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Answers For:

Incoming Freshman Online Advising
Prospective Students

Continuing Students

Graduate Students

New Students

If you are just starting the Bachelor of Science program in Civil Engineering at Boise State University, you probably have many questions. Our program has been designed with the idea that our students will be recent high school graduates, who will be attending the university full time, who will not be working, and who are ready to take English, Calculus, and a full load of courses. However, most of the students who are enrolled in our BS program do not match this profile. With this in mind, we have listed here some useful information to help you get started on your path to a degree. We hope you will find these items helpful. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact us.

Continuing Students

We recommend that all students talk to an advisor whenever they have a question. On this page we have included self-advising tools concerning the schedule of required courses and the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

Graduate Students

If you are considering enrolling in the Master of Science or Master of Engineering Civil Engineering program, you should also consider taking the Fundamentals of Engineering Test. If you do not have a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, you need to take background subjects before being admitted. Please see the
Graduate Student page for more detailed information.

Q: What exactly is civil engineering and what will I be learning about?

A: Civil engineering includes many sub-disciplines. Many of these will be introduced over the course of the student’s academic career. At Boise State, there are seven sub-disciplines taught in which students will be required to take an introductory course.

  • Environmental – the study of man’s interaction with the    environment, and the use of engineering to lessen the impact of that interaction. Required courses include CE 320 and CE 321.
  • Materials – the study of various materials used in construction, their properties and characteristics. Required courses include CE 340 and CE 341.
  • Soil Mechanics – the study of soil properties and how engineering projects interact with soils. Required courses include CE 360 and CE 361.
  • Structures – the study of how buildings, bridges and other structures are put together and how they are engineered to carry various loads. Required courses include CE 352 and CE 450.
  • Surveying – the application of trigonometry, geometry and the laws of physics to lay out, monitor and project information for engineering applications. Required courses include CE 210 and CE 211.
  • Transportation – the study of the movement of people, vehicles and goods and how to create smoother and more efficient traffic flow through engineering. Required courses include CE 370.
  • Water– the study of the properties of fluids in general and water in particular. How to utilize and design for these properties in engineering projects. Required courses include ENGR 330 and ENGR 331.

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Q: What is the structure of the curriculum and how long will it take me to complete the Bachelor’s program in Civil Engineering?

A:  The Civil Engineering curriculum is effectively divided into four years of study and a preparatory period based upon a full-time course load of an average of 16 ½ credits per semester. These years are grouped together by a general philosophy:

  • The preparatory period aims at bringing the student up to speed to begin an Engineering Education.
  • The Freshman year’s aim is to offer the student a strong foundation in mathematics and science at the appropriate university level.
  • The Sophomore year continues the idea of the Freshman year, but also begins training the student in the basics of engineering and shows how engineering is different from math and science.
  • The Junior year is when most of the sub-disciplines of civil engineering are introduced to the student. It is during this period that the student explores what it means to be a civil engineer.
  • The Senior year allows the student to explore the various aspects of civil engineering encountered in the Junior year through a choice of electives. The Senior year culminates in a Senior Design Project where teams of students design a project with major components in at least 3 sub-disciplines of civil engineering. The design experience provides the students with a sense of what they might expect when they enter the labor force upon graduation.

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Q: What courses are “more important” than others and which ones should I take first?

A: All the courses required in the curriculum are important for producing a rounded individual. It is the purpose of a university to broaden the understanding of its students by exposing them to many different aspects of philosophy and life. It is also realistic to observe that some courses will allow a student to proceed at a quicker pace towards achieving their goal of higher education.

In Civil Engineering math is key for many of our courses. If a student has to choose between falling behind in math or in a CORE course, the math course would generally cause more of a delay. Aside from math, the ENGR 210 Engineering Statics course is of great significance. After ENGR 210, ENGR 350 Mechanics (or Strength) of Materials would be the next “must have” course since it is prerequisite to most of the Junior year.

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Q: How good do I have to be at math to be a successful student of Civil Engineering?

A: Engineering is applied math and science…

A student may enter MATH 170 Calculus I based on either their ACT or SAT test scores or by taking the placement test at Boise State.

