If you’ve ever marveled at how skyscrapers could live a hundred years and not crumble, then you’re thinking structural engineering. A career in structural engineering will help you build one of the most beautiful and durable structures of the world. But you need a structural degree program from one of the best structural engineering schools to get started.
Structural Engineering is not a new field of engineering. As far back as 2700 B.C.E, there have been structural engineers. The popular step pyramid for Pharaoh Djoser was built by Imhotep and it exists to date because of its stability. Throughout history, there have been wonderful buildings, bridges, and other constructions that have seen the test of time and still stand.
However, some buildings have failed due to poor structure. An example is the case of Petion-Ville school. Rev. Fortin Augustin constructed the building himself thinking he had a good knowledge of construction. In the end, the three-story schoolhouse collapsed and killed 94 people, mostly children.
So, to ensure that you get the right knowledge of structural engineering and save people’s lives, we bring you the best structural engineering schools in the world. In this post, you will also find other information on structural engineering. Information like the level and kind of education you need to become a structural engineer, and how much you can make as a structural engineer. But first, what is structural engineering?
- What is Structural Engineering?
- What Does Structural Engineers Do?
- How Can I become a Structural Engineer?
- What is the Salary and Job Outlook of Structural Engineers?
- What are the Best Schools for Structural Engineering?
- Best Structural Engineering Graduate Schools
- Best Structural Engineering Schools in the USA
- Best Online Structural Engineering Schools
- What is the Cost of a Structural Engineering Degree?
- We Also Recommend
What is Structural Engineering?
Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering that concerns itself with the framework of structures as well as the design of these structures to be stable and durable. Thus, the structural engineer’s job is to design structures that will withstand the stress and pressure of the environment they are built so as to remain safe for the people using it.
So, the bedrock of structural engineering theory is the application of physical laws and empirical knowledge of the structural performance of different materials and geometrics. Hence structural engineers will need to wholly understand applied mechanics, material science, and mathematics. It is through this knowledge that they can understand and predict how structures support and resist self-weight and imposed loads.
What Does Structural Engineers Do?
Before you understand what structural engineers do, you need to understand that they are responsible for the construction of buildings, bridges, pipelines, industrial, tunnels, vehicles, ships, aircraft, and spacecraft. This is because ‘structure’ is what makes all these infrastructures take form, shape, and stability. Thus, according to Wikipedia, Structural Engineers are responsible for engineering design and structural analysis.
So, moving on, structural engineers analyze and designs the gravity support and lateral force resistance of buildings, bridges, and other structures. To further break this down to the daily job design of structural engineers, Betterteam gives us the following as the job description of structural engineers:
How Can I become a Structural Engineer?
To become a structural engineer, you need to meet certain educational and licensing requirements. In every country, you must meet the same educational requirement of at least a bachelor’s degree to prepare you for entry-level structural engineering jobs. You would need a bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.
Moving upward on your career ladder, you’ll need a Master of Science degree or even a Master of Business Administration to be able to hold senior-level managerial positions.
In the USA, every state requires Structural Engineers to have a Professional Engineer (PE) licensure. Getting this license involves passing a series of exams that the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) administers.
The first of these licensing tests is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam or the Engineer in Training (EIT) exam. Normally, you’ll take this test before graduation. Once you’ve passed this, you can get entry-level jobs as a structural engineer.
The next licensure test is the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. You will take this one after four years of experience working with a licensed engineer. The experience requirements may vary by state, however.
In the UK you’ll need to charter to become a successful structural engineer. The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) is the body that grants the title of Chartered Structural Engineer in the UK. So, the process of chartering in the UK is by first completing a UK MEng or BEng with an MSc degree. Afterward, you will go through four years of Initial Professional Development and a professional review interview after the four years.
Once you pass the interview, you will sit an eight-hour professional review examination of which passing it will earn you a chartered membership (MIStructE) depends.
What is the Salary and Job Outlook of Structural Engineers?
Now you know what to do to become a structural engineer, it is only fair that you also know what is in it for you. After all the years of educational and initial professional experience, how much will you earn as a salary?
BLS, the most trusted organization for job statistics in the USA, categorizes structural engineers as civil engineers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), structural engineers in the UK earn $86,640 per year as salary. In 2018, 326,800 were available for civil engineers and it is estimated to grow by 6% from 2018-2028.
