Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Master of Science (MS) is a graduate degree for those who desire not only to acquire fundamental knowledge but also to contribute to the advancement of knowledge through independent, original research.

ESE offers two MS programs: in CE and SE. The unifying elements underscore the interrelationships among modern civil, environmental and systems engineering. Both programs provide a springboard for careers as an academician, as a researcher, as a consultant or in management/leadership within a university, institute, industry, or government setting. ESE master’s programs include three components:

  • Coursework to gain fundamental and advanced knowledge
  • Research conducted in a collaborative environment leading to a thesis and scholarly papers
  • Engagement in UVA’s intellectual life

See below for information on the Civil Engineering MS program, or download the ESE GRADUATE HANDBOOK

Admissions Criteria

The deadlines for MS applications with financial aid requests are Jan. 6 for fall semester and Sept. 30 for spring semester. Applicants may apply to both the CE and the SE programs concurrently. All ESE faculty are eligible to advise students enrolled in the CE and/or SE MS programs. We accept applications from candidates with degrees from all engineering and some affiliated backgrounds. In some cases, candidates who do not have engineering or similar credentials will be offered conditional admission, which will require them to take selected undergraduate coursework in addition to the coursework required for their MS.

Most accepted MS students receive financial aid. Funding offers take the form of graduate research assistantships (GRAs), graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) and/or various fellowships. The department’s default stipend for master’s students is $26,250 per year. Funded offers also include tuition and health insurance. Some MS students are funded by third-party entities (e.g., their employer or government or military agencies), and a small number of students are self-funded.



Engineering School Requirements

Engineering School requirements for MS degrees are described on the UVA GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING’S INFORMATION WEBPAGE. This page also addresses admission requirements, rules and regulations pertaining to financial assistance and outside employment, and other matters. The portion of the Engineering School’s website devoted to CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS contains many helpful resources, including required forms.

Time limit: All requirements for the MS degree must be completed within five years after matriculation to the graduate program.

Program Requirements

A candidate for the MS in CE must fulfill the general requirements of the Engineering School along with the following specific requirements.

Coursework: The MS in CE requires 30 credits of coursework and research beyond the BS program, of which at least 12 credits must be taken within CE. In addition, students must take required core courses specified in their subspecialty area. For example, an Environmental and Water Resources Engineering student should take at least four core courses from EWRE track plan of study. 

Plan of Study: Students should prepare corresponding plan of study shown below including prerequisite courses and approved by their advisor and the CE graduate program director.


A student must be the author or coauthor of at least one technical manuscript under review or accepted into a conference or journal before scheduling their final thesis defense.

Thesis and Committee

MS students will work with their advisor to identify a suitable master’s research topic. Up to six of the 30 credits toward the MS will typically comprise thesis research via the CE 8999 listing. The MS candidate and their advisor will also select an MS thesis committee comprising at least three UVA faculty members. One of these three members may be from outside ESE. At least two of the three members must be faculty members with non-zero percentage appointments in ESE. The thesis committee must review and approve the student’s academic requirements report, written thesis and oral thesis defense. MS students should check the accuracy and completeness of their academic requirements report in the Student Information System (SIS) frequently, at least at the start and end of each semester and in consultation with their faculty advisor. The APPOINTMENT OF FINAL EXAMINATION COMMITTEE form to appoint the MS thesis committee must be submitted at least 14 days before the proposed final defense date to the ESE student services coordinators, as they will obtain the CE graduate program director approval and submit the request form to the graduate office. Degree candidates must apply for graduation in SIS at the beginning of the semester in which they’re expected to graduate.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to email the ESE student services coordinators their announcement information which consists of the committee members list with the chair and advisor identified, the meeting date, time, and location information, and the thesis defense title and abstract at least two weeks before the final defense. The ESE student services coordinators will provide the chairperson with the relevant forms (REPORT ON FINAL EXAMINATION and THESIS AND DISSERTATION ASSESSMENT) for the final defense. In addition, after successful completion of their final defense, the candidate must submit the dissertation via Libra (see GRADUATION PROCEDURE).

Seminar Series

ESE is committed to providing members of our community with the opportunity to learn from a wide range of scholars and practicing engineers through seminars. These seminars are organized as (a) our weekly Graduate Colloquium, led by our Graduate Student Council, and (b) Distinguished Speakers invited by our faculty on an ad-hoc basis. As an essential component of graduate education, MS students should register for at least two semesters (preferably in their first year) of CE 7001 with zero credit hours and are expected to participate in the ESE and UVA seminars regularly and actively.

Training and Engagement

MS students are expected to be good citizens of the department by engaging in required training activities and participating in departmental activities (e.g., symposiums, workshops, social events).