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Top Geotechnical Engineering Schools

by Amy Pearson, studioD

Extensive research opportunities, expert faculty, access to financial aid, low student-to-teacher ratio and high graduation rates earn several geotechnical engineering programs some of the highest rankings in the country. Top undergraduate and graduate programs generally incorporate geotechnical engineering courses into their civil engineering curriculum, combining studies of structural dynamics, rock analysis, soil design and construction with research opportunities and experiments.

Midwestern Schools

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana's Geotechnical Engineering Group, part of the school’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, offers multiple geotechnical engineering research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, including studies of soil mechanics, foundation engineering and computational geomechanics. Washington Monthly ranks the college 19th overall, due to its multiple research opportunities, high graduation rate and quality of faculty. UI’s civil engineering program ranks first in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report” because of its student-to-faculty ratio of 4.4 to 1 and relatively low tuition cost. Forbes lists the university 53rd overall for financial aid availability, student enrollment of more than 44,000 students and overall admission rates.

Northeastern Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers advanced geotechnical engineering courses, including studies of site characterization, foundation systems, slope stability and soil improvement. MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering focuses on improving sustainable energy, public health and resource usage through a variety of specialization options, including geotechnical engineering and geomechanics. MIT’s civil engineering department ranks fourth in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report.” Washington Monthly ranks MIT as the 11th best college in the nation due to the school's high graduation rate and abundance of research opportunities.

Southern Schools

Georgia Institute of Technology's civil engineering program ranks third in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report.” GIT's undergraduate and graduate programs combine traditional classroom instruction with field experiences, such as advanced techniques for characterizing sites, excavation support and resource recovery. Georgia Tech offers seven full-time faculty and a variety of research projects. Washington Monthly ranks Georgia Tech ninth for quality of faculty, low overall price, research expenditures and graduation rate. Forbes also lists Georgia Tech among its top colleges in the nation, ranking the university 83rd overall.

Western Schools

“U.S. News & World Report” ranks the University of California, Berkeley’s civil engineering program first in the nation. The school's geoengineering program focuses on evaluating geologic materials’ engineering properties and considering solutions to natural hazards, including floods and earthquakes. Graduate studies integrate research and in-class studies of foundation engineering, soil mechanics, and coastal and offshore geotechnics. Students benefit from UC’s state-of-the-art research and testing facilities as well as weekly geotechnical engineering seminars featuring industry-leading speakers. Forbes lists UC Berkeley as the 22nd best college in the country, due to financial aid availability, high test scores and relatively low student-to-faculty ratio, while Washington Monthly ranks UC Berkeley fifth overall for its high graduation rate, total research expenditures and tuition cost.

About the Author

Amy Pearson earned dual bachelor's degrees in management and horticulture. She is a licensed elementary teacher for kindergarten through sixth grades. Pearson specializes in flower and vegetable gardening, landscape design, education, early childhood and child development.

Photo Credits

  • Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images