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.


The Master of Science (MS) degree in Civil Engineering is a graduate degree with a focus on research. The MS degree supports those wishing to pursue careers in industry, consulting, or government. The MS degree is also well suited for those who are interested in pursuing a path of research at the Ph.D. level. Our program is designed to provide a blend of research skills, fundamental knowledge development, and professional skills needed for careers in research and industry.

The MS degree program in CEE is offered in five areas of specialization:

  • Construction Engineering and Management (CEM)
  • Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE)
  • Infrastructure Systems Engineering (ISE)
  • Structural Engineering (STR)
  • Transportation Engineering (TRN)

The MS degree requires successful completion of required coursework and defense of the MS thesis.

See below for information on the MS program in CEE, or download the CEE Graduate Handbook.

Admissions Criteria

All CEE faculty are eligible to advise students enrolled in the CE 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. Funded offers include monthly stipends, tuition waiver, and health insurance. Some MS students are funded by third-party entities (e.g., their employer or government or military agencies).

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Engineering School Requirements

The School of Engineering academic requirements for the MS degree and steps to graduation can be found on the Office of Graduate Programs webpage. The School of Engineering Office of Graduate Programs also containts helpful resources about academic planning, student life, professional development for current graduate students. More information about the the School of Engineering academic rules can be found on the University Registrar's website.

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

Program Requirements

The MS degree in Civil Engineering at UVA requires successful completion of required coursework and defense of the MS thesis. These are briefly described below and more information can be found in the CEE Graduate Handbook.

  • Coursework

    The MS degree in Civil Eengineering requires a minimum of 24 credits of graded engineering coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree, of which at least 12 credits must be civil engineering courses (CE designation), and a total of 30 credits consisting of graded coursework and research (CE 8999). In addition, students must take the required core courses specified in their area of specialization. The MS degree program in CEE is offered in five areas of specialization (or track). Click on the links below to see a proposed plan of study for each track as well as a summary of required prerequisite undergraduate courses. 

    The Plan of Study must be prepared under the guidance of the student’s MS advisor and approved by the CEE Graduate Program Director. The approved plan of study may be revised if necessary but must be re-submitted for approval.

  • MS Thesis

    Each MS student must satisfactorily present and defend a thesis based on an independent, original research supervised by the student’s MS advisor. 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 degree will typically comprise thesis research via the CE 8999 listing. The MS thesis Defense is conducted orally and publicly in front of the MS Thesis Committee.

    The purpose of the MS thesis defense is to test the student’s knowledge of their field of research. The defense is conducted orally and publicly in front of the entire MS Committee, which was previously approved by the Engineering Graduate Registrar’s Office. The first part of the MS Thesis Defense, which should last approximately 30 minutes, is an oral presentation of the thesis by the student. This will be followed by a one- to two-hour oral defense before the MS Committee.

    To complete their MS, the student must submit their approved final thesis, along with the Thesis/Dissertation Cover, and Approval Pages Form to Libra, the online archive of UVA, by the deadline specified in the academic calendar. Students should discuss any copyright/embargo issues with their advisors prior to the upload. For more information on Libra and instruction of how to upload, please visit the Office of Graduate Programs website and the Libra’s Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) Submission Checklist.

    Please review the CEE Graduate Handbook for more information about the timing, format, and committee composition for the MS thesis. 

  • CEE Seminar Serices

    As an essential component of the graduate program in CEE, MS students are required to enroll in CE 7001 (with zero credit hours) and attend the CEE seminars during the 2023–2024 academic year.

    CEE Seminar Series is a weekly event during the academic year that brings together CEE faculty and students to learn about new research and practices in different areas of civil and environmental engineering. Research presentations are given by Distinguished Speakers from within the university community as well as nationally and internationally recognized researchers and engineers in academia and industry. The weekly seminars also include talks and presentations from CEE graduate students as well as presentations geared towards professional development.