Top 12 Easiest Engineering Degrees

Top 12 Easiest Engineering Degrees

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Engineering is not only one of the most sought-after degrees but also one of the most difficult ones. However, the second part of this common belief isn’t always true. Studying engineering doesn’t have to make you lose your mind. 

Considering the graduation rate for each major, we conclude that the easiest engineering degrees include: Materials Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Agricultural Engineering.

We have compiled a list of the 12 easiest engineering degrees by taking graduation rates as the main ranking criterion. Read on to find out what each of these degrees is about, what coursework they include, and what US universities offer the best programs and highest graduation rates.

How to Differentiate Difficult And Easy Engineering Degrees

Since the 1970s, around half of all engineering students in the US have failed to finish their studies and obtain a degree.

More than half a century later, the situation hasn’t changed much. More recently, engineering degrees have had a dropout rate of 40% to 50%. The total number of undergraduate engineers per year in the US is around 70,000. For comparison, universities in Mexico educate 130,000 engineers and technicians every year.

Additionally, a staggering third of all engineering students in the US struggle with and fail fundamental courses. The lack of preparation from high school is commonly to blame for this.

Another major factor contributing to the difficulty of engineering degrees is the study time needed to pass the courses. Estimates show that engineering degrees require at least four hours of work outside the classroom per week, while the average for other degrees is just two hours. 

The high dropout rate and factors such as unprepared students, difficult subjects, long study hours, and the lack of financial support make engineering one of the hardest degrees to obtain.

However, some engineering degrees keep the study hours significantly lower while maintaining above-average graduation rates. They can count as the easiest engineering degrees to acquire.

Here is the detailed list and description of each of those degrees:

1. Materials Engineering

Developing new materials for chemical, nuclear, agricultural, mechanical, medical, and everyday use is what Materials Engineering is about. Due to the wide area of application, this is one of the most sought-after STEM degrees.

Unlike most other items on this list, Materials Engineering is one of the few mathematics and physics intensive engineering degrees with a high graduation rate. However, this degree can still be considered easier than most other degrees in this field.

Materials Engineering students will have to deal with these courses during their studies, among plenty of others:

  • Thermodynamics of Materials
  • Kinetics
  • Materials Structure
  • Materials Processing
  • Polymer Physics

Even though these subjects might seem tricky, they have high pass rates, which helps make Materials Engineering the easiest engineering degree to acquire.

Materials Engineering Graduation Rate

Materials Engineering has a graduation rate of 90.71%. While exceptional, the graduation rate mentioned is high above the engineering average. This rating makes the Materials Engineering study program rank as one of the easiest engineering degrees.

Average graduation rate data for Materials Engineering shows that 31,330 students out of 34,539 that enroll in these programs across the US receive a degree up to six years after enrollment.

Universities with top graduation rates for the Materials Engineering degree include:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Cornell University95.36%
Northwestern University94.95%
California Institute of Technology91.56%
University of California – Santa Barbara83.98%

2. Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering deals with applying scientific and engineering principles to the environment. The main purpose of Environmental Engineering is to protect human health, improve the environmental quality of life, and preserve nature.

Engineering degrees are commonly associated with subjects such as physics and advanced mathematics. Environmental Engineering, on the other hand, doesn’t dive deep into these subjects that plenty of potential students find difficult. 

Environmental Engineering students can expect to attend courses such as:

  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Elements of Geology
  • Engineering Economy
  • Water Quality Control

For this reason, Environmental Engineering is usually the first-place holder on the list of easiest engineering courses. But it ranks second on our list due to its graduation rate. 

Environmental Engineering Graduation Rate

When the top engineering schools in the country are considered, over 90% of enrolled Environmental Engineering students end up with a degree within six years (150% of the normal graduation time). 

Looking at the data from previous years, we can see that 30,279 students out of the enrolled 33,486 have managed to graduate with an Environmental Engineering degree from the top schools in the US every year.

Let’s take a look at some data from the top engineering schools.:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Stanford University95.23%
University of California – Berkeley92.34%
Georgia Institute of Technology90.71%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign86.20%

3. Electronics and Communications Engineering

Electronics and Communications Engineering enables the graduates to get involved with various systems’ research, design, development, testing, and implementation processes. TV, radio, and Internet are just some of the areas in which this degree is beneficial.

Due to the involvement of electronics and programming, the Electronics and Communications Engineering students will meet with maths-related subjects throughout their education. However, this engineering degree still maintains an above-average graduation rate, showing it’s not as hard as some of the comparative degrees in the field of engineering.

The course list for Electronics and Communications Engineering includes subjects such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Engineering Design
  • Java Programming
  • Engineering Mathematics, Signals and Systems
  • Semiconductor Devices and Circuits

Electronics and Communications Engineering Graduation Rate

Electronics and Communications Engineering has an outstanding graduation rate of 90.32%.

During no more than six years of studies, 33,478 out of 37,065 candidates for this degree fulfill all of the needed coursework.

