May 21, 2024  
2012-2013 University Catalog (Revised 2012-10-02) 
2012-2013 University Catalog (Revised 2012-10-02) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Civil Engineering, M.S.

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Offered by: College of Engineering, Civil Engineering Department

Francelina A. Neto, Chair
Man-chu Ronald Yeung, Graduate Coordinator

The practice-oriented Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) program builds upon an undergraduate education and facilitates more advanced study in one of the branches of civil engineering. Students must select one of three emphasis areas: Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, or Transportation Engineering.

Mission Statement

The Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) program is intended to serve both full-time and part-time graduate students who have a BSCE or closely-related undergraduate degree in order to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of civil engineering principles and practices. The program is primarily intended for students who currently are, or intend to become, practicing civil engineers, and thus focuses on the application of these principles and practices to real-world problems encountered by professional civil engineers.

Another purpose of the program is to facilitate applied research on relevant civil engineering topics. Such research should 1) serve societal needs by addressing contemporary issues, 2) contribute to the professional development of both students and faculty and 3) provide preparation for further academic study and research for those students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree.

Educational Objectives

Graduates of the Master of Science in Civil Engineering program shall have:

  • Knowledge of engineering principles sufficient to understand the bases and applicability of standard analysis, design, and implementation practices within their emphasis area.
  • The ability to conduct engineering analyses and to develop and implement designs and problem solutions that conform to applicable codes and standards of practice.
  • An understanding of the various technical and non-technical factors that impact the feasibility and implementation of civil engineering projects, including technical feasibility, multi-party involvement, environmental assessment, financial-economic planning, owner-public works administration, owners’ strategic plans, and socioeconomic-equity issues.
  • The foundation needed to develop engineering judgment via professional practice, and to effectively identify, consider and account for multiple and competing objectives.
  • The technical knowledge and skills needed to pursue life-long learning, with the ability to independently extend personal knowledge and understanding of engineering topics and practices by conducting literature searches, consulting with others, and using other similar techniques.
  • The ability to apply knowledge in a specialized area related to civil engineering as defined in the American Society of Civil Engineers body of knowledge requirements.
  • Knowledge and skills necessary to pass specialty license examinations in their respective areas, including the examinations required for registration as a Structural Engineer, Geotechnical Engineer and Traffic Engineer.

Admission to the Program

Applicants for unconditional admission are generally expected to have a BSCE degree from an ABET accredited (or equivalent) civil engineering program, with a GPA of at least 3.0 in their upper-division engineering courses. Additional qualifications, such as EIT or PE license, professional experience, or other noteworthy accomplishments may be listed in the application’s statement of purpose and will be considered. Also see the university graduate admission requirements in the graduate studies section of this catalog.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in another discipline, and those who do not fully satisfy other department or university graduate admission requirements, may be considered for possible conditional admission. These conditions may include additional coursework, minimum academic performance, or other requirements.

Conditionally admitted students must satisfy the specified conditions before being advanced to unconditional standing. Those who do not satisfy these conditions will be dismissed from the program.

Applicants with an overall undergraduate GPA less than 3.0 or an upper-division engineering GPA less than 3.0 must submit GRE (general) scores. Letters of recommendation are not required, but will be considered.


A minimum of 45 quarter units (equivalent to 30 semester units) is required for the Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree. The specific requirements for each emphasis area are described below. All students must complete either a Master’s project or a Master’s thesis.

Each student must, in consultation with their academic advisor, prepare a program of study that outlines the coursework required to complete the program. A preliminary program of study should be prepared as early as possible, and must be submitted to the advisor no later than the end of the second quarter of residency.

The finalized program of study must be submitted during the third quarter of residency, before the start of the registration period for the fourth quarter.

To attain Advancement to Candidacy for the degree, the student must satisfy all of the following:

  1. Completion of all conditions of admission, including any preparatory courses that may have been specified.
  2. Have an approved program of study on file
  3. Be in good academic standing with a grade point average of at least 3.0
  4. Passed the graduation writing test or received a waiver

Please check the Civil Engineering Department website for additional information.


All students must select one of the following emphasis areas:

The Geotechnical Engineering emphasis encompasses the interactions between civil engineering projects and the ground that supports them, and includes studies in foundations, earth and rock slopes, tunnels, earth retaining structures, groundwater, earthquakes, and other related topics.

The Structural Engineering emphasis includes methods of designing buildings and other structures from a wide range of building materials, and includes emphases on seismic design and other topics.

The Transportation Engineering emphasis covers transportation facility design, traffic flow and signalization, transportation planning and policy, public transit, pavement design, airport engineering, and intelligent transportation systems.

Geotechnical Engineering Emphasis

Up to 4 units of approved 400-level courses

Elective courses may include up to 4 units of approved 400-level courses that are relevant to the program of study, so long as these or equivalent courses have not already been used for credit toward an undergraduate degree. Approved courses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • CE 424 - Foundation and Retaining Wall Design (4)

Structural Engineering Emphasis

Transportation Engineering Emphasis

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