Civil Engineering Undergraduate Program

Civil Engineering is the application of science and technology to the planning, design, analysis, construction, and management of the physical facilities, systems, and the environment to sustainably meet society’s needs for shelter, transportation, water, and a safe environment.

It is the broadest of all engineering professions, encompassing activities in space to below ground.

Our CURRICULUM offers a wide selection in civil engineering courses, including courses in structural engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, water resources engineering, materials, construction engineering and management, and geotechnical engineering. In their third-years students select from one of four civil engineering tracks: infrastructure engineering, environmental and water resources engineering, construction engineering and management or structural engineering.

What do civil engineers do?

Civil Engineers are the fabricators of our modern society and the protectors of the quality of the environment. They deal with people and their management, materials and their use, designs and their application, and the problems of beneficially interweaving these factors to sustainably serve society.

Civil engineering projects include environmental facilities, such as systems for water quality control, toxic and hazardous waste control, and storm water networks; structures, such as high-rise buildings, bridges, off-shore platforms, shuttle launch pads, and dams; and transportation facilities, such as airports, highways, and rail. Civil engineering has a long history and a bright future because it serves the basic needs of society. There is an extraordinary demand for civil engineers as we seek to upgrade our aging infrastructure to meet the challenges of the future.

B. S. degree holder options include employment with engineering and business consulting firms, local, state or federal government, contractors or construction firms, public utilities or industrial corporations. Given the breadth of the opportunities and challenges we have created a flexible undergraduate curriculum for all students to tailor their experience to meet their personal career objectives. Our students, if they so choose, are well positioned to continue their education after their undergraduate degrees with graduate and professional degrees, in areas such as engineering, planning and business.

Subareas of Civil Engineering

  • Structural Engineering

    Structural Analysis | Structural Design

    Structural engineering involves the utilization of art and science in the planning, analysis, design, and construction of structural systems. It encompasses the areas of structural analysis and design, structural mechanics, soil mechanics, foundation design, and structural properties of materials. Typical structures of concern to the structural engineer include the traditional civil engineering structures such as buildings, bridges, highways, and dams, but also the more specialized and complex types of structures such as aircraft and space structures, nuclear containment vessels, transmission towers, and underground structures. The fundamental principles of engineering mechanics comprise the theoretical underpinning of all areas of structural engineering. Application of these principles permits the structural engineer to determine the stresses and corresponding serviceability of a structure, the geotechnical engineer to assess the engineering properties of soil and the corresponding appropriate foundation design, and the materials engineer to predict and design engineering materials with desired strength and response characteristics. While structural engineers use sophisticated mathematical models and employ digital computers extensively to perform analysis calculations, the total planning and design of a structural system requires experience and judgement as well as mathematical abilities.

    Although only one part of the overall civil engineering profession, structural engineering is a broad discipline offering challenging opportunities in a diversity of career paths. The undergraduate program in civil engineering at the University of Virginia attempts to provide every student with the necessary fundamentals in structural engineering. Therefore, the student will be able to make a reasonable choice as to career preferences and will also have the necessary background to make a contribution in the chosen job, whether it be with a consulting firm, private industry, or government.

  • Civil Engineering Materials

    Selection of Building Materials | Mechanics of Advanced Materials

    As builders of the infrastructure of society, civil engineers need a strong understanding of the property of materials as they relate to civil engineering. Properties of stress, strain, shear, and deformation are applied to a wide range of engineering materials, including metals, concrete, wood, and composites. Knowledge of these materials allow a civil engineer to select appropriate building materials. A civil engineer emphasizing this area is prepared for future study in applied mechanics.

  • Geotechnical Engineering

    Soil and Rock Mechanics | Foundation Engineering | Earthquake Engineering

    Geotechnical Engineering focuses on the engineering behavior of earth materials such as soil and rock. Geotechnical engineering uses principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate subsurface conditions and materials by determining the relevant physical/mechanical and chemical properties of these materials. Since most every civil engineering project is supported by the ground in some manner, geotechnical engineers interact with most of the other subareas of civil engineering. Typical geotechnical engineering projects include the design of foundations for various structures, tunneling, the design of roadway sub-grades, design of earthen dams for water storage or flood control, or the disposal of waste products by burial in the ground.

