With high profile news stories about people with influence paying millions to ensure their kids got into prestigious colleges, you may be concerned that where you get your master’s degree is more important than why you got it. But that might not be the case for a masters in civil engineering.
What employers are looking for in a candidate
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers are in high demand over the next decade, projected to add more jobs than any other engineering specialty. So, does it really matter what college is named on your resume? Yes and no.
Yes, because accreditation is key. And not just any run of the diploma mill accreditation. Employers will hone in on recognizable institutions with an Engineering Accreditation Commission or Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology stamp on their program, as well as credentials with a regional accreditation organization. Before applying, make sure the institution and program you’re interested in — on-campus, accelerated, or online school — is up to snuff.
If the school and program is accredited, it might not matter if it’s an Ivy League or state university. Most employers realize that to get into a reputable masters in civil engineering program, potential candidates would have already completed a engineering-related undergrad degree from an accredited university. And, a company typically focuses more on the job applicant’s experience, what they’ve contributed, and what they could offer the organization, rather than where they obtained their degree. So, although a civil engineering masters can add prestige, it doesn’t necessarily have to come at a higher cost.
Accelerated vs. traditional master’s programs
Some of the programs we list below will include accelerated master’s programs — achieving a bachelor’s while simultaneously taking classes toward a master’s degree. What are the advantages over a traditional master’s degree path?
The most obvious are cost and time. Typically, students apply in their sophomore year, than can begin taking classes toward their graduate degree their junior year — and shave almost a year off tuition and courses. Plus, in most cases, they can skip graduate admission tests and application fees.
The downside is there may be tougher admission standards (institutions typically only accept top undergrads), students must get no lower than a 3.0 in their master’s courses (which may be more intense and require more time than their bachelor’s courses), and they won’t have a choice where they pursue their graduate degree.
Whichever avenue you pursue, it won’t likely make much difference on a job application. Your resume will still include a civil engineering masters, so choose the option that works best for your learning style, time, and pocketbook.
|1||Missouri University of Science and Technology||Rolla, Missouri|
|2||Florida A&M University at Florida State University||Tallahassee, Florida|
|3||Mississippi State University||Starkville, Mississippi|
|4||. West Virginia University||Morgantown, West Virginia|
|5||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks, North Dakota|
Our list of low cost masters in civil engineering programs
We’ve compiled the top institutions with a civil engineering degree (full time with a thesis requirement) that have EAC and regional accreditation. We then ranked them based on the total cost of the program (lowest overall tuition getting the highest scores). Check out the options below.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology tops our list of low cost masters in civil engineering programs, offering four areas of emphasis with strong design and research components — environmental and water resources, structural, geotechnical, and transportation — at $395 per credit. Through the grad school, students can also obtain a doctorate, construction management graduate certificate, an accelerated master of science, and an online, non-thesis master of science in civil engineering.
Florida A&M University at Florida State University
Established in 1982, Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering — the only joint engineering school in the country — enrolls 300 civil engineering grad students annually. The Tallahassee campus offers a MS degree (with research and thesis requirement), Master of Engineering (a degree without a thesis) with an online option, a 5-year accelerated master’s, and 2 PhD tracks — MS to PhD and BS to PhD.
Mississippi State University
With seven specialties — construction engineering and management, construction materials, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources — Mississippi State University offers a MS (thesis and non-thesis option) and PhD (doctorate/non-thesis MS, doctorate/thesis MS, and doctorate only). There are 144 civil engineering masters courses, including geometric design of highways, advanced reinforced concrete, analysis and mitigation of conflicts, claims, and disputes, engineered environmental systems, and traffic flow theory at a cost of $488 per credit.
. West Virginia University
West Virginia University offers grad students an MS or PhD in civil engineering or MS in engineering, with a staff of 27 associate, assistant, research, and emeritus professors — all with PhDs. The graduate studies are centered around five major areas and include courses like flexible pavements, soil testing, groundwater and seepage, bridge engineering, and teaching practicum.
