Best Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs

We've ranked the top online master's in civil engineering programs. Compare schools by cost and convenience. Earn your master's degree online.

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Published on June 17, 2022

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Earning an online master's in civil engineering degree provides the training and qualifications needed to work as a civil engineer or in related positions. The cost of these programs can vary substantially. According to the College Board, students completing a master's degree at a public university during the 2021-2022 school year paid an average of $9,000 per year in tuition and fees. Students enrolled at a private institution paid an average of $29,670 per year.

Students who graduate from these programs can look forward to a robust job market in the coming years, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 8% expansion of civil engineering roles between 2020 and 2030. In total, the BLS projects more than 25,000 new civil engineering jobs will be added to the economy during this time.

As of 2021, the BLS reports that civil engineers earned median annual wages of $88,050, but they can take home substantially more when in leadership roles. Keep reading to learn about the top online schools for master's in civil engineering programs.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program?

Those who decide to pursue a master's in civil engineering degree are typically detail-oriented, analytical individuals with a strong background in math and a life-long curiosity. Most of these programs consist of 30-42 credits and require about two years of full-time study. Part-time programs usually take about three years to complete, while an accelerated program may be completed in as few as 18 months.

In addition to core studies in areas of materials, design, and cost estimation, many schools now provide concentrations to help degree-seekers build their skills in niche areas of the discipline. Concentrations vary by institution, but common examples include:

Aside from completing coursework, some programs may require students to participate in a semester-long internship to build real-world skills and to network with professionals in their future field. Other schools may not require this step but make it optional for students who want to do so. When preparing for graduate school, it's important to understand what to expect from an online master's in civil engineering program. Carefully review all components before making a decision.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program?

Sustainable Civil Engineering Design

This course looks at emerging methods for more sustainable civil engineering, with special emphasis on environmental, economic, and social impacts of the discipline.

Civil Engineering Materials

This course examines both historical and contemporary materials commonly used in civil engineering, including concrete, masonry, and various metals. Students consider the merits and downsides of each and how they should be used.

Transportation Engineering

Designed for future civil engineers interested in developing airports, train terminals, and other transportation hubs, this course examines the public, social, environmental, and economic impacts of design methodologies.

Coastal Structures

In this course, students learn how to design and build structures found along waterways such as oceans, rivers, and lakes. As ocean levels continue to rise, coastal structures courses emphasize how to adapt to the impact of climate change.

Codes and Regulations

Students enrolled in this class familiarize themselves with the codes and regulations commonly encountered by civil engineers. This can include local, state, and federal building regulations alongside zoning codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program?

Admission requirements for online master's in civil engineering programs vary by institution, so prospective students should review application information carefully. In addition to holding an accredited bachelor's degree in engineering or a related STEM subject, some schools may also require students to participate in an interview as part of graduate admission requirements. We examine some common application components in this section.

Application

Most college application systems for master's in civil engineering programs allow learners to submit their applications online. Applications vary by school but typically ask for the candidate's full name, mailing address, date of birth, and other demographics information.

Test Scores

It's not uncommon for a master's in civil engineering program to require GRE scores, as this helps demonstrate a student's understanding of qualitative and quantitative data. Some schools may allow students with relevant work experience or a particularly high undergraduate GPA bypass this step.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a common component of college applications, as they allow admission officers to learn how others view prospective candidates. Current and former supervisors, college professors, supervisors, mentors, or faith leaders commonly write letters of recommendation.

Resume and Work Experience

Some master's in civil engineering programs look for candidates with relevant work experience to demonstrate their commitment to the discipline and their plans to work in the field after graduating. College application resumes should outline all relevant paid and unpaid experience (e.g., internships) and explanations of responsibilities.

Essays

Grad school essays allow prospective master's in civil engineering students to write why they want to pursue the degree, how they plan to use it after graduating, and why they want to attend a particular program or school. Many programs provide prompts, and students should pay attention to stated word counts.

