The Degree of Master of Science (MSCE, MSEE)

Credit Requirements. All candidates for the degree Master of Science in Civil Engineering or Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MSCE or MSEE) are required to consult their advisor. In all programs, at least 16 hours of credit must be in the student’s major field. Also, 12 hours of credit must be obtained for courses numbered in the 500 series, and eight of these twelve 500 level hours must be taken for grades in the major field. No more than four of these eight hours can be CEE 597 Independent Study.


Thesis Option: A candidate for the MSCE or MSEE degree who is required or elects to write a thesis must complete at least 32 hours of graduate work (including CEE 599 thesis credit). A typical master’s program with a thesis includes 24 hours of course work and 8 hours of CEE 599 thesis credit. No more than 12 hours of CEE599 thesis credit can be devoted to the MS thesis.


No Thesis Option:  A candidate for the MSCE or MSEE degree who is not required or elects not to write a thesis must complete at least 36 hours of course work. Special requirements of the several areas of CEE are summarized in Appendix 2. Students wishing MSCE programs that cannot be accomplished in any of the ten areas of specialization may submit their proposed plan of study directly to the Graduate Affairs Committee for approval. See Joan Christian in 1108 NCEL.


Online Option: A candidate for the MSCE and MSEE option must complete 36 hours of course work. Areas and classes are limited to those offered online.


Residency and Time Requirements. At least one-half of the minimum hours required for the MSCE or MSEE degrees must be for courses meeting on the Urbana-Champaign Campus, or in courses meeting in other locations approved by the Graduate College for residence credit.  A candidate for  the master’s degree must complete all requirements for the degree within five calendar years after initial registration in the Graduate College.


Plan of Study. All M.S. candidates must complete a Plan of Study, which must be submitted for approval during the first semester of graduate work. A sample Plan of Study can be found in Appendix 3.


Foreign Language.  There is no foreign language requirement of the M.S. degree.


Thesis. Credit for thesis research (CEE 599) cannot be applied to a degree unless a thesis is submitted. The thesis must be the work of a single author. For instructions regarding the format of the thesis, the student should look at the Graduate College website for Thesis and Dissertation at The format of all theses must be officially checked by the department. Joan Christian ( is authorized to perform the departmental format check.


Switching from 32 hour to 36 hour MSCE Program. Problems arise when an M.S. student decides at the last minute not to do an M.S. thesis and to switch from a 32 hour program with a thesis to a 36 hour program without a thesis MSCE degree. CEE Policy: Students will not be allowed to switch if the student’s advisor does not provide written consent.


Changing Areas of Specialization. M.S. candidates wishing to transfer from one departmental area of specialization to a new area must have their credentials transmitted to the new area for review. If the new area accepts the transferring student, then the student may continue and complete his or her M.S. program in the new area. See Mindy Calcagno in 1107 NCEL.


Second MSCE Degree. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign policy prohibits awarding second degrees in the same area of specialization. CEE Policy: Except under unusual circumstances, a second M.S. degree is not permitted if the student is admitted into the Ph.D. program using the first degree as fulfilling the requirements for Phase I of that program. A second M.S. degree may be permitted if the student is admitted into the CEE MSCE program because the first degree is insufficient for some reason. In any case, the second (University of Illinois) MSCE degree course work should not duplicate the course work of the student’s first MSCE degree.


Students that would like to transfer to our program to get an MS degree from another PhD program would need to be in our program a minimum of one semester.


Graduation. Students are responsible for notifying the Graduate College of their intention to graduate in a given semester; that is, students are responsible for placing their names on the “degree list.” Students must use the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Enterprise Applications – Student Self-Service system ( to place their name on the graduation list by the stated deadline.


CEE Online Program. The degree earned through the online program is the same degree awarded on campus. Courses offered online are the same as the on-campus courses. The degree earned and transcript records do not distinguish between online and on-campus delivery. Students may request via graduate college petition to change their program code to complete a degree online, or vice versa. This request is subject to advisor, department and Graduate College approval.


3+2 BS/MS Program. This program allows international students to spend their senior year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earn a Bachelor of Science degree from a participating international university, and continue their education to earn a Master of Science degree in civil or environmental engineering from the University of Illinois in one year. Students typically spend three years at their home university and two years at Illinois to complete B.S. and M.S. degrees in five years. In the first year, they complet coursework required for their BS degree. By the beginning of the second year,  each MS student will select a specialty area and be assigned a faculty advisor in their area of specialization. Students in the 3+2 program must maintain a 3.3 GPA. Students may transfer a maximum of 8 graduate-level hours from their BS to their MS degree that is not used for their bachelor degree. .

Click here to see the international universities with which CEE has 3+2 agreements.