Civil engineering is an essential, rigorous profession because its solutions and designs impact all facets of people, property, and the environment.
A civil engineer is a professional who is trained to solve design, construction, and maintenance issues related to natural and physically-built functional infrastructures. A civil engineer develops plans that help solve newfound challenges or upgrade older systems performing poorly.
What is Civil Engineering?
Civil engineers in the modern world must possess the ability to think analytically as their jobs involve solving very real problems using research, design, and innovative strategies. A civil engineer may choose to work professionally designing, building, and maintaining railroads, bridges, highways, buildings, and energy & water systems. A master’s in civil engineering is where your career starts.
Is a Civil Engineering Masters Worth It?
Yes, earning a civil engineering master’s degree is worth it because of the skills gained in a graduate degree program. Engineering skills offer remarkable career flexibility because they can be applied to many careers within various economic and business sectors.
Civil engineering is a field that is constantly evolving and changing, and a good civil engineering program will evolve as well. In the past, civil engineers were responsible for designing and constructing buildings, bridges, dams and roads. Nowadays, these professionals are also responsible for designing and constructing many other structures such as airports, hospitals, stadiums, and much more.
A masters in civil engineering can be a great option for individuals who want to get into this field of study. Civil engineering master’s degrees usually take two years to complete and include coursework in topics like structural design, construction management, water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering, surveying, and more.
Why Should I Get My Civil Engineering Masters Online?
A civil engineering graduate degree curriculum builds upon a bachelor’s degree and explores advanced aspects of engineering. It provides a deeper understanding of how natural and physically built projects impact both people and the environment. This training and education often include outside-related social, legal, or material factors.
For students who have earned a civil engineering bachelor’s degree but would like to advance in their careers in a new direction (or added responsibilities), your next move would be to earn a graduate civil engineering degree. With a master’s degree in civil engineering, a professional engineer will likely earn a higher annual salary.
Types of Degrees and Specializations in Civil Engineering Masters
The various types of civil engineering degrees and specialties offer civil engineering graduates and professionals a diverse and wide career path to navigate. A graduate degree in civil engineering may choose a job in the engineering sector or choose to move into an adjacent industry, which might include urban planning.
Civil engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with construction, design, and maintenance of large-scale civil structures.
Civil engineers are responsible for the design and construction of many structures, from skyscrapers to bridges to airports. Civil engineers are responsible for designing and building roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and other public works projects. They also plan municipal water supply systems and sewage treatment plants.
Civil engineering master’s programs teach students about the design and construction of various structures. Civil engineers are responsible for designing, planning, constructing and maintaining many structures like bridges, highways, tunnels, dams, airports and buildings.
Online Masters in Civil Engineering Concentrations
The following offers a list of the most common academic tracks available for those interested in enrolling in one of the best online masters civil engineering programs –
An on-campus or online masters degree in civil engineering concentration prepares students for careers in construction, focusing on construction technology, materials, and management. Courses include cost estimation, conflicts and claims, and scheduling.
This online masters in civil engineering concentration focuses on the differences between the earth and the built environment. Coursework for this civil engineering masters online concentration includes structural dynamics, foundations, pavement design, foundations, and soil stabilization.
Public Works Engineering
An online masters in civil engineering concentration in public works involves coursework focusing on the many facets of public infrastructures. Students enrolled in a public works civil engineering masters online program are prepared for a career in the public sector. Classes include construction, environmental engineering, and transportation, among others.
For students who are interested in on-campus or online masters in civil engineering programs and want to specialize in structural engineering, this concentration offers training in consultation and engineering design skills. Classes for a structural engineering online civil engineering masters degree program cover essential topics like structural mechanics, dynamics, structural materials as well as material design, to name a few.
A transportation concentration in a master of civil engineering online program will primarily focus on the safe and efficient transportation of merchandise and goods across small and long distances. Topics include mass transit, railways, roadways, sustainability, and crash analysis.
The best online civil engineering masters degree will offer the flexibility to customize a program to meet your professional interests and career goals.
What Will I Learn in a Civil Engineering Master’s Program?
