In the years ahead, environmental engineering will be a vital field, as both the public and private sectors seek solutions to major challenges on every front from ensuring acceptable air quality to safely disposing of toxic waste. Engineers working in this field can make a major difference in the quality of life for millions of people.
For example, according to the World Economic Forum, air pollution is the fourth biggest danger to human health, trailing behind high blood pressure, dietary issues and tobacco smoking. Meanwhile, the Joint Monitoring Programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF estimated that 844 million people worldwide lack access to clean water. Innovation and oversight from environmental engineers will be pivotal in reducing these risks and many others across the globe.
With an online engineering degree from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), students can hone their expertise in both the technical and managerial aspects of environmental engineering. The program offers a rigorous curriculum designed to build the crucial skills for succeeding in today’s job markets and contributing to a cleaner, safer environment for everyone.
Online master’s in environmental engineering: Program courses and requirements
A Master of Science in Environmental Engineering can help you stand out from the crowd, thanks to its wide-reaching coursework and in-depth projects that, together, help you establish yourself as a leader in the field. At UCR, the online engineering degree program for environmental engineers consists of 36 credit hours spread out across three main categories:
1. Core engineering courses
All graduate engineering students at UCR, regardless of specialization, take the following set of four courses (each worth four credit-hours) as part of the program foundation:
- Engineering in the global environment: This class focuses on the non-technical aspects of engineering, which are central to effective communication, collaboration and management, especially as organizations become more globally dispersed and are staffed by remote workers.
- Introduction to systems engineering: In contrast to the one above, this course is highly technical and serves as a survey of engineering systems – more specifically, how they are designed, used and evaluated in practice.
- Principles of engineering management: The online engineering degrees available from UCR are designed as hybrid credentials, with a blended background in management strategy and engineering practice. This course focuses on how managers organize and lead their groups.
- Technology innovation and strategy for engineers: Innovations in engineering help transform our approaches to issues such as climate change. In this class, students learn about the sources of innovation and how organizations manage them, with a look at examples from real companies.
2. Environmental engineering courses
Students specializing in environmental engineering must complete 16 credit hours spread across 4 courses. The current specialization-specific courses, include:
- Water chemistry in natural and engineered systems: Examines chemical equilibrium as it applies to both natural and treatment water systems. Additional topics include chemical thermodynamics, water quality characterizations and computer-modeled chemical speciations.
- Physical and chemical separation processes: Covers physical and chemical processes of both natural and engineered systems. Students learn about colloid chemistry, sedimentation, coagulation and the various mechanisms filters use for particle removal.
- Biological treatment processes: Dives into how biological contamination of water happens and how treatment processes deal with it. This course features discussions of both fixed-film and suspended treatment processes and also looks at the chemical, kinetic and thermodynamic dimensions of biological reactions.
- Advanced treatment systems: Explores the sophisticated treatment methodologies increasingly necessary for processing drinking water and wastewater. Main topics include the technologies and the challenges associated with techniques like reverse osmosis, membrane filtration and different types of oxidation.
3. Capstone project courses
The final four credits of the online engineering degree program come from the capstone project. There are four one-credit project design courses that together serve as a replacement for the residency required in traditional engineering programs. Accordingly, the capstone for environmental engineering students is ideal for online students who need a flexible degree format without the complications of regular travel to campus.
Benefits of earning an online master’s in environmental engineering
A graduate degree in environmental engineering can be excellent preparation for rewarding careers in a growing industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected 8 percent growth in total employment of environmental engineers between 2016 and 2026, which means the addition of 4,300 new jobs. That is on par with the overall growth rate for engineering professions and slightly faster than the average for all occupations. Environmental engineers can expect a median salary of $86,800. Compensation is lowest at the state government level – nearly $79,000 – and highest in the federal government, at $103,640 as of May 2017.
The BLS outlook specifically cites the rising concerns of state and local governments about water quality as a key driver of the robust growth prospects for environmental engineers. Municipalities are looking to boost the efficiency of their water use, meaning that there should be many opportunities for environmental engineers beyond the profession’s traditional association with wastewater processing. Additional related career possibilities include hydrologist, environmental scientist and air quality engineer.
By earning their degrees from UCR, engineering students get strong credentials in a convenient format. The environmental engineering track, like the others available from UCR, is offered 100 percent online, with no required residency. As such, it is perfect for the many working professionals who seek to advance their educations while still maintaining their current positions. Students can also choose from multiple start dates during the academic year to find the one that best fits into their schedules.
As you consider your options for further education, be sure to check out our main environmental engineering program page. There you can answer a few simple questions to receive our free brochure with additional information on program design, courses and objectives.