Why Civil Engineering Graduate Study?
The innovative, dynamic work of civil and environmental engineers can be seen everywhere in today's world. Our graduate students can take advantage of small class sizes, excellent teaching, on-campus and off-campus delivery mechanisms, and high-quality funded research at USC. Graduate programs in civil and environmental engineering provide students with expertise in a subfield of civil and environmental engineering, an opportunity for an in-depth research experience at the frontiers of these fields, and skills for life-long learning and professional development. Our research projects stem from many areas of civil and environmental engineering and are often conducted by multidisciplinary teams and researchers of different backgrounds.
Programs of Study
Civil engineering graduate degrees include the Master of Engineering (M.E.), which is perceived to be more practically oriented and the Master of Science (M.S.), which is considered more scholarly or fundamental and includes a thesis. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) focuses on research. The Ph.D. is essential for civil engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development occupations in industry and government laboratories.
Visit Graduate Handbooks and Curricula for additional detail.
Our Ph.D. program prepares graduates to meet growing demands for advanced research within the areas of civil and environmental engineering.
Major components of the Civil Engineering Ph.D. program include:
- Research resulting in a dissertation proposal, a dissertation, a dissertation defense, and 12 hours of dissertation credit
- Qualifying and comprehensive exams
- 48 credit hours of graduate-level coursework, including at least 9 hours in a core specialization of civil and environmental engineering. Up to 30 credit hours of approved courses from a prior master’s degree may be transferred to meet this requirement.
- At least half of the graduate-level coursework must be at the 700-level or above, and up to 9 credit hours of coursework may be taken in areas of interest outside the department
Civil Engineering Ph.D. students develop a deep understanding in an advancing field of civil and environmental engineering and the ability to apply that understanding to solve a variety of technical and societal problems. The ability to execute a research plan, to generate and analyze original results, and to communicate those results through oral presentations and written publications is a distinguishing feature of the Ph.D. program.
Our 30 semester-hour M.S. program includes a thesis and serves civil and environmental engineers who wish to obtain advanced studies to enhance their qualifications within the industry.
Major components of the Civil Engineering M.S. program include:
- Research resulting in a thesis, thesis defense, and 6 hours of thesis credit
- A comprehensive exam
- 24 credit hours of graduate-level coursework, at least half of which is at the 700-level or above
- Up to 9 credit hours of coursework may be taken in areas of interest outside the department
Graduates of the Civil Engineering M.S. program will develop the technical, leadership, communication, problem-solving and organization skills required for professional advancement and life-long learning.
This 30 semester-hour program is designed to give students focused training in the practice of civil and environmental engineering,
Major components of the Civil Engineering M.E. program include:
- A comprehensive assessment: a written career plan OR written summary of research in civil engineering
- 30 credit hours of graduate-level coursework, including at least 18 credit hours at the 700-level or above
- Up to 12 credit hours of coursework may be taken in areas of interest outside the department
- At least 9 credit hours of graduate-level program area core courses
The M.E. in Civil Engineering will prepare you to tackle difficult projects and to develop designs, solve problems and make impactful decisions.
Areas of Specialization
Civil engineering is a broad and interdisciplinary field. Our graduate programs are designed to help students develop expertise in a specific core subject area of civil and environmental engineering. As such, graduate students take three or more courses within a selected specialization. Available specializations include:
- Environmental Engineering
- Geotechnical Engineering
- Structural Engineering
- Water Resources Engineering
- Transportation Engineering
In addition, a Graduate Certificate in Railway Engineering may be earned concurrently with any graduate degree in Civil Engineering.
Visit the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department for more information on our faculty and research areas
All applications must be submitted to the Graduate School of the University of South Carolina. Admission is competitive, and decisions are based on the quality of the applicant's previous university-level academic work, letters of recommendation, GRE scores and other evidence of past accomplishments. Criteria for the M.E. and M.S. degree differ slightly from those for the Ph.D., as described below.
Students should have the equivalent of an M.E. or M.S. degree in civil engineering or closely related engineering field. Exceptional students may be eligible to enter directly the Ph.D. degree program with a B.S. degree in civil engineering or closely related engineering field. Ph.D. applicants without a master’s degree must generally exceed the minimum GPA and test score requirements for the master’s degree programs. Outstanding students with non-engineering baccalaureate degrees may qualify for admission to the Ph.D. degree program, with the understanding that they complete any deficiency/prerequisite courses.
The general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all students entering the Ph.D. degree program. Typically, successful applicants have combined scores of at least 301 (1100 in the old scale) on the Verbal and Quantitative (V + Q) sections, and at least 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section.
Applicants whose native language is not English are also required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (internet-based) or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. In addition, students whose native language is not English are required to take a diagnostic test in English when they arrive at the University. Students with deficiencies are provided an opportunity for further study in reading, writing, and speaking English.
The requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering conform to the regulations of the Graduate School. The student is responsible for satisfying both departmental and Graduate School requirements.
Students with a B.S. in Civil Engineering:
Students with Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in civil engineering may apply to the M.E. or M.S. degree programs. A GPA of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate coursework, and 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on any graduate coursework is required. Exceptions to the minimum undergraduate GPA requirements for admission to the M.E. or M.S. degree program may be made for students with special qualifications.
Students with undergraduate degrees in other areas:
Students with baccalaureate degrees in areas other than civil engineering or engineering degrees from programs not accredited by ABET, may also apply to the M.E. or M.S. degree programs. For such students, the minimum GPA is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on both undergraduate coursework and on any graduate course work. Such students may be required to complete deficiency/prerequisite undergraduate courses.
As a minimum, the following deficiency/prerequisite courses or equivalent will be required:
- MATH 141, 142 and 242
- CHEM 111
- PHYS 211
- ECIV 200 and 201
- STAT 509 or STAT 511
Students will also be required to take all undergraduate courses that are listed as prerequisites for courses taken for graduate credit. In general, deficiency/prerequisite courses must be completed with a B average. Specific specialization areas may require additional course work.
The general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all students entering the M.S. degree program and the M.E. degree program.* Typically, successful applicants have combined scores of at least 301 (1100 in the old scale) on the Verbal and Quantitative (V + Q) sections, and at least 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section.
*Note for M.E. applicants: The general GRE is waived for students having a GPA greater than 2.8 and a B.S. degree in civil or environmental engineering from an ABET-accredited program. The GRE is required for all other M.E. applicants.
Applicants whose native language is not English are also required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (internet-based) or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. In addition, students whose native language is not English are required to take a diagnostic test in English when they arrive at the university. Students with deficiencies are provided an opportunity for further study in reading, writing and speaking English.