Civil engineering is considered one of the oldest engineering disciplines in the United States and can lead to many different careers. Civil engineers are responsible for some of the most unique structures in the world. Just think of the Panama Canal, the Three Gorges Dam spanning China's Yangtze River, or the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building that stands in the United Arab Emirates. If you want to pursue great heights in your career, consider what an education in civil engineering can do for you.
Featured Online Colleges for Civil Engineering in 2018-19
To help aspiring civil engineers pursue their passion, we've compiled this list, featuring 10 excellent colleges offering online civil engineering degree programs. This list was compiled using data that was provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and analyzed with our unique methodology. Details on our methodology are at the bottom of the page; in the interim, please enjoy our list of featured online colleges for civil engineering.
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
The University of Texas at Tyler
University of Idaho
Mississippi State University
Kansas State University
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Ohio University-Main Campus
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
University of Florida
Degree Overview: Civil Engineering
From airports to tunnels, from bridges to water treatment plants, the work of civil engineers helps keep our world moving. Being adequately educated is very important for earning a career in a field as competitive and intensive as engineering, but those same qualities can also make plunging into an engineering program rather intimidating if you don't know what you're getting into. This section provides a snapshot of what kind of courses a student might encounter in a civil engineering degree program, as well as some of the skills such a program might teach.
Online Civil Engineering Courses
Those who pursue an associate degree in civil engineering should find their courses preparing them for many entry-level positions in the field, including that of drafter or civil engineering technician. An associate-level degree program generally takes two years to complete and consists of introductory civil engineering courses. Some examples that might be available at your school include:
- Orientation to Engineering and Technologies
- Fundamentals of Building Construction
- Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics
Online bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering take between four to six years to complete and are designed to prepare students for work as a civil engineer. A bachelor's degree in civil engineering typically starts with the basics, as in an associate program, but then progresses to more advanced concepts as the program continues. Here are a few examples of some of the courses students may see at the bachelor's level:
- Introduction to Rail Transportation
- Electricity, Magnetism and Fluids
- Water Resource Engineering
- Construction Scheduling
Those who pursue an online master's degree usually take anywhere between two and three years to complete their studies. At this point most are fully engaged in professional work and have some kind of idea of where they want their career to go; therefore, master's degree programs will usually offer a wealth of concentrations to help students master the knowledge that is most relevant to their needs. Some of the most commonly offered concentrations include:
- Construction engineering and management
- Forensic structural engineering
- Infrastructure materials
- Water control and management
This focus on specific areas of expertise carries over to the doctoral degree programs, as well as graduate certificates, both of which involve students taking narrowly-targeted courses to enhance their education and skills in their chosen area of engineering. Concentrations available at the terminal degree level might include:
- Structural and earthquake engineering
- Transportation systems
- Sustainable design and construction
- Computational engineering mechanics
Career-Related Skills to Develop
As individuals work their way through online programs in civil engineering, they can learn quite a lot about various skills they might be called upon to use in their careers. Most apparent would be the teaching of math and writing skills, which civil engineers must use constantly in order to convey needs, requirements and instructions to others. However, those math and writing assignments are also teaching students some other important skills: assignments are excellent practice for organizational skills and time-management skills that engineers use to keep all the different parts of their projects organized and proceeding according to schedule. Otherwise, how would anything ever get done?
Leadership skills are also very important, especially as a civil engineer rises in the ranks of the field and is expected to use their experience to take a more prominent role in projects — just as a more experienced student might be called upon to lead a group project in class. Understanding leadership also comes with understanding of certain other skills, such as delegating responsibilities to others in order to complete work efficiently and making decisions based on factors such as conflicting budgets, deadlines and safety concerns. All of these skills work together to help a civil engineer succeed at their projects and, by extension, their careers.
Civil Engineering Career Outlook
A prestigious and well-paying field, civil engineering is ripe with potential for creative people who also want to leave a lasting mark on society. The careers in this field tend to be competitive, so if you hope to earn one, it's best to get started early and work hard to stand out from the crowd.
Civil engineers are the masterminds behind structures like bridges, tunnels, dams and even roads high up on mountainsides. Transportation would be a dramatically different picture without the civil engineers who design the functional, but safe structures that help people get to where they are going. Their work is like an art form in which materials such as asphalt, concrete or steel are designed into something beautiful and functional.
Civil engineer careers require commitment and smarts. A bachelor's degree is necessary and is usually followed by some form of graduate education. Reflecting their commitment to the job, some civil engineers work more than 40 hours a week. Frequently, employment is found with private firms, although federal, state and county agencies also provide a significant source of jobs.
Strong decision-making skills are a must for anyone thinking about pursuing an architectural and engineering manager career. These professional managers may oversee and direct projects at a firm, government agency or science institute, and they regularly make decisions about budgets, staff and best practices.
Architectural and engineering managers are pioneers in their field, often taking a lead role on a new project or being the first to implement a new design or process. Communication, analysis and organization skills are important for people interested in these management roles. A bachelor's degree is required for the field, while a master's degree in engineering management or technology management degree could be a valuable follow-up option.