MSCE Structural Engineering


The Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) Structural Engineering deals with analytical and experimental studies of the behavior of structures (e.g., buildings, bridges, and dams) under service loads (e.g., traffic) and environmental loads (e.g., wind and earthquake).

  • A Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Applied Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics.
  • Students with a degree in Mathematics or Physics may be required to take additional engineering courses covering the basics of strength of materials, structural analysis and design.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 28 units of coursework for students who started Fall 2019 or later

A minimum of 27 units of coursework for students prior to fall 2019

  • Complete Core Courses (See Below)
  • The rest of units are selected from pre-approved electives, after consultation with the faculty advisor to reach the minimum unit requirement. (See below)
  • At least 2/3 of the units applied to the degree must be at the 500-level or above. Learn more.

For detailed course information, please see the Course Catalogue. For a course schedule, please see the Schedule of Classes.

Core Courses

  • CE 529: Finite Element Analysis
  • CE 541: Dynamics of Structures

If you took CE 529a do not take CE 529. CE 529a duplicates credit for CE 529. 

If you took CE 541a do not take CE 541. CE 541a duplicates credit for CE 541.


Reminder: at least 2/3 of the units applied to the degree must be at the 500-level or above. Learn more.

Beyond the required courses (above) the rest of your course work should be selected from the per-approved electives  to reach the minimum of 28 units to complete this degree.

Fall Elective Options

CE 507: Mechanics of Solids (4 units, fall only)
CE 526: Engineering Mathematical Methods (4 units, fall only)
CE 535: Earthquake Engineering Strong Motion Studies (2 units, fall only)    
CE 537: Advanced Reinforced Concrete (4 units, fall only)
CE 543: Structural Instability & Failure (4 units, fall only)
CE 546: Structural Mechanics of Composite Materials (2 units, fall only)
CE 548: Timber and Masonry Structures (2 units, fall only

Spring Elective Options

CE 533: Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering (4 units, spring only)
CE 538: Prestressed Concrete (2 units, spring only)
CE 539: Advanced Steel Structures (4 units, spring only)    
CE 540: Tall and Special Structures (2 units, spring only)
CE 541: Structural Dynamics (4 units, spring only)
CE 542: Plates & Shells (2 units, spring only)
CE 547: Earthquake Enginering - Response of Structural (4 units, spring only)
CE 561: Uncertainity Quantification (4 units, spring only)
CE 629: Advanced Finite Element Anlaysis (2 units, spring only)

Additional Elective Options

No more than four (4) units of course work can be taken from outside of traditional structural engineering topics. Often these courses involve areas such as construction, architecture, and planning. Listed below are recommended courses, but other courses, listed in the USC Catalog, might also be of interest:.,

  • CE 573: Advanced Technologies in AEC 
  • CE 470: Building Information Modeling and Integrated Practice (BIM)

Subject to the approval of the faculty advisor, Dr. Brandow, additional courses may be taken in Structural Engineering or from related fields such as:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering