Civil engineering is about community service, development, and improvement. It involves the conception, planning, design, construction, and operation of facilities essential to modern life, from transit systems to offshore structures to space satellites.

Civil engineers are solvers of real-world problems, meeting the challenges of pollution, traffic congestion, drinking water and energy needs, urban redevelopment, and community planning. 

Growth areas in civil engineering include infrastructure development, construction management, computer-aided design, engineered environmental systems and flood-related sciences.  

In planning and design, civil engineers work with other engineers, architects, landscape architects, planners, economists, financiers, sociologists, lawyers, and other specialists as members of the design team. Some engineers work in offices while others construct or supervise outdoor projects they have designed. There also is great potential for entrepreneurial work by civil and environmental engineers as they start their own companies. 

Why Study at Iowa

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is committed to providing high-quality education and research experiences for students. Resources and efforts are focused on areas of unique strength, including water resources engineering, environmental solutions and sustainability, mechanics of solids and structures, nanotechnology, and transportation infrastructure. 

The BSE in civil engineering is one of eight Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the College of Engineering, which offers excellent opportunities for students to participate in research, internships, study abroad, and student organizations.

Students choose to study engineering at Iowa because of the college's academic excellence, individual attention, small-college environment, camaraderie, and tremendous opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranks Iowa's undergraduate program in the top 20 percent of engineering programs nationwide. 

Iowa admits incoming first-year students directly into engineering. About 525 first-year students and 100 transfer students enroll each year. Women account for over 27 percent of Iowa's engineering students; the national average is 20 percent. 

BSE/MS Fast-Track Degree Program

The fast-track degree program is for eligible students who seek to earn both the BSE and MS degrees in civil engineering at Iowa. BSE/MS students may attend the departmental graduate seminar and work on a master's thesis or research project while they are still undergraduates. They may count a limited amount of course work toward both degrees. Once students complete the requirements for the bachelor's degree, they are granted the BSE, and they normally complete the MS degree one year later. 

Course Work

Iowa's civil engineering program provides graduates with scientific and technical knowledge and equips them with problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills that will serve them throughout their careers. The program emphasizes both a broad education in civil engineering fundamentals and the opportunity for in-depth learning. 

Students complete the BSE core requirements as well as the curriculum designed for their major, which covers four major stems: mathematics and basic sciences, engineering topics, the general education component, and an elective focus area. 

The elective focus area enables students to gain depth of knowledge in a career path. The department offers preapproved elective focus areas or students may choose to work with their adviser to develop an individualized elective focus area, which is subject to approval by the department's curriculum committee.

Focus area options in civil engineering include:

  • Civil and environmental practice
  • Environmental
  • Hydraulics and water resources
  • Management
  • Pre-Architecture 
  • Structures, mechanics, and materials
  • Transportation
  • Urban and regional planning

See Civil Engineering in the UI General Catalog for more details.

Admission Requirements

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Student Opportunities

Engineering student support services include free tutoring for students' first two years of math, science, and engineering courses.

Engineering student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and national honorary societies offer many opportunities to develop your leadership abilities. 

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Iowa's nationally and internationally renowned faculty members, including physicians and practicing engineers, teach all of the college's engineering classes, including those for first-year students. No classes are taught by teaching assistants. 


On average, 93-98 percent of Iowa engineering graduates are employed in their field of study or pursuing advanced education within seven months of graduation.

Engineering is a well-respected profession that is used as a foundation for a variety of careers in industry, medicine, law, government, and consulting. Engineering majors hold eight of the top ten spots on the list of top-paid majors for bachelor's degree graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Engineering Professional Development (EPD) develops and promotes experiential education and professional opportunities for students. Professional staff coordinate the college's co-op and internship program, engage in employer outreach, and provide opportunities for students to network with employers, including an engineering career fair and other career-development programming each semester.

EPD also offers individual advising and class presentations on resume and cover letter preparation, job and internship search strategies, interviewing skills, and job offer evaluation. 


Apply early for scholarships. The College of Engineering offers Engineering First-Year Scholarships as well as many other scholarship opportunities for sophomore, junior, and senior students. For more information, visit the College of Engineering Scholarships

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

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Apply to the College of Engineering.


Civil Engineering (BSE)
Focus Areas
Civil and Environmental Practice
Hydraulics and Water Resources
Structures, Mechanics, and Materials
Urban and Regional Planning
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission