What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Program?

Online degrees are often beneficial for those who prefer to continue working while going to school. You’ll receive the same level of academic quality in an online program that you would in an on-campus program, and the flexibility provides you with more time to meet your job responsibilities. Also, online programs enable you to attend a college outside your area without the cost and inconvenience of relocating. Remember that no two online master’s in civil engineering programs are exactly alike, so it’s essential to research and find the best match for your particular needs and goals.

Available concentrations

There are many different roles available within the field of civil engineering. If you already know exactly what you would like to do after you graduate, look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in civil engineering include:

  • Construction Engineering and Management: Exposes students to advanced topics regarding construction project planning, financing, and management.
  • Environmental Engineering: Focuses on waste treatment, pollution control, and renewable energy.
  • Geotechnical Engineering: Explores how to deal with earth materials when working on engineering projects.
  • Hydrology and Hydrodynamics: Reviews water systems’ physical, chemical, and biological processes.
  • Structural Engineering and Mechanics: Addresses structural analysis and design, the behavior of structural systems, and computer-aided engineering.
  • Transportation Engineering: Covers the planning, design, analysis, operation, and management of transportation systems.

Common degree curriculum

Some online master’s in civil engineering programs can be completed 100% remotely, while others may require you to take labs and even tests on campus. Students should also be prepared to take a capstone course related to their concentration.

While the exact curriculum depends on your chosen school and concentration, there are some topics covered in just about every master’s in civil engineering program, such as:

  • General Chemistry: An overview of advanced chemistry topics, including organic and biochemistry.
  • Thermodynamics: Covers energy conservation principles and the behaviors of pure substances.
  • Business Management: This course will help prepare students to take on a supervisory role in engineering projects.

Certification and license preparation

In addition to your master’s degree, you should consider earning professional certifications to bolster your resume further and advance your career. The most valuable credentials in this field include:

Program accreditation

Only apply to institutions approved by a DOE-recognized accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations regularly evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Also, students at unaccredited schools may not be able to receive financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Program completion timeframe

Most online master’s in civil engineering programs require about 30 credit hours of coursework, typically taking two years for full-time students to complete. Some schools offer accelerated programs that allow full-time students to earn their master’s in just one year. Part-time students may need up to five years to earn their degree.

Also, cohort-based programs will require you to attend classes and complete courses simultaneously as other students. Those who want to earn their degree as quickly as possible should look for programs that offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Civil Engineering Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by about 3% over the next decade. Most occupations related to civil engineering are expected to grow faster than that, so it should be relatively easy to find employment opportunities once you graduate.

This degree is also an excellent choice for those interested in earning a significant income. You’ll have the potential to make well over $100,000 per year — the top 10% of environmental engineers earn over $150,840, and the top 10% of construction managers earn over $168,390.

Your salary will likely depend on where you live. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for urban planners is over $40,000 higher in California than in Oklahoma.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Urban Planner Urban planners develop and analyze programs for building communities and accommodating population growth. Their work may also involve revitalizing physical facilities in towns, cities, and counties. $79,540 4%
Construction Manager Construction managers plan, inspect, and oversee construction projects from conception to completion. They ensure buildings are up to code and completed within a specific budget and timeframe. $101,480 5%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations bring together individuals engaged in the same profession or those with similar work interests. These groups can keep you updated on the latest industry news and trends and often offer other valuable resources. Consider these top organizations for workers with an online master’s in civil engineering:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers: The ASCE represents over 150,000 civil engineers worldwide. The group offers technical and professional conferences and continued education programs, and it is the largest publisher of civil engineering content.
  • International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering: Representing the professional body of engineers, academics, and contractors in geotechnical engineering, the ISSMGE updates industry news and organizes annual conferences.
  • ASM International: Dedicated to informing, educating, and connecting the materials community, ASM International is the world’s largest association of materials-centric scientists and engineers.
  • Earthquake Engineering Research Institute: This national non-profit organization works to reduce risks by advancing the science and practice of earthquake engineering.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Degree

Various financing options are available to online students seeking a master’s in civil engineering. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will determine your eligibility for federally funded grants and loans. Many universities use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for school-based aid as well.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

In addition to the federal government and the school you’re attending, many nonprofit organizations and private companies offer financial aid opportunities. The resources listed below will help you evaluate all these options and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

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