Study Civil Engineering – Top 15 Schools

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction- who is a Civil Engineer?
  • Why study Civil Engineering?
  • Civil Engineering requirements
  • Types of Civil Engineering
  • Civil Engineering degree online
  • What are the best Civil Engineering salaries
  • List of top 15 Civil Engineering schools in the world
  • conclusion

Who is a civil engineer?

A civil engineer is an engineer who designs and supervises the construction of public works, such as roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, buildings, airports, water and sewage systems, and other large infrastructure projects.

The field of civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering, dating back to when people began living in permanent settlements and began shaping their environments to meet their needs.  As populations grew and large groups of people began to live together in towns and cities, there was a growing need for reliable sources of clean water, the means to eliminate waste, a network of streets and roads for trade and commerce.  , and a way of people to defend themselves against hostile neighbors.  The first civil engineers, therefore, were called to build walls, roads, bridges, dams and dikes;  and dig wells, irrigation ditches and trenches.

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Among the best known civil engineering projects of antiquity are the roads of the Roman Empire, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde;  and Mayan ruins in Copán, Palenque and Tikal.  The construction of many of these wonders by pre-industrial societies remains mysterious and the names of the engineers who designed them are lost in ancient times.

The most recent history is also marked by famous civil engineering wonders, including the Eiffel Tower, named after Gustave Eiffel, the French civil engineer whose company built it;  the Golden Gate Bridge, designed by Joseph Strauss and Charles Ellis;  the Panama Canal (John Frank Stevens);  the Hoover Dam (John L. Savage);  and the Brooklyn Bridge, designed by John August Roebling and his son Washington Roebling.

Modern civilization is often defined by its built environment.  Buildings and bridges are often the first structures that come to mind, because they are the most striking engineering creations.  But civil engineers are also responsible for less visible creations and contributions.  Every time we open a water tap, we expect water to come out, without thinking that civil engineers made it possible, in many cases designing systems that transport water to cities from mountain sources that are sometimes hundreds of kilometers away.

These professionals understand the environment and how they can use it safely, intelligently and economically to improve our quality of life.

So, in broader terms, what is a civil engineer? AfterSchoolAfrica’s definition of a civil engineer is someone who applies scientific knowledge to improve common public infrastructure and services that meet basic human needs.

Now let’s give you a bit more information BELOW about civil engineers brought to you by your favourite scholarship website.


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What does a civil engineer do?

Civil engineers do much more than design buildings and bridges.  They work in the aerospace industry, designing airplanes and space stations.  They can be found in the automotive industry, calculating the load capacity of a chassis and improving the shock resistance of bumpers and doors.  They are part of the shipbuilding industry, the energy industry and many other industries that require built facilities.

Civil engineering is a particularly exciting profession, because those who work in this field can see the results of their work: a complete bridge, a high-rise building, a subway station or a hydroelectric dam.

The civil world is extremely diverse.  It follows, therefore, that civil engineers have particularly varied career options.  This means that the answer to the question, what does a civil engineer do?  It also varies, depending on the specialty pursued.  However, regardless of the subdiscipline chosen, there are some common tasks that most civil engineers will perform daily.

Civil engineers are often responsible for large teams that participate in project design, planning and construction processes.  This requires that these team members regularly meet, collaborate and manage, consisting of surveyors, construction managers, architects, landscape architects and urban planners.  In addition, they will spend a considerable amount of time designing and planning projects and presenting proposals, needs assessments, budgets and amendments to customers.

Why study civil engineering?

Those who work in civil engineering deal with the infrastructure we live in, from the roads we walk on to how the waste is disposed of.  If you want to leave your mark on the world, but you are not sure which educational path to follow, we have seven reasons why civil engineering may be right for you:

·         Work in an exciting environment

  Civil engineers play a key role in the entire process, from designing a project, to bringing it to life and maintaining it.  Study this topic and you will be part of its fast and challenging nature.

·         Acquire a lot of practical experience

Most Civil Engineering courses currently include at least the option of a placement in the industry during the degree.  Many students even receive a payment for the work they do.

