The Top Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs
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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.
Featured Online Programs in Civil Engineering
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Civil Engineering Programs
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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:
- Construction engineering
- Structural engineering
- Public works engineering
- Geotechnology and materials engineering
- Transportation engineering
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.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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 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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Civil Engineering Programs
Is a master's in civil engineering worth it?
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?
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?
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.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
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Resources for Graduate Civil Engineering Students
Institution of Civil Engineers Resources
The Institution of Civil Engineers has been around for two centuries, and over time, has collected a wealth of information, including papers, blogs, and recorded lectures.
This website has lectures, tutorials, notes, software, and ebooks for students studying civil engineering. The site is categorized for search efficiency.
Civil Engineering Software Database
The Civil Engineering Software Database hosts over 400 free or shareware programs specifically for engineers, including screenshots and manuals. The site is regularly updated with new software.
Civil Engineering Portal
Civil Engineering Portal collects resources including journals, books, magazines, and software for civil engineers. This website is especially useful for students, since it offers an extensive knowledge center.
This site offers a wealth of resources, but also provides job search and networking tools, which can help advance education or create career connections.
Professional Organizations in Civil Engineering
Whether you're a professional or student, joining an organization is a good way to advance your education and career. Organizations provide networking opportunities, facilitate job searches, and offer scholarships. Those listed below are just some of the professional organizations geared toward civil engineers, and many have a focus on certain aspects of the field.
The American Society of Civil Engineers
The ASCE was founded in 1852, and today represents over 150,000 members in 177 countries. ASCE provides technical and professional conferences and continuing education.
The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
EERI was founded with the mission to reduce earthquake danger. An interdisciplinary organization, the institute is a leader in earthquake science and research.
The United States Society on Dams
USSD is focused on the benefits of dams and levees and the improvement of technology through collaboration and research.
The American Concrete Institute
ACI was founded in 1904 with the mission of advancing concrete knowledge and techniques. This institute has over 20,000 members in 1,998 countries.
The American Society for Engineering Education
Established in 1893, ASEE works to improve the quality and availability of engineering education at all levels, focusing on research, advocacy, and professional development.