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2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Civil Engineering

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 11/9/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Civil Engineering Badge

Society's sustained infrastructure depends on individuals with civil engineering degrees. Importantly, ABET accreditation is a requirement for obtaining licensure in this field, with few exceptions. Because of this, students should be aware that attending an online civil engineering degree without accreditation limits degree outcomes in most states. Read our article below for more information about this requirement.

The following is a list of popular online degrees in civil engineering at the bachelor’s level. View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn about OnlineU. Alternatively, explore additional online engineering programs or plan ahead with our list of the best master's degrees in civil engineering

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Civil Engineering Badge
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Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University (LU) is a large, private nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering that requires 130 credit hours. Taking 3.5 years to complete, the program prepares students for careers in civil engineering after graduation. The curriculum covers government regulations, water resources protection, and environmental hazards.

LU’s online students use Canvas to complete coursework asynchronously. Resources for online students include tutoring, academic advising, IT support, and a writing center. Admission requirements include an application and college or high school transcripts.

Old Dominion University

  • Annual Tuition: $30,960
  • Locations: Norfolk (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Old Dominion University (ODU), a large, public institution, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. Totaling 126 credit hours to complete, the program has three concentrations students can choose from: (1) Construction Management, (2) Structural Design, and (3) Site Development. In addition, some courses in the curriculum include Fluid Mechanics, Structural Analysis, and Engineering Economics.

At ODU, online students use Canvas to complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously. ODU’s online services include career advising, coaching, and technical support. Applicants must submit an application, official high school or GED transcripts, and SAT/ACT scores.

University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $15,037
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Students interested in a civil engineering career can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree at the University of North Dakota (UND), a public institution with a medium-sized student body. The program totals 128 credit hours and takes four to five years for students to complete. Sample core courses include Fluid Mechanics, Foundation Engineering, and Statics.

UND online students complete coursework on Blackboard in a hybrid, synchronous learning format. Online student resources include tutoring, writing assistance, tech support, and an online library, to name a few. UND’s admission requirements include high school or college transcripts and a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA.

Idaho State University

  • Annual Tuition: $25,326
  • Locations: Pocatello (ID)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Idaho State University (ISU) is a medium-sized, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Surveying and Geomatics Engineering Technology. The online degree totals 130-133 credit hours. Students entering the program initially earn an associate degree in Civil Engineering Technology (CET) before continuing coursework to earn a four-year degree. Some courses include Route Survey and Design, Principles of GIS, and Public Works.

At ISU, online students complete coursework synchronously on the digital learning platform, Moodle. In addition, online students have access to career services, disability support, counseling, and tutoring. ISU’s admission requirements include meeting minimum SAT, ACT, or ALEKS scores, as well as submitting an application.

List Of Accredited Online Civil Engineering Schools

School Online Enrollment Annual Tuition
Liberty University 34,799 34,799 $11,700 $11,700
Old Dominion University 6,609 $30,960
University of North Dakota 2,118 $15,037
Idaho State University 1,535 $25,326
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What Is a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degree?

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to become civil engineers and design critical infrastructure. Program faculty offer classes on physics, materials science, calculus, and structural mechanics to ensure that students understand how to create safe structures such as roads, bridges, and dams.

Given online education's rising popularity, some schools offer online bachelor's degrees through distance learning platforms. Online learners usually take asynchronous classes with no live meetings, but this varies by school. Some civil engineering programs require students to attend campus once or twice a year for intensive laboratory sessions. At other times, enrollees might complete lab work with at-home kits or virtual simulators.

Interested in affordable civil engineering degrees? Explore our rankings of the most affordable online bachelor's in engineering and affordable master's in civil engineering degrees.

Degree Requirements

Online bachelor's degrees in civil engineering usually have 120-130 credit hours of coursework split between general education and major classes. These programs might take as little as four years to complete with a full-time schedule. However, many students take more than four years to finish, and colleges often have part-time degree plans for enrollees who need to balance work with school and other responsibilities.

Particular programs might require an internship or externship to give you practical work experience. This means you'll work in person at a location approved by your program's administrators, even if all of your courses are online.

Civil Engineering Courses

Required courses for a civil engineering major focus on applying the lessons of mathematics, physics, geology, material mechanics, and other disciplines to the construction of public works. Because civil engineers usually work for or alongside government agencies, many degrees include courses in public policy, along with discussions of professional ethics and project management. To give applicants a flavor of a civil engineering bachelor's program, we've listed a few common online courses below:

Calculus for Engineers

This branch of mathematics involves the concepts of limits, differential equations, and derivatives. Engineering students focus on using calculus to determine the stress of forces on the different structures they design and build.

Fluid Mechanics

Faculty discuss the movement of fluids (liquids and gases) and the forces that affect them. Students learn how to calculate flow, drag, the conservation rate of mass and momentum, and viscosity. Civil engineering students are introduced to the practical applications of fluid mechanics theories in their field.

Physics for Engineers

Students learn the nature of forces and their various applications in civil infrastructure. These include kinetic energy, magnetism, waves, electricity, and sound waves. Later units in the course may introduce concepts from advanced engineering physics, such as lasers and nanotechnology.

Structural Mechanics

In this online class, professors discuss structural engineering in terms of the forces that hold structures together and the various materials that civil engineers can use to build. Students test a variety of physical loads to determine a structure's strength. Faculty may dedicate lessons to structural failure and ways to mitigate the physical stresses that can lead to collapse.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degree?

Most of these degrees are designed specifically to train the next generation of civil engineers. But not everyone's path is identical after college; you might choose to pursue a graduate degree in this or another engineering specialty, or you may want to enter the workforce right away.

