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

Individuals who enjoy designing and developing infrastructure projects can benefit from the online master’s degree in civil engineering program. From small projects like individual roads and homes to large projects like bridges and railways, civil engineers need the knowledge obtained from an advanced degree to broaden their career opportunities. Online degrees are often beneficial for those who prefer to continue working while going to school. Taking classes online also makes it easier for those who don’t live close to a college or university that offers a master’s in civil engineering. No two online master’s in civil engineering programs are the same, so it’s important to do your research and locate the one that best meets your goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering

Construction Engineering and Management Exposes students to advanced areas of study on planning, financing, procuring, constructing and managing all building environments. Architectural technologist, CAD technician, environmental engineer, financial manager, management consultant and planning and development surveyor
Environmental Engineering Focuses on how today’s scientists can find more efficient ways to treat waste and pollution in the air, water and soil. Engineering technician, environmental engineer, engineering manager and environmental sales engineers
Geotechnical Engineering Explores the types of materials used in construction and the issues that can cause problems, including erosion and earthquakes. Other topics may include contamination and natural hazard assessments of property. Building services engineer, construction manager, engineering geologist, patent attorney and quality surveyor
Hydrology and Hydrodynamics Provides information on the physical, chemical and biological processes in freshwater systems. Water resources engineering, coastal engineering, environmental restoration, risk management and design of hydraulic systems
Structural Engineering and Mechanics Students learn about structural analysis and design, the behavior of structural systems, engineering science, earthquake engineering and computer-aided engineering. Building control surveyor, CAD technician, consulting civil engineer, design engineer, nuclear engineer and structural engineer
Transportation Engineering Covers the planning, design, analysis, operation and management of transportation systems. Traffic analyst, transport engineer, software engineer, CAD business process engineer and service delivery engineer

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering

Each curriculum is made up of common core classes and electives based on your individual interests or concentration. Some programs offer courses completely online while others may require you to take labs and even tests on campus. Students should be prepared to take a capstone course related to their concentration. Some of the most common classes you are likely to encounter include:

Water Treatment Process Prepares students to take and pass the water treatment operator certification examination. Topics include environmental systems, safety procedures, contamination disposal and thermal processes.
Sustainable Building Systems Provide students with the knowledge to deepen their understanding of sustainable products.
General Chemistry An overview of advanced chemistry topics, including organic chemistry and biochemistry.
Thermodynamics Covers the topics of mass and energy conservation principles and the behaviors of pure substances.
Business Management Equips workers for entry into management or supervisory positions.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering?

An online master’s in civil engineering requires approximately 30 credit hours of coursework, which take approximately 18 months to two years to complete on a full-time schedule. Those who choose a fast-track may complete the coursework in as little as a year. Part-time students may take as much as five years to graduate.

Another factor that may affect completion time is whether classes are offered as self-paced or through cohort learning. With cohort learning, students enter the program at the same time and graduate together. Some classes may be offered only once per year or every other year, which can extend the time of completion. With self-paced classes, a student can take as many or as few classes at a time to graduate ahead of time.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Prepares For

Professional Engineer To receive the PE certification, engineers must work under a PE for at least four years and pass two intense competency exams. Individuals may receive this certification after graduating from undergraduate school or while in graduate school.
Envision Sustainability Professional This certification is given by the American Council of Engineering Companies, which recognizes accomplishments, career experience and education by industry professionals.
Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering Certification This certification ensures you have specialized knowledge and skills in geotechnical engineering.
Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer The D.WRE is available to professional engineers who have earned certification as a specialist in the field of water resources with advanced education, experience and expertise.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Civil Engineering

Accreditation for an online master’s in civil engineering affects your ability to get federal financial aid and may affect your ability to get a job with a reputable firm. There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is the most prestigious. A program with regional accreditation is held to the highest industry standards. National accreditation is usually given to two-year colleges, faith-based organizations and trade schools. Many employees look for individuals who have graduated from a college or university with regional accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation coordinates the process for colleges and universities that are within the United States.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Civil Engineering Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Each discipline of civil engineering has guidelines, trends and minimum requirements for employment. Some employers may not require a master’s degree for employment, but if you plan on advancing your career, an online master’s in civil engineering can increase your options. Structural engineers that deal with highly complex situations require a master’s degree. An advanced degree is critical to your advancement in management and technical applications.

Expected Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates with a master’s degree made $12,000 more per year on average above those with a bachelor’s degrees. The type of industry you work can affect your yearly salary.

Engineers are employed in a wide variety of industries. Industries with the highest concentration are as followed.

Career Opportunities

An online master’s in civil engineering can help open doors to other career paths. While most individuals gravitate to construction and government positions, there are a variety of industries where a background in civil engineering may be beneficial.

Environmental Engineer Environmental engineers use the principals of engineering, biology and chemistry to work on solutions to common environmental problems. $86,800 per year 8%
Quantity Surveyor A quantity surveyor is one who works in the construction industry with expert knowledge on budgeting and contracts for a project. $61,140 per year 11%
Urban Designer Urban designers analyze plans and programs to help develop communities to help accommodate population growth. They often work to find ways to revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities and counties. $71,400 per year 13%
Construction Manager Construction managers plan, inspect, monitor, review, and oversee construction projects from conception to completion. They are responsible for making sure the building is up to code and safe, and completed within a specific budget and deadline. $76,000 per year 15%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations bring together individuals who are engaged in the same profession or those with similar work interests. These groups can brief you on important industry trends, legislative rulings and advances in technology in your field. Consider these top organizations for those with an online master’s in civil engineering.

American Society of Civil Engineers: The ASCE represents over 150,000 members in civil engineering worldwide, and it is the oldest engineering society. The group offers technical and professional conferences and continued education, and it is the largest publisher of civil engineering content.

American Society for Engineering Education: The ASEE is the only professional organization that’s committed to the needs of engineering educators. The organization provides career assistance, publications, continued education and fellowships.

International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering: Representing the professional body of engineers, academics and contractors in geotechnical engineering, the ISSMGE connects industry professionals to one another, provides update information in the field and organizes annual conferences.

ASM International: Dedicated to informing, educating and connecting the materials community, the ASM International is the world’s largest association of materials-centric scientists and engineers.

Earthquake Engineers 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

Graduate students focusing on a master’s degree in civil engineering can find assistance through the federal government and various public and private organizations. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This provides you with the various loans, grants and scholarships that are available through the federal government. Consider starting with these resources for financial assistance.



Scholarships Details
Evalee C. Schwarz Charitable Trust for Education Scholarship Award: $15,000

Deadline: April 10

Eligibility: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, demonstrate a financial need and be enrolled in a college in the state where the applicant lives.

AUN/SEED-Net Scholarship for Graduate Degree Programs Award: Scholarship covers tuition fees, living allowance and health insurance

Deadline: November 30

Eligibility: Applicants must be interested in an advanced degree in engineering.