Civil engineering students can improve their specialized training to enter or advance their careers without interrupting their employment or family obligations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast a 7% increase in new jobs in civil engineering, 2018-2028. Graduates of Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs may experience a greater range of employment opportunities and potential income. This comprehensive guide is targeted for students considering a graduate program. It includes a list of the 15 top programs, civil engineering specializations, sources for paying for the degree, and strategic resources at your fingertips.

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

The Top 20 Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs

The programs selected in this ranking of the Top 15 Online Master’s in Civil Engineering represent the highest echelon of flexible degrees that fit the needs of working professionals. They are ranked by a custom formula based on affordability, tuition cost, the number and quality of degree concentrations, accreditation, graduation requirements, and other factors.

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Virginia
1827 University Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Columbia University
West 116 St and Broadway, New York, New York 10027
North Carolina State University
2101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
University of Wisconsin Madison
500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085
University of Florida
341 Tigert Hall 300 SW 13th St, Gainesville, Florida 32611
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
University of Washington
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
527 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
South Methodist University
6425 Boaz St, Dallas, Texas 75275
Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011
Colorado State University
102 Administration Building, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849
Kansas State University
919 Mid-Campus Drive, Anderson Hall, Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Ohio University
020 Chubb Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
Texas Tech University
Broadway and University Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79409
University of Houston
212 E. Cullen Building, Houston, Texas 77204

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Program

Master’s in Civil Engineering programs online often commence with core or foundation studies that apply universally to the profession. These are augmented by an advanced curriculum in one of the engineering specializations. This comprehensive guide is targeted for students considering a graduate program. It includes a list of top programs, civil engineering specializations, sources for paying for the degree, and key resources at your fingertips.

Common Specializations for an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering

Online Master’s in Civil Engineering programs offer concentrations in sub-fields of the profession. The concentrations prepare graduates for specialized roles for governmental or for-profit engineering firms. Not all schools offer the same concentrations, so prospective students should search for the university curriculum that best fits their career aspirations. Here are the common centration options:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
ArchitectureThe civil engineering concentration in architecture focuses on cost estimating, structural building plan evaluation, and electrical and plumbing system design, advanced CAD.Sustainability consultants, construction building inspectors, regional and urban planners.
ConstructionConstruction specializations orient coursework toward planning, maintaining and overseeing construction specifications for buildings, infrastructure (highways, dams, traffic-routing, and waste-management projects.Field supervisors, project engineers, retail/commercial building professionals.
EnvironmentalCoursework concentrates on building and environmental regulations, sustainable infrastructure, atmospheric and aquatic systems, advanced physics and biology, quality of air, water and soil, environmental impact and remediation.Sustainability professionals, alternative energy contractors, HVAC design, designers of environmental remediation projects,  and waste-management professionals.
GeotechnicalStudies in the centration include coursework in earthquake design, retaining structures, geosynthesis, pavement materials and design, advanced foundation engineering, rock mechanics, and slope stability.Structural engineers, building enclosure engineers, geologists, and field engineers.
HydraulicGraduate students in this discipline delve into fluid mechanics, viscous flow, water collection and distribution networks, flood alleviation, water collection networks, flood mapping, shoreline management, and boundary layer flows.Quality supervisors, FEMA engineers, project managers.
StructuralIn the structural engineering concentration, students undertake coursework in solid mechanics, non-linear structural analysis, design of composite structures, sensors and data acquisition, and advanced structural steel design.Bridge engineers, forensics structural engineers, structural project managers.
TrafficThis specialization curriculum includes studies in traffic operations and control, multimodal transportation safety, intelligent transportation systems, work zone safety, signal specifications, signage, travel demand modeling, and asset management.Traffic operations manager, traffic designers, RT engineers.
TransportationThe graduate transportation engineering curriculum includes coursework in travel demand modeling, applied transport data analytics, urban mobility planning, transportation systems performance and optimization, land-use regulations, and freight systems.Mechanical engineering manager, environmental design engineers, core transport consultants.
WaterThis engineering niche focuses its curriculum on water treatment and governance, wetlands wastewater management, desalination and membrane technology, water resources for food security, and industrial effluent treatment.Water resources managers, water utility engineers, environmental wastewater specialists.

Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for an online Master’s in Civil Engineering program are established by the engineering department in concert with the university’s graduate school. Some are set in stone.  However, within each standard requirement, there are potential waivers or prerequisites that can get you in the door.  Here are the most-common admission requirements for accredited civil engineering programs online:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering: Admission requirements at Online Master of Civil Engineering programs typically require completion of a baccalaureate in any major with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some require a baccalaureate specifically in a civil engineering ABET-accredited institution.
  • GRE scores: Depending on the program and institution, students are required to take the GRE.  Some programs waive the requirement, using other variables to evaluate applicants such as professional experience.
  • Prerequisites: Students who have not completed an undergraduate engineering degree may have to complete the prerequisites of specialty leveling courses after being admitted to the program. They may include Analytic Geometry and Calculus, Fluid Mechanics, Mechanics of Materials, Multidimensional Calculus, and Statistics.
  • Recommendation letters: Online MS civil engineering programs may require from one to two letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or mentors. They should include research aptitude, job performance, professional ethics, and collegiality.
  • English language proficiency: University applicants whose native language is not English have to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum TOEFL scores vary by institution or engineering department. Average scores range from 90-100.

Curriculum for an Online Master of Civil Engineering Program

The curriculum required for completing an online Master of Civil Engineering Program varies broadly by institution and degree requirements. For example, civil engineering specializations can include electives and required projects. Note that the curriculum can impact the time to completion based on the availability of courses. Here are five common courses offered by programs around the county that focus on skills and theoretical concepts in professional practice:

  • Structural Stability: Foundations in concepts of stability of aluminum and steel beam-columns, inelastic buckling, and frames using deflection and matrix methodologies. Students learn the use of codes to improve stability design.
  • Mechanics of Materials: Students develop methods for analyzing the stress and strain and theories of failures created by combined stresses. Topics include stress-strain behavior (linear and nonlinear) and the behavior of orthotropic, isotropic, and anisotropic materials.
  • Morphodynamic Modeling: Understanding of concepts and skills applicable to process-based morphodynamic modeling. The focus is on tidal basins and delta morphodynamics and the influences of river flow and tides.
  • Transportation Engineering: Theories and practices in designing and managing control mechanisms, transit policies, implementation of new technologies, mass transit, and policies that impact efficiency and cost.

Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Program Length

Most online Master’s in Civil Engineering degree programs take two years to complete, on average. Here are some factors to consider that may influence the timeline to complete the program:

  • What are the benefits of earning a civil engineering master’s degree online? Online engineering programs may offer synchronous and asynchronous course attendance. Self-paced courses can accelerate the time required to complete them if the student is aggressive. At the same time, online students may continue their work for an engineering firm without interrupting their studies.
  • On average, how many credits does it take to graduate? The typical credit requirements for completing an online Master’s in Civil Engineering range from 36-54 hours, depending on the program and the number of credits awarded for previous coursework and professional experience. In addition, each institution may offer different numbers of credits for the same courses that are offered at other universities.
  • How can students shorten their time to graduate? Many universities can shorten the time to earn theonline Master’s in Civil Engineering and cut the cost of the degree. Cost savings are made possible depending on how the tuition is configured. If you pay per credit, you save when the total required credits are reduced.  It may be possible to transfer credits from previous engineering studies. Another factor is whether the program requires a thesis or just a comprehensive exam. Thesis hours can impact the length of the program. The key factor, of course, depends on whether online students attend on a full- or part-time basis. In addition, students seeking both an undergraduate and graduate civil engineering degree can dramatically shorten the time required to earn both degrees on an accelerated basis, often within five years. That’s because undergraduate courses can apply to the total credits required for the graduate degree.

Careers and Salaries for Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Graduates

Civil Engineering a vast field with so many aspects to it. Careers for Civil Engineers are also vast with many field, titles, and salary ranges. Here are some career titles and salaries for graduates of online master’s in civil engineering graduates.

