Civil Engineering

MSCE Program - Geotechnical Engineering Option

The MSCE geotechnical engineering option prepares graduates to work as practicing geotechnical engineers.


The geotechnical engineering curriculum consists of 30 semester units of coursework. This coursework consists of required courses, elective courses, and a master's project, thesis, or a comprehensive examination as described below:

Required Courses (15 Units)

  • CE 5400. Advanced Soil Mechanics I (3)
  • CE 5401. Advanced Soil Mechanics II (3)
  • CE 5431. Subsurface Exploration and Characterization (2)
  • CE 5431L. Subsurface Exploration and Characterization Laboratory (1)
  • CE 5020. Applied Probability Concepts in Civil Engineering (3)
  • GSC 4150/L. Engineering Geology II/Laboratory (2/1)

CE 5400, CE 5401 and CE 5431/L are intended to be completed during the first year of graduate study.

Elective Courses (9-15 units)

Students who choose to do a master's project will need to complete 12 units of electives, while those who choose to do a master's thesis will need 9 units. Students who choose to take the comprehensive examination, will need to take 15 units of electives. Select these electives from the following list:

  • CE 5430. Advanced Foundation Engineering (3)
  • CE 5470. Slope Stability and Earth Dams (3)
  • CE 5460. Rock Mechanics (3)
  • CE 5440. Earth Retaining Structures (3)
  • CE 5480. Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering (3)
  • CE 5451. Pavement Design and Construction (3)
  • Up to 6 units of approved coursework outside of geotechnical engineering

Elective courses may include up to 3 units of approved 4000-level courses that are relevant to the program of study, as long as these or equivalent courses have not already been used for credit toward an undergraduate degree.

Approved courses include the following:

  • CE 4400 Foundation Engineering and Retaining Wall Design (3)

See the University Catalog for more details on each of the above courses.

Master's Project, Thesis and Comprehensive Examination  

Each student must complete either a master's project (CE 6950 for a total of 3 units) or a master's thesis (CE 6960 for a total of 6 units) or take the comprehensive examination (CE6970 for a total of zero unit).

Program of Study

Each graduate student must meet with his or her academic advisor to develop a written course of study that outlines the specific courses the student will take to complete the MSCE degree. The approved program of study must be submitted before completing the first semester.

The following forms and information will be useful in preparing your program of study:

Academic Advisors

Initial academic advisers are assigned as based on the first letter of the student's last name

  • A-L: Dr. Kamalzare
  • M-Z: Dr. Shafiee

Once you have selected a thesis or project adviser, that person will become your academic adviser.