Civil engineering helps to erect buildings and plan cities with utmost organization and communal benefit. Bachelor's degrees in this field prepare students for careers as professional engineers and often offer students the option to pursue concentrations in environmental, structural, transportation or water resources engineering. Common topics in these programs include engineering management, computer applications, mathematical methods and infrastructure planning.
Though online programs in civil engineering exist, they are most commonly found in a hybrid format that requires students to attend on-campus labs. Students may be required to have specific video-conferencing equipment to participate in these programs. Those who are interested in a bachelor's-level program in a similar area that is offered entirely online could consider programs in electrical engineering, engineering management or engineering technology; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Landscape Architecture programs can also be found online.
Online Learning Considerations
Due to the hands-on nature of the field, fully-online bachelor's programs in civil engineering are not common. Fully online master's degree programs are available because they are designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of experienced engineers who already have that initial training in the industry.
However, some four-year universities offer selected civil engineering and related science courses in a hybrid format. This involves completing readings, written assignments and class discussions virtually in an online classroom while attending campus at specified times to participate in laboratory work.
Accreditation is particularly important for those pursuing training in this field, as state licensing agencies require professional engineers to have received their bachelor's degree through an ABET-accredited program. As of November 2016, ABET has not awarded accreditation to any civil engineering bachelor's program available totally online (www.abet.org).
Distance learning options in civil engineering at the bachelor's level are hard to come by, but the following schools provide ABET-accredited programs that combine campus-based and online learning methods.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota (UND) offers a distance education division that provides academic flexibility for those who prefer to work from home on their own schedules. The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program requires the completion of 135 credits over a period of six years.
The program emphasizes skills which help civil engineers perform trials and evaluations, as well as analyze the resulting data for accuracy and efficiency. Students watch recorded lectures and complete written assignments online, but are required to come to campus for lab work. Some of the classes offered online in this program include:
- Fluid mechanics
- Integrity in engineering
- Digital terrain modeling
- Structural mechanics
- Hydraulic engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Steel design
- Civil engineering design
Old Dominion University
Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University offers a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering as well as a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology. The latter program contains some distance learning options and is designed to prepare students for technical positions in construction, surveying, site development and other engineering industries.
The school allows civil engineering technology students to complete a specialization in structural design, construction management or site development. The program culminates with a practical project on a relevant topic of a student's choice.
Students in this program can watch archived class lectures online and may also be required to participate in live classes using video conferencing technology. Classes available through this program include:
- Materials testing
- Advanced technical analysis
- Structural analysis
- Soils and foundations
- Engineering economics
- Sustainable building practices
- Structural steel design
- Reinforced concrete design
While there are no accredited bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering available in a fully online format, there are master's degree programs available in this format. Distance-learning civil engineering bachelor's degree programs often require students to attend on-campus labs while completing online courses in subjects such as fluid mechanics, physics, structural mechanics, hydraulic engineering and civil engineering design.