What is a civil engineering degree’s direct value to experienced civil engineers? To qualify for most of the senior-level civil engineering jobs, applicants must understand the process of designing infrastructural systems, and managing the various types of engineering projects designated to building them. A master’s degree in civil engineering can help students build these skills, gradually improving students’ ability to safely design, build, and maintain structures and infrastructural systems. By pursuing a Master of Civil Engineering degree, professionals can hone their expertise in engineering science and channel it into a world-changing construction.

What Is a Civil Engineering Degree?

Civil engineering is the study of how structures are built and maintained. Civil engineering degree programs teach students how to perform advanced calculations to design safe and effective structures while also ensuring students have the cognitive tools they need to be competent project managers. They work as teams to examine fundamental civil engineering concepts and then apply them outside of the classroom in residency programs where they are tasked with many real-world feats of engineering, like creating man-made structures and managing natural resources.

Salary Range for Master's-Prepared Civil Engineers

Successful civil engineers are typically well compensated for their work, earning an above average salary, while also having the option to pursue career advancement in specialized fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil engineers earned a median salary of $84,770 in 2017. Furthermore, the BLS has projected the number of jobs available in the occupation to grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026.

What Are Some Civil Engineering Concentrations?

Civil engineering is a diverse field of study, with Master of Civil Engineering degree programs typically divided into the following concentrations:

Structural Engineering

The structural engineering curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of design, allowing students to learn how professionals design functional bridges, towers, tunnels, and buildings. Careers in this specialization require a variety of skills, especially the ability to coordinate construction projects, and engineer structures using materials and designs that offer optimal strength and stability. The expected outcome of completing all courses in this concentration is for students to have the knowledge they need to manage all aspects of structural engineering projects, from design to implementation.

Environmental Engineering/Water Resources Engineering

In environmental engineering classes, students learn how to create infrastructure that harnesses the power of natural resources while also preserving them. In many cases, the curriculum will deviate to cover the physical, chemical, and biological concepts behind implementing water management systems; for example, students learn about the processes involved in the treatment of wastewater, groundwater, and storm water to make the water reusable. A portion of this study is devoted to exploring advanced methods of containing physical waste to prevent it from contaminating the environment. This path focuses on techniques that can be used to lower the amount of pollution released during the waste disposal and containment processes.

Construction Management

Construction projects are often complex because they involve a wide range of interrelated tasks and components that can affect timely completion. The coursework in a construction management concentration teaches professionals how to implement a structural engineer’s design. Students learn how to leverage information technology and finance management techniques to ensure that their construction projects adhere to a set schedule and budget. Ideally, graduates can have the expertise necessary to manage every aspect of an engineering business.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineers don’t design physical structures, such as buildings and bridges; instead, they analyze the structural conditions of the earth at building sites. This concentration’s coursework focuses on the general principles of soil mechanics and how engineers apply those mechanics to real-world scenarios. Using their advanced understanding of the ground, geotechnical engineers can provide other engineers with information about how soil conditions and natural events, such as earthquakes, will affect physical structures in an area.

Beneficial Skills for Civil Engineers

A Master of Civil Engineering degree can provide students with the industry-specific knowledge and help them build the following practical skills:

Technical Proficiency

Civil engineers rely on complex software or devices to generate designs and manage projects. Civil engineering degree courses allow students to gain experience with a variety of software-based engineering tools. This opportunity helps students build their technical proficiency with different industry-standard software platforms.

Time Management

Advanced civil engineers balance multiple job responsibilities while working on projects. In civil engineering courses, students learn to prioritize tasks. They may create whole-project Gantt charts and break them down into smaller workflows and individual timelines and projects with daily, weekly and monthly goals and targets.


In the civil engineering profession, the first solution is rarely the best one. There are times when poor environmental or financial circumstances impede projects’ progress. For instance, if a project is low on funds or blocked by an environmental hazard, it’s up to the senior engineers to find a solution. The real-world problem-solving skills built by civil engineering classes sharpen students’ creativity, allowing them to generate multiple solutions to pressing obstacles.

Civil engineers who want to broaden their knowledge of engineering may wish to consider an online Master of Civil Engineering program. Graduates with a master’s degree in civil engineering may be eligible for job advancement, improved compensation, or leadership positions in their current careers or in other companies. Those with a Master of Civil Engineering degree have the opportunity to serve in the vanguard of solving engineering problems, providing a cleaner environment and a better use of natural resources for all.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University offers exceptional opportunities to help advance your knowledge, target your skills, and gain greater proficiency as a professional civil engineer. The online Master of Civil Engineering program at Norwich University is designed to enhance your technical knowledge, management skills and engineering competence by delivering a modern, practice-orientated education that fosters creativity and critical thinking for problem-solving and innovation.

Recommended Reading
5 Civil Engineering Trends
Career Outlook: Environmental Engineer
5 Innovations in Civil Engineering Aimed at Improving Sustainability


What is a Civil Engineer, U.S. News & World Report

Technical Areas, American Society for Civil Engineers

Civil Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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