Students who are interested in geotechnical engineering typically enroll in civil engineering or related programs. Such programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Top schools to offer degree programs related to the field of geotechnical engineering include the University of California - Berkeley, the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, and Iowa State University, all of which have been ranked by U.S. News and World Report for their educational quality.
Degree programs offered by the three noteworthy schools profiled here include bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. At least one master's degree program is designed for those who have professional experience in civil engineering.
University of California - Berkeley
The graduate civil engineering program at the University of California at Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) was ranked number one in the country by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.
The school's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers several programs with a geo-engineering emphasis, through which 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. Students 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.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois (U of I) at Urbana-Champaign graduate civil engineering program was ranked second by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.
The school offers three degree programs emphasizing geotechnical engineering with research opportunities in areas such as earthquake engineering, deep excavation, soil structure interaction, stabilized earth support systems, and soil liquefaction during earthquakes.
The Master of Science 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.
The university also offers a professional Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a specialization in geotechnical engineering. This one-year program is suited for those who have experience in the field of civil engineering. Classes include reinforced concrete, computational geomechanics, and field geology.
Iowa State University in Ames, IA
For 2017, Iowa State University was ranked 34th among graduate civil engineering schools by U.S. News and World Report. Among all public schools in the country, Iowa State was ranked 51st.
The school's Department of Civil Construction and Environmental Engineering enables students to focus their studies in geotechnical and materials engineering while pursing a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, Master of Engineering, or dual bachelor's and master's degree.
Students in these programs typically conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty member who focuses on geotechnical engineering. Recent topics of study include bio-based soil stabilization techniques and geopolymer strength. Specialized facilities at the school include the Center for Earthworks Engineering Research. Iowa State is also home to the Wind Energy Initiative.
Top Schools for Geotechnical Engineering
These schools also feature strong educational offerings in geotechnical engineering:
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Facilities include a 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 fourth among graduate schools offering engineering programs in 2017, according to U.S. News and World Report||Stanford, CA|
|Texas A & M University||Offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree 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 house equipment used to conduct triaxial tests, one-dimensional consolidation tests, and flexible wall permeameter tests, among others||Austin, TX|
|University of Washington - Seattle Campus||Houses one of the first geotechnical engineering programs in the U.S., established in 1935||Seattle, WA|
Students interested in geotechnical engineering can find outstanding academic and research opportunities within broader civil engineering programs at several top-ranked public and private universities.