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Earthquake Engineering Graduate Programs

Earthquake engineering is usually considered as part of a broader engineering program, and includes coursework covering design, structural reliability, and motion studies.

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You won't typically find programs in the United States dedicated specifically to earthquake engineering. More commonly, you can study earthquake engineering while attaining a degree in an area such as structural, environmental or civil engineering.

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Coursework Requirements

In addition to the courses common among most structural, environmental or civil engineering degree programs, the programs that offer students the option to focus their study on earthquake engineering will have a series of courses specific to the topic. A few of those courses are highlighted here.

Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

Geotechnical earthquake engineering asks students to become familiar with a variety of variables related to the geotechnical influence on structures. Students study topics such as ground motion, wave propagation, and site response analysis. Other topics may include foundation isolation, seismic stability of retaining structures, and soil-structure interaction.

Structural Reliability

This course asks students to learn how to better evaluate the safety of a structure's components and systems. Over the course, students will become more familiar with how to estimate the likeliness of a structure failing. Being able to detect failure probabilities is expected by the end of the course. Students will also become familiar with simulation methods and variation reduction techniques.

Response of Structures

As the name implies, this course addresses how structures respond to seismic activity. Students will compare and contrast vibrational and wave methods and explore the process of structural health monitoring. Courses in this topic may also delve into experimental methods to determine a structure's behavior during an earthquake.

Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction

This course focuses on designing structures in regions prone to seismic activity. Students will explore factors that affect the motion of the ground during an earthquake as well as various design styles, such as forced-based, displacement-based, and performance-based design. Other topics covered include coupled, structural and rocking walls.

Strong Motion Studies

A course in strong motion studies involves a number of topics. Students will be introduced to topics related to wave propagation, scattering, diffraction, and amplification. Other topics include scaling of strong ground motion, seismic hazard analysis, and the creation of earthquake resistant designs.

Admission Requirements

It's not uncommon for requirements to vary between schools, but the following are a few of the most common requirements that you will need to meet. A bachelor's degree from an undergraduate program will be required, though you may not need to produce transcripts until later in the application process. During your undergrad program, you will need to have maintained a GPA of 3.0. Unlike in many other programs, you may not be required to submit GRE scores. However, you will need to submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

As part of a broader engineering program, students focusing on earthquake engineering will be required to take classes in general engineering topics as well as focus-specific classes in earthquake resistant construction, motion studies, and geotechnical earthquake engineering.

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