Official Transcripts

Submitting official transcripts is a routine part of the admissions process, as these documents help confirm applicants meet prerequisite requirements and verify their stated GPA. For students looking to transfer, admission officers use transcripts to identify which previously taken classes can transfer to the new program.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Degree?

Career Outlook

Earning a master's in civil engineering degree supports individuals who typically already hold an engineering or related undergraduate degree and want to hone their skills — and increase their salary potential. Data from the BLS shows that civil engineers earned median annual wages of $88,050 in 2021.

Jobs for these professionals are projected to expand in the coming years by 8%, creating more than 25,000 new roles between 2020 and 2030. Civil engineers can work in a variety of settings and typically work both in the office and in the field at construction sites. Whether working for a construction company, local government, or university, civil engineers spend their days considering how to improve infrastructure systems.

Career Paths

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers spend their days designing and constructing various forms of infrastructure, including bridges, roads, tunnels, and utilities. Using their knowledge of construction and engineering design, they review plans for approval and consider questions around environmental factors and governmental requirements.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $88,050

Engineering Manager

After working in the industry for several years, some civil engineers may decide to take on a managerial role. These positions require candidates who can oversee the work of other engineers and provide leadership and coordination with ongoing projects. Managers may also oversee budgets and review their supervisees' plans for accuracy.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $152,350

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use their knowledge of both disciplines to create solutions to environmental issues and find ways of creating infrastructures in more environmentally friendly ways. Whether designing a water processing facility or air pollution control, environmental engineers look for ways of creating sustainable solutions.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $96,820

Construction Manager

Construction managers lead efforts to build new infrastructure, including buildings, transportation systems, and public utilities. They oversee subcontractors and tradespeople and work closely with engineers and architects throughout projects to ensure the project is built according to the design. They also make sure all permit requirements are followed.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $98,890

Urban and Regional Planner

Whether working for local governments, nonprofits, or private organizations, urban and regional planners help design plans to accommodate population growth, reuse existing buildings, and create cohesive community grids. They work with developers and local government officials alike to develop site plans and make recommendations on whether they should be adopted.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $78,500

Civil Engineering Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Industrial Engineering Careers Civil Engineering Careers Science and Engineering Careers

Continuing Education

After earning a master's in civil engineering and working in the industry, some professionals may decide to return to school for a doctoral degree. Students who decide to pursue a doctorate in civil engineering typically want to use their degree to engage in research or teach at the post-graduate level.

Several companies and universities also offer certifications in specific areas of the discipline to help these professionals build niche, advanced skills.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program?

Cost

The cost of a master's in civil engineering program can vary substantially from public to private institutions, making it vital that students understand the true program cost of all options they're considering. Learners should also compare costs between online and on-campus programs to see which offers the more affordable option.

Program Format

Students can find both asynchronous and synchronous online master's in civil engineering to cater to their scheduling needs. It's also common to find online and in-person programs offering part-time and full-time schedules meant to help students move through coursework at their own pace. Some universities may even provide an accelerated option.

Location

When looking at online programs, prospective students can expand their search radius to schools outside of their city or state. That said, some may require a few in-person residencies, making it important to still consider location. Learners must also carefully consider whether attending online or in person works best for their needs.

Accreditation

One of the most important steps a prospective student can take is ensuring any college they attend holds institutional accreditation. Civil engineering master's programs may also hold programmatic accreditation. In this case, look for accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accreditation is more common for bachelor's programs.

Student Support

Adequate student support can make a big difference in a student's learning experience, so learners should carefully review prospective schools' offerings. The best ones provide opportunities for mentorships and internship placements. Specific online student support services like virtual tutoring and career services also exist for distance learners.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Civil Engineering Programs

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Best Online Master's in Civil Engineering Programs

  1. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $17271

    Stanford's master's in civil engineering program features a hybrid curriculum and many courses take place on campus. The 45-credit degree offers four concentrations: atmosphere and energy, environmental engineering, structural engineering, and sustainable design. Students must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA to remain in good standing.

