5 Top Universities for Environmental Engineering

In this article, we look at the 5 Top Universities for  Environmental Engineering.

It’s no surprise that the ranking of the 5 Top Universities for Environmental Engineering is filled with schools in the United States and the United Kingdom.

This is because the Universities in the US and the UK are the major drivers in Environmental Sustainability as they help develop environmentally sustainable technologies and design environmentally sustainable projects.

Before we dive into the top 5 universities to study Environmental Engineering, let’s look first at the meaning of the term “Environmental Engineering”.


What is Environmental Engineering?

According to the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics.

“Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering that is concerned with protecting people from the effects of adverse environmental effects, such as pollution, as well as improving environmental quality.

Environmental engineers work to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control.”

Environmental Engineering uses the combination of engineering, soil science biology and chemistry to create solutions to environmental challenges like water and air pollution, waste disposal etc and help make the world around us more sustainable.

They access the environmental impacts of a specific or proposed project on the Environment.

They evaluate hazardous-waste management systems to evaluate the severity of such hazards, advise on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps.

They design waste treatment systems, sustainable industrial landfills and improve sanitation.

Requirements for studying Environmental Engineering

Criteria for students who want to study Environmental engineering vary from school to school with every school and every program establishing its criteria for admissions in environmental engineering.

At the undergraduate level, some universities don’t offer environmental engineering. More competitive programs would have higher exam requirements and may even demand an interview.

But basically, students who hope to study environmental engineering at the undergraduate level are needed to have completed their high school courses (physics, chemistry, biology, etc), minimum high school GPA of 3.0 or have passed the cutoff of other external examinations.

Pending the country, they must have successfully passed the SAT and ACT scores. They may also need to write an admission test of a statement of purpose.

Students should be balanced in required general education and core engineering courses with specialized electives.

For graduate level in environmental engineering, students are required to meet the requirements that are higher than bachelor’s degree programs.

Firstly, interested applicants are needed to undergo a bachelor’s degree program in environmental engineering, an ABET-accredited undergraduate degree in engineering or have a bachelor in science in physical or biological science. Some schools may require some years of professional experience.

They need to have a minimum of 3.0 over 4.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. Some schools may require two letters of recommendation, a professional resume or curriculum vitae and A statement of purpose.

International Applicants who wish to do their program in the United States or Canada must take the TOEFL and the Cathal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

They must have achieved a TOEFL score of 550 (paper) or 80 (internet) and a minimum equivalent ranking of 75 per cent on the quantitative portion of the GRE examination.

Where can environmental engineers work?

There are several places environmental engineers can find employment. Some of the places include:

  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Management, scientific and consulting services firms
  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
  • Colleges, universities, and research institutes
  • Engineering services firms
  • Facilities support services
  • Rail transportation
  • Construction
  • Household appliance manufacturing
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing
  • Waste management and remediation services
  • Pipeline transportation, etc.

5 Top Universities for Environmental Engineering

The following universities are the 5 top Universities for Environmental Engineering. They include:

  • Harvard Univerisity
  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge

1. Harvard University

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the United States. Harvard is regarded as one of the best universities in the world regarding its influence, reputation, and academic pedigree and one of the top universities for environmental engineering.

According to the QS World University Rankings,

Harvard is the 1st ranked university that studies Environmental Engineering having a 96.4 overall, 91.4 rating in H-index Citations (17th)  96.7 rating in Citations per paper (3rd), 98.5 rating in Academic Reputation (5th) and 100 rating in Employer Reputation (1st).

In Harvard, Environmental Engineering is joined with Environmental Sciences. Harvard University developed Environmental Science and Engineering to help address environmental issues such as global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion

of local and regional air and water pollution and these environmental problems require certain perspectives from a diverse set of scientific disciplines which includes atmospheric physics and chemistry, oceanography, glaciology, hydrology, geophysics, ecology, and biogeochemistry.

Harvard trains her students on ways to manage environmental challenges through enhancing their thinking on environmental systems and processes through exploration of various underlying processes and feedbacks within the Earth system with approaches from theory and modelling.

Environmental Science and Engineering students study the processes and technology surrounding natural and polluted waters and schools, climate, the atmosphere and energy and also help in providing technical solutions and improved innovations in the measurement and modelling of the environment.

