Civil engineers, like all engineers, are problem-solvers. They find the best ways to construct, operate, and maintain bridges, buildings, dams, and highways. They design water plants and waste treatment systems, and look for ways to manage hazardous materials.

The curriculum prepares students for a variety of situations by emphasizing fundamental principles of engineering, an appreciation of the effect of human factors on technology, logical thinking, resourcefulness, and ethical considerations in applying science to human problems. In addition to a thorough grounding in science and technology, students select more than one-fifth of their courses in the liberal arts and humanities.

Students may choose to focus on structural, environmental, geotechnical, transportation, construction, or hydraulic engineering. Facilities include laboratories for structural systems, materials, fluid mechanics, geotechnical engineering, geographical information systems, and environmental engineering. Design concepts and analytical techniques are integrated into the curriculum, which includes extensive use of state-of-the-art computer systems.

Juniors and seniors may undertake independent studies and research projects in conjunction with faculty. Seniors may also do honors theses.


Students who major in civil engineering are required to take the following courses:

  • Mathematics 161, 162, 263, and 264;
  • Physics 131;
  • Chemistry 121;
  • Engineering Science 101, 226 and 230;
  • Civil Engineering 251, 271, 311, 321, 331, 341, 351, 361, 472, 473;
  • Two civil engineering electives (see approved list);
  • One science elective in biology, geology, or neuroscience (see approved list);
  • Two additional math or science electives (see approved list);
  • One engineering elective (see approved list); and
  • One technical elective (see approved list).

Students must also complete the Lafayette College “Common Course of Study.