10 Best Small Liberal Arts Schools With Engineering Programs

When you think “engineering,” you don’t necessarily picture a small liberal arts school. Think again. While engineering and liberal arts don’t often mix, they sometimes do. Rather, engineering in a liberal arts environment does exist and we’re here to tell you why we think it’s a great idea. Think of it as the best of both worlds. Not only are you able to study engineering and gain an extensive amount of hands-on research, but you’re able to do it in an intellectually stimulating environment with a diverse student body.

While there are many upsides to pursuing your engineering degree at a school that specializes in that field, it’s important to consider what you want in terms of student body and the overall focus of the school. Do you want to go to a school with predominantly STEM and engineering students? Or do you want the option to take a Comparative Literature class because you have diverse interests? The marriage of a liberal arts and STEM education is not a new concept, but there are a few schools that produce great engineers after graduation. There really aren’t downsides, and here’s why—you’re equipping yourself with both broad-based knowledge and analytical thinking skills that can be applied to many situations and fields of focus.

A large number of liberal arts schools offer a joint-degree program with either their engineering schools or an engineering school at a partnering institution for students who wish to complete both their Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering. These programs are often 5-6 years. Dartmouth offers this, accepting applications from 20 liberal arts colleges for their dual-degree program at the Thayer School of Engineering. As does Columbia. You would spend your junior or senior year either at the partner institution or your school, return to receive your Bachelor’s degree from your school of origin, and then spend 1-2 years at the partner institution for an additional year or two. The timing varies depending on your program.

Here’s a selection of 10 great engineering programs that also happen to be offered at top-tier, small liberal arts schools. There’s no order to these, by the way:

  1. Swarthmore College
    Size: 1,581
    Location: Swarthmore, PA
    Dual-degree option: No.

  2. Bowdoin College
    Size: 1,799
    Location: Brunswick, ME
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Dartmouth’s Thayer School and Columbia’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  3. Bard College
    Size: 2,051
    Location: Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Dartmouth’s Thayer School and Columbia’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  4. Wesleyan University
    Size: 2,897
    Location: Middletown, CT
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Thayer School’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  5. Smith College
    Size: 2,478
    Location: Northampton, MA
    Dual-degree option: No, but Smith offers both a BS and a BA in Engineering.

  6. Dartmouth College
    Size: 4,307
    Location: Hanover, NH
    Dual-degree option: 5-year program resulting in a Bachelor’s of Science and Bachelor’s of Engineering through Thayer School of Engineering. Though it’s bigger than the schools on this list, it’s the school that offers the dual-degree program. There are merits to looking into attending for undergraduate, namely that you won’t need to change locations at all for your fifth year.

  7. Davidson College
    Size: 1,784
    Location: Charlotte, NC
    Dual-degree option:  Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Columbia’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  8. Bucknell College
    Size: 3,569
    Location: Lewisburg, PA
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Thayer School’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  9. Scripps College
    Size: 973
    Location: Claremont, CA
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Columbia’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

  10. Hamilton College
    Size: 1,872
    Location: Clinton, NY
    Dual-degree option: Can apply to pursue dual-degree through Dartmouth’s Thayer School and Columbia’s Bachelor of Engineering Program.

This is just a selection of schools that offers an engineering program. There are dozens more, in many locations throughout the U.S. Let us know if you need help parsing the details or just want to talk college. We love a college chat.