Here are some of the top US schools that contribute to the high graduation rate for the Electronics and Communications Engineering degree:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Princeton University98.02%
Carnegie Mellon University93.46%
California Institute of Technology91.56%
Purdue University – Main Campus82.87%

4. Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering deals with designing and improving companies’ integrated systems. These systems can be related to staffing, logistics, and more.

This engineering degree is fairly maths and physics forward. Yet, it  manages to retain a high graduation rate, making it appear as one of the easier degrees in the field of engineering.

Here’s a short sample of some of the most important courses for Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering students:

  • Calc 1, 2, and 3
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Linear Algebra for Engineers
  • Industrial Systems Simulation

Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Graduation Rate

With an average graduation rate of 90.03%, this degree gets the third spot on the list of the easiest engineering degrees. While by no means easy, this degree program produces a large number of graduates:

According to college data, 36,751 out of the enrolled 40,820 Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering candidates will obtain a college degree when provided with no more than 150% of the time typically required for this degree.

The graduation rates for top universities in the US are available in the table below:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology95.58%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor93.44%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute86.14%
Purdue University82.87%

5. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical, or Medical, Engineering is an engineering subdivision that applies engineering principles to healthcare. It’s responsible for providing us with numerous diagnostic and therapeutic devices. MRIs, EKGs, micro-implants, and regenerative tissue growth are just some of this engineering branch’s contributions.

While advanced knowledge in mathematics and physics is required for this degree, Biomedical Engineering focuses on other subjects. That’s why getting this degree can be easier than some more math-demanding engineering studies.

The list of subjects for the Biomedical Engineering degree commonly includes:

  • Bioengineering Science
  • Computer Fundamentals and Programming
  • Medical and Biological Science
  • Design and Professional Practice
  • Biomechanics

Biomedical Engineering Graduation Rate

With a graduation rate of 89.91%, this degree is near the top of our list. Remember that we have this number based on the data available on some of the top engineering schools in the US.

In these schools, 25,757 out of 28,647 Biomedical Engineering students complete their courses and obtain a degree within six years of starting the program.

You can see the graduation rates of some of the top programs in the table below:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Duke University95.52%
John Hopkins University94.40%
University of California – San Diego87.12%
University Washington – Seattle Campus82.00%

6. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering applies engineering principles to designing, manufacturing, analyzing, and maintaining mechanical systems. As one of the oldest engineering fields, it has found application in almost all areas of our daily lives.

Very mathematics- and physics-forward, this engineering degree is not for everyone. Known as one of the most intensive engineering courses, Mechanical Engineering somehow maintains a high graduation rate among US college students.

During their undergrad years, future Mechanical Engineers meet with courses such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Basic Physical Sciences
  • Statics and Dynamics
  • Hydraulics and Pneumatics
  • Mechatronics and Robotics

Mechanical Engineering Graduation Rate

Mechanical Engineering can brag with an impressive graduation rate of 89.88%. This exceptional average score makes this degree one of the easiest engineering degrees.

An astounding 39,639 out of 44,101 Mechanical Engineering candidates receive an undergraduate degree given 150% of the predicted schooling time.

Let’s take a look at the table comparing some of the best Mechanical Engineering schools by graduation rate:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Harvard University97.63%
Columbia University in the City of New York96.21%
University of Georgia87.18%
Auburn University78.70%

7. Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering is an engineering field that deals with developing computer hardware and software. Most people think this degree is hard to obtain because it combines computer sciences and electronic engineering. However, graduation data, as you’ll see later, shows otherwise.

This engineering division requires students to arrive prepared when it comes to mathematical knowledge. And the high graduation rate shows that this is often the case.

Here is a brief overview of courses that prospective Computer Engineering students can expect if they sign up for this college major:

  • Engineering Mathematics
  • Engineering Physics
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Multimedia Technology
  • Advanced Computer Architecture

Computer Engineering Graduation Rate

Computer Engineering has an impressive graduation rate of 89.62%. Like other engineering programs on this list, the high graduation rate makes this degree one of the easiest engineering undergraduate majors.

A total of 38,149 out of 42,566 Computer Engineering students finish their degrees within six years of starting the program at one of the best schools in the nation. 

Find out what top graduation rate schools from the following table:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Carnegie Mellon University93.46%
University of California – Berkeley92.34%
Georgia Institute of Technology – Main Campus90.71%
The University of Texas at Austin87.56%

8. Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is an engineering area that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of our surroundings. The specific applications include designing, building, and maintaining roads, railways, airports, bridges, pipelines, sewage systems, dams, canals, and more.

Obtaining a prestigious title in Civil Engineering doesn’t require advanced knowledge of mathematics and physics. That’s why so many students pursue this degree.

Civil Engineering students have to pass some tricky subjects and courses during their studies. Some of those include:

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Engineering Geology
  • Civil and Architectural Engineering
  • Structural Mechanics

Civil Engineering Graduation Rate

Despite these tricky courses, Civil Engineering degrees have an outstanding graduation rate that brings this degree to the list of the easiest engineering degrees. 

Even when we consider all top universities in the US, Civil Engineering remains one of the top graduation-rate degrees. A staggering 88.93% of all enrolled students manage to acquire a degree, taking up to 150% of the normal degree acquisition time.

