BS in Civil Engineering

About Civil Engineering

Civil engineers focus on such matters as addressing our changing environment; protecting the population from natural and man-made hazards; designing a sustainable infrastructure that serves everyone; reimagining human and commodity traffic for an automated future; and designing and constructing the world’s tallest buildings and most iconic bridges. To prepare students for the many career paths available to civil engineers, the CEE at Illinois curriculum emphasizes fundamental knowledge, transferable skills, and lifelong learning.

Overview of the Curriculum

The curriculum leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering requires 128 hours and is organized into required courses; science electives; civil engineering technical courses; and other electives. A brief summary of the program follows.

Required Courses (67 hours)

The following courses, associated with 67 semester hours of academic credit, are required in the undergraduate curriculum in civil engineering. These courses provide the foundation for the study of civil engineering.

Orientation and professional development (1 hour)

  • ENG 100 Engineering Lecture (freshmen only) 0 hrs
  • ENG 300 Engineering Transfer Lecture (transfer students only) 0 hrs
  • CEE 190 Project-Based Introduction to CEE 4 hrs
  • CEE 495 Professional Practice 0 hrs

Mathematics (16 hours)

  • MATH 221 Calculus I 4 hrs
  • MATH 231 Calculus II 3 hrs
  • MATH 241 Calculus III 4 hrs
  • MATH 257 Linear Algebra with Computational Applications  2 hrs **
  • MATH 285 Intro Differential Equations  3 hrs  ***

**MATH 415 Linear Algebra (3 hrs) can be substituted
***MATH 284 Intro Differential Systems (4 hrs) can be substituted

Basic Sciences (18 hours)

  • CHEM 102 General Chemistry I 3 hrs
  • CHEM 103 General Chemistry Lab I (to be taken with CHEM 102) 1 hrs
  • CHEM 104 General Chemistry II 3 hrs
  • CHEM 105 General Chemistry Lab II (to be taken with CHEM 104) 1 hrs
  • PHYS 211 Univ Physics, Mechanics 4 hrs
  • PHYS 212 Univ Physics, Elec & Mag 4 hrs
  • PHYS 213 Univ Physics, Thermal Physics 2 hrs

Applied Mechanics (13 hours)

  • TAM 211 Statics 3 hrs
  • TAM 212 Introductory Dynamics 3 hrs
  • TAM 251 Introductory Solid Mechanics 3 hrs
  • TAM 335 Introductory Fluid Mechanics 4 hrs

Written Communication (8 hours)

  • RHET 105 Principles of Composition 4 hrs
  • CEE 300 Behavior of Materials 4 hrs

Fundamental Engineering Principles and Tools (12 hours)

  • SE 101 Engineering Graphics and Design 3 hrs
  • CS 101 Intro to Computing, Eng & Sci 3 hrs **
  • CEE 201 Systems Engrg & Economics 3 hrs
  • CEE 202 Engineering Risk & Uncertainty 3 hrs

** CS 124 Introduction to Computer Science I  (3 hrs) can be substituted

Science elective (3 hours)

Each student must select at least three (3) credit hours of an elective course in science. The elective allows the student to gain additional depth in science. The course should be selected according to the requirements and recommendations for the chosen primary field, as specified in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 5, Advanced Technical Programs. It may be possible to gain approval for a course that is not included on the recommended list for a primary; however, the merit of including the course in your program must be justified on the Academic Program Plan and the course is subject to approval through the program review process. You should obtain approval for such a course from the Associate Head & Director of Undergraduate Studies before you can take the course and put it on your Academic Program Plan.

Civil engineering technical program (34 hours)

The civil engineering technical program is designed to give each student a broad background in the disciplines of civil engineering through the core courses and to allow each student to develop a focused program through advanced technical courses in chosen primary and secondary areas of emphasis. The fundamental principles of civil engineering design and the behavior of civil engineering systems are emphasized throughout the program. This section describes the civil engineering technical program. Briefly, there are two types of civil engineering courses: (1) core courses and (2) advanced technical courses.