·         Choose from many graduate options

  Interested in more studies?  Many undergraduate courses offer a master’s year, and graduate options are abundant.  The courses include Maritime Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering and Water Management.

·         Enter an effective postgraduate scheme

There are many structured programs offered to recent Civil Engineering graduates.  These provide invaluable experience, transform graduates into highly employable individuals and potentially even offer permanent roles.

·         Get a good starting salary for graduates

  Having a degree in Civil Engineering will definitely help students on their way to becoming well-paid professionals in the sector.  What do graduates earn?  The table shows the significant difference between the starting salary for a Civil Engineering graduate and the starting salary for non-graduates in the subject area.

·         Have a lot of work options

If you think a degree in Civil Engineering takes you on a narrow path, you can think again.  There are many different functions to perform, such as nuclear engineering, the study of quantities or even functions that combine consulting or law.

·         Learn valuable transferable skills

  If after studying the subject you find that a career directly related to Civil Engineering is not suitable for you, do not be afraid, because through the university process, students learn skills that can be used in many other professions.  These include problem solving, decision making, analysis and IT.  In addition, students’ knowledge of science, math and technology is strongly refined.

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Civil engineering requirements

Civil engineers need a degree in civil engineering, in one of their specialties or in civil engineering technology.  Civil engineering and civil engineering technology programs include courses in mathematics, statistics, mechanics and engineering systems and fluid dynamics, depending on the specialty.  The courses include a combination of traditional classroom learning, laboratory work and field work.  Programs may include cooperative programs, also known as cooperatives, in which students gain work experience while pursuing a degree.

In America, a degree from an ABET accredited program is required to obtain a professional engineer (PE) license.  In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also meets the academic requirement to obtain a license.

Additional education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the physical education license and previous experience, is useful for obtaining a job as a manager.

The American Society of Civil Engineers offers certifications in coastal engineering, geotechnical engineering, port engineering, water resources engineering and other fields.  In addition, civil engineers can obtain certification in building safety and sustainability.

Types of civil engineering

As mentioned in the introduction, civil engineering is a collective term that can be subdivided. Basically, there are up to 6 types of civil engineering which include:

·         Structural Engineering

Structural engineers focus mainly on analysis and design of structures like buildings, bridges. They analyze how such structures can hold up to environmental factors like floods, winds and earthquakes. A structural engineer is also supposed to understand the properties of materials that are used in constructions. This is the reason why they are resorted to as consultants when it comes to selection of building and construction materials.

·         Geotechnical Engineering

A geotechnical engineer is trained to incorporate science and technology in the creation of projects and finding of solutions to problems that relate to geology. They focus of construction projects such as tunnels, mines, embankments as well as structural foundations. Such engineers are expected to have vast knowledge of the soils in the construction sites.

·         Environmental Engineering

An environmental engineer analyses environmental problems and goes ahead to develop and create solutions to such problems. This field combines the study of disciplines such as science mathematics, hydrology and atmospheric sciences. The core tasks of an environmental engineer include:

·         Solid waste management

  1. Treatment of water sources
  2. Improvement of air and water quality

Water Resources Engineering

A water resources engineer seeks to improve the quantity and quality of water resources and water. He/she should have sufficient knowledge in meteorology, environmental science and fluid dynamics. These engineers concentrate primarily on flood and storm water analysis, ground water remediation, water supply and planning, wastewater treatment procedures. The also focus on control of soil erosion.

·         Construction Engineering

Basically, construction engineers are entrusted with management tasks. To begin with, every civil engineering project involves a construction. For instance, a building needs to be erected, a road needs to be laid. All such projects are managed by construction engineers.

·         Transportation Engineering

A transportation engineer is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of railways, highways, ports, airfields and several other structures that facilitate transportations. A part from that, they also help in improving the control of traffic by coming up with new methods and ways of controlling traffic. The engineers are also vested with the duty of developing new methods of transportation as well as ways of improving mass transportation.

From the explanations given above, it is clear that civil engineering cannot be generalized to mean one thing. It comprises various fields with persons who carry out distinct functions.

Civil engineering degree online

The online civil engineering degree or one of the best civil engineering schools provides a breadth of experience as well as choices, including concentrations, minors, certificates, or alternate engineering courses.