More specifically, Glassdoor gives the salary of structural engineers in the USA as $71,198 per year. This salary tends to increase by education level and organization. For example, a structural engineer at WAI (Weidlinger Associates) earns an average of $91,351 yearly.
So you see, it is only right that you earn a master’s to fully reap the benefits of being a structural engineer.
What are the Best Schools for Structural Engineering?
When you’re set to begin a career in Structural Engineering, you would need either a bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering or Civil Engineering. But as there are very few schools with a specific Structural Engineering degree, you would need a Civil Engineering degree. So, most of the best schools on this list will also be the best schools for Structural Engineering.
So, the best schools for structural engineering in the world are:
To effectively rank the best structural engineering schools in the world, we used the following factors.
Reputation and Ranking
Because the surest way to become a structural engineer is to get a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering, our ranking is based on QS World University Ranking for Best Civil Engineering Schools in the World.
Specialization and Concentration
Most bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is generic as they give introductory knowledge of every aspect of civil engineering. However, to support our ranking, we give preference to civil engineering schools with a specialization, concentration or track in structural engineering. This is because the master’s degree is the level of education that eventually shapes the structural engineer.
The best structural engineering schools will guarantee you employment upon graduation, or a big chance of gaining employment. So, we give preference to structural engineering schools with a higher employability rate.
Engineering schools with research facilities dedicated to research in structural engineering show how qualitative their education is. We place preference in such schools.
#1. The University of California, San Diego – United States
QS Ranking: N/A
Employability Rate: 51.8%
The University of California (UC) San Diego is one of the best schools in the world to study to become a structural engineer. Through its Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego has a Department of Structural Engineering.
This is a major advantage as UC San Diego offers a tailor-made structural engineering degree right from the bachelor’s level. Most other universities in the USA and the world only offer specific structural engineering degree tracks through their master’s in Civil Engineering.
So, the B.S Structural Engineering at UC San Diego allows you to choose a specialization from civil structures; aerospace structures; structural health monitoring/non-destructive evaluation (SHM/NDE); and geotechnical engineering.
The graduate structural engineering program at UC San Diego, on the other hand, is the M.S and the Ph.D. program. Both degrees gives you the opportunity to focus on one or more of five primary research areas. These areas are Earthquake Engineering; Advanced Composites and Aerospace Structural Systems; Geotechnical Engineering; Structural Health Monitoring; Prognosis, and Validated Simulations; and Computational Mechanics.
#2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – United States
QS Ranking: 1
Employability Rate: 100%
You can’t talk about schools offering STEM courses and programs without mentioning the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Through the MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), MIT offers one of the best structural engineering programs in both the USA and the world.
While you can take get an undergraduate degree from MIT CEE that can set you on your career path, MIT’s MEng program with the Structural Mechanics and Design Track is a more specific education for you. The MEng degree within the Structural Mechanics and Design Track is a natural extension for MIT Civil Engineering Bachelor’s degree graduates who are pursuing a degree in structural engineering.
Meanwhile, MIT also offers the Master of Science (SM) & Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Systems Engineering including Networks and Transportation. This degree is for you if you want a structural engineering career in educational institutions.
#3. University of California, Berkeley – United States
QS Ranking: 3
Employability Rate: 100%
The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) is another very popular university in the USA. Being the flagship university of the University of California University system is part of the reason for this, but mostly, it is as a result of UC Berkeley’s outstanding academics.
This excellence transcends UC Berkeley’s Civil and Environmental Engineering such that UC Berkeley, through its CEE, is one of the best schools in the world for structural engineering programs. Like most universities in the world for structural engineering, UC Berkeley’s clearest Structural Engineering degree program is it’s master’s program.
UC Berkeley’s Masters in Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials (SEMM) has an international reputation for excellence. The faculty and students have pioneered several fundamental state-of-the-art structural engineering, mechanics, and materials developments. UC Berkeley’s Structural Materials Laboratory also sets it apart, as it helps advances research in the field.
#4. Imperial College London – United Kingdom
QS Ranking: 6
Employability Rate: 99.9%
Imperial College, like the name goes, is Imperial. It is one of the top schools in the UK and it holds a high reputation in the world as well. With its legal name as Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, there is enough conviction that Imperial College London is one of the best schools in the world for structural degree programs.
