6 engineering grad programsWhen planning your future in engineering, whether it's civil, mechanical or electrical, picking the right graduate program is critical. You want a school with a great reputation within the engineering community of your choice and opportunities to expand your mind past the books. These six engineering graduate programs are rocking the academic experiences of students and nurturing great minds of the future.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

It's no surprise this graduate program is on the list of great schools. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been creating engineering masterminds for decades and boasts a popular engineering program. In fact, roughly 45 percent of the graduate student body is enrolled in the School of Engineering. The campus has 20 research facilities that explore a wide variety of topics. Overachieving students (who among graduate engineering students isn't an overachiever?) can also participate in student programs such as Transportation@MIT and a $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. With a 4.4 student to faculty ratio, MIT is a great place to take your higher education to another level.

Stanford University

Sunshine, warm weather and a sweet engineering graduate program – that's what Stanford University has to offer the bright minds of the future. The campus's proximity to Silicon Valley certainly doesn't hurt either. For the ladies of math and science, nearly 20 percent of Stanford's School of Engineering student body are women. The school has 65 labs and centers around the campus and offers several entertaining and educational programs for students looking for extracurricular activities to pad their resume. Programs like Bio-X or cross-school programs encourage engineering students to broaden their degrees with humanities classes.

University of California-Berkeley

The West Coast has a lot to offer the engineer seeking higher education, and UC-Berkeley is a great choice for graduate students who love sunshine as much as they love studying. At this school, the master's program for engineering takes most students about two years to finish. However, for the engineer in a hurry, there is an accelerated program that lets participants graduate in one intensive year. The campus features nearly 40 research centers with a wide variety of topics explored.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Better known as Georgia Tech, this peach of a school has almost 20 areas of focus in their College of Engineering, from medical physics to industrial engineering. For the internationally minded graduate student, Georgia Tech is the right school. The university features many dual degree programs with schools in such countries as France, Germany, Korea, China and Italy. In this global economy, experience with varied cultures can be a real asset for employers. More than 65 percent of the graduate student body gets their degree from the College of Engineering, meaning a lot of money goes into keeping the programs current and the technology up to date.

University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

For those graduate school candidates looking to stay central, UI-Urbana-Champaign is an excellent choice. The school places much of its emphasis on the importance of research as the foundation of a great engineering graduate program. To that end, the school has spent more than $200 million on research programs, and the campus features over 50 research centers and labs. To help students translate their engineering education into something that pays the bills, the school has a Technology Entrepreneur Center that awards $30,000 each year to a student that demonstrates innovative technology.

Carnegie Mellon University

Located in Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University believes that a balanced engineering student is the best kind. They feature several interdisciplinary degrees in which students can focus on engineering as well as several more worldly degrees, including business. If you wish to take your studies outside of the United States, Carnegie Mellon has study and research programs in Japan, Chile and Portugal. It also has a campus in Silicon Valley for those wishing to pursue technology degrees.

Source: US News Engineering Program Rankings