Best Civil Engineering Degrees

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Civil engineers are at the forefront of invention for a better future.

If you have a passion for innovation, a career as a civil engineer might be for you.

Civil engineers are arguable some of the most important individuals when it comes to engineering, problem-solving, and technological advancement. These individuals work to meet the challenges of society in regards to traffic, water, energy, development, and community planning.

Civil engineers utilize computer-aided design and the most advanced aspects of computer and mathematical engineering to develop technologies that make our world more efficient.

It is one of the oldest engineering disciplines, with its earliest practice originating between 4000 and 2000 B.C. Civil engineers must be interdisciplinary, team-oriented, and creative in order to become global leaders in building a better planet. As the world’s population grows, more pressure is placed on civil engineers to adapt technologies and structures to the changing needs of society.

The work of civil engineers is all around you, from the roads and bridges we drive on to get to work, to the buildings that we live in. Civil engineers have the ability to impart major change. Consider a degree in civil engineering if you are interested in making a difference that will last for centuries.

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What kind of civil engineering degree should you get?

In most cases, only an undergraduate degree is needed for career success in civil engineering. Although many students go on to obtain advanced degrees (especially if they intend to pursue leadership or entrepreneurial positions), these are usually not necessary to obtain high-paying jobs.

In fact, civil engineering is listed as one of the highest paying undergraduate degrees in the country.

Thinking about studying engineering online? Take a look at our list of the Best Online Engineering Degrees.

How much money do people make with a civil engineering degree?

The average annual wage for civil engineers is $83,540. This is extremely high compared to other positions requiring a college degree. Few civil engineers earn less than $53,470, while the highest earn over $132,000.

Civil engineers who work for the federal government tend to make the most amount of money, although all positions have higher than average annual salaries. In addition, the job outlook for civil engineers is good. Employment is expected to grow about eleven percent, which is significantly higher than the national average.

What can you do with a degree in civil engineering?

Civil engineers work all around the world, in a wide variety of contexts. Many work at private consulting or construction firms, while others are employed in industry or for the government.

Civil engineers with advanced degrees or several years of experience often hold supervisory or administrative positions, or even go on to start their own businesses. They are in high demand across all sectors, whether that be in law, medicine, academia, or business. Common employers include AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and GE.

What are the requirements for a degree in civil engineering?

To become a civil engineer, a bachelor's degree is absolutely necessary. Students should prepare themselves in high school by taking courses in mathematics, statistics, and the natural sciences. Other helpful electives include engineering mechanics and systems.

Most undergraduate programs will require high SAT or ACT scores, especially in mathematics subsections, and may request letters of recommendations from science, technology, or mathematics teachers in secondary school. While enrolled in a civil engineering degree, students will take courses that cover the foundations and fundamentals of civil engineering, such as those in materials, the environment, statistics, computer science, and technical writing.

What are the best civil engineering degrees?

The best civil engineering degrees are those that are from an ABET-accredited department. This accreditation ensure that graduates will be able to obtain the professional engineer license in most states.

Good programs will also include a blend of hands-on experimental learning and theoretical foundational courses. The very best include a mix of traditional learning in laboratories and classrooms with cooperative programs that allow students to gain work experience. Others may include independent research with faculty members--another good bet for individuals hoping to go directly into research or the workforce upon graduation.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Cambridge, MA




    Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a top-ranked, ABET accredited undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering. This program is our first pick for a reason–it offers a wide range of core courses in civil engineering that prepare students with strong fundamental knowledge of the sustainability of existing structures and future design. MIT involves students in groundbreaking research and hands-on experiences.

    Program Features

    Classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taught and developed by industry leaders. Students will work in cutting-edge research laboratories, such as the Parsons Laboratory and Pierce Laboratory, to conduct studies for classes such as:

    • Computer Programming for Scientific and Engineering Applications
    • Multivariate Data Analysis
    • Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design
    • Fluid Mechanics
    • Multiscale Characterization of Materials
    • Project Evaluation and Management
    • Principles of Energy and Water Sustainability
    • Water Resource Systems


    The research and education programs at MIT are designed to equip students to serve the nation as professionals, scholars, academic leaders, and entrepreneurs. Students work to address fundamental issues that affect infrastructure, the environment, and systems. For this reason (and many others), MIT is a highly respected institution, earning the title of fifth best university in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

  2. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA




    The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Stanford University combines superior research with core engineering education. Students in this program have the option to specialize in structures and construction, or environmental and water studies. These specializations train students to work effectively as critical professionals either alone or in teams. Upon graduating from this program, students are prepared to enter directly into the workforce, or to enter into other top graduate degree programs at Stanford.