However, this allows students to supplement civil engineering degree online courses with other engineering knowledge, they desire. An online civil engineering degree can be earned at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate levels.

The days when an online degree meant dubious respectability are well in the past, and online civil engineering degree could provide a path to a high-quality.

Also, with an affordable education that employers would take seriously. But there are a lot of options out there for online engineering degrees and finding the right program.

So this forum has done the leg-work for you. See some of the best civil engineering Programs online.

·         Mississippi State University

The Mississippi State University (MSU) ranks first in this list, with the most grad-level options, offering both online Masters and Doctorate options for Civil /Environmental Engineering (CEE).

Each of the MS and Ph.D. programs has seven CE-related specializations (Construction Engineering and Management, Construction Materials Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Water Resources Engineering) from which to choose, for a total of 14 online CEE options.

This arrangement not only provides graduate students with a breadth of focus but also the option of continuing to doctorate studies to supplement a master’s degree. This is also one of the best civil engineering schools.

Official Link

·         Villanova University

The online civil engineering degreehas a fifth interdisciplinary option which allows the graduate student to combine two of the aforementioned concentrations, amounting to nine graduate level Civil Engineering (CE/ CivEng) options in total. Villanova states that the majority of courses are available online, so some students may need to attend on-campus classes.

The school has tuition worth about $1,395/ credit plus fees. This is one of the best schools for civil engineering which offers a civil engineer degree. 

Official Link

·         Missouri University of Science and Technology

MST has many notable alumni including entrepreneurs, educators, athletes, entertainers, politicians and government officials, military personnel, astronauts, researchers, scientists, and others.

The school is a public university based in Rolla, Missouri, and is part of the University of Missouri System. It offers bachelors’ to doctorate programs, as well as pre- and post-baccalaureate certificate programs.

This is also one of the cheapest online civil engineering degrees, with tuition worth about $1,200/credit hour (except Systems Engineering @ $1,500/c.h. and U.S. Military rate @ $734.94/c.h.).

Official Link

·         North Carolina State University at Raleigh

NCSU is another university with an extensive list of eminent graduates, from all kinds of professions that include politics, sports, IT, business, education, entertainment, military, etc. This is also one of the best civil engineering schools.

This civil engineering degree onlineoffers an online Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) program with 5 concentrations: Construction Engineering and Management; Geotechnical; Structures and Mechanics; Transportation Systems; Water Resources.

This online civil engineering degree is also among the cheapest online civil engineering degree with tuition of a $416/credit hour.

Official Link

·         Ohio University

This is a public university based in Athens, Ohio. It offers a range of certificate programs and associate’s through doctorate level degree programs.

Ohio University (OU) also offers a 100% online Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE), with four focus choices: Construction Engineering and Management, Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering, or Transportation Engineering.

This is among the best schools for civil engineering with tuition worth $24,504.

Official Link

What is the average civil engineering salary

Civil engineers have the opportunity to go virtually anywhere in the world because of the types of projects they work on. Find out what you can expect in terms of salary around the world.

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How Much Do Entry-Level Civil Engineers Make?

The average annual salary for entry-level civil engineers varies across sources. PayScale reports that entry-level civil engineers in the United States make an average of $55,827 per year. However, ZipRecruiter reports the annual pay for U.S.-based civil engineers just starting out in their careers as $49,833.

If you’re just starting out in the field of civil engineering, then it’s a good idea to see what civil engineering jobs pull in around the world. Civil engineers typically require at least a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position. 

Indeed’s data notes junior civil engineers in the United States make an average of $64,177 per year. Glassdoor reports an even higher annual salary for entry-level civil engineers in the United States at $87,353 per year.

However, civil engineers who are just starting their careers make 23,070 BRP or about $28,705 in the United Kingdom, according to Indeed.

Entry-level engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree to get started in their career paths. It also helps to get your degree from an ABET-accredited school, as many companies around the world hire future civil engineers from these programs due to the strong educational foundation and skills you get from ABET-accredited programs. While it is possible to advance your career and earn more money, a professional license is beneficial. 

