Earning an advanced degree in civil engineering can broaden your career opportunities and help you earn a higher salary. On this page, you'll find a collection of the best online civil engineering master's degrees, as well as information about how to choose the right one.
Graduates with advanced degrees in civil engineering can expect increased job demand and compensation, as the U.S. faces the task of replacing and modernizing the country's aging infrastructure, which includes bridges, roads, airports, and water systems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earn a median salary of $83,540 per year, and the field is projected to grow.
What are the best civil engineering programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Stanford University||Stanford, CA|
|2||Columbia University||New York, NY|
|3||University of Washington||Seattle, WA|
|4||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD|
|5||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC|
|6||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA|
|7||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL|
|8||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|9||University of Wisconsin Madison||Madison, WI|
|10||Villanova University||Villanova, PA|
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Civil Engineering Programs
|Stanford, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Stanford's master's in civil engineering program features a hybrid curriculum and many courses take place on campus. The 45-credit degree offers four concentrations: atmosphere and energy, environmental engineering, structural engineering, and sustainable design. Students must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA to remain in good standing.
Stanford prepares degree-seekers for academic and career success by providing all incoming students with an in-depth orientation guide. Other career resources for engineering students include Stanford BEAM — a central online hub that features job opportunities, counseling sessions, and workshops.
Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts and GRE scores. Applicants must also hold a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Stanford's School of Engineering offers a limited number of institutional fellowships each year.
|New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 96%||
Columbia's 30-credit master's in civil engineering program offers a fully online curriculum. Required courses include elastic and plastic analysis of structures, theory of vibrations, and advanced mechanics. Additionally, degree-seekers create a custom concentration by selecting four electives from 16 course options.
The university's career center helps students by providing access to cover letter and resume guidance, highly trained advisors, and practice interviews.
Prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or a related subject. They must also submit GRE scores. Columbia charges all civil engineering degree-seekers the same tuition rate. However, only New York residents can receive state education grants.
University of Washington
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
UW's master's in civil engineering program offers two tracks: a professional master's program (PMP) and a research-intensive academic track. Students who select the PMP option prepare to join/advance in the workforce and do not complete a thesis, while research-focused degree-seekers prepare to enter a doctoral program. Students can also choose from multiple concentrations, including online options related to transportation engineering and construction, energy, and sustainable infrastructure.
UW's career center features numerous online resources, including a blog that highlights career trends. Online learners also benefit from an extensive collection of virtual workshops and informational videos.
UW admits applicants without a bachelor's in engineering; however, these students must take additional courses. Out-of-state online students pay in-state tuition. The majority of learners who select the research-intensive track receive some form of institutional financial aid.
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Johns Hopkins' offers its master's in civil engineering program through online and hybrid pathways. Students can select an optional focus area in structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, or ocean and coastal engineering. Core coursework covers topics like structural mechanics and mathematical methods for engineers.
Whether already employed or looking for a first job, civil engineering students can use the university's video tutorials, webinars, and tutoring resources. Learners can also access a private job board through Handshake.
Applicants must hold a civil engineering bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Teachers and members of a racial minority may qualify for specific types of financial aid. Veterans receive tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program.
North Carolina State University
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
NC State's online master's degree in civil engineering includes a 30-credit curriculum, and learners select one of seven concentrations. Options include construction engineering, water resources, and geotechnical engineering. The program does not require a master's thesis.
Graduates from this program earn an average starting salary of about $100,000 per year. Students can explore lucrative job openings and sign up for virtual advising sessions on NC State's website. Students and alumni can also attend online career fairs.
Prospective students can apply to start classes on one of four annual start dates. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in engineering. Prospective students with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA do not need to submit GRE scores. North Carolina residents pay the lowest per-credit tuition rate.
University of Virginia
|Charlottesville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
UVA's master's in civil engineering program allows learners to take up to five years to earn their degree, which may appeal to part-time students. Degree-seekers select from four concentrations: environmental and water resources, structural, transportation, and infrastructure systems. Students also personalize their educational experience through electives.
