Online Civil Engineering Colleges and Schools: How to Choose

There are plenty of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in civil engineering available through institutions across the country. Here we explore how available areas of focus and the program format can influence school choice and take a look at a few of the schools that offer these programs.

How to Select an Online Civil Engineering School

Online civil engineering programs are often created with working adults as their target audience. Many of these online programs are designed to be completed over longer periods of time than traditional programs. These programs are available through some colleges and universities are primarily available at the master's degree level; however, a few online bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering do exist. Students must then consider the areas of focus.

Areas of Focus

Online civil engineering degree programs are available with various areas of concentration. Possible focuses include construction engineering and management, structures and mechanics, transportation systems and materials, water resources and coastal engineering, environmental engineering, and geotechnical engineering.

Online Program Format

Online programs in civil engineering vary drastically in program format and time requirements. Some programs operate on a flexible schedule, with open start times and due dates. Other programs have strict assignment due dates, online time requirements, set start times and test dates - similar to an on-campus environment; these programs are typically designed for full-time students who are able to meet the assignment and testing dates required by the program. Many programs require a thesis, research project or a final project to be completed at the student's workplace.

Available Online Civil Engineering Programs

Online Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Very few bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering are available online. Those that exist are usually targeted to working adults, and thus to take significantly longer to complete than the four years that are normal for most bachelor's degrees. On-campus lectures are often recorded in video or audio form for distance learning students to review. Common coursework in this program includes:

  • Site development
  • Contract administration
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Civil engineering design

Online Master of Science in Civil Engineering

A Master of Science in Civil Engineering provides online students the opportunity to explore different parts of civil engineering in greater depth, with research options that cover the entire range of topics in the civil engineering field. Required course topics may include:

  • Construction procurement systems
  • Structural stability
  • Environmental regulations
  • Cost analysis and management

Online Master of Civil Engineering

A Master of Civil Engineering program is often targeted at students who must fulfill additional education requirements or who are already working in the civil engineering field. Programs often make special effort to give students the ability to work on their own schedule and often work with employers to ensure that education requirements are fulfilled. Coursework typically focuses on one area of civil engineering. For example, a water resource management-focused program could include classes in:

  • Engineering hydrology
  • Environmental monitoring statistics
  • Pipe systems engineering
  • Engineering mechanics

Schools with Online Programs in Civil Engineering

The University of North Dakota provides students with an online Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program that takes six or more years to complete on a part-time basis. Students can access recorded course lectures online, but there are some on-campus lab requirements.

Colorado State University offers an online Master of Engineering (M.E.) with a specialization in civil engineering as well as a Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil Engineering. The M.E. program consists of 30 credits, while the M.S. program consists of 32 credits. Both can be completed in about three years. The M.S. also requires a final paper and oral exam, which typically necessitates a visit to campus.

Ohio University also offers an online Master of Science in Civil Engineering program that can be completed in five semesters. Students can choose from four specializations and learn from faculty who have experience in various aspects of the field.

Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in civil engineering are commonly available. Students considering these programs should keep in mind the format of the program and the specializations that the program may offer.

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