    Stanford prepares degree-seekers for academic and career success by providing all incoming students with an in-depth orientation guide. Other career resources for engineering students include Stanford BEAM — a central online hub that features job opportunities, counseling sessions, and workshops.

    Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts and GRE scores. Applicants must also hold a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Stanford's School of Engineering offers a limited number of institutional fellowships each year.

  2. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $21220

    Columbia's 30-credit master's in civil engineering program offers a fully online curriculum. Required courses include elastic and plastic analysis of structures, theory of vibrations, and advanced mechanics. Additionally, degree-seekers create a custom concentration by selecting four electives from 16 course options.

    The university's career center helps students by providing access to cover letter and resume guidance, highly trained advisors, and practice interviews.

    Prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or a related subject. They must also submit GRE scores. Columbia charges all civil engineering degree-seekers the same tuition rate. However, only New York residents can receive state education grants.

  3. University of Washington
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $9765

    UW's master's in civil engineering program offers two tracks: a professional master's program (PMP) and a research-intensive academic track. Students who select the PMP option prepare to join/advance in the workforce and do not complete a thesis, while research-focused degree-seekers prepare to enter a doctoral program. Students can also choose from multiple concentrations, including online options related to transportation engineering and construction, energy, and sustainable infrastructure.

    UW's career center features numerous online resources, including a blog that highlights career trends. Online learners also benefit from an extensive collection of virtual workshops and informational videos.

    UW admits applicants without a bachelor's in engineering; however, these students must take additional courses. Out-of-state online students pay in-state tuition. The majority of learners who select the research-intensive track receive some form of institutional financial aid.

  4. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $27868

    Johns Hopkins' offers its master's in civil engineering program through online and hybrid pathways. Students can select an optional focus area in structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, or ocean and coastal engineering. Core coursework covers topics like structural mechanics and mathematical methods for engineers.

    Whether already employed or looking for a first job, civil engineering students can use the university's video tutorials, webinars, and tutoring resources. Learners can also access a private job board through Handshake.

    Applicants must hold a civil engineering bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Teachers and members of a racial minority may qualify for specific types of financial aid. Veterans receive tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

  5. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    NC State's online master's degree in civil engineering includes a 30-credit curriculum, and learners select one of seven concentrations. Options include construction engineering, water resources, and geotechnical engineering. The program does not require a master's thesis.

    Graduates from this program earn an average starting salary of about $100,000 per year. Students can explore lucrative job openings and sign up for virtual advising sessions on NC State's website. Students and alumni can also attend online career fairs.

    Prospective students can apply to start classes on one of four annual start dates. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in engineering. Prospective students with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA do not need to submit GRE scores. North Carolina residents pay the lowest per-credit tuition rate.

  6. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $17845

    UVA's master's in civil engineering program allows learners to take up to five years to earn their degree, which may appeal to part-time students. Degree-seekers select from four concentrations: environmental and water resources, structural, transportation, and infrastructure systems. Students also personalize their educational experience through electives.

    Over 66% of UVA's civil engineering alumni find a job or enter a doctoral program within six months of graduation. Students can plan for a positive professional outcome by accessing the university's resume guides, networking resources, and mentor program.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's in engineering with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements include three recommendation letters and a personal statement. Virginia residents receive a tuition discount.

  7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    U of I's online master's degree in civil engineering offers nine concentrations, including construction management, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering and science. Online courses rotate, and full-time students can expect to spend 2-3 years earning their degree. Degree-seekers may need additional time to graduate if they complete one of four optional certificates.

    The university's College of Engineering hosts an annual job fair for students and alumni that attracts top employers. Degree-seekers can also visit the university's website to download cover letter and resume templates, explore internship opportunities, and receive a personal statement critique.

    Admission requirements include a BS and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The civil engineering program uses a GRE score cutoff and requires three recommendation letters. Online learners may qualify for an institutional fellowship program.