Over 66% of UVA's civil engineering alumni find a job or enter a doctoral program within six months of graduation. Students can plan for a positive professional outcome by accessing the university's resume guides, networking resources, and mentor program.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's in engineering with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements include three recommendation letters and a personal statement. Virginia residents receive a tuition discount.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
|Champaign, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
U of I's online master's degree in civil engineering offers nine concentrations, including construction management, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering and science. Online courses rotate, and full-time students can expect to spend 2-3 years earning their degree. Degree-seekers may need additional time to graduate if they complete one of four optional certificates.
The university's College of Engineering hosts an annual job fair for students and alumni that attracts top employers. Degree-seekers can also visit the university's website to download cover letter and resume templates, explore internship opportunities, and receive a personal statement critique.
Admission requirements include a BS and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The civil engineering program uses a GRE score cutoff and requires three recommendation letters. Online learners may qualify for an institutional fellowship program.
University of Southern California
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
Students working toward a career as a structural engineer can apply to USC's online master's in civil engineering program. The 42-credit curriculum includes required classes like the mechanics of solids, finite element analysis, and the dynamics of structures. The curriculum also features dozens of electives in topics like earthquake engineering and soil mechanics.
Nearly 100% of USC's engineering alumni experience a positive career or education outcome within six months of graduating. The university's career center plays an essential role in alumni job placement by offering virtual workshops.
Admission requirements include GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters. USC does not use a GPA or a GRE score cutoff. Financial aid counselors can answer applicants' questions concerning scholarship and fellowship opportunities.
University of Wisconsin Madison
|Madison, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
UW's online master's degree in civil and environmental engineering delivers coursework synchronously. The 30-credit program includes coursework like the chemical principles of environmental engineering, hydrologic design, and solid and hazardous wastes engineering. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.
The university provides students with access to Handshake software and advising appointments. These resources help UW's civil engineering alumni find careers with an average starting salary of about $70,000.
The program accepts up to 15 transfer credits, and applicants must submit three recommendation letters. Wisconsin and Minnesota residents receive a significant tuition discount.
|Villanova, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
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.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program?
Most online civil engineering master's degree programs serve working professionals who hold an undergraduate degree in engineering. Graduate students learn advanced civil engineering concepts, take a core of required courses, and usually choose a technical concentration, like transportation, structural, or environmental engineering. Details may vary depending on the school and program chosen.
Curriculum For An Online Master's Degree In Civil Engineering
Students pursuing an online master's degree in civil engineering take core, elective, and concentration courses, which may differ by school and program, but most programs have a common core requirement. Below is a list of courses you can expect to encounter in an online master's in engineering program.
- Traffic Engineering: This course examines how engineers can improve the design of transportation systems to better serve the people who use them. Students learn how to minimize congestion and reduce accidents through better engineering. Issues explored include the design and control of intersections, intelligent transportation systems, urban freeways, and intercity networks. This class prepares learners to work as traffic or transportation system engineers.
- Water Treatment Process: This class covers the systems that are used for treating municipal drinking water. Topics covered include filtration, biological treatment, disinfection, and sludge processing. Also discussed are wastewater treatment options, both engineered and natural. Students who take this course will learn skills useful for an engineer working in water resource management.
- Green Building Materials: Students in this course receive an overview of the design and construction of sustainable buildings. Topics covered include leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) standards, sustainability evaluation methods, and how to reduce the ecological footprint of construction projects. Students who take this course will have the skills needed for a variety of civil engineering positions related to construction and sustainability issues.
How Long Does it Take to get an Online Master's in Civil Engineering?
A variety of factors can affect the length of a master's degree in civil engineering online program, which can take between 18 months and six years to earn. Issues that affect course length include number of credits needed to graduate, whether you attend part-time or full-time, whether you enroll every term, number of transfer credits, and if there are any residency requirements.