The core courses provide the prerequisites to all of the advanced technical courses. The advanced technical courses are subdivided into a primary area of emphasis and a secondary area of emphasis. The core and secondary area courses assure adequate breadth in civil engineering subjects, while the primary area courses allow the student to study a certain subject in great depth. For the student who wishes to gain a broader education in civil engineering, we provide the General Option, which is described in the Section 5.11.

You cannot use an advanced technical course to meet both your primary and secondary requirements. You must have 12 hours from your primary and 6 hours from your secondary. The sum of the semester hours of core courses and technical electives must be at least 34.

Civil engineering core courses

At least 15 hours of credit (five courses) must be core civil engineering courses. The courses must be selected from the following list:

  • CEE 300 Behavior of Materials 4 hrs
  • CEE 310 Transportation Engineering 3 hrs
  • CEE 320 Construction Engineering 3 hrs
  • CEE 330 Environmental Engineering 3 hrs
  • CEE 340 Energy and Global Environment 3 hrs
  • CEE 350 Water Resources Engineering 3 hrs
  • CEE 360 Structural Engineering 3 hrs
  • CEE 380 Geotechnical Engineering 3 hrs

Core courses cannot be used as advanced technical courses, but additional core courses can be taken if all of the requirements for advanced technical courses are met.

Advanced technical electives

The advanced technical electives are selected to satisfy the requirements of a primary area of emphasis (i.e., a major field within civil engineering) and a secondary area of emphasis (i.e., a minor field within civil engineering). The program must have at least 12 hours in the primary field and 6 hours in the secondary field. Learn more about the areas of specialization here.

Primary area of emphasis (take at least 12 hours). The courses in the primary area of emphasis are chosen to be an appropriate program of study within one of the ten disciplines of civil engineering: (1) construction engineering and management, (2) construction materials engineering, (3) environmental engineering, (4) geotechnical engineering, (5) structural engineering, (6) transportation engineering, (7) water resources engineering and science, (8) energy-water-environment sustainability, (9) societal risk and hazard mitigation, and (10) sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems. Pre-approved programs in each of the areas are listed in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 5, Advanced Technical Programs. Deviations from the pre-approved programs are possible, but subject to the program review process. You must contact the Associate Head & Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Academic Advisor in advance of any deviations from the preapproved programs.

The value of focusing on one area of study through the primary area courses is twofold. First, it provides a basic education that allows a B.S. graduate to work productively in that field.

Second, it provides an education that prepares the student for graduate work in that field. Guidelines for putting together a primary program in each of the eight main areas of civil and environmental engineering are described in Chapter 5. Note that each program of study has requirements and recommendations on science electives and civil engineering core courses. Programs in the eight main areas can be petitioned through the Academic Program Plan, which is described in The Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 3.

Secondary area of emphasis (take at least 6 hours)

The courses in the secondary area of emphasis are chosen to complement the primary area and add breadth to the program of study. Pre-approved secondary programs are listed in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 5, Advanced Technical Programs.

Courses that make up a secondary area can be taken in one of the eight main areas of civil and environmental engineering, but there are also some additional options that give flexibility to the program. A secondary program cannot be taken in the same area as the primary. The secondary area requirement is meant to provide the student both with additional breadth and with an additional area of special focus. Guidelines for putting together a secondary program in each of the ten disciplines of civil and environmental engineering are described in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 5.