Some students who have scored well enough to take calculus but have been away from school for a while, or don’t feel quite ready for calculus may wish to begin at the step before MATH 170.

MATH 147, Precalculus or MATH 143 College Algebra may be the appropriate place to begin. MATH 143 is a 3-credit Algebra course that covers approximately 60% of the material in MATH 147. MATH 143 is a semester long course that will be followed by MATH 144 Trigonometry, before calculus may be taken. However, successful completion of MATH 143 will allow the student to take first semester Chemistry CHEM 111. MATH 147 is a 5-credit, one semester long course covering both advanced Algebra and Trigonometry. Successful completion of MATH 147 will also allow the student to take first semester Chemistry. A placement test is available to gain admittance to either MATH 147 or MATH 143.

Before MATH 147 or MATH 143, there is MATH 108.  A student starting with MATH 108 should plan to add up to one year to their academic career plans. A placement test is available to gain admittance to MATH 108.

Students who have been away from formal mathematics education for some time, have a poor skill level, or have no ACT or SAT score need to start by taking MATH 025. This is a zero credit course that prepares students for university level math. No placement test is necessary to enter this class.

Test score requirements may be found on the Freshman Online Advising page.
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Q: Why do I have to take English courses? I’m an engineering student!

A: Engineering is the application of scientific principles in a manner that is useful and usable. Civil Engineering requires the ability to explain an answer to a public that does not necessarily understand the math or science behind building a bridge or widening a road. In order to help our students be able to do their job in an effective manner, writing skills are a necessity.

Writing skills will be developed through the English composition courses ENGL 101 and ENGL 102. Students may enter ENGL 101 directly based on their ACT or SAT scores, or they may take a placement test to be able to enter ENGL 101 or, possibly, even ENGL 102.  Test score requirements may be found on the Freshman Online Advising page.

Beyond ENGL 102, Civil Engineering requires ENGL 202 Technical Communication. This course teaches students how to write scientific reports to present the results of their research concerning different engineering topics. Students should take ENGL 202 as early as possible in their academic career because many of the engineering courses require writing an elaborate report as part of the final assignment.

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Q: How can I anticipate what courses I’ll be taking when? What is the frequency of course offerings?

A: Due to the size of our student body, some required courses will be offered only once a year. Students should ask their advisors when courses are offered, but the following is generally what will be done until the student population grows:


  • CE 210, 211 Engineering Surveying & Lab
  • CE 320, 321 Principles of Environmental Engineering & Lab
  • CE 352 Structures I
  • CE 481 Senior Design Project I


  • CE 360, 361 Engineering Properties of Soils & Lab
  • CE 370 Transportation Engineering Fundamentals
  • CE 483 Senior Design Project II

Most of these courses constitute the introductory course in one of the seven sub-disciplines of civil engineering, which are taught at Boise State.
Elective courses are offered on either a one or two year rotating basis. Students should see their advisor or the civil engineering bulletin board about courses that are coming up when.

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Q: What scholarships are available for students enrolled in Civil Engineering programs?

A: Boise State offers scholarship/financial aid money to a wide variety of students. The College of Engineering also allocates some of its money for scholarships for both new and continuing students. The scholarship funds of the College of Engineering are generally awarded based on scholastic achievement. To learn more about the scholarships available through the College of Engineering, visit the Scholarships page. To apply for either Boise State funds, or specifically for College of Engineering funds, you need to fill out a Scholarship Application available through the Financial Aid Office. The monies will be awarded for the following school year.Return to top

Q: What is the Fundamentals of Engineering test and why do I have to take it?

A: The Fundamentals of Engineering test is an 8-hour examination covering the material the student has studied in the course of completing a Bachelor’s program in engineering. In the civil engineering discipline, the morning exam covers material from the Freshman and Sophomore years. The afternoon covers material studied during the Junior and Senior years. The test can be taken during the senior year (within two semesters of graduation). The test is administered by the Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors for the State of Idaho. Taking this test is the first step in becoming a Registered Professional Engineer. Applications are available online from the Idaho Board of PE & PLS.
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