A proof of this claim is that Imperial College London’s MSc General Structural Engineering is one of the very few quality degrees that you can complete in a year. You can also choose to complete this 90 credits degree program in two or three years but that would be on a part-time basis. While the program takes a short duration to complete, it doesn’t fail to cover a broad spectrum of structural engineering issues in civil engineering.
Furthermore, Imperial College London’s Structure program holds accreditation by Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Structural Engineers, Institute of Highway Engineers, and The Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation. This goes to show how qualitative the program is.
#5. National University of Singapore (NUS) – Singapore
QS Ranking: 2
Employability Rate: 90%
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s foremost university when it comes to science, engineering, and technology. Its academic reputation in Singapore stretches globally, making it one of the best schools in the world offering programs towards a career in structural engineering.
NUS’s special path towards a career in structural engineering is the Master of Science in Civil Engineering Program. However, this program has five specializations including the Structural Engineering specialization. You can take this program in either the full-time or part-time options. This is to ensure that students get to improve their knowledge and skills for industry transformation in the most flexible manner.
One noteworthy feature that distinguishes NUS from most civil engineering schools is its research centers and laboratories. NUS has a dedicated Structures center in its Center for Advanced Materials and Structures and a Structures lab in its Structural Engineering Laboratory.
#6. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Switzerland
QS Ranking: 8
Employability Rate: 96.7%
If you read our 15 Best Engineering Schools in the World, you would be familiar with ETH Zurich. It is our number four (4) school in the world to study engineering at any level. So you don’t expect it to lay low when it comes to structural engineering. ETH Zurich is not just one of the best schools in Switzerland to study to become a structural engineer but one of the best schools in the world for that cause.
The closest program at ETH Zurich to groom you into becoming a structural engineer is its Master Civil Engineering. What is good about the program is that it has a specialization in Structural Engineering (in addition to 5 others) that comprises 120 credits which you can complete in two years. Also, ETH Zurich’s Masters Civil Engineering is one of the few masters that allows you to specialize in two areas. Thus, you can specialize in Structural Engineering as well as Construction and Maintenance Management in this program.
Furthermore, ETH Zurich has a special research facility dedicated to quality research in structural engineering. This is the Institute of Structural Engineering (IBK) that conducts research at the highest level that pertains to all relevant building materials. It also addresses the current challenges within engineering practice.
#7. Tsinghua University – China (Mainland)
QS Ranking: 9
Employability Rate: 99.1%
Tsinghua University (THU) is a university of high repute in China. It is among the C9 League of Chinese universities in mainland China popular for its academic excellence abs well-being of the Chinese society. If China is your desired location to study to become a structural engineer, then you should consider Tsinghua University as it is one of the best in China and the world for STEM.
Tsinghua University, like most other universities around the world, offers its structural engineering program through the Department of Civil Engineering. So, after a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering, THU offers 4 graduate programs that will grant you a specialization in Structural Engineering. These programs are the 29-credits Graduate Program; 186-credit Bachelor + Master Program; 13-credit Doctoral Program; and 33-credit Master + Doctoral Program.
To show how dedicated THU is to its structural engineering program, this Chinese university has a Research Institute of Structural Engineering (RISE). Meanwhile, RISE has the Laboratory of Engineering Structures that undertake dynamic/static model tests and field tests of various engineering structures.
#8. Delft University of Technology – Netherlands
QS Ranking: 4
Employability Rate: 98%
Being a university dedicated to technology as well as its status as the oldest Dutch public technological university, Delft University of Technology is the university to attend for structural engineering. It is one of the best schools in the world to take programs for structural engineering.
Delft’s MSc Civil Engineering with a track in Structural Engineering is one of the best in both the Netherlands and the world. It is specially dedicated to training structural engineers that will build bridges, high-rises, tunnels, and storm surge barriers that would last for more than 100 years.
In addition to its in-depth experimental analysis of widely used civil engineering materials like concrete and steel, Delft University is also strong in its research. Through its Micro and Macro lab, this Dutch school conduct research in pavement engineering; railway engineering; steel, timber and FRP construction; and building engineering.
#9. Politecnico di Milano – Italy
QS Ranking: 7
Employability Rate: 94%
With a good number of powerful ancient monuments in Italy that stands till date, Italy is one of the locations in the world to study Structural Engineering. Now, if you would consider studying structural engineering in Italy, Politecnico di Milano or the Polytechnic University of Italy is one of the best schools to consider. The reason is that Politecnico di Milano is the largest technical university in Italy and is notable for its graduate engineering and architecture programs.
