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Mit's Master Of Engineering Program In Civil And Environmental Engineering A First Professional Degree

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.386.1 - 4.386.4

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Eric Adams

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Rafael Bras

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2515

MIT’s Master of Engineering Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering--a first professional degree

E. Eric Adams, Rafael L. Bras Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Engineering is one of the few disciplines in which professional status is claimed with only a four-year undergraduate degree. It is becoming evident that such a model is not sustainable in an increasingly complicated and technological world. Employers have responded by effectively requiring a masters as entry level degree for premium civil and environmental engineering positions. Society, in turn, has responded by devaluing engineers relative to other professions. In recognition of this situation, the Board of Direction of the American Society of Civil Engineers has approved a policy statement supporting the Master’s degree as the First Professional Degree for the practice of Civil Engineering at a professional level1. Four years ago MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering developed a new degree, seeking a unique and different post-baccalaureate experience that we hope will become the model of the first professional degree. Following is a summary of our experiences after three graduating classes.

MIT’s Master of Engineering Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering

In 1995 the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT introduced the Master of Engineering degree. The M.Eng. degree provides additional technical depth beyond the B.S. and an educational experience aimed toward professional practice. All M.Eng. students are expected to have undergraduate degrees in engineering (mostly civil or environmental), about one-third have one or more year’s of previous work experience, and about half are U.S. citizens (though many of the foreign students are U.S. permanent residents and/or have studied in the U.S.). Except for the engineering degree, which is not required for other graduate programs, admission to the Master of Engineering program is based on the same quality criteria as other programs. The profile of students, though, tends to be different, with practice the clear immediate professional objective. Graduates of our Bachelor of Science program with “B” or higher career cumulative averages are offered automatic admission into the M.Eng. program. With proper planning, our undergraduates can develop a seamless transition between undergraduate and graduate programs culminating in the B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in 5 years. They have the advantage of being able to pace requirements better and to experience a somewhat less crowded 5th year.

Additional characteristics of the M.Eng. program, include:

Adams, E., & Bras, R. (1999, June), Mit's Master Of Engineering Program In Civil And Environmental Engineering A First Professional Degree Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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