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Field of Study: Environmental Engineering


Environmental engineering programs prepare people to use math and science to design systems that help solve problems in the environment.



Environmental engineering programs include topics such as:

  • Pollution controls
  • Waste and hazardous material disposal
  • Health and safety protection
  • Conservation

Community colleges and other 2-year schools offer associate degree programs. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree, students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in environmental engineering. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four or five years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in environmental engineering. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Calculus
  • Computer Science and Programming
  • English Composition
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics


Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree in engineering (or a significant amount of course work in engineering and related courses), good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement


Typical course work

This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Dynamics
  • Electronic Circuits
  • Engineering Physics
  • English Composition
  • Environmental Quality Engineering
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • General Biology for Environmental Engineering
  • Geology for Engineering
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Linear Differential Equations
  • Microbiology for Environmental Engineering
  • Senior Design Project
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
  • Statistics
  • Statistics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water and Wastewater Engineering

Graduate study in this field typically includes:

  • Required courses
  • Master's thesis (which usually takes the form of a significant project)
  • Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)


Things to know

Most engineering jobs require a lot of writing and clear communication. Taking writing and other humanities courses will develop your communication skills.

Some bachelor's programs combine work experience with classes, and may take five or six years to complete. This work experience teaches skills, helps build job contacts, and you may be paid while you work.

In order to become licensed by your state to work as an engineer, you must have a degree from an accredited engineering program. You also need several years of work experience and must pass an exam. Many people take the exam at the same time they graduate or soon after.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

Architectural and Engineering Managers
College Engineering Teachers
Environmental Engineers
Health and Safety Engineers



Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists
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American Society for Engineering Education

Discover Engineering

Engineer Girl

Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society

The Environmental Engineer

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

The Society of Women Engineers

Technology Student Association

No schools' programs are being reported at this time.