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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Master’s Degree Program in Structural Engineering

Higher Education Articles September 16, 2015

Those with an interest in careers in structural engineering should look into Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) or Master of Science (M.S.) programs in the field. Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) programs allow students to become professional, licensed civil engineers. Master of Science (M.S.) programs help prepare students for various careers in structural engineering. Most schools require the completion of a thesis, series of final exams or engineering project, in addition to around 30 coursework credit hours.

Selecting a Master’s Degree Program in Structural Engineering

The engineering departments of technology institutes and 4-year universities offer master’s degree in structural engineering either as a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) or a Master of Science (M.S.). In this article, we take a look at some important factors to consider when you select a master’s degree program in structural engineering.

Types of Degrees Offered

Incoming students to a structural engineering program must consider how useful the type of master’s degree program is in relation to their career goals. Students enrolled in the program are offered a background in civil engineering, focused on the structural aspects. Program graduates can seek a job as a practicing engineer. They may also look into structural health monitoring, among other areas in the structural engineering field. A Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Structural Engineering would especially benefit individuals seeking a professional degree that is made up almost entirely of courses focused on structural engineering and preparation of students for professional licensure.


A wide array of topic areas within the structural engineering field is in structural engineering programs that lead to either a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) or Master of Science (M.S.). Students would benefit from choosing a program devised to impart expertise in various aspects such as designing and analyzing, apart from the mechanics and structural behavior. Students should learn about working with various structures, including dams, bridges, and buildings, and gain a grasp of the interaction of the environment with these structures and its effects on them.

Concentration Choices

Students would benefit from pursuing programs where they can select a specialization, such as simulation, prognosis, and mechanics, among other concentrations.

Choice of Thesis

Students who would like to earn a Ph.D. in engineering, eventually, would benefit from joining a school that offers a thesis option within the Master of Science (M.S.) program. A series of final examinations may be the alternative to a thesis for those who don’t want to select the option. Both final exams and thesis options may be available in some programs for students who have yet to decide between choosing a thesis or final exam.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Structural Engineering

Admission criteria commonly require program participants to hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering. In some programs, students may be allowed to have a degree in another area provided they supplement it through completion of additional courses. Approximately 15 credit hours of study in civil and structural engineering courses may be completed by students. Math-oriented courses may also have to be taken by students. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Bridge structures
•Random vibrations
•Pre-stressed concrete
•Structure Dynamics
•Earthquake Engineering

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Programs in Structural Engineering

The focus of Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Structural Engineering programs is on preparing students for professional practice as a structural engineer. Program graduates may want to earn licensure (P.E.). Licensure requirements can differ from state to state; the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) provides relevant information on its website.

Incoming students are often required to minor in a subject area that has professional emphasis. About 30 credit hours of coursework have to be completed by enrollees. Most programs culminate with the completion of a structural engineering project, often augmented by a presentation or report. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Analysis and modeling of structure
•Structural mechanics
•High-performance structures
•Project management

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