    Program Features

    In addition to the coursework specializations listed above, Stanford also offers students the opportunity to diversify by taking courses in interdisciplinary fields such as Earth Systems, Huan Biology, and Urban Studies. Other required courses include:

    • Intro to Solid Mechanics
    • Environmental Science and Technology
    • Managing Sustainable Building Projects
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Geotechnical Engineering
    • Computations in Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Rivers, Streams, and Canals
    • Legal Principles in Design, Construction, and Project Delivery


    Research at Stanford is critical, both working to advance the civil and environmental professions, and to prepare students for future careers in those field. Students conduct research focusing specifically on engineering for sustainability. This is conducted in multi-million dollar facilities such as the National Science Foundation-supported Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure. The university also features an overseas study program that allows students to apply concepts learned on campus to international settings.

  3. Princeton University

    Princeton, NJ




    Princeton’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering allows students the ability to concentrate in five different sub-plans, including studies in Architecture, Environment, Geology, Structures, or the Liberal Arts. The university places such a strong emphasis on independent research that it requires seniors to complete a year-long thesis project. Sophomores and juniors also are encouraged to participate in integrated research and development.

    Program Features

    In addition to core coursework taken at the university, students also participate in cooperative research and education at institutes both on-campus and off. These institutes include the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. International internships, study abroad, and independent study opportunities are also available. Students will engage in classes such as:

    • Environmental Engineering Fundamentals I: Atmospheric and Surface Processes
    • Environmental Engineering Fundamentals II: Surface and Subsurface Processes
    • Introduction to Probability Modeling in Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences
    • Design of Large-Scale Structures: Buildings
    • Introduction to Finite-element Methods
    • Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering


    Princeton’s world-class faculty consists of twenty-six Nobel Prize winners. Seventy-six percent of the faculty at the university are tenured professorial staff, contributing to a five to one student to faculty ratio. This contributes to a high level of student success and involvement; in fact, twenty-two Princeton students have received the distinctive Rhodes Scholars Award in the last decade.

  4. University of California-Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA




    Students at the University of California at Berkeley receive hands-on education and leadership development, preparing them for work anywhere in the world. The university’s extensive and proud alumni network has earned distinctions working on projects such as Levi’s Stadium, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. As a result, the programs in civil engineering are ranked number two in the country by U.S. News and World Report, and the Engineering Department as a whole is ranked number one.

    Program Features

    With fifty full-time prodigious faculty members, the Department of Civil Engineering at U.C. Berkeley prepares students for leadership in the profession. While seventy-five percent of its graduates go directly on to the workforce, with a very high job placement rate, the remainder enters into advanced studies in civil and environmental engineering. Coursework for the undergraduate degree includes:

    • Introduction to Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers
    • Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
    • Thermodynamics
    • Transportation Systems Engineering
    • Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
    • Foundation Engineering Design
    • Design of Cyber-Physical Systems


    Studying in the San Francisco Bay Area allows students world-class opportunities to engage in groundbreaking engineering projects and professional development. In addition, the on-campus civil and environmental engineering laboratories are among the best in the nation. All students–not just graduate students–receive some sort of hands on research education.

  5. Georgia Institute of Technology

    Atlanta, GA




    Georgia Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering does not only prepare students for professional practice, it also contribute to society in numerous, influential ways. Graduates work in planning and design, construction, research, maintenance, law, banking, and many other fields. With an enormous alumni body of over 11,000 living members, the institute proudly hosts the statistic of one in ten civil engineering alumni serving as company founders, CEOs, or presidents.

    Program Features

    Undergraduate students may choose to specialize in a chosen track or to study a generalized civil engineering curriculum. Fields of study include Construction Management, Environmental Systems, Geotechnical Systems, Structural Systems, and Transportation Systems. Georgia Tech, located in Atlanta, provides students with studies in the number one U.S. city for engineers. Regardless of the track chosen, students will take classes such as:

    • Computing
    • Multivariable Calculus
    • Differential Dynamics
    • Fluid Mechanics


    The main facility dedicated to engineering studies at the institute, the Jesse W. Mason Building, is known as the “heartbeat” of the school and receives significant funding and resources. Students have access to eighteen plug-and-play computer workstations, teaching laboratories for geotechnical engineering and construction materials, and glass-paneled group project rooms. Students also have access to living research laboratories such as the O. Lamar Allen Sustainable Education Building, which promotes the importance of the relationship between technology and the environment, and the Structural Engineering and Materials Laboratory.

  6. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA




    At Harvard, the Engineering Science program exists within the liberal arts environment. The curriculum emphasizes both science and mathematical analysis, along with a heavy core in general topics so that students can succeed in integrative areas of the field. Students work to apply engineering concepts to real-world problems and to utilize state-of-the-art technologies.

    Program Features

    Faculty at Harvard University are some of the most distinguished in the field, with eighteen active members of the National Academy of Engineering, and nineteen who are members of the National Academy of Sciences. Faculty teach a range of research- and theory- based courses to students, including:

    • Statistical Inference for Scientists & Engineers
    • Series Expansions & Complex Analysis
    • Ordinary & Partial Differential Equations
    • Systems Programming & Machine Organization
    • Mechanics & Materials
    • Engineering Physics & Chemistry


    In addition to a wide body of qualified teaching staff, Harvard also boasts an impressive endowment of $1.2 billion. In addition, the university has over $46.8 million dedicated solely to sponsored research, allowing all students–not just graduate students–in civil engineering to conduct real-life, project-based learning and research.

