Structural engineers are incredibly important to our society. They contribute to the design, construction, and safety of the structures we interact with every day. Prospective engineering students who are looking to expand their knowledge and earning potential should consider the advantages of earning an online master’s degree in structural engineering.

What Is Structural Engineering?

Whether you realize it or not, you have somehow interacted with structural engineering. Structural engineering is a specialty within the realm of civil engineering. Structural engineers are intricately involved with constructing buildings, roadways, and other physical items. They analyze sites, make drawings, and ensure that buildings and other structures are safe. Becoming a structural engineer requires a robust understanding of various fields, including math, engineering, and construction. 

All fifty states require that structural engineers have certain licensing and educational requirements. This means that they must pass a licensure test before they can begin to advertise themselves as structural engineers and sell their services accordingly. 

People who want to pursue a career in structural engineering will ultimately have many different employment options, including:

  • Working for private companies involved in the construction of buildings and other physical spaces. For example, structural engineers work very closely with architectural firms.
  • Working for governments as part of giving out permits and inspecting buildings. Structural engineers are often responsible for ensuring that buildings are built safely and securely. 
  • By specializing in a certain field, an individual can work in specific areas of engineering. This can include construction, environmental engineering, nuclear engineering, and much more.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering?

A master’s degree in structural engineering can improve career options for a number of reasons:

  • Many licensing bodies and firms will not even consider hiring you if you do not have at least a master’s degree.
  • A master’s degree in structural engineering allows students to refine their specific area of interest, conduct research, complete internships, and explore potential career paths. 
  • A master’s degree can help lay the groundwork for future academic advancement. 
  • As in most fields, obtaining a master’s degree can enhance your earnings potential.

How Much Does a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering Degree Cost?

The cost of structural engineering degree programs varies widely, typically ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. However, many programs fall outside this range.

Fortunately, there are many ways that you can try to save money when obtaining your degree. Scholarships are available for people interested in furthering their education, and virtually every school has a financial office that can help you identify scholarship and loan opportunities. Some engineering programs have loan forgiveness if you meet certain requirements, and these may also be worth exploring. Finally, many employers now offer tuition assistance programs as part of their efforts to maintain a well-educated workforce. If you are working and looking to increase your skills, speak with your employer about potential tuition assistance programs.

Individuals interested in getting a master’s degree and reducing their costs may want to explore getting a degree online. Online programs offer potential cost savings: They are sometimes less expensive than comparable on-campus programs. They are also often highly flexible and may allow for asynchronous learning. This ensures that you can continue to work and manage other responsibilities. Finally, it is worth considering the expenses (food, travel, room and board, supplies) you might be able to save by obtaining your master’s degree online. 

10 Master’s in Structural Engineering Online Degree Programs

Consider the following master’s in structural engineering online degree programs to learn more about the program features that fit your needs. 

Bircham International University – Masters in Structural Engineering

This online program allows students to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. This allows students to stop their education at a time that suits their needs. This is an international program available to students across the world. It may hold many advantages if you don’t live in the United States or plan on traveling outside of the United States for future job opportunities. 

Missouri S&T – Masters of Science in Structural Engineering

Missouri S&T lets students get a variety of engineering degrees online, including a Master’s in Structural Engineering. Students who know they want to earn a degree but aren’t sure what, they offer certificate programs. Students who obtain their certificate in a certain program can then apply those credits to their master’s degree or graduate with a certificate. 

Norwich University – Master in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering Concentration

Norwich allows for a concentration in structural engineering, treating the degree as part of a branch of engineering. It does ask students to spend one week on campus. However, it has a variety of positives: Online classes have no more than fifteen students per class, and students can graduate in as little as eighteen months. 

