FAQs for Prospective Undergraduate Students

What Do Civil and Environmental Engineers Do?
Where We Work
School Profile & Rankings

What do civil and environmental engineers study?

In short, the design, construction and maintenance of the man-made and natural environments.

The long answer? Water quality and public health, disaster response and recovery, sustainability, energy efficiency and energy production, infrastructure systems (water and sewer, roads and bridges, telecommunications, power), soil and rocks, ecology, air quality, pollution, wireless sensing technology, origami engineering, waste management, and much, much more.

We are problem solvers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and global leaders. Our work readies the modern world for a growing, aging human population and makes life better in our communities. Many of our graduates work as engineers; many others do not. They’re CEOs and lawyers, doctors and bankers, entrepreneurs and consultants.

Where will I work after graduation?

Anywhere you want. Really! Our graduates find careers all over the world at places like Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Shell, ExxonMobil, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Georgia Power/Southern Co., GE, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Arcadis, Atkins, Schlumberger, Skanska, Bechtel Corp., and government agencies.

We have alumni working for Boeing, NASA, Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group, Emory Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Delta Airlines, Norfolk Southern, The Coca-Cola Company, AT&T, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Raytheon.

We have lots of others who start their own firms in engineering, technology, consulting. We even count restaurateurs among our alums.

What are the professors like?

Our professors are among the highest-rated teachers at Georgia Tech, according to course-evaluation surveys from our students. Their average effectiveness score is about 4.5 on 5.0 scale (campus wide, the average is 4.0 or a little lower).

They're also routinely recognized as some of the most-effective teachers on campus. Here’s what a recent graduate says about our faculty (and our academic advisers):

“I strongly believe CE/EnvE have the greatest and most friendly faculty and staff in the entirety of Georgia Tech. The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s student advising program was ranked the best in the College of Engineering. Everyone involved in the program (from professors to advisers to grad students) wants you to succeed and is willing to devote their time to making sure that happens. I really can’t say enough about the atmosphere.”

Something else to consider: our student-faculty ratio is about 20:1, pretty typical across campus and lower than most other schools in the College of Engineering.

Sam Coogan
“It was clear that there’s an eagerness to push the boundaries and tackle big problems. In particular, it is apparent that Georgia Tech intends to be at the research frontier in developing the next generation of smart, autonomous, and connected transportation systems, and I certainly wanted to be a part of this exciting opportunity.” Sam Coogan, assistant professor in CEE and electrical and computer engineering

Can I get involved in a research project?

Absolutely. Many bachelor’s degree students work with our world-renowned faculty members on research that’s advancing science and solving problems in the United States and around the globe. You can find more details about the ongoing research in CEEatGT here or on our faculty profile pages.

What are my minor options?

Our students pursue minors in business, computer science, foreign languages (Spanish, French and German, especially), even other engineering disciplines. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is especially popular with our environmental engineering majors. And Georgia Tech offers minors in everything from architectural history to music to psychology.

In CEE, we also offer a minor in Global Engineering Leadership. The course work develops leadership skills, cultural competency and awareness of global grand challenges in engineering. The idea is to prepare you to be a world-class engineer as well as a global citizen who's equipped to help create solutions to those challenges.

Students lounge and work on laptops in the Mason Building lobby.

How hard are the classes? How long will it take to finish my degree?

Let’s be real here. You’re considering an engineering program that is among the very best in the country. So it’s not easy. That said, if you work hard, stay focused, and ask for help when you need it, you’ll do just fine. And you’ll still have time to enjoy college life and get involved on campus.

Many of our students finish their undergraduate degrees in four or five years. And if you want to stay just one more year, you can think about our BS/MS program and get your master’s too.

