Civil and Environmental Engineering

Rice University civil and environmental engineers serve as master builders, environmental stewards, and integrators of solutions to complex challenges to sustain and improve the built and natural environment so that later generations will have an ever-improving quality of life.

Our ABET-accredited BS degree program is designed for students who have an interest in one of the broad and diverse fields of civil and environmental engineering. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for a career in engineering and offers an innovative, challenging, and flexible curriculum. The BA degree is designed to provide flexibility to students to choose either an emphasis on civil or environmental engineering along with topics across any discipline at Rice.

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Degrees Offered

* Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Learn more about enrollments and degrees awarded for programs in the George R. Brown School of Engineering School.

Related Minors

By the Numbers

  • 65% of Undergraduate students are women
  • 37% of undergraduates are underrepresented minorities
  • #34 Best Civil Engineering Undergraduate Program, U.S. News & World Report


Why should I study Civil and Environmental Engineering?

Civil and environmental engineering at Rice addresses important societal problems that impact the urban and natural landscape in a variety of ways. We have focus areas in Environmental Engineering, Hydrology & Natural Disasters, Structural Engineering & Mechanics, and Urban Infrastructure & Risk. We are one of the few engineering departments that address climate change and natural disasters in detail. Rice is located in the heart of Houston and has strategic relationships with the local industry leaders in these fields. Moreover, Houston has also topped the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) “Best Places for Civil Engineers 2021” list.

What do students do when they graduate with a Civil and Environmental Engineering degree?

Work in consulting, education, industry, federal laboratories, or go onto graduate school, law school, med school. We have never failed to place a graduate within the long-standing field of civil and environmental engineering.

If I am considering this major, what classes do I have to take this year?

Freshmen should take required math, physics and chemistry courses (or use AP credit accordingly) and also sign up for CEVE 101 to learn all about the field of civil and environmental engineering.

If I have AP credit, should I use it or are there classes I should consider retaking anyway?

That depends on your background, but in general, the Physics and Chemistry courses taught at Rice are exemplary and one might consider taking them.

How should I decide whether or not to use my AP credit?

Contact the registrar and/or department and college advisors for more details on use of AP credits.

Can I study abroad? If so, when is the best time?

Study abroad is available and encouraged for engineers and ENVI scientists to broaden their horizons and learn from other cultures. The best time to study abroad is the summer after your freshman or sophomore year. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program is an excellent two-week opportunity for CEE students to gain international experience by participating in research activities and interacting with flood experts in the Netherlands. Contact the Study Abroad Office directly for additional programs and information.

What kind of research opportunities are available to your students?

Research opportunities abound in the CEE department for both undergraduate and graduate students who work closely with faculty in a variety of settings. They perform experiments in state-of-the-art laboratories and solve important water treatment problems in developing countries. They develop and implement novel computational techniques, work in areas of dynamic structures and aging infrastructure, and run models to address sea level rise and increasing risk from severe storms.

What extracurricular activities or projects do students in your program normally participate in?

There are a number of student groups such as the student ASCE chapter and Engineers without Borders that are very attractive for students to socialize in and to get exposure to outside alumni and friends that often come to speak at seminars.

What do classes in Civil and Environmental Engineering normally look like?

Classes are usually small, averaging between 25-40 students. As you progress through the curriculum, courses become more specialized and intimate. We have the largest percentage of female students of any major in engineering. There are a few required lab classes, but many field trips are included in the classes for on-site educational experiences (treatment plants, reservoirs, construction sites, etc.)

Is the curriculum flexible enough for students to pursue other interests? i.e. Can I complete a minor, take classes outside the major or specialize further within the major?

The Minor in Energy and Water Sustainability provides students majoring in CEE or other departments additional sustainable development principles. Sustainable development is a societal goal that challenges traditional ways of thinking and requires alternative approaches and solutions to balance environmental, economic, and social interests.

Double majors are possible but require a lot of AP credit coming in.

The B.S. program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET, and recommended for those interested in graduate studies or careers as licensed professional engineers.

The B.A. degree is recommended to students interested in graduate studies outside of engineering such as policy, law or medicine, or those interested in pursuing a double major or a minor, such as the one in energy and water sustainability

Are there any other things I should know about Civil and Environmental Engineering?

We have never failed to place a graduate within the long-standing field of Civil and Environmental Engineering due to the great need nationally and internationally to continue to address infrastructure, resiliency, and climate change problems. Also, Rice is a great place to study this field as Houston tops the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) “Best Places for Civil Engineers 2021” list.