A secondary program outside of the ten disciplines is possible, but is subject to the program review process. Some secondary programs that have already been approved are described in Section 5.10. Some ideas on how the secondary area courses can be used include the following (the specific courses for which are still subject to approval):

  1. The student may wish to pursue study of an engineering field outside of but related to civil and environmental engineering. The secondary area electives could be selected to achieve this goal.
  2. The student may want to pursue a minor (e.g., there are official minors currently available in both Materials Science & Engineering and Computer Science). Judiciously selected courses, carefully justified, may allow progress toward the minor while, at the same time, satisfying the secondary area requirement. The science electives might also be useful for this purpose. (Of course, free electives can help defray the time it takes to earn a minor).
  3. The student may have plans to pursue a professional degree in law, business administration, or medicine after completion of a B.S. in civil engineering. Judiciously selected courses, carefully justified, may allow completion of some of the pre-professional courses required for entrance to the professional programs. (Of course, the free electives can be used for these purposes).

The Program Review Committee will look for solid evidence that any proposed program satisfies three basic criteria: (1) the proposed program is not at odds with nor does it dilute the established educational objectives associated with a B.S. degree in civil engineering, (2) the program must be coherent and have clear educational objectives, and (3) the proposed program must clearly beneficial to the career objectives of the student. The case for a novel program must be made under the Explanatory Notes and Comments section of the Academic Program Plan described in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 3. You should obtain preliminary approval for a novel program from the Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs before submitting your Academic Program Plan and before taking any classes in the program.

The General Option. The student who wants a broad civil engineering education can elect the General Civil Engineering option (the General Option, for short). The specific course requirements of the General Option are described in the Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 5. Students who are interested in the General Option are encouraged to discuss with the Associate Head & Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Curricular requirements associated with engineering design. The concept of "engineering design" is central to the study of civil engineering. The term "design" means different things to different people, but in the context of civil engineering we mean the process of using fundamental engineering principles in the creation of some facility or process to solve engineering problems or to meet societal demand, such as building a bridge or designing a water treatment plant. The key idea is creation or synthesis. Almost every course in the civil engineering course catalog (see Undergraduate Handbook Chapter 6) is a combination of fundamental ideas and their implementation through engineering design. Therefore, each course has some design content associated with it (there are a few exceptions).

Some civil engineering courses have an integrated design project required as part of the course work. The integrated design project provides an engineering design experience based upon knowledge and skills acquired earlier. The design experience incorporates engineering standards and realistic engineering constraints and generally includes economic, social, and political concerns.

The technical program selected by the student must meet the following two criteria for engineering design:

  1. Each student must take at least one course having an integrated design project. The currently approved courses from which students may select are listed at the end of this chapter in Appendix A, Integrated Design Courses.
  2. The cumulative engineering design content in the program must be at least 16 hours, where the hours of design content for each course are specified in Appendix B, Design Content of Civil and Environmental Engineering Courses, given at the end of this chapter. Note that only 13 hours of design are required on the Academic Program Plan because the required courses CEE 201 and CEE 202 (which do not appear on the Academic Program Plan) account for 3 hours of design content.

Curricular requirements associated with physical laboratories. Physical laboratory experiences are an essential part of an engineering education. For certain concepts there is no substitute for putting hands on and making observations. There are physical laboratory components to some of the required courses (e.g., the chemistry and physics courses and TAM 335—Introductory Fluid Mechanics). In addition to the laboratories in the required courses, each student is required to complete one core or advanced technical course that has a physical laboratory. This course must be indicated on the Academic Program Plan. Acceptable laboratory courses are listed in Appendix C, Civil Engineering Courses with a Laboratory Component.

General Education Electives (12 hours)

The campus General Education requirements fall into several categories.  Those in Composition I, Natural Sciences and Technology, and Quantitative Reasoning are met by courses required in engineering curricula. A third-level college language course is required if students don’t satisfy this requirement by completing three years of high school instruction in a single language.

The campus General Education requirements in social and behavioral sciences and in humanities and the arts can be met while satisfying the campus requirements in the areas of Western and non-Western cultures. Beginning with the class that entered in Fall 2018, students must also assure that they take a course that satisfies the campus requirement in the area of U.S. Minority Culture. 

Students may obtain credit from different academic sources, i.e., residential instruction, advanced placement (AP or IB) tests, and transfer credits. All course work taken to satisfy campus general education requirements must be taken for grade.

For more information about General Education course work requirements, consult the campus General Education website.

The Economics requirement. For civil engineering, either ECON 102 (Microeconomic Principles) or ECON 103 (Macroeconomic Principles) must be included in the 12 hours of humanities and social sciences. The curriculum committee recommends ECON 102 over ECON 103 because the principles of microeconomics are particularly relevant to many of the possible career paths in civil engineering.

The Advanced composition requirement. The Advanced Composition requirement provides an intensive writing course whose goals are (1) to improve understanding of critical issues within a substantive discipline and (2) to improve mastery of technical aspects of writing. This requirement is satisfied by CEE 300 – Behavior of Materials. 

Free Electives (6 hours)

Undergraduate students in the Grainger College of Engineering have 10 (ten) or more semester hours of free electives; the exact number required depends on the major.* Almost any course offered by the University, and most transfer courses, can be used for free electives accordance with the guidelines established by the Grainger College of Engineering to reach the total of 128 hours required for a B.S. Environmental Engineering.


The study of engineering is a process of building on fundamental knowledge. Hence, the prerequisite structure of the courses is extremely important. Prerequisites, as listed in the course catalog, are meant to be a guide to what you are expected to know when you start a certain course. Your success in any course depends strongly upon your mastery of the prerequisite material. For quick reference the prerequisite flow is diagrammed in Fig. 1.

The courses are shown in the earliest possible time slot. Each column of blocks can be thought of as a semester and the courses that appear in a given column can be taken at the same time without violating the prerequisite structure. Time, is measured in semesters, advances from left to right in the diagram. Clearly, any course can be taken later that shown in the figure (e.g., it would probably be a good idea to take PHYS 213 the semester after PHYS 212). The purpose of showing the courses in their earliest possible time slot is that one can easily see any bottlenecks created by prerequisites.

For quick reference the prerequisite please see this website: Civil Engineering Course Maps 

Grade Replacement

All undergraduate students can repeat courses and use the new grade to replace the grade they earned in the first attempt. The benefit to doing this is to recalculate the cumulative GPA, excluding the grade for the first attempt; however, the transcript will still show that all courses taken, and it will show the grade for each. For additional information, see the Registrar’s information on the Campus Grade Replacement Policy.

The following are the guidelines in which students can Grade Replace.

  • Students are restricted to 4 distinct courses, totaling no more than 10 credit hours during their undergraduate years at Illinois;
  • The first attempt at the course must be a C- or lower;
  • Students must not have had an officially reported academic integrity violation for the first attempt at the course;
  • Students must retake the course at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in order for it to count for grade replacement. Study abroad courses are not eligible for consideration;
  • Students can enroll in a GIS or NETMATH online section to replace an on-campus corresponding course grade;
  • Students must file their intent to use Grade Replacement according to the Campus Grade Replacement policy by the deadline.

Independent study and special topics courses

A student may take an independent study (i.e., CEE 497) or a special topics course (i.e., CEE 498) in partial fulfillment for the degree requirements. Such a course can count as a technical elective in the primary or secondary field and is subject to the program review process. There are many good reasons to include such courses in your curriculum. Some advice on these courses is given below. Independent Study (CEE 497). An independent study is a self-paced study of a particular topic, carried out under the guidance of a certain faculty member. Each faculty member has his or her own section number. An independent study must be taken for a grade if it is to be used toward graduation requirements as a technical elective.

An independent study can be a very rewarding experience for the student who can manage the self-paced nature of the course. The independent study provides an opportunity to include research in your undergraduate program. The graduation honor of "highest distinction" requires the completion of an independent study and the submission of the resulting report or paper.