  • Water Resources Engineering

    Mechanics of Fluids | Stormwater Management | Groundwater Hydrology | Water Supply | Flood Management

    Water resources engineers address a wide variety of challenges related to quantities of water, ranging from providing water supply to developing communities, managing stormwater runoff in highly urbanized cities, restoring riverways, and protecting coastal communities from flooding. A successful water resource engineer uses, not only physics, mathematics, and computer modeling, but also economics, regional planning and communication. Graduates that have specialized in water resources engineering are often employed by public agencies and consulting engineering firms. Water resources courses within the Civil Engineering Program include fluid mechanics, water resources engineering, stormwater management, and groundwater hydrology. In addition, courses from complementary programs, such as environmental sciences, global development studies, and urban and regional planning are encouraged to strengthen and broaden a civil engineer’s preparation to successfully address the complex challenge of creating sustainable water resource systems.

  • Environmental Engineering

    Water and Wastewater Treatment | Environmental Chemistry | Pollutant Transport | Environmental Quality Management | Waste Management

    Environmental engineering focuses on the interface between human society and the environment. Environmental engineers seek to make the environment safe for humans, while minimizing our impact on the environment. The field addresses a wide range of natural and manmade problems that exist in both undeveloped countries and highly technological societies. An environmental engineer must be technically competent and have the ability to analyze a problem, interpret the results, and synthesize a solution that is technically, economically, socially, and politically viable. Graduates that have specialized in environmental engineering are employed by industry, environmental agencies and consulting engineering firms, and may apply their skills to a broad range of challenges, including water and wastewater treatment; toxic and hazardous waste management; solid waste management; air pollution; contaminant transport modeling; and sustainability management. Within the Civil Engineering Program, students interested in environmental engineering may study water and wastewater treatment, environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, contaminant transport, and green engineering. In addition, courses from complementary programs, such as environmental sciences, chemistry, and global development studies are encouraged to strengthen and broaden a civil engineer’s preparation to successfully address the challenges facing our environment.

  • Construction Engineering and Management

    Construction Engineering | Project Management and Planning | Engineering Economics

    Infrastructure engineers and project managers implement designs, overseeing the construction of a wide range of structures, including highways systems, office parks, neighborhoods, and dams. Civil engineers working in this area, combine business and engineering skills. A construction engineer has the technical expertise to understand civil engineering designs, translate them into a sequence of steps, and then schedule and implement them. In the infrastructure area, engineers may work on-site overseeing the work of a large team of engineers, workers, and contractors.

    In our program, students will learn about engineering economics, computer aided design, reading designs, site planning, construction management, scheduling, and advanced information and visualization systems for construction.

    Construction Engineering and Management Concentration
  • Transportation Engineering

    Design of Transportation Systems | Highway Safety and Traffic Operations | Transportation Infrastructure and Advanced Technology

    Transportation engineering involves the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of large-scale transportation facilities such as highways, airports, railroads, harbors, pipelines, and public transit systems. The civil engineer designs, builds and manages the infrastructure that provides for movement of both people and freight.

    At the University of Virginia, undergraduate courses in transportation engineering focus on geometric design, pavement design, road user and vehicle characteristics, traffic studies and urban transportation planning. Computer methods are introduced and applied in many transportation applications. Complementary courses include probability and statistics and systems engineering courses. This transportation curriculum provides an excellent introduction to the methodology of transportation systems analysis and design.

    The field of transportation engineering is comprised of two main streams of development: technology and planning. Technology is critical to the understanding of the function of the system, in predicting its performance and its costs, and in identifying alternatives in the form of fixed plant investments as well as operational changes. Planning methods are critical to long range plans and short-term system management problems, such as energy shortages and air pollution.

    The opportunities in transportation engineering appear to be excellent in the future. Graduates may be employed by governmental agencies, private companies, railroads, shippers, or transportation consultants. The transportation program at the University of Virginia is a flexible one that will prepare the student for a wide choice of careers.

Accreditation Information and Graduation Data

The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE) degree offered by the Civil Engineering Program is accredited by the Civil Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Graduation data for these degree programs is included on this page that provides such information for all SEAS undergraduate degrees.

Each degree program has defined Program Educational Objectives (PEOs), which are broad statements that describe the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing graduates to achieve. In addition, each program has defined Student Outcomes (SOs), which are are narrower statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program.

Program Educational Objectives for the BSCE

  • To provide graduates with the technical competencies and insight necessary to practice civil engineering and have an impact on the profession and pursue professional licensure.
  • To provide a solid foundation for successful study at leading graduate and professional institutions.
  • To promote a breadth of abilities and knowledge, including quantitative and analytical skills, communication skills and social insight, to allow graduates to pursue careers in a diversity of fields including engineering, business and management. 
  • To prepare graduates for a lifetime of learning, for leadership, and for service to the profession and society.

Student Outcomes for the BSCE

The BS in Civil Engineering program at the University of Virginia enables students to achieve, by the time of graduation:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

“The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at”