Geotechnical engineering is a specialized area that focuses on the behavior of rocks and soil in the context of engineering. While it's not common to find an online master's degree program that concentrates solely on geotechnical engineering, many online master's degrees in civil engineering offer a specialization in the area. After completing one of these programs, students can pursue careers in civil engineering, structural engineering, and environmental engineering consulting.
Typical Courses in Online Geotechnical Engineering Master's Degree Programs
Online master's degree programs that have a geotechnical engineering specialization require between 30 and 36 credit hours of coursework. Some schools require a residency portion that needs to be done on-campus. These programs can have a thesis as well as non-thesis options, both of which students can complete in 18 months.
A project management course can be a core part of an engineering program as it teaches students how to handle engineering projects of varying scale. Students learn how to communicate effectively while overseeing a project and how to operate a schedule. Other topics that could be covered include project life cycle, quality, and cost.
A soil mechanics course covers shear strength, stress paths, and settlement components. In some programs, students experience the practical applications of the strength of soil through the use of compression techniques. Some of the topics included in this course are slope stability, soil structure, and earth pressure theories.
This course deals with the different ways soil can be stabilized as well as incorporates some aspects of earthquake engineering. Students will learn about the chemical, mechanical and mineralogical methods that can be used to keep soil stable. They can also learn about chemical mixtures for soil stability, water repellants, and geosynthetics.
Computation in Geotechnical Engineering
This course teaches students about the use of computation in the context of geotechnical engineering. Some of the topics that students will be exposed to in this course include modeling applications, analysis methods, and construction activities.
A course in geotechnical tests focuses on the kinds of tests and techniques that can be used to evaluate soil. Students learn about foundation systems, retaining walls and geotechnical reports. In online programs with residency requirements, this course includes a field trip to a geotechnical site.
General Admission Requirements for Online Geotechnical Engineering Master's Degree Programs
Persons who want to apply to these programs will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Preferably this undergraduate degree should be in engineering, and some programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0. When submitting their application, prospective students also need to send in school transcripts, letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and a current resume. Non-native English speakers need to submit passing scores in an English language proficiency test as well.
It might not be common to find an online master's degree program that only concentrates on geotechnical engineering, but many civil engineering master's programs have specializations in the area. These 36-credit programs include course topics such as soil stabilization, project management and computation in geotechnics.