Feb 28, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 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.

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
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better
  • A satisfactory score from the Aptitude Portion of the GRE
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An acceptable TOEFL score as required by UNC Charlotte for international students
  • And any other appropriate credentials as required by the Graduate School

Additional Admission Requirements

  • Admission to the MSE program may require completion of certain deficiencies as specified by each area of concentration
  • Admission to the Early Entry Program requires a minimum GPA of 3.2, completion of at least 75 hours toward the BSCE degree, and acceptance by the Graduate School to the MSCE or MSE programs at UNC Charlotte.

Early Entry Program

Undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte with outstanding academic performance, and satisfying the requirements described above, may be admitted to the Early Entry Program to pursue graduate study while completing the undergraduate degree requirements. Early Entry students are dually enrolled with both undergraduate and graduate status, may request two graduate Civil Engineering (CEGR) courses to be applied to both their graduate and undergraduate programs (double-counting), and may complete up to 15 credits toward their MS degree prior to graduating with their BSCE degree.

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.


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.

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 research project, or (c) 30 hours of coursework and a comprehensive examination. Each student is limited to one individual study class within the 30-hour requirement.

Concentration Requirements

Required core courses for the five concentrations are listed below, as well as additional recommended courses.


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.

Admission to Candidacy Requirements

Each student is required to submit a Plan of Study to the Graduate Program Direct or before completing 18 hours of graduate credits. The Plan of Study will streamline coordination of the required coursework and research work between the student and his/her advisor before submitting the Admission to Candidacy.

Upon completion of a substantial amount of graduate work, each student must file an Admission to Candidacy form to the Graduate School by the filing date, typically at the beginning of the semester for graduation specified in the University Academic Calendar.

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 update his/her Admission to Candidacy and submit a new Application for Degree for graduation in a subsequent semester.

Transfer Credit

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


With advisor approval, a maximum of two graduate courses (outside CEGR or within CEGR) in a study area different from the student’s focus area may be incorporated into the 30-hour requirement. A student with a non-CEGR background is encouraged to fulfill the 30-hour requirement by taking all CEGR courses.


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

Program Committee

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

Capstone Experiences

Students pursuing a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering have three options to complete the 30-credit hour program. Students may elect to complete 24 credit hours of coursework plus 6 credit hours of thesis; 27 credit hours of coursework plus 3 credit hours of a directed project; or 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 above. 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 hours of graduate coursework are either completed or in progress. Core courses taken at the graduate level may be included in the 18 hours. The student’s graduate advisor and the examining committee coordinate the examination (typically offered once in the Fall semester and once in the Spring semester), 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.

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.