By Tech Powered Dad | July 24, 2018
So you’ve been wondering what it takes to get into a top university as an engineering student. I wanted to know too, so I set out to answer this question by visiting hundreds of university websites and gathering data. I’ve compiled what I found into a searchable table that will let you estimate what the average SAT is for engineering students at the majority of schools that do not share this information.
Before you look at that, here’s what you should know. It’ll probably come as no surprise that colleges and universities have higher standards for engineering students. On average, the schools I was able to get data for had about 100 point gap on the SAT between their average engineering student and the university as a whole. On the other hand, that gap is a bit smaller at the most competitive universities. That’s because there is less room for a gap as the standards become very high for all students and scores creep ever closer to 1600. The top quartile of schools I looked at had only a 70 point gap between engineering students and the general population, and it continued to shrink as you moved to the very elite schools.
How to Use This Table
The idea behind this table is very simple.
- Find the median general admission score for a university you are interested in. Most schools make this available on their website.
- Plug that number into the table’s search bar or sort through until you find the score in the general admission column.
- In the engineering column, you’ll find the equivalent estimated median engineering score.
- Only SAT scores between 1050 and 1500 are available to look up. Outside that range, I didn’t have the right data to render a realistic score.
Estimate a School’s Average Engineering Score:
What Schools Were Used to Build This Table?
I visited the web sites of all schools in US News and World Reports latest Best Colleges guide and looked at every school in the top 200 for their “Best National Universities” category. For the schools that posted their average SAT scores for their latest class for both engineering and general admission, I recorded their scores.
How Reliable is the Score Table?
Don’t take this table as gospel. It’s a rough estimate, not a policy that an admissions office would follow. Here are some reasons you would not want to not read too much into it:
- The small sample size. There were only 31 schools where I could obtain scores for both engineering and their general admission.
- This table is an attempt to map the median general admission to the median engineering admission. Most experts will point out that the median is not a safe place to be for admission, and you are much better off in the 75th percentile.
- Not every school admits engineering students separately from other students. I saw several schools during this research that explained that all students are admitted through the same process.
Still, given the incredibly simple model here and the limited data, a single variable linear regression, the relationship between the average engineering SAT score and the average SAT score for the whole school is pretty strong. This indicates the table itself is, in fact, fairly reliable. For you AP Stats students, this model returned an R2=.6.
What SAT Score is Required for Computer Science Majors?
I really wanted to answer this one. In fact, it was the original question I was interested in answering. Unfortunately, almost no schools post their admission data for computer science independently of engineering since computer science is typically part of the the engineering school. Anecdotally, I can tell you for the handful of so schools that did post these numbers, they were slightly higher (think 20-50 points) than the engineering school as a whole.
What ACT Score is Required for Engineering Majors?
I also had hoped to answer the question of ACT scores for engineering. What I found was this:
- It is true what they say that virtually every school is now accepting both tests.
- It is not true that schools make this data equally available for both tests. Typically, the schools that made the ACT available made the SAT available too, but the reverse was not true. That is why I chose to use the SAT.
What Can We Conclude About the SAT for Engineering Students?
It is hard to get into college as an engineering student, really hard. The scores required for engineering students are measurably higher than for general admission students. However, there is also a wide range of engineering schools with wide ranging requirements. As you can see from the table, not every school requires a 1500 on SAT.
It’s also true that there’s a payoff that goes with being a STEM major. Studies have consistently shown that STEM graduates will find:
- More job opportunities
- Better salaries and benefits
- Higher job satisfaction
These are all big wins for STEM grads in a day when the job market is changing faster than it has at any point since the industrial revolution.