The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers an M.S. degree with advanced independent study or thesis research option.  The following six accelerated M.S. degree programs are also offered:

Civil and Environmental Engineering: Construction Engineering and Management M.S.
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Environmental Science and Engineering M.S.
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Geological/Geotechnical Engineering M.S.
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Structural Engineering M.S.
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Transportation Engineering M.S.
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Water Resources M.S.

In addition, an online program in Civil & Environmental Engineering: Environmental Engineering M.Eng. is offered. 

The mission of the civil and environmental engineering program is to develop leaders in education, industry, and government who can use their acquired skills to improve society. The academic program provides a comprehensive framework of courses in the broad area of civil and environmental engineering with opportunities to develop specialized expertise. It also emphasizes the development of integrated teamwork abilities, communication, leadership, entrepreneurship, and creative research skills. Graduate study in the department offers an opportunity to undertake advanced study and research in various areas of specialization. Areas include:

  • Construction engineering and management: construction labor productivity management, integrated lean project delivery systems, risk management,  advanced computer applications to construction, and change management.
  • Environmental engineering: water supply, water quality, water treatment, wastewater treatment, solid and hazardous waste management, air pollution, biotechnology, and alternative energy
  • Geo and pavement engineering: geotechnical and geological engineering, pavement materials and design, asphalt binders and mixtures, geosynthetics, in-situ testing and engineering geophysics, recycled materials in sustainable construction
  • Structural engineering: behavior, analysis and design of reinforced/prestressed concrete, steel, and wood structures; design for earthquake and wind loading; seismic rehabilitation
  • Transportation engineering: highway and traffic engineering, intelligent transportation systems, connected and automated vehicles, transportation planning, freight,infrastructure management, transportation safety, user comprehension and behavior, advanced driving- and micro-simulation, big data
  • Water resources/environmental fluid mechanics: analysis, measurement, modeling of currents, flows, and waves in natural and constructed systems; surface and groundwater hydrology; hydraulic engineering; coastal engineering; sedimentation and transport processes; infrastructure impacts of extreme weather events, hydroecology and stream restoration

Students may also pursue studies in the broad fields of environmental engineering/science and systems analysis. Areas of specialization are organized into a constructed facilities division (including transportation engineering, structural engineering, construction engineering and management, pavement engineering, materials for constructed facilities, and geotechnical engineering) and an environmental engineering division (including geoenvironmental engineering, environmental fluid mechanics and water resources engineering, environmental science and technology, and environmental and water chemistry).

Degrees require a coordinated core program of courses, selected from CEE and other department/program offerings. Graduate degree programs closely associated with the department include engineering mechanics, human factors, environmental chemistry and technology, water resources management, geological engineering, land resources, and limnology and marine science.

In support of the instructional and research programs are laboratory facilities for structural engineering; highway materials; transportation systems; driving simulation and human factors; soil mechanics, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering; coastal and hydraulic engineering; environmental fluid mechanics; environmental engineering processes and engineering chemistry. Water resources engineering, environmental engineering, and water chemistry have additional research facilities in the Water Science and Engineering Laboratory on the shore of Lake Mendota. The Environmental Engineering Field Laboratory is located at the Nine-Springs Madison Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline October 1
Summer Deadline December 15
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

All applicants must meet the Graduate School's admission requirements to be considered for admission. The application deadline is December 15 for the fall term and October 1 for the spring term. Late applications may not be reviewed for funding opportunities.

In addition, applicants must also meet the department's more stringent admission requirements listed below to be considered for admission:

  • Grades: A minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) is required for domestic applicants. A strong academic performance comparable to an average of B or above grades for all undergraduate course work is required for international applicants.
  • Degree: A bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program or from a recognized international institution is required. Applicants who do not have a bachelor's degree as specified above may study for the master of science in civil and environmental engineering (Program Option C); however, to become eligible for this program, applicants must meet the department's deficiency requirements, some of which may be completed as deficiencies after admission. As a general rule, students with more than 12 credits in deficiencies are not admitted to the graduate program. Rather, they are encouraged to enroll as special students until most of their deficiencies are satisfied. All plans of study within this option must be approved by the department faculty. The deficiency requirements for applicants without a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program or from a recognized international institution must be obtained from the department.

