Jun 18, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2009-2010 
Rensselaer Catalog 2009-2010 [Archived Catalog]

Civil Engineering

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Objectives of the Undergraduate Curriculum

While certain objectives of an undergraduate education in engineering are common to all programs, there are subtle but important differences depending upon the student’s chosen field. In this regard, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s baccalaureate program in Civil Engineering will: 
  • Prepare students to be involved, global citizens with a broad appreciation of the key civil engineering issues and challenges of the 21st Century.
  • Provide students with the technical background needed for the practice of civil engineering and to ensure their competence and literacy in both problem identification and problem solving, including design.
  • Prepare students for leadership in the profession, including civil engineering practice, societal activities, research, licensing, and ethics.
  • Provide students with a broad educational base, including a foundation in math, science, and engineering and exposure to the humanities and social sciences that prepares them for life-long learning.
  • Prepare students to thrive in the modern workplace and the public forums of civil engineering practice through the development of leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

After completing the core engineering sequence, a student enters this curriculum and follows a baccalaureate program leading to the B.S. degree or a professional program leading to the M.Eng. degree as well as the B.S.

Undergraduate concentrations include construction, environmental, geotechnical, structural, and transportation engineering. Following the sample four-year schedule is the recommended collection of courses for each of these concentrations.

Subject to other requirements, students may use core engineering electives to accelerate their entrance into the program. Students also may take courses in related fields. Courses bearing the following codes are suggested for particular consideration in consultation with the student’s adviser: ARCH, ECSE, MANE, ENVE, MATH, CSCI, ERTH, and DSES.

The following represents a typical four-year civil engineering program. Students who are convinced that they want to become civil engineers are urged to follow this plan of study in lieu of the general core engineering program presented earlier. Required or strongly recommended core engineering electives are shown for optimum scheduling.

First Year


  • Hum. or Soc. Sci. Electives Credit Hours: 4


  • Science Elective Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 2 below)
  • Hum. or Soc. Sci. Elective Credit Hours: 4

Second Year


  • Hum. or Soc. Sci. Elective Credit Hours: 4


  • Hum. or Soc. Sci. Elective Credit Hours: 4

Third Year


  • CE Design Elective Credit Hours: 3
    (See footnote 4 below)
  • Professional Development II Credit Hours: 2
    (See footnote 5 below)
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Fourth Year


  • CE Design Elective Credit Hours: 3
    (See footnote 4 below)
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Math and Science Elective: 3-4


  • CE Technical Elective Credit Hours: 3
    (See footnote 4 below)
  • Hum. or Soc. Sci. Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

A minimum of 128 credit hours is required for this curriculum.

Additional Requirements

Nonengineering courses graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory are not included within this 128-credit-hour requirement. The Pass/No Credit option can be used only for free electives with something other than a CIVL or ENVE code and the humanities and social sciences electives. All other courses used to satisfy the degree requirements must be taken on a graded basis.

Civil Engineering Design Electives and Concentrations

Six credit hours of civil engineering design electives are required. These must be selected from the following list. Any pair of courses can be selected providing that prerequisites are met, but students most often select a combination focused on a specific area of concentration. The terms in which courses are offered are listed in parentheses.

Construction Engineering

Structural Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering


  1. For these two courses, order does not matter. ENGR 1300 may be replaced with CIVL 2961.
  2. Choose either ENGR 1600 or CSCI 1100.
  3. Can be satisfied with Computer Science I.
  4. Text below lists the allowable courses.
  5. Choose either PSYC 4170 or STSS 4840.
  6. Can be taken either semester of the senior year.

Civil Engineering Technical Elective

Any of the design electives listed above can be taken as a CE technical elective, provided the necessary prerequisites are met. The following other civil engineering courses can also be selected:

Additional Courses

With adviser approval, courses from related disciplines can also be taken. These include architecture, environmental engineering, earth and environmental sciences, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and operations research. Graduate level courses (6000-level) are allowable under certain circumstances. A representative list of such courses is as follows:

  • ARCH 4750 - Advanced Environmental Systems
  • ERTH 4200 - Surficial Geology

Humanities or Social Sciences Electives

In this area, the electives are based on the Institute and School of Engineering requirements. Students are urged to elect humanities and social science sequences through which they will obtain adequate breadth and depth in subject areas. Students desiring minors in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences must consult the school or department in which the courses are offered to obtain further information and specific requirements.

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