Prepare to Tackle Tomorrow’s Water Challenges with a Civil Engineering Master’s Degree
Meghan Brown posted on August 12, 2019 |

School: Colorado State University

Program:  Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering

Description:   Today’s civil engineers face the challenge of building and maintaining a sustainable infrastructure.  One of our most critical resources is water, and the focus of this civil engineering master’s program prepares you to tackle the evolving water-related concerns facing future generations, including hydrology, infrastructure management, Geographic Information Systems, and environmental monitoring.  Students graduate with the skills to leverage engineering concepts and computer technology to create a more sustainable infrastructure for generations to come.

Where is it:  Online or Fort Collins, Colorado

Format: Online and On-campus

Degree earned: Master of Engineering

Size of the Program: Approximately 45 distance students currently enrolled in the degree program

Credit hours: 30 credits required

Thesis: Not required

Capstone project: Not required

How long will the program take? 1.5 to 2 years at full-time enrollment (9 credits per semester).  4 to 5 years at part-time enrollment.

When to apply: Application deadlines are May 1 for the fall semester, and October 15 for the spring semester.

Tuition: $964 per credit. 

Prerequisites:

  • B.S. in Engineering, or a closely related discipline.  Students with a related non-engineering undergraduate degree would be required to take additional background courses, to be arranged with the department.
  • 3.0 GPA in undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.  Exceptions may be made for students with 5 years of work experience and who have passed the PE exam.

Minimum Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts: Yes, official transcripts
  • TOEFL/IELTS: Yes, minimum score 80
  • Essay/Statement of Purpose: Yes
  • Resume: Yes, no minimum years of work experience
  • Letters of Reference: Yes, 3 letters required
  • GRE: Not required. Exception is for applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0, who may be required to submit GRE scores.

Who should take this course?

  • Civil engineers who wish to focus their education and career on water resource engineering and management, including “green” positions in environmental and sustainability areas.
  • Working professionals who want to further their careers with industrial firms, governmental agencies or private practice.

Claim to fame:

  • Colorado State University is a leader in water-related issues research and practice, and one of the few institutions providing an online master’s degree in civil engineering with a focus on water resources engineering and management.

(Image courtesy of Colorado State University.)
(Image courtesy of Colorado State University.)

Infrastructure is crucial – between the need for new infrastructure to support a growing population, and repairing or replacing the infrastructure that already exists.  The last two or three decades have seen a much greater need for sustainability in infrastructure, to help maintain and protect critical environmental resources – especially water.

Sustainability is a growing focus of most engineering disciplines, and civil engineers in particular need advanced knowledge to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to serve our communities while protecting and managing their water resources.  Some of the highest demand is for civil engineers with a focused skill set in water resource engineering and management.  This is the unique spin that Colorado State University Online offers with it’s civil engineering master’s degree program, which features a strong focus on water infrastructure and the issues surrounding water resources engineering and management.

Civil engineers pursuing this master’s degree through CSU Online will develop the essential knowledge and skills in topic areas such as:

  • Hydrology
  • Water Resources
  • Water Control and Management
  • Infrastructure and Utility Management
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Sustainability

Students will also learn about the most recent industry research, ensuring that graduates are prepared to tackle changing water resource concerns and infrastructure-related issues right out of the gate.

Further Your Civil Engineering Career with a Master’s from CSU

CSU’s Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering is designed to help working engineering professionals enhance their expertise, particularly in the areas involved in water resource engineering.

“Engineers who want to further their careers with industrial firms and governmental agencies, or those who want to pursue a career in private practice, should consider this degree,” said Laurie Alburn, academic advisor for the civil engineering program at CSU. 

“We offer the online Master of Engineering as a 30-credit, coursework-only program,” Alburn added.  The Master of Engineering degree is intended as a terminal degree, for students planning to remain or return to the working world, rather than those planning to pursue a Ph.D.

Alburn points out that most employers don’t differentiate between a M. S. degree and an M. Eng. degree when it comes to their employees.  However, “many employers do encourage the M. Eng. degree program, as it’s focused on courses related to the work their employees will be doing.”

Having an advanced degree in civil engineering from CSU will help students become more environmentally educated engineers. This opens career opportunities in “green” and sustainability-focused fields, particularly in water-related areas such as water purification, flow management, containment and transport.

