A huge increase in engineering graduates from the BRIC countries in recent decades potentially threatens the competitiveness of developed countries in producing high value-added products and services, while also holding great promise for substantially increasing the level of global basic and applied innovation. The key question is whether the quality of these new BRIC engineers will be high enough to actualize this potential. The objective of our study is to assess the evolving capacity of BRIC higher education systems to produce qualified engineering graduates. We compare developments in the quality of undergraduate engineering programs across elite and non-elite higher education tiers within and across each BRIC country. Our data suggests that in all four countries, a minority of engineering students receives high quality training in elite institutions while the majority of students receive low quality training in non-elite institutions. Given that the supply of graduates from elite programs in the BRICs is already substantial (and is still growing rapidly in India and Brazil) and that a proportion of non-elite programs in China and Russia have the potential to produce qualified graduates, the BRIC countries will soon be competitive with the world’s developed countries in producing qualified engineering graduates.