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Raise the Bar

  • ASCE’s Raise the Bar strategic initiative seeks to advance the profession and the public welfare by actively supporting the national movement to raise educational requirements for licensure of future professional engineers.

  • ASCE Supports Raise the Bar

    This ASCE-backed initiative promotes change in state licensure laws so that civil engineers of the future continue to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

    Without these changes, U.S. civil engineers will 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 the licensed civil engineers of the future.

        What Would Change

        Currently, the educational requirements for professional engineer licensure call for an accredited bachelor's degree in engineering. Under Raise the Bar, future PEs would also need:

          • a master’s degree in engineering; or
            • an additional 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 additional post-baccalaureate education would not apply to engineers already licensed before the effective date of a new law (generally anticipated to be at least 8 years after actual passage).

                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.

                For decades, ASCE has been central to examining and shaping civil engineering education, and through its ground-breaking Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century, ASCE has spelled out in detail the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that civil engineers need for entering licensed professional practice.

                ASCE found what the National Academy of Engineering had also concluded:

                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, 2005

                A need for expanded knowledge—Professional 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—P.E.s 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.

                Engineering licensure boards say “Raise the Bar”— The organization representing engineering licensure boards—the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)—has for many years called for additional education beyond the bachelor's degree for future licensed professional engineers, and in August 2015, NCEES approved by a nearly two-thirds majority a position statement, Future Education Requirements for Engineering Licensure (PS 35), which reflects the Raise the Bar vision on the education needs for entering professional engineering practice in the 21st century.

                ASCE agrees that future licensed engineers will need advanced education beyond a bachelor’s degree, as described in ASCE Policy Statement 465, to meet their responsibilities to protect the public under state licensure laws.

                See what engineering leaders are saying.

                Learn more from articles and reports highlighting Raise the Bar.