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Universities with Master's Degrees in Structural Engineering: How to Choose

Students interested in a structural engineering career may pursue either a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering in the field. Most schools require about 30 credit hours of coursework and the completion of an engineering project, thesis or series of final exams.

A Master of Science prepares students for a range of careers within structural engineering, while a Master of Engineering prepares students to become a professional, licensed civil engineer. Programs typically train students in topics such as design, analysis, mechanics and structural behavior.

Top 10 Civil Engineering Schools

These schools offer Master of Science or a Master of Engineering, and several offer different concentrations.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition 2015-2016*
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley,CA 4-year, Public $13,431 in-state, $28, 533 out-of-state
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign,IL 4-year, Public $18,041 in-state, $31,231 out-of-state
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $46,320
University of Texas - Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public $10,934 in-state, $20,762 out-of-state
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public $15,644 in-state, $30,064 out-of-state
Purdue University - West Lafayette West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public $10,002 in-state, $28,804 out-of-state
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public $20,966 in-state, $42,016 out-of-state
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $49,272
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $41,371
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit $29,581

Sources: *National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in structural engineering programs may want to keep these considerations in mind:

  • Students should look for schools offering the type of master's degree program, as well as the specialization, that will be most useful to their career goals.
  • A Master of Science in Structural Engineering offers students a background in civil engineering with a focus on the structural aspects, while a Master of Engineering is made up almost entirely of classes pertaining specifically to becoming a structural engineer and licensure preparation.
  • Students may consider concentrations such as prognosis, simulation and mechanics.
  • Students who eventually want to earn a Ph.D may seek a Master of Science programs that offers a thesis option.

Master of Science in Structural Engineering

Most program participants hold a bachelor's degree in engineering. Some programs admit students with degrees in other areas but may require additional courses to supplement the student's background. Students complete approximately 15 credit hours of study in structural and civil engineering courses. Students may also be required to take math-oriented courses.

Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering

The Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering program focuses on preparing students for professional practice as a structural engineer. Students graduating from the program may seek licensure (P.E). Licensure requirements may vary by state and information can be found on the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) website (www.ncees.org).

Programs often encourage or require students to minor in a subject with professional emphasis. The degree requires about 30 credit hours of coursework. At the end of most programs, students complete a structural engineering project, often accompanied by a report or presentation.

Many schools offer both Master of Science and Master of Engineering in structural engineering programs. Students may consider a concentration relevant to their future careers, as well as thesis options.

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