  8. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $36161

    Students working toward a career as a structural engineer can apply to USC's online master's in civil engineering program. The 42-credit curriculum includes required classes like the mechanics of solids, finite element analysis, and the dynamics of structures. The curriculum also features dozens of electives in topics like earthquake engineering and soil mechanics.

    Nearly 100% of USC's engineering alumni experience a positive career or education outcome within six months of graduating. The university's career center plays an essential role in alumni job placement by offering virtual workshops.

    Admission requirements include GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters. USC does not use a GPA or a GRE score cutoff. Financial aid counselors can answer applicants' questions concerning scholarship and fellowship opportunities.

  9. University of Wisconsin Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $14169

    UW's online master's degree in civil and environmental engineering delivers coursework synchronously. The 30-credit program includes coursework like the chemical principles of environmental engineering, hydrologic design, and solid and hazardous wastes engineering. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

    The university provides students with access to Handshake software and advising appointments. These resources help UW's civil engineering alumni find careers with an average starting salary of about $70,000.

    The program accepts up to 15 transfer credits, and applicants must submit three recommendation letters. Wisconsin and Minnesota residents receive a significant tuition discount.

  10. Villanova University
    Location

    Villanova, PA

    Tuition

    $36958

    Villanova's online master's degree in civil engineering offers five concentrations: environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering. The program features thesis and non-thesis tracks, and 56% of current learners pursue their degree on a part-time basis.

    Elective classes include the analysis and design of dams, open-channel hydraulics, and urban hydrology. Students can attend online classes synchronously or asynchronously.

    Program alumni have gone on to work at companies like AECOM, Pennoni, and Jacobs Engineering. Students can research job opportunities and sign up for a mentorship program on the university's website. Admission requirements include two recommendation letters, GRE scores, and a statement of purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Civil Engineering Programs

Is a master's in civil engineering worth it? true

Earning a master's in civil engineering as an online degree is worth it for students who know they want to advance their career in the field. The BLS projects that more than 25,000 new jobs will be added to an existing nearly 310,000 roles from 2020-2030, making it an in-demand position for the future. Some disciplines of civil engineering, such as structural and geotechnical, require a master's degree for career advancement.

Graduates who work as civil engineers in managerial positions often earn six figures. These programs usually take about two years to complete and can greatly enhance salary potential and leadership opportunities.

What can I do with a master's in civil engineering? true

Earning an online master's in civil engineering qualifies graduates to take on many higher-level positions, whether in the field, in an office, in research, or in education, teaching the next generation of civil engineers.

Most graduates work as civil engineers for government agencies, nonprofits, or private organizations. After gaining a few years of experience, some may decide to pursue work as an engineering manager and oversee the work of others. Civil engineers with an interest in academia can work in a research lab or as a university professor.

Are civil engineering graduates in demand? true

As cities continue to grow and infrastructure requires replacing, civil engineers can expect to be in demand in the coming years. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals will grow by 8% from 2020-2030, creating about 25,000 new jobs for these professionals in the next decade.

How much money can I make with a master's in civil engineering?

As of 2021, civil engineers earned median yearly wages of $88,050. Those in the top 10% of earners took home more than $133,320, while those in the lowest 10% received less than $60,550.

Those who decide to work in environmental engineering received median wages of $96,820 last year, but top earners made salaries in excess of $153,200. Urban and regional planners, conversely, earned less with a median 2021 salary of $78,500.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in civil engineering?

Earning a master's in civil engineering can help graduates routinely earn six figure salaries, especially if they are willing to take on leadership positions. Engineering managers earned median annual wages of $152,350, with those working in scientific research and development services earning the highest median salary of $187,240.Engineering managers in the top 10% of earners took home more than $208,000 last year. When considering the highest-paying jobs, graduates should remember that factors such as title, experience, employer, and location can all impact earnings.

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