Civil and Environmental Engineering Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil and environmental engineering is about the basic infrastructure of society and community service, development and improvement– the planning, design, construction and operation of facilities essential to modern life and economic vitality.  Civil engineers design structures such as buildings and bridges, transportation facilities including roads and airports, geotechnical projects such as tunnels and dams, and water supply and sewage systems. They must consider many factors in the design process, from the construction costs and expected lifetime of a project to government regulations and potential environmental hazards such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems using the principles of biology and chemistry. They are involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems. Environmental engineers study and attempt to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion.

An established department in civil engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville dates back to the mid-1800s, making it one of the oldest programs in the Southeast. The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) offers proficiency in environmental and water resources engineering, geotechnical and infrastructure materials engineering, structural engineering and construction, and transportation engineering leading to a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. In addition, the College of Engineering offers an undergraduate minor in environmental engineering.

Consistent with the mission of the Department of CEE department, graduates of the program will have:

  • Technical competency to conduct engineering projects and to advance with increasing responsibility.
  • Professional competency to continually increase engineering proficiency, proceed on a track to attain professional licensure, and contribute to the profession and community.

The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil engineers are found throughout the workplace in a variety of functions. Aside from private engineering firms that are responsible for contracted projects from start to finish, civil engineers work for construction companies, utility companies, telecommunications businesses, and consulting firms.  There are a large number of civil engineers who work in federal, state and local governments, working each day to serve the public in thousands of projects nationwide. Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions, from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others may work in design, construction, research, and teaching.

In their first job, most civil engineers are teamed with a senior engineer. They are guided through a variety of assignments, depending on the civil engineering specialty area. Later, job responsibility increases with continuing education and experience. During this process many engineers seek professional licensure that requires a depth of knowledge and skills essential to success in the field.

The U.S. Department of Labor expects civil engineers to experience 18% employment growth during the next decade. Spurred by general population growth and the related need to improve the Nation’s infrastructure, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct or expand transportation, water supply, and pollution control systems and buildings and building complexes. They also will be needed to repair or replace existing roads, bridges, and other public structures.

With respect to environmental engineers, the U.S. Department of Labor expects a  25% growth during the next decade. More environmental engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns resulting from population growth, also are expected to spur demand for environmental engineers. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

High School Preparation

Core academic subjects required for admission can be found on the Undergraduate Admissions website

Prospective students who want to enter the engineering program are required to meet the criteria of the “Success Prediction Index” (SPI). The formula for SPI is 10 x high school core GPA + math ACT score. The College of Engineering admission requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog

Students who are unable to meet this requirement may register as “university undecided” students and complete appropriate mathematics, science and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering the following year.

How to Major in Civil and Environmental Engineering

The civil and environmental engineering degree programs are administered by the UT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). The department does not currently offer an undergraduate major in environmental engineering, but it is offered as a minor and as a major course of graduate study. Students applying for entry to the university should specify civil engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students who are transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional courses necessary.

Requirements for Civil and Environmental Engineering

The CEE department does not have any special requirements for admission to the civil or the environmental engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college. College of Engineering students at the sophomore level and above are required to own computers. For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities:

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience real-world engineering challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs. Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects:  The College of Engineering offers honors programs in all majors

Highlights of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil and environmental engineering students have many opportunities to participate in hands-on research projects and compete with their peers across the nation in judged design competitions.  The competitions feature steel bridge design and construction, concrete canoe races, and other challenging events.  Civil students are encouraged to participate in student organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Engineers Without Borders, and the Chi Epsilon Honor Society.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Engineering students can take part in UT Study Abroad programs throughout the world. There are programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. You can take classes during one semester, mini-term, summer, or the whole academic year.  There are also opportunities for international internships and other work experiences.  See the websites at the Engineering Outreach Office and Programs Abroad Office for more information.
The CEE department has developed a relationship with Tongji University, China, sending students to their school for competitions as well as having their students participate in US competitions.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
CHEM 120 * or CHEM 128 *, CHEM 130 * or CHEM 138 * 8
ENGL 101 * or ENGL 118 *, ENGL 102 * 6
EF 105 , EF 151 * or EF 157 *, EF 152 * or EF 158 * 9
MATH 141 * or MATH 147 *, MATH 142 * or MATH 148 * 8
 Critical Courses: Math 141/147 and 142/148; EF 151/157 and 152/158; Chemistry 120/128  
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
ECON 201 * or ECON 207 *   4
CE 205(OC/WC) *, CE 210 , CE 262 , CE 391 12
ME 202 2
MATH 231 , MATH 241  or MATH 247 7
2Science Elective 3-4
STAT 251 3
TOTAL 31-32
Critical Courses:  Math 231; ME 202; CE 210, 262, 391   
Junior Year Credit Hours
Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
CE 300  , CE 305 ,CE 310 , CE 321 , CE 331 , CE 355 ,CE 371 , CE 381 ,CE 440 24
Cultures and Civilizations Electives* 6
 Critical Courses: CE 331, 355, 371, 381  
Senior Year Credit Hours
CE 400 , CE 401 , CE 442 7
1Civil Engineering Concentration Electives 6
1Civil Engineering Concentration Labs 2
3Civil Engineering/Technical Electives 9
Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
Social Sciences Elective* 3
EF 402 1
Critical Courses:  CE 400, 440, 442  
*Meets University General Education Requirement. All electives must be pre-approved by the advisor and the department head.
1Students must select 2 of the following concentration sequences: environmental sequence (CE 481 , CE 482 ), geotechnical sequence (CE 430 , CE 432 ), structural sequence (CE 461 , CE 463 ), transportation sequence (CE 455 , CE 456 ), water resources sequence (CE 494 , CE 496 ).
2Students select from BIOL 101 , BIOL 102 , BIOL 130 ,BIOL 138,  BIOL 140 ; Environmental Engineering 513; ESS 462 ; GEOG 131 , GEOG 410 ; GEOL 101 , GEOL 103 , GEOL 107 .
3 Must be approved by advisor.

 Honors Concentration

Students who wish to pursue the honors civil engineering concentration will normally be part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. Candidates for the honors civil engineering concentration must complete the following requirements.

  • First-year courses for honors concentrations in the engineering majors.
  • Two upper-division honors courses in civil engineering via honors-by-contract or CE 407 .
  • If participating in only the Chancellor’s Honors Program, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork goes to the Chancellor’s Honors Office on campus during the first 10 days of the semester. If participating in Engineering Honors and not Chancellor’s Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted the first 10 days of the semester to the engineering major department. If participating in both Chancellor’s and Engineering Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted to both areas.
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior project course. This requirement may be satisfied by CE 407  or by enrolling in the honors section of the senior capstone design course (CE 400 ).


Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5-year BS-MS program with a BS (major in civil engineering) and an MS (major in civil engineering or environmental engineering) for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work. Conditional admission to the 5-year program may be granted after completion of 65 hours of required course work, while full admission may be granted after the completion of 96 hours of required course work with a minimum GPA of 3.4.
  • Admission must be approved by the department and the Graduate School.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking courses that receive credit for both the BS and MS degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate program director. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit. Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School.
  • Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.