The students are to complete various environmental engineering projects which gives them exposure to solving complex environmental problems in the real world.

Graduates from Environmental Science and Engineering can work as scientists in the Environmental Protection Agency, am Environment Consulting Firm or as part of an Organisation’s Environment Sustainability Team.

Harvard University also created the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) which has a major aim of harnessing the intellectual power of Harvard to understand and shake its environmental future.

The HUCE gets students involved in the drive towards a sustainable environment by providing the HUCE Environmental Fellowship which supports various research and education from undergraduate research to interdisciplinary faculty collaborations.

Harvard offers undergraduate, AB/SM, graduate (Masters and Doctorate) degree programs. Harvard has various environmental clubs and organisations which help in the promotion of interest in the Environment.

Environmental Science and Engineering also has affiliated programs that students could also try out. They include; Environmental Humanities Initiatives, Planetary Health Alliance, Harvard’s Solar Geo-Environmental Research Program.

Visit School Website Here

2. Stanford University

Stanford, home to many cutting-edge technologies like Yahoo, Google, Hewlett-Packard and is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Stanford is one of the top universities for environmental engineering.

Stanford University was founded in 1885 by California senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization”.

Stanford has seven schools which are the Greatest School of Business, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Humanities and Sciences, Law School and School of Medicine.

According to the QS World University Rankings,

Stanford is joint 1st in ranked university that studies Environmental Engineering having 96.4 overall, 94.8 rating in H-index Citations (5th), 96.1 rating in Citations per paper (6th), 98.3 rating in Academic Reputation (7th) and 93.2 rating in Employer Reputation (5th).

At Stanford, it is called the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. Students are to go for either Environmental Systems Engineering or Civil Engineering.

Is only in the graduate degrees – Masters (MSc.), Engineer and Doctorate (PhD) that students are to choose from Atmosphere/Energy, Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering and Geomechanics and Sustainable Design and Construction disciplines to study.

Stanford also offers part-time programs, online course offerings, and industrial certifications for her students. Environmental Engineering in collaboration with other groups both inside and outside the university provides a range of opportunities for in-depth study and research.

Environmental Engineering along with its researches applies fundamental principles to analyse and solve complex environmental problems.

Students are prepared on how to deal with new environmental problems once they emerge preparing them to be future engineering scientists who can meet environmental challenges globally.

Researchers in environmental engineering contributes to sustainable development by developing world-class knowledge, models, Andy processes that are capable of sustaining natural resources along with human health.

These researches are carried out by the centres and groups in the department including the Environmental Informatics Group, the National Performance of Fans Program (NPDP), and the Cert for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness (SDGC).

They also collaborate with industries to perform research.

Environmental Engineers from Stanford can work as scientists in the Environmental Protection Agency, am Environment Consulting Firm or as part of an Organisation’s Environment Sustainability Team.

Visit the School website here.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

According to the QS World University Rankings,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the 3rd ranked university that studies Environmental Engineering having 95.6 overall, 89.8 rating in H-index Citations, 94.3 rating in Citations per paper, 100 rating in Academic Reputation and 96.2 rating in Employer Reputation.

Massachusetts is one of the top universities for environmental engineering. In Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it is called the Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

Here, Civil and Environmental Engineering seeks to combine the fundamental environmental sciences with novel engineering as students test, building and scale to meet the pressure of climate change, food security, urbanisation etc

Advancing in ecology, structures, smart cities and global systems to create a smarter, better and faster infrastructure for the environment.

The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) seeks to use complex and creative engineering design to understand the world inventing ways to make it more sustainable using innovation by addressing some of the greatest challenges of our time.

Graduates in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering teach and carry out research in universities, work for large firms, start their businesses, and hold leadership positions in government and nonprofit organizations.

The department’s undergraduate program gives them a strong background in science and engineering fundamentals while emphasizing hands-on design and research projects that provide real-world context.

Students focus on the use of large data, computation, probability, and data analysis, and learn how to combine theory, experiments, and modelling to understand and solve complex environmental engineering problems.

After the undergraduate program, graduates can go further in studying graduate degree Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master of Science in Transportation, Master of Science, Civil Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Doctor of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy

where they could participate in research with and get hands-on experience solving some of the world’s largest problems in the domains of infrastructure and environment, and related areas of interest.

