Environmental Engineering Schools in California

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The field of environmental engineering attracts students who want to apply technical and scientific skills to improving the environment. While they’re not the same as environmentalists, environmental engineers protect the environment using various aspects of engineering and related subject areas.

There are many schools that offer environmental engineering degrees, and some of the best can be found in California, which is also a leading state in terms of environmental engineering salaries. The prestigious University of California offers top-ranked environmental engineering programs at four campus locations. Continue reading to learn more about gaining the skills and coursework needed to prepare for future success in the field. 

Why Environmental Engineering Colleges Are Important

Environmental engineering schools in California are popular because they’re designed to train students in biology, chemistry, engineering, and soil science core coursework. The goal is to work toward solutions that will solve environmental problems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental engineers may expect a median salary of $96,820 per year (which exceeds $46/hour). The generally high salary is a drawing point for this career trajectory, even as you may face some other drawbacks. The job outlook for environmental engineers is “slower than average,” with a 4% growth projection through 2030

Still, with approximately 4,000 new jobs created every year on average, employment shows a positive growth projection, particularly for construction projects. In the US, 56,037 Environmental Engineers are already employed. However, many job opportunities will open up as the current pool of engineers retire or move on to other positions. 

With that generally positive outlook for the job market, the environmental engineering schools in California have an even more important role to play. They offer the critical skills and coursework you need to be prepared for the competitive job market. Statistically, California is also the best location for environmental engineers to live and find jobs. As a state, California is often at the forefront of environmental justice, activism, and education

Best Environmental Engineering Schools in California

With California so often leading the pack as far as environmental solutions are concerned, it’s not surprising that 13 colleges regularly offer some 332 environmental engineering degrees in the state. The environmental engineering degree may not be the most popular major, but it’s important if you want to make a difference in the world. Here are just a few of the top-ranking environmental engineering colleges in California.

1. University of California, Berkeley

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better environmental engineering program than the one at the University of California, Berkeley. The environmental engineering program holds the number one spot on U.S. News and World Report’s lists of America’s best undergraduate programs and best graduate programs in the field and the third spot on the National Research Council’s list of best environmental engineering programs

The curriculum focuses on coursework and research in air quality engineering, water quality engineering, and environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology. The cost for tuition and fees is $14,254, but the total cost for undergraduate admissions at UC Berkeley ranges upwards of $39,550 for students who are California residents versus $69,304 for non-residents. Berkeley Admissions awards more than $750 million in financial aid and accepts ~44,000 students on average yearly (just over 16% of all applicants were admitted in 2020). 

2. University of California, Davis

According to the National Research Council, the University of California, Davis, has the sixth-best environmental engineering program in the nation. U.S. News and World Report have taken a similar stance, ranking it 13th on its list of the best programs in the country. 

In addition, the environmental engineering department is known for its Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), which is dedicated to saving lakes and their surrounding watersheds and airsheds. The cost for tuition and fees is $13,104, but the total cost for undergraduate admissions at UC Davis ranges upwards of $39,241 for students who are California residents versus the $70,267 for non-residents. UC Davis admits 49% of qualified applicants

3. University of California, Irvine

U.S. News and World Report ranked the environmental engineering program at the University of California, Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering 34th. In addition, the National Research Council ranked it 10th in the country with a high score in the research category for its several research centers, institutes, and facilities. 

Particularly noteworthy are the Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP), which is dedicated to breaking new ground in sustainability, and the Urban Water Research Center, which promotes the efficient use of water resources to protect the environment. The cost for tuition and fees is $13,775, but the total cost for undergraduate admissions at UC Irvine ranges upwards of $15,902 for students who are California residents versus the $45,656 for non-residents. Some 69% of enrolled UCI undergraduate students receive financial aid, averaging ~$18,273. Their competitive acceptance rate is at 30%

4. University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering earned the 48th spot on U.S. News and World Report’s list of schools with the best environmental engineering programs. According to the environmental engineering department’s description, it prides itself on being a leader in the “development of innovative methods to control air pollution and emissions from transportation and industrial resources.”

The cost for tuition and fees is $13,754, but the total cost for undergraduate admissions at UC Riverside ranges upwards of $43,508 for non-residents. Some 91% of UCR enrolled students receive financial aid, averaging ~$16,159. The acceptance rate was just over 56% for 2020

If you’re looking to make a difference in this world, you’ve probably already gravitated toward an environmental engineering degree. It’s a great way to make a real and tangible impact on how construction projects impact our communities. With this article, you can see why it makes sense for you to pursue your studies at environmental engineering schools in California. 

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