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Civil Engineering Major

buildings and roadways in a city at night

Civil engineering immerses you in the built environment. Civil engineers oversee the smart and responsible design and creation of structures and systems that are familiar to all of us: roads, bridges, buildings, airports, sewer systems, and more. Increasingly they are concerned not only with the what of the world around us, but the how: the ways in which people live in and utilize the built environment, and how we can optimize that for the benefit of human beings and the planet.

Civil engineering is a field with many pathways, and a UIC education will open them for you. Students who pursue an undergraduate major in civil engineering may find themselves drawn to careers in structural engineering (including designing structures to manage an increasing incidence of natural disasters), urban planning, coastal preservation, transportation engineering, water-resources management, materials science, environmental engineering, and beyond.

Your vision of your future career will be shaped by your UIC coursework, the faculty mentors you encounter here, and the strong support of your fellow students.

The civil engineering major at a glance Heading link

Why choose a civil engineering major? Why pick UIC? This PDF briefly answers both of those questions.

See the major overview

Civil engineering major requirements Heading link

Civil engineering majors complete coursework in three categories:

  • Nonengineering and general education courses: Nonengineering and general education courses will make you a well-informed graduate in disciplines outside of civil engineering. You will take 55 credit hours in this category, including chemistry, physics, math, and a range of “chart-your-own-path” classes in areas such as Exploring World Cultures and Understanding the Individual and Society. For details on general education requirements, consult the course catalog.
  • Required engineering courses: Students earn 64 credit hours from engineering courses that all civil engineering majors must take. These courses—including Strength of Materials, Environmental Engineering, and Geometric Design of Highway Facilities—offer a thorough introduction to the field. Details on these requirements are in the course catalog.
  • Technical electives: Civil engineering majors complete 9 credit hours of courses that will prepare them for the specific careers or research they have in mind. Options include Design of Masonry Structures, Railroad Track Engineering, Engineering Hydrology, Bridge Design I, and more (see the course catalog for details).

Concentration Areas Heading link

Students majoring in civil engineering have the chance to create an area of specialization in their undergraduate degree by completing a concentration. We offer several concentration areas, which can be explored through enrollment in the relevant technical elective courses. Expand the sections below to learn about each concentration.

Scholarships Heading link

UIC offers a wide range of scholarships and other forms of financial assistance. Some scholarships are designed for new students; others are open to continuing students. Learn more about these programs on our College scholarships page.

Civil engineering majors in their own words Heading link


Stephanie Padilla
Civil Engineering, BS ’21 | Chicago, IL

Name one thing you think UIC does better than anywhere else: Being a research university allows for students to be actively involved in their respective fields through undergraduate research. Such experience allows for great insight.

Favorite course: CME 203 Strength of Materials.

Student organizations you’ve joined: I’m the secretary and a SHPE junior representative for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

What makes this student organization valuable to you? SHPE has provided me with many opportunities for growth as well as academic and professional guidance. Most importantly, I have met many hardworking and aspiring individuals whom I now call my SHPE familia.


Moshe Carron
Civil Engineering, BS ’21 | Chicago, IL

Favorite course: CME 301 Steel Design.

Favorite thing about the department you’re majoring in: Most of the faculty were working in industry before becoming instructors. They share about the hands-on, real-world issues and projects that they were a part of.

What is the most valuable student organization you’ve joined? The Student Steel Bridge Club. I’ve made some lifelong friends from it. Being involved in the project motivated me to do well in my structural classes.

Favorite restaurant in Chicago: Ken’s Diner. It’s a really neat kosher diner, plus they load up on the corned beef with their Dempster sandwich.

Learn more about the civil engineering major Heading link

Program Educational Objectives: Civil Engineering Major Heading link

The civil engineering program at UIC is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

As part of the accreditation process, ABET asks our department to capture the overall goals of the undergraduate programs in civil engineering. These are called our program educational objectives.

Graduates of the civil engineering program at the University of Illinois Chicago will establish careers in engineering, research and development, and/or management professions and will be involved in professional societies. Within a few years of completing the program, graduates are expected:

  • To apply technical expertise, effective design skills, and sustainability principles to address evolving engineering challenges affecting a diverse society.
  • To be engaged in continuing education. Motivated graduates will have pursued or have well-formulated plans to pursue graduate education.
  • To effectively and ethically contribute as a member, manager, or leader of multidisciplinary teams through efficient communication of technical and nontechnical issues.

Civil engineering is a regulated profession, meaning that a majority of professionals in the field will become licensed Professional Engineers within five years of graduation. To attain this license, a civil engineering student must take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to become certified as an Engineer-in-Training. A new civil engineer then must take the Principles of Engineering exam. When that exam is passed, and when the new civil engineer has successfully demonstrated sufficient evidence of work experience and other qualifications required by the state and jurisdiction, the Professional Engineer license will be awarded. The PE license is highly regarded in the industry and opens doors to many successful and rewarding careers.

Civil engineering graduates who choose to practice structural engineering also will need to become licensed Structural Engineers within 10 years of their graduation.

Student Outcomes: Civil Engineering Major Heading link

Another part of the ABET accreditation process requires our department to identify the specific knowledge and skills that students are intended to have when they complete their undergraduate education. These are called student outcomes.

Students graduating from the civil engineering program at UIC will have:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, 406 students are enrolled at UIC Engineering as civil engineering majors across all class years. The department graduated 82 civil engineering majors in the academic year ending August 2021. View historical enrollment and graduation data here.

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