Coursework for a civil engineering master’s degree program will vary based on the academic concentration; however, the following are core concepts typically covered –
This civil engineering class includes coursework on relevant laws, regulations, and related legal issues impacting a planned or ongoing project. Professional engineers are required to have a least basic knowledge of how the legislation applies to a project to sidestep legal issues.
Students taking a physical hydrology class will learn all about water – its movement and distribution, as this is required to make sure a project is not disrupted by water or moisture. Classes cover the nature of water cycles, soil moisture, and varying climates.
These civil engineering classes cover the fundamentals of control systems and the tools that are available to ensure projects on finished within budget and on time. Project control topics may include budgeting, cash flow analysis, human resource management, and other allocation and managerial techniques.
A master’s degree in civil engineering is very often the minimum education that is required for leadership jobs. This class covers a variety of tools and concepts that are related to planning, organizing, estimating, and regulating an ongoing project.
Most of the world’s most essential and largest cities are located along some form of a waterway because, for centuries, this was the fastest and simplest mode of transportation of people and goods. As climate change becomes a reality, ocean levels will continue to rise, which makes the understanding of coastal structures quite essential and relevant.
Careers and Salary of Civil Engineers
There are a variety of online available masters degree in civil engineering jobs. In 2021, there were nearly 320,000 professional civil engineers working in the United States. These masters in civil engineering jobs include various levels of civil engineering project management jobs, among others. The civil engineering master salary options will depend on the type of civil engineering project manager job.
How Much Does a Civil Engineer Make with a Master’s Degree?
Have you wondered – how much does a civil engineer with a master’s degree make? Where are the best-paying civil engineering management jobs?
The 2021 median salary of a civil engineer with a masters degree, according to the statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $88,050 per year, which translates to $42.33 per hour. The BLS anticipates that the field of civil engineering will experience a 7% job growth outlook for the next decade.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the four most common specialties for civil engineers are geotechnical engineers, structural engineers, construction engineers, and transportation engineers.
Below is a sampling of related careers and their median salaries as reported on Glassdoor, Salary.com, or on the BLS website.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$152,350|
|Civil Engineers, Engineering Services||$112,244|
|Civil Engineers, Federal Government||$105,700|
|Civil Engineers, Local Government||$99,680|
|Civil Engineers, State Government||$95,490|
|Civil Engineers, Nonresidential Building Construction||$79,030|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||$61,640|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 7% job growth for civil engineers over the next ten years. Other positions in related fields are projected to have similar job growth, like sales engineers (6%) and construction managers (8%).
Do I Need a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering?
Depending on your career aspirations, a master’s degree in civil engineering is likely to be required. Consider your career choices and then decide if that job requires a master’s degree in civil engineering.
If there are advanced responsibilities and leadership requirements, it is more than likely that a graduate degree will be required.
What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering?
A civil engineering master’s degree provides a wide variety of career paths. Graduate civil engineering degree graduates will find rewarding career opportunities in these jobs –
- Civil Engineer – these professionals work in the private or public sector. They often specialize in specific project types. State licensing requirements vary.
- Construction Manager – these professionals may work in the public or private sector, managing and coordinating construction projects.
- Regional/Urban Planner – – these professionals design land-use plans to meet community specifications.
- Environmental Engineer – these professionals are trained to determine how to avoid environmental stress that may be caused by a project.
- Cost Estimator – these professionals have material and technical knowledge that helps them cost out construction and other projects.
Choosing the Best Program for Me
Deciding on which academic program will meet your education and career objectives should be viewed as a life-altering decision. But how would a student or working professional decide which of the many and varied programs provides a great education and the best bang for your education dollar?
Admission to a graduate-level program requires an applicant to hold a baccalaureate degree, usually in civil engineering or a related field. Some programs may require the bachelor’s degree to be held from an ABET-accredited engineering program. Each program sets forth its own requirements.
Accreditation is the simplest way to determine which school will meet your academic and career needs. Accreditation is an established process that determines if a school or academic program meets recognized standards as defined by the related accreditation agency. There are two types of accreditation regional and specialized.
- Regional accreditation refers to the oversight involved with state-owned or non-profit colleges or universities. There are six regional accreditation agencies. This type of accreditation is done by the U.S. Department of Education’s CHEA.
