Masters in Civil Engineering

Globalization has become synonymous with development. Development requires better infrastructure and infrastructural expansion requires Civil Engineers. It is impossible to think of a bustling city or a flourishing economy that does not have outstanding civil engineering as the backbone of its infrastructure.

Mega infrastructure projects are increasingly becoming common in the developing world as well. Besides, it is the challenge of environment-friendly, energy-efficient and ergonomic designs that have sustained the demand for quality civil engineers across the globe. The employment of civil engineers in the US alone is projected to grow at around 11% until 2026. Canada, Europe, Japan, India, and China would also be some of the leading employment locations for civil engineers in the coming decades. A degree from one of the top universities for Masters in Civil Engineering could mean a real career boost for the promising civil engineers. Hands-on experience with the latest technology and software and industry exposure to meet international engineering standards mean an edge over the rest. Above that, the good news is that there are ample student loans and options of getting a scholarship for Master’s in Civil Engineering.

According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), a civil engineer is responsible for improving and maintaining the quality of the built environment such that the quality of life of present and future generations is enhanced. However, a civil engineer with a master’s degree is expected to also engage actively in the planning of projects and overseeing their construction. Buildings, skyscrapers, roads, highways, bridges, railways, metros, and airports are some of the key projects that demand civil engineers for their design, construction, and upkeep.

What does a Master’s in Civil Engineering course offer?

The scope of Master’s in Civil Engineering is really wide even without a specialization, thanks to its encompassing course structure. It constitutes the following:
Structures: The focus is on advanced concrete and steel structures.
Construction: It involves the methods employed and equipment required in construction. The functions of a constructor are also covered, besides, budgeting and planning.
Transportation: It introduces principles of Transportation Engineering. The emphasis is on the design of transportation facilities and traffic engineering and management.
Geotechnics: This includes an introduction to Foundation Design and design of earth structures.
Water and Environment: In this area of study, students get to learn about designs of water supply systems and drainage systems. They get introduced to Ocean Engineering. They can learn to appreciate the relationship between energy and environment and air quality management.

The emphasis on each area might vary depending upon what components the university offers or the choices made by the student. However, all masters in civil engineering best universities focus on training engineers in eco-friendly designs and encourage them to take climate change into account. Many universities lay special focus on engineering for Public Works.

Where to Study Master’s in Civil Engineering?

According to the QS World University Rankings for 2019, 2 out of the top 3 universities for civil engineering are in the United States. Besides the US, Singapore is the best country for Master’s in Civil Engineering. In Europe, England is the best country to do a Master's in Civil Engineering, however, the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland can also be great options.

What is the Eligibility for a Master’s in Civil Engineering?

Students should consider the following three academic eligibility criteria for pursuing a Master’s in Civil Engineering from a top-notch university. Please note that these are the three most common eligibility criteria. Neither are they applicable to all universities nor they may be all the criteria necessary for admission to a course.

  • IELTS and TOEFL - Since most of the top institutions for Civil Engineering are located either in the English speaking world or offer instruction in English, TOEFL and IELTS scores assume great importance. Candidates should check the minimum score required for applying or admission to a course. It may vary depending upon university, department, and course.

  • GRE - GRE scores lend weight to the application and have a bearing on the selection procedure. Some universities consider the cumulative GRE score. Others might plug the Verbal, Quantitative and Writing scores into a formulae or place differential emphasis on sectional GRE scores while ignoring a particular score. GRE scores could allow your application to be accepted or give you an edge over other applicants during the final selection. It is important to note that GRE Subject Test scores in Physics and Mathematics can also give you an advantage over your competitors.

  • Bachelor’s Degree Requirements - Bachelor’s degree in Science is the most important requirement for admission to a Master’s in Civil Engineering in a reputed institution. However, merely an undergraduate science degree might not be enough. Best institutions would prefer candidates that have a background in Engineering and more particularly in Civil Engineering or a closely related field at the undergraduate level. The GPA score of the Bachelor’s course could be taken into account to accept an application or grant admission. Of course, relevant industry experience counts too!

The following civil engineering specializations are in vogue with high demand in the skill-market:

1. Construction Management

This course brings together the best of the worlds of business and technology to address the larger problems that surface as the construction projects are undertaken and during their progress. Even though students get a chance to deepen their knowledge of technical aspects of civil engineering, it is the management of large-scale infrastructure projects, public policy, sustainability, economic and environmental efficiency, logistics and judicious use of resources that lay at the heart of this course.

  • Course Components - Project management, financial planning, strategic issues in Construction Management and Sustainable Construction are the chief course components. Use of IT tools and Building Information Modeling for smarter Construction Management through fiscal control, production rate forecasting and risk management are also focused upon. On the technical side, students are expected to choose a definite number of modules from the general civil engineering course structure.
  • Road Ahead - Civil engineers with a specialization in Construction Management find employment as Building Surveyors, Estate Managers, Sustainability Consultants, Site Engineers, Facilities Managers, and Geotechnical Engineers.

2. Geological Engineering

Geological Engineers are trained to study and solve problems associated with civil engineering projects through the application of geology. Some common tasks of geological engineers include groundwater resource assessment, site selection for civil engineering projects, environmental impact analysis and assessments for prudent use of minerals. Geological engineers usually work in close coordination with other specialist and non-specialist civil engineers. Their work is fundamental to civil engineering projects.

  • Course Components - Geological engineering design, Working with Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems and their applications, Soil Mechanics, Geologic Field Methods, Environmental risk assessment, Remediation of groundwater, Advanced environmental engineering techniques for mining, Subsurface Hydrology, Introduction to Rock Engineering, Renewable Energy, Properties and utility of aggregates, Hazardous Waste Management, Numerical techniques for subsurface flows, Working with Ground Penetrating Radar and surface waves, Advanced Geotechnics, analyzing and preventing landslides.
  • Road Ahead - With a Master’s degree in Geological Engineering, one can find employment as a Mining Engineer, Mining Safety Engineer, Geoscientist, Petroleum Engineer, Hydrologist, Environmental Engineer and, Health and Safety Specialist.

3. Structural Engineering

It is one of the conventional civil engineering specializations but has hardly ever been out of demand. It is the design-focused aspect of civil engineering that is concerned with the study of the impact of force on materials. It involves the analysis of how structures behave under service and environmental loads. The static and dynamic impact of loads is focused on. Computations are at the centre of analytical techniques taught in this course.

  • Course Components - The essential modules in the course shall be Advanced structural analysis, Advanced engineering materials, Geo-environmental planning, Concrete, Steel and Composites design, Seismic Analysis, Bridge Engineering, Finite Element Analysis, Timber and Masonry Design, Structural reliability and risk assessment, Sustainable built environments, Introduction to Earthquake Engineering and earthquake-resistant design, and Random vibrations.
  • Road Ahead - Structural engineers can easily find jobs in organizations that require Construction Engineers, Bridge Engineers, Highway Engineers, Structural Designers, Sustainability consultants, Infrastructural Project Managers, and Structural Analysts among others.

4. Infrastructure Engineering

This specialization track in master’s in civil engineering is aimed at maintenance, improvement, and longevity of civil infrastructure. Students will be trained to analyze and maintain transport, water, and building infrastructure under the local, state or national governments. Engineers learn to work with infrastructure projects such as dams, roads, and highways, canal systems and pipelines, railways, bridges and tunnels, etc. Improving the quality of soil to support the pressure of structures, geometrics, design of transportation facilities, prevention of excessive settlement and structural stability are some of the focus areas within infrastructure engineering.

  • Course Components - Infrastructure modelling, and risk and uncertainty assessment are the core concerns of infrastructure engineering. It also covers Pavement Design, Soil Behaviour, Dynamic Soil Analysis, Mechanics of Materials, Foundations, Highway Materials, Site Improvement, Urban Transport Systems, Resilience Analysis, Spatial Analysis, Disaster Management, Waste Management, Water Resources Systems, Design and Analysis, Advanced Geographic Information Systems, Sensors and Statistical methods and Probability.
  • Road Ahead - With a master’s in Infrastructure Engineering from a reputed university, one would be able to work with the leading public and private sector organizations across the globe. The main job positions for this area of specialization include Infrastructure Analyst, Infrastructure Architect, Tunnel Engineer, Infrastructure Planning Engineer, Infrastructure Consultant, etc.

5. Transportation Planning and Engineering

It involves the planning, construction, and maintenance of transportation systems. The impact of transportation systems on the environment is one of the central concerns of this course. The focus in on identifying, analyzing and finding solutions to the main problems in the transportation of goods and people. Traffic Management, Road Safety, Public Transport Planning and Maintenance, Road Geometry, Transportation Infrastructure, and System dynamics are some of the key concerns of the course.

  • Course Components - A Master’s in Transportation and Engineering shall include modules on Traffic Engineering Design, Transport Economics, Transport Modeling, Traffic Network Modeling, Transport Demand Management, Railway Signaling and Control, Transport Safety Planning, Integrated Transport Networks, Data Collection and Analysis, Building Sustainable Transport Systems, Public Transport Modeling, and Transport Policy.
  • Road Ahead - With a specialization in Transportation Planning and Engineering at the graduate level, one can work as Highway Engineer, Airport Engineer, Railway Construction Engineer, Transportation Coordinator, Transportation Planner, Transport Logistics Manager, Transport System Designer, and Transport Policy Consultant, etc.

Global Rank

College Name Popularity Rank Global Rank Total Tuition Fees Deadline Annual RA+TA Unsecured Loan Offer Secured Loan Offer
University of California, Berkeley 1 27 29700 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2 69 68660 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Stanford University 3 2 108030 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
The University of Texas at Arlington 4 NA 38072 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Texas A&M University 5 195 67333 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 6 367 53648 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Carnegie Mellon University 7 47 94600 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Columbia University 8 18 96864 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Georgia Institute of Technology 9 70 57136 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Maryland, College Park 10 129 46440 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of California, Los Angeles 11 33 53088 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
The University of Texas at Austin 12 67 37884 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Southern California 13 132 61805 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of California, San Diego 14 38 53088 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
New Jersey Institute of Technology 15 801-1000 59920 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Arizona State University 16 209 60396 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Northeastern University 17 346 47070 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Purdue University 18 105 58264 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
California State University, Fullerton 19 NA NA Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Colorado Boulder 20 182 66276 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
NYU Tandon School of Engineering 21 NA 53850 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
North Carolina State University 22 263 50810 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Iowa State University 23 471-480 51428 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of California, Davis 24 118 57346 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University at Buffalo, SUNY 25 318 45300 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Northwestern University 26 28 108240 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Florida 27 178 60260 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Texas A&M University - Kingsville 28 NA NA Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 29 1 103040 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Pittsburgh 30 142 88948 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Cornell University 31 14 59000 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Illinois at Chicago 32 207 56336 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Stevens Institute of Technology 33 651-700 71920 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Michigan 34 21 99016 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Missouri University of Science and Technology 35 651-700 50164 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Wayne State University 36 461-470 42720 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
George Mason University 37 801-1000 40380 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of California, Irvine 38 164 22884 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Michigan Technological University 39 551-600 34290 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Wisconsin-Madison 40 55 48108 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Clemson University 41 701-750 45952 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
The Ohio State University 42 86 68128 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Minnesota -Twin Cities 43 163 42000 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Engineering 44 651-700 NA Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Syracuse University 45 501-550 48600 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
The Pennsylvania State University 46 93 76932 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Virginia 47 173 55548 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Houston 48 601-650 36612 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
San Diego State University 49 801-1000 28608 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Delaware 50 421-430 54810 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
The Johns Hopkins University 51 17 107480 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of North Carolina at Charlotte 52 NA 35540 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Vanderbilt University 53 212 59010 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 54 364 105100 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
William Marsh Rice University 55 NA NA Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Cincinnati 56 501-550 49064 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Princeton University 57 13 102500 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Duke University 58 21 107080 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
University of Notre Dame 59 216 105492 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Stony Brook University 60 382 45300 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
California Institute of Technology 61 4 104466 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Illinois Institute of Technology 62 395 56700 Log in Log in Log in 1.5 Cr, Interest Rate starts @8.85%
Source: GyanDhan's analysis, partner data & university's website. While deadlines are latest, other figures are as of 2018. Double-check deadlines from the university's website

Regardless of the minor differences in the emphasis areas within general or specialized Master’s in Civil Engineering courses, companies are on a hunt to hire skilled civil engineers for the following roles.

1. Structural Engineer

A structural engineer would be expected to compute loads and stresses, selecting appropriate construction materials, inspecting the work undertaken by contractors, inspecting prevailing structures and properties and preparing reports, diagrams, designs, etc.

2. Project Engineer

A Project Engineer has to perform a supervisory role. One would have to make sure that the designs are being carried out. Risk analysis, testing construction materials, project planning and preparation and submission of permits to concerned authorities are some other responsibilities of a Project Engineer.

3. Transportation Engineer

A civil engineer with a specialized master’s in transport engineering would be expected to supervise the maintenance of transport systems. This could involve evaluation of construction materials, planning of transportation networks, figuring out traffic problems and devising solutions, analysis of environmental impact, evaluation of traffic signalling and control devices for replacement, repair or maintenance and modelling of transport scenarios, etc.

4. Design Engineer

A Design Engineer has to develop design layouts based on specifications and requirements of construction, find problems with designs and address them, conduct civil design analysis, conduct field surveys to prepare engineering drawings, incorporate the aspects of climate change, health and safety into designs at an early stage, and ensure ISO compliance etc.

5. Staff Engineer

Staff Engineers will have to participate actively in administrative and organizational aspects of civil engineering projects besides catering to their technical roles. They have to approve problem-solving plans, be a coordinator amongst team members, prepare cost estimates, and recommend modifications and improvements to projects through active participation in the project as well as an inspection from a distance. Quality control, testing, prototype development, data collection, and analysis and experimentation are some other responsibilities.   

It is not an exaggeration to say that we are living in the age of megaprojects. Transnational projects such as Economic Corridors, international railroads and highways, and SEZs, etc. define the developmental moment of globalization that is being witnessed. On the other end, urbanization and globalization are penetrating deeper into so far untouched backwoods in all corners of the globe. These massive changes in the built landscapes across the globe are possible only through excellent civil engineering.

The demand for civil engineering graduates soars as new projects are conceived; however, it never falls even after the projects are finished. The reason is simple. Maintenance and improvement of structures is an endless task that sustains the demand for skilled civil engineering graduates. Suffice it to say that it is the indispensability and widespread application of civil engineering skills that make it a promising career choice for the coming decades.  According to BLS, employment in this sector is projected to grow at a rate of 6% between 2018-28.

Global Rank Employability Range Salary Range
1-10 Log in Log in
11-25 Log in Log in
26-50 Log in Log in
50-100 Log in Log in
101-200 Log in Log in
201-500 Log in Log in
500+ Log in Log in
Source: GyanDhan's proprietary analysis


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