Education

Best Civil Engineering Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Civil Engineering programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Civil engineering is the study of the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and natural infrastructure that makes up our society. Civil engineers work on a wide variety of projects, including bridges, roads, dams, and water treatment plants.

Civil engineering degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in civil engineering, including project management, structural engineering, and geotechnical engineering. Students in civil engineering degree programs learn about the different aspects of designing and constructing infrastructure, and how to apply those concepts to real-world projects. They also learn about the legal and regulatory environment in which civil engineers operate.

How to Choose the Right Civil Engineering Program

When it comes to choosing the right civil engineering program, there are many things to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are all important factors. But, perhaps the most important factor is accreditation.

There are two main types of accreditation for civil engineering programs: ABET and CEAB. ABET is the most widely recognized type of accreditation, and it is required for licensure in many states. CEAB is less common, but it is still recognized by many employers.

When choosing a program, make sure to check that it is accredited by either ABET or CEAB. If it is not, you may have difficulty finding a job after graduation. Also, be sure to check the program’s curriculum to make sure it meets your needs. Some programs may require internships or capstone projects, so be sure to check for these requirements before applying.

Finally, consider the cost of the program. Tuition rates can vary considerably from school to school, so be sure to research the cost of each program you are considering. Financial aid may be available to help offset the cost of tuition, so be sure to check with the financial aid office at each school.

By considering these factors, you can be sure to choose the right civil engineering program for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs

The best programs for Civil Engineering ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Prescott, AZ

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is designed to prepare students for a career in civil engineering. The program provides students with the foundation necessary to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and become a professional engineer.

Rank 2
Oregon Institute of Technology
Klamath Falls, OR

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Oregon Institute of Technology provides students with the real-world, hands-on education needed to practice structural, transportation, water resources/environmental, and geotechnical engineering. Throughout the program, students will learn design theory and practical application, with an emphasis on professional communication skills and teamwork. In the fourth year of study, students have the option to target specific careers within the field of civil engineering.

Rank 3
The University of Texas
Austin, TX

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas is a 124-credit program that prepares students for careers in civil engineering. The curriculum includes courses in engineering mechanics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and civil engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences. Students also have the opportunity to take 18 hours of approved technical coursework to emphasize the areas of civil engineering of most interest to them.

Rank 4
Villanova University
Villanova, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Villanova University is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in civil engineering. The program includes coursework in environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and more. Research opportunities are available for students interested in working directly with a faculty advisor and graduate student mentor.

Rank 5
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology is a 128-credit program that prepares students for careers in civil engineering. The curriculum provides a solid foundation in the principles of engineering, with a focus on the design, construction, and operation of the built environment. Students can choose to specialize their studies in areas such as geotechnical, structural, environmental, or infrastructure engineering. The program also includes two cooperative education semesters, which give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience with top employers in the field.

Rank 6
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

The University of Washington’s Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program provides students with the engineering fundamentals necessary to establish their professional engineering career, evolve in the profession and to respond to changing technical requirements, engineering technologies and societal needs. In addition, the program provides the depth of preparation and fosters intellectual curiosity needed to solve complex engineering problems, and/or pursue graduate studies and research. The program is accredited by the ABET.

Rank 7
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Clemson University is a four-year program that prepares students for careers in civil engineering. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The curriculum includes coursework in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. Students also have the opportunity to choose an emphasis in construction engineering and management, construction materials, environmental engineering and more. The program also offers opportunities for students to get involved in student organizations, research projects, cooperative education, and study abroad experiences.

Rank 8
University of New Haven
West Haven, CT

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University of New Haven is a multi-disciplinary program that combines mathematics, science, communication, humanities, and social science with a broad base of civil engineering technologies. The curriculum includes courses in concrete design and construction, foundation design and construction, highway engineering, steel design and construction, sustainable urban planning, and water and waste engineering.

Rank 9
University of Illinois Chicago
Chicago, IL

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University of Illinois Chicago is a 128-credit hour program that prepares students for careers in civil engineering. The program includes coursework in engineering orientation, statics, strength of materials, structural analysis, fluid mechanics, transportation engineering, design of reinforced concrete structures, water resources engineering, soil mechanics, environmental engineering, and geometric design of highway facilities. Students also have the opportunity to take courses in financial engineering, engineering dynamics, and introduction to engineering design and graphics.

Rank 10
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, IL

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology provides students with a broad range of knowledge in core sub-disciplines of civil engineering, as well as the opportunity to specialize in one area. Classroom lectures are supplemented by laboratory practice, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in materials, structural engineering, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, and surveying. This degree program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Program

Students in a bachelor’s in civil engineering program can expect to learn about designing, constructing, and maintaining infrastructure projects. This may include bridges, roads, dams, and water treatment facilities. The curriculum typically emphasizes mathematics and physics, along with engineering principles and design.

Most programs take four years to complete and require about 120 credits. In addition to coursework, many programs also include an internship, which gives students the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Some programs also require a capstone project.