Ohio University – Masters in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering Specialty

Many schools offer a Master’s of Civil Engineering but treat structural engineering as a specialty rather than a separate master’s. Ohio University is one such school. This program allows students to get their master’s degree in as little as 21 months. Thanks to its flexible school, students can take years before getting their master’s. Furthermore, the format comes with asynchronous options, meaning you can learn at your own pace. This may fit some busy schedules better than programs that only have synchronous learning options. 

University of Alabama – Masters in Structural Engineering

The University of Alabama allows students to get their Master’s in Structural Engineering in as little as nineteen months, making it one of the fastest programs available today. In addition, there is no entrance exam required, the degree is ABET-accredited, and there are three semesters available. All of this allows for high levels of access and the chance to learn at an accredited school. 

University of Illinois – Masters in Structural Engineering

The University of Illinois offers a 36-credit-hour master’s program. Six of these courses are required, but the remainder is electives. Students can take online classes that fit their interests and include courses like decision and risk analysis and fracture and fatigue. This array of courses helps create a more individualized experience than that offered by some other online schools. 

University of Louisville – Masters in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering Certificate

The University of Louisville has a huge and robust online school. Students can get a Master’s in Civil Engineering with a certificate in structural engineering. The master’s degree, which takes a mere calendar year, can be completed 100% online. Students can also obtain multiple certificates while getting their master’s degree, thus ensuring that they have multiple marketable skills. 

University of Southern California – Masters in Structural Engineering

This program interacts with USC’s extensive array of on-campus educational opportunities. Students absolutely can take these classes in an online environment only. Still, if they are interested, they can take a series of on-campus classes that can help give them additional concentrations or expand their knowledge base. Furthermore, USC guarantees the same faculty teaching online as those who teach in person, ensuring no difference between the two learning methods. 

University of Texas at El Paso – Masters in Structural Engineering

This program is housed within the school’s civil engineering program and is one of five degree options in engineering that students can obtain. It thus offers a highly integrated degree program. Many courses are exclusively offered online, thus ensuring that the format taught by instructors meets the needs of all online students. A student can earn their master’s in thirty-degree hours.

University of Washington – Structural Engineering and Mechanics Masters

This program offers courses that students can take in a real-world or online format. In addition to required classes, students can take a “companion seminar” series designed to integrate students into the local engineering field. This can help develop relationships that turn into job opportunities. Students taking classes in person can also take a variety of online courses, including energy infrastructure and construction engineering. This can give students who get their master’s more flexible offerings. 

Common Courses in Master’s in Structural Engineering Degree Programs

Like virtually every other engineering field, structural engineering comes with many specialties. If you are interested in pursuing one of these concentrations, you will have to take certain courses. However, most structural engineering degrees have certain requirements that are the same, regardless of where you go to school and what you plan on specializing in.

These courses include:

  • Structural analysis can take many different forms, including examining how certain types of materials interact.
  • Element analysis discusses how different elements interact and how pressures diffuse across different properties.
  • Nonlinear systems, including an analysis of chaos theory, mathematics, and more.

Other FAQs About Master’s in Structural Engineering Degrees and Programs

What Is a Common Master’s in Structural Engineering Salary?

It is important to understand that this salary can vary wildly, depending on what specialty an individual pursues and what area of structural engineering someone chooses to work in. Individuals who work in structural engineering can work in different public and private sectors. Furthermore, specialties within the structural engineering field may be more sought after, thus resulting in an increase in salary for these individuals. 

The average annual salary for civil engineers, including structural engineers, was more than $88,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is worth noting that external factors may pressure the salaries of structural engineers to rise. For example, multiple media outlets have noted an ongoing shortage of structural engineers. This shortage may result in a more competitive hiring market. 

Is a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering Worth It?

As always, this question is ultimately up to you. Becoming a structural engineer requires a unique combination of skills in mathematics, physics, engineering, and more. If you have this skill set and are interested in working in built environments, there is virtually no question that this career can be a lucrative one. It has a high salary, and external pressures seem to be making it more likely that you will be able to demand even more money if you go into this field shortly.

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