July 29, 2020

Purdue offers affordable online master’s degree in civil engineering on edX

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is offering a new affordable master’s degree in civil engineering through edX, with support from Kaplan Higher Education, allowing working professionals ready access to Purdue’s highly ranked civil engineering master’s program entirely online.

The online master’s program in civil engineering from Purdue will begin in January 2021. Students will typically finish the 30-credit-hour degree in less than four years, but can complete it in as little as one year. Applications for the new online master’s program, priced at $22,500 for a full degree, are now open. For more information and to apply go to http://purdue.edu/CE/Academics/Graduate/Online.

The online master’s program features the same faculty who teach on-campus students in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering, ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the five best undergraduate civil engineering programs nationally and the sixth-ranked graduate program. Overall, Purdue’s online graduate programs in engineering are rated third by the magazine. ShanghaiRanking rates Purdue’s civil engineering graduate program among the top 20 in the world.

“We’re happy to be extending the opportunity to earn an affordable professional master’s degree online to another engineering discipline,” said Mark Lundstrom, acting dean of engineering. “The new civil engineering program will help us serve students who otherwise might not have had access to our highly recognized educational resources.”

Purdue’s College of Engineering and Purdue Online, the central organization guiding Purdue online offerings, previously worked with online education provider edX and Kaplan Higher Education to launch affordable master’s degree programs in electrical and computer engineering and in mechanical engineering. The partners have developed standout online tools such as virtual labs and assessment strategies.

“Engineering is a Purdue strength – recognized worldwide – and we're delighted to add an online civil engineering master's to our current lineup of master's in electrical and computer engineering, interdisciplinary engineering and mechanical engineering,” said Gerry McCartney, executive vice president for Purdue Online. “The demand for these programs is clear from the robust numbers of new students taking advantage of the opportunity to earn a Purdue engineering degree anytime, anywhere.”

Rao Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering, said, “Purdue has a long tradition of offering a very strong civil engineering program. Our faculty are very well known in their own fields of research and expertise. We are also well known not only for doing research but also for having a strong teaching ethic. We're going to bring all that to our online offering.”

While the online program is open to any applicant who can qualify, it’s aimed in particular at professionals looking to enhance their skills and careers or to satisfy professional development requirements, or who are just committed to lifelong learning and whose job and other commitments won’t allow them to come to campus to take courses.

“For civil engineering, one of the things that's very important is licensure, which requires continuous learning,” Govindaraju said. “This offers another mechanism for maintaining licensure.”

The innovative program offers students a lot of flexibility, said Dulcy Abraham, professor of civil engineering, who chairs Purdue’s graduate program in civil engineering. It is built largely on one-credit course modules covering material from three broad themes: infrastructure design, resilience and sustainability; transportation systems; and water infrastructure. Students can take one or a few courses, or take six to nine hours to earn what edX calls a MicroMasters® program, allowing them to gain expertise in specific topics for career purposes. However, that coursework also can be rolled into a full master’s degree if they decide to pursue one, whether online or on campus.

“I expect a lot of learners will explore the space, to see how it works for them, whether it suits them or not,” Govindaraju said. “They're able to do this without having to sign up for an entire master's.”

Video lectures, online discussion forums and other features in the asynchronous program also allow online master’s students flexibility in their schedules, enabling them to balance advanced education with work and family life. Many materials also will be downloadable for off-line use.

Beyond professionals, including Purdue alumni, Govindaraju and Abraham expect Purdue’s online master’s degree in civil engineering to be attractive internationally, especially with travel limited by the novel coronavirus pandemic. They also anticipate that it will attract students graduating with a bachelor’s degree and wrestling with a decision whether to take a job or earn a master’s degree. “You can now do both,” Abraham said.

The materials developed for the online program also promise to benefit Purdue’s on-campus students.

“If I have a lot of content that is available online, then I'm able to use the time I have with students far more effectively,” Govindaraju said. “Exposing the students to the content online before class makes them better prepared. They're able to ask more penetrating questions. 

Writer: Greg Kline, 765-494-8167, gkline@purdue.edu

Sources: Rao Govindaraju, govind@purdue.edu

Dulcy Abraham, dulcy@purdue.edu

Gerry McCartney, mccart@purdue.edu

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