If you dream of designing a town or envisioning ways to improve road layout, you might enjoy pursuing a civil engineering degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of employed civil engineers to grow 11% from 2016-2026, faster than the average for most other occupations. With a constantly growing population, and thus a heightened need for additional waterways and roads, now remains an ideal time to pursue a civil engineering bachelor's online.
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Best Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Programs
Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degree Program Ranking Guidelines: We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
- Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
- Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
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If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
1. Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University Online's BS in civil engineering technology trains the next generation of cartographers, surveyors, civil drafters, mapping technicians, and wind energy project managers. Approved by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, the program prepares students to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and seek professional licensure.
The 120-credit online civil engineering degree features 25 credits of major-focused coursework, including subjects like soils and materials testing, fluid mechanics, engineering economics, and sustainable building practices. The online civil engineering program also offers concentrations in construction management, structural design, and site development. Online learners at ODU take both asynchronous and synchronous courses, using the Blackboard online platform to view lectures, complete assignments, participate in discussions, and give presentations to their peers. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and complete a senior assessment before they graduate.
Located in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU accepts transfer credits from most regionally accredited colleges and universities and maintains articulation agreements with Richard Bland College and all public community colleges in Virginia.
ODU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
2. University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
University of North Dakota's online BS in civil engineering develops key skills such as problem analysis and solving, engineering design, technical support, research, contract administration, and project management.
Most students can complete the 134-credit program in four years. Courses include subjects like fluid mechanics, hazardous waste management, surveying, and transportation engineering. In steel design, students learn about select bolted and welded connections, bearings, trusses, and the lightgage and fatigue of structural members. Although most learning happens online, civil engineering students must attend a few lectures and labs at UND's campus in Grand Forks over the summer.
Incoming freshmen under the age of 25 must have a high school GPA of 2.75 or higher and an ACT score of at least 22. Those with GPAs above 3.0 may get in with slightly lower ACT scores. Applicants also must provide their official high school transcripts. These requirements do not apply to applicants over 25.
UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Choosing an Online Civil Engineering Degree Program
See the 50 Best Online Colleges & Universities for 2019
You can also advance your learning by choosing a concentration or subfield. During the first few weeks of your studies, try to pinpoint 1-2 favorite topics. Then, take elective classes that further your education about these topics. For example, decide whether you prefer learning about structural engineering (the construction of nonbuilding structures such as bridges or dams) or construction engineering (the building of residential or commercial buildings). You might also discover you love one aspect in particular of civil engineering, such as drafting or surveying. Specializing in one area makes you a favorable job candidate.
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Program?
- Surveying Course: Although this class varies by program, students typically learn the basics of surveying, including best practices for horizontal, vertical, and angular measurements. This course also teaches students how to read building, highway, and bridge plans. Another common topic is the theory of errors, the idea that no matter how carefully surveyors measure, some degree of error always exists.
- Geographical Information System (GIS) Course: In this class, students learn how to use, collect, and analyze spatial data. GIS courses also cover related technologies and how to apply them to civil engineering projects. This course shows learners how to visually represent spatial data in the form of maps or graphs.
- Civil Engineering Materials Course: This course reviews the origin and properties of civil engineering materials including cement, wood, concrete, and aggregates. Other topics include which material works best for which structures, the mechanics of how well each material performs, and each material's general nature.
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Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Careers
With a civil engineering online bachelor's degree, you open the door to many career paths and fields. In fact, graduates often work in industries that do not relate directly to civil engineering, such as urban design or construction. Below you can learn more about different careers you can pursue with an online civil engineering degree and the pay potential for each.
- Civil Engineer: These professionals collaborate with specialists on infrastructure projects and systems. Some civil engineers work in the private sector but most work in the public sector. They supervise the maintenance and construction of bridges, dams, airports, roads, and buildings. Creating and improving water and sewage systems remains another important job responsibility.
- Median Annual Salary: $84,770
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Construction Manager: These individuals oversee construction projects from the initial planning phase to the building phase. This job requires excellent interpersonal and budgeting skills in addition to basic civil engineering knowledge. This position sometimes calls for working in harsh outdoor conditions, but the pay makes it well worth the discomfort.
- Median Annual Salary: $91,370
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Urban/Regional Planner: As the world's population continues to grow, urban and regional planners remain hard at work developing plans for creating new communities and revitalizing cities and towns. These professionals work with public officials and developers to create plans for land use.
- Median Annual Salary: $71,490
- Projected Growth Rate: 13%
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Educational Paths for Online Civil Engineering Bachelor's Programs
While a bachelor's in civil engineering online degree can certainly help you start your career, a master's degree can accelerate your professional journey to the top. Often, gaining enough knowledge through on-the-job experience for high-paying top-level positions takes years. In addition, many of these positions require a master's degree. A master's degree in civil engineering opens new doors and can help you better serve the community through more advanced planning and building. Take a look at some of the common programs you can pursue after earning a bachelor's in civil engineering degree online.
- Master's of Civil Engineering: For those who want to dig deeper into a variety of civil engineering topics, a master's in civil engineering serves as a great option. If you already possess an online civil engineering degree, consider pursuing a more specialized type of master's degree.
- Master's of Surveying: A master's of surveying covers everything from calculus to the legal aspects of surveying. Through this program, you gain a better grasp on how to use surveying instruments and applied physics.
- Master's of Urban Design: Through this program, students learn the elements of architectural landscape design. Professionals who earn this degree typically work in the public sector and help with establishing new neighborhoods or revitalizing older ones.
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