20 Best Master’s in Civil Engineering Degrees

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The 20 universities listed in this article offer the best civil engineering master's degrees in the United States.

Completing a graduate program in engineering can lead to an exciting and lucrative career. Engineers design, build, supervise and maintain public and private infrastructure. They specialize in fields such as buildings, roads, airports, bridges, and water and sewage treatment projects. The average starting annual salary for a civil engineer with a master's degree is between $66,356 and $70,300. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that engineering employment would increase 11 percent faster than the average occupation from 2016-26.

Applying to an engineering graduate school typically requires a bachelor's degree with a certain minimum grade-point average, acceptable scores on exams like the GRE and TOEFL, and proven proficiency in English (for international students).

Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves investments and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.

Want to Learn More?

The amount of information available for specific degrees is plentiful, and Best Master's Degrees aims to provide as many resources as we can. Check out our Methodology page for more information and resource links.

#20 – The University of Texas at Austin

Master of Science in Engineering Degree in Civil Engineering

Austin, Texas


UT Austin, in the Lone Star State's capital city, has the eighth-largest single-site enrollment in the United States (more than 50,000 students).

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Austin, widely considered the cultural hub of Texas, is famous for its music, film, and art scenes. UT Austin is a public research institution founded in 1883 that ranks among the nation's most renowned centers of academic research. The campus is home to 18 schools and colleges. The university's Cockrell School of Engineering, ranked 10th by U.S. News & World Report, involves nearly 8,000 students in nine undergraduate and 13 graduate programs. Students may pursue a master of science in civil or environmental and water resources engineering or a dual degree in engineering and public affairs. They select one of the areas of study, which include building energy and environments, construction engineering and project management, environmental and water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering, and more. Both degrees require 30 credit hours, six of which must be unrelated to the major. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Austin #49 overall and #15 among the country's public schools. The graduate engineering programs are tied for #10, with the civil engineering department in the #2 slot.

#19 – The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Master's in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Knoxville, Tennessee

UTK, with a history dating to 1794, is a land-grant university and research institution.

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This public institution consists of 11 colleges, with more than 900 areas of study and 530 degree programs. There are more than 22,000 students. The campus is nearby downtown Knoxville and not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes UTK as the largest consumer of "green" energy among postsecondary schools. The Tickle College of Engineering has been awarding degrees since 1838. It has seven departments, seven research centers and more than 100 labs that serve more than 4,500 students. Those enrolled in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department choose from a menu of concentrations in construction, transportation, energy and environmental engineering, and the design and development of urban areas. A grade-point average of at least 3.4 in required coursework is necessary to qualify for a graduate program, which entails an additional 30 hours or more. UTK offers five-year BS-MS programs in civil engineering and environmental engineering, with a thesis and non-thesis options. The university's graduate programs in all fields of study rank #29 in the United States. The engineering program is #33 for undergraduate studies and #29 for graduate degrees.

#18 – The University of Texas at Arlington

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Arlington, Texas

UTA, between Dallas and Fort Worth, offers the most wide-ranging engineering programs in North Texas.

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More than 42,000 students attend this university, making it the fourth-largest postsecondary institution in Texas. UTA has more than 180 baccalaureates, master's and doctoral degree programs. The student body ranks fifth nationally in ethnic diversity. The school is #221 on U.S. News‘ list of "Best Colleges for 2019." The magazine listed the university at #126 among public schools. According to the Military Times, UTA is the nation's #7 educational institution for veterans. With more than 7,000 enrollees (including nearly 3,000 graduate students), UTA's College of Engineering is the fourth-largest in Texas. Seven departments offer 11 baccalaureates, 14 masters and nine doctoral programs. The seven programs and research areas in the civil engineering department's graduate school are construction engineering and management, environmental, geotechnical, infrastructure systems, structures and applied mechanics, transportation, and water resources. Degree requirements include a minimum of 24 credit hours, plus a thesis and an oral defense of the thesis. U.S. News rates UTA's graduate engineering program as the #83 best in the country. The aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical graduate department is 48, and seven other engineering departments rank in the top 96. Among them is the civil engineering program, at #89.

#17 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Master of Civil Engineering

Cambridge, Massachusetts

MIT, one of the top-rated universities in the world, began in 1861 as a learning center for applied science and engineering.

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This private research university has 93 Nobel Prize laureates, 52 National Medal of Science winners and 34 astronauts among its alumni. MIT has high standards. For the graduating class of 2021, the school accepted only 1,438 of 20,246 applications. At last report, 11,446 students were enrolled, 6,919 of them pursuing graduate degrees. In the U.S. News rankings, the institute is tied for No. 3 in the country. QS University rates MIT's School of Engineering as the best in the world. The Civil Engineering Department offers master's degrees in engineering, philosophy, and transportation. Joint and dual programs also are available. All the degrees involve nine months of coursework. Students select one of the following as their area of interest: hydrology, environmental chemistry, ecology, and environmental fluid mechanics. There is also a structural mechanics and design track. Graduates qualify for employment with engineering firms or as consultants.

