Graduate study in Civil Systems will prepare you to plan and manage civil infrastructure systems on multiple scales from individual town or village level to large cities. If you have interests that span traditional civil engineering disciplines as well as outside fields, this program will allow you to focus on the global, societal, and infrastructure issues of today.

Download the full Civil Systems Graduate Studies Guide

MS Degree Plans

The MS degree in Civil Engineering may be obtained by completing one of three plans-- a report option, a thesis option, or a coursework only option.  The thesis option provides an opportunity to do in-depth research with a faculty member.  The report option also contains research, but at a more limited scale than a thesis.  

Degree Plan Core Emphasis Electives Research

MS Plan I (Thesis)




Thesis - 6


MS Plan IIA (Report)




Report - 3


MS Plan IIB (Coursework)







Required Core Courses

Course ID


Course Name

CVEN 5454


Statistical Methods for Natural and Engineered Systems (or equivalent*)

*Options for Research Methods in Civil Systems include: CVEN 5454 Statistical Methods for Natural and Engineered Systems, AREN 5030 Data Science for Energy and Buildings; EMEN 5005 Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods; PSYC 5741General Statistics (Psychology sequence); PSCI 7085 (Political Science; SOCY 6121 (Qualitative Methods, Sociology); SOCY 7121 (Qualitative Analysis, Sociology).




Two courses from the following list:  

  • CVEN 5147: Civil Engineering Systems and Planning
  • CVEN 5157: A Systems Approach to Global Engineering 
  • CVEN 5393: Water Resource Systems and Management
  • CVEN 5836: Infrastructure Asset Management
  • CVEN 5830: Grid Connected Systems
  • AREN 5660: Embodied Carbon in Buildings
  • CVEN 5834: Sustainable Engineering Design

Note that not all courses may be offered every academic year.

Area of Emphasis


Complete 9 hours in an area of emphasis.  An area of emphasis can be from a traditional CEAE area, or an interdisciplinary area (interdisciplinary grouping of classes) with advisory committee approval (the student must assemble an advisory committee that consists of three faculty members, at least two of whom are Civil Systems faculty).

Area of Emphasis Options

Disciplinary Course Groupings:

  • Construction: In consultation with an advisor, select three courses from among the following: CVEN 5346: Managing Engineering Projects and Organizations; CVEN 5226: Construction Safety & Quality; CVEN 5836: Infrastructure Asset Management (do not double count); CVEN 5836: Building Information Modeling for Capital Projects
  • Structures: CVEN 5111 Structural Dynamics; CVEN 5161 Advanced Mechanics of Materials; CVEN 5525 Analysis of Framed Structures.
  • Environmental: In consultation with an advisor, select two from among the following: CVEN 5404 Water Chemistry, CVEN 5484 Environmental Microbiology, CVEN 5464 Environmental Engineering Processes; and, select one from among the following: CVEN 5524 Drinking Water Treatment, CVEN 5534 Wastewater Treatment, CVEN 5474 Hazardous Waste Management, CVEN 5834 Small Community Water and Wastewater Systems, CVEN 5594 Water Reuse, and CVEN 5323 Applied Stream Ecology.
  • Water Resources: CVEN 5423 Water Resources Engineering is required. CVEN 5454 Statistical Methods is the recommended quantitative methods class for this track. CVEN 5393 Water Resources Development and Management is the recommended systems thinking course for this track. A 5000-level optimization class could cover the Life Cycle Assessment class, since optimization is a key skill for water resources.  Suggested courses for the remainder of the electives, to be determined in consultation with an advisor, include but are not limited to: CVEN 5363 Modeling of Hydrologic Systems, CVEN 5537 Numerical Methods, CVEN 5353 Groundwater Hydrology, CVEN 5383 Groundwater Modeling, CVEN 6833 Advanced Data Analysis, CVEN 5833 Open Channel Hydraulics, CVEN 5833 Surface Water Quality Modeling.   
  • Building Systems: In consultation with an advisor, select three of the following courses: AREN 5080 Computer Simulation of Building Energy Systems; CVEN 5830: Building Energy Systems; CVEN 5890: Sustainable Building Design; AREN 5010 HVAC System Modeling and Control; AREN 5110 HVAC System Design; AREN 4570 Electrical Systems; AREN 5830 Grid Connected Systems; CVEN 5020 Building Energy Audits.
  • Global Engineering*: CVEN 5919: Global Development for Engineers, CVEN 5939: Global Development Practicum and, in consultation with an advisor, six additional Global Engineering credits. *Enrollment in Global Engineering Graduate Certificate required.      

Interdisciplinary Course Grouping Examples:

  • Hazards and Disasters: Three courses (with approval of advisory committee), which may include: SOC 5087: Graduate Seminar on Hazards, Disasters, and Risk; CVEN 5818: Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering; CVEN 6595: Earthquake Engineering; CVEN 5276: Engineering Risk & Decision Analysis; CVEN 5830 Spc Topics: Humanitarian Response and Disaster Management;
  • Engineering Risk and Decision Analysis: EMEN 5080: Ethical Decision Making; CVEN 5276: Engineering Risk & Decision Analysis; Optimization courses
  • Engineering & Policy: CSTPR recommended courses: ENVS 5100 Science and Technology Policy; ENVS 5110 Science, Technology, and Society; ENVS 5120 Quantitative Methods of Policy Analysis; ENVS 5100 Behavioral Insights for Sustainability (new course, need to check future offerings) (see:

PhD Degree Plan

The PhD program requires a dissertation, and may require additional coursework, in addition to a Master’s degree. At the PhD level, Civil Systems is an emphasis within the Civil Engineering Program. There are three examinations and a public presentation required of PhD students. These include a preliminary exam, comprehensive exam, and a final PhD Defense.