A complete graduate application is required before an application will be reviewed by the faculty. A complete graduate application contains the following:

  • Graduate School Application Form and application fee: Applicants must submit an online application to the UW–Madison Graduate School. See Graduate School Admissions to apply.
  • Statement of purpose: A statement of purpose for graduate study must be submitted through an applicant's online UW–Madison Graduate School application. Please limit this important document to 1,000 words.
  • Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation must be submitted through an applicant's online UW–Madison Graduate School application.
  • Transcripts: Upload the most recent copies of your transcripts to the electronic application, from each institution attended.  Study abroad transcripts are not required if coursework is reflected on the degree granting university's transcript. If the application is recommended for admission then we will follow-up with instructions for official transcript submission.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are required for most applicants.
  • English proficiency scores: Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admission term. See Graduate School Admission Requirements for more information on the English proficiency requirement.
    • GRE and TOEFL scores may be sent to institution code 1846 from ETS

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Financial support is available through fellowships, project/program assistantships (PA), research assistantships (RA), and teaching assistantships (TA). Faculty will contact successful M.S./Ph.D. applicants directly regarding funding opportunities. Admission is not a guarantee of funding.

Students in the accelerated course-only M.S. named options and M.Eng. (named option in Environmental Engineering) online programs are not eligible for department funded opportunities. 

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement At least 50% of credits applied toward the graduate degree credit requirement must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required Courses

Option A—Thesis Option1

Students who wish to do advanced work and research in a well-defined area of specialization are encouraged to pursue this program.

This option requires a minimum of 30 credits of graduate work including:

  • A minimum of 18 credits graduate-level coursework (300-level and higher); at least of 9 of the 18 credits must be in Civil and Environmental Engineering (may include the seminar course with approval from the faculty advisor; may not include CIV ENGR 790) Some 300-level courses may require special faculty approval.
  • A minimum of one-credit seminar course (Discuss seminar options with faculty advisor.)
  • A minimum of 6 credits of CIV ENGR 790 Master's Research or Thesis A faculty committee will conduct a final examination on the thesis research. 

Option B—Advanced Independent Study Option1

This option requires a minimum of 30 credits of graduate work including:

  • A minimum of 21 credits graduate-level coursework (300 level and higher); at least of 9 of the 21 credits must be in Civil and Environmental Engineering (may include the seminar course with approval from the advisor; may not include independent study or research courses) Some 300-level courses may require special faculty approval.
  • A minimum of one-credit seminar course. (Discuss seminar options with faculty advisor.)
  • A minimum of 3 credits of CIV ENGR 790 Master's Research or Thesis or CIV ENGR 999 Advanced Independent Study A required written report based on the student’s advanced independent study project does not have to meet UW-Madison Graduate School requirements for a thesis, but has to show independent thinking by the student. A faculty committee will review and approve the final report. A final examination is not required but may be requested by the faculty committee. 

Option C—Master’s Option1 (for Students without Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees)

This program is designed for students without engineering bachelor’s degrees. Students will meet with their faculty advisor to determine the courses and total credits required to fulfill the deficiency requirements. As a general rule, students with more than 12 credits in deficiencies are not admitted to the program. Rather, they are encouraged to enroll as special students until more of their deficiencies are satisfied. Some of the deficiency course requirements may be completed after admission. The exact number of deficiency courses and credits completed before and after admission will be determined by the faculty advisor. All prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade. In addition to the total deficiency credit requirement, Option C requires a minimum of 30 credits of graduate work. Students can select either a Thesis Option or Advanced Independent Study Option, consistent with the requirements of Option A or Option B described above, to complete the non-deficiency requirements of Option C. Students should meet with their faculty advisor to determine which option is most appropriate for their degree plan. Deficiency credits cannot be applied to fulfill the 30 credit degree requirement.

