Online Civil Engineering Master’s Degree


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The construction of highways, railroads, bridges, airports, canals and tunnels may have helped the United States become one of the largest and most successful countries in the world, but today the country’s infrastructure is crumbling.

A recent report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a D and predicted that the economic consequences of the nation’s faulty framework could be huge. An estimated $3.6 trillion investment is needed by 2020 to improve America’s deficient infrastructure, including dams, levees, bridges and transit systems.

Civil engineers design and maintain sustainable infrastructure. They oversee the building of everything from railroads to skyscrapers and handle problems such as bridge collapses and levee failures. An online master’s degree in civil engineering can provide professionals with specialized training in a specific area of civil engineering, enhance leadership skills and lead to advancement. A master’s degree is typically needed for promotion to managerial positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Course Work

Example courses
Construction management
Advanced structural mechanics
High-speed rail engineering
Earthquake engineering
Geographic information systems
Pavement design

A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or its equivalent is usually required to enroll in an online civil engineering master’s degree program.

Students will expand their knowledge of mathematical, science and engineering concepts. They may specialize in a variety of concentrations, including structural engineering, design and construction integration, and geotechnical engineering, which deals with how the earth interacts with man-made structures. The master’s degree curriculum integrates management and leadership skills into the course work.

Some programs may require students to complete a thesis or capstone project with a research component.

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Job Outlook

Median salaries by industry*
Civil engineer, state government $74,000
Civil engineer, nonresidential building construction $76,000
Civil engineer, architectural, engineering and related services $77,000
Civil engineer, local government $80,000
Civil engineer, federal government $89,000

*per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

As the American population grows and increases its use of aging roads and bridges, more civil engineers will be needed to repair the country’s vital infrastructure. Employment of civil engineers is expected to grow 19 percent by 2020, according to the BLS. Civil engineering is among the top 25 occupations facing a skill shortage, according to a report by Economic Modeling Specialists International.

Civil engineers can find employment within a number of industries, including the federal government and construction. About 48 percent of civil engineers work in architectural, engineering and related services, according to the BLS. Many engineers, such as supervisors and those who provide their services directly to the public, are required to obtain a license that involves passing several examinations.

The median salary for civil engineers is about $78,000. Depending on the industry, civil engineers could make nearly $90,000 per year, according to the BLS.

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