Through its School of Civil, Environmental and Land Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano offers one of the best programs in Structural Engineering. This Italy Technical School’s MSc in Civil Engineering offers a special track in Structures that you can take on completion of a Civil Engineering BSc. The program aims to build you to be a master in designing new structures as well as a master in assessing existing structures for retrofitting or reinforcement.
The only challenge to studying this Structural Engineering program in Italy as an international student is language. But Politecnico di Milano proves itself as one of the best schools in the world for structural engineering by offering this Structures program in English.
#10. The University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia – Bulgaria
QS Ranking: N/A
Employability Rate: N/A
What better place is there to study engineering than a school specially built for engineering? The University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy has five faculties including the Faculty of Structural Engineering. Having a whole faculty and not department dedicated to structural engineering, the University of Agriculture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy is one of the best schools in the world to get a structural engineering degree.
However, like most other universities in the world, this Bulgaria university’s specific structural engineering degree is it’s Master’s degree program. The University of Agriculture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy’s MA degree are in full-time option (10 semesters) and part-time option (12 semesters). Towards the end of both of these programs, you’ll have to choose to concentrate between Structures and Management and Technology of Construction.
Meanwhile, the University of Agriculture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy has the Research, Consultancy and Design Centre (RCDC) that facilitates research in the field.
#11. The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) – Australia
QS Ranking: 12
Employability Rate: 95.7%
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is a top university in Australia when it comes to STEM. It ranks highly as the 4th university in Australia and among the top 50 in the world. So, it is no surprise that UNSW is one of the schools to get one of the best structural engineering degree programs.
Through its School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), UNSW offers a Master of Engineering Science with a specialization in Structural Engineering. This program takes 2 years to complete and it helps you to develop advanced professional skills in computational analysis and design of steel. It also builds your knowledge in reinforced, composite and pre-stressed concrete structures.
#12. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) – Singapore
QS Ranking: 10
Employability Rate: 93.8%
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is the second oldest public Singapore-owned university in Singapore. So, with Singapore mounting a strong claim as one of the strongholds of technological advancement in the world, you would expect an old university as NTU to be behind Singapore’s success story. NTU, together with the National University of Singapore, is one of the best schools in Singapore and the world to get a structural degree program.
Through its School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), NTU offers the MSc in Civil Engineering that allows for specialization in Structural Engineering. However, you can only specialize in Structural Engineering with this master’s program if you take the 2 – 4 years part-time option. Nonetheless, NTU’s MSc in Civil Engineering consists of 10 courses that will equip you with the latest advancements in knowledge and technology in modern civil engineering practice.
#13. EPFL – Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne – Switzerland
QS Ranking: 11
Employability Rate: 77.6%
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)or Federal Polytechnic School of Lussane is another Swiss school to get one of the best structural engineering degrees. EPFL is is a university in Switzerland that is solely dedicated to Education, Research, and Technology. So, offering only programs in natural sciences and engineering from 1853 till date has earned EPFL a reputation that will never leave it.
Of course, EPFL’s clearest path to a degree in structural engineering is its master’s degree in civil engineering. The Structural Engineering specialization of this degree aims to deepen your understanding of structural dynamics and paraseismic engineering as well as knowledge in concrete and metal structures, wooden structures and new materials.
Although no Canadian Engineering School makes our list, there are really beautiful schools for civil and structural engineering in Canada. See this list of the Best Civil Engineering Schools in Canada.
Best Structural Engineering Graduate Schools
Specializing in Structural Engineering is something you can best do from a graduate school. Since our best schools in the world for structural engineering captures the graduate program, we’ll have almost the same schools topping the list. But because our first school tops the list for having a specific bachelor’s program, we would rank the top five graduate schools for structural engineering based on the number of programs they offer.
So, our top 5 graduate schools in the world for structural engineering are:
Best Structural Engineering Schools in the USA
If you’re specific about taking a structural engineering program from one of the best schools for structural engineering in the USA, these are the schools to look to:
Best Online Structural Engineering Schools
The answer to the question of whether you can study structural engineering online is YES. Some schools specifically understand your need for program flexibility and so are offering online programs in structural engineering that meet the same standards as the on-campus counterparts. The best part of this discussion is that some of these online schools offer structural engineering degree programs at all levels.
