2020 Accredited Online Civil Engineering Degrees - OnlineU

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated October 21, 2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: ABET
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Certificate
Average Tuition: $30,294
Average Salary: $96,356

From the smallest dwellings to the largest skyscrapers, from dams that control our water supplies to the roads and highways that transport people and resources, the sustained infrastructure of our society depends on civil engineers who design and build structures. Those who are interested in studying how structures are designed and built will find they have many educational and career options. For instance, civil engineering technicians need only an associate degree to earn a median annual salary of $53,410, while civil engineers with bachelor’s degrees can expect to earn a median annual wage of $87,060. The following is a ranked list of online degrees in civil engineering at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Continue reading for more information about accreditation and career paths for civil engineers.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Civil Engineering Degrees

Prospective students who visit our site are most interested in these schools.
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 University of Florida $28,659 60% (5 reviews)
# 2 #2 University of South Florida Online $17,324 67% (3 reviews)
# 3 #3 University of Virginia $49,032 Add Review
# 4 #4 Texas Tech University $19,040 0% (3 reviews)
# 5 #5 Colorado State University-Fort Collins $29,608 100% (5 reviews)
# 6 #6 University of Kansas $27,358 100% (1 review)
# 7 #7 Johns Hopkins University $53,740 Add Review
# 8 #8 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $31,664 Add Review
# 9 #9 University of Idaho $25,500 100% (2 reviews)
# 10 #10 University of Wisconsin-Platteville $15,646 Add Review
# 11 #11 University of Central Florida $22,467 88% (8 reviews)
# 12 #12 Columbia University in the City of New York $59,430 Add Review
# 13 #13 University of Alabama at Birmingham $19,704 100% (1 review)
# 14 #14 Auburn University $30,524 100% (2 reviews)
# 15 #15 University of Colorado Denver $25,771 100% (2 reviews)
# 16 #16 University of North Dakota $20,759 67% (3 reviews)
# 17 #17 University of Wisconsin - Madison $36,805 0% (1 review)
# 18 #18 Ohio State University-Main Campus $30,742 Add Review
# 19 #19 Villanova University $19,005 100% (1 review)
# 20 #20 Mississippi State University $23,250 0% (1 review)
# 21 #21 Florida Atlantic University $17,276 67% (6 reviews)
# 22 #22 University of Washington - Seattle $36,588 100% (2 reviews)
# 23 #23 North Carolina State University $28,444 50% (2 reviews)
# 24 #24 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $31,426 100% (1 review)
# 25 #25 University of Kentucky $29,099 100% (4 reviews)

Online Civil Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information

A Bachelor's of Science (B.S.) in civil engineering provides a general, yet well-rounded, basis of engineering knowledge and course work is heavily geared toward scientific and technical studies, such as geology, physics, and construction management. Those looking to broaden professional opportunities into consulting or senior-level management jobs should continue their studies by obtaining an online master's degree in civil engineering.

Students wanting to go beyond a master’s can pursue a doctorate in civil engineering and eventually earn a PhD with a designation of being a doctor of engineering science. Students who want to continue their education without seeking a PhD candidacy may be interested in obtaining a professional certificate. Civil engineering professional certificates are proof of mastering a certain portion of postgraduate-level curriculum, combined with elements of PhD study.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Civil Engineering

An online bachelor’s degree in civil engineering will prepare students for a career in structural design. Civil engineers take existing environments and help make them accessible to the world. Diverse industries such as transit, hydroelectric, aerospace, construction, car manufacturers and others need civil engineers. Entry-level jobs in any of these fields require a bachelor's degree.

When students pursue an online bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a full-course load, obtaining a B.S. in civil engineering takes about four years, with up to approximately 132 credit hours to graduate. Students will take general education classes during the first two years, including math and sciences with extremely technical aspects. Chemistry, physics and geography courses are often required, as well as calculus. Upper-level courses focus directly on engineering applications, including geomatics, thermodynamics, hydraulics, engineering design, differential equations, and more. Graduation requirements usually include undertaking an internship for practical experience in the civil engineering field.

Prior to enrolling in an online degree program for a bachelor’s in civil engineering, prospective students should either have a high school diploma or GED, as well as adequate grades and test scores for college admission. Bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering are earned through four-year colleges, although it is sometimes possible to complete the first two years at a community college. If pre-college test scores are insufficient for admission into a civil engineering degree program, applicants may want to retake pertinent tests, such as the SAT or ACT, if possible. It may also be prudent to gather letters of recommendation to assure college civil engineering departments that the candidate is capable of succeeding in the program.