This number translates to a total of 47,412 Civil Engineering graduates of the 53,313 students that enroll in this engineering program every six years.

Here’s some data on top Civil Engineering schools in the country and their graduation rates:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology95.58%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor93.44%
The University of Texas at Austin87.56%
Purdue University – Main Campus82.87%

9. Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering is all about studying the operation and design of chemical plants. In addition, this engineering branch deals with improving the production of those plants by optimizing the conversion of raw materials into useful products.

While maths and physics are highly relevant to this degree, Chemical Engineering mostly revolves around chemistry, just like the name suggests. Still, according to the graduation rates, Chemical Engineering is one of the easiest engineering degrees to acquire.

Here’s a brief list of some of the most important courses that Chemical Engineering will encounter during their studies:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Mass and Heat Transfer
  • Process Systems

Chemical Engineering Graduation Rate

The average graduation rate in the top American universities is 88.20%. Just like with other easiest engineering degrees on this list, the graduation rate criteria only considers the students who graduate within six years.

On average, 35,424 out of 40,161 Chemical Engineering students from the best schools in the US manage to complete their degree.

Here’s a table listing some of the most prominent schools’ Chemical Engineering graduation rates:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Princeton University98.02%
University of Wisconsin – Madison88.35%
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities84.26%
University of California – Santa Barbara83.98%

10. Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

For those interested in the development process of aircrafts and spacecrafts, Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering is the place to be.

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering is one of the most demanding degrees to obtain. However, this advanced branch of engineering attracts top-quality high school candidates, which makes its graduate rates high and suitable for the list of the easiest engineering degrees.

The coursework for the Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering degree includes:

  • Statics
  • Dynamics of Aerospace Systems
  • Aerodynamics
  • Aircraft Flight Dynamics
  • Space Navigation and Guidance

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering Graduation Rate

The average graduation rate for Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering programs in the US is 87.10%. The percentage of graduates includes top US schools such as the Air Force and Naval Academy.

Up to 37,451 out of 42,996 Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering students manage to graduate within the time frame we’ve taken as the standard (150% of the original degree time).

Let’s take a look at some of the highest graduation rates for Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering:

UniversityGraduation Rate
Rice University94.19%
United States Naval Academy89.61%
The United States Air Force Academy87.32%
University of Colorado Boulder72.47%

11. Nuclear Engineering

The main concern of Nuclear Engineering is the application of nuclear energy to provide energy to the world. In addition to power plants and reactors, this engineering branch also deals with medical and military applications of nuclear energy.

Relying on a solid mathematics, physics, and chemistry foundation, Nuclear Engineering is a field for students who excel in natural sciences. While these subjects are not easy for everyone, those comfortable with them shouldn’t struggle with the degree courses.

Among other advanced classes, Nuclear Engineering degrees commonly include the following subjects:

  • Nuclear Fusion
  • Plasma Physics
  • Applied Radiochemistry
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Nuclear Power Engineering

Nuclear Engineering Graduation Rate

Although it sounds like a complicated degree, Nuclear Engineering has a remarkable graduation rate of 85.12%. While significantly lower than the first few engineering degrees on this list, this graduation rate is still more than 35% higher than the national engineering degree average.

Data shows that 43,323 out of 50,894 candidates manage to become Nuclear Engineers in six years or less.

The table of most prominent US Nuclear Engineering schools by graduation rate looks something like this:

UniversityGraduation Rate
University of Florida88.64%
Texas A&M University – College Station82.53%
The University of Tennessee – Knoxville71.12%
Oregon State University69.32%

12. Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Biological and Agricultural Engineering has the task of designing agricultural machines, equipment, and processes. All of these are in favor of improving agricultural products and processes for the purpose of conserving nature and our food supply.

While essential to our lives, Biological and Agricultural Engineering maintains a reputation as one of the easier engineering degrees. The lack of advanced knowledge in subjects such as mathematics and physics is one of the contributing factors to this opinion.

Here are some of the essential courses that every future Biological and Agricultural Engineering student will need to go through:

  • Irrigation and Drainage Systems
  • Crop Production
  • Soil and Water Engineering
  • Agricultural Waste Management
  • Poultry and Fish Processing

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Graduation Rate

As the final candidate for the list of the easiest engineering degrees, Biological and Agricultural Engineering has a graduation rate of 84.59%.

Given six years to complete their four-year program, 45,357 out of 53,618 candidates will accomplish their goal and become Biological and Agricultural Engineers.

Here’s a short table of some of the nation’s best Biological and Agricultural Engineering schools sorted by graduation rate:

UniversityGraduation Rate
University of California – Los Angeles91.29%
University of California – Davis86.25%
North Carolina State University at Raleigh84.59%
Iowa State University74.72%

Sources And References

About The Author

Nathan Brunner
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Nathan Brunner is a labor market expert. He is a mathematician who graduated from EPFL.

He is the owner of Salarship, a job search engine where less-skilled candidates can find accessible employment opportunities.