What Do Salaries for Civil Engineering Jobs Look Like Around the World?

If you want a sense of what to expect from a civil engineering salary in a country you’re considering working in, it’s worth comparing salaries for civil engineering jobs around the world. Here are some common annual salaries for civil engineers worldwide, according to ERI:

  • Australia. $116,161 AUD ($80,778 USD)
  • Brazil. $102.581 BRL ($27,081 USD)
  • Canada. $94,620 CAD ($71,987 USD)
  • China. 223,685 CNY ($32,547 USD)
  • Croatia. 193.178 kn HRK ($29,179 USD)
  • Denmark. 614.262 kr. DKK ($91,752 USD)
  • Germany. 69.754 EUR ($77, 647 USD)
  • Greece. 40.842 EUR ($45,463 USD)
  • Japan. 9,039,271 JPY ($88,155 USD)
  • Mexico. $349,196 MXN ($18,294 USD)
  • Portugal. 30 262 EUR ($33,748 USD)
  • Singapore. $93,337 SGD ($68,279 USD)
  • South Africa. R364,708 ZAR ($25,876 USD)
  • Spain. 37.713 EUR ($42,034 USD)
  • Sweden. 514.776 kr SEK ($54,520 USD)
  • Switzerland. 98’026 CHF ($98,952 USD)
  • Turkey. 86.400 TRY ($15,165 USD)
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE). 269,209 AED ($73,294 USD)
  • United Kingdom. 50,965 GBP ($63,454 USD)
  • United States of America. $87,951 USD

List of top 15 Civil Engineering schools in the world

·         University of Oxford

University of Oxford is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best academic institutions, having produced more than 30 world leaders, including 26 UK prime ministers. Its engineering science undergraduate course is ranked as the top civil engineering degree in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list. Spanning four years, the course prepares students for a career in the future of engineering innovation with a course that integrates every civil discipline for a fundamental understanding of the profession.

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·         Stanford University

With a history that stretches back to 1885, Stanford University is one of the bastions of American academia. Prospective students have to complete a minor in either civil or engineering systems engineering, both of which are designed to provide an introduction to the fundamental laws of engineering. For the civil course, this includes architectural design, construction, and geotechnical engineering, while the engineering systems course covers environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology.

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·         Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT was founded in 1861, more than two decades before Stanford University, and is home to around 11,000 students. The university offers a general engineering course with tailored pathways that allow students to specialise in civil, environmental, or systems engineering. It also prepares students for the era of smart cities, shedding light on the proliferation of data, and the need for building more efficient and sustainable infrastructure.

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·         California Institute of Technology

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The US university commonly referred to as Caltech has a postgraduate course in civil engineering that has been listed as one of the top in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list. Only one in 10 students that apply for the course secure a spot, with the programme promising to prepare students for research and professional expertise in an age of fast-moving technology and interdisciplinary design.

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·         Princeton University

Located in New Jersey, Princeton University offers students one of five engineering-related undergraduate courses called ‘tracks’, which cover architecture, environmental engineering, geological engineering, structural engineering, and liberal arts. The course’s aim is to prepare students for leadership roles in the civil and environmental engineering fields by ensuring they can solve complex problems, communicate effectively, and uphold ethical standards.

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·         Imperial College London

Regarded as one of the UK’s top institutions that taught India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, as well as Sir Alexander Flemming – the inventor of penicillin – Imperial College London has a civil engineering undergraduate course ranked among the best in the country. Its broad syllabus aims to create civil engineers that can build sustainability, protect the environment, and create structures that solve major social and infrastructural problems.

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·         ETH Zurich

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, also known as ETH Zurich, offers a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering that is predominantly taught in the German language. It offers direct access to the ETH Zurich’s postgraduate course, equipping students with an understanding of competencies such as physics, hydraulics, hydrology, structural engineering, material science, geotechnical engineering, and transport infrastructure.

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·         Johns Hopkins University    

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University is another US institution that makes the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list. Undergraduates studying within the programme focus on chemical, mathematical, and physical principles, and the economic, environmental, and societal impact of large-scale projects, such as Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Metro. The curriculum is broad enough to allow students to explore other courses outside the Department of Civil Engineering, such as programmes in water supply and systems analysis.