Most civil engineering graduates go on to have careers as civil engineers. As of May 2022, this occupation has a median annual salary of $89,940, or nearly twice the national median for all jobs combined. The field is growing at an average rate of 5% in the 2022-2032 period. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most recently counted 326,300 civil engineers working in the U.S., with about 21,200 job openings expected each year through the end of the decade. 

You don't necessarily need a state license to become a civil engineer, but you'll almost certainly need one to work on public projects. This is the majority of what most civil engineers do, so most end up getting licensed. See your state's department of licensing for details on requirements in your area.

As discussed, civil engineering education provides good training for other engineering fields. Bachelor's graduates might opt for jobs as environmental engineers or mechanical engineers instead.

Other Engineering Specializations

Engineering is a broad field with many narrower specialties, including civil engineering. But engineering students usually develop many math, science, design, and soft skills during their education that translate well to other specialties. For example, a civil engineering student's understanding of structural weight loads and design processes might prove useful in an aerospace engineering role.

For this reason, some bachelor's graduates go on to earn different types of engineering degrees in graduate school. Others enter the workforce in related engineering occupations for employers who trust in their transferable skills. Here is a list of engineering disciplines you might also consider once you have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering:

Aerospace Engineering

Those with aerospace engineering degrees create either planes and helicopters (aeronautical engineering) or spacecraft (astronautical engineering). They follow meticulous safety and testing protocols during all design and manufacturing phases.

Chemical Engineering

Those who graduate with chemical engineering degrees can help create new chemicals and develop new uses for existing compounds. Most of them often work in corporate research and development departments.

Computer Engineering

These professionals earn computer engineering degrees in order to design computer hardware and components. They often work closely with software engineers.

Industrial Engineering

An industrial engineering degree is perfect for those who want to design and improve processes for manufacturers. They take into account the equipment, physical layout, and workflow for each space they work on, then collect and analyze data to determine the efficiency of their ideas.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering degree graduates become the engineers who design machines of all kinds. This field has one of the slowest foreseeable rates of job growth because of improvements in mechanical automation and efficiency.

Software Engineering

These professionals, who earned software engineering degrees, design software and applications for computer platforms, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. They typically work closely with software developers, providing the conceptual and project-management knowledge developers help translate into finished products.

Further Education

More education tends to lead to higher salaries and lower rates of unemployment. Engineering employers may even give preference to management candidates with advanced degrees.

Civil engineering master's degrees feature coursework on advanced concepts, usually within a program concentration to help students specialize. Some common concentrations include geotechnical engineering, structural analysis and design, and transportation systems. Faculty might also emphasize leadership skills that graduates can use in management roles. 

For those on a budget, check out our list of the most affordable master's degrees in civil engineering based on low tuition. 

Apply To An Online Master's in Civil Engineering

A typical college application timeline begins up to a year before actually starting classes. Most candidates apply to college sometime between November and February when enrolling for the fall term. 

Most colleges ask applicants for the following items: 

  • Official high school or GED transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.0-2.5 (though minimums can vary)

  •  A letter of recommendation from a teacher

  •  A personal statement on education and career goals 

  • Official ACT or SAT scores, with minimums that vary by school (note that some schools have dropped entrance exam requirements)

FAQs About Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Programs

What Can You Do With a Civil Engineering Degree?

You can become a civil engineer with a bachelor's degree in this major, but you might also find a related type of engineering job. This depends on how well you can convince interviewers that your knowledge and skills match what they're seeking.

What Is the Difference Between Civil Engineering and Architecture?

Civil engineers design infrastructure, including transportation and public works utilities, while architects design buildings where people live and work. Both jobs call for some of the same knowledge and skills, such as the physics of loads and an understanding of construction materials.

If designing buildings sounds more appealing than designing infrastructure, you might consider an online architecture degree instead.

Is Civil Engineering Hard?

Civil engineering programs are STEM degrees, so most challenges are related to math and science. You might find this major relatively easy if you excel in these subjects, but you could still struggle with new concepts, technological tools, or soft skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.

Why Is Civil Engineering Important?

Civil engineers design and build the everyday infrastructure that helps societies function smoothly. You've benefited from their expertise and hard work if you've ever walked down a street, driven across a bridge, or drank water from a tap.

What Else Should You Consider?

A college education is a serious commitment, so it's important to consider all the factors that matter to you. The questions below might help start this process:

Is this school accredited?

Institutional accreditation is an important marker of quality. It means that an independent organization has thoroughly reviewed the quality of a college's academic standards, curricula, faculty, and services. You can usually find a school's accreditation status on its website or through the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Is this online civil engineering program accredited?

Civil engineering program administrators usually seek programmatic accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Some states require civil engineers to hold an ABET-accredited degree in order to get a license, so it's important to understand the regulations in the state where you want to work before committing to a program. ABET has historically accredited few fully online civil engineering degree programs, so you might need to attend an on-campus or hybrid program to improve your professional prospects.

ABET has a searchable database of both online and on-campus programs.

Do I want to study online?

Accreditation is the most important factor when considering an online degree. But beyond this, you should consider the nature of online education itself; starting an online education may feel exciting or nerve-wracking, depending on your personality.

Distance learning is flexible and convenient but also less structured than traditional education, so you need the discipline to stay on top of deadlines. At times, you might feel disconnected from colleagues and professors, so be sure to interact with them in discussion forums and consider creating virtual study groups to forge helpful relationships.

What other factors are important to me?

You may want a college stocked with well-reviewed support services. Perhaps a personal friend recommends faculty members at a particular school. Or you might appreciate a diverse student makeup and robust inclusion policies. Think about what your dream college would have, then try to find a real school that matches this as closely as possible.

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