If you are seeking an engineering job, do employers care about which university you attended? Do they look at your grades, or bias their decision based on the college's reputation? There are stories of Ivy League graduates struggling to find employment, while another person at a small, virtually unheard-of college grabbing that opportunity. So if you are attending a prestigious school, and your grades are lower than someone who is attending a small, high-school-like school, how will that affect your employment opportunities?

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    Questions about non-academic jobs and careers are off-topic here.
    – enthu
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 19:05
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    @EnthusiasticStudent: Engineer is an academic job and thus this question does relate to academia as it is relevant for career choices of people who are still at the university.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 20:56
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    @Wrzlprmft The 'relevant for career choices of people who are still at the university' part of your comment doesn't make this question on-topic. I personally wouldn't label 'engineer' as an academic job, at least not uniformly (I can believe there are research-based engineering jobs, but I suspect there are ones that are not about research too).
    – Jessica B
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 22:25
  • If you are asking about research jobs in engineering, then this question may be on-topic and you should edit it to clarify. If you're asking about non-research jobs, I'm afraid that it's outside the scope of this site as defined in the help center.
    – ff524
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 9:39
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    This question appears to be more on-topic on Workplace SE since it is asking about industry jobs. However, I am not too sure it would be closed as opinion-based there. I persoanlly would not vote to close there.
    – Nobody
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 4:32

5 Answers 5


If you are seeking an engineering job, do employers care about which university you attended? Do they look at your grades, or bias their decision based on the college's reputation?

If you have a solid foundation in the skills that matter for your engineering discipline/sub-field, and can convey that to recruiters in a phone/on-site/on-campus interview, then I would say that to a first-order where you did your degree does not matter so long as you can get the recruiter's attention.

Getting the recruiter's attention is the trickier part for those coming from lesser-known schools. For example, at the engineering schools I'm familiar with, new grads can find a lot of good fresh-out career opportunities by attending on-campus engineering career fairs and the like. The downside of attending a lesser-known engineering school is that they may not have a decent attendance of engineering companies that come to the campus for recruiting purposes in the first place. This puts the burden on the student in getting a recruiter's attention.

Engineering students (and students in other fields, I'm sure) from any institution can greatly benefit from networking with peers at other institutions and those already in industry. For those from lesser-known institutions, networking can be an invaluable tool for opening doors to career opportunities. Also, while obtaining an internship may be equally as difficult as obtaining a full-time position for those from lesser-known schools, participating in several internships along the way to obtaining your degree if at all possible (and performing the duties of the position well) would really go a long way to improving your chances of success.

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    A top graduate of a second-tier school may bemore intreesting than a second-tier graduate of a top school. Emphasis on may; it depends on what you've done/learned.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 23:02

Many firms tend to prefer certain schools -- drawing exclusively from CalTech or from MIT, etc. Some hiring managers tend to feel that this builds coherence and loyalty within the engineering ranks.

(Heavens forbid that you put an MIT engineer with a Caltech engineer on the same team unless you want to have them compete against each other.)

Some hiring managers have intense loyalty towards their own school and want to promote their own.

Others simply choose the best available in a specific domain.

It all boils down to the hiring philosophy of the company.

My own advice is that you should choose the program that you feel has the best fit with your interests. There's no point in going into a 'good' program if it's weak in your own area of study.

  • +1 for the coherence argument. I didn't think about that one
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:10
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    It is thought that engineers from the same program tend to think the same way, use the same tools, come in with pre-existing friendships, get drunk on the same football weekends, and generally get along better. Whether or not this is actually true is unknown.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:52
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    At least for startups, the coherence argument is utter nonsense. See carlos.bueno.org
    – JeffE
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 15:34

As much as we'd like it not to matter, many large employers do have "preferred" schools, whose graduates don't have to go through as much scrutiny.

That said, the effect is diminished when you're applying to smaller firms, where there are less layers of HR involved in the hiring process.

  • I'm not sure this is limited to big companies. If the boss of a small company is from Caltech, she may tend to bring in other Caltech people. It's just not as visible from the outside since the n is smaller.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:54
  • Could you please elaborate on your first line? Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 23:17
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    @iamcreasy: For example, if you are not from a "preferred" school, your future hiring manager may be responsible for providing extra documentation that your degree meets the "standards" for employment. Extra steps and bureaucracy may be involved in such cases.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 23:37

Does it matter: yes. Everything matters. Next question please! Upvote at your leasure!

The question you should ask is "How much does it matter?"

The answer really depends on how well you know your field. A brand-name school is most likely to help you get through an initial screening, but unlikely to land you the job. If you're on the fence, technically, and you need a large number of interviews to land the job, a brand-name school may be the ticket you need. On the other hand, if you actually know your stuff, you won't be so dependent on "good luck" in the interview, and you can afford to get missed in the screening once or twice... all you need is one interview and you're set!

Alternatively if your activities stand out, you wont need the brand-name school to sell your way past the screening process -- what you've done will speak more than your alma mater.


Traditionally, yes but more and more companies are beginning to move past that. Government jobs however are different. They would select based on school and also background.

But, anyone who has worked in a diverse environment would know all that very surface level. Engineering is all about finding solutions to problems. It always depends on the company's business model, hiring policies, alliances and other factors. It is not as clear cut as school where an A is an A regardless of the person getting it.

The whole "go to a good a school, graduate and get a good job" line is very misleading. It might work out for a lot of people (especially back then when a select few go to college) but do not depend on it to work out for you (unless daddy's the boss, then why are we even discussing this). Depend on yourself first and keep at it till it does work out. It sucks but you will be able appreciate every bit of it much better than you struck gold at first strike.

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