Best Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degree Programs

Oct 20, 2021

Civil Engineering Degrees

Civil Engineering is the discipline of engineering that covers the construction and design of roads, bridges, dams, utility networks, and other types of infrastructure. Civil engineers and the projects they oversee are an absolutely essential part of modern life and a degree in civil engineering prepares students for the varied challenges and opportunities of the field.

Civil engineering is closely tied to construction and environmental engineering, with substantial overlap between the fields.

Top Bachelor's Degree Programs in Civil Engineering

1. Virginia Military Institute

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19118 60% 79% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

2. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10770 77% 49% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

3. Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12620 75% 74% 87% Yes Yes AP Credits

4. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10575 79% 66% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. Morgan State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8009 68% 43% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

6. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7623 85% 56% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits

7. Michigan Technological University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$17134 74% 70% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

8. New Jersey Institute of Technology

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$17674 73% 67% 92% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

9. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7396 55% 69% 78% Yes Yes AP Credits

10. Montana Technological University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7431 91% 54% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

11. University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14156 79% 57% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

12. Oregon Institute of Technology

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10485 97% 46% 78% Yes Yes AP Credits

13. North Dakota State University-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9619 94% 60% 90% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

14. Colorado School of Mines

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19062 53% 83% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

15. SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8503 69% 57% 96% No Yes AP Credits

16. University of Maine

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11438 90% 57% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

17. Montana State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7325 82% 57% 85% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

18. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9943 28% 82% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

19. University of Minnesota-Duluth

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13680 75% 62% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

20. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8156 80% 50% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

21. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13691 70% 86% 65% Yes Yes AP Credits

22. Iowa State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9320 92% 74% 90% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

23. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11962 75% 68% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

24. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18879 84% 76% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

25. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9366 78% 66% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

26. South Dakota State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9114 90% 56% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

27. Tennessee Technological University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8934 79% 54% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

28. Rowan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14000 74% 73% 86% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

29. Texas A & M University-Kingsville

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9136 77% 39% 88% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

30. University at Buffalo

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10524 61% 75% 84% Yes Yes AP Credits

31. University of Nevada-Reno

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8184 88% 61% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

32. Washington State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11841 76% 60% 89% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

33. Auburn University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11492 81% 79% 72% Yes Yes AP Credits

34. University of Wyoming

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$4747 96% 60% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

35. California State University-Sacramento

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7368 82% 55% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

36. CUNY City College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7340 46% 56% 87% Yes Yes AP Credits

37. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15648 73% 66% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

38. University of Kentucky

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12360 96% 66% 94% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

39. The University of Alabama

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10780 83% 71% 79% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

40. University of Alabama in Huntsville

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11122 83% 58% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

41. California State University-Chico

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7806 72% 67% 76% Yes Yes AP Credits

42. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9656 82% 48% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

43. University of Idaho

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8304 78% 56% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

44. Clemson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15558 51% 84% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

45. Oregon State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11715 82% 67% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

46. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9101 45% 82% 68% Yes Yes AP Credits

47. Purdue University-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9992 60% 82% 65% Yes Yes AP Credits

48. Mississippi State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8910 54% 61% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

49. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11901 81% 70% 79% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

50. West Virginia University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8976 84% 61% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

What Kinds of Civil Engineering Degrees Are There?

Civil engineering degrees exist at all levels, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees. Many universities also offer certificate programs for specialized study. Explore each of these degree options below.

Associate Degrees in Civil Engineering

There are a limited number of associate degrees in civil engineering, however, there are many in engineering. Associate in Engineering degrees are designed to provide the basic skills, training, and prerequisites for more intensive bachelor's level study. Offered by community and technical colleges, these degrees provide students with credits and courses that can be transferred to a bachelor's degree at a reduced cost. An associate degree also qualifies a student to work as a civil engineering technician, supporting the work of civil engineers.

Bachelor's Degrees in Civil Engineering

A Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering is generally a requirement for an entry-level position in civil engineering. The goal of a bachelor's degree program in civil engineering is to prepare students for careers as civil engineers by teaching them how to solve engineering problems through the application of science, mathematics, and engineering principles. Students study topics including hydraulics, structural design, physics, computer programming, and more. Within civil engineering programs, students may have the option of choosing a concentration or specialization to focus their studies on a particular area of interest, such as hydraulic engineering, structural engineering, or environmental engineering.

