Master of Science Advising Guide
The Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department offers two types of Master of Science degrees, Plan I and Plan II. Plan I includes course work and a thesis. Plan II (a and b) focuses on course work with the option of including up to two semesters of independent study.
Doing laboratory research for a Master of Science thesis or independent study may not be possible for all students admitted to the program. Laboratory research requires space and equipment, both of which are sometimes in short supply. If you are interested in doing a laboratory thesis or independent study, you should do two things: (1) do well in your classes and (2) let faculty know that you want to do research. While it is rare for incoming Master's students to be offered research or teaching assistantships, most Master's students are able to associate themselves with some kind of paid research project during their time here.
For entering graduate students who do not have a Bachelor of Science degree in civil and environmental engineering, a number of undergraduate engineering courses may have to be "made up." We require proficiency in the following undergraduate courses (with equivalent courses at CU listed):
The importance of fulfilling these prerequisites lies in proper preparation for a rigorous, quantitative engineering education and, eventually, successful completion of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, the first step toward professional certification as a Civil Engineer.
If you are missing a couple of the prerequisite courses, you can take them at CU after admission to the graduate program. Plan on taking the necessary undergraduate courses during your first semester to avoid problems with prerequisites for graduate courses.
If you are missing more than a couple of prerequisite courses, you should taken some or most of them prior to beginning your graduate program at CU. If you have taken or plan to take these courses elsewhere prior to beginning at CU, make sure that the credits are transferable to an accredited engineering undergraduate program. If you decide to defer your admission to graduate school while you take these courses at another university or college, you may postpone your admission to the Environmental Engineering graduate program for up to one year without re-applying. If you decide to defer admission, contact the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department's Graduate Coordinator to inform us of your intentions.
The Environmental Engineering Program offer a wide variety of graduate courses. From this wide variety, you will select a coherent set of courses that provide an area of technical specialization as well as a breadth of knowledge.
Four areas of emphasis in Environmental Engineering are outlined below with the required courses for these areas. To obtain and M.S. degree, you must complete the required courses in one of these areas. Elective courses will be chosen in consultation with your advisor.
A. Environmental Engineering
B. Environmental/Water Engineering
C. Environmental Engineering for Developing Communities
D. Air Quality Engineering
1. CVEN 5464 Environmental Engineering Processes
4. CVEN 5834 Fundamentals of Air Quality Science and Engineering (fall)
If you are accepted into our M.S. degree program, you will be assigned a temporary academic advisor, one of the Environmental Engineering faculty that matches the interests you express in your application. After looking over the recommendations for your first semester in the next section, feel free to contact your temporary advisor for details on course information and other academic questions.
Once you arrive here, you may select a different Environmental Engineering faculty member as your regular academic advisor. You should choose an academic advisor that you feel will best serve your educational and career interests. Early in your first semester, you and your advisor will design a course plan for the completion of your degree. During the first week of classes in September, a gathering of new graduate students and faculty in both the Environmental and Water Resources programs will be held. At this meeting, the faculty will present their teaching and research interests. You will then have the opportunity to meet with the faculty for finalization of your fall semester course plan. During your time here, you may change your advisors if your interests change. You may also change your course plan with your advisor's approval. Course plans and changes will be checked by the Graduate Committee representatives for the Environmental and Water Resources areas.
If you decide to switch areas of emphasis after you are admitted or after you have begun your program here (e.g., from Environmental to Water Resources Engineering or Geotechnical Engineering), you must prepare a formal request describing your intentions to the program to which you want to switch. The request must be approved by the faculty in the new area. You must select a new advisor in the new area and prepare a new course plan.
You should plan on taking take three courses during your first semester at CU. This course load may seem light compared to the number of courses you have taken during your undergraduate career; however, you will quickly realize that much more work will be expected of you in graduate courses. The Fall semester is the preferred starting point for the M.S. program -- many of the courses typically offered during the Spring semester have prerequisite courses offered during the Fall semester. If you have already taken courses in these core subjects as an undergraduate, you may seek your advisor's and instructors' permission to bypass the required courses.
If you are planning to follow the Environmental Engineering core curriculum, you should take CVEN 5834 Environmental Engineering Processes and CVEN 5404 Environmental Engineering Chemistry. These courses are prerequisites for most of the other courses in the program. Taking them in the first semester will allow you to complete most of your required courses and to progress to some of the more challenging courses in later semesters.
For the Environmental/Water Engineering option, you should plan to take CVEN 5404 Environmental Engineering Chemistry and either CVEN 5333 or 5353, one of the two hydrology courses, during the Fall semester. If you are lacking proficiency in numerical methods, you should consult with your advisor to seek out the appropriate course in this area. Numerical methods may be a prerequisite for later modeling courses (CVEN 5833).
For the EDC track, you should take CVEN 5834 Environmental Engineering Processes, CVEN 5834 Sustainable Community Development I, and CVEN 5834 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) or CVEN 5484 Environmental Microbiology.
For the Air Quality Engineering area, you should consult with your faculty advisor. If you express a clear interest in the Air Quality area on your application, you will be assigned either Prof. Jana Milford, Shelly Miller, or Michael Hannigan of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department as co-advisors.
An important concern that is no doubt on your mind is the availability of financial aid and funding support for M.S. candidates. The official answer appears in the following paragraph, following by a more accurate and candid assessment of funding availability.
The Environmental Engineering program offers funding to quality students in the form of teaching assistantships (TAs) and research assistantships (RAs). Both assistantships provide students with about $1,520 monthly, full tuition, and partial health insurance coverage. TAs are administered by the department. RAs are arranged through individual faculty members. The University of Colorado at Boulder is committed to diversity and equality in education and employment. Funding is also available through various fellowships offered by the University of Colorado, scientific and engineering societies, and national science and engineering agencies.
Now, the real answer: As an incoming M.S. candidate interested in doing research and completing a thesis (a Plan I degree), your chances of getting a research assistantship at the time of admission are slim. RA funding comes from research grants obtained by the faculty, and the funding of research grants is usually a very uncertain endeavor. It is extremely rare that a faculty member knows about a specific research opening that can be promised to an incoming M.S. candidate. Recently, however, typical research funding levels have allowed RA support to be offered to virtually all M.S. Plan I candidates by the end of their first year in the program.
Teaching assistantships are a more likely source of funding for incoming M.S. candidates. Teaching assistantships are offered only to our highest-ranking applicants and constrained by the following priorities: Ph.D. candidates are preferred over M.S. candidates and potential TAs must be able to assist in most undergraduate courses offered throughout the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department.
Given the limited financial support under our control, we strongly encourage prospective M.S. students to take advantage of all potential funding opportunities outside our program.