Here are the top five online schools for structural engineering.
Bircham International University
Bircham International Institute through its Faculty of Engineering & Technology via distance learning offers structural engineering degree programs at all levels of education. This includes specialist, bachelor’s, masters, and doctoral.
Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT)
EIT through its innovative LIVE ONLINE approach offers the Master of Engineering (Civil: Structure). It also offers a Bachelor of Science (Civil and Structural Engineering) Live Online and it takes 3 – 6 years to complete.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign through its Grainer College of Engineering offers the CEE Online in Structural Engineering. This is a master’s program of 36 credits which you’ll complete in five years.
University of Southern California (USC)
USC Online offers a Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a Structural Engineering Specialization. You can complete this program in 1.5 – 2 years, full-time or 2.5 – 3 years, part-time.
Zigurat Global Institute of Technology
Zigurat Global Institute of Technology’s online Structural Engineering Program is the Global Master’s in Technical Management of Structural Projects. It is a 60 credit program that takes 2 years to complete.
What is the Cost of a Structural Engineering Degree?
One of the biggest hindrances to attending one of the best schools in the world is cost. For this reason, top schools provide scholarships to assist their students to get a near-seamless education.
While you can apply any of these fully-funded engineering scholarships to study structural engineering in schools around the world, here is the cost of acquiring a master’s degree in structural engineering both online and on-campus.
The above-listed tuition fees are the real tuition fee for structural engineering. We provide these fees based on popular study locations to give you an idea of how much to budget for your structural engineering program in schools in these countries. We also chose fees for a master’s degree as it is the clearest path to becoming a structural engineer.
How can I become a structural engineer?
To become a structural engineer, you need to first get a bachelor’s degree in either structural engineering or civil engineering. Afterwards, you need a master’s degree in structural engineering or civil engineering with a path or specialization in structural engineering. This degree qualifies you to sit for licensing exams and get a license to practice as a structural engineer.
What is the best college for structural engineering?
The best college for structural engineering is the University of California, San Diego in the United States. This is because it is one of the very few universities in the world that does not offer its structural engineering degree programs through its civil engineering degree. UC San Diego has a tailor-made structural engineering degree for bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. students.
What kind of education do you need to be a structural engineer?
To become a structural engineer, you need a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. The bachelor’s degree will get you entry-level jobs that will provide you the years of work experience that forms part of the prerequisite to getting a license. Then together with the master’s degree, you can sit for licensing exams to become a licensed structural Do structural engineers need a masters?engineer.
Do structural engineers need a masters?
Yes, structural engineers need a masters because the bachelor’s degree is mostly a generic civil engineering degree that does not specifically concentrate on structural engineering education. A master’s degree in structural engineering or a master’s in civil engineering with a structural engineering path specifically trains you to become a structural engineer.
Is structural engineering the same as civil engineering?
No, structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering, thus, it is a specialization in civil engineering. For this reason, the civil engineering degree is usually the four-year degree that a structural engineer would take to become a structural engineer, while the structural engineering degree is the extra two-year degree he will take to really become a structural engineer. So while all structural engineers are civil engineers, not all civil engineers are structural engineers.
How many years of college do you need to be a structural engineer?
You need at least six (6) years of college to become a structural engineer. Four years of undergraduate education and two years of master’s education. Some schools offer civil engineering bachelors you can complete in three (3) years while some offer up to five (5) years. In the same manner, you can get a master’s program in one (1) year, especially when you go for the online option; and you can also get it for three (3) years also if you choose a part-time option.
How long does it take to get a degree in structural engineering?
It takes from one and a half year (1.5) to three (3) years to get a master’s degree in structural engineering.
Don’t you mistake this – when you talk of becoming a structural engineer in any part of the world, you would need a master’s degree. This is because structural engineering is a specialization in civil engineering. So, after completing a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, you will need to find a complementary civil engineering degree with a concentration in structural engineering to really actualize your dream.
It is for this reason that we have compiled the best schools in the world where you can get the best degree programs for structural engineering. Of our thirteen schools, UC San Diego stands out as from the undergraduate level it specifically trains you to become a structural engineer. If UC San Diego doesn’t have the kind of reputation you are looking for, one of the other schools in our list will satisfy your need – SURELY!
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