, including electric and hybrid cars. Their expertise extends to innovating self-driving technologies and ensuring vehicle safety. To thrive in this field, students undergo rigorous coursework rooted in mechanical engineering principles, covering subjects like math, physics, chemistry, and essential engineering fundamentals.

Skills and Traits:

Beyond technical prowess, automotive engineers possess excellent communication, teamwork, and creative problem-solving skills. These skills are honed through labs, extracurricular activities, and real-world experiences, preparing graduates for diverse careers in safety testing, mechanical and electrical design, manufacturing, and research and development.

The Road to Success: Automotive Engineering Schools

Factors Considered: To compile our list of the best automotive engineering schools, we considered peer reputation, unique programs/opportunities, and career connections/outcomes data. This guide serves as a starting point for exploring each institution further and finding the best fit for your unique needs.

  1. Clemson University
    • Location: Clemson, SC
    • Noteworthy: Dual Bachelor’s/Master’s program, senior project designing a car from scratch.
    • Alumni Success: Graduates often employed by Apple, Tesla, SpaceX, and BMW.
    • Tuition: In-State $15,558 | Out of State $38,550
  2. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
    • Location: Carbondale, IL
    • Specialties: Automotive technology major with a focus on business, computing, and communications.
    • Facilities: $63 million Transportation Education Center.
    • Tuition: $26,811
  3. Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Location: Atlanta, GA
    • Program Highlights: Concentration in automotive engineering, specialized classes in combustion engines, aerodynamics, hybrid vehicle powertrains.
    • Research Impact: Over $40 million in research awards annually.
    • Tuition: In-State $12,852 | Out of State $33,964
  4. Purdue University
    • Location: West Lafayette, IN
    • Strengths: Top-ranked mechanical engineering degree with automotive engineering specialization.
    • Success Stories: Alumni contributed to winning teams at Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600.
    • Tuition: In-State $9,992 | Out of State $28,794
  1. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    • Location: Indianapolis, IN
    • Unique Offering: Motorsports engineering major with a focus on dynamics and data acquisition.
    • Career Connections: Graduates employed by Penske, Andretti, Ganassi.
    • Tuition: In-State $10,044 | Out of State $32,101
  2. Minnesota State University Mankato
    • Location: Mankato, MN
    • Offerings: Majors in automotive engineering technology and manufacturing engineering technology.
    • Participation: Active involvement in Formula SAE competition.
    • Tuition: In-State $9,146 | Out of State $18,200
  3. University of California Davis
    • Location: Davis, CA
    • Focus: Environmental impact in mechanical engineering courses.
    • Achievements: Students awarded $64,000 in prizes at the Big Bang! entrepreneurial competition.
    • Tuition: In-State $14,645 | Out of State $44,399
  4. Kettering University
    • Location: Flint, MI
    • Specialization: Mechanical engineering with a concentration in automotive engineering.
    • Real-World Experience: Co-ops with General Motors and Kawasaki.
    • Tuition: $44,380
  1. University of Michigan
    • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
    • Accelerated Program: 5-year program combining engineering major with a Master’s in automotive engineering.
    • Practical Experience: Capstone course partnering with industry professionals.
    • Tuition: In-State $16,178 | Out of State $53,232
  2. Indiana State University
    • Location: Terre Haute, IN
    • Facilities: Myers Technology Center with 20+ state-of-the-art labs.
    • Internship Opportunities: Students intern at Buick, Honda, Toyota.
    • Tuition: In-State $9,598 | Out of State $20,862
  3. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    • Location: Urbana-Champaign, IL
    • Pathways: Majors in mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics.
    • Triumphs: Student-designed car won first place at the national Formula SAE competition.
    • Tuition: In-State $15,442 | Out of State $32,892
  4. Cornell University
    • Location: Ithaca, NY
    • Option: Mechanical engineering major with a focus on automotive engineering.
    • Project Focus: Senior design project in automotive engineering design.
    • Tuition: $61,015
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Location: Cambridge, MA
    • Research Focus: 90% of students conduct research alongside faculty.
    • Entrepreneurship: Senior capstone projects often lead to startup ventures.
    • Tuition: $55,878
  2. Arizona State University
    • Location: Tempe, AZ
    • Major: Automotive systems engineering with a balance of science and design.
    • Opportunities: Annual research symposium, 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programs.
    • Tuition: In-State $11,348 | Out of State $29,438
  3. Brigham Young University-Idaho

    • Location: Rexburg, ID
    • Majors: Automotive engineering technology, advanced vehicle systems, automotive technology management.
    • Affiliation: Sponsored by the Church of Latter-day Saints.
    • Tuition: LDS Church Member $4,656 | Non-LDS Church Member $9,312
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Considering Alternatives: Mechanics Colleges

Exploring Hands-On Paths: If a desk job isn’t your preference and you’re drawn to hands-on auto work, consider colleges for mechanics. These institutions offer diplomas, Associate’s, and Bachelor’s degrees focused on automotive mechanics or technology, providing a direct route to fulfilling careers.


Embarking on a journey in automotive engineering opens doors to endless possibilities. By choosing the right school that aligns with your goals, you can drive your passion for innovation, design, and sustainable transportation to new heights. Whether you’re envisioning a career in safety testing, mechanical design, or cutting-edge research, the roadmap to success begins with the best automotive engineering schools. Start your engines and steer towards a future where you play a pivotal role in shaping the vehicles of tomorrow.


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