Consulting and industrial firms, government agencies and the military are top employers seeking engineers with the strong civil and water management knowledge that CSU develops in its graduates.

Online Learning with Colorado State University

Since the online civil engineering program is intended for working professionals, it’s designed with flexibility in mind.  Access to all course content, including lectures, readings and tests, is available through the Canvas online learning management system.  This enables students to learn and study at the time that is most convenient for them to accommodate their schedule and lifestyle.

(Image courtesy of Colorado State University Online.)
(Image courtesy of Colorado State University Online.)

“The online courses are a recorded version of our on-campus courses, so there is no difference in the courses and coursework,” said Alburn.  “This makes the quality of our online degrees the same quality as our on-campus degrees.”

Students have the option of attending live lectures “synchronously” through the Canvas platform, or “asynchronously” at a later time that better suits their schedule. The Canvas platform also enables students to communicate and interact with both their professors and with other students during and outside of the classroom lecture. Communication options include live chat rooms, video calls and conferencing, threaded discussion boards and email.  This makes it easy for students to collaborate on projects, exchange ideas and study or complete assignments.

“For students who are working full-time, we generally recommend one class a semester,” said Alburn.  “Once a student figures out the time commitment, they may be able to manage two classes a semester.”  For students who have been away from school for quite some time, CSU recommends taking only one or two courses per semester regardless of whether or not they are working full-time.  Students can expect to spend around nine to twelve hours per week on studying and coursework for a three-credit course, depending on their learning and studying style.

Students are also strongly encouraged to make use of the resources CSU offers, including faculty office hours available through phone or video call, graduate student office hours and online resources. 

CSU’s Master’s degree in civil engineering program is always evolving to stay current with the needs of industry, and to ensure that graduates have the right skills.  “We plan to add more graduate-level Civil Engineering water resources classes,” said Alburn.  “Plus, faculty are continually working to improve their courses and use the most up-to-date material.”

This means students studying civil engineering at CSU will have the opportunity to learn about innovative research projects, such as the following:

  • NOAA-sponsored research into geospatial analysis of the impacts of California’s mandated environmental flow requirements for endangered fish species in the Russian River Basin, while sustaining the valuable viticulture industry in the basin.
  • USDA-supported research on improving water quality and productivity in irrigated river basins through the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence methods.
  • Case studies of complex water resource system problems, aging pipeline infrastructure, and emerging issues in water finance, law and policy.
(Image courtesy of Colorado State University Online.)
(Image courtesy of Colorado State University Online.)

Curriculum and Course Options

Admission requirements for CSU’s civil engineering master’s degree program start with a B.S. degree in Engineering, or a closely related discipline with the understanding that students with a non-engineering undergraduate degree will be required to take additional background courses to ensure they have the foundation for the advanced degree.

Since the online civil engineering program already focuses on water resource engineering, there are no specific required core courses.  Students must take 30 credits of coursework, selected from the list of courses offered by the program.  With approval from their faculty advisor, students can also select courses from outside the civil and environmental engineering program.  This gives students some flexibility to tailor their degree to suit the needs of their current and future career goals.

  • CIVE 502 – Fluid Mechanics (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 512 – Irrigation Systems Design (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 519 – Irrigation Water Management (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 520 – Physical Hydrology (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 540 – Advanced Biological Wastewater Processing (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 544 – Water Resources Planning and Management (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 549 – Drainage and Wetland Engineering (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 571 – Pipe System Engineering and Hydraulics (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 574 – Civil Engineering Project Management (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 575 – Sustainable Water and Waste Management (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 576 – Engineering Applications of GIS and GPS (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 577 – GIS in Civil and Environmental Engineering (3 cr.)
  • CIVE 578 – Infrastructure and Utility Management (3 cr.)
  • ENGR 510 – Engineering Optimization: Method/Application (3 cr.)
  • ENGR 520 – Engineering Decision Support/Expert Systems (3 cr.)
  • ENGR 550 – Numerical Methods in Science and Engineering (3 cr.)


Interested in a Master's degree in Civil Engineering?  Check out our Graduate Degree Finder Tool.


Colorado State University Online has sponsored this post.  All opinions are mine.  –Meghan Brown

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