  7. Columbia University

    New York, NY




    Columbia is the fifth oldest university in the United States, with an active, robust civil engineering program offered since 1868. The department is one of the oldest in the country, originally offering courses through the School of Mines. The department continues to produce successful alumni who hold executive, technical, and educative positions at industries and engineering schools around the world.

    Program Features

    Students in the program have access to a wide range of courses, many of which prepare for both career success as well as for graduate-level studies. Recommended and elective courses include:

    • Hydrosystems Engineering
    • Engineering for Developing Communities
    • Sustainable Water Treatment and Reuse
    • Urban Ecology Studio
    • Independent Studies in Flight Sciences
    • Independent Studies in Environmental Engineering
    • Civil Engineering Reports
    • The Art of Structural Design


    Columbia University continues to offer a range of interdisciplinary research and development opportunities for students. The Institute of Flight Structures is offered within the department that trains students in aerospace and aeronautical-aspects of structural analysis and design. The National Center for Infrastructure Studies puts together industry and government initiatives to allow students to practice tools and knowledges necessary for addressing infrastructure issues. The university also hosts an active chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a pre-professional organization that helps students find scholarships as well as part- and full-time jobs.

  8. Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA




    Carnegie Mellon’s engineering programs are highly ranked and widely accredited, with the civil engineering undergraduate degree ranked twelfth overall in the entire country. Students are encouraged and assisted in independent research, internships, and study abroad programs. Many students also choose to diversify their studies by double-majoring in fields such as Biomedical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy.

    Program Features

    In addition to a popular major in civil engineering, the college also offers programs in chemical, electrical and computer, mechanical and materials science and engineering. This wide range of offerings exposes students to a breadth of coursework, including:

    • Principles of Computing
    • Integration and Approximation
    • Solid Mechanics
    • Soil Mechanics
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Project Management for Construction
    • Structural Design
    • Special Topics: Fundamental Concepts and Methods of Structural Mechanics


    The curriculum in Civil Engineering at Carnegie Mellon is highly diversified, allowing students to pursue areas of personal interest. Students work carefully with a close academic advisor to develop meaningful experiences that emphasize design, teamwork, and hands-on experience in laboratories. Students take coursework that emphasizes environmental sustainability and the understanding of the evolution of technology. Students take several courses in computer methods, and also engage in programming that prepares them for other professional fields, such as business, law, or medicine.

  9. Cornell University

    Ithaca, NY




    Cornell University’s civil engineering program emphasizes leadership and sound business decision-making. Many graduates of this program go on to take leadership roles in established companies or even to start their own businesses. The university educates some of the country’s top engineers, and provides the opportunity to specialize in one or more areas, including civil infrastructure, transportation engineering, environmental fluid mechanics, hydrology, or water resources, and others.

    Program Features

    In addition to an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, the school also offers master’s degrees in both civil and environmental engineering, along with one in engineering management. Coursework at the undergraduate level prepares students for either goal, offering classes such as:

    • Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering
    • Statics and Mechanics of Solids
    • Engineering Computation
    • Remote Sensing for Environmental Resource Inventory
    • Coastal Engineering
    • Case Studies in Environmental Fluid Mechanics
    • Retaining Structures and Slopes
    • Laboratory Research in Environmental Engineering


    The university also offers a broad variety of community activities, such as the award-winning student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This group sponsors community service projects and participation in national competitions. The student group has won multiple awards in competitions such as building steel bridges or concrete canoes. The chapter also hosts intramural teams, outings, and study sessions for the professional civil engineering licensing examination.

  10. Dartmouth College

    Hanover, NH




    The Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering at Dartmouth prepares students for professional practice and career success. Civil engineering students at Dartmouth have access to superior student resources, including over two hundred computer workstations. Freshmen are introduced to computing right away, and basic training on all systems is available to students free of charge. Students also have access to powerful computers with specialized software in the civil engineering laboratory. These computers include software typically used for modern computer-aided design.

    Program Features

    With a student to faculty ratio of just sixteen to one, students at Dartmouth have close access to some of the best instructors in the world. The campus offers over eighty different undergraduate programs, allowing the ability to engage in interdisciplinary learning while at the same time receiving in-depth theoretical understandings of civil engineering. Classes include:

    • Civil Engineering Design Graphics
    • Engineering Mechanics II: Dynamics
    • Differential Equations
    • Fluid Mechanics Lab
    • Soil Mechanics
    • Engineering Economy


    Faculty members are heavily involved in externally funded grants and research projects, allowing students to work alongside some of the most cutting-edge projects in the world. Many students go on to apply for internships at institutions such as the Massachusetts Military Reservation, treatment plants, and consulting firms. Students also have the ability to participate in student organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers. These organizations allow students to network with students from other schools, become published in monthly journals, and obtain access to exclusive career, internship, and scholarship opportunities.

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