#16 – Auburn University

Master of Civil Engineering

Auburn, Alabama

Auburn's engineering college, established in the late 19th century, regularly ranks among the top 20 in the United States in terms of the number of diplomas it awards.

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A land-grant and research school, AU is the second-largest university in this southern state. It began in 1856 as East Alabama Male College. Enrollment in 2017-18 totaled 29,776 students, 4,707 of whom were in graduate studies. U.S. News recognizes the university as the #115 best overall in the country, and #52 among public postsecondary schools. QS University included AU in its latest survey of the top 1,000 universities in the world. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering traced its history to 1872 when it was known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. Today, nearly 4,000 students are enrolled in engineering programs. The Civil Engineering Department's master of science degree requires 24 to 26 hours of coursework, in addition to research and a thesis. Students may substitute an exam for the dissertation.

#15 – Clarkson University

Master's of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Potsdam, New York

Clarkson has an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, with the majority of classes featuring fewer than 20 students.

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A northern New York private research university established in 1896, Clarkson now features the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering and four other schools. The university's 4,300-plus students, who are 70 percent male, choose from more than 60 academic programs. There are nearly 100 types of degrees. U.S. News placed Clarkson #116 on its 2019 list of the best engineering universities in the country. The magazine ranked the institution #102 overall and rated it the #31 "best value" school in a metric involving academic quality and the cost of tuition. QS University put Clarkson in the top 650 colleges worldwide. The civil engineering master's program generally takes 18-24 months to complete the 30 required credit hours, 10 of which must be in research or professional experience. Specialty areas are environmental, geotechnical, structural and materials, transportation, and water resources engineering.

#14 – Mississippi State University

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Starkville, Mississippi

MSU's Starkville campus, 170 miles southeast of Memphis, Tenn., has the largest post-secondary education enrollment in Mississippi.

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The full name of this school, founded in 1878, is Mississippi State University for Agriculture and Applied Science. It has 12 colleges and schools, with 180 degree programs. More than 22,000 students attend classes on the main campus. U.S. News rates MSU the #177 best university in the country. The university is among the top 100 for undergraduate and graduate programs, according to the magazine. The National Science Foundation ranks MSU No. 51 in engineering. The university's James Worth Bagley College of Engineering placed #106 in U.S. News‘ survey of such schools. Areas of study are construction materials, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation and water resources engineering. The degrees are available online, as well as on campus.

#13 – Colorado State University

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Fort Collins, Colorado

CollegeRanker rated Fort Collins the third-best "college town to live in forever" because of the region's quality of life and scenic beauty.

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Founded in 1870 as an agricultural college, this public land-grant and research school has grown to an enrollment of about 34,000. CSU's eight colleges award 150 degrees in 65 fields of study, in addition to 55 master's programs and 40 doctoral degrees. U.S. News lists Colorado State No. 140 among the country's postsecondary institutions and ranks the university's Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering 56th. More than 800 full-time students take classes in the College of Engineering. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a master of science degree in water-resources planning and management, as well as an online masters in civil engineering. The areas of study (on campus and online) are environmental engineering, geoenvironmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, groundwater engineering, hydraulic engineering/stream restoration/river mechanics, hydrologic science, irrigation and drainage, structural engineering and structural mechanics, water resources planning and management, and wind engineering and fluid mechanics.

#12 – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Blacksburg, Virginia

U.S. News & World Report ranks Virginia Tech in the top 10 of the nation's engineering programs.

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public school with campuses in Virginia and Switzerland. It ranks 43rd among research institutes. More than 34,000 students have 280 majors in nine colleges from which to choose. This includes 170 master's and doctor's degree programs. The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, which cost more than a billion dollars to build, is home to the university's engineering college. Five hundred undergraduates and 400 graduate students take courses in a dozen departments. Last year, the college awarded 255 bachelor's, 125 master's and 25 doctor's degrees in engineering. Master's degree specialties in the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are construction engineering and management, environmental and water resources, geotechnical, structural engineering and materials, and transportation infrastructure and systems.

#11 – University of Washington

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Seattle, Washington

University of Washington - 30 Best Online Master's in Civil or Environmental Engineering

UW, founded in 1861, is one of the oldest public postsecondary schools on the West Coast.