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·         University College London (UCL)

London’s UCL was founded in 1826 and boasts an undergraduate engineering degree covering civil engineering, structures, geotechnical work, fluids, design, transport analysis, surveying, and materials. Taught by industry-renowned researches and practitioners, the course is accredited by the UK’s Joint Board of Moderators and paves the way to start the process of securing chartership. It costs $12,039 for UK students and $34,804 for international students.

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·         University of California, Berkeley

Located in San Francisco’s Bay Area, University of California, Berkeley offers a four-year civil engineering programme providing students with a comprehensive understanding of engineering science, design, and practice. The course is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the US-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (Abet).

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·         Columbia University

Ranked as one of the top civil engineering degrees in the US is Columbia University, which has undergraduate courses in civil and mechanical engineering. Both are designed as gateways to enter the profession with sufficient understanding of real-world scenarios. Nanomechanics and biochemical engineering are explored in the mechanical course, whilst a broad spectrum of theory and design is covered in the civil engineering programme.

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·         University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles, offers a broad range of educational courses for engineering. Its three-year syllabus includes civil and environmental engineering, materials science, biochemistry, soil mechanics, structural analysis, and elementary fluid mechanics. The programme aims to prepare students to take charge of the infrastructure that provides clean water to drink, unpolluted air to breathe, and safe and secure buildings to live and work in.

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·         Cornell University

Cornell University is part of the Ivy League academic institutions in the US and boasts one of most highly-regarded civil engineering courses in North America, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list. Accredited by Abet, the course has paved the way for Cornell University graduates to assume leadership positions at construction and engineering companies at the forefront of industry. Many others have gone on to create their own companies as well, data shows. 

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·         University of Michigan

As well as grooming former US President Gerald Ford and the co-founder of Google, Larry Page, the University of Michigan schooled the voice actor behind Star Wars villain Darth Vader, Earl Jones. Its civil engineering course covers construction management, and specialises in areas such as environmental, geotechnical, hydraulics and hydrological, materials, and structural engineering.

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·         University of Toronto 

With a campush featuring ornate architecture and open green spaces, Canada’s University of Toronto is a fitting place to study futuristic civil engineering. At its St George Campus, students are taught how to devise plans to regenerate deteriorating urban landscapes and build infrastructure strong enough to withstand natural disasters. After two years of study, there is an option to specialise in urban engineering, sustainable infrastructure, or environmental engineering.

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·         Tsinghua University

Located in northwest Beijing, China, Tsinghua University is the most highly-ranked university in Asia for civil engineering, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list. The degree aims to educate undergraduates in advanced mechanics and mathematics to effectively prepare them to build the infrastructure in China – and farther afield – that cements the country’s position as a global superpower. Students are also equipped with foreign language skills so they are able to support the construction of global projects.

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·         National University of Singapore

The top-ranked institute in Singapore for civil engineering by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 list is the city-state’s flagship National University of Singapore. At the heart of the course is a focus on interdisciplinary design and construction of infrastructure that focuses on the need to preserve the environment in light of rapid urbanisation and rising energy costs. Students are also taught how to analyse data and extract insights that can help solve complex challenges.

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·         Carnegie Mellon University

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University is named after notable industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who established the research-heavy institute in 1900. The curriculum of its Abet-accredited civil engineering undergraduate degree focuses on design and teamwork, encouraging students to study or work aboard, and participate in research projects.

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·         Northwestern University

McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University in Illinois, US, has an Abet-accredited course that acts as a bridge between science and society, according to the university. As well as learning the basic laws of engineering, students are trained to develop computer models and carry out analytical experiments to stress-test infrastructure systems.

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Civil engineering is considered the broadest of all the engineering fields. It is important that one does a good research and consideration before delving into it.

Studying civil engineering in one of the best civil engineering schools in the world is one of the fundamental things a prospective civil engineer needs. Studying in an institution that is not or yet to be accredited by the responsible bodies will delay or mar your dreams. This content will serve as a guide for you to make the best choice. Do well to visit it again if you have to.

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