Most bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering begin students with a general first-year engineering curriculum. This is a basic introduction to the essential prerequisite skills for completing an engineering program, such as calculus, laboratory science courses, and communications courses. This is designed to give students an opportunity to experiment with different engineering disciplines prior to deciding on their field of study. Completion of this first-year curriculum with a satisfactory GPA is a requirement for further study within the program.

Master's Degrees in Civil Engineering

A Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree is the next level of study open to students after completing their bachelor's degrees. Lasting 1.5 to 2 years these programs offer more in-depth and rigorous training to build on the skills learned in a bachelor's program. They typically require students to select a specific track or concentration in order to focus their studies effectively. Students may have the opportunity to pursue their own individual research by completing a master's thesis. Some programs offer students the opportunity to fund their graduate studies through research or teaching assistantships.

Doctoral Degrees in Civil Engineering

Doctoral degrees in civil engineering may be either Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Engineering Science degrees. These degrees are designed for students who already possess a master's degree or substantial experience in the field. They emphasize research and professional development, as students are required to complete a research dissertation as well as coursework within their specialization of choice. A Ph.D. in civil engineering can open up career opportunities in research, academia, and higher levels of engineering management.

Certificates in Civil Engineering

Certificates in civil engineering are generally designed for active professionals in the field. These programs allow civil engineers to keep up to date with ongoing developments in the field, or to develop more specialized skills in a particular aspect of the field. These can include programs like Graduate Certificate in Structural Engineering, a Graduate Certificate in Geotechnical Engineering, or a Graduate Certificate in Performance Based Earthquake Engineering. Certificate programs in civil engineering exist in both on-campus and online formats.

Civil Engineering Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Civil engineering is a broad and complex field, so most civil engineering bachelor's programs offer a variety of concentrations to allow students to specialize and tailor their education to suit their interests and career goals. Explore common degree concentrations below:

  • Structural Engineering

Structural engineering is the study and analysis of structures such as buildings, dams, and bridges. Structural engineers answer questions such as: how well will this bridge support the weight of traffic? Will this skyscraper withstand high winds? They test and determine the stability and longevity of these structures and projects.

  • Construction Engineering:

Construction engineering combines design, management, and planning to apply the principles of engineering in real-world settings. Construction engineers work on projects to design and build airports, roads, buildings, and subway systems.

  • Transportation Engineering

Transportation engineering, sometimes called transportation systems or infrastructure engineering, deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of transportation networks. These can include railroads, highways, bridges, or airports. Transportation engineers study how to effectively design and build these projects to ensure safety, efficiency, and longevity.

What are the Prerequisites for a Civil Engineering Bachelor's Degree?

Students interested in a degree in civil engineering should optimize their high school education with courses in science, mathematics, and technology, as these form the basic curriculum for a bachelor's degree in the field. They should also maximize their ACT/SAT scores in mathematics and science. For most civil engineering programs students must first apply to complete a general application at the university level, then, after completing a first-year engineering curriculum, they may apply for admission to the engineering program itself. Students must meet a department's criteria in order to be eligible for the program application. These criteria can include completing certain required courses and maintaining a required GPA level, depending on the program.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering

The curriculum for a bachelor's degree in civil engineering covers a range of topics that provide the essential skills to work in the field. The curriculum is typically divided between general required courses that provide the basic skills needed to succeed and courses focused on a student's specific concentration or specialization, as well as general education courses to provide a well-rounded educational experience. Typical topics covered may include calculus, physics, chemistry, composition and communications, structural mechanics, and hydraulics. Laboratory and practical coursework are an essential aspect of engineering instruction, supplemented with lecture and seminar programs.

Most bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering begin with a first-year engineering curriculum. This is a required set of courses that introduce students to a range of disciplines and engineering skill areas, giving students the opportunity to decide which type of engineering they are interested in, such as aerospace, nuclear, or civil engineering. The transition from the first-year program to a student's area of focus in some cases requires a second application to their program of choice within a university's college of engineering.

Some universities offer students the opportunity to pursue undergraduate research, guided by a member of the faculty. This can provide students with an opportunity to learn the intricacies of conducting their own research as well as gain valuable experience and networking with practitioners in the field.