Online Master's Degrees in Civil Engineering

A master's degree program expands on the aspects of civil engineering and examines particular areas with greater detail, such as construction engineering, hydrogeology, and finite physics. Pursuing a master's often requires a dedicated amount of field study. Earning a master's degree is also a prudent course of study for civil engineers seeking a higher level of certification and licensure. To learn more about online master's programs in civil engineering, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Civil Engineering

Students that choose to pursue an online doctorate degree in civil engineering are typically interested in academia and teaching at a college level. During graduate civil engineering studies, some students may choose to follow a tenure track, a course of study that may lead to becoming a college professor. Other Ph.D. candidates may be interested in establishing or heading organizations or becoming appointed members of civil engineering boards.

Prior to obtaining a doctorate degree in civil engineering, the student must earn a master’s degree. These students sometimes seek Ph.D. candidacy while still pursuing a master’s degree, providing for an uninterrupted educational path.

Ph.D. programs work a bit differently from undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Many doctoral degree programs require at least 48 credits to be awarded with the distinguished title of being a doctor of science. Doctoral studies are research-specific, so individually designed courses may be devised with a department advisor, in addition to typical course offerings. A doctoral thesis is necessary for graduation and students are encouraged to have their work published.

Online doctoral degree programs for civil engineering can be extremely competitive. Students should have field experience and a record of academic excellence to be accepted into a Ph.D. program for civil engineering. Most colleges and universities require at least a 3.0 GPA for program admission, if not higher. Four-year colleges and universities that offer graduate degrees have a greater chance of also offering Ph.D. programs in civil engineering.

Online Certificates in Civil Engineering

Online certificate degree programs in civil engineering are practical options for individuals seeking job advancement within the field. While undergraduate degrees are an entry point for civil engineers, professional certificates are tools for procuring higher-level positions that require extensive knowledge beyond a bachelor’s degree. Managers, supervisors and department heads often hold some form of advanced civil engineering degrees, including many with professional certificates.

Online certificate degree programs in civil engineering are available at the graduate level of study. Prior to enrolling in a certificate degree program, students must first obtain a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees are baseline for any further education concerning civil engineering. Some master’s degree programs do extend the certificate option to students. Generally, the graduate-level certificates require at least 12 hours of dedicated study to a specific concentration within the civil engineering field. These concentrations could include railroad, construction and transportation engineering, as well as other subtypes.

Other types of professional certificates are available as post-graduate options. These certificates usually require a certain amount of credit hours earned during graduate study and may be an option for students that prefer not to pursue doctoral degrees, but would still like to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and mastery of civil engineering.


Students seeking online degrees in civil engineering should select programs that are ABET-accredited. ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited programs have curriculums that meet industry standards and are often respected by prospective employers and graduate programs.

ABET is the recognized standard for engineering excellence and is held in high regard by governmental and private agencies. ABET accreditation also allows graduates the opportunity to secure specific jobs that require the organization’s curriculum and endorsement, including government jobs and other positions based on formal civil engineering training.

Careers in Civil Engineering

Any industry involved with planning, designing, and using accessible space requires the services of civil engineers. Depending on the specific need or project, civil engineers may find employment in various places. Government agencies, firms, organizations, private clients, as well as colleges and universities all often have need of hiring civil engineers. Here are some examples of where civil engineers are needed:

  • Structures: Civil engineers may also work as structural engineers. Structural engineering is similar to architecture, but civil engineers are responsible for the technical and scientific aspects of the structure’s function and stability. Civil engineers working in this industry may be involved in designing bridges, buildings or dams.
  • Transportation: Civil engineers working in the transportation industry typically design roadway and transit systems, creating traveling paths for society to get from point A to point B. Many are employed with government agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • Geotechnology: Civil engineers involved in the geotechnical industry help ensure that structural foundations are safe and secure. These positions include designing tunnels, retaining walls, and other structures that are closely dependent on the earth’s surface.
  • Construction: Those working in the construction industry help design safe structures that allow construction projects to succeed. In many cases, these structures are not permanent, but will be used again for similar projects.

Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Engineering Degrees

How much can I earn as a civil engineer?

As of May 2019, the median annual wage for civil engineers was $87,060, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest paid 10% of civil engineers earn a median annual salary of at least $144,000, and the highest-paying opportunities are found in the public sector.

What are the best job opportunities for civil engineers?

According to Interesting Engineering, an online magazine for engineers, three of the best-paid career opportunities for civil engineering graduates are engineering project management, senior civil engineering, and civil engineering management. These positions require years of prior work experience because they involve managing projects and other engineers. Such job opportunities are found across the standard specialties of civil engineering, such as in structural engineering, transportation engineering, and materials science engineering. In addition, climate change is creating demand for specialists in growth areas such as marine and water resources engineering, coastal environment engineering, and earthquake engineering.

Do I need an advanced degree to become a civil engineer?

With a bachelor's degree, graduates have access to many civil engineering jobs. However, leadership, research, and teaching positions are typically only available to those who hold master's or doctoral degrees. It is also possible to become a civil engineering technician with an associate degree. Civil engineering technicians, who earn a median annual salary of $50,410, assist civil engineers with planning, designing, and building various types of construction projects, such as residences, bridges, and highways.


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