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Degree Overview: Graduate Certificate Programs in Environmental Engineering

Majors Overview August 31, 2015

This article talks about graduate certificate programs in environmental engineering and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Information on Graduate Certificate Programs in Environmental Engineering

People who want to improve their skills or knowledge in a particular area, but do not want to earn a master’s degree could benefit from enrolling into graduate certificate programs. Students cannot use a graduate certificate, which has fewer requirements than a master’s degree, in place of a master’s degree. A specific area of focus may be chosen by students, including the effective capture and treatment of the water supply aimed at delivering sanitary water or ways of disposing hazardous waste. All specialties are devised to teach students to work in an environmentally friendly way so that the impact on the surrounding environment is minimal.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in any engineering specialty, though ideally in environmental engineering. Some schools require incoming students to have a GPA of at least 3.0 over the last 60 hours of their bachelor’s degree. Students in many schools are required to complete credit hours in topic areas such as chemistry or calculus, in addition to having relevant work experience.


Students may need to complete 12-21 credit hours of coursework within a specified deadline, usually three years. Some programs have elective topics to augment core coursework. In the absence of additional requirements, such as a thesis or residency, many schools offer these programs in wholly online formats. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Global warming and ozone depletion
•Chemical Engineering
•Solid, industrial and hazardous waste management
•Renewable resources
•Hydrology (water studies)
•Indoor and outdoor air quality
•Site selection
•Environmental biotechnology
•Water control and treatment

Job and Wage Outlook

Environmental engineers create systems aimed at limiting the human impact on water, soil and air. They also analyze the impact on the environment likely to be caused by future construction projects, provide safe drinking water, and dispose of and treat hazardous and solid waste. Environmental engineers can expect a faster-than-average job growth, due to the need for safe water treatment (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, environmental engineers brought in an average annual wage of $80,890 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Engineers in most states have to obtain licensure that must be maintained annually through continuing education credits to stay abreast of the rapidly changing technology of the field. In certain instances, those education requirements can be waived if an individual completes a graduate certificate program. They can usually transfer credits earned through a certificate program towards a Ph.D. or master’s program.

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