Sam Dennard““I enjoy helping people, and I saw civil engineering as a natural extension of that. Of all of the engineering majors, we are the field that’s most involved in public work. A lot of the work we build — buildings, bridges, roadways, dams — it all serves the public. We’re there to help the public.” Sam Dennard, BSCE, May 2018

Ph.D. student Pablo Vega stands in front of a two-story reinforced-concrete building constructed to test earthquake retrofits.What’s the average salary, job placement rate, and quality of life for a CEEatGT alum?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the demand for civil and environmental engineers will grow 10 percent through 2026. That’s thanks to increased urbanization, an aging population, growing environmental concerns, rapid changes in technology and increased globalization, among other trends. Our nation's leaders also have signaled more spending on our crumbling infrastructure in the coming years, which is going to mean lots of work for civel and environmental engineers.

About 90 percent of our graduates land jobs immediately after graduation, and many of them secure positions even before they finish their degree. And that doesn’t account for students who stick around for grad school. The typical entry-level salary a civil or environmental engineer falls around $60,000. The median salary for all levels of CEEs was $85,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What are my options to study abroad?

Students test water samplesYou can study abroad anywhere you like, and we'll help you pay for it. We have a $4 million endowment called the Joe S. Mundy Global Learning Endowment specifically earmarked for undergraduate international learning experiences. We’ve sent about 300 students (more than 60 in the last year) to 60 countries with the fund. Some students use it to study at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in France; to participate in Tech’s Pacific Program in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji; or to travel for field work with one of our faculty members. If you can find the study abroad opportunity, you can apply for Mundy funds to help pay for it.

Victoria Dean“[Joe Brown's] research spanned from addressing disparities from rural Alabama to low-income countries around the world. He had the perfect mix scientific theories and practical application. In short, inspiration from Dr. Brown’s research is what ultimately solidified my decision to pursue environmental engineering and to do so at Georgia Tech.” –Victoria Dean, doctoral student

Should I co-op or intern? How do I apply?

We think doing a co-op or internship is a great way to expand your education (and make some money along the way). It typically takes a little longer to graduate if you want to co-op, because you alternate semesters as a full-time student and a full-time employee. But we hear from students all the time who have jobs lined up after they graduate because of their co-op work or because they interned with a company and proved their abilities. Georgia Tech works with more than 1,000 employers across the country and overseas to place our co-op students. Students apply to the co-op program as early as their first semester as a freshman through the Georgia Tech Center for Career Discovery and Development.

Where will my classes be? Is there a spot to study?

Our classes are spread out across half a dozen buildings on campus, but the heartbeat of CEEatGT is the Mason Building. Fresh off a $13 million renovation, Mason has state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. And it features the mother of all study lounges, our Student Commons, where you can work alone or grab one of the group project rooms to throw your ideas up on the whiteboard. Students also love to congregate in the Mason lobby, where we have lots of seating and power outlets, plus abundant natural light.

A student enters the Student Comments lounge and workspace in the Mason Building.

How does CEEatGT compare to other civil and environmental engineering programs?

Pretty favorably. U.S. News and World Report ranks our undergraduate civil engineering program No. 2 in the nation and our undergraduate environmental engineering program No. 4.

While we’re one of the smaller schools in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering, we’re among the largest civil and environmental engineering programs in the country. In fall 2018, we enrolled 1,109 students, and women make up just under half of our undergraduate class and 43 percent of all students. About 27 percent of our undergrads are under-represented minorities and one in eight students come from other countries.

What organizations can I join?

Take your pick, depending on your interest. We have about a dozen civil and environmental engineering related student organizations. Georgia Tech overall boasts 400-some student groups, 43 sports clubs and more than 50 Greek organizations.

Academic adviser Shanta Hutchins works and a student look over paperwork.

How can I meet with a CEE adviser?
How involved are the advisers?

Undergrads can contact our Undergraduate Student Services Office to schedule a time to talk to one of our advisers. Grad students can check out the Graduate FAQ page or contact our Graduate Student Services Office.

Our advisers rock — our students always tell us how much they appreciate their advisers' help. They’ll answer all your questions and make sure you stay on track to get your degree. You’re required to meet with them as an incoming freshman and before you graduate. And if you get into trouble academically, you’ll be required to meet with them so they can help you get back on track. We all work really hard to make sure our students succeed, and the reality is that work pays off: the vast majority of our students maintain an A or B average.