25 Best Master's in Civil Engineering Programs 2020

Ranking Badge

We ranked the top 25 schools by median salary one year after college for students who graduate with a master's degree in civil engineering. Manhattan College is ranked #1 with a median graduate salary of $81,100. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, with a debt of $19,934. The schools on the list boast median starting salaries ranging from $67,900 to $81,100.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Manhattan College $19,139 Not Reported $81,100
#2 #2 Columbia University in the City of New York $48,390 $61,500 $80,400
#3 #3 Stanford University $51,354 $41,000 $79,800
#4 #4 University of Southern California $45,561 Not Reported $78,100
#5 #5 University of California - Berkeley $29,233 $26,300 $76,900
#6 #6 $18,734 $22,428 $76,300
#8 #8 $30,578 $24,126 $71,900
#9 #9 $36,061 Not Reported $71,900
#10 #10 $45,426 Not Reported $71,800
#11 #11 $29,584 Not Reported $71,500
#12 #12 $38,584 $20,500 $70,300
#13 #13 $29,629 $21,055 $70,100
#14 #14 $33,102 $30,750 $70,100
#15 #15 $31,279 $30,819 $70,100
#16 #16 $54,976 Not Reported $71,100
#17 #17 $55,440 Not Reported $69,800
#18 #18 $23,821 Not Reported $69,600
#19 #19 $19,360 $41,187 $69,200
#20 #20 $20,754 $19,934 $69,000
#21 #21 $30,869 Not Reported $68,900
#22 #22 $18,291 Not Reported $68,700
#23 #23 $28,499 $33,859 $68,400
#24 #24 $31,808 Not Reported $68,300
#25 #25 $17,824 $30,119 $67,900

2020 Best Master's Program Highlights

Median Debt
Not Reported
Median Salary
$81,100

Manhattan College features a Master of Science in Civil Engineering through its Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This 30-credit program can be completed in less than two years. Manhattan’s School of Engineering dates to 1893, making it one of the oldest engineering programs in the country.

The degree is designed for professionals who want to improve their skills for career advancement. Students choose one of three specialties. The Structural Engineering option focuses on the design and building of infrastructure, whereas the Geotechnical Engineering specialty is concerned with the interaction of soils and geology as it relates to supporting structures. The Construction Management option deals with construction projects from inception to completion. Courses offered include Subsurface Bioremediation, Tunneling, Restoration of Historic Buildings, and Water and Wastewater Treatment Processes.

Manhattan College was founded as a Lasallian Catholic college in 1853. The Lasallian ethos comes from the Christian Brothers and emphasizes intellect, work, and service, qualities that still characterize the college today. The program emphasis is on technical skills and professional advancement. Students will sharpen their existing skills and learn the latest theory and practical approaches. The campus location in New York City gives students access to a wide array of infrastructure examples in the built environment.

Visit Manhattan College's website.

Median Debt
$61,500
Median Salary
$80,400

Through its Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University offers a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Engineer Mechanics. The degree requires 30 credits and takes at least two semesters to complete.

The degree has six concentration options: Construction Engineering and Management, Engineering Mechanics, Environmental Engineering and Water Resources, Forensic Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and Structural Engineering. The unusual Forensic Engineering option is concerned with examining structural problems and remedying failures of structures like bridges and buildings. Among the courses in the program are Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, Prevention and Resolution of Construction Disputes, Design of Large-Scale Bridges, and Mechanics of Fracture and Fatigue.

The program is multidisciplinary, with an emphasis on developing problem solvers. Students will have a solid technical base and will also develop decision-making, problem-solving and leadership skills. The program has an unusually low student-faculty of five to one. Columbia’s Manhattan location gives students extraordinary access to a huge variety of systems in the built environment. Columbia has close relations to many of the firms active in renovation and construction in the city, and the school's engineering lab is one of the most advanced in the world.

Visit Columbia University's website.

Median Debt
$41,000
Median Salary
$79,800

Stanford University offers a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The degree requires 45 credits and may be completed in two years. Admission requires a BS in Civil Engineering or an equivalent.

Students choose from four concentrations: Atmosphere and Energy, Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering and Geomechanics, and Sustainable Design and Construction. The Atmosphere and Energy option concerns increasing the efficiency of energy use and optimizing renewable energy. Environmental Engineering focuses on water and other natural resources. Geomechanics looks at structures, foundations, and hazard mitigation. Sustainable Design focuses on careers in the built environment, such as sustainable infrastructure construction. The program emphasizes technical competency in a student’s field, with a strong focus on sustainability at the point where infrastructure and natural resources intersect. Students will enhance their technical engineering skills and develop interpersonal skills like teamwork and communication.

Among the courses offered are Infrastructure Project Development, Energy Efficient Building Design, Sustainable Urban Fundamentals, and Reinventing Design and Construction. Stanford is located in Palo Alto, California.

Visit Stanford University's website.

Median Debt
Not Reported
Median Salary
$78,100

The University of Southern California offers a Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE). The 27 credit on-campus degree is offered through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. The program is usually completed in under two years.

The program offers five specializations. The basic degree is the General Option, which is concerned with general environmental engineering, water resources, and hydrology. The Construction Engineering and Management option emphasizes the management of a project from inception to construction. The Structural Engineering option focuses on the maintenance of infrastructure. The Transportation Engineering concentration focuses on the design and construction of all forms of transportation systems, including air and public transit. The fifth option is an interdisciplinary focus on the sustainability of infrastructure and systems.

The program focuses on professional competence and the ethics of sustainability. Students will learn technical skills, but they will also understand the relationship between engineering projects, public policy and the public, with an emphasis on communication skills. A student’s classes will differ according to concentration. Example courses include Water Supply and Sewage Systems, Traffic Engineering and Control, Advanced Steel Structures, and Ocean and Coastal Engineering. USC is located in Los Angeles.

Visit the University of Southern California's website.

Median Debt
$26,300
Median Salary
$76,900

The University of California-Berkeley features a Master of Science program in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Students choose one of seven options when they submit their application and are admitted to that specific program only. 

The options are Energy, Civil Infrastructure and Climate, Project Management, Environmental Engineering, GeoSystems, Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials, Civil Systems, and Transportation Systems. All the programs are focused on infrastructure construction and maintenance and their relationship to natural factors, such as wind, soil dynamics and earthquakes. These degree options require 24 credits, and can be completed in nine months of full-time study on campus.

The overall focus of the program is developing sustainability-conscious engineers with a strong natural science and engineering base. Students will graduate well-versed in natural sciences and the technical problem-solving skills appropriate for their professional interests. Courses will vary according to a student’s concentration. Sample courses include Air Quality Engineering, Alternative Transportation Fuels and Technologies, Law for Engineers, and Advanced Earthquake Analysis.

Visit University of California - Berkeley’s website.

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