Fully online master's degree programs in environmental engineering are available, but they are more commonly offered in a hybrid format where both on-campus and online courses are required. Additionally, these programs typically require the completion of labs and fieldwork, which may not be on-campus experiences, but would not be possible to complete online. To enroll in such a program, an applicant would need to hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant, engineering-based field and would most likely need to satisfy a minimum GPA requirement. In some cases, environmental engineering is taught alongside civil engineering.
Environmental Engineering Master's Degree
An online master's degree in environmental engineering surveys the challenges of protecting air, water and soil quality and explores techniques for preventing, containing and cleaning up contamination. Course offerings emphasize the application of fundamental concepts from physics, chemistry and mathematics to the design of systems that deliver clean air and water, or monitor and control pollution. A bachelor's degree in the hard sciences, mathematics or engineering - with an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better - is required for admission to an environmental engineering program.
Program Information and Requirements
A majority of online environmental engineering master's degree programs are a combination of Internet and classroom-based courses. Readings, lectures, tests and any other course materials are accessible through the program's website. Students may access content at their convenience, but must complete assignments by specified deadlines. Interactions between students and instructors are handled via online forums, video conferencing, email and phone. Lab and fieldwork, however, must be completed in person, although not necessarily on campus. A master's degree in environmental engineering is typically earned in 2-3 years.
Students need a personal computer with Internet access and basic productivity and multimedia software to participate in an online program. Schools recommend a DSL or cable broadband connection.
List of Common Environmental Engineering Courses
Some schools offer an engineering master's degree program with environmental engineering as a concentration or sub-specialty. Others offer an environmental engineering master's degree that includes core courses in general engineering.
Environmental Engineering Fundamentals
This course offers an overview of the physics, chemistry and biology of wastewater treatment. Course work focuses on such concepts as sedimentation, filtration and chemical kinetics.
In this class, students learn the chemical and physical processes by which hazardous chemicals disperse through soil, as well as techniques for remediating them. Topics covered include adsorption, absorption, advection and phase transition.
Hydrology and Hydraulics
This course examines the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics. Surface flow, flow systems, stream channels and data interpretation are among the topics studied.
The structure, metabolic processes and interactions of microbes, microflora and microfauna in the natural world are the focus of this course. Topics covered in the course include algae, fungi, bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
An online master's degree in environmental engineering qualifies graduates to work for corporations and government agencies - or as consultants - as environmental engineers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of environmental engineers will increase 12% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The need for industry to comply with regulation, prevent contamination, protect public health and clean up old hazards will drive job growth. According to the BLS, as of May 2015, environmental engineers earned annual median salaries of $84,560 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Working environmental engineering professionals who want to teach at the college level or conduct original research into water quality, solid waste management or energy policy can consider earning a doctorate in environmental engineering.
A master's degree in environmental engineering can further the education of students interested in learning how to use the fundamentals of engineering to address the challenges facing today's environment. These programs may be found completely online or in a hybrid format that offers online courses as well as in-person labs and fieldwork.