For a math or physics department at a good university in the United States, there might be 20 or so full-time faculty members, while in the engineering department, I've noticed that there can be more than 100 faculty members -- even over 200 -- and many laboratories.

Why are engineering departments so large, in comparison to, say, math or physics departments?

Is there more funding for engineering research? If so, does most of this funding come from the government?

I'm thinking of schools with math, physics, and engineering programs that are typically ranked Top 50 or higher (more like Top 30 or higher).

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    Can you give any examples of engineering departments with over 200 faculty? That figure sounds far fetched to me. And you do know that there are many types of engineering, right? The label “engineering” is usually applied to multiple departments inside a university, and tyically those departments are grouped in a higher-level organizational structure with a name such as “college of engineering”.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 4:23
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    Also your claim about math departments is outright false. There are very few good US math departments with 20 or so full time faculty members, most of them will have 40-80. So the likely answer is that the premise of your question is incorrect and there isn’t any “why” to explain. But I don’t have enough data to feel comfortable posting this as an answer.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 4:25
  • Who exactly do you count as 'full-time faculty members'? Professors definitely, postdocs?, technical staff at labs? (doesn't exist in math), phd students?
    – quarague
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:01
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    @puppetsock those are schools of engineering, not departments. According to the page you linked, the UCLA engineering school is comprised of seven academic departments. As I said, there is nothing to explain here other than that OP is comparing apples to oranges.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 16:14
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    @ElizabethHenning I don’t know. Not sure such a question can be given a meaningful answer.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


Engineering, like business, is an extremely popular major because it has good employment prospects. It's also well-funded relative to more academic disciplines, because it's easier to get funding from both private and public sources for "useful" research.

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