Another factor that can impact how long it takes to earn your civil engineering master's online is if the program uses individually-paced or cohort learning. Individually-paced programs allow students to complete courses at their own pace. Cohort learning requires students to start and end the program with a group of peers, whom take the same set curriculum. Cohort programs tend to be less flexible and require more time to complete. On average, it takes about 30 credits and two years of full-time study to graduate from an online master's in civil engineering program.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Civil Engineering Degrees
Attending an accredited school for your online master's in civil engineering is very important. Accreditation is a voluntary process that colleges and universities undergo to demonstrate that they are qualified to educate students and grant degrees. A school can be regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is more popular and generally more trusted than national accreditation. Non-profit schools tend to have regional accreditation while for-profit schools usually obtain national accreditation. Most schools will accept transfer credit from regionally-accredited schools, but regionally-accredited schools generally do not accept credit from nationally-accredited institutions.
When looking for a master's in civil engineering online program, it is best to find a regionally accredited college or university. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides an updated list of regional accrediting agencies. The ED establishes policies related to federal financial aid for education and coordinates and monitors how that aid is distributed. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) coordinates the accreditation process for colleges and universities in the U.S. The CHEA ensures that accrediting agencies maintain a level of quality. You can find a list of accredited schools on the ED's website.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Civil Engineering Graduates
Master's degree in civil engineering online programs generally prepare graduates to work in a related field. Depending on your concentration or specialization, you may qualify for other types of engineering positions. Civil engineering tends to attract people who are interested in solving a variety of social problems through better design. Below, is a list of common careers that graduates pursue.
- Civil Engineers
Civil engineers design, build, supervise, and maintain construction projects like airports, roads, buildings, bridges, water systems, tunnels, dams, and more. They usually specialize in one of the following areas: construction, geotechnical, structural, or transportation. Civil engineers typically need a graduate degree and licensure to qualify for senior positions.
- Environmental Engineers
Environmental engineers create solutions to environmental problems using engineering principles. They help improve public health by addressing issues like air and water pollution and waste disposal. Environmental engineers usually need at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. Graduates with advanced degrees and practical experience garner higher salaries and are more competitive job candidates.
- Civil Engineering Technicians
Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers with planning and designing public and private infrastructure projects like bridges, highways, dams, airports, and water treatment systems. Civil engineering technicians usually need to have at least an associate degree. Those holding a master's degree in civil engineering are much more competitive job candidates.
- Construction Manager
Construction managers plan, supervise, coordinate, and budget construction projects. They commonly spend time at the construction site; they usually have an office as well. Large companies expect construction managers to have a bachelor's degree at minimum. Candidates with a master's degree and experience in construction management would likely be given preference.
- Architectural and Engineering Managers
Architectural and engineering managers coordinate, plan, and supervise projects and activities at architectural and engineering firms. Most of this work takes place in offices. They may supervise staff, make plans, and develop budgets. A bachelor's degree or higher is usually required to be hired as an architectural or engineering manager.
Master's in Civil Engineering Salary
Earning a master's degree in civil engineering provides graduates with an advantage in terms of salary compared to those with a bachelor's degree or less. The table below includes salary information for civil engineering-related careers at the entry-, mid-, and late-career levels for those holding a master's degree. Median salaries for graduates with a bachelor's degree in each career tend to be substantially lower.
Median Salary by Experience Level
|Occupation||Entry Level||Mid-Level||Late Career|
|Design Engineering Manager||$72,000||$94,000||$120,000|
Financing Your Online Master's in Civil Engineering Program
Paying for your online master's in civil engineering can seem overwhelming. Numerous federal funding opportunities exist to help you pay for your degree, including scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs. Make sure to fill out a Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) form so that you'll know which types of aid you qualify for. The private sector offers a wide variety of scholarships for civil engineering students, even at the graduate level. Make sure to check for funding opportunities through the American Society for Civil Engineers.
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