Students may also have the opportunity to pursue a double major in civil engineering and architecture. Civil engineering and architecture are related fields, with many similarities, but it is important to know the difference between a civil engineer and an architect.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering?

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. These degrees can require more than 132 credit hours of coursework. Students can shorten the length of their study by completing summer classes, or by utilizing transfer credits from an associate degree to finish prerequisite or general education requirements.

Some universities offer combined BS/MS degree programs, allowing students to take graduate-level courses while completing their bachelor's degrees. This can extend the length of a bachelor's program to five years; however, it allows a student to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously, thus shortening the overall course of study.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degrees

Accreditation is an important measure of the quality and reliability of a university's programs and degrees. Accreditation is especially important in civil engineering due to the responsibilities of the field. Civil engineers are accountable for the security, reliability, and safety of the projects they plan and oversee. The accreditation of engineering programs is the responsibility of the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accredits universities and programs around the world, ensuring that they meet a rigorous standard of excellence and professionalism in the field.

In order to receive federal aid, a student must be enrolled in a regionally or nationally accredited university and program.

Civil Engineering Licensure & Certification

A professional engineering license is required for civil engineering positions above the entry-level. Professional Engineers (PEs) are the only individuals allowed to submit plans and projects to government agencies and offices for approval. The requirements for receiving a PE license vary from state to state, however, they typically require a bachelor's degree from an ABET accredited university, passing several examinations, and several years of work under the direction of an already licensed PE. At the national level, state civil engineering licensure boards are organized into the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

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

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering provides a range of careers. Civil engineers work in both the private and public sectors. They work for local, county, state, and federal governments. They work with construction firms, as contractors, designers, and project managers. In order to advance beyond the entry-level, civil engineers require substantial work experience, a graduate degree, and/or professional licensure.

How to Become a Structural Engineer

Median Salary $69,525*
Job Growth 2%**

Sources; *Payscale.com, **Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Structural engineers practice a specialized form of civil engineering, focused on the design and construction of various infrastructures. Structural engineers work closely with construction professionals on projects including roadways, bridges, sewage and utility systems, and others. Structural engineers prepare plans, ensure projects meet environmental and safety standards and oversee inspections and upkeep of various structures. They may work for local, state, or federal governments, contractors, and other companies.

A bachelor's degree from an ABET accredited university is required for entry-level positions as a structural engineer while a graduate degree can open up opportunities for advancement to management positions.

How to Become a Hydraulic Engineer

Median Salary $70,421*
Job Growth 2%**

Sources; *Payscale.com, **BLS

Hydraulic engineers are specialized civil engineers whose work involves the flow of water and other liquids. They may work on dams, bridges, hydroelectric powerplants, or sewage systems. Their work may overlap with the work of structural and mechanical engineers.

The first step towards working as a hydraulic engineer is to earn a bachelor's degree in civil engineering with a hydraulic engineering concentration from an ABET accredited program. Like other forms of civil engineering hydraulic engineering requires, math, problem-solving, and organization skills. Earning a Professional Engineering license or a graduate degree can open up opportunities for advancement to higher-level positions.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degrees

There is a wide range of financial aid and scholarship options open to students who wish to pursue a degree in civil engineering. These include student loans, work-study programs, and scholarships.

Federal student aid includes loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. The first step in the federal student aid process is to complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application utilizes income tax information to determine student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.

Universities typically offer both need and merit based scholarships and grants. Universities also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for need-based scholarships. These can typically be found on a university's financial aid page on its website.

Other possible sources for financial aid include third-party organizations such as the American Society for Engineering Education, which provides students with the opportunity to apply for fellowships, grants, scholarships, and internships.

Professional Organizations in Civil Engineering

The NSPE provides its members with ongoing education opportunities, professional networking, job boards, and a community of like-minded professionals in the field.

The ASCE offers members access to a global network of fellow professionals, as well as learning opportunities, conferences, and job boards. The ASCE also publishes a number of academic journals, including the 'Journal of Civil Engineering Education', the 'Journal of Construction Engineering and Management', and the 'Journal of Engineering Mechanics'.

The ASEE is a non-profit that promotes education in engineering and engineering technology. They provide resources and support for engineering educators and researchers around the country through fellowships, publications, conferences, and professional networks.

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