Visit the School website here.

4. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is the oldest known university in and its founding date is unknown though it is thought that teaching took place there as early as the 11th century and is one of the top universities for environmental engineering.

It’s located in the ancient city of Oxford, dubbed “the dreaming city of spires” by the 19th-century poet Matthew Arnold, and comprises 44 colleges and halls as well as the largest library system in the UK.

Oxford boasts as having the youngest population in the UK as a quarter of its citizens are students.

According to the QS World University Rankings,

The University of Oxford is the 4th in ranked university that studies Environmental Engineering having 95.5 overall, 93.8 rating in H-index Citations (8th), 92.1 rating in Citations per paper (25th), 98.5 rating in Academic Reputation (5th) and 95.2 rating in Employer Reputation (4th).

Environmental Engineering students at the University of Oxford are assisted to develop technologies for the prevention of pollution, stimulating microbial cleanup of end-of-pipe industrial wastewaters,

And the microbial transformation of industrial and green waste to high-value chemicals such as bioplastics and bioenergy.

Research focuses on the exploitation of physical, chemical and engineered approaches for enhancing the transformation of wastes and industrial water clean-up, both in the environment and bioreactors.

Visit the School website here.

5. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is one of the top universities for environmental engineering.

According to the QS World University Rankings,

The University of Cambridge is the 5th in ranked university that studies Environmental Engineering having 95.4 overall, 91.2 rating in H-index Citations (20th), 93.2 rating in Citations per paper (20th), 99.1 rating in Academic Reputation (4th) and 96.6 rating in Employer Reputation (2nd).

There are 2 the University of Cambridge Masters Degrees in Environmental Engineering. They are:

  • MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development
  • MPhil in Energy Technologies.

1. Masters of Philosophy in Engineering for Sustainable Development

Masters of Philosophy in Engineering for Sustainable Development is an environmental engineering course that is designed for graduates to be taught in ways and how to tackle pressing environmental problems to ensure environmental sustainability by developing practical engineering solutions.

This course is based on some principles:

  • Living within Earth’s finite limits and resources,
  • Helping everyone on the planet to achieve an acceptable quality of life,
  • Acting as stewards to the environment for future generations,
  • Dealing with complexity,
  • Handling three tradeoffs that have to be made.

This programme aims to:

  • Produce engineers who can deliver solutions to society’s needs and address global challenges within a sustainability framework.
  • Assist engineers to explore value Frameworks that are targeted to achieve sustainable development and guide the design and management of engineering projects so as not to have adverse impacts on the environment, etc.
  • Masters of Philosophy in Energy Technologies is a course in environmental engineering that is designed for students to meet the current and future demands for environmentally sustainable and secure energy supply and use, etc.

2. MPhil in Energy Technologies

MPhil in Energy Technologies is a one year program designed for graduates who have the desire to tackle problems in the development of practical engineering solutions and learn about the science and technology use in energy utilisation, electricity generation, energy efficiency and alternative energy.

The objectives of the course are:

  • To teach the fundamentals behind the technologies involved in energy utilisation, electricity generation, energy efficiency, and alternative energy.
  • To build graduates with an overall view of energy engineering, whilst offering specialisations in a selected area through a research project.
  • To prepare students for potential future PhD research, etc.

Graduates from the MPhil in Energy Technologies are prone targets for employment in industrial research and development departments, policy-making bodies, the utility industry, the manufacturing sector or energy equipment manufacturing. Etc.

Masters in Environmental Engineering is not a guarantee for doctoral research but students who wish to apply for a PhD are expected to have obtained an overall mark of at least 70%.

Visit the School website here.


Is environmental engineering the same as environmental science?

Is Environmental Engineering the same as Environmental Science?

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

Environmental engineering is a field in engineering focused on combining environmental science methods with engineering principles for the development and implementation of sustainable infrastructure, technology and industrial operations that have a minimal risk on the environment.

While environmental sciences are the combination of disciplines and methodologies in biology, chemistry, physics and information to study the environment and the impact of majorly anthropogenic factors like industrialisation, population growth etc.

Environmental engineers may often work closely with environmental scientists to apply data to designs to promote the environmental sustainability of buildings and activities done in them, promote cleaner and sustainable energy production and usage, and environmentally sound business practices.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *