List of Top Geotechnical Engineering Schools

Learn about three of the best schools to offer programs in or related to geotechnical engineering, a subfield of civil engineering. Read on for details about the top schools to offer such programs and their curriculum demands.

Schools Overview

The top schools to offer degree programs in geotechnical engineering have both been ranked by U.S. News and World Report for their civil engineering programs. A number of degree programs related to the field of geotechnical engineering are offered by both schools, including undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as doctoral degree programs. At least one master's degree program is designed for those who have professional experience in civil engineering.

1. University of California - Berkeley

School Highlight: The graduate civil engineering program at University of California at Berkeley (UC-Berkeley) was ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers several programs, each with an emphasis in some aspect of environmental engineering. Through a geoengineering emphasis, students focus on areas involving soil mechanics, coastal and offshore engineering, foundation engineering, earthquake engineering, and site remediation.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering is a nine-month program that prepares students for professional work or doctoral study. Classes include environmental geotechnics, digital data processing, and numerical modeling. Those who wish to teach or perform research can enroll in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Engineering in Civil Engineering program with an emphasis in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.

Students may also choose an emphasis in Air Quality Engineering, Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology or Water Quality Engineering. Coursework may include surface water hydrology, pathogens and water quality or climate change mitigation. Some programs might also require students to choose a minor, such as a PhD with an emphasis in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology. Minor studies range from statistics to environmental economics and policy.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

School Highlight: University of Illinois (U of I) in Urbana - Champaign was ranked second among civil engineering programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.

The school offers two degree programs emphasizing geotechnical engineering with research areas in earthquake engineering, deep excavation, soil structure interaction, stabilized earth support systems, and soil liquefaction during earthquakes.

The M.S. in Civil Engineering with a specialization in geotechnical engineering is for those planning a career in leadership in geotechnical engineering. Classes include analysis of earth dams, consolidation of clays, tunneling in soft ground, and rock behavior. A Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a specialization in geotechnical engineering is for those who plan to teach or perform research.

U of I also offers a M.S. in Civil Engineering with a specialization in geotechnical engineering, which is a one-year program suited for those who have professional experience in the field of civil engineering. Classes include reinforced concrete, computational geomechanics, and field geology.

Top Schools for Geotechnical Engineering

College/University Name Distinction Location
Iowa State University Specialized facilities include the Center for Earthworks Engineering Research and the Wind Energy Initiative Ames, IA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Facilities include a 1.4m radius balanced beam centrifuge and a machine shop, as well as the ability to conduct experiments using triaxial equipment, industrial radiography machines, and high-speed visualization technology Cambridge, MA
Stanford University Ranked #3 among graduate schools offering engineering programs in 2015, according to U.S. News & World Report Stanford, CA
Texas A & M University Offers B.S., M.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. programs in civil engineering with a geotechnical engineering emphasis College Station, TX
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Hosts five lab facilities and three fieldwork sites for geotechnical engineering students Ann Arbor, MI
University of Southern California Junior-year undergraduates studying civil and environmental engineering can participate in paid research opportunities Los Angeles, CA
University of Texas at Austin Geotechnical lab facilities include access to triaxial cells and test stations, shear machines, and the ability to carry out one-dimensional consolidation tests as well as flexible wall permeameter tests Austin, TX
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Houses one of the first geotechnical engineering programs in the U.S., established in 1935 Seattle, WA

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