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Raise the Bar

  • ASCE’s Raise the Bar initiative seeks to advance the civil engineering profession and protect the public welfare by actively supporting the need for additional education and relevant experience for future professional practice as a civil engineer.


  • Why Raise the Bar

    For decades, ASCE has been central to examining and shaping civil engineering education. Through its forward-thinking Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century, ASCE has defined the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that civil engineers need for entry into professional practice.

    ASCE affirmed what the National Academy of Engineering had also concluded, back in 2005:

    The exploding body of science and engineering knowledge cannot be accommodated within the context of the traditional four-year baccalaureate degree. Educating the Engineer of 2020

    U.S. civil engineers currently rely on an early-1900s educational model to face 21st century challenges.

    The engineering education of the present—a four-year undergraduate degree—will not be sufficient to prepare civil engineers to address the civil engineering challenges of the future.

    What Would Change

    Currently, the educational requirements for professional civil engineers requires an accredited bachelor's degree in engineering. To fulfill the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge, Raise the Bar promotes:

    • a master’s degree in engineering; or
    • post-undergraduate education (equivalent to 30 credits of graduate or upper level undergraduate courses) in engineering, science, mathematics and professional practice topics completed inside or outside a university setting.

    The Need

    The complex challenges facing 21st-century society will require professional civil engineers to advance their technical excellence and professional leadership to continue to protect the public. Future civil engineers will need to master many newer fields, such as sustainability, computer applications, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and the like.

    A need for expanded knowledge—Civil engineers need greater breadth and depth of knowledge, but that becomes increasingly difficult as that body of engineering knowledge continues to explode. Civil engineers must deal with an ever-growing number of technical, environmental, and social factors to address infrastructure challenges.

    Society expects more— Every other learned profession has recognized the need to require education beyond the bachelor’s degree as their body of knowledge expanded. The time has come for engineering—with its broad impact on public health and safety—to recognize that need as well.  

    Current education hours are insufficient—The credit hours required to earn the traditional four-year undergraduate engineering degree have decreased significantly, from more than 145 in 1950 to about 128 today. The expanding technical and professional knowledge required by engineers will no longer fit in this shrinking curriculum.

    Enhanced leadership skills— Civil engineers with enhanced technical, leadership, communications, and business skills will give the profession more effective project teams, generating improved operations and service. That becomes particularly important to a civil engineering employer.

    What You Can Do


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