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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Civil Engineering

School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Penn State Harrisburg - W-236 Olmsted Building
777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057
(717) 948-6127


Degree Conferred:   M.S.



The Program

Penn State Harrisburg (PSH) is located within a short commute from York, Lancaster, Carlisle, Reading, and Harrisburg, where many large civil engineering firms are located. These firms focus on structural design, construction management, transportation design, treatment plant design, and water-resources engineering.  The Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree program is designed to provide support for these firms and their employees who want to enhance their design skills and update their knowledge above the level taught at the undergraduate level. This program also will support changes in the professional licensure for civil engineers, if they occur.

The program is accessible to engineering professionals who wish to pursue advanced studies without giving up current employment. The program may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Classes are scheduled weekly in three-hour evening sessions, offering a convenient format for career professionals seeking to enroll on part-time basis. Whenever possible, the program will take advantage of the specialized equipment and facilities available in the local firms to enhance the training of M.S. CE program students.


Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Admission into the Master of Science (M.S.) Civil Engineering program will be granted only to candidates who demonstrate high potential for success in graduate studies. Applicants should have undergraduate degrees in engineering or technology-related fields from an accredited university and must meet the admission requirements as set by Penn State's Graduate School. An undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale, and scores from the GRE are required for admission.

Applicants should submit the following:

  • a completed Graduate School online application with the application fee;
  • official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended;
  • three (3) letters of professional recommendations from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential;
  • a personal statement of professional interest, goals, and experience;
  • test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); and
  • a statement of interest in a graduate assistantship, if desired (full-time study required).


English Proficiency

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. Consult the English Proficiency section of the Graduate Bulletin Application and Admission Procedures page for more information.


Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

All graduate students in Civil Engineering are required to adhere to the requirements of the Graduate School, as found in the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin. The requirements of the Graduate School, however, are minimum requirements and the policies, procedures, and regulations listed below are additional and more specific for graduate students pursuing the M.S. in Civil Engineering degree. Advisers will call pertinent regulations to the attention of their advisees, but it should be understood that it is the student's personal responsibility to see that all requirements are satisfied.

The M.S. CE program at PSH is structured to take full advantage of the specialty areas of expertise of the CE Graduate Faculty. The program requires 31 credits at the 400, 500, 600, or 800 level, including 24 course credits with at least 12 credits at the 500 level, one colloquium credit (CE 590), and six thesis credits (CE 600 or 610). M.S. CE students are required to take an advanced math or statistics course (EMCH 524A or STAT 500). Then students will take 12 credits of civil engineering courses, selected from offerings in structural, transportation, and water resources, with nine (9) credit hours required at the 500-level.  Students will take nine (9) additional elective credits at either the 400- or 500-level. These electives may be taken from civil engineering courses or courses offered by other departments that meet the objective of the M.S. CE degree.  Students can work with their adviser to select courses that either focus on a specific area of civil engineering or that provide a robust in-depth background of multiple areas of civil engineering. A maximum of four 400-level courses (12 credits) may be taken for the M.S. CE degree.

Original research, usually requiring at least two semesters of work (up to 6 credits), is expected for a thesis. The work should be an in-depth investigation intended to extend the state of knowledge in a specialty area. The thesis must be accepted by the advisers and/or committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a thesis defense. A maximum of three credits of independent study (CE 596) may be applied towards the M.S. CE degree program, but the undergraduate individual study course (CE 496) will not count towards program credit requirements.

During the first year of enrollment, graduate students will be required to complete an online Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training program. This is part of the SARI (Scholarship and Research Integrity) program at Penn State which is designed to offer graduate students comprehensive, multilevel training in the responsible conduct of research. The Office for Research Protections (ORP) will provide the conduit to this training via the SARI Resource Portal on the ORP website (

Graduate students will also be required to engage in an additional 5 hours of discussion-based RCR education prior to degree completion. This may be set up as an integral part of the graduate colloquium.

All students are expected to complete one credit of colloquium (CE 590) during the first two semesters of study. Degree requirements must be completed during a six-year period.

Penn State Harrisburg's M.S. CE program is distinct and independent of the M.S. CE program offered at the University Park campus.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Student Aid section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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