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The university is located in the beautiful Northwest, near rainforests, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. The vibrant modern city of Seattle is renowned for his entrepreneurial activity and cultural amenities. Enrollment in UW's 16 colleges and schools totals more than 54,000. Students benefit from collaborations with the area's many large corporations, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing. U.S. News places the university 59th in the nation. The 2018 Academic Rankings of World Universities listed Washington in the No. 14 spot. UW is among the top 10 of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education world rankings for "scientific performance and research output." The College of Engineering, with more than 8,000 students, consists of 12 departments. Last year, U.S. News ranked the college's undergraduate program 18th in the country and its civil engineering program 17th. Civil engineering master's options are a professional program and a research-intensive academic track. Specialties include construction, energy and sustainable infrastructure, environmental, geotechnical, hydrology and hydrodynamics, structural engineering and mechanics, and transportation.

#10 – Carnegie Mellon University

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

CMU's campuses are spread across six continents, with the main site three miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

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Industrialist Andrew Carnegie established this private, nonprofit institution in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical School. The university encompasses seven colleges, with more than 14,000 students from at least 109 countries. CMU has graduated 20 Nobel Prize laureates. According to U.S. News, the university is the 25th-best postsecondary school in the country. The magazine noted that CMU is famous for its science and technology programs. QS University placed the school 47th worldwide, while Times Higher Education listed it 24th internationally and 16th in the United States. The sixth-ranked College of Engineering receives widespread praise, particularly for its cybersecurity and additive manufacturing programs. U.S. News ranks the college No. 5 among the country's engineering schools. Nearly 2,000 undergraduates and more than 2,000 graduate students attend classes in seven engineering departments. A master's degree in civil and environmental engineering entails completing 96 units in three full-time semesters. Focus areas include advanced infrastructure systems, ecological engineering, sustainability and science, and mechanics materials and computing.

#9 – Cornell University

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ithaca, New York

A privately endowed member of the Ivy League, Cornell traces its history to 1865.

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This federal land-grant institution can claim several worldwide "firsts," such as the earliest electrical and industrial engineering programs. Cornell earned the 16th spot in the U.S. News 2019 national survey of universities. QS University placed the school at No. 14 in the world. According to Times Higher Education, Cornell is 19th internationally and 11th in the United States. The Ithaca campus features eight undergraduate colleges and four graduate schools. Last year, 15,182 undergraduates and 5,836 graduate students enrolled in 100 academic departments. The engineering college, which U.S. News ranks No. 15 in the country, involves more than 900 students. Among the areas of master's study are environmental; geotechnical; structural mechanics and materials; transportation systems; and transportation, environment, and health engineering. The programs take two to three semesters to complete 30 credit hours. A thesis and final oral exam are required.

#8 – Purdue University

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

West Lafayette, Indiana

Only three universities in the United States have more international students than Purdue.

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Purdue began holding classes in 1874 with 39 students taking courses in science, technology, and agriculture. The main campus in West Lafayette offers degrees in more than 210 fields, as well as 80 graduate programs, at its 13 colleges and schools. U.S. News lists Purdue 56th in the country. Last year, QS University included the university in its top 100 in the world, while Times Higher Education put Purdue in the top 60. U.S. News ranks the university's engineering programs No. 7 in the nation. The Purdue Burke Civil Engineering Graduate Program enrolls about 400 students. Specialty areas for the master's degree are architectural, construction, environmental, geomatics, geotechnical, hydraulic and hydrological, materials, structural, and transportation and infrastructure systems engineering. Non-thesis programs require 30 hours of coursework. Thesis tracks involve 21 hours, plus nine hours of research.

#7 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

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U of I's 47,000-plus students represent all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

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This public-research institution was founded in 1867 as a land-grant school. Since then, the university has graduated 30 Nobel Prize laureates and 28 Pulitzer Prize winners. U.S. News rates the university 46th overall and 16th among public postsecondary schools. In the QS University international rankings, Illinois is 69th. U of I consists of 16 colleges and schools, with more than 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate programs. U.S. News ranks the bachelor's degree programs sixth in the country and the graduate degrees ninth. Specialties in the civil engineering department's master's program are environmental engineering and science, environmental hydrology and hydraulic engineering, geotechnical, materials, structural, transportation, sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems, energy-water-environment sustainability, and societal risk management. There are concentration options in computational science and engineering, and energy and sustainability engineering.

#6 – University of Michigan

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Forbes Magazine has described Ann Arbor as the "best college town in the U.S."

