Geotechnical Engineers

A geotechnical engineer, or soil engineer, is a specialist who determines the stability of the ground beneath proposed bridges. They are a type of civil engineer who determines is a specific plot of earth (rocks, soil and, occasionally, water) can support a proposed structure.

These specialists work with architects and other engineers in the planning of the follows:

  • Bridges
  • Buildings
  • Tunnels
  • Dams
  • Land-retaining walls and other structures.

They do the following:

  • Gauge the stability of land
  • Analyze soil properties
  • Help ensure support structures and planned foundations can withstand mudslides , earthquakes, soil erosion and similar events.

Quite often geotechnical engineers are called in after land destabilizing events to handle the resulting structural problems.

There are some institutions which are offering degrees in geotechnical engineering, though it’s more common that the coursework is presented as an area of specialty or emphasis through the civil engineering department of a four-year university or college. In the first case, a student has to pursue either a bachelor’s degree in environmental, geological or civil engineering which is followed by a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering, or a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in geotechnical engineering.

Geotechnical Engineering Program Overviews

Undergraduate Coursework

It’s a four-year program, which can sometimes take five years to finish, the required undergraduate engineering curriculum includes classes in the humanities, social studies and English, along with more advanced study in science and mathematics. Students who choose to pursue the specialized area of geotechnical engineering will also study computer-aided design (CAD), mineralogy and geology.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Students who choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree program in geotechnical engineering are beginning their major coursework by taking mathematics and engineering science classes which are offered to other civil engineering majors. After that, starting in the final two years, the program concentrates more on geotechnical engineering topics, such as:

A large amount of programs will also require the completion of an internship  or a senior project.

This program prepares individuals to apply scientific and mathematical principles to the operational evaluation , development and design of systems for controlling and manipulating subsurface and surface features at or incorporated into structural sites, including rock and earth stabilization and moving, land fills, structural use and environmental stabilization of wastes and by-products, underground construction, and hazardous material and groundwater containment.

Master’s Degree Programs

Generally, a master’s degree program in geotechnical engineering is offering students the option of completing either a technical report  or a thesis to graduate. The coursework consists of an advanced field and laboratory work on subjects such as earthquake engineering and soil testing. This degree track is generally for individuals who wish to advance to management positions.

Ph.D. Programs

Students who are interested in pursuing careers as scientific researchers in geotechnical engineering will need to earn a doctorate degree. Generally the Ph.D. requirements include comprehensive written and oral exams, as well as completion of a dissertation, which should be based on original research. Areas of concentration at the doctoral level might include the interaction between a building, underlying soil and its foundation the during an earthquake and deep excavation design. Doctorate candidates may incorporate mathematics and other engineering sciences in their dissertation.

Colleges Offering Geotechnical Degrees

A large amount of universities and four-year colleges offer civil engineering degrees, though not all of them offer the geotechnical emphasis or master’s degree.

Some institutions that do offer such opportunities are:


Related Online Degree Programs

Carrington College





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