The top two engineering schools in the U.S. are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and the University of California in Berkeley, according to education-portal.com. A four-year curriculum provides students with an ABET-accredited B.S. degree in civil engineering, which includes a strong background in engineering science, design and practice. Abilities in problem formulation, problem-solving and decision-making are developed.

First-Year Degree Courses

An accredited education in civil engineering provides an excellent foundation for careers in fields such as engineering design, education, law, medicine and public health. Obtaining a degree requires an understanding of math and science to problem solve. Therefore, the freshman year in a degree program requires courses such as general chemistry, engineering design, analysis, calculus and physics. Undergraduate programs recognize the need to provide students with backgrounds in science and engineering fundamentals, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Therefore, requirements may also include an introductory course in computer programming and physics for scientists and engineers. An introduction to civil and environmental engineering as well as reading and composition courses are also required.

Second-Year Degree Courses

Students need to develop a good understanding of theory, measurements and modeling to problem solve and form solutions. Therefore, course requirements for year two of studies focus on solid mechanics and structure, properties of civil engineering materials and engineering data analysis. Mathematics such as multivariable calculus, linear algebra and differential equations are also studied. Courses in physics, humanities and social studies may also be a requisite to develop an understanding in natural cycles, systems and processes relevant to human activities.

Third-Year Degree Courses

Designing new materials, industrial processes and infrastructure systems helps to round out a degree in civil engineering with studies such as elementary fluid mechanics and mechanics of structures. Engineering and science electives are required as well as additional humanities and social studies courses so that civil engineer graduates may teach, work for large firms, start their own businesses or work for government and nonprofit organizations.

Fourth-Year Degree Courses

During the final year, course requirements may focus on the arts and science of civil engineering with engineering and design electives. As natural resources grow scarce, increasing demands may be placed on future engineers to use the resources in the products and services they design. Year four may also require additional humanities and social studies courses. Students learn to solve societal problems throughout the world such as improving civil infrastructure, protecting resources, mitigating hazards and creating efficient and sustainable civil systems, according to the University of California.