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The oldest university in Michigan, this school came into being in 1817 – while the state was still a U.S. territory. Students in the class of 2021 collectively had a high school grade-point average of 3.87. They averaged 31 to 34 on the ACT and 1,350 to 1,530 on the SAT. Michigan's 19 schools and colleges offer nearly 300 degree programs, including 17 undergraduate engineering programs. U.S. News lists the university No. 27 in the country, and Times Higher Education rates it 21st worldwide. Michigan was the No. 1 research university in the United States in 2018, according to the National Science Foundation. U.S. News ranks Michigan's engineering college No. 5. The Civil Engineering Department, rated sixth in undergraduate and seventh in graduate programs, has master's programs in civil engineering, construction engineering and management, environmental engineering and structural engineering. The civil engineering program's specialties are construction engineering and management, geotechnical, hydraulic and hydrologic, intelligent systems, materials and highway engineering, structural engineering, and transportation systems.

#5 – Stanford University

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Stanford, California

Stanford is highly regarded for its academic excellence, as evidenced by 83 different Nobel Prize-winning alumni.

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This esteemed private school consistently appears high in rankings of the world's elite universities. One of the three most robust U.S. universities to earn admittance, Stanford accepts only 5.1 percent of those who apply. The average student's high school grade-point average is 4.18. The main campus is about 30 miles outside San Francisco. Overseas study programs operate in ten cities on six continents. Stanford is the No. 2 postsecondary school in the world, trailing only MIT, according to QS University. Times Higher Education, which named Stanford the best U.S. school in 2017, now ranks it No. 3. Stanford earned the seventh spot in the latest U.S. News survey. The university has 40 academic departments. The School of Engineering, which U.S. News ranks the second-best in the country, awards undergraduate degrees in 16 fields. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a graduate degree with specialties in atmosphere and energy, environmental engineering, structural engineering and geomechanics, and sustainable design and construction.

#4 – University of California Berkeley

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Berkeley, California

UC-Berkeley has a storied history, from discovering 16 chemical agents of the periodic table to serving as a center of the free-speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

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This public school, established in 1868, has strict entrance requirements. The high school grade points of accepted students average 4.41. U.S. News ranks UC-Berkeley as the 22nd best in the country. More than 43,000 degree seekers, including more than 11,000 in graduate programs, are enrolled in the university's 14 colleges and schools. They follow in the footsteps of the 107 alumni, faculty members and researchers who have received Nobel Prizes. The engineering college, No. 3 on the U.S. News list, offers several areas of interest, including cost and schedule forensics; sustainability, green design, engineering and management; and construction disputes and claims resolution. Master's Plan 1 requires 20 units and a thesis, while Plan involves 24 units and a comprehensive exam instead of a thesis.

#3 – University of Virginia 

Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering

Charlottesville, Virginia

The United Nations has designated UVA's main campus as a World Heritage Site due to its international significance.

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Few U.S. institutions of higher learning have a more illustrious history than this university, which Thomas Jefferson founded in 1819. Two other former presidents, James Madison, and James Monroe, also served on the original board of directors. UVA's alumni include 51 Rhodes Scholars, more than any other state-supported university in the country. According to U.S. News, Virginia is third-best among the country's public universities and 25th overall. More than 16,000 undergraduates, plus nearly 7,000 graduate and professional students, take classes on the main campus. The Civil, Systems and Environmental Department offers a five-year extended graduate education program, which leads to a master of engineering degree with an emphasis in infrastructure systems. The program entails ten graduate courses (30 credit hours).

#2 – Georgia Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Atlanta, Georgia

The Georgia Institute of Technology, commonly known as Georgia Tech, was founded nearly 135 years ago as the Georgia School of Technology.

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Among the South's most respected public institutes of science and technology, Georgia Tech offers 23 masters and 18 doctoral programs. No other U.S. school awards more engineering degrees to women and minorities. U.S. News ranks Georgia Tech 35th on its list of the best U.S. universities. The magazine rates each of the school's undergraduate engineering programs in the top five, and all of the graduate engineering programs in the top ten. Specialty options for students pursuing master's degrees in civil engineering are construction and infrastructure systems; environmental engineering; geosystems; structural engineering, mechanics and materials; transportation systems; and water resources. Requirements include 30 credit hours and a thesis

#1 – Columbia University

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

New York City, New York

Columbia University, established in 1754, offers one of the most prestigious schools of engineering and applied science in the world.

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Columbia has produced three U.S. presidents, as well as Supreme Court justices and Nobel Prize winners. This private member of the Ivy League is in the heart of one of the largest and most diverse cities on Earth. The engineering school dates to 1864. U.S. News ranks the graduate program at Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science 12th in the country. QS University lists the university 16th in the world overall, and No. 81 in engineering and technology. The Civil Engineering Department's master's degree program gives students six concentrations from which to choose: construction engineering and management, engineering mechanics, environmental engineering and water resources, forensic (structural) engineering, geotechnical engineering and structural engineering. The 30 credit hours taken at least two semesters to complete. Six credit hours of independent research substitute for a thesis.