MS in Civil Engineering Degree

Academic Regulations

Program Standards: The student’s MS program of study shall be designed to develop a degree of competence in the major area significantly higher than the customary baccalaureate education, and shall include background and adjunct knowledge normally expected of a person entering the professional practice of that specialty. To aid in assuring high standards, the major shall include not less than 15 credit hours of 500-level, non-blanket, CCE courses. (Note: Blanket courses are those numbered 501, 505, 506, and 507.)

Thesis and Non-Thesis Options: The Master’s thesis is optional in some programs within CCE, subject to the approval of the student’s major professor. In lieu of a thesis, a non-thesis, technical report must be prepared. The Master’s thesis option will normally involve 6 to 12 credits of CE 503 (Thesis). The non-thesis option will normally involve 3 to 6 credits of CE 506 (Project), culminating in a technical report.

Thesis Requirements: A thesis will generally involve more substantial research than a technical report, and should be suitable for publication in a national academic journal. The research must be unique and on a contemporary topic. Students should consult with their major professor regarding the quality and content of thesis research.

MS Thesis Submission: All MS theses are to be submitted electronically to the OSU Library for archiving. In addition, the major advisor may request additional bound copies at their discretion. Details for preparation of a thesis are provided by the Graduate School.

Non-Thesis, Technical Report (Project) Requirements: Students who do not pursue the thesis option are required to prepare a technical report on an engineering problem or project of a substantial nature. The scope of the project should be consistent with the credit hours awarded for the project (maximum of 6 credit hours). The general requirement for the report is that it treats some significant engineering problem or project in sufficient depth to contribute to engineering knowledge. The engineering report should be conducted and prepared in a manner that is suitable for publication in a national journal. In general, the report shall follow the guidelines for authors of publications in American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) division journals. The title page and signature page shall be similar in format to those used for the MS thesis (omitting the signature block for the Graduate Dean). Other styles may be approved by the student’s graduate committee.

Two bound copies of the report must be submitted, one for the School and one for the major professor. Other members of the student’s graduate committee may also request bound copies. The report will be presented for discussion and approval at the time of the student’s final oral exam.

Blanket Course Limitation: Blanket courses are those numbered 501, 505, 506, and 507. The maximum number of blanket course credits allowed in an MS degree is 6 credits. Other blanket course credits may be allowed in a Master’s degree program of study, such as CE 505 – Reading and Conference or CE 501 – Research, based on a Statement of Purpose included with the student’s program of study and approval of the student’s graduate committee.

Non-engineers in MS Degree Programs: Admission of non-engineering baccalaureate degree holders to the MS degree programs in CCE is only permitted when the student has completed those engineering requirements for the BS degree that are considered prerequisite for entry into the chosen area of graduate study. Hence, the student generally is held in a post-baccalaureate status until the prerequisite requirements are reconfirmed by the student and major professor (or graduate advisor) and any further remedial coursework is promptly taken once the focus and content of the student’s program of study is determined and approved.

CCE Graduate Seminar: All students pursuing the MS degree are required to take the CCE Graduate Seminar (CE 507) once during the fall term in which they matriculate into our program. Subsequent offerings of the course may also be required, please check with your faculty advisor.


Selection of Major Professor: It is important that the student work with a major professor whose program, research, and professional interests lie in the same area as the student’s. In view of this, students are given a short period of time on campus before a major professor is selected. The assignment of a major professor will be by mutual agreement among the faculty member, the student, and the School. Normally, MS students will arrange for a major professor and for the members of their graduate committee by the end of their second term in residence at OSU. Possible majors include the following:

Forming a Graduate Committee: Each student must form a graduate committee which will oversee and approve the student’s graduate program of study and research. Committee members should be selected based on mutual agreement between the student and major professor. The committee should be formed in time to review the student’s program of study.

Best practices for Graduate Thesis Committee formation: 

  • Best practices for Graduate Thesis Committee formation: Avoid conflict of interests: No members of graduate committees should be supervisors of another committee member (either current supervisor or a supervisor within the previous 5 years). This is intended to apply to postdoc and research associates. It is not intended to eliminate the school head from graduate committees nor former students who now hold tenure-track positions elsewhere.
  • Oversight from the area of concentration: At least two members should be tenured/tenure-track CCE faculty from or affiliated with the student’s area of concentration (view faculty by area of concentration).
  • External committee members: The external committee member should have specific expertise that is not clearly available at OSU. CCE best practice is a maximum of one committee member from outside of OSU. In order to add an external committee member you will need to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator to begin the process. A minimum of 6 weeks is required for processing.

Thesis Committee: A thesis committee must have at least four faculty members: two members from the student’s area of study including the major professor; an outside member chosen based on the relevance to the student’s research and coursework; and a Graduate Council Representative. The Graduate Council Representative is selected from a list of faculty members prepared by the Graduate School who are qualified to act as Graduate Council Representatives. All committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty.

Non-thesis, Technical Report (Project) Committee: A technical report committee must have at least three members: two members from the student’s area of study including the major professor; and an outside member chosen based on the relevance to the student’s research and coursework. A Graduate Council Representative is not required on the committee.

Review and Filing of Program of Study: Students should submit their official program of study with the Graduate School and the School at least 15 weeks before your final exam (see Master's Degree Progress Flow Chart). Students who do not file a program of study within the specified deadline specified by the Graduate School for their degree will not be allowed to register for the next term. A registration hold will also be placed on graduate students whose programs of study are not approved after initial evaluation by the Graduate School.

Graduate program of study forms can be found on the Graduate School website. This completed form must be reviewed and approved by the CCE Graduate Committee for compliance with School requirements prior to submittal to the Graduate School.

Exam Scheduling Form: You must schedule all examinations required by the Graduate School using the Exam Scheduling Form. You must submit this form at least two weeks prior to a doctoral preliminary exam or a master's final exam, and two weeks prior to a doctoral final exam. You are responsible for:

  • Informing the Graduate School of the date, time, and place of each exam
  • Confirming the committee membership
  • Notifying and reminding the committee of the exam date, time, and place

In addition, a CCE MS Degree Checklist (MS Dual Degree Checklist) must be completed and submitted to the CCE Graduate Committee along with the program of study.

Final Oral Examinations (MS Defense): All MS degree examinations will be two hours in duration, whether thesis or non-thesis (project) option. The thesis or technical report will be presented during the first hour of the examination. The first hour of the examination will be open to the public and must be advertised at least one week prior to the examination. The second hour of the examination will be devoted to examination on coursework with only the student’s graduate committee members present.

Theses must be distributed to all committee members for review well in advance of the examination date. In the case of non-thesis options, the report must be distributed to each member of the examination committee at least one week prior to the examination.

Students may be re-examined only once. Re-examinations may not be given sooner than one month after the original examination. Those who fail to pass their final oral examination twice will be terminated from graduate study in CCE and will not be given additional examinations.