Jul 24, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 Previous Edition

Civil Engineering, M.S.C.E., or Engineering, M.S.E.

The M.S.C.E. program requires a baccalaureate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The M.S.E. degree offers a more discipline-specific program of study to students who may not possess a baccalaureate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers graduate studies leading to a master’s degree (M.S.C.E. or M.S.E.) in five areas of concentration:

  1. Environmental and Water Resources Engineering
  2. Geo-Environmental Engineering
  3. Geotechnical Engineering
  4. Structural Engineering
  5. Transportation Engineering

Programs of Study

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) provides opportunities for discipline-specific and multidisciplinary graduate-level education in Civil and Environmental Engineering and closely related areas.  Advanced coursework and research are used to enhance professional development, improve technical competency, and initiate a life-long learning experience.  The Department has ongoing collaborative research and student exchange programs with several international institutions. 

The Department offers graduate studies leading to a master’s degree (MSCE or MSE) in five areas of concentration:

  1. Environmental and water resources engineering
  2. Geo-environmental engineering
  3. Geotechnical engineering
  4. Structural engineering
  5. Transportation engineering

Doctoral studies leading to the Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems (INES) are available in an interdisciplinary, inter-college program.  See the Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems  for details. 

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering seeks the following from applicants to the Master’s programs in Civil Engineering:

  • An earned undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering for the MSCE master’s program or a closely related field for the MSE master’s program
  • A satisfactory GRE score (The GRE requirement is waived for: (1) current UNC Charlotte CEE undergraduate students who have earned a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA and completed at least 75 earned credit hours and (2) applicants who have graduated from UNC Charlotte)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An acceptable English proficiency score as required by UNC Charlotte for international students
  • And any other appropriate credentials as required by the Graduate School
  • Remediation of certain deficiencies as specified by the department for each area of concentration

Early Entry Program

Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements.  Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies  section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.

Accelerated Master’s Program

Academically talented high school seniors and UNC Charlotte undergraduate freshmen are encouraged to apply for the Accelerated Master’s Program to begin work toward both undergraduate and graduate degrees in their Freshman year.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements.  Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies  section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Accelerated Master’s Programs.

Application Deadline

Applications for admission must be submitted online directly to the Graduate School.  They may be submitted any time prior April 1 for Fall admission, and October 1 for Spring admission.  To be considered for assistantships and tuition grants for the following academic year, students should apply by February 15 because the Department makes the first round of award decisions by March 15. 

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 approved graduate credit hours is required for graduation.  At least half of the approved graduate credit hours must be in courses numbered 6000 or above.  A student may fulfill the 30-hour requirement by pursuing one of the three study options: (a) 24 hours of coursework plus 6 hours of thesis, (b) 27 hours of coursework plus 3 hours of a directed project, or (c) 30 hours of coursework and a comprehensive examination.  Each student is limited to one individual study class within the 30 credit hour requirement. 

Concentration Courses

Required core courses for the five concentrations are listed below.

Additional Recommended Courses

Additional recommended courses (excluding CEGR 6891 , CEGR 6892 , and CEGR 6991 ) for each concentration are listed below.


Undergraduate students who have taken any of the courses listed above, or equivalent material, as part of their undergraduate program need not take the corresponding 5000-level graduate courses. Instead, they may choose other graduate courses as part of their master’s degree plan of study. Courses without designated course numbers are currently being offered as Special Topic classes with appropriate course numbers yet to be provided.

Elective Courses

With advisor and Graduate Program Director approval, a maximum of one graduate course (outside or within CEGR) related to the thesis topic, project topic, or student’s concentration may be incorporated into the 30 credit hour requirement.  A student with a non-CEGR background is encouraged to fulfill the 30 credit hour requirement by taking all CEGR courses.

Transfer Credit

The Department accepts the transfer of related graduate courses (6 credit hours maximum) taken at another institution or from UNC Charlotte prior to admission to the master’s program in Civil Engineering.

Capstone Experiences

Students pursuing a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering have three options to complete the 30 credit hour program:

  1. 24 credit hours of coursework plus 6 credit hours of thesis (CEGR 6991 )
  2. 27 credit hours of coursework plus 3 credit hours of a directed project (CEGR 6891 )
  3. 30 credit hours of coursework plus a written and/or oral comprehensive examination

All three options require the formation of a program committee as described below.  The thesis and project options require students to submit a written thesis or project report, and orally defend their work before their program committee.

A student’s comprehensive exam may be taken once all core courses are completed, and at least 18 credit hours of graduate coursework are either completed or in progress.  Core courses taken at the graduate level may be included in the 18 credit hours.  Exception requests may be considered if a student has completed all but one of the core courses and is currently enrolled in the final core course of their plan of study. The student’s graduate advisor and the examining committee coordinate the examination (typically offered once in the Fall semester, once in the Spring semester, and once in the Summer), preparing the exam with the assistance of members of the student’s Program Committee.  The exam measures the student’s mastery of theories and applications in core courses and/or in the selected area of specialization within the discipline.  Students have only two attempts to pass the examination.  All students passing the written examination are assessed further on their oral communication effectiveness.

Degree Total = 30 Credit Hours

Application for Degree

Students preparing to graduate must submit an online Application for Degree by the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.  If a student does not graduate in the semester identified on the Application for Degree, then the student must submit a new Application for Degree for graduation in a subsequent semester.


Each student is assigned an initial academic advisor. Upon developing a program of study, the student shall be supervised by their graduate advisor and a program committee.

Program Committee

The Program Committee shall consist of at least three UNC Charlotte graduate faculty members.  At most one graduate faculty member (CEGR or non-CEGR) from outside the student’s concentration may serve as a member of the Program Committee.  The student’s CEE graduate advisor shall chair the committee.

Research Opportunity/Experience

Students in Civil and Environmental Engineering enjoy a curriculum with opportunities for interdisciplinary research, study abroad, and active participation in a growing research program. Programs of study can be tailored to suit individual needs and interests. The CEE website provides current areas of research conducted by the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students completing master’s degree will demonstrate abilities to analyze and evaluate advanced topics in engineering, and to communicate technical information effectively. Achievement of these outcomes will prepare students to function professionally in their chosen careers.

Program learning outcomes for doctoral students are described in the “Infrastructure and Environmental Systems ” section.


Research and teaching assistantships are available from the Department on a competitive basis to highly qualified applicants/students. Interested students are encouraged to directly contact faculty in their area of interest for research assistantships.

Tuition Grants

Tuition grants including Non-Resident Tuition Differentials and Resident Tuition Aids are available on a competitive basis for both out-of-state and in-state students, respectively.