- Specialized (or programmatic) accreditation refers to the oversight of academic programs based on industry-set standards.
Accredited online civil engineering degrees are the overwhelming preferred choice. In the field of engineering, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the organization responsible for analyzing the content and quality of engineering programs. As a result, it is vital to look for an ABET-accredited online civil engineering degree program.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are a wide variety of scholarship and financial aid options for civil engineering students that are supported by both professional organizations and businesses throughout the country. Each program offers different choices and opportunities, so students are encouraged to review this information carefully for their preferred schools and programs.
Certifications and Licensure
The importance of certification in civil engineering is to provide a professional credential that can be used as a measure of qualification and skill. It also provides an opportunity for engineers to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities.
Civil engineering certifications help professionals develop a specialized skillset, which often leads to leadership and advanced engineering positions. Earning a certification also speaks to one’s commitment to education and the field of civil engineering.
Civil engineering certification is an important tool for employers, who want to ensure that they hire the best qualified employees. Civil engineers can use it as a way to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities.
There are many reasons to get a civil engineering certification. One of the most obvious reasons is that it will help you get a job. Many companies require their employees to have an engineering certification, so if you want to work for one of these companies, then you will need a civil engineering certification.
Another reason is that it will make you more marketable as an engineer. If you ever decide to switch jobs, then having a civil engineering certification will increase your chances of finding employment.
A third reason is that it will give you more opportunities in the field of engineering. A lot of people think that being an engineer means working on construction sites or designing buildings, but there are many other types of engineering careers out there and having a civil engineering certification can open up doors to these other careers as well.
Finally, getting an advanced degree in this field can lead to even more opportunities and higher pay rates than just getting certified alone.
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (more often known as NCEES) is the professional organization that manages and administers the exams used to determine qualification for licensing as an engineer or surveyor.
Engineer in Training Certification
The Engineer in Training Exam refers to the first of two professional licensing exams civil engineers are required to pass to obtain their Professional Engineering License (P.E.). The next step is the FE Civil exam. Note that licensing requirements vary by state.
OSHA Safety Certificate
OSHA’s Safety and Health Fundamentals Certificate program trains private and public sector professionals to reduce incident rates.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
This PMP program from PMI offers professional project managers a certification that offers a higher median salary than those without this certification.
Certified Safety Director (CSD)
The CSD certification from the National Association of Safety Professionals offers four tracks to completion. There are specific criteria to meet to become eligible to take this exam.
LEED AP Building Design and Construction (LEED)
This program is offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, distinguishing credential holders as those with LEED ratings and green building knowledge.
Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs
Below are a selection of fully online civil engineering master’s degree programs. All are accredited and reputable, according to College Consensus standards. We present them in alphabetical order.
1. Kansas State University
Kansas State University’s Ice College of Engineering (K-State) offers a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering for thirty credits that can be completed entirely online except for one trip to campus at the end of the academic degree program. This graduate civil engineering degree offers students five academic concentrations – structural, environmental, water resource, geotechnical, or transportation. Applicants to this K-State program must hold a civil engineering baccalaureate degree from an ABET-accredited higher learning institution.
2. Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University’s Global Campus (MTU) offers a Master of Science degree (MSCE) in Civil Engineering with several academic specialties. This graduate degree in civil engineering is offered with these academic focuses – structural or water resources. Each of these civil engineering concentrations requires the completion of ten classes for a total of thirty-semester credits. Students may complete the degree in civil engineering without a specific focus as well.
3. Mississippi State University
The Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU Online) offers a Master of Science degree (MS) in Civil Engineering that can be completed with or without a thesis and entirely online. MSU’s civil engineering master’s degree is provided with these academic concentrations – water resources, transportation, structural, construction materials, geotechnical, construction engineering, and management or environmental engineering. Degree candidates completing the program must complete 30-semester units, while non-thesis candidates must complete 33 hours and exit examination/project.
