Asee peer logo

The Impact of EAC-ABET Program Criteria on Civil Engineering Curricula

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Accreditation and the BOK

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Brian J. Swenty P.E. University of Evansville

visit author page

Brian J. Swenty is Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Evansville. He earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Missouri-Rolla and his M.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida. He is a licensed professional engineer in California, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. He served on active duty in the Army (Officer-Corps of Engineers) and held positions as a senior civil engineer with a consulting firm and the director of Missouri’s Dam and Reservoir Safety Program. Since 1993, he has been at the University of Evansville, serving as a professor, department chair, and interim dean. He continues to work as a consultant on projects involving the design and construction of new dams, modifications to existing dams, and the investigation of dam failures.

visit author page


Matthew K. Swenty Virginia Military Institute

visit author page

Matt Swenty obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Civil Engineering from Missouri S&T then worked as a bridge designer at the Missouri Department of Transportation. He went to Virginia Tech to obtain his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and upon completion worked at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McClean, Virginia. He is currently an associate professor in the Civil Engineering department at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) where he teaches engineering mechanics and structural engineering courses. He enjoys working with the students on bridge related research projects and with the ASCE student chapter.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Civil engineering programs accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (EAC-ABET) must comply with program criteria developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Requirements stipulated in the program criteria are limited to the areas of curricular topics and faculty qualifications. There is a perception that innovation, flexibility, and creativity in civil engineering curriculums are stifled by the EAC-ABET program criteria. The goals of this study are to determine if the civil engineering program criteria (and indirectly ASCE's Body of Knowledge) have 1) hindered innovation and 2) standardized civil engineering curriculums.

A curriculum study was performed of 86 EAC-ABET accredited civil engineering programs in the United States. The study included programs from all 50 states; small and large; public and private; and research and teaching focused. For uniformity in the study and because the majority of civil engineering programs use a semester credit hour system, only programs with semester credit hours were analyzed. A database of graduation requirements was created that indexed courses in categories corresponding to the EAC-ABET civil engineering program criteria.

Innovation in civil engineering curriculums was addressed by examining the required number of credit hours in civil engineering electives, technical electives, civil engineering courses not linked to the program criteria, and math and science electives. The degree of standardization of civil engineering curriculums was investigated by comparing the 86 civil engineering programs to a benchmark civil engineering program of study derived from 2002 ABET data. Since 2002, the average number of credit hours required for a civil engineering degree decreased from 130.4 to 128.6 and the number of elective engineering credit hours increased from 11.0 to 19.0. The study concluded that civil engineering programs use unique methods and courses to meet the EAC-ABET program criteria, and during the period 2002-2017, the nation’s civil engineering programs gravitated further from a standardized curriculum.

Swenty, B. J., & Swenty, M. K. (2018, June), The Impact of EAC-ABET Program Criteria on Civil Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31106

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015