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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Civil Engineering

engineering degree

Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Civil Engineering

The University of Wisconsin – Madison earned our award for best value of colleges that offer online graduate civil engineering programs. According to, the university's annual return on investment (ROI) of tuition is 9.9%, one of the highest percentages among colleges that offer online civil engineering programs. With financial aid, the annual ROI increases to 10.8%.

Career Support
The University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign's Career Center website offers advice on how to prepare for interviews, write resumes, and how to find employment. Students may also sign up for the mock interview program, which provides students the chance to improve their interviewing skills. These interviews are done over the phone, Skype, or in the school's career center office.

Technology Support
University of Wisconsin – Madison claimed our award for best technology support. It offers 24 hour a day, seven days a week live technical support, live tutoring, a smartphone application, and live streaming video. The U.S. News & World Report ranked the university No. 1 in student services and technology among the top online graduate degree programs.

Learning Support
Colorado State University earned our award for learning support for the numerous methods students can access course content. The U.S. News & World Report placed Colorado State University at No. 6 on its list of student services and technology of the top online graduate engineering programs. The university offers delivers course content to its students via a smartphone application and live streaming video, as well as live tutoring.

Faculty Credentials
The University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign finished in the top of its class in faculty credentials and training. The U.S. News & World Report ranked the university at No. 29 of the top online graduate engineering programs in faculty credentials and training.

Faculty Accessibility and Involvement
The University of Wisconsin – Madison also earned our award for faculty accessibility and involvement. College Prowler gave the school an A- for academics, which indicates that professors are accessible, knowledgeable, and interested in how the students do in the course. According to the U.S. News, students can expect a response to a question from an online professor within 24 hours.

Alumni Engagement
The University of Washington earned our alumni engagement award for its civil engineering program-specific alumni news, directory, and list of employers. The university also offers services to help employers connect with students, as well as locate internships and part-time and full-time jobs. Through the school's website, students can also access information on job fairs and the employers who are going to be present at certain events.

New Online Student Orientation
Norwich University claimed our award for new student orientation for the robust frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of its website and the availability of connecting with a university representative through live chat. The FAQ section answers questions such as how much the program costs, how much time per week a student may spend on their course work, how to contact an enrollment advisor, how courses work, and what the computer requirements are.

Explore a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering

Civil engineering covers the design and construction of societal infrastructures, and therefore is applicable to most concentrations in engineering, including environmental, mechanical, aerospace, and systems engineering, as well as urban and city planning and manufacturing. Civil engineers work on large projects, and require qualities like leadership, critical thinking, and management, as well as skills in advanced mathematics and communication.

Class Curriculum

A bachelor's degree in a related field, such as engineering mechanics, physics, chemistry, or applied mathematics may be required for acceptance to a master's degree program. A master's degree in civil engineering will most likely cover analytical methods in solid and fluid state mechanics, vibration, random processes and reliability. Advanced course work may include continuum mechanics, thermodynamics, vibrations, manufacturing processes, urban development, structural design, computer aided design, and transportation. Below are a few courses a civil engineering graduate student may take during his or her degree program:

  • Thermodynamics. Students learn reversible work, vapor power and gas power cycles, vapor compression refrigeration cycles, mixture rules, and real substance behavior. Students use thermodynamics to analyze and basic power and refrigeration cycles.
  • Manufacturing Processes. Manufacturing processes covers metals, plastics, and ceramics in machining, forming and other processes. Students learn plastics and powder metallurgy, welding, and casting. Manufacturing processes may require a corresponding laboratory course.
  • Civil Engineering Planning and Management. Students learn the quantitative and qualitative analysis methods involved in engineering systems and facilities, including planning, design, construction, and management. Civil Engineering Planning and Management also covers the policies, programs, and regulations of land development and the approval process.

Civil engineering graduate students will most likely be required to work on a thesis project throughout the degree program. Assignments will correspond with lecture and research or laboratory course work, and may include solving problems related to lecture and reading assignments. Civil engineering students may also be required to work on group projects.

Building a Career

A master's degree in civil engineering is usually required to advance to managerial positions. A civil engineer may also require licensing through the state. Licensing requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program and passing a Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. After passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, an engineer may sit in for the Civil Engineering exam, and may need to meet other state requirements in order to obtain licensure as a Civil Engineering Professional.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for civil engineers is $77,560 per year. The BLS also reports that employment for civil engineers is expected to increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020. Keep in mind that employment and wages differ by factors including, employer, area, experience, and position. For example, the median annual wage for civil engineers employed by the federal government was $89,450, while annual pay for civil engineers employed at the state government level was $74,300.