Master's Program (MS)

The department offers two master of science (MS) degrees, one in civil engineering and one in engineering science. The engineering science track is designed for students with strong natural science and mathematics backgrounds, who want to pursue careers in environmental science.

There are three general options for the MS degree: (1) all-course option, with comprehensive exam, (2) master’s project, with project report and presentation, and (3) master’s thesis, including thesis defense. All three options require 30 credits of graduate work, and serve students who intend to find employment following their degree, as well as those who plan on pursuing graduate studies.

Graduate study and research programs can be designed to allow for specialization in one area, two or more related areas, or in a newly evolving area of civil, structural, and environmental engineering. Suggested programs of study have been developed in each of the areas of departmental concentration, and individualized programs also may be developed, in consultation with a student’s advisor and committee members.

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Technical Concentrations

MS in Civil Engineering students may choose one of the following technical concentrations:


Research in bridge engineering drives the use of new construction methods, components and materials. Current areas of investigation are Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC), multiple-hazard mitigation, and response modification devices.


Research in computational engineering mechanics involves the application of the fundamental principles of solid and fluid mechanics to a variety of emerging engineering problems, using state-of-the-science numerical algorithms and high-performance computing technology.


Research in environmental engineering seeks to better understand the physical, chemical, and biological processes that influence the health of our environment and to pursue innovative solutions for its protection.


Research in geotechnical engineering addresses computational geomechanics, deep foundations, ground improvement, seismic response of soils, liquefaction, and retrofit of foundations, dams, slopes, and retaining walls.


The goal of research in earthquake engineering is to enhance the seismic resiliency of communities through improved engineering and management tools for critical infrastructure systems.


Research in transportation systems engineering focuses on improving the efficiency, safety, sustainability, and resiliency of surface transportation systems.

Degree Requirements

For the master of science degree in civil engineering or engineering science, all students must complete 30 credits of approved graduate study. This total must include 6 credit hours from the core curriculum appropriate for a student’s chosen area of concentration, as described below. The all-course option requires 10 courses to be completed (assuming 3 credits per course), the project option includes a 3-credit project, and the thesis option includes a 6-credit thesis. In all cases the student’s advisor must approve a proposed course of study, including all courses that will be counted towards the degree.

Additional details concerning the MS program can be found in the Graduate Studies Manual (PDF).

Core Curriculum

The department maintains a basic core course requirement for all students, where specific core courses are defined for different areas of concentration. For most students these core requirements include a course in advanced mathematics or statistics, and one in advanced mechanics, either fluids or solids.

The courses comprising the core are selected to ensure that advanced degree recipients from the department have knowledge in the basic mechanics and mathematics that are the "fundamental language" of civil engineering.

The only exception to this rule comes when a student can demonstrate that he/she has already taken an equivalent course before coming to UB. In this case the student should take an alternative course, as specified by the Graduate Studies Committee.

While high performance in all graduate work is important, excellent grades in core courses are particularly significant in the faculty's assessment of a student's potential to pursue a PhD.