How do I Earn a Structural Engineering Degree?

N. Madison
N. Madison

There are four degrees you can earn in structural engineering. If you want to earn an undergraduate degree, you can choose either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in structural engineering. If you’ve already earned an undergraduate degree, you may opt to pursue an advanced degree by enrolling in a master’s or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in structural engineering instead. No matter which structural engineering degree you choose, however, you’ll usually have to start out by earning a high school or general educational development (GED) diploma. Then you’ll need to spend about two years workings toward an associate’s degree, four years earning a bachelor’s degree, two years earning a master's degree, or at least three to five years on PhD studies.

A structural engineer often leads the design process for skyscrapers and other structurally intensive projects.
A structural engineer often leads the design process for skyscrapers and other structurally intensive projects.

To earn a structural engineering degree, you’ll usually need to obtain the basic credential for entering college, which is a high school diploma. All of the classes you take may help prepare you for a college education, but math and science courses are usually particularly important for engineering majors. You may do well to take advanced courses in these subjects while you are in high school. If you do not finish high school, however, you may earn a GED or a jurisdiction-approved equivalent to gain admittance to college.

After graduating from high school or earning a GED, your next step will likely be enrolling in college. To apply, you may have to submit standardized test scores, high school transcripts, and letters of recommendation. You may choose a two-year program in structural engineering, which ends with an associate’s degree, or a four-year program that ends with a bachelor’s degree. The choice you make may depend on your career goals, but many employers prefer job applicants who have earned bachelor's degrees at minimum. Additionally, you will likely need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree if you want to go on to enroll in a master’s or PhD program.

If you decide to earn a master’s degree or PhD in structural engineering, you will likely need to provide the school you choose with official transcripts from each college you’ve previously attended as well as letters of recommendation and the results of standardized exams. Some schools may also have an interview process. Additionally, you may be asked to write an essay or a statement of personal goals to gain admittance to an advanced-degree program in structural engineering.

The courses you will take as you work toward a structural engineering degree will usually depend on where you choose to go to school and which degree you decide to pursue. In general, these programs usually focus on the basics of engineering as well as math and science courses. You will likely study other engineering concepts as you work toward a degree in this field, including mechanical and structural engineering concepts. Among the other subjects you may study as you work to earn a structural engineering degree are structural design and analysis; biomechanics; and material science.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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