Graduate-level Coursework Options in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Some 300-level courses may require special faculty approval.
CIV ENGR 310 Fluid Mechanics3
CIV ENGR 311 Hydroscience3
CIV ENGR 320 Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 322 Environmental Engineering Processes3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  330 Soil Mechanics4
CIV ENGR 340 Structural Analysis I3
CIV ENGR 370 Transportation Engineering3
CIV ENGR/​BSE/​SOIL SCI  372 On-Site Waste Water Treatment and Dispersal2
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
CIV ENGR 392 Building Information Modeling (BIM)3
CIV ENGR/​E M A  395 Materials for Constructed Facilities3
CIV ENGR 410 Hydraulic Engineering3
CIV ENGR 411 Open Channel Hydraulics3
CIV ENGR 412 Groundwater Hydraulics3
CIV ENGR 414 Hydrologic Design3
CIV ENGR 415 Hydrology3
CIV ENGR 416 Water Resources Systems Analysis3
CIV ENGR 421 Environmental Sustainability Engineering3
CIV ENGR 422 Elements of Public Health Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
CIV ENGR 424 Environmental Engineering Laboratory2
CIV ENGR 426 Design of Wastewater Treatment Plants3
CIV ENGR 427 Solid and Hazardous Wastes Engineering3
CIV ENGR 428 Water Treatment Plant Design3
CIV ENGR 429 Environmental Systems Optimization3
CIV ENGR 440 Structural Analysis II3
CIV ENGR 442 Wood Structures I3
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​G L E/​GEOSCI  444 Practical Applications of GPS Surveying2
CIV ENGR 445 Steel Structures I3
CIV ENGR 447 Concrete Structures I3
CIV ENGR/​I SY E/​N E  460 Uncertainty Analysis for Engineers3
CIV ENGR 489 Honors in Research1-3
CIV ENGR/​BSE  491 Legal Aspects of Engineering3
CIV ENGR 492 Integrated Project Estimating and Scheduling3
CIV ENGR 494 Civil and Environmental Engineering Decision Making3
CIV ENGR 496 Electrical Systems for Construction3
CIV ENGR 497 Mechanical Systems for Construction3
CIV ENGR 498 Construction Project Management3
CIV ENGR 500 Water Chemistry3
CIV ENGR 501 Water Analysis-Intermediate3
CIV ENGR 502 Environmental Organic Chemistry3
CIV ENGR/​E M A/​M E  508 Composite Materials3
CIV ENGR 514 Coastal Engineering2-3
CIV ENGR 515 Hydroclimatology for Water Resources Management3
CIV ENGR 522 Hazardous Waste Management3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  530 Seepage and Slopes3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  531 Retaining Structures3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  532 Foundations3
CIV ENGR 543 Precast Concrete3
CIV ENGR 545 Steel Structures II3
CIV ENGR 547 Concrete Structures II3
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3
CIV ENGR/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  561 Energy Markets3
CIV ENGR 570 Environmental Impact of Transportation Systems3
CIV ENGR 571 Urban Transportation Planning3
CIV ENGR 573 Geometric Design of Transport Facilities3
CIV ENGR 574 Traffic Control3
CIV ENGR 575 Advanced Highway Materials and Construction3
CIV ENGR 576 Advanced Pavement Design3
CIV ENGR 578 Senior Capstone Design4
CIV ENGR 592 Construction Labor Productivity Management3
CIV ENGR 596 Constructability Analysis3
CIV ENGR 609 Special Topics in Water Chemistry1-3
CIV ENGR 618 Special Topics in Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics1-3
CIV ENGR 619 Special Topics in Hydrology1-3
CIV ENGR/​SOIL SCI  623 Microbiology of Waterborne Pathogens and Indicator Organisms3
CIV ENGR 629 Special Topics in Environmental Engineering1-3
CIV ENGR/​M&ENVTOX/​SOIL SCI  631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  633 Waste Geotechnics3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  635 Remediation Geotechnics3
CIV ENGR 639 Special Topics in Geotechnical Engineering1-4
CIV ENGR 641 Highway Bridges3
CIV ENGR 649 Special Topics in Structural Engineering1-3
CIV ENGR 669 Special Topics in Construction Engineering and Management1-4
CIV ENGR 679 Special Topics in Transportation and City Planning3
CIV ENGR/​PUB AFFR  694 Management of Civil Infrastructure Systems3
CIV ENGR 700 Chemistry of Natural Waters3
CIV ENGR/​ATM OCN  701 The Chemistry of Air Pollution2
CIV ENGR 702 Graduate Cooperative Education Program1-2
CIV ENGR 703 Environmental Geochemistry3
CIV ENGR 704 Environmental Chemical Kinetics3
CIV ENGR 716 Statistical Modelling of Hydrologic Systems3
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  719 Water Resources Management Summer Practicum4
CIV ENGR 721 Biological Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 722 Chemical Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 723 Energy Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  730 Engineering Properties of Soils3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  732 Unsaturated Soil Geoengineering3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  733 Physicochemical Basis of Soil Behavior3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  735 Soil Dynamics3
CIV ENGR 744 Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering3
CIV ENGR 749 Special Topics in Structural Engineering1-4
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  772 Practicum in Transportation Management and Policy3
CIV ENGR 795 Characterization of Asphalt Binders3
CIV ENGR 820 Hydraulics and Applied Fluid Mechanics for Environmental Engineers3
CIV ENGR 821 Environmental Engineering: Biological Treatment Processes3-4
CIV ENGR 822 Environmental Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Process3-4
CIV ENGR 823 Environmental Engineering Design Project3
CIV ENGR/​URB R PL  839 Land Use and Communication Systems Planning3
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  970 Colloquium in Transportation Management and Policy1
Seminar Course Options
CIV ENGR 579 Seminar-Transportation Engineering1
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  717 Water Resources Management Practicum Planning Seminar I1
CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  718 Water Resources Management Practicum Planning Seminar II2
CIV ENGR 909 Graduate Seminar - Environmental Chemistry & Technology1
CIV ENGR/​ATM OCN/​BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  911 Limnology and Marine Science Seminar1
CIV ENGR 919 Seminar-Hydraulic Engineering and Fluid Mechanics1
CIV ENGR 929 Seminar-Environmental Engineering1
CIV ENGR 939 Geotechnical Engineering Seminar1
CIV ENGR 949 Seminar-Structural Engineering1

