Civil engineering is the professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of public and private infrastructure within the natural environment. Geotechnical engineering is a discipline within Civil Engineering that focuses on the behavior of natural geological materials in engineered systems. Geotechnical engineers recognize that soil and rock are the cheapest and most abundant building materials on earth, and consequently play a major role in the construction and performance of every type of civil engineering structure.

To be successful in the field of geotechnical engineering, students should have a broad exposure to Civil Engineering, with advanced knowledge and coursework in geology, soil and rock mechanics, slope stability, foundation engineering, and computational mechanics.

The Geotechnical Engineering program at the University of Delaware offers opportunities for advanced study and research in:

  • Soil and rock mechanics
  • Soil-structure interaction
  • Constitutive modeling
  • Computational geomechanics
  • Foundation and earth structures engineering
  • Ground improvement
  • Slope stability and landslide stabilization
  • Liquefaction of soils and earthquake engineering
  • Laboratory characterization of geomaterials and soil reinforcement
  • Environmental geotechnics

Given the strong need for improvement to our nation’s infrastructure, there is currently a high demand for geotechnical engineers within the civil engineering profession. Sustainable stewardship of our built environment is dependent on successful training of the future generation of civil engineers, both as researchers that are capable of advancing the state of the art, and as practitioners that have the ability to implement effective design solutions to real-world problems. A graduate degree in geotechnical engineering will give you the skills you need to succeed in both of these highly challenging environments.


Victor Kaliakin – Computational geomechanics and constitutive modeling of soils
Kalehiwot N. Manahiloh – Unsaturated Soil Mechanics, Microstructural analysis of granular geomaterials, Nondestructive testing (X-ray CT), Experimental, numerical, and computational geomechanics.
Christopher Meehan – Laboratory and in situ testing of soils, soil shear strength, slope stability, design of levees and embankment dams, and foundation engineering

MCE/MAS Course Requirements

See the Master’s Degree Requirements in Civil Engineering for the general academic requirements. In addition, the Master’s degree in Civil Engineering or Applied Science in the field of Geotechnical Engineering requires a total of three core course and five electives taken from a variety of fields. Students electing to receive the non-thesis degree must take a total of 30 credits of course work, which typically translates to seven electives beyond the three core courses. Electives should be selected based on approval from your advisor.

Core Courses:

  • CIEG 601 – Introduction to the Finite Element Method
  • CIEG 622 – Earth Structures Engineering
  • CIEG 626 – Soil Behavior

Suggested CIEG Electives:

  • CIEG 605 – Intermediate Topics in Finite Element Analysis
  • CIEG 620 – Soil Mechanics II
  • CIEG 621 – Foundation Engineering
  • CIEG 623 – Soil Mechanics Lab
  • CIEG 625 – Geo-Environmental Engineering
  • CIEG 627 – Deep Foundations
  • CIEG 628 – Ground Improvement Methods
  • CIEG 658 – Pavement Analysis and Design
  • CIEG 675 – MATLAB for Engineering Analysis
  • CIEG 698 – Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport
  • CIEG 801 – Advanced Topics in Finite Element Analysis
  • CIEG 820 – Inelastic Behavior of Geomaterials
  • CIEG 867 – Computational Geomechanics

Other Suggested Courses:

  • CIEG 606 – Ocean and Atmosphere Remote Sensing (MAST 606)
  • GEOG 670 – Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 671 – Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 677 – Spatial Data Analysis
  • MAST 681 – Remote Sensing of Environment
  • MEEG 690 – Intermediate Engineering Mathematics
  • STAT 601 – Probability Theory for Operations Research and Statistics
  • STAT 602 – Mathematical Statistics
  • STAT 608 – Statistical Research Methods
  • STAT 609 – Regression and Experimental Design

In addition to the courses listed above, a variety of CIEG 667 Seminar courses are frequently offered by the professors in the geotechnical engineering group, and will be accepted for elective credit.

PhD Requirements

PhD degrees are also offered in the Geotechnical Engineering field. The courses listed above serve as a foundation for the PhD degree. PhD students work with their advisor to develop a program of study that provides appropriate breadth and depth. See the PhD in Civil Engineering for the general academic requirements.