University of North Dakota
In addition to project management and engineering design, a masters in civil engineering from the University of North Dakota also provides AutoCAD, Java, and construction management skills. The grad program is available as a Masters of Science with a thesis (30 credits) and non-thesis (32 credits) option, and a Masters of Engineering (30 credits) — on campus or online — at just over $500 per credit.
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San Jose State University
With a civil engineering masters of science degree from San Jose State University, students will be able to problem solve using advanced skills, integrate engineering concepts into solutions, apply modern tools, and communicate effectively. The 30-credit degree has over 60 courses for a primary and secondary emphasis — whether grads choose the thesis or project option.
Ohio University offers a thesis and non-thesis option, plus an online masters in civil engineering degree (with no GRE requirement) that can be completed in two years. Students enrolled in the grad program will have the opportunity to delve into research for the Federal Highway Administration, Ohio Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, among many other governmental or private sector organizations.
Graduate students at Clemson University can choose from six concentration areas or do cross-disciplinary research in pursuit of a thesis or non-thesis MS, an online masters or certificate focused on risk management, or a doctorate of philosophy in civil engineering. Part of the university since its inception in 1889, the civil engineering department awarded 37 master degrees in 2019 — almost one third of the total number of engineering grad students.
University of Idaho
With four graduate degree options and seven focus areas (including ecohydrology, and highway and pavement materials) at a $548 per credit cost, University of Idaho is a great value. Plus, each of the faculty in this western U.S. institution’s civil engineering department holds a PhD or PE in their field.
Now named the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program after generous donors with a 38-degree family legacy, Purdue University’s civil engineering masters is one of the country’s largest. Almost 400 students are currently enrolled in the program, specializing in one of nine concentrations, including architectural, geomatics, materials, and hydraulics and hydrology. PU will also launch an online masters in civil engineering program in 2021.
Colorado State University (37 points)
Colorado State University offers 10 sub-disciplines for a masters in civil engineering (plus an additional one for a PhD only) in areas such as fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics, geoengineering, groundwater, hydraulic engineering/stream restoration and river mechanics, and water and international development. One of the few in the country, CSU offers an online option focused on water resources engineering and management.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Students at Georgia Institute of Technology can enroll in an accelerated masters in civil engineering, masters of science, PhD with a civil engineering major, and a dual masters degree program. Among the research projects for the 300+ civil engineering grad students at the Atlanta-based institution are using domestic wastewater for food production, air pollution and asthma morbidity, and modeling complex urban systems.
Kansas State University
At Kansas State University, students have the option to pursue a MS with or without a thesis, an online MS degree, PhD, or one of two graduate certificates (transportation engineering and geoenvironmental). The 100+-year-old Carl R. Ice College of Engineering — named for a Hall of Fame recipient and Alumni Fellow — began as the Mechanic Arts at the Kansas State Agriculture College, granting its first master’s degree in 1926.
University of Colorado-Denver
The University of Colorado in Denver offers two masters and two PhD tracks for civil engineering in six concentrations — construction engineering and management, geomatics engineering and geographic information systems, geotechnical, transportation, structural, and their newest addition: hydrologic, environmental, and sustainability. Funding for the department’s research comes from city, county, state, and national government organizations, as well as the National Science Foundation, among others.
University of Tennessee
Rounding out our list of the least expensive masters in civil engineering degrees is University of Tennessee in Knoxville. With a MS thesis or non-thesis option or accelerated masters in civil engineering degree, students can emphasize construction, geotechnology and materials, public works, structural, or transportation for $639 per credit. The department conducts $7 million of outside-funded research through its four campus centers — Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Center for Transportation Research, and Tennessee Water Resources Research Center.
Our Ranking Methodology
First, we compiled the list of the top schools for a master’s in civil engineering from six sources. We eliminated those whose bachelor’s degree program wasn’t accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (we only found one school whose master’s in civil engineering was accredited by EAC) or whose regional accreditation had expired or their review date was 2019 or before. Then, we ranked the remaining 47 schools by the total tuition cost (lowest received 47 points to the highest with 1) and listed the top 15.
Have Problems With Your Ranking?
If you’re employed by one of the schools listed and disagree with the information we’ve provided, please feel free to contact us and we’ll make the correction.