Named Options (Sub-Majors)

A named option is a formally documented sub-major within an academic major program. Named options appear on the transcript with degree conferral.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Approved credits will be allowed to count toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement and the minimum graduate coursework requirement, but will not count toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, no more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 300 or higher from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count only toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student toward the Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement, and the Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement; those courses numbered 700 or above may be applied toward the Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis or independent study advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


Students in the accelerated M.S. named options are not eligible for department funded opportunities.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Demonstrate a strong understanding of mathematical, scientific, and engineering principles in the field.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to formulate, analyze, and solve advanced engineering problems.
  3. Apply the latest scientific and technological advancements, advanced techniques, and modern engineering tools to these problems.
  4. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty: Professors Noyce (chair), Adams, Bahia, Cramer, Hanna, Harrington, Hurley, Likos, Loheide, McMahon, Noguera, Park, Parra-Montesinos, Ran, Russell, Schauer, Wu; Associate Professors Ahn, Block, Fratta, Pincheira, Remucal, Tinjum; Assistant Professors Blum, Gadikota, Ginder-Vogel, Hampton, Hicks, Prabhakar, Pujara, Sone, Wang, Wright, Zhu. M.Eng Program Director Carlson. See also CEE faculty.

Geological Engineering Faculty: Professors Likos (director) (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Feigl (Geoscience), Goodwin (Geoscience), Holloway (Nelson Institute), Loheide (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Thurber (Geoscience), Tikoff (Geoscience), Wu (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Associate Professors Cardiff (Geoscience), Fratta (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Tinjum (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Assistant Professors Gadikota (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Ginder-Vogel (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Hampton (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Hicks (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Sone (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Zoet (Geoscience); Professor of Practice Pakes (Grainger). See also GLE faculty.

Environmental Chemistry and Technology: Professors Hurley (director) (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Bleam (Soil Science), Harrington (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Karthikeyan (Biological Systems Engineering), McMahon (Civil and Environmental Engineering/Bacteriology), Pedersen (Soil Science), Roden (Geoscience), Root (Chemical and Biological Engineering), Schauer (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Thompson (Biological Systems Engineering); Associate Professors Bertram (Chemistry), Remucal (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Assistant Professors Anantharaman (Bacteriology), Ginder-Vogel (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Gadikota (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Whitman (Soil Science). See also ECT Faculty.