Each faculty member has a different style in directing independent studies. It is essential to establish, in writing, a clear scope of the work to be done and the expected products (e.g., a written report). Careful planning up front can help you avoid many problems associated with delivering satisfactory results. To help minimize problems associated with execution of an independent study, each student must submit an Independent Study Application/Approval Form. This form includes a description of the independent study and requires the signature of the instructor, the student's advisor, and a department officer (generally the associate head of the department). The form can be obtained from the Academic Advisor.

Because an independent study is self-paced, these obligations tend to find their way to the bottom of even the most organized student's to-do list. As a result, it is common for the student to fail to complete the independent study within the fifteen weeks of the semester. It is usually acceptable to continue the study beyond the confines of the semester, but all parties must be agreeable and a clear plan for completion should be hatched during the semester in which the study was meant to be completed.

Special topics course (CEE 498). Special topic courses provide a mechanism to easily introduce new classes into the curriculum. These courses are designated as "experimental courses" because they have not been through the required review process of permanent courses on campus.

Some civil engineering disciplines rely on special topics courses to complete the course offerings in the category of advanced technical courses. These courses will generally be approved by the Program Review Committee for the primary or secondary field in the area which offers the course, even though they do not appear on the list of recommended courses.

Integrated Design Courses

An integrated design course is a course that has a design project as part of the course requirements. The following courses meet the conditions of an integrated design course.

  • CEE 401 Concrete Materials
  • CEE 415 Geometric Design of Roads
  • CEE 421 Construction Planning
  • CEE 449 Environmental Engineering Lab
  • CEE 453 Urban Hydrology and Hydraulics
  • CEE 465 Design of Structural Systems
  • CEE 484 Applied Soil Mechanics
  • CEE 493 Sustainable Design Eng Tech

Civil Engineering Laboratory Courses

  • CEE 300 Behavior of Materials
  • CEE 401 Concrete Materials
  • CEE 405 Asphalt Materials, I
  • CEE 449 Environmental Engineering Lab
  • CEE 458 Water Resources Field Methods
  • CEE 483 Soil Mechanics and Behavior

Design Content of Civil and Environmental Engineering Courses

The design content of a course is a number representing the number of credit hours of the course that are directly associated with engineering design. The design content of each CEE course in the catalog are listed below.