4. Missouri University of Science & Technology
Missouri University of Science & Technology (Missouri S&T) offers an exceptional online Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering (MS) that offers a variety of academic engineering focuses. These concentrations that can be completed online include geotechnical, environmental, construction, water resources, or structural engineering. This Missouri S&T graduate degree has been designed to offer strong research components that emphasize
5. North Carolina State University (NCSU)
North Carolina State University offers a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering (MCE) that can be completed 100% online. This graduate civil engineering degree requires students to complete 30-semester credits, with 2/3 of the credits concentrated in the student’s civil engineering concentration. This master’s degree has no residency or thesis requirements; however, students must complete the degree six years after enrolling.
6. Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University’s School of Engineering and Technology (ODU) offers an online Master of Science degree (MSCE) in Civil Engineering that can be completed with a thesis, a project, or a final exam. ODU’s graduate degree in civil engineering requires degree applicants to hold a baccalaureate degree, preferably in civil or environmental engineering.
7. The University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida’s Engineering and Computer Science College (UCF) offers an online Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering (MSCE) that requires degree candidates to complete 30-semester credits to meet program requirements. UCF’s graduate degree in civil engineering offers three related academic tracks – smart cities, structural and water resources. U.S. News ranks this engineering program and graduate school among the top in the nation.
8. The University of Illinois
The Grainger Civil & Environment Engineering College at the University of Illinois (UI CEE) offers an online Master of Science degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering that is ranked by U.S. News as the country’s number one online Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering (MSCE). This U.I. engineering degree requires 36 semester hours without a thesis requirement. Students can opt for an interdisciplinary track that includes data science or energy-water-environment sustainability.
9. The University of Louisville
The University of Louisville offers a Master of Science degree (MSCE) in Civil Engineering that has been developed for working professionals who already have a baccalaureate degree in the field of civil engineering from a college or school. This innovative graduate degree program allows for up to six transferable credits upon admission. Note that there er no GRE or GAT requirements for this University of Louisville program.
10. The University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma offers an accelerated Master of Science degree (MSCE) in Civil Engineering degree that can be completed 100% online. This graduate civil engineering degree requires 32 credit units and only 21 months to complete – even for those working full-time. O.U.’s graduate degree offers three academic tracks – transportation, geotechnical or structural. O.U.’s engineering school is among the top-ranked schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Professional Organizations in Civil Engineering
A professional organization is designed to support those professionals in the industry in which it serves. These organizations offer member benefits that may include –
- Professional conferences at the national and regional levels.
- Varying opportunities for professional networking.
- Job openings and other professional opportunities.
- Professional awards.
- Continuing education opportunities.
- Professional advocacy, plus various other benefits depending on the field and organization.
Professional civil engineers are fortunate in that there are multiple professional organizations supporting professionals in the civil engineering field.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
This civil engineering professional organization was established in the early 1850s. Its membership now exceeds 150,000 across 175+ countries. The American Society of Civil Engineers offers professional and technical conferences as well as civil engineering continuing education. As a professional organization, they remain at the industry’s forefront with better designs for the “built environment” while ensuring the natural environment remains protected and even restored.
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
The Institution of Civil Engineers, which was founded more than 200 years ago, is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of civil engineering worldwide. The ICE membership exceeds 95,000 across the globe. ICE offers several membership levels for students, apprentices, and experienced professionals and a variety of online and in-person benefits and resources.
The American Concrete Institute (ACI)
ACI was founded in 1904 and is now a leading global concrete authority regarding standards, resources, training, and certification programs. ACI is headquartered in Michigan (and includes 94 chapters) with regional facilities worldwide. Its mission of advancing concrete knowledge and techniques. This institute has over 30,000 members from more than 100 countries worldwide.
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)
Headquartered in Oakland, CA, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute EERI was created in 1948 as an advisory committee for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey – which remains its parent company. As an interdisciplinary organization, its primary mission is to reduce potential earthquake danger by investigating earthquakes and disseminating information to the public about how to minimize risks. EEERI has more than 3,000 active members, plus more than 14 regional chapters and 80+ student chapters.
The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
The ASEE was established in 1893. This non-profit seeks to improve both the availability and quality of educational opportunities for those involved in engineering and engineering technology. The ASEE focuses its mission on advocacy, professional development, and research. The ASEE has more than 12,000 members and 400 engineering schools, colleges, and affiliates.
A Guide to Online Engineering Degrees
Alternative Careers for Civil Engineers