Job TitleAverage, Entry-LevelAverage, Mid-LevelAverage, Senior-LevelAverage, Late Career
Civil Engineer$57,528$74,236$86,092$97,552
Environmental Engineer$60,695$77,603$84,200$102,383
Transportation Engineer$58,654$75,470$88,715$99,143
Project Engineer – Construction$58,629$73,056$75,788$89,389
Design Engineer$65,149$73,789$81,003$85,699
Structural Engineer$60,192$76,902$89,653$102,474


How to Pay for a Master’s in Civil Engineering Degree

Graduate engineering students will find an abundance of resources to finance their education. There are federal and state grants for engineers, scholarships, research stipends, Federal student loans, employer tuition reimbursement programs, and university-paid income share agreement programs. Let’s examine each:

Techniques for Financing an Online Master’s in Civil Engineering


Grant programs provide funds for tuition and research projects. They may require documentation of research findings, but do not need to be repaid. Find a valuable resource at the grants overview of Federal Education Grants for Engineers.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Employer-paid tuition for engineering programs provides an excellent source for financing your degree. Some are funded upfront or are paid after you complete the degree. Many have strings attached, including the stipulation that you work for the company for a number of years after graduation. Grad students can search for companies offering reimbursement programs at The Balance.

Income Share Agreement Programs

Income-share agreement programs allow businesses and universities to finance your education. In return for underwriting your degree, the institutions require a percentage of your future earnings for a set period of time. They can require a greater percentage based on increases in income. But they can greatly reduce the risk of collapsing under the weight of student loan debt.

Scholarships for Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Students

One of the best ways to pay for schooling is to secure a scholarship to cover or supplement tuition and research fees in earning a Master’s in Civil engineering online. Engineering scholarships do not have to be repaid.  Some provide monies just for tuition and materials, while others include annual cash stipends. The following five awarding organizations offer from $1,000-$5,000 scholarships for online Master’s in Civil engineering students:

  • Arthur S. Tuttle Memorial Scholarship Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in civil engineering graduate studies that lead to a master’s degree. Awards pay for tuition costs at an accredited university. Amount: Determined annually
  • Katharine & Bryant Mather Scholarship Who Can Apply: The American Concrete Institute scholarships are open to civil engineering students pursuing graduate study in the specialized field of concrete. Winners are recognized in the Concrete International magazine. Amount: $5,000
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Who Can Apply: The fellowship is awarded to engineering students planning to pursue a doctoral degree. Applicants are selected based on the student’s potential to undertake advanced training in engineering. Amount: Graduate tuition and fees, plus an annual $3,200 stipend.
  • ShopToilet Civil Engineering Scholarship Who Can Apply: Open to Civil Engineering students enrolled in any institute. Winners with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate work are selected based on a career goals essay. Amount: $1,000

Resources for Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Students

Students in an accredited civil engineering online masters program have access to research sources used by their on-campus counterparts. However, there is a multitude of online journals, databases, job boards, sample exams, and more for free or for low-cost student membership.

  • Civil Engineering Bible: There is a wealth of free resources for online Master’s in Civil Engineering students at the Civil Engineering Bible. Find articles, downloads, and free courses. You can also answer practice questions for The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers: ASCE represents more than 150,000 engineers and students around the world. Its site includes exam preparation materials, journals, information on licensing, a searchable information database, and more than 600 job listings. Student membership is free.
  • National Society of Professional Engineers: Full-time graduate students are available for a free membership in the national society. The organization offers members 15 webinars in continuing education for license renewals, PE/FE exam preparation, ethics resources, and PE Magazine.
  • Civil Engineering Information CenterThe center provides a wide breadth of valuable resources, including a job board, networking community, calculation examples, news center, links to continuing education courses, and an online library with 1,964 documents in 12 categories.
  • Indeed: Looking for work or just scanning the types of jobs in the industry? Indeed currently lists 14,665 job openings for civil engineers at corporate or governmental organizations.

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