Civil engineers work to design bridges, roads and other infrastructure elements.

Bridges, tunnels, roads, airports, dams and water supply systems are essential components to a functional society and the design and vision of civil engineers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of civil engineers earn a master's degree, which is also qualification for a managerial role in the field.

Prerequisites and Specialties of the Degree

Admission to a program in civil engineering requires completion of a bachelor's degree in a related field. At California State University Long Beach, the bachelor's degree can be earned in civil engineering, engineering or a natural science with a minimum 2.7 GPA. The City College of New York requires a bachelor's degree in the same field of study with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements may include submitting GRE scores, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Part of the application process includes choosing a specialization if desired, which may include environmental engineering, water resources, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering or infrastructure systems.

Completing Core Course Requirements

Core course requirements for the Master of Science at California State Long Beach include engineering management and principles, construction planning and cost control, and construction organization and management. Additional courses that focus on the legal, business and financial aspects of engineering are also included core requirements. Course requirements for the general option in civil engineering at the University of Southern California include courses focusing on environmental engineering and water resources, construction and transportation, civil engineering and geotechnical engineering.

Completing Additional Projects and Requirements

In addition to the series of courses required for completing a master's in civil engineering, schools may require a comprehensive examination or a thesis. The comprehensive examination at the University of California Los Angeles is a written examination given by an exam committee who may also choose to administer an oral exam. The thesis completion option, which focuses on the student's ability to perform original research, must be supervised by an adviser and requires approval by a thesis committee.

Earning the Master of Science Online

Online programs provide an alternate option to completing a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois requires 36 credits of course work, but does not require a thesis for completion. The online program also allows for emphasis in the specialty areas of construction management, infrastructure, transportation engineering and structural engineering. Similarly, the online program at Ohio University offers all of its courses online and may not require GRE scores for admission, depending upon other qualifications. Courses may be completed in two years, and specializations include environmental engineering, structural engineering and transportation engineering.