  • CEE 190 Project Based Introduction to CEE 1.00
  • CEE 199 Undergraduate Open Seminar 0.00
  • CEE 201 Systems Engineering & Economics 1.50
  • CEE 202 Engineering Risk & Uncertainty 1.50
  • CEE 300 Behavior of Materials 1.00
  • CEE 310 Transportation Engineering 1.00
  • CEE 311 Engineering Surveying 1.20
  • CEE 320 Construction Engineering 1.50
  • CEE 330 Environmental Engineering 0.50
  • CEE 340 Energy and Global Environment 1.00
  • CEE 350 Water Resources Engineering 1.30
  • CEE 360 Structural Engineering 0.50
  • CEE 380 Geotechnical Engineering 1.00
  • CEE 401 Concrete Materials 1.00
  • CEE 405 Asphalt Materials, I 2.00
  • CEE 406 Pavement Design, I 2.50
  • CEE 407 Airport Design 2.00
  • CEE 408 Railroad Transportation Engineering 1.00
  • CEE 409 Railroad Track Engineering 2.00
  • CEE 410 Railway Signaling and Control 1.00
  • CEE 411 Railroad Project Design & Constr 2.00
  • CEE 412 High-Speed Rail Engineering 1.00
  • CEE 415 Geometric Design of Roads 3.00
  • CEE 416 Traffic Capacity Analysis 1.50
  • CEE 417 Urban Transportation Planning 0.00
  • CEE 418 Public Transportation Systems 1.00
  • CEE 419 Transportation Economics 0.00
  • CEE 420 Construction Productivity 2.10
  • CEE 421 Construction Planning 2.50
  • CEE 422 Construction Cost Analysis 1.80
  • CEE 424 Sustainable Const Methods 1.00
  • CEE 430 Ecological Quality Engineering 1.00
  • CEE 432 Stream Ecology 1.00
  • CEE 433 Water Technology and Policy 0.50
  • CEE 434 Environmental Systems, I 2.00
  • CEE 435 Public Health Engineering 0.00
  • CEE 437 Water Quality Engineering 1.50
  • CEE 438 Science and Environmental Policy 0.25
  • CEE 440 Fate Cleanup Environ Pollutant 1.00
  • CEE 441 Air pollution Sources, Transport and Control 2.00
  • CEE 442 Env Eng Principles, Physical 0.50
  • CEE 443 Env Eng Principles, Chemical 0.00
  • CEE 444 Env Eng Principles, Biological 0.00
  • CEE 447 Atmospheric Chemistry 0.00
  • CEE 449 Environmental Engineering Lab 2.00
  • CEE 450 Surface Hydrology 0.75
  • CEE 451 Environmental Fluid Mechanics 0.60
  • CEE 452 Hydraulic Analysis and Design 2.50
  • CEE 453 Urban Hydrology and Hydraulics 2.70
  • CEE 457 Groundwater 0.25
  • CEE 458 Water Resources Field Methods 1.00
  • CEE 459 Echoydraulics 0.80
  • CEE 460 Steel Structures, I 2.40
  • CEE 461 Reinforced Concrete, I 2.40
  • CEE 462 Steel Structures, II 2.40
  • CEE 463 Reinforced Concrete, II 2.25
  • CEE 465 Design of Structural Systems 3.00
  • CEE 467 Masonry Structures 2.40
  • CEE 468 Prestressed Concrete 2.40
  • CEE 469 Wood Structures 2.40
  • CEE 470 Structural Analysis 1.00
  • CEE 471 Structural Mechanics 0.30
  • CEE 472 Structural Dynamics 1.00
  • CEE 473  Wind Effects on Structures 0.00
  • CEE 474 Mechanics of Additive Manufacturing 0.00
  • CEE 483 Soil Mechanics and Behavior 1.50
  • CEE 484 Applied Soil Mechanics 2.50
  • CEE 490 Computer Methods 0.00
  • CEE 491 Decision and Risk Analysis 1.50
  • CEE 492 Data Science for Civil and Environmental Engineering 0.00
  • CEE 493 Sustainable Design Eng Tech 2.00
  • CEE 495 Professional Practice 0.00
  • CEE 497 Independent Study* 0.00
  • CEE 498 Special Topics* 0.00

Note: Design content in CEE 497 and CEE 398/498 is by default assigned to be zero. The design content in these courses (and courses outside CEE) are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The instructors of the CEE 497 and CEE 498 courses must provide written evidence of design and designated hours for approval by the Program Review Committee. This issue is discussed in Chapter 3, The Academic Program Plan.

Program Review and Approval

To qualify for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, each student's academic program plan must be reviewed by a standing committee of the faculty (the Program Review Committee) and approved by the Associate Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering in charge of undergraduate programs. This review and approval process ensures that individual programs satisfy the educational objectives and all of the requirements of the environmental engineering program, that those programs do not abuse the substantial degree of flexibility that is present in the curriculum, and that the career interests of each student are cultivated and served.

  1. Each student must take at least one course having an integrated design project. The currently approved courses from which students may select are listed under Integrated Design Courses.
  2. The cumulative engineering design content in the program must be at least 13 hours, where the hours of design content for each course are specified.
  3. CEE 201 and CEE 202 account for 3 additional design hours once a student reaches a minimum of 13hrs.

More Questions? 

Becky Stillwell


Becky Stillwell
Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs

1102 Newmark Civil Engineering Lab
205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL  61801
(217) 333-3812

Advising Appointments:
To register for an advising appointment with Becky, CEE undergraduates can visit: Advising Calendar