Prospective students should be aware that civil engineering is a highly competitive field. In order to be successful, students need to have strong problem-solving skills and be able to work well in teams. They should also be comfortable with using technology, as many civil engineering projects are now designed using computer-aided software.

Common Civil Engineering Courses

The courses you’ll take for a civil engineering degree will depend on the program and school you attend. However, many civil engineering programs include the following courses.

Thermodynamics

This course covers the principles of energy and its transformation. Topics include the first and second laws of thermodynamics, properties of pure substances, energy analysis of closed and open systems, and an introduction to thermodynamic cycles. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the first and second laws of thermodynamics to closed and open systems, and analyze energy transfer and transformations.

Calculus

This course covers the study of limits, continuity, derivatives, integrals, and infinite series. Emphasis is placed on the applications of the derivative and integral to problems in physics and engineering. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the concepts of limits, continuity, derivatives, and integrals to solve problems in physics and engineering.

Hydraulic Engineering

This course covers the basic principles of fluid mechanics as applied to the design of hydraulic systems. Emphasis is placed on the application of Bernoulli’s equation, energy and momentum equations, and the concept of potential flow to the analysis of piping systems, open-channel flow, and unsteady flow. Laboratory experiments are used to supplement the lecture material. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the basic principles of fluid mechanics to the analysis and design of piping systems, open-channel flow, and unsteady flow.

Uncertainty and Decision Analysis

This course covers the application of statistical and probabilistic methods to civil engineering problems involving uncertainty. Topics include decision analysis, statistical methods, probability theory, random variables, random processes, and Monte Carlo simulation. Upon completion, students should be able to apply statistical and probabilistic methods to civil engineering problems, and use decision analysis to make engineering decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Engineering Professionalism

This course covers the ethical, legal, and social responsibilities of civil engineers, as well as the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. Topics include the role of the engineer in society, the history of the profession, the licensure process, professional practice, codes of ethics, sustainable development, and the impact of engineering solutions on quality of life. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of engineering ethics to real-world scenarios, understand the role of civil engineers in society and the importance of professional responsibility, and develop an understanding of the impact of engineering solutions on the environment and society.

Career Options for Civil Engineering Graduates

Graduates of civil engineering programs work in a variety of industries, including construction, consulting, and government. They may also work in fields such as project management, environmental engineering, and transportation engineering.

Structural Engineer

Structural engineers are responsible for the design and analysis of structures—such as buildings, bridges, and tunnels—to ensure they are safe and sound. The job entails understanding and applying principles of physics and mechanics to the design of structures; conducting calculations to determine loads, stresses, and strains; and using computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and drawings. Structural engineers typically work in engineering firms, but they may also work in the construction industry, for government agencies, or for architectural firms.

Construction Manager

Construction managers are responsible for overseeing and coordinating construction projects. They work with a team of workers, including carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, ironworkers, and operating engineers, to get the job done. Construction managers typically have a background in construction, engineering, or architecture.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects and systems, including roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, airports, and water and sewage systems. They typically work for government agencies or engineering firms and are involved in every stage of a project, from initial planning to overseeing construction and ensuring that the finished product meets all safety and quality standards. Civil engineers must be licensed in order to practice, and licensure typically requires a degree from an accredited engineering program and passing scores on two exams.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers work to find ways to protect people from the effects of environmental hazards and to clean up and restore the natural environment. They may work on issues such as air pollution, water pollution, solid waste management, and recycling. Environmental engineers may also work on issues related to public health, such as the spread of diseases.

Transportation Engineer

Transportation engineers are responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure—such as roads, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems. They typically work for state or local governments, engineering firms, or construction companies. Transportation engineers must have a strong understanding of physics, mathematics, and engineering principles, as well as the ability to use specialized software to create models and simulations. In some cases, transportation engineers may also be responsible for managing construction projects or overseeing the work of other engineers.

Insights From a Civil Engineering Graduate

Cristofer Hays is a civil engineer at AECOM. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Cristofer has over 10 years of experience in civil engineering.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Civil Engineering degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Cristofer Hays: I think the most important thing I did was to get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible. I was involved in the ASCE Student Chapter, the Concrete Canoe Team, and the Steel Bridge Team. These activities gave me the opportunity to apply what I was learning in the classroom to real-world projects. They also helped me develop important teamwork and leadership skills.

In addition, I made sure to take advantage of the career services offered by my university. I attended career fairs and networking events, and I met with a career counselor to help me develop my job search strategy.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in a Civil Engineering career?

Cristofer Hays: A successful civil engineer is someone who is able to take on a variety of tasks and responsibilities. They need to be able to work with a team of engineers, architects, and construction workers. They need to be able to communicate effectively and be able to solve problems.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Cristofer Hays: The most challenging course I took was hydraulics. It was difficult because it was a very theoretical course with a lot of equations and very little practical applications. My advice to students who are about to take this course is to make sure you are comfortable with math and physics. If you are not, I would recommend taking a review course or getting a tutor.

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