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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Civil Engineering

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 12/29/2022


Degree Overview
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Civil Engineering Badge

An online master's degree in civil engineering teaches students how to design, build, and maintain systems and infrastructure that are crucial to a functioning society. This degree involves an advanced exploration of skills (designing, building, and operations), infrastructure (airports, tunnels, and roads), and influences (legal, social, and material). 

In order to become a professional civil engineer, students must complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree and pass their state's licensing exam. A master's degree in civil engineering may be necessary to seek management positions. Students may find similar success with a master's in mechanical engineering or a master's in industrial engineering

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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Civil Engineering

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 University of Southern California 95 95 $81,695
# 2 #2 Columbia University in the City of New York 95 $81,566
# 3 #3 North Carolina State University 93 $80,860
# 4 #4 Ohio University - Main Campus 91 $79,594
# 5 #5 Villanova University 90 $79,452
# 6 #6 New Jersey Institute of Technology 88 $78,762
# 7 #7 Norwich University 82 $77,018
# 8 #8 University of Washington - Seattle 76 $75,560
# 9 #9 University of Florida 59 $72,375
# 10 #10 Auburn University 57 $72,066

#1 University of Southern California

  • Salary Score: 95
  • Median Starting Salary: $81,695
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private institution that features a Master of Science in Civil Engineering - Structural Engineering requiring 28 credit hours. Full-time students usually complete this degree in under two years, while part-time students may take between two to three years.

At USC, students use Blackboard as their learning management system (LMS), which delivers courses online. The core curriculum for this program emphasizes experimental and analytical studies as they relate to infrastructure and its relation to human and environmental behaviors. Here are three examples of required courses: Advanced Mechanics, Dynamics of Structures, and UQ Concepts. This is a non-thesis program with no practicum. Career opportunities include environmental engineers, project planners, and architects.

#2 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Salary Score: 95
  • Median Starting Salary: $81,566
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Columbia University in the City of New York (CU) is a private university that offers a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. This degree requires 30 credit hours, which is generally completed in two years while studying full time. CU students can choose from civil engineering concentration options, such as geotechnical engineering and structural analysis and design.

CourseWorks is the main LMS used by CU students during their online degree programs. The civil engineering curriculum is flexible, and the majority of required credits are devoted toward the core curriculum — including classes in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, Theory of Vibrations, and Uncertainty and Risk in Infrastructure Systems. An additional 12 credits are required for elective courses that may include Supply Chain Management, Operations Management, or Principles of Applied Mathematics. In general, civil engineering master's graduates may pursue roles as transportation engineers, project engineers, and traffic engineers.

#3 North Carolina State University

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Median Starting Salary: $80,860
  • Locations: Raleigh (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

North Carolina State University (NCSU) is a public institution with a Master of Civil Engineering requiring 30 credit hours. Typically, students graduate within two years while studying full time. There are a variety of concentrations to choose from, such as transportation systems, construction engineering, and structures and mechanics.

All online courses at NCSU are delivered through the Moodle LMS, which allows students to study fully online, with no requirements for on-campus visits or residencies. The curriculum looks at advanced computer applications and systems analysis for modern-day engineering. Among the major requirements are Computer-Aided Engineering Systems, Advanced Topics in Civil Engineering Computing, and Introduction to Numerical Methods for Civil Engineers. No thesis is required for graduation. Graduates are often prepared to become transportation, water, and wastewater engineers.

#4 Ohio University - Main Campus

  • Salary Score: 91
  • Median Starting Salary: $79,594
  • Locations: Athens (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio University - Main Campus (OU) is a public university offering a Master of Science in Civil Engineering that requires a minimum of 29 credit hours. If studying full time, students can complete this program in two years. Students may choose from four concentrations: (1) Construction Engineering and Management, (2) Environmental Engineering, (3) Structural Engineering, and (4) Transportation Engineering.

At OU, students use the Blackboard LMS to access their core courses, which are taught completely online. The curriculum for this civil engineering program uses advanced mathematics and physical science in order to train engineers to design and build with ecology in mind. Required courses include Engineering Writing, Project Management, and Civil Engineering Seminar. Graduates may have career opportunities as structural engineers, environmental engineers, and transportation engineers.

#5 Villanova University

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $79,452
  • Locations: Villanova (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Villanova University (VU) is a private institution with a Master of Science in Civil Engineering requiring at least 30 credit hours. Generally, those who are studying full time are likely to complete the degree in two years. The curriculum also features five concentrations, such as Transportation Engineering, Water Resources Engineering, and Environmental Engineering.

VU uses the Blackboard LMS to deliver online coursework. This software allows students to finish their degrees entirely online, with the option to add on-campus classes. While classes will vary depending on the chosen emphasis, some classes may include Lake, Stream and Wetland Ecology; Foundation Engineering; and Construction Project Management. Students may choose between a thesis or a non-thesis track. Graduates may go on to work for architecture, construction, and engineering firms.

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Online Master's in Civil Engineering Overview

An online master’s degree in civil engineering is necessary for anyone seeking a senior-level position in public and private sectors within the civil engineering field. Master’s degree programs can last from one to two years, depending on how many courses a student takes during a given semester or quarter. An approximate accumulation of 30 credit hours are needed to graduate, but could vary with specific programs. Most master’s degree programs require a practicum, or a form of field experience to complete the program.

Students pursuing an online master’s degree in civil engineering can expect to take courses that delve into extremely pertinent and technical aspects of civil engineering. These classes are more study-intensive and focused than engineering course work as an undergrad. Construction management, qualitative and quantitative statistics, and soil mechanics are examples of common courses offered. Colleges offering specific plans of study within the field may require additional courses for students to meet the program’s criteria. Civil engineering graduate students are also expected to produce a thesis during the course of obtaining a master’s degree. When earning an M.S. in civil engineering, students that are interested in pursuing a degree beyond the graduate level may want to choose a research track of study.

To obtain an online master’s degree in civil engineering, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field is required. Prior internships related to civil engineering are also extremely helpful with being accepted into a graduate degree program. Strong GRE scores are expected and letters of recommendation are often required. Colleges and universities that offer four-year degrees are the most practical places to look for graduate programs. Many give students an option to combine both, allowing the student to take extra course work for an additional year or two and earn a B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering.

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