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Study a graduate program in civil engineering

What will I study a graduate civil engineering program?

Civil Engineering is essentially concerned with infrastructure. This includes, for example, road and railway networks, water supply and sewage systems, and of course building design and construction.

It is one of the oldest and most common of the all the engineering disciplines, and is offered as a postgraduate course all over the world.
When studying a civil engineering postgraduate course, you will be able to specialise in a number of engineering areas, including:
  • Structural
  • Transportation
  • Hydraulic
  • Geotechnical
  • Environmental
Most graduate civil engineering programs include a mixture of lectures and lab work, and there’s usually an emphasis on team working: an integral part of being a civil engineer. There may also be field trips and opportunities to complete industry placements of varying length.

Length of program

Depending on which country you study in, graduate civil engineering programs will vary in length. Here are some examples of country and length:
  • UK- 1-3 years
  • US – 1-2 years
  • China – 2-3 years
  • Canada – 1-4 years
Many Masters programs lead straight into PhDs, which will prolong your study by normally at least a further two years.

Entry requirements

It is almost always necessary to have completed an undergraduate degree, in the same or related subject, with a high result – at least a 2:2 honours – before undertaking a graduate civil engineering program.

Relevant practical experience, in the civil engineering industry, will always be beneficial if not mandatory.

If you choose to study in a country with a different first language to your own, you may need to take a language course/test before admitted.

Career development

Often a distinction is made between ‘consulting’, ‘contracting’ and ‘maintenance’ civil engineers.

Consulting engineers are those who work on the design stage of a project, collaborating with architects and other professionals.

Contracting engineers oversee the actual construction, dealing with practical issues such as procuring materials and meeting deadlines, and helping to resolve any problems that arise.

Maintenance engineers are most commonly employed to maintain equipment and machinery used in manufacturing processes. This involves regular checking and monitoring, and overseeing the replacement or upgrading of equipment.

Most graduates aim towards becoming a fully fledged Chartered Engineer. To do this, you must pass the Engineering Council Standards exam and have completed sufficient work experience.

The problem-solving, technical, and analytical skills you will learn during a civil engineering postgraduate course will also be applicable to a number of other careers, including those focused around Accountancy and Science and Technology.

Fees and funding

The cost of a graduate civil engineering program varies widely, depending on the country, the institution and the course. Furthermore, you may have to pay higher fees as an international student.

Here are some examples of countries and how much their average graduate civil engineering program will cost you:
  • UK - £4,000 - £18,000 (national or international)
  • USA - $20,000 - $30,000
  • China – RMB 17,000 – 36,000
  • Canada - $6,000 – $25,000

What to do next

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